While 2018 had its share of excitement and new pursuits for us, it also saw the doors close on two iconic and long serving bicycle businesses here in Vancouver who we think deserve a shout-out. The first of these is Brock Davis of Cambie Cycles who kicked off their final day with a new years party at their vacated premise on Dec 31st.
Brock had been running his esoteric shop on Cambie St. for over 30 years, pioneering the sale and production of recumbent bikes, tricycles, velomobiles, unicycles, and of course electric bicycles well before any of these things were popular. He was dabbling with early ebike conversions in the 1990's when we were still in grade school and has been for many years one of the few shops always willing to say yes to electric retrofits. We hope to still see him riding around streets of Vancouver in a white velomobile.
The other shout-out goes to Paul Bogaert who decided to close the Bike Doctor after 27 years and instead cycle tour the world with his wife. Paul had an early role in Vancouver bicycle advocacy and at bringing cycle riding to a less elitist/athletic and more everyday commuter crowd through their shop. They were among the early shops to embrace family friendly cargo bikes and appreciated the role that electric would play in making cycling more broadly appealing.
We're hoping that everyone has had great holiday season and are excited as we are for the 2019 year ahead. There are a few things we pulled off in December worth sharing.
Powerful Rear Motor Options
We have added two new direct drive hub motors to our offerings. One is a Thru-Axle version of the Crystalyte Crown TC3080 motor. This is the first 142x12 rear thru-axle motor that's been available for aftermarket conversions and is well suited for modern mountain bikes shooting for 1-3kW power levels.
The other is our first foray into the larger 45mm wide motor series, similar to those sold by MXUS, QS, Leafbike etc. as 3KW or 5kW hubs. We got these made up to properly fit either a standard 135mm dropout with a single speed freewheel, or a 150mm dropout with a 7-8 speed freewheel and some spacers. As expected from Grin they are sealed, include a 10K thermistor for temperature sensing, and have a disk hole injection port for Statorade, and are hubsink compatible. Check out the performance on our simulator both with and without statorade. Unlike so many other direct drive motors, both of these have the proper alignment for disk rotor position and room for disk calipers without shimming things out.
3D CAD Models
We get asked on occasion for 3D models of the hub motors we offer from people doing full CAD mockups of their ebike project. And what better time than Christmas to make this all available to you.
The 3D IGS files for most of the motors that we've mechanically modeled are now available in the "additional information" tab on our store site and in a list on our documents page.
CA3.13 Firmware Family
The 3.1 Cycle Analyst firmware has fully solidified with the recent 3.13 release, and in doing this we're also making publicly available a number of customized firmware branches full of special features. These are loosely explained in the CA3 Firmware page, but are worth highlighting here:
- Solar Shunt firmware: With this firmware the Cycle Analyst can use the auxilliary input as a second current sensor for measuring and showing the solar amps and watts. You can not only see in realtime how much solar power is coming into the pack, you also get combined statistics such as the %solar recharge and the net wh/km mileage taking into account the solar input for the day. This is the ideal instrument for looking at solar ebike performance, consolodating all measurements in a single device.
- GPS Firmware: This net update will be much appreciated by people who have a GPS Analogger device with their CA3. With a simple hardware modification to the Analogger circuit, the GPS data will be transmitted from your existing TRS cable back to the Cycle Analyst. You can then see the time of day, your elevation, position, and direction all on the CA3 screen. The firmware also features additional custom views on the main screen, allowing you to replace or toggle the battery voltage with any of these new parameters to get just the display you are after.
- Solar GPS Firmware: Theres even a -SG firmware that combines both the solar current sensor and the GPS code. This firmware produces a log file just like that of our suntrip databox project, and will be invaluable to for those doing performance analysis on solar EV trips.
- Fast Log Rate: And to wrap things off, we have a slight version of the standard 3.13 release that includes a much higher 55Hz data logging rate. This has come up when people have wanted to use the Cycle Analyst for looking at rapid transient behavior, from off the line accelleration numbers to current spikes that cause their BMS circuit to trip.
Piloting the Baserunner
And the last product update to kick off the year is the pilot release of our new Baserunner motor controller. We spent much of last summer and fall trying to cram an even more miniature version of the Phaserunner into compact profile that could fit inside the controller cavity of the popular Hailong downtube battery cradles, and by golly we did it. While not as powerful as the Phaserunner (just 55A max phase current, and 60V max battery voltage), the Baserunner is perfectly suited to the smaller geared and direct drive hub motors using the Higo Z910 plug. This allows for a very tidy installation with no separate controller to mount.
But unlike other battery mounted controllers, the Baserunner also stands on its own too. If you upgrade to a different battery model in the future that doesn't fit the cradle, simply remove the Baserunner from the base and use it as a miniature stand alone controller with your new battery pack. That's Grin thinking about your future options for you.
The following 5 video tutorials didn't get a formal blog post last month but are worth a watch if you missed them and have a particular interest in taking apart an eZee motor, replacing an OLED screen, tuning a Phaserunner, repairing a blown controller, or converting your CA to an orange backlight.
Our December / Christmas treat for all of our fans is going to be LOT of new video releases on our youtube channel, for both enjoyment and education. Our main videographer Aaron Evenoldsen has been on a retreat editing footage from throughout the year and it's all coming together now.
We'll start this off with the latest two Customer Profile videos. In the first one we follow up from the well received Leigh Cross video with a look at his son, Tig Cross. Tig's been refining an original bike concept combining the best parts of an ebike, scooter, and velomobile, and showcases the merits of an electric generator for the human drivertrain.
And for our most recent release we look at the Landyachtz engineer Aaron Brown, who has turned his daily commute from the suburbs from a a soul sucking traffic slog into an offroad adventure.
If only we had a hard core ebike-commuter-of-the-year award to hand out!
With things settling down since the busy summer we're now getting many things back on track again, and that includes our regular customer profile video series. We recently finished one on one of our all time favorite customers, the 89 year old Leigh Cross.
We've been pretty smitten about how well the small G311 front and G310 rear motors have been working out this year. A short video we first filmed back in May explains why!
Based on the enthusiastic response we've had from customers, we're now stocking these motors prelaced into rims rather than just as bare hubs, which means even faster turn-around time for getting a kit. The front G311's are already on hand in 16", 20" 26" and 700c wheels, and we'll expect prebuilt rear wheels later in the year.
We've also just flushed out a fairly detailed product info page on this motor series which you should look at if you want to learn more, and even filmed a detailed disassembly video in case you ever wanted to take one apart!.
The torque sensor options at Grin have been getting better and better. We now have a cup adapter for the popular Sempu sensors which extends the flanges out so that they fit bike frames with 73mm bottom bracket shells. For the longest time people with 73mm BB's have been out of luck for aftermarket torque sensors, but no more.
In addition, we have a new lineup of torque sensors from NCTE to replace the long out-of-stock THUN devices. This restores the option for a true transducer that measures the actual spindle torsion. They provide an accurate human watts readout, and unlike other sensors they can be used in mid-drive setups where the motor is driving the right side chain.
To help this DIY mid-drive use case we've brought in stock the extra long 136mm spindle option, providing additional clearance for motors and extra chainrings on the right side.
To learn more about these different sensor types and how to choose the best one for your ebike, have a read of our newly completed Advanced PAS Kit article. It should help demystify things.
And finally, Robbie made a nice video this summer showing the installation process for the Sempu sensors. We hope this provides a clear idea of what is involved in adding one of these torque sensors to your ebike build.
This title says it all. This has been an epic summer and an epic year by any measure. After completing their planned leg of the 2018 Suntrip last month, Justin and Anne-Sophie got married in August with a boat and water themed ceremony, and had the tandem trike safely returned to Vancouver last week.
Meanwhile our video editor Aaron has been compiling our varied footage from the trip into short clips. The first day video showing most of the other riders was published a few weeks ago:
And we just completed the 2nd in the series showing highlights from Switzerland through to Serbia:
In the meantime, this has been our busiest summer in the store ever in terms of sales and new product developments. We want to thank Phil and Christoph who both joined the Grin team for the summer months keeping the shop under control and wish them the best in their continued studies.
For our 2nd ever customer profile we're going to feature Mark Havran.
While we're still fairly new to the solar ebike game, Mark is among the (suprisingly numerous) Grin customers who've been thinking about and experimenting with solar bikes for many years. After he shared pictures of his latest project and mentioned his round the world touring ambitions, we thought we had to do a small feature on this guy. A quick last minute trip to Maker Faire was arranged to meet up, and here we present, Mark Havran:
For additional technical details and insights on his build and plans, have a read of his recently started endless-sphere thread.
You can also follow Mark's adventures via Instagram at @SolarEbike.
After quite a long testing and verification period we're finally ready to release our 3.11 firmware update for the CA3! It is highly recommended to update your CA3 to this software, especially if you're on 3.1, for some important bug fixes and much improved PAS response.
You can grab the latest firmware using the CA software utility by clicking the "Get New Firmware" button - happy flashing!
We are also happy to let everyone know that the Crystalyte motor shipment has finally arrived after some delays at the port!. As you can see, we're very excited to have these back in stock to help you all out with your projects.
Included in this shipment are the much awaited 3540 motors with their slick "UFO" design. These are the replacements for the older square style "H" motors, you may have noticed that this change was implemented last year with the 3525 front and rear motors. As always, we have the motors customized with a 10K NTC thermistor for thermal rollback using the CA3.
We're about 65km out of Zagreb in Croatia now, cloudy weather, stopped for a brief rest on the side of the road... JLE
You can follow Justin's most recent updates on the Endless-Sphere forums - here's his latest post. If you're curious how this whole tandem-solar-pedal-rowing-trike came about, you can start reading at the beginning, here!
Justin and Anne-Sophie have been on the road in Europe for about a week now, catching as much sun as they can on the Suntrip. Since the start of the trip in Lyon and the official start of the race in Chamonix, they have been trending on a more southerly route towards Turkey and Iran. As they get used to the style of travel and the nuances of riding a three-wheeled solar vehicle all day they have had their ups...
That said, I think their level of stoke so far can be summarized by Justin in this picture...
Exhaustion with a Grin.
The official Suntrip website can be accessed here: https://www.thesuntrip.com/
Happy riding and sunny weather to you both!