This section holds various bits that I changed that do not fit anywhere else or do not merit their own Chapter.
The 76L (each) Panniers
This needed its own writeup and, since it happened after the bike and these chapters were finished, got its own pair of standalone posts. In the months since I first put them together, they have proven perfectly durable and saved me about $200 over commercial bags of about the same size. Big And Cheap: DIY Cargo Bike Bags.
This bike cries out for a front rack. It is after all a cargo bike, and loading it up is part of the game. Sure, weight on the front wheels is not conducive to stability, but if you have ever done a bicycle tour, you’ve learned to deal with the issue. Besides… for a grocery getter, a front rack with a couple of nice big panniers is perfect for bags o’ potato chips, loaves of bread or similar high-volume, low weight delicate items. I do have to admit… one time I loaded the front bags up with soup cans. That made for a hair-raising ride home.
Normally on my fat bikes, I use an Axiom Fatliner rack, which is rated for a whopping 50 kg (110 lbs). For this nonfat bike, the Axiom DLX Streamliner is the next best fit, and it too is rated for 50 kg. Now… you’d be out of your mind to load that much onto it, but its nice to know it can handle a lot more than I will ever put on.
Axiom racks use an oddball kind of armature that threads thru the QR skewer and shifts the rack rearward a bit. In this case, I am going to take a rear rack and stick it on the front… so those mounting arms will shift the rack further forward.
Here’s where it gets weird: A common complaint on this rack is the arms add *just* enough width to make it difficult or impossible for your skewers to fit over the arms. I had exactly the same problem. No way was it going to fit. I tried using Axelrodz skewers whose front skewer was – on paper at least – long enough to work. It wasn’t. So I came up with an alternative that ended up, if anything, working better than if things had fit right (and still used an Axelrodz skewer). Look at the front axle closely in the pics above. It doesn’t look quite right…
I keep a supply of stainless steel 5/32″ fender washers on hand as they are cheap, easy to buy by the box at Ace Hardware in any US town, and a perfect fit for an M5 bolt. More snug than an actual M5 large-area/fender washer, in fact. Since they are large-area, they are just a smidge wider than the skewer’s contact area with the fork. They are also just as wide as the contact area of the rack mounting arm. If I stack a half dozen of them on the axle, the rack – which was meant for a 135mm rear mounting – fits much better, with perfect full-contact with the washers. If I stack another half dozen or so on the outside of the rack arm, then clamp down a REAR 135mm axle rod… Job done. If I remember right, I used 6 washers on the inside, and 6 more on the outside. I set it up so there is absolutely full thread engagement on the rod.
Doing this also eliminates the risk of someone walking up, flipping the QR skewer off and wandering off with my front wheel. An M5 hex key lets me pop off the wheel easy-peasy, almost as quick as a quick release.
- Axiom Streamliner DLX rack
- Axelrodz QR skewer replacements
- 5/32″ stainless steel fender washers
I have maybe 3 of the Thudbuster Short Travel posts on other bikes, and one Satori Animaris – a $50 alternative that I found well worth the money with virtually no downside vs. a Thud ST. But for the Mongoose, I decided to go to a Thudbuster Long Travel post. I bought the XL version which is a full 450mm long. Not so much because I need it (on this large frame, a normal 400mm would have worked fine) but so I can potentially use it on a smaller frame if I ever need to swap it out. At about $150 a pop these suspension posts are pricey.
Having many thousands of miles under my … belt … riding short travel suspension posts, this is my first long travel version. I wish I had bought long travel all along (and in fact since I got this one, I retired my Satori Animaris for another Thud LT on my daily driver bike). The trick to getting this to work right is to adjust the pre-travel screw so its already pretty stiff when you give it a shove with your hand or upper body while standing next to it. When putting your full weight on it, it will move quite a bit but you won’t realize it. But your bum will.
I installed a thudglove neoprene cover. Not so much to keep it clean – its a city bike after all – but to make my use of a $150 seatpost a little less obvious. I took a black sharpie to the white lettering on the glove to tone down the advertising volume a bit.
I also used a seat leash. These are not ironclad theft protection, but they will stop anyone from a quick grab, and if you have a bolt-on seatpost clamp like I do, even loosening that will not let someone walk away with the seat. They will have to disassemble the seat from the post itself to be able to walk away with the seat, or the post, or both. Of course, if the thief has a decent set of bolt cutters, or an angle grinder, they’ll make short work of this, but the leash is a great security measure against all but the prepared, dedicated thief.
- Thudbuster Long Travel XL (450mm total length) in size 27.2
- Seat leash cable for a bit more theft protection
Dual Seatpost Clamp
A seatpost clamp? Really? Picking nits, are we? I’ll explain. This is kind of a big deal, actually.
