Things you can’t do with a recumbent trike… (3)

Well, looks like I better get a electric two wheeler for the coming zombie apocalypse…

Starring: Caroline Buchanan

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Bafang CST – Oil Cooling

I got a ‘like new’, used 20″ Bafang CST geared hub motor from Ebay. The seller stated it only ran 170km. Definitely no exaggeration, since it still turned with noticeably resistance. The gears and freewheel clutch weren’t even proper run-in yet.

After a short test run with the Phaserunner and its setup software, I could determine the exact motor characteristics (8.83 rpm/V).
Thats similar to the Bafang BPM with motor code 10 and the exact Bafang CST version I was looking for. All vendors I checked over the last couple of years, unfortunately only sell 26″ and 28″/700 versions of the CST.

After that, it got disassembled, cleaned from grease and set-up for steel planetary gears and oil cooling.

Bafang CST_original planetary gears
the opened-up Bafang CST

Unfortunately the freewheel clutch from the Bafang BPM doesn’t fit. Like they say, there is always something…

Bafang CST_original gears
The CST got a similar freewheel clutch as the Bafang BPM, but with one set key instead of the usual four set keys machined into the axle.

Notice the little black steel washer on the freewheel clutch? Thats a spring washer that takes up any axial play of the motor inside the hub.

Bafang CST_magnet ring and sun gear
Instead of the usual three screws for mounting the sun gear to the magnet ring, this CST got six screws. Another nice touch is the already installed O-ring at the motor cover.

Preparation for oil cooling
After taking the motor apart, two of the brake disk holes got drilled through, to allow filling oil into the motor with a syringe. I plan on using about 20 ml of ATF primarily for lubricating the steel planetary gears. The oil will help to shed some heat from the stator coils and magnet ring to the hum motor shell as well, though.

Bafang CST_drilling brake disk hole
drilling with 4.1mm drill

Bafang CST_cutting thread
cutting the M5 thread through

For some reason, this Bafang CST doesn’t look quite like the others. The axle doesn’t have a M12 nut on the brake disk side (like the BPM), but instead a sealing ring and a smooth 15mm axle diameter. Since the usual nut is, despite my sealing attempts, sipping at least a little oil in the oil-cooled Bafang BPM, this setup should keep the motor clean.

Bafang CST_steel planetary gears
ready for reassembling with new steel planetary gears

Bafang CST_ test stand
The CST on my DIY motor test stand. Shame about the chipped paint around the screws. The CST looked really quite pretty before.

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The WAW got rear suspension

Katanga did refine the WAW when they took over production and distribution from Fietser in 2012. The new WAW is built to a higher standard using completely new molds, resulting in a noticeably better fit and finish. Hence the new the 2014 model of the WAW was dubbed ‘WAW@2014’.

The hard work obviously paid off, since Katanga could state in their newsletter from February 2016 that 2015 saw the highest production number in the history of the WAW.

Still missing was the rear suspension…

Finally, among other updates like new front and rear cowlings, the WAW@2016 got an optional rear suspension! Adding 1.7kg to the curb weight and €472 to the bill, it needs the new ‘T3’ rear cowling but can be retrofitted to the current 2014 model as well!

WAW 2016 rear suspension_1

WAW 2016 rear suspension_2

WAW 2016 rear suspension_3

WAW@2016 rear suspension in action:

All images: Katanga

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Phase Runner Motor Controller

I wouldn’t bother you in telling the story how the Phase Runner motor controller came to be. There is a lengthily thread in the Endless Sphere forum, covering its whole development. Justin gives a short discription of the Phase Runner in this video:

The Phase Runner
Here are the rudimental specs, as stated by Grin Tech:
Grin Phase Runner, Compact Field-Oriented Waterproof Motor Controller.
90V Max and 96 A Peak Phase Currents (~40A Continuous). Its specs allow it to drive electric motors up to 60,000 eRPM (eRPM = actual motor RPM times pole pairs).

no kidding about compact size!


only four wires coming out of the controller

The Setup Software
But it’s not only the small, high quality, waterproof, motor controller with its pretty impressive specs. Grin Tech developed a controller Setup Software Suite, available for Windows, Linux and (since today) MacOS-X!

