After much anticipation, my 3000W Cyclone mid drive (available here) arrived from Lunacycle.com last week. This kit was on sale during Black Friday for a ridiculously low, low price of $369 so I did what any self-respecting e-bike addict would do. I borrowed my wife’s credit card while she was sleeping and bought myself a Christmas present with it. How could I go wrong when I am only paying about 12 cents a peak watt ($369/3000W) as opposed to 53 cents a peak watt for the BBSHD ($799/1500W) and 41 cents a peak watt for the BBS02 ($525/1300W).
After spending a whole day slaving away installing this drive unit, I am not even convinced that 3000W is the peak that this motor can take, so it might even be an even better deal than I at first anticipated. This post will help guide you through a 100mm wide BB install of the 3000W Cyclone mid drive. You should also check out this article on our evil step-sister site electricbike.com that is more oriented toward the 68-83mm BB install written by Eric of lunacycle.com. This is not a beginner kit (no instructions, no support) and you either need to have a decent sized pile of destroyed ebike parts or a note from your mommy in order to purchase one.
So your kit shows up, the first thing you should do is lay everything out and make sure you have all the parts you need. There are 2 different kits for the Cyclone, one for 68-83mm bottom brackets and one for 83-110mm BB. The wider BB looks totally different and has a skinny axle and costs $20 more. Make sure you ordered and received the right kit.
The next thing you should do is plug-in your battery and make sure the controller and motor both work. Eric tested every motor that left Lunacycle but he didn’t test the controllers. Remember to turn the key so that the voltage display on the throttle works, then twist the throttle. The motor should spin pretty fast with full throttle. This kit does not include a PAS sensor but one can be added pretty easily. If you add a PAS system then you absolutely must have an e-brake cutout.
You will need to put a connector on the wires to the controller and I strongly recommend the XT90’s with spark arrestors in them. The Andersons just do not do that well at power levels over 2000W or so and the XT90’s can take a whole lot of power without issues. They run about $1.50 each and you can get them here or you take your chances with eBay or Alibaba (you might be able to save a whole dollar, or you might end up with a cheap clone). Incidentally, I accidentally plugged in the giant crappy red power connector on the controller last and got a huge spark and kind of peed myself a little bit because I’m not used to seeing big sparks. I retested the voltage on the pack and connected it with the XT90 and … no spark. *whew* Remember to put the female end on the battery because WOMEN HAVE ALL THE POWER.
For a donor bike I picked a Polished 3 speed IGH Soul Stomper for about $899 shipped located here. Normally I am a total cheap skate and would never spend that much money on a bike, but when I first saw this bike online that little Beastie Boy that hides in my subconscious clicked the BUY IT NOW button before I could stop myself. Although this is a nice bike getting off the bottom bracket was an unbelievable nightmare. It took me 3 hours of cutting, hammering, thread shredding, and dremeling my own tools to get the crappy stock BB off.
If you don’t want to put yourself in the loony bin then just take the bike to your local shop and let them try to do it. It’s a great way to support your Friendly Local Bike Shop and to not have to do the most miserable part of installing any mid drive. I’m convinced that these Chinese laborers put the BB on all their bikes extra tight just as a way to get even for us Westerners who have life way too easy over here.
Once you have the old BB off it’s time to measure and adjust the spacing of the brackets. Use a pair of calipers to measure the exact width of your BB from one side to the other. You will need to move the NON-DRIVE side aluminum bracket away from the drive side bracket to make the opening wide enough to seat onto your bike. Unfortudently there is not a lot of room on the bolts that attach to the motor so if you need a lot of room then you will probably have to split the difference. Once I moved the bracket to the other side of the motor mount I still needed about 8mm more of width.
I took 2 nuts that were about 3.5mm each and put one on each nut. This is not such a bad idea, as I didn’t like how they had one of the spacers was threaded at both ends and adding a nut to either side helps to make everything feel a lot more solid. Locktite everything as you go with blue Loctite so that your motor doesn’t fall off the mounting bracket at some point down the road.
