Monday, July 30, 2007

Converting the BF With Lots of Help

Photo is of Roberta filing down the dropouts on my bicycle.

(The next post takes place in three parts because it’s so hard to intersperse photos in the text.)

I finally converted my Bike Friday to an ebike, with a little help from my friends. It wasn’t easy at all. Having done so, I don’t think I would do it again, at least not with a Bike Friday. I wanted the smallness and the foldability, but it took sacrificing my favorite (and only) bicycle.

Still, it’s a thrill to ride around on it, and to effortlessly scoot up hills. Also, one can pedal at the same time which increases its range and provides some exercise. I went for a ride last night as the sun was setting and it was really fun.

On the other hand, I miss the light agile bicycle that the BF was before conversion. I had to make too many alterations to it to unconvert it again. It’s sort of a Franken-Friday now.

So, the first shock was the fact that I had to file out the dropouts. I had heard that the new motors came with 9mm axles but evidently, that’s only for the 26” and 700 wheels, not the 20” like I needed. So I arduously filed it down, which took hours. Roberta came over and helped me get the rest of it filed down. She helped me wrestle the wheel on and get the battery on and get it hooked up. It wasn’t an easy job. For one thing, the motor was wired so that it turned backwards, at least according to the instructions and the arrow on it. We had to take it off and turn it around. Next the throttle wouldn’t fit on the handlebars so she scraped the inside of the fitting (see picture) until she could get it on. The battery wouldn’t settle into place and the brakes were all wonky by that point, but she had to leave.

It was sort of working at that point although it wasn’t finished. I took it out on a test run without front brakes. It was a little scary, but it took hills so beautifully I was very encouraged. That is the nice thing about small wheels. They’ve got a lot of torque. The drawback is that they go slower, of course. However, going 15 miles per hour is a great improvement over my usual cruising speed so I’m not complaining.

One of the problems was that the battery rattled a lot. It obviously wasn’t fitting onto its bracket properly. I took it off to reseat it but then couldn’t get it back on at all. After fussing with it for an hour or so (and the damn think is heavy) I gave up and

I was completely exhausted by that point so I packed it in and decided to work out the rest of the bugs in the morning with Stephen’s help. For one thing, Stephen is a good bicycle mechanic. He was able to adjust the brakes easily. I learned a lot more about brakes yesterday than I ever knew before.

Getting the battery to fit was a huge process. It turns out that the battery casing was preventing it from sitting properly. We went to the store and got something to fit into the drill to file it down. Then we drilled a new hole in the mounting bracket because it was too far forward for the battery to fit onto it. Then we had to countersink the screw we put in. There was a lot of problem solving to be done, but Stephen cheerfully went through it step by step.

At long last we finished it. I took it out for a test run and it worked! The brakes were fine, the battery didn’t rattle (much). I love it when I go up hills. I’m no so crazy about it on the flat. And I need a new magnet for my bicycle computer because the old one doesn’t fit on the huge spokes.

I miss the bike that it used to be, though. I’ll have to get used to it, I suppose. I certainly don’t need 27 gears now. About seven would do me. Using a Bike Friday for this purpose is really gilding a lily. I had labored under the illusion that it could be converted back, but I don’t think it can now. Still, I can ride so much further now. My energy is still pretty low. This will allow me to resume a bicycle oriented lifestyle.

Supposedly, I’ll get 8-12 miles per charge. I’m somewhat limited now because I have to run the battery down a few times all the way to condition it. I wanted to take it to Beth’s send-off party last night but I was afraid once I got to 9th and Hawthorne I wouldn’t be able to get all the way home.

But I’m having a great time with it. I’ll get used to it.

1 comment:

Elmo the Entrepreneur - Marke Solo in Second Life said...

I just wanted to send you a message and let you know that it was quite an accomplishment getting your electric bike conversion kit put on your bicycle.

Most of the times when these companies tell you that it's going to take four hours to put the kit together a usually takes about eight. Of course, they are working under pristine conditions where they have a shop with all the tools and it in people who've already put the kids together.

I also want to say was a good idea to go ahead and get some friends to help you out with that too.

Anyway, I've been kind keep track of this blog and I hope see a revitalized someday.

God bless,
Mark Ellis
Electric Bikes-n-Scooters