Since the controller would not run ‘out-of-the-box’ with your electric motor, the Phase Runner software is key.

PhaserWarmup0.91_Basic Setup

The Cycle Analyst V3

If you don’t have a Cycle Analyst V3 already, you’ll probably want one. It’s the display and ‘intelligent’ front end of the Phase Runner.
With an external CA V3 Shunt the Cycle Analyst V3 will work with any other motor controller as well, though.


All images: Grin Tech

The bad news
This ain’t no 50 bucks controller, soldered together in a Chinese back yard, with a dozen funny wires coming out of one side.

The Phase Runner is a pretty sophisticated, widely configurable enthusiast device, costing $295. That isn’t exactly cheap, but is designed to last.
-You have to read the Phase Runner thread in the Endless Sphere forum.
-You have to plug it to a computer and set it up with its Setup Software to get it running!

If you stumble into hiccups, the Grin Tech team and the Phase Runner users in the friendly Endless Sphere forum will help you get it running, but you have to do it yourself.

If these requirements don’t scare you, proceed. It ain’t rocket science but might take a bit of a learning curve.

I’ve ordered one. It looks like the perfect motor controller for the Blue ICE.

Grin Tech proved already with the Cycle Analyst V3 and the waterproof Cycle Satiator ebike charger (plus a couple of other devices I never used and can’t comment on) they are determined to develop and produce devices for ebikes that do not suck.
Their customer service is first-rate as well.

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Blue ICE Refinements

I’m planning a long tour this Summer and a 120km test tour in March revealed some shortcomings in the setup of the Blue ICE.


Too long cranks
While the Patterson Drive with 175mm cranks felt ok on my usual 30-60km rides, the longer ride clearly showed the crank size doesn’t fit me.

The shortest crank size available for the Patterson drive is 165mm. I bought one, since I wanted a second Patterson for the black commuter Sprint anyway. The 175mm cranks can be shortened to 150 or 155mm length. Not sure if I do it myself. That can wait.

The 42t chain ring on the Patterson (67t in overdrive) and a finely spaced 13-32t freewheel didn’t work out as planned. Turns out, I don’t need finely spaced gears at the top end up to 60km/h. 42t at the front and 32t at the rear wasn’t sufficient to climb steep hills without electric assist, either.

Patterson Metropolis im Blue ICE
old 42t chain ring with cheap silver aluminium 130mm chain ring adapter from Ebay

Patterson recently added 34t and 36t chain ring options to the stock 28t chain ring. After calculating different gear setups with Mike Sherman’s Gear Calculator I came to the conclusion the 36t chain ring and a 11-34t freewheel should fit my needs and preferred pedaling cadence.

Patterson with 36t chain ring_web
36t Patterson chain ring (‘customised’ with 3mm neodymium magnets for the pedelec sensor)

The 11-34t freewheel, 36t chain ring and shorter cranks work way better in every respect. The 1:1.6 overdrive of the Patterson Drive provides a ‘virtual’ 57t chain ring.

Front Light
The front light changed from the old Trelock 950LC with a slowly dying lithium battery and way too narrow beam, to a B&M IQ Cyo Premium 80 Lux ebike light. The IQ Cyo Premium has a much wider beam pattern, more suited for a trike and is fed from the output of the Cycle Analyst V3. Turns out, this 6-42V Ebike light can take 61V no problem.

Blue ICE updates_front light and chain ring
new front light

Chain tube fix
Against occasionally dropping the chain on rough roads, this little plastic clamp keeps the upper chain tube in place.

Blue ICE updates_chain tube clamp
chain tube clamp and pedelec sensor

Pannier mount
Instead of a rear rack, two 16mm stainless steel tubes are directly bolted to the rear frame. The Ortlieb Quick Lock-1 hooks of the Ortlieb XPress panniers mount securely onto the steel tubes. The slightly modified Cycle Analyst bracket on the lower frame tube provides the third mounting point for the panniers.

