Sunday 21 April 2013

Bike maintenance

I didn't do out today. The weather was fine, but I ache all over from the previous two days exercise, plus I found it hard to stay awake on my drive home yesterday.

The wobble on the front wheel is really worrying me. I'm hearing a sort of grinding noise from the front when I apply power. So I got out the twin of the bike (when I bought it off Ebay, there were two in the package). The front brake wasn't working very well; I think it's the spring that pushes the brake off. So I replaced the assembly, and it seems OK now. I also added a bell; I can't understand why so many people ride without a bell; I want to be able to warn people when I'm coming past them from behind. And I pumped up the tires, replaced the left-hand non-folding pedal with a folder (I can remember a time when I needed to fold both pedals to get through a kissing gate), checked the brakes, gave it a quick test ride, and put it in the car.

I also did a bit of thinking about what to do when that one wears out. I think the wobble on the front wheel is probably unfixable except by replacing the front wheel, and since that has the motor, it means - new motor. Which is expensive. I'll take it round a bike shop or two, to see if maybe it can be fixed.

So I had a look on Ebay, and I think I've convinced myself that for my next electric bike, it'll be home-made. I did the same with computers; 20 years ago, I was buying them from Novatech ready-built, but after doing that for a year or so, I started to assemble my own. It isn't difficult. And you get exactly what you want, not what someone thinks that most people might want.

I can start off with the Haro bike I've already got - apart from the wobbly front wheel, I like it.  I can get a 500 watt motor for £180 (with controller and assorted bits). I like the thought of 500w; that's twice what I currently have, so it should help me more up hills and on the rough. I thought about getting a rear wheel drive, but that's got to be more difficult to install. And then the battery ...

Currently, I'm using 24v, 10ah batteries, and two of them pretty much lasts a whole day, with a third one being used sometimes, partially. So if I get one 24v, 40 ah battery, that should easily last the whole day. That would cost £373, and it weighs 13.6 kg, 30 pounds. So if I need to lift over a stile, it'll mean battery off first! Or a 30ah battery is £327 and weighs 11.3 kg.

36v batteries are also a possibility, then a 20 AH battery (equivalent to 30AH in 24v) would be £294, 11.5 kg. The advantage of 36v is that, from what I can see, they're more widely used than 24v. The advantage of 24v is that I already have an investment; I have three operational 24v batteries right now. But by the time I think more seriously about doing this, they might be getting old (and not holding charge so well). In my experience, at the rate of use I have, I can expect two, maybe three years from a battery.

So if I got a 24v, 40 ah battery, I could carry a spare 10 ah battery from my existing ones, although I think I'd soon discover that I won't ever need it.

These batteries come with chargers, running at 6 amps. So the 40 ah battery would charge in 7 hours, which means overnight, which is fine.

Still, as long as the current bike works, I don't need to take action on this.

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