Electric Bikes Are The Transportation Of Choice For The Coming Apocalypse

Time to put on the tin foil hats as we venture into the next chapter in human de-evolution. First, some quick acronyms that are pretty common in the prepper community.

  • SHTF – Sh!t Hits The Fan
  • FEMA – Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid
  • WROL – Without Rule Of Law

The latest turn in events in American politics has the conservatives laughing a good hearty laugh whilst flipping off the liberals. Meanwhile, endless streams of peace-loving hippies line up at the local firearms dealers to start stockpiling guns and ammo. At this point anyone who thinks that our beloved Pu$$y-Grabber-In-Chief is going to be able to resist the irresistible urge to ‘press that red button that he’s not supposed to press’ are clearly not paying attention in class (I’d press it too, just to see what happens, and that’s probably why I’m not president). It’s time for every red (and blue) blooded American to start planning for what could happen the next 4 years, and a big part of that process is going to be able to figure out how to survive and stay mobile in a world without gasoline. This article will attempt to make the argument that ebikes are by far the smartest form of transportation for the coming apocalypse and which ebike will suit your needs the best depending on where you are when the apocalypse hits.

At some point, it's all going to end. Might be fast, might be slow. Best to be prepared.

At some point, it’s all going to end. Might be fast, might be slow. It’s always best to be prepared.

If you read this blog at all you probably already know that I’m a completely rabid democratic socialist (feel the Bern, baby). Although I see the benefits of a free-market capitalistic system, that same system seems to really break down when you apply it to public schooling, the prison system, and to healthcare. I’m not going to say that my opinion is the right opinion, it’s just an opinion and it is just as valid as the opposing opinions of millions of conservative Republicans (my parents were staunch Republicans growing up). In all honesty, as long as they are not showing up at my door and pointing a gun at me to steal my food, they are welcome to believe whatever the hell they want. That’s what living in a free country is supposed to be about, right?

Looks like a third world war torn country, but it's really the aftermath of Katrina

Looks like a third-world war-torn country, but it’s really just the aftermath of Katrina

That being said people tend to cooperate until they compete. When they are hungry and can’t feed themselves or their family then suddenly they create a ‘new morality’ for themselves that say ‘hey, my family is going to starve unless I go down to the 7-11 and just take what I need to feed them. Before long you end up with people killing each other for resources. How long do you think it will take? In less than a week things deteriorated pretty bad after Katrina. The cops from outlying towns were lined up on the bridges shooting anyone who tried to cross. Even after shooting an innocent mentally ill man in the back for trying to cross the bridge, the policeman who shot him was never charged. What can we learn from the Katrina disaster?

  • It’s very foolish to expect the government to come and save you, you should be able to support yourself without outside help for at least several months to a year. FEMA is a joke, the Federal government under the current administration is going to be in serious decline as every single appointed member of the cabinet will work to undermine the dept they are supposed to be supporting.
  • People will revert to anarchy as soon as the SHTF and when anarchy happens the people who are the most organized, trained and equipped tend to be the ones who call the shots and survive.
  • When there is restricted access to resources those with the biggest guns will move in and take what they want from whoever they want.
  • When there is any kind of emergency the freeways are the last place you will want to be.
  • Police will set up roadblocks everywhere to try to control the movements of people in an emergency, they will try to protect their citizens by any means necessary and will not allow outsiders to move through their territory.
  • In the cities, things will deteriorate much faster than out in the country where farmers are on better terms with their neighbors, better armed and better provisioned.
  • Mobility will be key to survival, especially the ability to get away from a disaster area quickly when the freeways are blocked.
  • WROL people are going to shoot whoever they want to for whatever reason they want. Roland Bourgeois Jr shot a black man trying to escape across the bridge with a shotgun then bragged about it to his friends. It was later judged to be a hate crime after saying ‘anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot’.

In any serious catastrophe, people often clog the highways with their cars in an attempt to escape. Most rich preppers will tend to buy expensive motorcycles as a way to get-out-of-dodge quickly without getting stuck in traffic. While this makes a lot of sense initially, the existing gas supplies will quickly get used up and within a few days you’ll have a very expensive motorcycle that is not going to have any fuel. You can stockpile fuel, but even with stabilizers after 2-3 years it tends to be pretty much unusable. If you do store fuel for extended periods make sure you get it without any ethanol in it, often places sell their most premium fuel as ‘ethanol free’.

So when the SHTF do you want to be one of the thousands of refugees or get the hell out of dodge?

So when the SHTF do you want to be one of the thousands of refugees (more pics of Katrina) or get the hell out of dodge?