Blue ICE updates_BB7 and pannier mount
16mm steel tube at the upper frame tube, a Cycle Analyst bracket at the lower tube

I’m apparently not the first Sprint owner who doesn’t care much about ICE rack options. Olaf made a similar pannier mount, but raised it higher since he uses regular Ortlieb rear panniers. Looks way better than a rack on his sleek, black Sprint 26X in my opinion.

Olafs Sprint 26_Gepäckträger
‘stealth’ pannier mount instead of a rack

Rear Brake
The cheap and ugly Chinese disc brake caliper made way for a better looking Avid BB7. Since the distance between brake disc and hub motor flange is rather small on the Bafang BPM, the BB7 needs a 180mm size disc to fit. Barely.

Blue ICE updates_Avid BB7
Avid BB7, 180mm disk, one of the two torque arms

Blue ICE updates_BB7-BPM distance
not much space

New motor controller
The trike currently got a 15FET/50A Sunwin controller that is way oversized for this motor and could strip the stock Bafang BPM planetary gears in short order. Fortunately it has a soft start feature and isn’t as hard on the plastic planetary gears of the BPM, but thus feels a bit sluggish up to 25km/h. The Cycle Analyst restricts the controller to 35A.

Blue ICE updates_15FET controller and battery mount
15FET controller, tucked away under the seat between the two battery mounts

Cycle Analyst V3
While the Cycle Analyst V3 enables ‘intelligent’, completely configurable electric assist with any ‘dumb’ controller and keeps me informed about the battery status, its current main job is protecting the geared hub motor from the brute force of the oversized controller.

It got a firmware update from FW v3.01 to version v3.1b3 yesterday.
Thats a beta FW version, but the CA can display instantaneous W/km consumption now and got some other new features.

Blue ICE updates_CA3 FW update
Firmware update to a tricycle…

What’s next?
New gears for the Bafang
I’ve already ordered three custom-made, steel planetary gears for the Bafang BPM and will use transmission oil to lubricate the gears and cool the hub motor. Its noise level will noticeably increase. Otherwise I’m pretty certain the ‘500W’ BPM will work reliable up to 2 or 3kW after this modification.

Steel planetary gears and ATF cooling worked great with my Bafang SWXH.
After that mod the little ‘250W’ geared hub motor could handle 1.5kW continous quite well for short periods.

New controller
Instead of the current big and brutish 15FET controller, the tiny, potted, 6FET field orientated Phase Runner motor controller from should be a way better solution. Smaller and much better looking than almost any other available controller, it’s still able to handle 90V, 40A battery current and 96A phase current.
I’m definitely waiting for the OS-X version of the interface software before deciding.

the Phase Runner

Nose fairing?
Since a black nose fairing is waiting to get on the black commuter Sprint, the short white KingCycle fairing currently installed, might find a new home on the Blue ICE. Should look nice with the white Ortlieb XPress panniers, but first it needs a more refined mount and a lick of paint.

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Gingko SA+ drum brake hubs with heat sinks

Gingko just quietly listed their new ‘SA+’ drum brake hubs in 70mm and 90mm drum diameter with custom designed heat sinks in their online shop.

the 70mm SA+ drum brake hubs

All Sturmey Archer drum brake hubs from Gingko sport smaller 2.5mm (14G) spoke holes for superior spoke fit. An other singular feature are the availability of versions with 28, 32, or 36 spoke holes.

AFAIK every other vendor around the globe sells Sturmey Archer drum brake hubs with 3mm (13G) spoke hole diameter and 36 spoke holes only.

The ‘SA+’ hubs are the latest developement in Gingko’s ‘quest’ in improving the Sturmey Archer SD (70mm) and SD-XL (90mm) drum brake hubs for use in velomobiles (and tadpole trikes). Since heat build-up on long, steep descends can be a problem with drum brakes, especially with the closed wheel wells of Quest and Milan velomobiles, adding cooling fins and now heat sinks offers real world benefits.

various versions of the 90mm SA+ drum brake hubs

Gingko offers their custom 70mm and 90mm Sturmey Archer drum hubs in various versions. All are available in silver or black anodised finish, with 28, 32 and 36 spoke holes, there are lightened versions, lightened versions with cooling fins and now the various versions of the SA+ with heat sinks.

The 70mm SA+ drums sport five heat sinks, while the bigger 90mm SA+ drums even got ten heat sinks. Compared to the stock drum hubs, the heat sinks are adding a 200 cm2 (70mm SA+), or 400 cm2 (90mm SA+) increase in cooling surface to the hubs.

90mm SA+ drum hub with ten heat sinks

Preliminary tests on a test bench where promising. Lutz stated, he couldn’t raise the hub temperature of the SA+ hub prototypes above 160°C in his tests.

I just called him on a different matter and when chatting about their new hubs, he mentioned they are eagerly awaiting the ‘real world’ results from their two velomobile test riders in the field.

Now to the slightly less desirable part: These Gingko SA+ hubs ain’t exactly cheap.
While Gingko sells the plain 70mm hubs starting at €77 a pair and the plain 90mm drum hubs at €88 a pair, the 70mm SA+ hubs start at €220 a pair and the 90mm SA+ hubs start at €270 a pair. The high-end version of the 90mm SA+ will set you back €340 a pair, while the high-end version of the 70mm SA+ comes a bit cheaper at €293.

All images: Gingko Spezialradteile

Disclaimer: I’m not in any way affiliated with Gingko. Just a enthusiastic user of Gingkos 90mm custom drum brake hubs.

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Blue ICE Impressions

The Blue ICE

Blue Sprint_XPress_left_02_web
ready for touring with big panniers

Blue Sprint_XPress_left_web
ground clearance

Blue ICE_in front of shed_web
batterys only

Blue Sprint_battery mount_web
DIY battery mount and rear lights

Blue Sprint_beam pattern_web
The Cockpit with Cycle Analyst

Blue ICE_front_Patterson_Xpress_web
Patterson Metropolis drive

Ortlieb XPress_Batterys_Lock_web
XPress panniers, 1.2kW/h battery, Abus U-lock

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Ortlieb X-Press Pannier Conversion

Once upon a time Ortlieb sold a waterproof shoulder bag that can be converted to rather perfect recumbent bike rear panniers with little effort and cost.

Once converted, the X-Press panniers provide a less unwieldy alternative to the Ortlieb Recumbent Bag that isn’t available in less heat prone white and silver colors.
Black panniers might look more fetching, but will heat up quickly to pretty high temperatures (like 70°C!) on a summer day.

Meet the Ortlieb X-Press

Ortlieb X-Press M

The Ortlieb X-Press came in several colors (black, red/black, yellow/black, silver/black, white/black) and three sizes (S, M, L). Size S is a perfectly fine waterproof shoulder bag, but for bike panniers you want size M or the deeper size L.

Ortlieb X-Press sizes
X-Press size S: 28cm height x 38cm width x 15cm depth (15 liter)
X-Press size M: 38cm height x 48cm width x 15cm depth (25 liter)
X-Press size L: 38cm height x 48cm width x 20cm depth (35 liter)

It might be a slight problem is to find a pair of these bags nowadays, since Ortlieb discontinued them around 2005. They come-up at Ebay from time to time and normally sell for €30 to €40 a piece. Hence it will probably be more of a project, not a quick solution for the upcoming cycling trip next week…

Ortlieb XPress size SML
Yeah I know. I got a bit carried away… and had to make sure I got the bags I need before you all snatch them up on Ebay😉

Blue ICE with Ortlieb XPress_web
To get a feel for the size of the 35 liter X-Press L. They’re pretty huge!

How to:
With the right parts, converting the X-Press to bike panniers is relatively easy. Add a mounting system and a sturdier rear plate, move the locking straps to the front and you are done. Basically, you create a bigger, 50 liter (size M) or 70 liter (size L) version of the Ortlieb Back-Roller City (40 liters) or Ortlieb Office-Bag (21 liter per bag).

