Orange Crush – Cheapo Commuter BBS02 750W 8 speed e-bike ~$780 45lbs w/ out Battery

I wanted to build a gas car replacement for my 17 miles each way commute into town. After not a lot of deliberation, I settled on the Haymaker 1500 from Bikes Direct which was the least expensive (<$300 shipped) aluminum framed bike with a decent shock I could find. I didn’t do a lot of upgrades to the bike other than adding a rear rack and bag for holding my larger 25Ah batteries as well as adding a cheap ebay kickstand. I swapped the front brake with an Avid BB7 although for some reason I could not get a BB7 to work with the rear mounting point. Although this ebike is really pretty cheap, it works amazingly well for what you pay for.

Ebikes are finally reaching the point where they are starting to give cars a real run for their money.

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That crappy old bike sitting in your garage could be turned into an awesome commuter for about $500 + the cost of a battery.

Although this commuter setup is done with a more expensive $995 750W Lectric Cycles e-RAD drive system, if you can live without a gear shift sensor you can build it for a lot cheaper than that. You can get a BBS02 750W from Lunacycle.com for $535 here. All of these sellers are reputable and will not leave you hanging when you trash your drive unit from driving it like an ass. They also sell batteries for this drive unit, I strongly recommend a 52v 14S configuration, preferably in a frame pack of some sort.

The shift sensor available exclusively from Lectric cycles is nice, but you can get away with just tapping the ebrakes before every shift instead. I honestly don’t mind tapping the brakes that much, and it works just as good as the giant green button that em3ev sells for $6 as a power cutout. Nothing that I’ve found works as well as the gear sensor that Lectric is selling, but the e-Rad demands a premium price.

If you are using it for commuting only ebrakes are a must

If you are using it for commuting only then installing ebrakes is a must.

If you are doing your build as a commuter only then you should put ebrakes on both the front and rear brakes. If it is a trail bike then I recommend putting an ebrake only on the front brake. When you tap the brakes it cuts all power to the motor for a full 3 seconds which is incredibly annoying when you are singletrack trail riding. I only use the rear brake while singletrack trail riding unless I’m going down seriously steep stuff.

I also recommend mounting the right-hand throttle on the left-hand side as not to interfere with using the derailer.

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If you’re building a commuter, there is only one choice for chainrings, the 52T. Be prepared to repair your Nylon primary reduction gear from time to time. Don’t worry it’s not that hard to do.

The 52T chainring really shines on a commuter setup and you can get it here from Lunacycle.com for about $15. I strongly suggest swapping out the cassette to something that is steel and has a giant granny gear. I put a Shimano Mega-range cassette on this build with a 34T cog. I have no regrets about that, and this build does a fine climbing 10+ degree grades which is the steepest that you are likely to find on pavement.

How fast can I go? I want to go fast

You can go all day at 800W ~25mph on level ground using only the PAS. The PAS system will never put out more than about 800W even on the highest power level. If you are gentle with the throttle you can bump it up to about 30mph pretty safely and ride for extended lengths as long as you’re not going uphill. You can go in bursts for 1300W up to 40mph on slight downhills, but only for a few minutes. If you want to push the drive unit install a temp probe in the controller and back off when it’s over 130 degrees. If it hits 140 you need to stop can chill out.

Mega range is the way to go along with nickel plated steel.

Mega-range 34T or bigger is the way to go along with stronger & heavier nickel-plated steel cassettes.

How does it ride? 

In a word, it rides awesome. It feels exactly like what an e-bike should feel like. For all the people who have ever tried an underpowered ebike you know how much it sucks, especially on hills. The 750W BBS02 with a 52T chainring is anything but underpowered. With a 52v battery you’ll be dumping 1300W at peak into the drive train. If you want to put the system under that kind of load continuously then you need to look at getting something more like the BBSHD.

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The air-charged front fork is surprisingly good for a $300 bike, no issues so far. Knock on wood.

The bike goes about 25-30mph on the flats and tops out at 40mph on slight downhills and climbs most hills at around 20mph. Using lots of power to climb steep hills as fast as you can is going to heat up the controller pretty good and eat up tons of power. I recommend installing a thermal probe if you plan on pushing this motor to its limits on a regular basis for extended periods. You shouldn’t hop on the BBS02 and just lean on the throttle full-on for an extended period of time. The BBS02 is not designed to take 1300 Watts continuously, especially under load.

The front shock is incredibly handy for absorbing whatever the road throws at you. I recommend running the tire pressure at the max PSI that the tires will support. If you are worried about flats then it’s a great idea on your commuter to go ghetto tubeless. Whether you are tubeless or not you should bring a tube and a pump with you everywhere you go.

It’s nice to have an ebike that I don’t really care about if it gets stolen or smashed. I think that everyone should consider converting a cheap bike into a commuting machine. The total number of hours I have into this build is probably only 3. It’s sad to me that in 3 hours and under $1000 you can build an ebike that beats the crap out of 95% of the ebikes currently on the market.

It’s just a sorry state of affairs in the factory-built ebike world.

Ride On.

Although I built this bike as a beater, I can't really bring myself to part with it.