The Envoy comes with a typical quick-release seatpost clamp. It works, but you figure out real fast you have to absolutely clamp the bejesus out of it to get the post to stay still… Unfortunately it turns out the seat tube of the frame is just a hair over sized. So the seatpost is going to require unusual amounts of force to fix it in place. This is not so great for the frame.
Its even worse when you want to substitute in a quality seatpost; in my case a Thudbuster to soften the ride. The Thud’s ribbed-but-polished-anodized surface is just slick enough that the QR post clamp simply will not work unless I clamp so hard I fear for the frame’s survival. This is after all an alloy frame, and alloy often prefers to break before it bends.
I did manage to get myself a thicker wider-clamping-area carbon fiber clamp on Amazon for about $12. When clamping that to frightening levels (and only then) I found it could hold the Thudbuster steady… although I did not test it for more than a couple of rides. I replaced it with this doodad as soon as it arrived:
I bought it on EBay for about $25 (You can also find them on AliExpress. Amazon sells the ‘KCNC twin seatpost clamp‘ for about $40). It turns out dual clamps exist because carbon fiber seatposts tend to slip. Why does this design fix the problem? Clamping both post and tube solidifies the connection. Considerably. I have had no shift whatsoever in my post height since installing this piece, and I didn’t have to put undue stress on my not-replaceable frame.
You may have to do a little extra searching to find this specific type of “double seatpost clamp” versus one that simply is thicker and has two bolts. Those frame-only clamps put all the extra stress on the frame which is not my preference.
Ursus Jumbo Kickstand
The stock kickstand is a good product, but when you have loaded up the Envoy after a Costco run, you’re on shaky ground even if you are absolutely level: Bump the bike wrong or let the handlebars with their laden panniers flop around, and the bike can easily tip over. It does after all, weigh probably another 140 pounds or so and thats before you climb on.
I asked around at the Cargo Bike Republic group on Facebook and one of the options was the Ursus Jumbo kickstand. Its an $80 option, but believe it or not its not the most expensive option by a long shot.
The stock stand spreads about 7 inches, or just under 18 cm. The Jumbo on the other hand spreads over 40 cm. It also keeps the front wheel only *barely* off the ground. Perhaps a half inch. Thats a good thing as I see it. Raising the kickstand while the bike is loaded is a different approach to the stock stand, where you push the bike forward and gravity + momentum force the stand to retract (with a thunk, and the bike plops down at the same time). With the Jumbo, you physically pick the bike up at the front and retract the stand while its in the air. Different, and more difficult for sure. But the added stability is dramatic. Its worth the extra effort.
With clear/soft Kraton grips.
I’ve taken to Jones H-Bar handlebars on all my bikes after an inattentive driver hit me back in December of 2016. The resulting injuries left me with wrist pain that I can only deal with for short rides. The Envoy has a similar handlebar design, 710mm wide with a less-pronounced 27-degree sweep vs. the Jones 710mm and 45 degrees. Unfortunately I’ve decided the sharper angle of the stock handlebars is too much for me. They are a good effort from Mongoose to provide a well-functional bar out of the gate… but if I want to go on 15+ mile commutes the discomfort is unfortunately spoiling the ride and lasting well into the next day… when its time to go ride again. The Jones bars are a known fix to this problem for me. Highly recommended on general principles.
- Jones SG flat bars
- Jones clear/soft Kraton grips
Custom Built Wheels
Given the kinds of weights I am dealing with in a cargo application, I wanted an indestructible wheelset. Worth noting: The stock Mongoose wheels never let me down and never took so much as a shimmy; always staying true. Further, the steel cassette body showed zero wear after 300 miles of use with the BBSHD motor in play.
I knew right off the bat I wanted to build the wheels with a DT Swiss 350 Hybrid rear hub. The Hybrid is an insanely sturdy hub designed with ebikes in mind. Compare it to the already mighty 350 Classic and its … well, you’ll never break it. the 350 Classic’s super strong splined engagement system has been upgraded from the already-best-in-class 18T to a 24T for even faster engagement, and the spline wheels are solid rather than the stock units which are now skeletonized.
A DT FR560 is my rim of choice for indestructibility on an enduro bike, and they would have been my choice here, but I’m trying to keep the cost down… and I found the Sun Ringle MTX39, which is tailor made for downhill and freeride nightmare rides, making it also perfect for cargo. It makes for a crazy strong wheel like the FR560, at half the cost (and maybe twice the weight 🙂 ).