Ortlieb XPress
The X-Press front and rear. The upper one is ready to roll, the lower one is still in original shape

Move the straps
Why move the straps with the quick release buckles to the front? Well, If you leave them on the back side they are less accessible and might dangle into the derailleur or rear disc brake. We don’t want that, do we?

Fortunately there are already holes in the front plate. You just have to pierce the fabric to simply change the straps from the rear to the front. Use the four Ortlieb screws and plastic nuts from the shoulder strap buckle to close the four holes at the rear.

New rear plate
While the 1.5mm thick Nylon plates inside are perfectly fine to give the X-Press shape and protect the stuff inside, the rear plate is too flexible for use as panniers. Either you add a piece of corrugated plastic like Coroplast (from an old election sign) or cut a new one from stiffer material (plywood or plastic).

Use the original rear plate as a template for the new one, drill the ‘old’ holes as well and fix it inside the bag before you drill the holes for the mounting system.

What parts needed for the mounting system?
First you need a mounting system to fix the panniers to your rack. Luckily, Ortlieb invented a rather practical and sturdy mounting system with the Ortlieb Quick Lock-1 and sells the parts seperately. The parts will cost about €20 per panniers.

The QL-1 rail (long)
The long QL-1 rail comes in two versions: with four mounting holes or with five mounting holes and a buckle for a strap. I prefer the five-hole version, since the center hole makes it easier to mount the rail to the bag.
QL-1 rail long 4+5 holes

The QL-1 hooks
The sturdy QL-1 hooks get mounted into the rail. When the panniers are mounted to your rack you just grab the carrying strap to release the hooks.

QL-1 hooks

The anchoring hook with rail
The 10mm anchoring hook with lower rail to fix the panniers at the bottom to the rack
Anchor hook with rail

Screws, washers and lock nuts
While the screws and plastic nuts Ortlieb provides with the rails are fine, they might be too short after you added a sturdier back plate to the bags. I used metric 4mm ‘M4’ screws and lock nuts to attach the Ortlieb rails to the bags. Put the lock nuts on the outside. They fit well inside the mounting holes of the QL-1 rails.

QL-1 mounted with screws

A 4mm wood drill worked perfectly to drill the holes into the bags. Best to mark the hole positions with a sharpie first.

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Schwalbe Big Ben vs Schwalbe Shredda Evo and Almotion

Recently, I’ve switched from my usual Schwalbe Big Ben tyres all around, to supposedly faster Schwalbe Shredda Evo (in 50-507) at the front and Schwalbe Marathon Almotion (in 55-559) at the rear of the blue Sprint.
These are just my unscientific impressions after using the Shreddas for 450km at the front and the Almotion for a bit over 1,000km at the rear.

The Schwalbe Big Ben (Performance Line)

I wrote about the Schwalbe Big Ben already here and here. Its my standard tyre on my unsuspened tadpole trikes. Great traction and good comfort at lower tyre pressure. Certified throughout Europe for tyres used on ebikes capable of a top speed up to 50km/h (‘E-Bike 50 ready’). In essence a very light moped tyre with tremendous grip.

The Schwalbe Shredda (Evolution Line)

The Schwalbe Shredda Evo is a BMX tyre build for low weight and maximum speed. No puncture protection or ebike rating. Just a 127tpi carcass mated with Schwalbes finest rubber and a relatively fine thread pattern. It is equally at home on gravel, light snow or the street and offers great traction. Clearly better traction on gravel and wet roads than the already outstanding Big Ben.

While the Shredda Evolution Line ranked in several rolling resistance tests as one of the fastest 20″ tyres in its 50-406 size, the same tests and anecdotical evidence from members in the German recumbent forum suggested running at temperatures around freezing is not the strongest suite of the Shredda. It looses noticeably in the speed/rolling resistance department at chilly temperatures. In its 50-507 size, like tested, the Shredda is probably the fastest 24″ tyre available (when temperatures are above 15°C).

