This coming Thursday we are hosting an evening workshop that covers a high level introduction to the various ebike conversion packages offered by Grin, aimed specifically at bike mechanics and others in the local bicycle industry who want to understand what is available for open standard conversion systems. If you are currently working in the bicycle scene and are interested in participating, please contact us by email with some background information to reserve a spot.
Location: #205-950 Powell St (upper lot)
Date: Thursday March 22nd
Time: 6:30 - 9pm
This one is for the locals. We will once again have a booth at the Vancouver Bike Show this weekend at the Vancouver Convention Center. If you've been wanting to come by our shop but can't make it during the week, then this could be a good opportunity to visit and chat about suitable ebike conversion options.
Our staff are hard at work this week preparing display fixtures so that we can have all the various motors, batteries, and other items on hand at the show.
Saturday Update: What a great first day at the show and a big hello to the many people who visited our booth and are checking out our website for the first time. The event is on again all day tomorrow (Sunday) until 5pm if you are in vancouver and want to drop by and discuss in person any conversion questions.
We're happy to have recently added two new pedal sensor options to our catalog.
24 Pole MiniPAS
The first is the miniPAS sensor from King Meter which we had modified for plug and play compatibility with the V3 Cycle Analyst. This PAS device has both the disk and sensor tightly integrated into a low profile package that slides over the bottom bracket spindle. The result is a clean install without any of the alignment concerns that are present with separate magnet rings and sensor pickups.
And the best part is that it has a full 24 poles per revolution, providing an immediate response the moment you start pedaling. We've now outfitted most of our staff ebikes with this mini sensor, a V3.1 Cycle Analyst, and digital aux for pedal assist control. The combination is fantastic.
The second addition is a new torque sensor from Sempu. We had sampled Sempu sensors several years ago but ran into reliability issues. However, the latest 3rd generation T2.3 product seems much more robust. It installs as easily as a THUN device, senses force from both left and right pedals, and like the new miniPAS sensor it also has 24 PAS poles for immediate pedal response.
These sensors are available in square taper 115mm, 122.5mm and 127.5mm spindle lengths for 68mm bottom bracket shells, and even in a a fatbike version for 84mm bottom brackets. Our initial sample order of these sensors sold out fast but we expect our full shipment by the middle of march.
New PAS Info Page
And are you confused about all the options of PAS sensors and Torque sensors and whether you need or want them in the first place? Have a look at the new PAS learning section on our web page that explains in some detail the pros and cons of different pedalec sensor options and control strategies. We hope this serves as a useful reference for those wanting to learn more about pedal assist.
The V3.1 Cycle Analyst firmware that went through various Beta releases last year is getting so ready for prime time. In addition to the digital aux input buttons, factory resets, enhanced ebrake and regen features, and display screen customizations, there have been other updates including:
- Additional PAS modes, supporting cadence control so that you can have the PAS output power or throttle voltages vary with your pedal cadence. There is even a PAS mode for electric assist rowbikes with reciprocating PAS sensors.
- The ability to automatically return to the main display after a given time and have the Aux change pop-up display just in the custom views tab.
- An increase in the output data logging frequency to 10Hz for even better dynamic analysis of vehicle performance
- Pre-loaded settings for all the common torque sensors offered by Grin.
- Ability to copy all settings one set of presets from another.
- A switch to watt-hours rather than amp-hours as the primary battery lifetime usage, for a more universal comparison of total energy expenditure.
The companion software setup utility has also gone through numerous improvements with the 1.53 release. You can now upgrade your CA from a 3.0 to 3.1 firmware and it will preserve almost all of your settings and usage statistics, so there's no need to record and re-enter all your values. There are detailed tooltips over each of the parameters to help you understand their functions, and a comprehensive help menu as well. And to top it off, there is now a single button you can click to fetch the latest firmware from our servers, making any future update process seamless as well.
The most recent firmware build is CA3.1Beta21, and well be giving it 1 week of wider beta testing before we make this the final release CA3.10 version. If you are keen to try this and upgrade from a CA3.0 device but don't have the necessary cables, we have both the USB->TTL programming cable as well as the handy up-down digi-aux buttons available from Amazon.com for easy US shipping.