Although I built this bike as a beater, I can’t really bring myself to part with it because it really is pretty awesome.

8 thoughts on “Orange Crush – Cheapo Commuter BBS02 750W 8 speed e-bike ~$780 45lbs w/ out Battery

  1. Karl,

    It’s been a funny year. Starting with Sondors, people started adding up the cost of ebike parts. I’d rather go MAC, but hub builds may have more problems than the mid-drive. Either way, an ebike, a ‘great’ ebike, should cost around $1,200.

    This has brought a response from the corporate guys. Currie has some sort of low power mid-drive for around $1700. You can get the Yamaha Haibike (Yamahaibike) for $2500. The big guys, mostly Accell, have been forced to cut margins. But you are burning up hundred dollar bills, not going for some kind of kit or basic Chinese import. The thing about the kits is they are pretty solid motors, and they are simple.

    There are endless threads on EBR’s forum about factory bikes, mystery problems with complex electronics. Sometimes they drop the bike off and get a refund. Kit bikes tend to be simple. You can make good connections. They are repairable. They are cheap enough to keep some sort of spare motor on the shelf somewhere, if you really need the ebike. You are not locked into a proprietary battery, and if you need a different battery, your costs are coming down these days.

    I have a $400 BD bike, a $350 Mac motor and controller, and a $260 LiFePo battery from China. There are better battery choices, right now, but what I have works.

    The people who tinkered with this stuff broke things wide open this year. No question. CF is OK when it works, but it’s the basic ebike model that matters, to me. Three hours. Really. The kit vendors are smart when they offer to do the builds, and advise the average builder to have a shop remove the bottom bracket. So it can be made even simpler.

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    • “Hub builds mah have many more problems than the mid-drive”?

      I think you’ve got your ebike drive systems confused. Direct drive hub motors are the most reliable propulsion system for electric bikes. Geared hub motors fail a little more often because their gears wear out (but can be replaced inexpensively). Mid-drive motors are the ones with the most problems. Bafang BBS systems have nylon gears that melt or get stripped (though I imagine those parts can be replaced, too), their bearings fail, their controllers smoke from too much amperage. I could go on…

      You could easily make a hub motor build be less reliable than a mid-drive if you use a weak controller or cheap, shoddy parts, it’s just that mid-drives are less reliable than hub motors, in general. Plus, with a direct drive hub motor, you can use regenerative braking, which gives you a tiny bit more range and also makes your brake pads last a lot longer.

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      • I have plenty of hub motors sitting around. None that I actually use. Plenty that I would be happy to sell for almost nothing.

        As far as I’m concerned all hub motors suck. That is my opinion. I’m just not interested in defending it. If I ride a hub motor that doesn’t suck I’ll post about it here.

        Thanks for reading.

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      • A lot of the mid-drives installs are just remove and replace. With the Mac, I had to get a slim disk brake caliper to replace one that rubbed. I also figured out that the motor was really a 1000w, not the nominal 350 watts, so I got a steel fork (Surly) and a good torque arm. I’ve read about a lot of problems with installations, mostly people complaining on EBR, front and rear hubs. As far as performance, post-install, I’m a huge fan of the geared MACs. Just nothing to complain about for normal stuff, which is basically on roads.

        With my motor you never really need to shift, unless you want to get some exercise (I do). It climbs 12% grades without getting hot. I use a throttle as a pedal assist and it does exactly what I want. It’s not a high performance motor. If I wanted to go 30 mph, I would switch to a BBS02. If I wanted to climb 15% grades, same deal.

        With any luck they will start chopping the price of the BBS02 and just set them up so they don’t blow out the controllers. Yeah, and they could put a shift sensor in the kit. I mean like “Really?” They need to work on the stuff Bosch does right.

        When I bought a Mac it was to avoid the blow controller with throttle issue, and the hard shift issue. I guess Bafang solved the controller thing, but maybe the hard shift thing is a bit worse?

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  2. The Mac has a huge fan base and it is elegant in it’s simplicity. It certainly is a viable option for a commuter. I think that mid drives are more efficient at using less power to do more work because the motor can stay within it’s prefered RPM range. Normal electric motors are pretty bad when they are running too slow or too fast. They are like goldilocks and like it just right.

    The BBSHD looks like it might be heralding in a new era of high power cheap mid drives, too bad they are only allowing 30 amps through their controller.

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  3. Pingback: BBSHD First Impressions : Meh. | Electric-FatBike.com

  4. Pingback: Burning Chrome – DIY 3000W Cyclone Soul Stomper 3 speed IGH ~$1268 63lbs w/ out battery | Electric-FatBike.com

  5. First I’m not on one team or another, hub vs mid drive, to each their own for their own reasons, and there will probably always be sales for both.

    What I don’t understand is all the complaining of “hard shifting” I mean who would expect to make a shift to a lower gear while “standing on the pedals” going up a steeper climb…, no one, yet people seem to expect a reasonably priced kit to “let off the gas, and shove the clutch” for them. Add to that that some of the complaints are just parrot repeaters, never actually having tried a mid drive.

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