Remember when you found out there was no such thing as Santa Claus? Or all those Birthdays that came and went where no one gave you any Lego, even though that was all you really wanted? Or how about the first time (and only time) you watched Star Wars – The Phantom Menace. That’s pretty much what the last 2 days have been like for me. I was so excited that my 2 BBSHD’s showed up from China. I really wanted to like this drive system, but everything from unboxing them, to taking them apart, to programming them and throwing them on my bike to test, left me with a deep unsettling sense of dissatisfaction at the very core of my being.
Where to start, I guess we should start with the boxes that the BBSHD comes in. Normally the Chinese are hyper efficient at fitting any object into the smallest possible box. Whoever was in charge of the design of the BBSHD box should be sent directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. The BBSHD is about the same size as the BBS02 but the boxes are twice the size. Twice the size means a lot more to ship them overseas so expect that you will pay a lot more in shipping to get this baby to your door. Biktrix, California Ebike and Lectric cycles all seemed to have no real problems cramming the 100mm BB BBS02 into the old BBS02 box, I’m not sure what in the world possessed Bafang to double the size of their box, most of which is just empty air or solid styrofoam. Maybe it’s so when you get it under the tree at Chrismas and shake the box you can’t tell what it is. Hmmmm, I think it’s a BBSHD, but the box seems WAY too big.
This is hands down my biggest complaint about the BBSHD. The BBSHD is about 3 lbs heavier than its BBS02 counterpart. By taking apart the drive unit it becomes clear where all the weight is coming from. The casing is much thicker and there is a lot more copper in the motor. The old BBS02 lightweight secondary reduction gear plastic cover is also replaced by a very heavy metal cover on the BBSHD.
Bafang doesn’t seem to think that weight matters at all when you build an ebike. Nothing could be more untrue. When it comes to singletrack riding nothing matters to me more than the weight & power. It’s gotten to the point where their 100mm drive unit weighs almost as much as a decent single speed trail bike. I’ve been riding in the woods a lot lately with my pedal-only bike because I’m tired of these heavy ebikes. That and I’m having trouble seeing my penis when I look down in the shower because my gut is in the way, but that is a different story entirely. I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Here is a collection of weights for stuff I threw on the scale.
- 12lb 12 oz 68mm drive unit
- 13lb 1oz 100mm drive unit
- 558g crap ass 46T steel chainring (did I mention yet how much I hate this thing?)
- 102g for each ebrake
I knew this piece was coming, but when it finally arrived I was at a loss for words. What a piece of crap. 558 grams? Whoever designed this thing should follow the box designer to the re-employment office or be thrown into prison. Here’s a little hint when it comes to chainring design, if you’re too cheap to include a decent narrow\wide alloy chainring like the Lekkie Bling-Ring or even just a BCD 110 adapter then at the very least use a little less material. You could lose about 90 percent of the steel in this chainring and still have it work just fine. Lucky for us there are a bunch of chainrings and adapters on the horizon, but this thing is just a bad joke. The problem is that you are the punchline. 46T is the perfect number of teeth for … nothing. If you want a commuter that doesn’t suck then you’re going to opt for a 52T ring and if you want to trail ride then you are going to get the smallest chainring you can. It looks like you won’t be able to get anything smaller than a 38T mounted on the BBSHD due to clearance issues. I recommend the RaceFace cx-Narrow\Wide chainring for singletrack trail riding, but be aware you will need a BCD 110 adapter which as of right now no one is selling.
The Ebrakes are decent and they are shipping the black ones that don’t look like gigantic stupid motorcycle brakes. This is the only thing I can see with the BBSHD that they got right. They are the same ebrakes as what ships with the newer BBS02 750w drive units.
I made a short 2-minute video showing the different components of the BBSHD which is available for viewing on youtube right here. A couple of notes from the teardown.
- Everything is much more robust compared to the BBS02.
- The entire unit is completely redesigned with a different axle, flywheel and motor configuration than the BBS02.
