Posts Tagged With: cargo bikes

E-cargo Part 2

Cargo bikes are great for transporting much more than conventional bicycles and with that advantage, of course, there is a downside – they are bigger and therefore heavier to pedal. For several years, I have been happy to do the extra work required in exchange for that benefit and have done most of my short distance grocery and other shopping trips with my cargo bike, but have not used the bike as much as I would have liked for longer trips.

In December,  2014, a new bike, the Biktrix Juggernaut, was introduced to Saskatoon, featuring an electric mid-drive. It was the mid-drive system used on that bicycle that caught my interest and the following summer, I contacted Biktrix owner, Roshan Thomas, and arranged to go for a test spin on a bike equipped with the Bafang system.

Wow – what a hoot that was, and it got me thinking about its application on a cargo bike. While short distance shopping trips are not difficult on a cargo bike, longer distances can be quite daunting due to the extra weight of a heavier bike plus its cargo. As one of my friends commented, electric assist changes a cargo bike into a regular bike when considering the effort involved. I decided to give the idea a try on the new bike that I was building.

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The Bafang mid-drive system has been on the market a relatively short period of time but has already received a lot of consumer attention and mainly good reviews. It is available in several models – after discussions with Roshan, I chose the mid range BBS02 36 volt 500 watt unit, and coupled it with a Panasonic 36 volt 14.5Ah lithium battery pack for my new cargo bike.

Installing the conversion is not difficult. Bearings, bearing shells and crank are all removed from the bottom bracket and the drive unit slides in. Controls include throttle, on/off/power level selector and brake levers that cut power when  brakes are applied. A large readout panel displays speed, distance travelled, power level selected and battery level. The unit is programmed to engage when the crank is pedalled forward or when the throttle is used. Other programming options are available.

Unlike rear hub electric motors, mid-drive systems retain the advantage of whatever range of gearing that  a bike may have. They can be coupled with rear derailleur systems or with internal geared hubs. Derailleur systems are inexpensive but require more attention in shifting when using electric assist, and can result in jerky and stressed gear changes. Internal hubs eliminate that concern and I chose another newcomer on the market, the Nuvinci N360 continually variable hub – it represents the latest in technology.

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This is what the new drive system and rear hub looked like on the new bike.

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The battery is mounted on a rear carrier, over top of the drive wheel. The Bafang unit is not obtrusive – rather it looks like it belongs where it is.

This is the view from the cockpit. The Bafang read-out is large and easy to read. The NuVinci twist-grip shifter displays speed settings as a gradient.

So, how does it work? It is a bit early for a full assessment but so far, I am very pleased with the results. The Bafang powers the bike very well and the NuVinci hub makes changing speeds a breeze. After  more than 30 kilometres, the battery is still at 80% charge. I have been out for several short distance shopping trips and have travelled in record time. The bike moves along easily at 25 km/hr, even with a load of groceries on board. I have not tried for a top speed but have been over 30 km/hr, which for a cargo bike. is moving right along!

More photos to follow in the next post, and a follow-up after the bike has logged a few miles and done some work to earn its keep. Cheers.

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Grocery cargo…

Working CB

Winter has been with us for a while and my “new” cargo bike has been safely stowed away while waiting for  a return to spring. This one was built in early summer 2014 when unusually rainy weather made it unsuitable for sailing. As this year comes to a close it is time to post some photos before a newer “new” version replaces it, hopefully with some more improvements. Photos tell the story of this build better than words.

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The cro moly donor frame – with damaged forks and a badly rusted in seat post

 

 

 

 

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To make it easier to line up the various sections of the bike, I built some stands to hold them at the correct level.

 

 

 

 

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Solid central kickstands are essential on long john cargo bikes. When surfing the net one day I came across some photos of an approach that I liked. Unfortunately I have not been able to find that site again so that I could credit the builder!! I am certainly grateful to him for sharing – if he should ever happen upon this post, I want him to know my appreciation. These pictures show the bike upside down on the bench.

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After adding paint and some components, this was what came out of the workshop:

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The cargo area has been built to be used either as a flat bed, or with box sides sized to hold two grocery baskets.

