My new ebike world is progressing nicely. So far, rides on Ralph-e (a recent electric conversion of my Alfine 11-speed Brompton) have totaled about 200km along mostly coastal bike paths. Mrs Aussie has laboured somewhat while I basically cruised (the reverse of our previous ride efforts for some years?). I coped with savage headwinds & stiff hills without much concern, although a certain amount of guilt nags away (for a while?).
My technicalities recipe is to take one Brompton, add a 250watt Crystalyte motor to the front wheel & mount a 20amp GrinTech controller above the rear of the front mudguard…
Fit a TDCM torque sensing bottom bracket, with a hole drilled in the bottom of the frame for the cable connection…
Mount a GrinTech Cycle Analyst computer to the handlebars & join everything together with a wiring loom…
…and finally, include a battery (in my case, an eZee Lithium-manganese 36volt 15AmpHour, i.e. 540WattHours) within a Brompton bag at the front…
The whole experience has been an illuminating & exciting learning curve, from the ride characteristics (sounds, power-off lag (especially on slow-speed maneuvers) & smooth power) to the technical data available from the computer system (up to 11 displays for ride, motor power, human power & energy data). Choosing to “go electric” was a concern for an appropriate ride experience (brilliantly answered?), a quality product (very satisfied, even considering the likelihood of an eventual Brompton ebike release?) & a deciphering of all manner of ebike jargon & implications (eg cost, weight, power & range?).
The info & stats from the computer display has provided insights & understanding for my ebike adventure. Rather than the experience of observing a series of lights representing battery level or power levels, while riding I can see the exact consumption from the battery (amphours), my output level (human watts), economy (watthours consumed from the battery per km ridden), the usual bike computer data – & other stuff I’m still getting my head around. However, determining the all-important battery range is still a work-in-progress while my economy level has been improving with re-configuring & fine-tuning for power output. So far, a range exceeding 100kms (depending on the demands of the ride?) is on the cards – although probably not on my agenda?
Brompton weight was something I could estimate pretty accurately (about 4kg?) before the conversion although battery weight was an unknown while I was unsure what battery size to use. The 540Wh unit I decided on is great for range but adds another 4kg in weight. As usual, front luggage weight on a Brompton has virtually no affect on ride handling. I’m becoming quite proficient at folding Ralph-e with the front bag in place & the folded handling has been helped with the inclusion of a rear rack.
The final word on my Brompton ebike experience to date: priceless!
i.e. “Ralph” (my Brompton Alfine 11speed) plus a Grin Technologies Brompton conversion kit equals “Ralph-e”
My previous blog post on “Electric patience” mentioned a coming electric conversion of one of my Bromptons, rather than wait out the eventual (?) release of a factory electric Brompton. What I’ve now got from Glow Worm Bicycles (thanks Ali, Maurice, Tim, Manny, et al) is possibly my ideal setup: a Pedelec Brompton, requiring that I still have to pedal everywhere but providing electric motor assistance for hills, etc.
Ralph-e has a torque sensor bottom bracket (& no throttle control), a comprehensive computer display & a whopper battery. There, that’s my technical info nicely simplified – until a future post? (Oh, & the setup is capable of regenerative braking if I add the e-brake levers but for now I’m unsure if I’ll bother.)
So far my little solo test riding has shown an enhancement to my “Brompton Grin” & I’m quite hopeful of comfortably keeping up with Mrs Aussie? We’ll see.
I’m trying to be patient & any day/week now there should be a call? My patience for the electric Brompton has been frustrating, with so many rumours & release expectations. It’s been a constant for many years, as has my need for low geared bikes to provide assistance for riding with a heart condition. I can choose between six-speed Bromptons with 40T cranksets or an Alfine 11-speed with 44T but under some riding conditions I’m still struggling at walking pace. So the desire for a Pedelec Brompton (one that I still have to pedal to get electric motor assistance, rather than just push/twist a throttle) has been a hope for “normal cycling”. Will the electric Brompton dream eventuate?
Recent news from Brompton on a likely introduction is the latest release info, but wasn’t very encouraging from my point of view. The Brompton announcement (http://www.brompton.com/News/Posts/2016/Electric-bike/) has expressed the release as “selected European cities in Summer 2017” (i.e. maybe July 2017?) but who knows when for the global market?
Armed with some “UK-trip scuttlebut” & fresh research, I decided to check out local offerings for the possibility of a Brompton conversion. My initial findings weren’t very encouraging for obtaining a satisfactory product – but then I visited a shop where their conversions matched my quality & engineering expectations. At present I’m not going to mention the business name owing to various reasons – & Brompton restrictions? – but suffice to say they now have one of my Bromptons for conversion.
Progress has been slower than I’d like due to workloads & component supply but really, everything is bearable in comparison to the alternatives? The conversion components are from Grin Technologies, a Canadian company that offers a Brompton kit (http://www.ebikes.ca/product-info/brompton-kit.html/) with various options; my choices to be revealed once my Brompton is completed. Fingers crossed for that call soon?
Christmas has come & gone & best wishes for the New Year that’s now with us. News from the Aussie household is that Mrs Aussie has been back on a bike since her broken arm in late October. In fact, she’s had a short bike ride each day this year & seems to be coping well, aside from some pain/difficulty from rear wheel braking with her left hand? Any day now we may even be able to get out on our bikes together, as I’ve been rather restricted with my own left elbow ailment; a severe infection. My energy/motivation level has been down a bit, just as our outdoor temperatures have been too warm lately. Sounds like a coastal cruisey-ride is in order & coming soon?
Even though my recent endeavours to make my Brompton C bag fit well onto our flat-bar S type Bromptons have worked out well (see the recent “Bag & frame flexibility” post), I couldn’t resist picking up an S bag at Belrose Bicycles’ Boxing Day sale. The Barcelona model bag will readily avoid any confusion with Mrs Aussie’s standard S bag (& maybe spur her on to produce her own S flap?) Here’s Clarence with the Barcelona bag –
News from the Brompton world can’t get much better than an OBE in the New Year honors for the Brompton MD, Will Butler-Adams. I’ve had a few meet-ups with Will & an award for “Services to UK manufacturing” is typical of the man; his enthusiasm, passion & leadership goes far further than Brompton & is first class. Here he is inspiring some Sydney-siders during a visit –
Clarence, my new Claret colour Brompton S6L, has undergone some recent mods. Before I get onto telling what I’ve done to Clarence, I’ve got to thank Brompton Australia for their efforts. In my blog posts I’d previously mentioned my liking for the colour & that I’d been offered the stock bike currently on its way to Australia. What I hadn’t mentioned was that the bike arriving was an M6L & that Brompton Australia had offered to convert it to my preferred flat bar S model. With the cessation of the colour choice, it was a deal that I couldn’t resist.
So what have I done to my newly converted S6L? Some of the mods are simple additions or replacements that may or may not show up in the pic below? They include an AussieOnABrompton.com frame decal, Brompfication hinge clamps, front & rear lights, Cateye Strada computer, Brompton Eazy wheels, my Bidon cage setup, Presta-valved tubes & a Tiller Cycles 40T crankring.
For two of the important body-contact areas (bum & hands) I just had to repeat mods from other Bromptons: a Brooks B17 saddle & Ergon grips. It took some time to decide the saddle colour but I eventually settled for black. However, a set of Ergon GP1 grips was a harder mod than I expected. Whereas Mrs Aussie’s Peregrine setup with Ergons was straight-forward, Clarence proved difficult. The pic below shows the state of the original grips removed – & probably indicates that Brompton Australia’s budget for handgrip adhesive (used during the conversion from M to S bars) is far too high?
Finally, a comment on two mods that I haven’t made (for the moment). I’m sticking with the standard Brompton tyres (whereas Schwalbe Marathon & Marathon Plus tyres are used on our other Bromptons) & it will be an interesting evaluation/comparison? The standard Brompton pedals too are an experiment; my usual choice is MKS removable pedals where I use flat or clipless versions as required (mostly clipless). I have no idea how long this trial will last.
Seasons greetings to all from the Aussie household – & may you all ride long & safely
Some of our Christmas lights courtesy of Clarence & Peregrine’s Bromptoncase
“Oh dear! That didn’t work!”, were my words for a little tweaking I was trying in my quest for the perfect luggage solution.
Robinson, my original (used) Brompton came with a C bag & by chance this bag also suits my second acquisition, Ralph, a flat bar S-type Brompton. Normally the C bag ought not to be used with the S model Bromptons (owing to bag handle clearance issues around the brake cables) but because Ralph has a set of Shimano brake levers, the brake cable angle raises the cable above the C bag handle & avoids any conflict.
Mrs Aussie’s Brompton, Peregrine, is a standard S model & we purchased an S bag for her use. With the arrival of Clarence (an S model again) there was likely to be a need for another S bag, this time for my use. However, it seemed a shame that the C bag couldn’t be used with Clarence, as the latest brake lever design seems to allow more cable clearance & the cables aren’t snagging enough to start applying the brakes when turning the handlebars?
Yes, I’ve seen some C bag hacks on the Internet, where the handle is cut off & maybe replaced with a strap or cord arrangement? Maybe I could do better? Maybe it just needed the handle to slope forward a little more & provide enough cable clearance? With the handle of the frame clamped in a vice, I tried a little flexing to see if the handle could be made to bend forward? After a bit more pressure I had my answer when the handle snapped off the frame! Oh dear, bother, etc… (apologies for no pics of the destruction – “too occupied”?)
The opportunity to fashion my own strap was “now available” & I started giving it some thought. Before long I had my resolution with a couple of large cable-ties & the original handle…
Once the “Aussied” C bag was fitted to Clarence it seems an ideal solution, with the new handle being nicely flexible (& strong enough?) Will it work out? We shall see…