- The big exception is the crappy Nylon primary reduction gear which seems to be identical to the BBS02.
- There is more copper in the motor.
- The motor casing is much thicker.
- Your 120mm BB fatbike is not going to work with a 100mm BBSHD kit, you have to get the 120mm version.
- The axle has only one needle bearing as opposed to the BBS02 100mm conversion which all have 3.
- The flywheel is seperate from the axle not mounted together.
- The axle is supported at both ends by press in bearings which means no more careful axle adjustments when reassembling
- The rotor is extremely difficult to remove, you must carefully pry it out using a screwdriver on either side at the same time in order to access the nylon primary reduction gear. This takes way more force than you think it should.
- The 3 Phillips head screws that hold the cover plate of the nylon reduction gear are torqued down way too tight. I couldn’t get mine to loosen no matter how hard I pushed and turned. Recommend putting drive unit in a bench vise and pushing down with all your weight on a large screwdriver while turning the screwdriver with a pair of vise grips. These screws should be torx or even hex. Philips are the wrong screw for the job here. Replacing Nylon reduction gears is going to really suck.
- Reassembling the axle into the freewheel was extremely difficult. You need to push it back together carefully while at the same time turning the axle to try to get the 3 catching teeth to fold down while pushing it together at the same time. It takes a lot of finesse and brute force will not cut it here.
- They use Anderson Power Poles on the main power connectors as well as the 3 phase wires in the controller as opposed to the old BBS02 which used Banana plugs.
- Although the smaller connectors in the controllers look to be the same, the shape of the controller is totally different from the BBS02 controller so you will not be able to swap them back and forth.
- They use a much more intense silicone in the controller and it is very difficult to remove. You must remove it all from the phase wires if you want to separate the motor from the casing.
- Controllers are potted making it extremely difficult to replace the mosfets if you want to. The mosfets are the newer 3077 which should not require replacement at these power levels.
- I wasn’t crazy about the C961 display, it is my least favorite of all the displays. There is a new display in development from Bafang which should be released shortly. It should work with any BBS02 display.
- I can’t believe you are limited to 30amps with this motor and controller. It could easily take 40amps, except that the nylon gear would probably peanut butter at those power levels.
- Yes, I really do have bright pink hair, that’s what happens when you are comfortable with your heterosexuality. Don’t like it? Neither do my parents, or my customers, or pretty much every cop in town. Join the club. My son wanted to dye his hair and I wanted to make sure he had nothing to rebel against.
I feel overwhelmingly that Bafang is selling a drive unit with capacity way below the capabilities of the unit. It’s as frustrating as buying a Ferarri and having it speed limited to 30mph. Their absolute insistence to not allow more than 30 amps at the controller means that builders are going to inevitably try to run more volts through this unit to try to get it to reach its true potential. This drive unit is begging for a real controller and some real power levels. 5 more amps than the BBS02 is just another bad joke.
The stock programming that these units come with from Bafang is total crap. There is no throttle at PAS0 so if you don’t want to program your controller but want to use this unit for trail riding you will need to disable the PAS system inside the controller. This is shown in a different 2-minute video I shot showing how to install a thermal probe in the BBSHD right here. I’ve been very happy with using em3ev’s programming for the BBS02 and only changing the Throttle Mode from Current to Speed. I’ve found when you lie about the wheel size and say it is smaller than what it actually is that I seem to be able to trick the controller into giving me a lot more power out of the unit when I do this. Typically I chose the 18-inch wheel size which will show the mph in kph and bypass the PAS speed limits that some displays have. Instructions for programming are here and the settings for proper programming can be located in this article. I didn’t look that deeply into the programming, as most settings looked the same as the BBS02, but I did see that you can’t set the controller to more than 30 amps without an error.