Feel free to cut or grind the mounting plates however you need to in order to make them work.Keep the giant hose clamp in the center as it will look much better in the middle when it comes time to mount the drive unit to the bike. I know some people on Endless Sphere are wary of builds that include too many hose clamps and tie wraps, but I can tell you that I’ve been to Black Rock City more times than I can count and the entire city is made out of hose clamps, tie wraps and duct tape. This kit also comes with the biggest tie wrap I’ve ever seen, I’d pay $369 for the tie wrap alone, the rest of the kit is just an extra bonus. The giant tie wrap broke on my first time out so instead I suggest that you use two stainless hose clamps which will work much better.
The next step once the spacing is correct is to line up the motor on the BB and put both sides of the Cyclone axle in. Make sure that the fixed bearing goes on the DRIVE side and the sliding bearing goes on the NON-DRIVE side. This is important because the drive side is reverse threaded (lefty to tighten) and if you mix them up you’re going to strip the threads and make a really big mess. Stupid is not covered under any warranty.
You will then need to tighten the bearings on both sides with a special bearing tightening tool (did I mention that the Drive-side is reverse threaded?). This is easiest to do with the bike upside down. You will need to tighten the hose clamp a little bit then put the GIANT BLACK TIE WRAP around the down tube of your bike and tighten it. Then tighten the hose clamp with the screw near the bottommost part of the bike. Then take off the plastic cover on the Drive side crankarm and thread the giant wheel with the gears on it. I used Loctite but that’s because I Loctite everything (worst sex lube ever). Mount both crank arms then you will need to work on the tensioner alignment next.
If you didn’t adjust the spacing of the drive side bracket then the main chain wheel and the drive gear should line up pretty well. The tensioning wheel will have to be adjusted so it lines up between the two which is actually pretty easy. Just sight down the gears and loosen the bolt that attached the tensioning gear to the motor. Once it is lined up correctly then tighten down the nut against the motor housing so that bolt won’t turn at a later time.
Getting the right number of links in the main drive chain is a pain. It should look like it does in all the pictures so use your chain breaker and any single speed BMX KMC chain you have lying around to make a chain that fits. If you don’t have extra chain then just go to a dept store and buy whatever steel KMC single speed BMX chain they have. They are all pretty much indestructible (but heavy) and it should cost <$7. I’d write an article about how to modify chains, but it’s been done countless times by people who are smarter than me so read this article or head over to youtube and do a search for ‘changing bicycle chains for dummies’. You will need a decent chainbreaker and you should not buy a cheap crappy one because it will always break.
Now comes the hard part, setting the tension of the tensioner correctly using nothing but a zip tie. This is the ultimate test to see how well you will survive in a Zombie Wasteland, Macgyver. I recommend looping the zip tie around the top of the motor bracket and attaching it on the bolt on the other side. This pulls the tensioner more into the chain proper and not so much toward the bike. If you just attach the zip tie to the closest bolt then it won’t work that well. This zip tie is very important and if it breaks and you don’t have another one then you’re going to be walking. Moral of the story? Carry extra zip ties everywhere you go because you never know when civilization is going to collapse.
Once you think you have the motor tensioner adjusted right then it’s time to run the motor for a bit to see if the chain jumps off. Be aware that having an open running chain is incredibly fricking dangerous. If you treat it with the same respect that you would treat a chainsaw then you’ll probably be able to keep all your fingers. Unplug the motor once you’re done testing the tensioning adjuster and put the main chain on and adjust that.
Getting the right chainring in the front can be challenging, if you are building a commuter then I recommend that you stick with the 44T chainring. If you are doing trail riding then you are probably going to want something quite a bit smaller unless you are running a 42T granny in the rear. You can swap out the BCD104 inner chainring with whatever you want but at these power levels, you will regret using anything except steel chainrings. Aluminum will bend too easily and wear down too fast. My only complaint about this kit was my inner 104BCD steel chainring was bent pretty bad, probably from shipping damage. Although it wobbled about 5mm back and forth when the motor ran, it still worked OK so I used it anyway.