An electric bike, on the other hand, is perfect for getting 25-50 miles away at less than 30 mph if you have a decent sized battery. You can go much farther distances than that if you bring extra batteries with you on the road or if you pedal harder. A decent cargo bike like the Luna Cargo Truck ($2300) can easily carry over 600lbs worth of stuff to wherever you need to go (as long as you’re riding on pavement and your tire pressure is high). You can charge the batteries anywhere that there is still power, of if there is no power you can use an off-grid solar setup to charge the battery. At my wife’s house we have 1.5Kw of panels and about 5Kwh of storage for our home which is more than enough to run our fridge, power tools, laundry, computer and still have enough power to charge my ebike batteries (even in the winter). If it’s cloudy in the winter for more than 3 days we generally run the propane powered generator which has a 1000W charger on it, but most of the time we don’t really need to. This is an optimal setup for surviving in a world WROL and no power of fuel. Charging Lithium batteries directly off a solar panel without going to 120V AC is no easy task. You need a charge controller designed to work with your type of cells (most are for lead acid only). Although it is more efficient to charge directly to the Lithium ebike pack, unless you have a setup to do this before the apocalypse comes you’re not going to be able to rig a charging system up after the SHTF. The only place I can find with cheap Lithium MPPT controllers is here and they only work with LifePo4 cells (an older style Lithium cells that has lower voltages, is more stable and has more charge cycles). Most likely unless your cells are 2-3 years old they are not LifePo4 as these older cells can’t hold a candle to the newer 18650 packs. If you know of a 13S or 14S solar charge controller that will work with 3.7v 18650 cell packs please post a note in the comments so I can add it to this article. Theoretically, you can charge a 14S 18650 pack with a 16S LifePo4 charger (I’ve done it) but I would prefer to use the right charge controller for my packs. If you can charge your packs directly from your solar array you save a lot of wasted energy going to AC then back to DC again. You will need a decent sized array to charge a 13S or 14S 18650 pack (I would go with at least 350W of panels).

The Luna Truck can carry up to 3 people comfortably or up to 600lbs worth of stuff.

The Luna Truck can carry up to 3 people comfortably or up to 600lbs worth of stuff (including you) and go 25-50 miles (depending on speed and weight carried)

Electric bikes are almost totally silent

One of the biggest benefits of electric bikes is how quiet they are. Not only will you be able to sneak past zombies with impunity, you will be able to ride within 25 feet of many people at night and they might not even notice you. Combine an ebike with a set of Night Vision Goggles and you have a combo that is tough to beat for stealth. Why the military isn’t using ebikes as standard issue is beyond me. They beat the heck out of any gas-powered vehicle for stealth and they are light enough that you can pick them up and lift them over logs. What’s not to like?

The Lunacycle Truck can carry 10 times its weight and is made out of steel

Think the Lunacycle Truck can’t take abuse? Think again. This bike looks like a granny bike, but it can shred with the best of them.

Electric bikes can go anywhere

Police have a roadblock setup and won’t let you into town? With an electric bike, you can sneak around them using side roads or in the woods. When the SHTF you will want to get in the habit of avoiding people as much as you can. The best way to avoid people is to either ride your bike at night with NVG or ride them on hiking trails. My house is 1/2 mile away from the Finger Lakes Trail which runs all the way to my wife’s backyard 60 miles away. I can get from here to there without hardly going on public roads at all. Once society breaks down you can be sure that the vehicle bridges will have people camped out on them collecting tolls, so you’ll need to find railroad bridges or pedestrian bridges to get around without confrontations. Plan your escape routes no matter where you go, and make sure that they avoid freeways. In an emergency, the freeways will be clogged with the desperate and unprepared. They are going to want you to help them, or they will just try to take whatever you have.

My personal favorite apocalypse scenario is a solar storm which only has a 1 out of 10 chance of happening in the next 10 years. I like my apocolypses like I like my women, beautiful and deadly.

I like my apocalypses like I like my women, beautiful and deadly. I make my living off solar storms (true story).