It’s a lot less critical to install a thermal probe in the BBSHD because at 30 amps this unit will likely not overheat even if you run 1500 Watts through it continuously. A video of yours truly showing you how to properly install a thermal probe can be located right here. I installed a thermal probe in my drive units and found that the units run much cooler than their BBS02 counterparts at much higher power levels.
Testing the performance
I’m not sure why I thought a 5 Amp increase in power was going to produce anything worth really noticing, but I did. I mounted the BBSHD onto my carbon front forked road bike (build thread here) because I wanted to do some speed tests to try to outrun our favorite Aussie speed freak Bruno Bari, whose awesome youtube channel is here. Unfortudently without a 52T chainring this drive unit dramatically underperforms on the road. With a 11T cog on a 26″ wheel the drive unit quickly tops out at around 38mph on the slight downhills and just won’t go any faster. It left me feeling incredibly underwhelmed, like did I really put on my motorcycle racing pads and helmet just for this? For comparison, I hopped back on my 52T commuter build called ‘Orange Crush‘ and went for spin and found much to my dismay that the 52T commuter with proper programming was much more fun and about the same top speed as a road bike with the BBSHD. This is unsettling because you would think that a road bike with super skinny 90psi tires and a drive unit that is 30 amps instead of 25 would go a lot faster than a mountain bike with knobby 60psi tires. The mountain bike was a lot more fun, and a heck of a lot safer to boot.
It’s all about the chainring.
Because the mph readings are always grossly inaccurate with the BBSxx displays, I brought a GPS along for both speed trials. The BBSHD with a 46T ring topped out at 38mph on a slight downhill, the BBS02 with a 52T ring was able to get to 39mph on the same downhill. The BBS02 felt perkier on the throttle with em3ev’s settings than the BBSHD did with the default factory settings. At the end of the demo rides I was left wondering what exactly I had spent the extra $250 price premium and 4 lb weight penalty over the BBS02 750W for. It’s been a long time since I was left with such a feeling of disappointment when I really wanted to be super stoked about this new drive unit.
No matter how hard I torqued down on the drive unit nut I couldn’t get it to stay tight, it kept getting knocked loose and hanging down like a cow udder. I’m not entirely sure that this drive unit will stay tight on any 68mm BB bike without some kind of small spacer to push the triangle mounting bracket against the bike frame.
Riding with the PAS system and without a gear sensor reminded my of how much it sucked to mash the gears while shifting. I hadn’t hooked up any ebrakes to the Death Trap 2000 so I had no way to cut the power when I wanted to shift. It doesn’t make any sense that Bafang is not selling this unit with the gear sensor already included. This is one area where the e-RAD branded BBSxx drive units shine and Bafang has not caught up yet.
Should I buy one?
That’s a good question to ask. If you have a 100mm or 120mm BB then you don’t have a whole lot of choice, since the other BBS02 100mm kits are priced about $500 higher than the BBSHD. I don’t forsee a lot of demand for these 100mm BBS02 units in the future. However I do predict that the BBS02 68mm 750W unit will continue to be a strong seller as people realize that there is a lot of hype around the BBSHD that it just doesn’t deliver on yet. In my opinion, a properly programmed BBS02 68mm 750W drive unit is every bit as good as it’s BBSHD counterpart.
If you wanted to drive this BBSHD unit with an external controller and a CA3 then this drive unit could really shine for you. It also might perform well if we can figure out how to get around the high voltage error that gets thrown at over 60v. Someone is going to figure out how to get the power levels out of this drive unit that it was designed for. That someone may very well be you. Figure it out and don’t tell anyone but me so I can tell everyone and steal the credit for your discovery.
There will be a lot more chainrings and options for the BBSHD which will make it far more usable in the not to distant future. The steel 46T chainring that ships with the BBSHD is for all intensive purposes is completely useless except as a temporary setup.
The BBSHD will be available next week from Lunacycles for $799 here and will soon be available from our friend Paul at em3ev in China for $699 here. Lectric cycles will have their e-RAD branded BBSHD with a shift sensor hopefully by the end of the month for $1195 available here.