 

 

There are some marvellous builders that are building cargo bikes. I would like to acknowledge one in particular, John Lucas, of Cycle Trucks based in West Sacramento, California. He makes some great cycles – check them out. I like his X-style step through frames – this is my attempt.

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This bike has been a lot of fun – folks often comment on it when I am out shopping. I added a lot of features to it, but of course, there are always ways of improving. With that in mind, could this be the donor frame for the next one?

Next donor?

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Working Cargo – for sale

 

 

Yes, that hard working lime green beauty is for sale. Summer is closing in – another cargo bike is taking shape on the jig in the shop and so room has to be made for the newcomer.

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That bike and I have had some good times this summer – picking up groceries for the evening meal and propane gas to cook it.

RecyclingWe have taken cans and bottles to the recycling depot.

To the recycle depot

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We have replenished our supply of cans also. By the way, for anyone needing supplies for a party, the cargo deck will hold 6 dozen cans in one layer, twelve dozen if you double it… :o)A beer run

 

One of the unexpected advantages of a cargo bike came one day when we stopped for a coffee at one of our favourite spots, The Roastery at Five Corners. There were no tables left in the shade so we pulled the bike under a tree, and parked ourselves on the cargo bay – instant park bench!!IMG_5302_2

 

 

 

 

Working cargo

 

 

 

For fun we have carried lumber home from the lumberyard, – just to see if we could do it!!

Recently we used the bike to get us to a picnic on the river, carrying the chilled wine and our contribution to the feast along with our folding chairs – good times!

Heading to a picnicYes, good times for the next owner also. Who will it be? See the ad on Kijiji, or send me a note if you want to be the one.

Categories: Cargo bikes | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Transition – Mountaineer to Expediter

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It started with an idea, a challenge to be met Bicycles are great ways of getting ourselves around but often we have “stuff” that we want to take with us. The old wire baskets that many of us used to have on our bicycles are inadequate for many of the things that we would like to carry these days. What to do? The low bed cargo bike that I built has much more capacity than is often required when not going on  a serious shopping trip and yet I still wanted a way to carry some of my “stuff”.

Often the solutions that we come up are not original ideas but rather ones that we have “borrowed” from others, and that is what happened in this case. I have seen photos of light duty cargo bikes, carrying “stuff” on racks over the front wheel – this extends the cargo carrying capacity of a regular bicycle but keeps the bike compact enough to remain an “about-town” form of transportation. That is what I decided to build and thus began the transition. All I needed was a “donor” bike, and the one I found was an early model Norco mountain bike, named appropriately but without much originality “Mountaineer”.

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Even though the bike was saddle worn and a bit rough around the edges with chipped paint and rusty cables, missing wheels and brake pads, there were still lots of good miles waiting to be ridden – it was not time to put this horse out to pasture yet!!

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After all, not only did the bike come from the well-known Canadian bicycle manufacturer, Norco, but it had originally been sold by one of the landmark bike shops in Saskatoon, Joe’s Cycle. It had a pedigree and it also had some history.

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Hence the transition began, on a jig that I built to accommodate this and future cargo bike builds.IMG_8202

By using a smaller front wheel smaller and by pushing it forward, a place was made for carrying cargo.

All that remained was to join the front to the back… IMG_8209

Add the cargo bay…IMG_8223

Now to the paint booth. Throw on some primer…IMG_8227

Add some colour…IMG_8235

And a bit of bling…IMG_8241

Some cedar for the cargo deck…IMG_8255

A few recycled components…IMG_8253

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Now add to the mix some carefully selected new components:

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Swept back handlebars allowing an upright riding stance

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New Shimano  TX50 Tourney thumb shifters and ergonomic four finger Tektro brake levers

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Aluminum Wellgo CU-214 City Pedals with ball bearings and Cro-Mo machined spindles 

 

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Fenders, front and rear

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Kenda Pathfinder rear tire, low profile and selected for reduced rolling resistance

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IMG_8341Centre kickstand to allow easy loading

There you have it – the transition is complete – from Mountaineer to Expediter – a re-purposed bicycle ready to deliver rider and goods with style and pizzaz. Order yours today!!

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