We'd like once again to thank endless-sphere user Teklektik for his tireless efforts at instilling structure and discipline in the Cycle Analyst development and getting the firmware to deliver on our original vision, and to our software team and co-op students who produced the matching CA Setup Utility suite.
Next up on the CA3 front: Android app support, updated documentation, and more video tutorials!
We're pretty excited about what 2018 has in store for the ebike space, and one of the events this year that has us most pumped is the 2018 Sun Trip solar ebike challenge.
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the Sun Trip is an annual competition run by some (obviously crazy) Frenchmen that challenges people to tour ebikes across great distances, with solar power as their only allowable charging source. It started off in 2013 with a 7500km ride from France to Kazakhstan, and has run most years since then with with trips of varying length and upwards of 30-40 participants. What makes 2018 ride special is that it will be the the most epic challenge yet, covering a full 12,000 km from Lyon, France, to Canton, China.
We've helped out many teams build solar ebike vehicles for Sun Trips in the past and have always had great admiration for this event from across the water. But now it time to join in the fray!
2018 marks the 10 year anniversary of Justin's first cross-Canada ebike tour and he's itching for another adventure, and what could better fit the bill. Grin will be participating in this amazing ride, both as a competitor on the ground and as a formal sponsor helping with their technical logging requirements. Many of the announcements and product roll-outs you see in the coming months will relate in some way to this Sun Trip.
And if you're just reading about it for the first time now thinking wow, I'd love to do that, the event registration formally closed in December. However, the organizers are keen to see more participation from North America, so if you have the right kind of aptitude and attitude to pull off building and riding a solar ebike on a 12000km trip like this, send the Sun Trip people your plea, they'll maybe make an exception :-).
In any case, a happy start of 2018 to everyone.
More good Holiday news, not quite in the form of "free" hubs but cassette freehubs at least. We've now got two new rear motor options available that shed the threaded freewheel for a cassette freehub system, allowing you to take full advantage of modern drivechain components and the increasingly common 9, 10, and 11 speed gearsets.
The first of these is the tiny Bafang G310 geared motor. This is a small lower power hub like the G01 but with an impressive 11:1 internal gear reduction giving an even better torque to weight ratio. And best of all it uses a spiral sun gear that makes an almost completely silent and silky smooth motor when paired with our sinewave Grinfineon controller. Other features include a side cable exit, easy disassembly for service, integral anti-rotation washers, and excellent waterproofing.
The second freehub motor is a rear direct drive hub from MXUS. This one has a 30mm wide stator, so slighly more powerful than the 9C+ and a bit less powerful than the Crysatlyte 'H'. It has the same Grin customizations that you'd expect, with side axle cable exit, 0.35mm laminations for low rolling drag, internal temperature sensor, and fully sealed side plates with a statorade injection port.
Both motors are available in fast and standard winding speeds, fit inside standard 135mm dropout spacings, have disk brake compatibility, and are fully modeled on our simulator (See the G310's and MX3005/6). The MXUS motor also been thermally modeled with Statorade and Hubsinks options too.
We've got a limited number of each motor on hand now and we expect our large sea freight orders to be here in mid-January once these sell out.
It's end of year housecleaning time, and this can mean some excellent holiday savings for you!
We gave a solid go at offering turn-key cargo ebikes from our new Powell St. shop space this past year, but in the end came to the realization that our resources are best kept focus on conversion kits and the development of new Grin products. So we wrapping that up and clearing out our remaining inventory of eZee Expedir cargo ebikes at a stunning 40% discount.
These ebikes were a good value at their normal price, with a large capacity 19Ah battery pack, high torque eZee motor drive, Magura hydraulic brakes, and other high-end components, and with the additional 40% off they are a steal. It's like buying a kit and getting the bike for free. We've got limited numbers left in red, green, and black colours in time to fit under the Christmas tree. If you've been on the fence about getting a cargo ebike for you or your family, this could be an opportunity not to miss.