SIDEBAR: I went 32H not realizing the 350 Hybrid uniquely comes in the unusual-but-preferable 36H configuration. Since the MTX39 is also available in 36H, and so are Shimano front hubs… I could have done an even stronger wheel build. Frankly given the components in use here (DT Alpine spokes are just as overbuilt as everything else on the parts list) its almost hard to imagine needing that extra bit of strength, but I would have done it if I had realized the rear hub had that option before I ordered my other parts.
- Sun Ringle MTX39 Rim 26″ 32H (30mm internal width)
- DT Swiss 350 Hybrid ebike/tandem rear hub. Steel cassette body, 24-tooth splined ratchet engagement. 148mm thru axle converted to 141mm QR.
- Shimano M475 32H front 6-bolt disc hub
- DT Swiss Alpine spokes
Stock Mongoose Envoy rims are on the spec sheet as 26mm internal width, when in actuality that is their external width. Internal width is 20mm which is ok but nothing to write home about.
Likewise I could spend much more on a front hub, but a workhorse basic Shimano hub will do the job just fine.
12ah Portable Battery
Full description pending.
My battery needs to be easily removable as I carry it into the store with me. It also needs to be easily concealed in the store as I don’t need someone seeing thick red wires and thinking I have a bomb in the bottom of my shopping cart. Also, my runs to the store are usually only a few miles from home, so I can get away with a smaller battery, which – double bonus – is easier to lug around.
I’ll admit it. I’m a tire whore. I’m always looking for something a little better, a little different, and oftentimes I don’t wait for one set to wear out before I jump ship and throw on a different set to see if I have finally found the Grail. Usually, I have a stack of the things sitting in the garage, as a result. Since the Mongoose has 26″ wheels like my old Stumpjumper FSR, which I converted to a street bike powered by a Cyclone mid drive, I already had some tires in the pile to play with.
Naturally, I didn’t use them right off and instead bought more.
Firstly, the stock Chaoyang tires are decent. They are rated 26×2.35 but in a first for Chaoyang, exceed their size spec and measure out to have a casing 2.5″ wide at a comfy 50 psi. Pulling them off the rims, I found their casing to be thin-ish but not unnervingly so. A basic tire I would expect to work well with no special flat protection.
Continental Contact Plus City 26×2.20
I replaced the Chaoyangs with the largest flatproof tires I could get my hands on. The Contis are bigger than the Other Leading Brand best-in-class tire, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I know from past experience that Continental seems to be trying to beat Schwalbe by putting out comparable tires and selling them at much lower prices. I use the Contact Plus tires in 700Cx37 and they are absolutely as good as the Schwalbe competitor, but are half the price. That tread is not available in a large 26″ size, but the ‘City’ version is. And since the Marathon Plus only goes up to 26×2.0, this appears to be the biggest flatproof tire out there.
Like the other Conti tires I use, the tire casing is actually smaller than rated, and stretches over time to approach but not quite reach the rated width. At installation these tires were 2.15″ wide. After a week or so, they had stretched to 2.2″.
A smaller casing is not really what you want on a cargo bike, but I expected these tires to be really solid; making up for the loss of volume. So far that expectation has been met. These tires qualify as tank treads, and they roll smooth as silk. There is enough tread articulation to make me comfortable using them in the wet, and not so much that there is any vibration of any kind while rolling.
Under load, with my 250-lb self, 140 lbs of cargo, 55 lbs of ebike and a 60 psi max inflation, the tires performed just fine without any worrisome flattening of the tire profile under load.
Some other tires I have in the parts pile:
CST Cyclops 26×2.40
Schwalbe Crazy Bob 26×2.35
I’m not doing the tubeless thing here. Instead, I’m going for the monster bulletproof setup. The outside layer being the super thick Conti tire, with the inner layer being a slightly oversized thornproof tube.
An oversized tube is good since it does not distend/stretch as much when inflated. Long term they are less flat-prone. This particular brand of thick tube has issues with the tube separating from the valve stem if it is stretched. I am experimenting with applying Shoe Goo to reinforce this area. We’ll see.
A big part of the draw of these tubes is not only are they thorn resistant, but they also have removable valve cores, which facilitates the addition of slime into the tube.
- flatproof tire
- Thorn resistant tube
- Slime in the tube.
Hoping for no flats, ever.
The Ridiculous Lock
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is safe from a portable angle grinder. But this is as close as you can get. This setup rides in the brown bag you see in many of the pics about this bike. This 14 lb ensemble and its keys are permanently along for the ride. Details to come.
- Pragmasis DIB motorcycle grade U lock
- Pragmasis 13mm boron steel chain, 2 meter length
- Lockitt motorcycle roundlock