Nuvinci N380 – Now With Bigger Balls, More Range And It Can Take A Teeny Weenie Bit More Power

Fallbrook Tech just released the N380 (press release here) which claims to have more range than the old N360 as well as being able to support a whopping 350W of power (or only 250W if you’re using a cargo bike). The new Continuously Variable transmission is supposed to be the same cost as the N360 it replaces which is rated for only a 250W electric motor unless you want to void your warranty. Incidentally, voiding warranties is what I do for a living.

N380-Einsatz-696x481

A cargo bike with only a 250W motor? Sounds about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. I’m building up a cargo bike with a Luna Cycle Custom Cargo Fatbike Frame and a 3000W nominal 6000W peak Lightning Rods Big Block drive unit on it with an 18 Fet Lyen controller. The N360, N330 and N380 will never be able to take that kind of load so I got my hands on a very old (discontinued in 2010) and very heavy N171 (8.5 lbs) which claims to be able to support 120Nm of force and 7 hp. The BBS02 can at around 1200 Watts put out peak 120Nm of force and 1 hp so I’m hoping to neuter the throttle using a Cycle Analyst to keep the Big Block from destroying the N171.  I did a wheel build up yesterday but I’m too embarrassed to take it to the truing stand of my local bike shop for fear I’d be shamed for my poor wheel building skills.

Shown with a harmony shifter installed.

Shown with a harmony shifter installed.

The manual for the N330 (way cheapo version) and N380 is located here. My guess is the N360 will be discontinued and replaced with the N380. It looks like you can get a N360 for about $250 on ebay and the price on this unit will likely drop in the coming weeks as dealers try to dump their stocks. Unfortunately they don’t list the weight of the N380 which is pretty much all I care about. Since they are not talking about the weight it is unlikely there is any weight savings moving from a N360 to a N380. Also the dropout width for these CVTs is a standard 135mm which would work on builds like Duh Banana Bike and Sun-Kiss but not really on anything other fat-bikes as most have much wider rear dropouts. You might be able to use spacers and get it to fit into 150mm dropouts but since the axle is so short it will not fit on 170mm or larger dropouts no matter what you do.

This is how the balls make you go faster.

This is how the balls make you go faster.

The Nuvinci drive train system seems like a good match for the low power European market but completely under-powered for the US ebike builder crowd. The N380 is a step in the right direction, but we’d love to see something that could take a lot more power. The 750W US standard would be a nice place to start, and if you could make it the same price and weight as the N380 that would be great too guys. Oh yeah and a longer axle so it would mount on fat-bike dropouts would be nice too.

Ride On.

There are some decent deals on ebay for the N360 going for $250 with disc brake compatible hub located here.

Another person is dumping old N171’s which are pretty hard to find with the disk brake adapter which are even harder to find in the 32 hole version here for $200 and 36 hole version here for $180. This seller clearly has no idea what he is selling, but the kits look complete to me. Be aware that 36 Hole fatbike rims are hard to find and I’ve only found one brand (Weinmann 80mm 36H) which run about $50 and are pretty heavy.

A cutaway of the N360 cvp

A cutaway of the N360 CVP

28 thoughts on “Nuvinci N380 – Now With Bigger Balls, More Range And It Can Take A Teeny Weenie Bit More Power

  1. Thanks for the article and link. I was also looking for an N171 for my Luna and this article was great! Do you have a link to you Luna Build (though I may already be following it on Endless-Sphere)?

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  2. I’m toying with the idea of making a stealthy touring bike using an old Raleigh/BSA cycle with a 750w mid-drive electric motor. I’m now a bit concerned about how much power I can put through the venerable 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub. I have a mind to retro-fit an 8-speed Shimano Nexus I have but I guess there’s no guarantee that can take more punishment.

    Do any readers of this excellent blog have an opinion they’d care to share?

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      • Thanks Karl. I’ll be using the Nexus 8, financially it doesn’t make sense to leave it lying around. I’ve just done a bit of googling on the issue with little luck, hence sticking my neck out here.