Choosing the ‘right’, fast Shredda is not plain obvious, since Schwalbe offers it in two versions.
The fast, expensive (€50), 127tpi carcass, tubeless ready, folding, ‘Evolution Line’ version, build to leave your contenders in the dust, and the cheaper (€20), wire beat, every day, ‘Performance Line’ version with a more pedestrian 67tpi carcass. The ‘slow’ Shreddas where still a smidge faster in rolling resistance tests than the Kojak, though.

The Schwalbe Marathon Almotion

Schwalbe promotes the relatively new Marathon Almotion as a light and fast, tubeless ready touring tyre with high puncture resistance, equipped with their high-end ‘One Star’ rubber compound. Schwalbe rates the Almotion as a ‘E-Bike 25’ tyre (for Pedelecs with 25km/h top speed).

At the same tyre size and air pressure, it’s a bit more comfortable than the already pretty nice Big Ben. Traction on the road is at least equal to the Big Ben if not slightly better. On gravel and off-road, the Big Ben with its slightly coarser thread got a bit of an advantage, though. Like the Land Cruiser, the Almotion seem to slip more gracefully and provides a bit easier handling when pushed too hard on cold, wet roads, compared to the Big Ben.

How did they behave?
I couldn’t find a clearly discernible speed increase of these faster tyres compared to the Big Ben at temperatures between -5°C and +5°C. I did find the Shredda (as well as the Almotion) provide even better grip and traction on wet roads than the Big Ben. You don’t get twice the grip for twice the money, but the better grip was clearly noticeable when I pushed the trike at high-speed around tighter corners.

So far, very nice tyres! The Almotion on the rear wheel seems to be a pretty good match to the Shreddas at the front. Just the lack of noticeably lower rolling resistance at cold temperatures (compared to the Big Ben) gives a slightly nagging feeling. Don’t forget, these tyres cost 50 bucks a piece, while you can get a Big Ben under 20 bucks.

Since Spring is still slightly chilly here, I went back to using the Big Bens for my daily commute and will try the 24″ Shredda / 26″ Almotion combo again when temperatures settle above 15°C. Then it will hopefully be more clear whether the Big Ben is such a great tyre or the Shredda/Almotion are just a bit more susceptible to colder temperatures.

That wouldn’t be a phenomenon unheard of: All tyres get slower at lower temperatures, but the plain old Marathon GreenGuard is known to have way less increase in rolling resistance when temperatures drop under 5°C, than most other tyres.

All images: Schwalbe

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Gaadi Tubes

The new Gaadi two-end tubes look like a very good idea if you use an electric hub motor or internal geared hub in your cycle. Being able to quickly change the tube without opening the axle nuts or fiddling with torque arms in case of a flat, sounds pretty intriguing.

Image: Gaadi

Judging by the many different tube sizes Gaadi offers, they obviously like you to choose a tube that fits your tyre width best. I did that. The Gaadi 50/57-559 tube size looked like the right fit for my 55-559 Schwalbe Big Ben (that would be a 2.15″ wide tyre , for the metrical impaired).

Today I’ve tried mounting a 26″ Big Ben tyre with a 26″ Gaadi tube on a spare 26″ rim. This image shows how the tube supposed to sit inside the tyre:

Even after several attempts I couldn’t mount the Gaadi tube without ending up with a clearly visible gap between the tube ends inside the tyre at my usual tyre pressure of 2-2.5 bar (29-36 psi). Not convincing…
In case of using it in a tadpole trike or velomobile, where a blown-out rear tyre tube at some speed can lead to pretty severe accidents, not convincing at all!

First of all, mounting the Gaadi tube might not be the simple, straightforward affair with a wide tyre, like the promo video suggests. Second, it might work if you choose a narrower tyre with stiffer side walls and higher tyre pressure. Like a Schwalbe Marathon or Marathon Plus.

After a short Google search I’ve found several threads in online cycling forums about customers complaining about Gaadi tubes failing at the tube ends. These Gaadi two-end tubes might not be the best invention since sliced bread. Patented or not. One might wonder why Schwalbe doesn’t offer a similar two-end tube…

I might do some further testing with narrower tyres, but I can’t see myself using Gaadi tubes in the rear tyres of my trikes. Not recomended for wide tyres.

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