You’re not going to be able to get parts

It makes a lot of sense to keep any old broken drive units and batteries around as you’re not going to be able to get parts very easily after the apocalypse. When the SHTF the first thing I’m going to do is reprogram all my drive units so they won’t burn out parts. For the BBSHD it means dropping it down from 25 Amps to 20 Amps, for the BBSHD going from the factory 30 amps to 25 amps and for the Ludicrous going from the maximum 60 amps back to a measly 30 amps of power. I burned out a nylon gear on my 60 amp BBSHD Ludicrous controller so I recently dialed all mine back to 56 amps (26 Amps limited in the Bafang program) to see if my gears fare better at those power levels. If you have spare drive units not mounted on bikes (I have 2) then keep them stored wrapped in several layers of aluminum foil separated by cardboard which will make a cheap faraday cage. One of the most likely doomsday scenarios is a massive EMP caused my a massive coronal ejection from the sun which would likely fry most of the unprotected electronics on the planet. Think this is an unlikely scenario? Pete Riley, a physicist who looked at extreme space weather events for the last 50 years, says there’s a 12% chance that a Carrington-level storm will hit Earth in the next 10 years. Roll a D10, if you get a 10 we all go back to the stone age while millions of Americans die.

Nylon gears fail, you should always have some extra on hand

Nylon gears fail, you should always have some extra on hand

While you can’t protect drive units that are mounted on ebikes, you can protect your spare motors pretty easily. Two is one and one is none. Always have spares, make sure your spares are protected from EMPs, aluminum foil is cheap. Keep your spare batteries fully charged and wrapped in foil as well. Make sure that all your ebikes can use most or all of your existing batteries. Remember as long as you have an extra mounting bracket for a frame pack you can just throw it on a cord and plug it into the motor. If you have an ebike with a frame pack make sure the wires have a connector and are not soldered so you can easily swap out the frame pack with a larger backpack or triangle battery. Flexibility is king, you might find yourself needing to bring ALL your batteries with you and nothing is worse than realizing your XT90 pack is not going to work with your Anderson PP connectors on your drive unit.

Every time I break something on my drive units and I have to order one, I always order a spare. Chances are if you burn out a nylon gear or a pinion gear, you’re going to burn it out again so you might as well have one on hand. Parts for the BBSxx are cheap and it makes a lot of sense to stockpile them. Do you think I’m crazy yet? Just keep reading, it gets worse.

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This is what I’m building for my Apocalypse ebike. A 3000W 72v Cyclone Luna Cargo bike that should be able to single track trail ride as well as carry 400lbs of stuff. Your ebike should be able to use any one of your batteries.

You can still propel electric bikes when you run out of fuel

With any other kind of transportation when you run out of juice you have to add more fuel or the machine will not move. I gear all my ebikes down so low that if I run out of power I can still pedal it along, even uphill. Some underpowered and poorly geared ebikes like the Sondors budget ebike is nigh-impossible to pedal without a motor, but most ebikes are designed to be used even if the motor is dead. If you have hundreds of pounds of survival gear strapped to your bike I can’t overstate how important it is to not have to just abandon it and have to walk away like you would with a car or a motorcycle.

Electric Fatbikes can go through the deep snow

If you live in the northern climates like I do there is about a 1/4 chance that if the apocalypse does come, it will come in the winter. For 4 months of the year here there is snow on the ground or snow falling almost every day. When the SHTF there isn’t going to be snowplows clearing the roads and it will quickly pile up and be nearly impossible to get anywhere without a 4WD vehicle and chains or an ATV. My electric fat bikes are the only electric vehicle I know of that has enough power and thick enough tires to be able to push through a foot of heavy wet snow. Be aware that trying to move through that much snow is going to drain your batteries incredibly quickly. That being said I still have a pair of snowshoes for packing down my fat bike trails and XC skis for when the snow gets several feet deep and nothing else will work. If you want to survive when things fall apart you have to be able to be mobile even when the weather and road conditions are bad impassible.

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You can throw an ebike on the back of your car

I frequently travel throughout the US to explore national parks and spend my time kiteboarding. I have never gone on any trip in the last 2 years without throwing an ebike on the rear bike rack. Taking ebikes with me means that not only can I enjoy singletrack where ever I go, I can also hit the beaches even if there is soft sand. I’ve used my ebike to run shuttle for long kitesurfing downwinders where I spent hours playing in the surf with my plywood surfboard. When I get to the takeout I can packup my board and kite into a backpack and then just ebike back upwind to my car. If I run out of gas or have mechanical problems then I can always abandon the car and use the ebike. As long as the grid is not down I could conceivably guerilla charge myself the whole way home, although that would take a long time. An ebike is an elegant solution for emergency travel if you have to abandon your vehicle for any reason.

Will you survive? Do you want to survive?