Installing the throttle is easy, I moved my 3-speed IGH shifter to the left-hand side because I decided I’d rather have my grip-shit shifter upside down than my Voltage readout and throttle. I strongly recommend installing an ebrake cut out on the motor because if something happens and the motor gets stuck on your brakes are not going to work that well otherwise. I chose to do my build with a Lunacycle ziptie bag (sold here) which works well to hide all the controller wires and still looks damn sexy. The ziptie bag does not cover up as much of the frame as other battery triangle bags. I wrote a separate build threads for the Soul Stomper that I call Burning Chome located here as well as the Sturmey 3 speed IGH which actually works surprisingly well even at higher power levels. I was up shifting under load and the IGH made no funny noises at all. It felt a lot like shifting a smaller displacement motorcycle and was smooth as silk.
I really liked the ebike cutoff key on the throttle and think it should be an option on all e-bikes. It doesn’t mean for second that I’m still not gonna lock this sh!t up, especially when I’m driving something this awesome looking. It’s cool to be able to wire the lights of your e-bike into the controller so that everything shuts off with the turn of a switch. No more dead batteries because you forgot to turn off your rear led’s when you put the bike away.
The combination of the Cyclone and the 3-speed IGH felt a lot like a motorcycle and even at high-speed the steel framed Burning Chrome was incredibly stable. The brakes were good sporting Hydraulic on the rear brakes and BB7‘s with an ebrake cutout in the front and it carved down the dark snowy highway at night like a bat out of hell. With a 52v battery this kit tops out at around 35mph with 2000W of power. If you ran it with a 72v battery I’m certain that it would go faster than that. I tested it with a 16S LifePo4 Headway pack which can take 50 Amps continuous and has never really gotten that warm on me until I tested it with this motor full throttle for 10 miles. As a side note, any cop seeing you go over 40mph on a ‘bicycle’ is probably going to want to harass you, having bright pink hair won’t help either.
So is the Cyclone kit really a Bafang mid-drive killer?
The Bafang BBSHD/BBS02 and the Cyclone are all totally different animals. Geared low enough any of these drive units will be able to climb almost anything. Each drive unit excels in different applications:
- The BBS02 does best in lighter duty applications or singletrack trailriding where you can run the motor at higher RPM speeds than what you would want to pedal at. It performs best at around 25mph or so although it can go much faster for short periods.
- The BBSHD does best in high torque/high load applications where you want more power with normal pedaling cadences. This drive unit seems to do well at around 30mph although it can go quite a bit faster for extended periods.
- The Cyclone spins a bit slower but does seem to put out tons of power at lower RPM ranges. It really seems to excel at very high power outputs for highest speed or highest torque. It totally reminded me of the feeling of a stokemonkey motor without the 20lb+ weight. If you are moving lots of weight (think two people on the same bike) or want to go 35mph for extended periods than the Cyclone is a good choice (or a very large hub motor like the 25lb MXUS).
The optimum speed for ebikes is under 30mph for the following reasons:
- You can generally get away with 30mph and the cops won’t waste their time with you unless you are blatantly breaking traffic laws.
- You use a lot less power. Over 30mph a lot of your energy goes towards pushing the air out of your way and not getting you to where you need to go.
- Do you really need to go over 30 mph? If you start looking at fatality statistics your odds of seriously getting hurt from an accident increase dramatically over 30mph. Your odds of hurting someone else (another biker or pedestrian) also increase dramatically.
When I finished this build I got on the Soul Stomper and rode it for over 10 miles from my house on the road. It easily gets to the high 30’s for MPH and I had no problem running it at full throttle with a 52v battery for 5 miles until I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and turned around to go home. I was surprised that the drive unit had absolutely no issues at all on its maiden voyage. I can only imagine what my neighbors thought seeing me riding along at over 35mph on a bicycle in the middle of winter.
I’m not addicted. I can quit anytime I want to. Really.
Update: David put together a bunch of articles on electricbike.com documenting his cyclone build here. David and I agree that the best kind of Cyclone is one that doesn’t drop a house on your favorite
in law wicked witch.