Direct Drive Motors Too
We're also clearing out all of our remaining 9C+ 2706 and 2705 rear motors at a 40% discount to make room for new motor series that uses cassette freehubs rather than screw-on freewheels. These have the same low-drag 0.35mm laminations and statorade compatibility that you expect from Grin's offering, but as with all the nine continent motors the construction quality is very much "made for China" grade. They're great value if you want an awesome motor performance but aren't fussy about fitment details.
There are a number of information pages that we were working on this year but only now with the relative calm of the winter season have we had the time to wrap them up. So for your fireside reading pleasure, we offer you
- Grin's Ebike Connector Guide: A summary of the various standard connector types encountered in ebike conversions and our take on them from the DIY user perspective. For those dizzied by the wide assortment of connectors out there hopefully this page can help you make sense of some of it.
- Our take on the Merits of Hub Motors: In our travels this summer to meet with other ebike businesses, one recurring theme was that most of them felt hub motors have been subject to a lot of misleading marketing in recent years by mid-drive companies. We've played with many mid-drives as well since our founding days, and while they have a few advantages in some situations our feeling has always been that hub motors are a better overall solution for the needs of 80-90% of ebike users. Even with the popular proliferation of BBSXX type drives, that viewpoint hasn't changed at all. To see why, read here.
- How many watts is that motor?: This is a question that makes Justin's blood boil a little. If there is one thing that is most often misunderstood about ebike technology it's the topic of motor power ratings. Did you know that the european Bosch ebikes will draw 700-800 watts of power form the battery even though they are, you know, supposedly 250 watt systems? It's true. We've always avoided giving specific power ratings on our motors because the number you choose is rather arbitrary, and this more technical article explains why.
- From the past: We also found the draft documents from an old article we wrote in 2010 on the role of the DIY ebike scene at that point, and we thought would be nice to dust off and make available online again.
We've got two new Grin items hot off our milling machine that should help overcome difficulties in electric conversions.
The Handle Bob
The first idea actually comes courtesy of our customer Bob. Bob you see has a Grin All-Axle bike conversion and ran into the familiar situation of having handlebars that didn't lend themselves to sliding on a throttle. This happens all the time with curved drop bars, oversized handlebar tubing and whatnot. His solution with a piece of 22mm OD tube cut and drilled to secure at right angles with a pair of cable ties was so elegant and simple that we had to make this into a product.
So in his honor we introduce the Handle Bob, allowing you to easily attach a small bobbin to handebars on which you can affix a thumb throttle, CA aux input, headlight button or other small device without needing to remove your grips or anything else. It's the simplest and lowest tech product that we've ever manufactured in our little machine shop, but one that just might have a big impact for many builds.
The Bottle Bob
The 2nd item helps when installing downtube and waterbottle batteries on bike frames that don't have properly located waterbottle braze-ons. We're calling these our Bottle Bobs, and they let you add a solid M5 threaded attachment point anywhere on your bike tubing with the security of a stainless steel hoseclamp.
In fact, these attachments are stronger and more secure than many of the riv-nut frame eyelets which can occasionally tear out of the frame tubing with heavy batteries, and allow you the security of having 3 or 4 attachment points to the battery base plate rather than just the 2 when you use the frame's bottle mounts.
And of course, you can also use them to attach more waterbottle cages to your bike!
At the VEVA electric vehicle show this summer we showed up with two electrified penny farthing bicycles, thinking that we could stage electric high-wheeler races around the mini test track. The racing didn't happen but the fun of riding these around Vancouver hasn't abated. There haven't been too many accidents and the reaction on the streets is pretty amazing if you like making people crack a smile. Aaron and some of the new staff at Grin made a nice video from an afternoon spin:
More specific details on how these were built are shown on the endless-sphere build thread: https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1309060#p1309060
Anyways it turns out that there are a couple dozen more replica high wheel bikes from this source in a storage locker looking for a home, and we wonder if there is a case to sell them electrified with small hubs in the rear wheel. The bikes are available in wheel sizes ranging from 36" to 54", and they have a custom machined freewheeling front hub so you can coast without pedaling. If owning a piece of 19th century bike technology merged with 21st century electronics like this tickles your fancy, then send us an email and we'll see if there's enough interest to convert a batch! Price would depend on the specific conversion options but can expected between $1500-$2000.