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  3. Thanks for the lead on the ebay N171’s. I was a little concerned because that product required a special freewheel removal tool. I got in touch with Fallbrook Tech and got this response;
    Dollores Friedman (Fallbrook Technologies)
    Oct 16, 12:27
    Hello James,
    Thank you for your email. I’d like to let you know that the N171 parts are obsolete, we don’t sell them anymore.
    What we can do is to send you a part free of charge and you only need to pay for shipping.
    Please let us know if this solution would be of interest to you.
    I sent $7 for shipping and the tool is on the way.
    I made a “best offer” of $150 each for 2 of the remaining ebayN171’s and he accepted. Now I need to find someone to build a wheel for me.
    Thanks again for all of the guidance I have gleaned from this website

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  4. I’m doing a similar Luna frame build, frame is in the mail, motor is being built now in this first batch, grin 7240 controller, Cycle analyst 3, N171 ( with drum brake) in a 26″ rim and 2.4″ tire also 26″ rim tire in front.

    I’ll be working on this over the winter and look forward to your build.

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  5. 1200 watts through an n360 all day long over a year. I suspect the rating is because of the problem of the axle twisting in the dropout which must be heavily locked in place. I climb 20% grades no problem, no slip and perfect shifting. Really the only way to go on an bbs02 ridden off road with serious climbing.
    Gunther
    Portland Electric Cycle
    pxcycle.com

    Thanks for the great site and info!

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    • Ahh that is interesting info, thanks! We have an Xtracycle to which I added Grin’s Cycle Stoker kit. I’m disliking the shifting via derailleur – it complains under power and I suspect I’m going to wear out chains pretty quickly. We’ve been contemplating an internal hub to replace it, but I’m finding out that the geared units appear to be no better than the derailleur (can’t shift under power etc).

      Looks like the Nuvinci CVPs are the only way to go really, but the power rating was scaring me a bit (the kits are very expensive in Canada right now, can’t afford to break one!)

      I am often hauling one or two kids (40 – 100 lbs), plus groceries, beach gear, dragging bikes, or running to the farmer’s market in the fall with our trailer to bring back flats of apples etc. Often up 15%+ grades, as Nelson BC is a very hill place.

      Any other info I should be aware of for the Nuvincis? I’d probably get the N380 just for the slightly higher power rating. I don’t care about the range as much since I have a FSA Patterson crankset.

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    • Hi gunther,
      I stumbled upon this blog today while researching the bafang bbs02 and bbshd.
      I live just south of Seattle and wanting to commute but my bad knees do not hold up.
      Will the N360 with harmony hsync be best with the 750w or 1000w? i have 3 nice sized hills on my commute.
      any info would be greatly appreciated.
      regards,
      Jaime

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  6. Pingback: NuVinci N380 & The BBS02 : “We’ve Got The Biggest Balls Of Them All” | Electric-FatBike.com

  7. yeah, I can agree with everything in this article. I’ve only had my n360 for a couple months and i’ll honestly never change it. I’m rocking a 750w bbs02 and it’s butter, yeah sure it’s a bit difficult to explain to someone who wants to take it for a whirl that they need to just stop pedalling for a sec and then twist the grip and try not to go to far, cause if they break it they’ve bought it, but that explanation is honestly harder than actually doing it if ya understand what and why you’re doing it..

    I also wish they’d do a longer axle *sigh* I’ve been buying parts from classic-cycle for a few years myself and just stumbled upon some 130mm rims!!.. (seems rob’s son has had’em a lil while longer and in 24″) and wouldn’t mind beefing up my ride, but would mean downgrading to something else or frame hunting again..

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  8. Pingback: Kicking It Old School With A Nuvinci N171 At 2400 Watts | ElectricBike-Blog.com

    • Thanks for posting this Gunther. I’ve been beating on a N380 on a BBS02 3x a week for almost a year. It has started to leak but just barely. It is still one of my favorite ebikes. I know lots of other people just like you that have had nothing but problems.

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  9. They are crap. I have had six in all 171 and 360. Freewheel is just waiting to disintegrate. Hopeless. Tone deaf manufacturer who doesn’t seem to understand their marketplace.

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  10. Running a N380 with Bafang 750 with belt drive. The controller blinks and its stuck in one gear. It seems to handle the power ok. Dealing with Nuvinci is not easy. They sent a new controller, but same blinking, same one gear. Won’t shift. Doesn’t work in auto pedal cadence mode…keeps trying to shift but can’t under load, and grinds and grinds gear shifter. Manual worked okay for a day, then controller broker. I’m switching back to Shimano Alfine 8 speed.

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  11. I found this article very interesting and enlightening. I have a ~100 lb 4” fat tire e-trike with a 1000w motor and a n360. After two years the transmission is stripping under less and less power load. Like one or more respondents, I found NuVinci/Fallbrook less than forthcoming. At this point, not knowing of suitable smooth transmission, I may have to upgrade to the n380.

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