That is the biggest question. For many people, the idea of stockpiling a year’s worth of food and some way to protect it seems like way more trouble that it’s worth. The reality is that for about $500 you can buy enough organic dried beans and rice (about 300lbs) to easily last a year. As long as you date the food as you buy it and cycle through it as you buy more than nothing will ever go to waste. From that point of view, preparing for the future doesn’t actually even cost you anything, as it’s just getting extra food and eating the food you already have. The average American family has less than a week’s worth of food in their house. Can you seriously not imagine a scenario that could happen that would mean you couldn’t go to the grocery store for a week? If that is the case you are very much lacking in imagination. I was raised in a strict Mormon household and although my father was the executive Vice President at one of the largest local banks we still cut our own firewood and grew our own food and kept a year’s supply on hand. He has spent much of his life overseas as a military officer in both Korea and Vietnam and he understood that people by nature could become very barbaric under unfavorable circumstances. I was raised shooting guns and learning how to farm, and looking back I feel like I am all the better for it. My wife and I have a large garden which is less than 3000 sq ft and still provides us with more food than we could ever possibly eat. We are building a greenhouse this year so that we can grow food through the winter even in the brutally cold NY climates. Honestly, I’ve found more peace of mind in farming and growing my own food than anything else I’ve ever done in my life, and you could too. When things fall apart money is going to be worthless and the only things that will have any value are alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, fuel, food, guns, ammo, antibiotics, and seeds.

The real reason I got into crossbows

The real reason I got into crossbows, Daryl is a Zombie killing machine.

Quick shopping list for the budget cheapskate prepper

  • 9mm Hi-Point C-9 Handgun – $189 It’s cheap and doesn’t jam much. Gangsters love them. Feels like a brick with a heavy trigger.
  • Marlin Model 60 22LR Rifle – $179 Ammo is only $.06 a shot and this rifle is pretty accurate at long ranges. Add a scope for $17.
  • Maverick 88 Pump Action Shotgun – $219 This is a Mossberg 500 with a cheaper trigger system. Deadly with 00 Buckshot.
  • Sniper 370 Crossbow – $263 Punches through 8 phone books at 60 yards with 3-inch groupings. 370 fpm, silent and deadly.
  • Large crossbow target – $42 No matter what kind of Jjerry-rigged target you think you can rig up that will work, it won’t.
  • Class 3A Bulletproof vest – $299 The best offense is a good defense. You can skip the plates (below) if your neighbors aren’t gun nuts (all mine are).
  • Class IV Ceramic Ballistic plates – 2 x $169 I would get one for the front and one for your back. Will easily stop multiple AR-15 bullets. If you want the super nice ultralight 3 lb plates they cost $299. Steel plates cheap but are way too heavy to consider (3x the weight). If it’s not light you won’t wear it.
  • The Kobalt 48″ storage Job Site box – $279 A giant box to lock all your food, seeds, medicine, guns, armor and ammo in. You will need a pair of master locks to keep your stuff safe from anyone who breaks into your home when you’re not there. Cool and dry.
  • A whole bunch of food – $500 (300lbs) Contact your local coop or organic foods wholesaler and buy a bunch of dried beans and rice. Freeze dried food lasts much longer, but it is much more expensive at 20lbs for $175 (non-organic)
  • Fuel transfer pump – $10 Better than sucking on gas fumes. I bet you could suck a golfball through a garden hose.
  • Lifestraw – $20 Lets you drink out of mud puddles (yum). Don’t leave home without it.
  • Gerber Machete – $29 Kill zombies, cut firewood, make shelters. Repeat.
  • Cheap Chinese handheld radio that will do it all – $25 Most of the channels are illegal to use, but in an apocalypse who’s going to care? Transmits with a massive 5 watts of power and does HAM, emergency frequencies, and everything in between.
  • Gen 1 Night Vision Monocular – $160 For another $32 you can mount it in front of almost any weaver mount sight (red dot is best).
  • Eneloop rechargeable batteries – $36 Because you’re not going to be able to replace those dead AA and AAA’s.
  • Motorola FRS radios – $48 For talking to your buddies without risking a very, very large fine from the FCC (see radio above).
  • Headsets with a PPT mike – $21 Because otherwise the Motorola radios bleep really loudly and give away your position.
  • Fish Antibiotics – $44 This stuff is the same stuff your doctor prescribes, without a prescription. Think ‘more valuable than gold’.

So for all that stuff, you’re looking at about $2700 to make sure you survive while everyone else just starves to death. Throw down another $2300 or so for a decent electric bike and you’re still looking at less than $5000. $5000 is some of the cheapest apocalypse insurance you’re ever going to be able to buy (look at your insurance claims, most have clauses that say they won’t pay up if there is a war, climate change causes your house to flood, or aliens come etc, etc,). The way I look at it I have over $100,000 in my retirement right now, so $5000 is less than 5 percent of my total investment in my retirement. The food I can eat and the guns will hold their value over time. When I am honest about the depreciation of all this stuff over the next 20 years, I only see about $1000-2000 worth of depreciation, even if I include the depreciation of the ebike and battery.

