1K update

I have made 1000km on electric kit from Doug and www.gocarlite.com

The motor, battery, controller - everything is in the same pristine working order, no major issues.
Thanks Doug!


My rear hub has been replaced again. This time I only had to swap the inside part, which was sent to me by Sunrace (the owner of Sturmey Archer) from Napa, California as a free replacement. The whole operation took about half an hour and was very easy, especially compared to complete hub swap. The new internals work just fine for now.

Amazing customer service from Sturmey Archer too, regardless of the defective S2C hubs.

New Schwalbes

Recently installed new Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.  700 x 35C aramid bead, 460g each. They seem to roll faster but not by much, but the ride definitely became smoother :)
Tried my regular downhill section today at Edenbridge drive. I was going up to 47km/h with old Kenda tires. New Schwalbes - 51. No pedaling or electric assist, just gravity.





500km after

The electric kit performs as new and no problems so far. On a flat road I ride with a speed up to 35km/h with some assist. Range is up to 60-70km.
The total distance on a day I go to work and back home is 36km. I do it 2-3 times a week. Weather is a factor as I do not ride if it rains, and sometime I just take transit to catch up on one of my Kindle ebooks.
I ride from Dixon/Royal York area straight to downtown College/Elizabeth at UHN. The ride takes me south through Royal York to Humber River trail, then Annette and Junction area, Dupont-Bloor-College bike/hiking trail and then eastbound College street. The latter one is the most unpleasant part of the ride with all its traffic, cracked, bumpy pavement, cars on both sides, people opening doors in front of you and competition with streetcars. Streetcars do indeed slow the traffic down a lot, I don't like them here this way. Ideally they need to be separated from the traffic like in all big modern cities.
My route was surprisingly well planned by Google maps. I admire this tool as it allows you to get directions by bike and it takes all bike lanes and trails into account. After riding few different way to work I accept Google's initial directions as shortest and safest:



Biggest problem with the bike is the rear S2C kickshift hub. I have rebuilt the wheel and installed a new hub, which Sturmey Archer sent me as a free replacement. It works as bad as a previous one, with all kinds of noises and grinding in high gear, it also unlocks by itself from direct drive and switches randomly to high or spins freely. It sounds awful when riding and I feel the vibration and clicking through the frame. Lube is oozing out again, as it is the new hub. Gears are sometime very difficult to switch, especially after long downhill after extensive braking.
I seriously consider getting rid of S2C Sturmey Archer and building wheel based on SRAM's Automatix, which also has a coaster, 2 speeds, and... is half a kilo (a pound) lighter. Will need to get a new set of spokes though.
After doing some research I figured there is no one selling this thing. Niagara Cycles where I bought S2C has SRAM hub on the website but not available in stock, i.e. they don't sell it.
I would appreciate if anyone could point me in the right direction as where to get this thing (with coaster):

Electric update

The bike has been performing well and the mileage I am getting is pretty amazing. I have went to work and back twice (one way ~17km, X4 = 68km) and the battery didn't die! It went almost to zero, I guess, but motor was pulling as hard. I have to admit I was mostly pedalling all the way, but used the motor as assist almost the entire route. I decided to charge it finally, since I didn't want to ride without assist. I am so used to it now I can't imagine cycling same distance by my own anymore.
I have changed the chainring to 46 teeth and it is much better now. I can keep up with electric motor and cruise at a speed around 30km/h with half effort I am used to. I installed my wireless cycle computer from my mountain bike, Cateye Strada. It shows that without me pedalling motor alone provides 31.5-32km/h speed.

Electric hybrid conversion

The latest update - bike is now electric. I have purchased electric conversion kit made by AmpedBikes and distributed by www.gocarlite.com. Doug, the owner, was very easy to deal with, he responded quickly to all my questions and shipped the kit right away. Kit was tested and verified before he sent it and everything is working as it should. 
Due to the nature of my bike (DIY bike frame), conversion/installation process was not immediate and easy task. Most difficult was mounting the tube battery, since I did not have regular bottle cage holes drilled in the frame. My solution was to take a 2mm piece of steel (appr. 10inches long and 1/2 inch wide), make two holes in it, thread the holes with tap and then attach it to the frame. It was wrapped with fiberglass cloth(to prevent carbon/steel associated corrosion) and glued with epoxy to a frame. After drying, a piece of carbon fiber was wrapped around and it was all electrical taped to the frame for compression. Tape was removed after couple of days and the final look was like nothing happened :) i.e. that the plate was there before. Seems to be holding strong and blends with a frame nicely.

Wires were thread through electrical plastic conduit and it was glued to the frame from beneath the upper tube. Electric box-controller was black painted and attached under the rack, above fender. It is barely visible:
 The plan is to try to hide the wires completely in some sort of box where the rack meets the frame to make it look less obvious. I also want to paint the battery black since it doesn't blend with the bike paint scheme. 
New handlebar is very comfy, it is Origin8 Pro-Torq Space and it has nice back sweep. 

