I’ve been vacationing with Lunacycle in LA to try to escape the pre-winter New York blues. In the back of my head I was hoping to end up riding some cool new bikes, and getting inspired to write some more articles. I met a good friend of Eric’s named Curt who had custom machined a bunch of parts to mount a Cyclone 3000W kit onto a Lunacycle cargo bike frame. The build was clean and sported a Nexus 3 hub which is a great combination for the high power Cyclone motor. What made this build really stand out was that he paired the stock 40Amp controller with a massive 72V pack. It’s hard to describe how much fun this ebike was to ride. I used to test drive Ducati motorcycles for fun in my spare time and I have to say that this build reminded me of the massive acceleration and power off the line of riding a high-powered motorcycle. Although this build tops out at around 40 mph, I can’t say you would really want to go any faster than that on any non-suspension ebike. The combination of the extremely large calipers with the extended wheelbase of a cargo bike made what I would consider the best city commuter ebike I have ever ridden, hands down. When I was riding it I literally could not stop laughing. This is the way that ALL ebikes should feel. As Eric and Curt stood around talking in the street, I spent over 30 minutes doing high speed runs up and down the street in front of them for no other reason than the sheer joy of riding.
Keep in mind that I have been riding a 50 Amp Ludicrous controller on my Burning Chrome build for about a year now. The combination of the 50 amp controller with a 52v battery puts out a cool 2500W of peak power. The Cyclone 40 Amp controller with a 72v battery actually felt way more fun to me, although the peak power was only around 3000W. The acceleration is punchy and the top speed is significantly higher than the BBSHD Ludicrous edition. The only trick to this build is that you have to be careful about not shifting the Nexus 3 under load or it will be crunchy gears time. Luckily the nexus only costs about $80 to replace if you trash it. The pain in the ass is relacing up the rear wheel.
The main thing this build was lacking was a decent Pedal Assist System. I’ve worked unsuccessfully with the Cyclone stock controller to get PAS working and was pretty much unsuccessful at getting a usable system. Without ebrake cutouts a PAS system on the stock Cyclone controller is a really bad idea. It takes a long time to cut out the motor once you start pedaling and the Cyclone is powerful enough to partially override your brakes. You could pair the Cyclone controller with any ebike controller, so you could swap it out with one that has a decent PAS system and be good to go.
One of the problems with the horizontal dropouts is that it can be very difficult to adjust the disk brake calipers properly since there is well over an inch of range you can adjust the rear hub. Curt got around this by custom machining special brake caliper adapters which allow you to slide the entire brake caliper back and forth about 2 cm.
One of my biggest complaints about the Cyclone mid drive is the mounting bracket that it ships with. I’ve tried my Cyclone 3000W drive on several different frames and with every frame that it is mounted on, when you really put on the power the motor will twist and flex much more than you think it should. On one build the motor flexed so much that it was only a few mm away from hitting the crankarm on the drive side. With the custom mounting bracket that Curt manufactured on the Luna cargo bike frame, there was no perceptible flex at all.
The Luna cargo frame is the most exciting product Lunacycle had introduced over a year ago when I wrote my first article about them. It seems like a lifetime ago that I exchanged my first emails with Eric. Over time our friendship has grown and we’ve corresponded pretty regularly over the phone. There is a deep feeling of mutual respect and trust that has evolved over the months and in many ways I’ve grown to love Eric and the monster he has created with Lunacycle.com. Eric has been a friend to me through the good times and the bad. Although there are times when he drives me crazy, and sometimes he doesn’t follow all the advice I give him, he has earned a level of trust and mutual respect that I share with very few people. His competition hates him, but his Luna crew is incredibly competent and fiercely loyal. When it gets right down to it the cold hard truth is that I’d rather give my money to Eric than anyone else out there selling ebike stuff right now.
In a way, his website electricbike.com got me hooked and now I feel like he is my favorite pusher. High powered ebikes are incredibly addictive and as this 72v Cyclone build has shown me, as you start riding with more and more power it gets harder and harder to go back to lower power ebikes. I’ve decided to copy this build for myself, which is something that I have never done before.
When I first got on Curt’s build I was not at all excited about it, but as I hit the throttle and started tearing down the street with it I was hooked on the acceleration and feeling of power I got. The bike quickly gets up to 40 mph and the large 4″ tires worked well as a decent suspension. When you hit big bumps at high speed with the bike I’m left wishing that it had a Thudbuster. This brings me to one of the main shortcomings of the Luna Cargo bike frame. The seatpost is too far forward to be comfortable. You will need to find a seatpost that moves the seat back at least an inch or three for a comfortable riding posture. If you have a Thudbuster then you are in luck because that is one of my favorite things about the Thudbuster is how far back it moves the seating position.
The stock Luna Cargo bike ships with an over-the-top front fork, fancy handlebars, and a front cargo rack. Although I like the design of the front fork, it’s extremely quirky to install and quite heavy. Curt opted for a more traditional CrMo front fork with some fancy Surly handle bars which are reminiscent of the Luna mustache handlebars. If you want to run this build on rough roads with big potholes it would probably make sense to spring for a Bluto front fork, although in all honesty with fully inflated 4″ tires I didn’t feel like I needed one.
The Luna cargo bike frame has been taken off the website as Luna prepares to release this frame as a complete prebuilt Cyclone conversion. I managed to buy one of the frames before they stopped selling them, so if you want to build this bike up for yourself from scratch you are out of luck. That being said if this bike is sold with a 72v option you should probably spring for that instead of the 52v battery if you want maximum power. The motor has no problem with 72v, although there is a chance you will blow the cheapo cyclone controller with a 72v battery. Curt has had good lucking running his build with a 72v battery without issues so far, but if you pair a stock Cyclone motor with a 72v battery it’s not under warranty. If you do end up blowing the controller I would recommend you replace it with a beefier Kelly controller which are not all that expensive and are much higher quality than the stock Cyclone 40 Amp controller.
The Luna cargo bike will have a similar mounting bracket that is a bit different than the one that Curt tooled up but very similar in form and function. The newer Cyclones also ship with a handy chain guard on the motor which adds a lot to the safety of the whole system (you can keep your pantlegs and shoelaces in one piece). It was great meeting Curt because he was a fan of the blog from our early days (probably my only fan) and he actually let me stay in his house when I was in LA which was a pretty amazing leap of faith. If some 6’9″ punk rocker showed up in a minivan that he was sleeping in, with tons of gear strapped to the outside of it and wanted to stay at my house there is no way in hell I would let him. Its a good thing that not everyone is as untrusting or terrible as I am. I live to lower property values, doesn’t everyone want homeless people living out of cars in their driveways?
Thanks Curt for your gracious hospitality, and I promise I’m not a serial killer. I’ve really never killed anyone who didn’t deserve it.
If you want to see Curt in action riding with his son Josh on the beach check out this Fathers’ Day video they did together on Youtube right here. I swear that every time I watch that video it moves me to tears, so my advice is to watch it with a box of kleenex nearby and without anyone else in the room. *sniff* *sniff*
I sure wish my son would ride with me…or talk to me…or call me…