Which ebike should I get?

If you want an electric bike that will carry all your stuff mostly on the pavement then I would go with the $2300 Luna Cargo Truck. If you’re going to hit the singletrack trails and try to carry your stuff in a backpack then the $2600 Luna KHS 3000 is the first factory built ebike I’ve ever ridden that didn’t totally suck. If you’re on a budget then you can opt for the $2300 Luna KHS 1000 which has a lower component spec and cheaper tires. To maximize your fun before the apocalypse, you should opt for the extra 50 Amp $250 Ludicrous controller and a large triangle 52v battery pack. I’ve been really happy with the GA cells and it seems like that is all I use anymore. Make sure your battery pack can do 50 Amps continuous if you opt for the Ludicrous controller, otherwise you’ll stress the smaller batteries and BMS’s. Lunacycle is working on providing their Luna Cargo bike frame as a complete build which would probably be the optimal apocalypse ebike as it would have the fat tires and front and rear racks. The only downside to the Luna cargo frame is that it is an Aluminum frame so you won’t want to load it up with more that 400lbs of total weight. Any money you have left over you should probably spend on Ammo and crossbow bolts. I burned through 12 carbon fiber bolts the first day I learned how to use my crossbow with a home-made target, and at $3 each, they aren’t cheap.

Yes you really can plow through this much heavy wet snow, just don't stop.

Yes, you really can plow through this much heavy wet snow, just don’t stop. Our top-secret hideaway with 1.5 Kw of solar is in the background. I could tell you where it was … but then I’d have to kill you.

Don’t waste your life away worrying about the Apocalypse. Take action and regain control of your life. Think about how you are going to want to survive in the future, no matter what the future brings. I was in Boy Scouts for most of my youth and their motto is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

Be Prepared.

My friend Mike Spike from my terrible teenage years who literally drank himself to death at the tender age of 24 had a very pithy saying as well,

Destroy all monsters.

I plan to do both.

Ride On.

33 thoughts on “Electric Bikes Are The Transportation Of Choice For The Coming Apocalypse

  1. Hey Karl, for storing food more long-term, look at what adding CO2 does to extending the usable shelf-life of foods. I use food quality CO2 cartridges and a whipped cream dispenser with a hose on the end. Fill the containers with the hose in place, and blast CO2 from the bottom up. Seal it, and it’s good for more than twice the shelf-life of ordinary stored foods.

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  2. I’ll never make it in the apocalypse because I’ve realized I’m not as smart as you.
    If my ex’s backyard had been 60 miles away I would still be happily married 🙂

    You did inspire me to get a 32 tooth ring for the backpack in case I need to pedal a long distance.
    I already carry a cheap plastic charger in there; so it’s not like I’m totally unprepared…

    Another excellent fun to read informative article Karl.

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  3. Interesting post! It strengthens what I believe, and that is that people are not politically digital. In other words people are more complicated than being just a 0 or a 1 (ie, liberal or conservative) as the establishment (either side) would have you believe.

    Its much more like a spider graph with multiple axis. For example, based on this article I would say your standing on guns 9, desire for oppressive e-bike regulation 1, faith in government when SHTF 1, love of cross-bows 9, etc. For a self proclaimed flaming liberal, those 4 categories line up identical to many of my conservative friends.

    Just goes to show that e-bikes are the great unifier and will heal our country!

    Also, great list but I would add a .22 revolver as well. Can use the same cheap ammo as the Marlin, but can be carried in a holster (on the opposite side of the machete) so it is always with you, and revolvers are dead reliable. Great for getting a rabbit or a squirrel when you’re out on the ebike patrolling the perimeter and happen on one unexpectedly.

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  4. While I have enjoyed your blog up until this point. Why did you have to go political? Now I know you are some liberal loon and like every liberal loon is either crying or are afraid because things did not go their way. You are way out there if you think we are going apocalypse. Just like all the right wing loons though that Obama was the anti-Christ and these were the last days when he was elected. Electric cars only exist because they were subsidized. Electric bikes only exist because we are a rich country. No average guy in a3rd world country has a $799 Luna 24ah battery let alone a $670 bafang middrive motor. They have mopeds, efficient small displacement motorcycles that are not only durable but have longevity and don’t require Mobile 28 every few month or snapped chain/drivetrain issues.. Maybe you didn’t see Mad Max or Waterworld, but even in those pipe dream nightmares gasoline did not go away. You have gone from ebike evangilist to liberal doomsayer. You know the ones, the ones that go out an riot to make Armageddon happen because democracy worked, but not in their favor. I read your blog because it was informative and often funny. And although I wish you the best. I am really tired of the loser liberals diatribe. Get over it. Berney and Hillery lost and socialist programs like Obamination to the constitution care will be removed and real whacko religious nut jobs that want to destroy our country and bring Armageddon through Jihad will not be let in and defeated on their own soil.
    If you continue to use ebikes as a platform to promote your form of communism, I think you will shrink your readership. That is my opinion.

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    • I think you might have taken it just a bit to literal Richard. To me it came across in the usual self deprecating and light-hearted manner as most of the posts. As you can see by his other posts, love of e-bikes trumps all, and any excuse to evangelize them is embraced wholeheartedly, this time capitalizing on the zombie popularity.

      I don’t agree with my wife on movies, importance of veggies in diet, how often to weed the garden (never is the right answer) but I still love her and there are enough things we do agree on that it works.

      Lets focus on the common love of e-bikes and figure out ways to bridge the gaps elsewhere later!

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      • I have said the same thing about gorilla warfare charging batteries article to some people. Some people took it too seriously… There is an old saying “Never Discuss Politics or Religion in polite company”. There is a reason for it. If you want few friends you can end it quickly if you don’t agree. If you are a company like Levi, I know people that won’t buy their products because of their politics. Same with Chick Fil A… I know people that won’t go their because of their politics (and religion).

        Freedom of speech is all fine and dandy but just because you can say a thing, does not mean you should, another old saying. It doesn’t take much, someone spouting off their political views or convert you to their religion to put them on the no friends zone. And in this case the no read zone. Just my opinion. I really like ebikes, but not enough to have to tolerate some whacko with their whacko political views. If I can’t trust you with the red button, do I even want to be around or listen to you… nope.

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    • If people don’t want to read what I have to write then they (and you) are welcome to not read it. I don’t make any money off the blog and I do it out of love. If I want to push my political agenda, that is my right. Freedom of speech baby, freedom of speech.

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      • And I said “If you continue to use ebikes as a platform to promote your form of communism, I think you will shrink your readership. That is my opinion.” So let me know how that works out for you.. oh wait, I won’t be reading so don’t bother 🙂

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    • Richard, you need to seriously relax. Where hell did “communism” enter the conversation? So he made a crack about Trump’s lack of restraint, and you detour wildly into Obama care and religious nut jobs. Fuck man, it sounds as loony as the imams ranting about women wearing pants in Paris . ( Which only became actually legal in 2013 – go figure.)

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  5. I’ve studied the charging issues for direct solar charging into a Lithium ebike pack. What you basically have is a panel that outputs something like 17V or maybe a multiple of that. It’s designed to charge 12V lead acid, where the charge voltage is around 14.5. A standard 48v 18650 pack for an ebike has a charge voltage of 54V, give or take, and we are encouraged to lower that voltage to extend the life of the pack.

    The words you hear for lithium are constant voltage and constant current, or CV and CC. What you end up with is wanting to (precisely) set a charger for a voltage that matches the cells in the pack, the ‘s’ number. The end voltage maxes at 4.2 (per cell) for max charge, and you really don’t want to go over that. That’s the constant voltage. The constant current is more a limiting of the amperage and again it is partly just to protect the pack. With 500 watts of solar you could send a lot of amps into you battery pack.

    At its simplest, lets’ say you want to charge a 13s pack (48v). The charger voltage can be set to 54V. Just for safety/longevity sake, you want to limit the amperage to maybe 3 amps. It would depend on the AH in the pack.

    This is pretty easy to do. OK, we have a solar panel, lets say 100 watts, that is outputing 17 volts and maybe 5.5 amps. We need roughly triple that voltage. How do we do that? How do we limit the amps, (which we don’t really need to do with a 100 watt panel?)

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GFVI6R6/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AFHAE9RJVUMB

    In theory, this guy does it all. First off, it is a DC to DC boost, step-up, adjustable fan cooled regulated power converter. You need to stay within the input voltage limits and the output voltage limits. But if you set it up for 54 volts output, 3 amps max, and hook up a solar panel, it’s kind of a manual charger. I guess it meters both volts and amps and you push buttons to set the display. I’ve used quite a few of these, Drok, and they are not bullet-proof. You are happy when you get a good one.

    What it won’t do is remove the charge, from the pack, when the pack gets to 54 volts. You don’t really want to leave LiOn packs on the charger. There’s some balance issues, but that’s not every charge. Solar panels will output whatever amount of sun they get, but that’s OK. They will put something into the pack. But consider it a manual charger where you come out and disconnect when the charging voltage into the pack has risen to the max charge voltage. You can set the voltage for the charge % you want, and monitor the amount of charge that has gone into the pack. It’s actually a sophisticated charger, if you figure you know what you are doing. Have I left something out? Good question. I don’t know.

    I think it would be a good idea to nail down the issues with solar charging. I know some of the DC-DC converters need to be isolated from a battery they are charging, or they can be burned up by current flowing from the battery. Maybe it’s as simple as a $30 DCDC converter. I’m going to try this but right now I have lots of solar and a decent 12 volt battery bank, so running into an inverter to my Luna chargers is no big deal.

    Anyway, I am going to go watch On The Beach.

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    • My rudimentary understanding of the main problems is that you need a charge controller for when the panels are below the voltage you’re trying to get to so it will bump lower voltages to higher target voltages. Your 28v 13S pack wants 54v to charge it, but the panels constantly generate different voltages based on how much sun they are getting. It’s nigh impossible to just hook up panels and hope for the best. Not going to work.

      That Drok controller looks like it will work (it will step the voltage up OR down), but the only way to be sure would be to buy one and try it. I have some Lithium packs I don’t mind destroying so I could test it with that. I’ll write and article about how it goes. Thanks for the tip George.

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      • Barring electrical failures such as those documented in this product , I think it will work. The easy way would be to hook this up to your battery bank and set current and voltage limits properly. When the batteries get up to whatever voltage limits, they should take less and less current. Set the absolute max current to 3a or whatever you’re comfortable with and Bob’s your uncle.

        For bonus points, you could hook a pack up to a panel via this DROK boost controller, with no other charge controller or lead-acid battery bank in the mix. Panels should have a diode to prevent current from flowing back into the panel if you leave your pack hooked up at night.

        Personally I don’t mind running the charger off of my 24v battery bank+inverter, but if a setup of approximately 1 300w panel and one of these boost regulators works with no intermediate battery, survival just got 4% sexier!

        (PS: please pick up an ammeter or at least hook up your multimeter so you can monitor the voltage)

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      • Drok first impressions after 15 minutes:

        It’s a nice little unit. Very basic charging and great for a 12v lead acid bank.

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      • Did you ever end up getting the solar MPPT controller you and David R discussed in the thread? Still considering an article on the subject? Really looking forward to it if you do opt to do one. Been a long time reader of yours and Ron’s as well. Can’t thank you guys enough for all the learning.

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      • I picked up the Ming He MPPT boost charge controller and a 100w flexible solar panel. I tested the charge controller with 3x 12v UPS batteries (12v in -> 24v out) and verified it works as advertised. I then made custom cables for panel>controller>ebike battery (XT60 into barrel plug adapter) and while I have only briefly tested it with the panel and my 52v pack far, it does seem to work.

        Some time soon I’ll set this up at work so I can charge my bike during the day.

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    • Just wanted to quickly follow up and say that this controller likely can only boost voltage, so Voutput > Vinput for the rated voltages — probably about 1v minimum difference. The reason for this is explained in this review of the 400w version of the linked boost controller, which has a similar design and maybe similar firmware.

      I am a little concerned about what the battery is going to do to the charge controller when the input (solar) goes to zero. Theoretically… diodes and all that. Or maybe it’ll keep the display powered up and nothing more.

      These are all things you can cheaply and safely test with some alligator clips, a 12v battery on the input, and 2 12v batteries in series on the output. Actually, you know what, I think I’ll try it and report back.

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      • David I’m going to order one of the solar MPPT controllers (below) and test it. I think that is the right tool for the job. If it works out I’ll give you credit in the article.

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      • That costs a lot more! Compared to the Ming He mpt-7210a it’s waterproof, and because of that it probably doesn’t have an *annoyingly loud* tiny CPU cooler fan. The Ming He has a nice little display that gives you good detail about cumulative and instant power output, input voltage, output voltage/amperage limits, and some other things like that.

        It does have a bit of an issue tracking changing solar conditions, so if for example the day is partly cloudy, the changing voltage input from the panels can cause the controller to reset the output. It slowly ramps up the output over maybe 30 seconds before it finds the maximum power point. With a constant voltage on the input I didn’t notice this at all, so for example, if you connected the input to your main off-grid battery bank or used basically any DC wall wart, the stable input voltage should result in a stable output.

        This guy’s using three of them with his DIY powerwall setup. He’s got 4 or 5 videos on this thing and has really tested them out well. One of them has a bit more of an issue with tracking changing solar conditions; it seems to reset more often than the other two. Also, he’s had some capacitor failures and needed to desolder them and add capacitors that sit outside the controller.

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  6. Apocalypse and Zombies aside, an electric fat bike makes an excellent bug out bike that can get you out of nasty situations. Consider keeping one in the back of your pickup truck or Subaru.

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  7. Nice post Karl, as always. Assuming their is no power or internet, what documents or books would you recommend? Are there a printable repair manuals for the BBSHD, DIY battery guides, etc? I am sure you could disassemble a BBSHD in the dark, but I am relatively new to ebikes.

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  8. Great article, Karl! After hurricane Andrew, a large section of Florida devolved into chaos for several weeks. Many instances of a homeowner protecting their family and pile of rubble/home from rapists, looters, and dogs that had turned feral with only a .22-caliber. If someone is on a budget, and needs something more concealable than a rifle, a Phoenix Arms HP22a pistol is $200, and is getting good reviews. Katrina? Reginald Denny? Humans everywhere will disappoint you when it becomes common knowledge that the police are overwhelmed and there are no supplies for only a couple days.

    The Bulldog was a 5-shot snubnose revolver with an aluminum frame (barrel and cylinder were steel), carried by air Marshals (undercover police on commercial airplanes). Now, there are several selections that have a polymer frame. I like the “inside the belt” holster for concealment during troubled times. I have a Ruger 5-shot snubbie in 357, but even though it kicks hard, I can use mild .38 ammo with almost no kick. If anyone wants a shotgun, get a 12-ga that can chamber 3-inch shells, along with the common shorter shells. That way you have a choice of using some of the new deer slugs and flare shells (tracers?). immediately add a shoulder sling

    I also like the S&W Victory 22 pisoll because it has a fat cylindrical barrel (like the Ruger target bull-barrel).It is illegal to use a cars oil filter as a noise suppressor, but if you are traveling in international waters, it is a handy option to have.

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  9. I keep a large stash of PV panels, that’s my backup plan. They’d be good for barter. Right now I have 21 280 watt ones. I sell alt energy stuff as a sideline, but when the talk turns to doomsday when I get a call from someone, I hang up on them. They waste my time and never have any money anyway. Keeping a couple weeks of food around is about it for my preparation, a precarious existence for sure but I figure if I don’t worry about it, it won’t happen, and that attitude has worked fine for 67 years so far. Others in my area stress doomsday prep in selling their alt energy gear, good, as I send the fruitcakes to them to deal with.

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  10. ive not posted here before and although i dont agree ebikes are any sort of answer in a post nuclear holocaust world – ie, in mad max we dont even know where their food is coming from, surely the most pressing issue; the film just glosses over the issue, (the same with terminator and other apocalypse fiction): – i think the author is correct to be very worried indeed about the political situation and if he wants to express his opinion on it on his blog all power to him for doing so. it does not make him some sort of extremist, as its what any sane person is likely thinking right now. imo if you think trump is the answer to anything it marks that person out as an extremist/ head in the sand type of person. i personally dont think any planning will help us if the worst case scenario happens. most survivers will be dead within weeks when those trucks stop bringing food the supermarkets. in the (much more likely imo) situation of general societal breakdown and collapse brought about by peak oil / economic issues / climatic breakdown which is actually progressing right now before our eyes, (and rise of right wing of politicians like trump and things like brexit are actually very prominent signs of it) preps might be of some use to many who embrace them in good time, as long as governments keep functioning and maintain order and supplies of essentials like fresh water / medicines etc to communities too. the sort of preps im talking about are rather more than ebikes. im talking about boring hard work, like building solid local community, developing food producing gardens and other down to earth, craft activities like weaving and other practical resilience based activities, some of which might be repairing bikes, mopeds, farming tools and other useful low tech machinery. divesting from cars and consumerism is a big part of that too because they have no future whatever happens with trump because cheap fossil fuels are going to be history soon. none of that is actually happening to any degree in our world of happy motoring and mindless consumption. all we get is denialism from both sides of political spectrum (actually there is only one party, thats the neoliberalist corporate party) and the population at large. so i think the future will be very bleak indeed, and exactly why we all should be worried. if the author of this blog loses some readers, he is sure to gain others.

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  11. Pingback: Haul Pretty Much Anything Pretty Much Anywhere : The Luna Cargo Truck | ElectricBike-Blog.com

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