Bike now feels heavier but not by much. It is still easy to pedal. I've noticed it became more soft, probably due to increased weight carbon frame flexes more now and works better at shock absorbing. I was able to get up the nastiest steepest hill during my ride to work without significant efforts. Riding against the wind seems to be not a problem anymore.

The chainring now does not provide the best ratio because electric motor's highest speed forces me to pedal too fast even in highest gear that S2C hub can provide (138% ratio). I will be switching back to 46 teeth front chaingring so I can assist the motor more efficiently.

Carbon frame. Part I.

In order to have it in sequential order, posts for frame and bike build are arranged in chronological order from part I to partV with a first quick update after bike was build. 
Getting the supplies.
I have a serious passion about bicycles for a long time. Bike mechanics is equally or even more fascinating than riding the bike itself for me. So I was in search for an interesting project for a while until about a year ago I started cultivating idea about making bicycle frame from scratch. Before that I thought I would just simply buy used, trashed, ugly and rusty frame from CL and install nice components on it. But then I somehow stumbled upon Brano Meres (BM) website www.bmeres.com/
I started spending a lot of time searching for affordable sources of carbon fiber and epoxy resins. It took several months to settle on the design and materials. Initial thought was making a bamboo frame with lugs out of either carbon or hemp fiber. Unfortunately, I was unable to find reliable source of bamboo poles anywhere around and for the first project of this kind buying a pack of 10+ several feet long and getting them by mail was risky and hard to convince myself to do. I found one place here in Toronto that sells poles http://bamboobazaar.ca/bamboopoles.html. But. Any poles I have seen were cracked or crooked badly. Apparently, it is a necessary to poke all the inner membranes before bamboo dries to prevent it from cracking. This is something I am going to do in my next project.
So the build began upon finding the main frame materials, i.e. carbon fiber. I was looking at two sources first:
the last one won because they have retail location in Mississauga. I composed approximate list of materials needed for the project. My first estimate was about 2 square yards of carbon fiber fabric, 3-6 feet of narrow and wide carbon tape, 10 feet of carbon tow, couple of sq. yards of fine fiberglass and a gallon of epoxy resin. Surprisingly, Composites Canada had everything needed. Except they didn't have recommended by BM  LGS 285 epoxy in 1 gallon jugs, only 1 gallon ones. After a short conversation and a very detailed description of different epoxies with one of the staffs ( I was even given a sheet with test results on how did certain epoxies behave in mechanical load tests) I picked a 2.2lbs can of Aeroepoxy 2032 with hardener 3660. It has some nice features such as:

PR2032 is a medium viscosity, unfilled, light amber laminating resin that is designed for structural production applications. Three hardeners are available for use with PR2032. PH3660, has a 1-hour pot life. When used with either of these hardeners, the system gives excellent wet-out of fiberglass, carbon and aramid fibers. Special additives have been incorporated into this system to promote chemical adhesion to fabrics made with these fibers.
The AEROPOXY systems will cure completely at room temperature, or can be given an elevated temperature cure. AEROPOXY contains no MDA (a known liver toxin and carcinogen) and meets or exceeds current OSHA requirements for safe use. It satisfies all structural, pot life and wet-out characteristics according to tests by Rutan Aircraft Factory, and RAF recommended its use for all homebuilt aircraft applications. 

Good enough for me. As of carbon fiber I decided to buy a) 1 sq.yrd of plain carbon fabric, weave: 8 HS, 5.7 oz density. b) 1 sq.yrd of twill, 5.7 oz.  I don't know much about categorization of carbon fiber fabric and weave and patterns, but I think it was a right choice. All in all my total was 195$.
And of course, the core material. Initially I started making a frame out of regular packing white styrofoam but it failed miserably. Do not use white styrofoam for anything except packing or insulating. It is impossible to sand and hard to cut. I made a hot wire myself, but it was awkward to use so I needed something I can sculpt with a knife. Pink foam from HomeDepot did the trick. You can carve anything you want from it, it is very easy to shape and sand, much more rigid and almost as lightweight as white one. 
I chose Nova Cycles www.cycle-frames.com/bicycle-frame-tubing/ as a source for my bike frame parts. Since you can't make everything out of carbon fiber I needed: metal head tube, seat tube, bottom bracket shell and rear dropouts. The order looked like this:

NOV_LLBB_69MM_SLE LUGLESS IMPORTED SUPER LIGHT SLE $5.95   1 $5.95
NOV_DROP_MTBY_ADJ MTB Y shaped dropout for 29er and 26er IC Plug Style $18.50   1 $18.50
NOV_COHT_36SM_200 OS CRMO 36.0SM x 200 $7.15   1 $7.15
NOV_ALST_31.8_485 7005 SEAT TUBE 31.8 DIAMETER X 485mm LONG SMALL SIZE $15.85   1 $15.85
NOV_STOP_33_1_KI8 CABLE STOP SINGLE FLAT FRONT KI8 $0.27   3 $0.81
NOV_302_13OS_CB REAR CANTI BOSS WITH 13MM OFFSET $1.94   1 $1.94
Subtotal: $50.20


 total was 73$ including shipping. It would probably be easier and cheaper to get a used frame and sacrifice it for the project but...I decided to do a full frame build from scratch and this was how its supposed to be done. 

Total for materials:
carbon, resin 195$
metal inserts, tubes 73$
1 pink foam sheet 96X24'' 1/2 ''  ~20$

288$Can




Part II.

Frame sizing, jig building.
I have decided to use existing bike frame from Devinci hybrid St Tropez as a reference. It has 19'' frame, 700cc wheels, rigid fork. All the main measurements were taken and transferred onto a sheet of pink styrofoam. In parallel I assembled together a frame out of 2X4 roughly the twice-1.5 the size of future frame. It had to be very sturdy, so I used a bit more lumber than needed, the jig came up to be very heavy. 
Once the styrofoam was all marked I started to shape it with utility knife, coarse file and a sanding block. Pink foam is amazing product and very easy to work with. I definitely will use in the future for making some other molds.
Different parts such as metal tubes and rear triangle were glued together with hot glue. After assembling the foam core of the bike frame I found it was fairly flimsy. The most difficult step here was making connections with the jig. They had to be very precise to keep up with correct frame geometry. I only had laser level and a plumbing bob, so I used them to position connecting points between styrofoam core and the jig so that the frame is not crooked, vertically and horizontally aligned. My main concern was to keep the head tube in the same plane as the rear wheel triangle and seat tube + making sure that bottom bracket shell is perpendicular to both of them. Overall shape of the frame was improvised according to how I felt I like it back then. If I would have to do it again it would be different, because the material used here allows you to do anything, so the curves and thickness of "tubes" can vary drastically.

Fiberglass protection coat.
I have read before in different descriptions that metal has to be protected by wrapping it first with something, otherwise direct contact with carbon fiber will cause the corrosion. I am still not sure how bad this corrosion might be, if it will happen at all, but just in case I followed the advice. All of the metal tubes were covered with a single layer of fiberglass soaked in epoxy before I glued them to the foam.

Part III.

Laminating. First steps.
Once everything was aligned and secured I prepared the resin, carbon fiber materials and electrical tape according to BM instructions. It seems critical to puncture holes in the electrical tape because it allows epoxy glue to ooze through them, which removes the excess and compacts current layer. I roughly cut pieces of different sizes of carbon fiber fabric to fit them onto the frame and used some carbon tow in the beginning to secure all loose connections (was not really necessary). Also, the rear dropuouts were slightly modified first. I've inserted metal pins in them to make them longer and create more contact surface with the rest of the frame. Then I wrapped them with a carbon fiber tape to form a bigger diameter cylinder with matched more or less the diameter of the chain- and seatstays.


The epoxy resin was mixed according to their suggested ratio of 100:27 using digital scales bought from ebay (12$). All the lumber and electrical tape were roughly 20$. 

The frame is getting first wrap of carbon fiber. It looks rough at first but gets better with every next layer. I didn't have much time to let it dry and then add another layer.I would usually add new layer, let wrap it and leave for a few days. The resin becomes dry by then and the electrical tape easy to remove. Next layer I'd start again with removing tape, mixing resin, laminating carbon and wrapping the frame. All in all it is ~ 10 layers on most stress points, around bottom bracket, head tube, rear dropouts and seat; and maybe 6-7 anywhere else.Every layer was also sanded before the next one is applied to remove the grooves from the electrical tape and make it easier for the epoxy to stick. After sanding:


The whole process is very long and tedious. I don't know if I would want to repeat it again. The major advantage is course simplicity and no need for welding tools when you work with carbon fiber. Welding is going to be faster though in my opinion, but requires more learning and practicing. However, this technology is not exactly what they use in industry, so you end up with a lot of imperfections, rough, uneven surfaces, dips and bumps. To be honest I don't know how BM made his frame look so perfect if went through the same steps, there must be some trick. I ended up with a last layer of carbon fiber which looked better then previous ones, but still you can see how different pieces come together and the pattern is not very uniform. 
The process of wetting the carbon fabric with epoxy is very straightforward. I was using a brush. Unfortunately you end up with a lot of wasted resin when squeezing it with electrical tape. Here is the head tube part: