Larry vs Harry Bullitt Hill Hauler, Back-to-Front Part 1

A Bullitt has been my daily driver in all-flat terrain for more than two years. Now I need another for steep hills. Rather than just copy the original I will re-think my choices and make some cool upgrades.

My first Bullitt – the Lizzard King – was the basis for this bike build and written up extensively here. This bike is essentially a v2.0 of the same bike. There is much background detail left out of this current discussion (like drama-free AWD) since it was covered the first time around.

Bullit II Build Series
Part 1 (you are here)
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Before I get started, lets address why I need two Bullitts. When I built my first one, it was a bucket-list item I expected to last me forever… and its still going strong. But, here’s the thing: I split my time between two locations.

I work in Fresno California, where the land is all table-flat, and my job has for the last several years required me to essentially move there and set up a second residence. My actual home is in Pacific Grove, California… which has totally different terrain. Where Fresno is roasting hot in the summer and flat as a table, ‘PG’ is smack on the Pacific Ocean seashore, is only flat at the shoreline and has plenty of low but steep hills. I live at the top of one, in fact.

Recently I was finally able to start living at home again. My Surly Big Fat Dummy provided cargo bike duties, but I found something I didn’t expect: Having had a frontloader for a couple of years, now I knew what I was missing. I didn’t want to put up with the quirks of a longtail. I ended up describing the differences in detail. I found I was actually resenting the ride limitations, and putting off rides as a result.

Sneaking into Laguna Seca Raceway while it was closed for construction – I had the whole complex to myself. The Surly Big Fat Dummy was a joy to ride that day.

Screw that. Cycling is an integral part of my life. Its time to

Build Another Bullitt

As part of the build planning process, I needed to do a Build Sheet. Click the image below to go to the actual build sheet complete with links to almost every part in the build. I won’t discuss every bit and piece in this short series, but this list contains pretty much every part.

This image links to a Google Docs parts list with live links to the parts

So… how do I organize this writeup? This bike is at its core just an improved version of the one I already built and documented. There’s no point in doing that all over again, but at the same time its hard not to if I want to avoid making the reader bounce back and forth from one build description to another.

Lets just start at the back of the bike and work our way to the front. I’ll go into details where I think they are worthwhile, and be brief when I think I am on well-covered ground.

Rear Rack

This is a fairly common Axiom Streamliner DLX. Its got dropout extensions that move it well back for heel clearance, and a 50 kg weight limit. It is the identical rack I used on my first Bullitt, but oddly, this time the rack fit perfectly with none of the mods needed to get its dropout extension to fit. Apparently Larry Vs Harry have moved the threaded boss on the dropouts down by just a bit versus the ones they sold two years ago.

A standard-issue Axiom Streamliner rack with an extra-beefy front mounting bracket. No idea if this increases its capacity but factory stock its rated for a lot of weight already.

I also used a beefier center stay mount from one of my Axiom Fatliner racks and created a stronger-than-stock solution.

Similar to the ‘bobtail’ deck I made for the Lizzard King, this rack has a ‘deck’ made up of two components. One is a long strip of aluminum flat bar, 2″ wide and 1/16″ thick (sorry for the Imperialist units of measure but thats how its sold here). This flat bar is drilled and bolted to the front of the rack using existing holes. Holes drilled at the rear simply use a zip tie to attach it to the back of the rack. As previously, this thin aluminum bar is part of the rear fender solution.

The Kicktail

You’ll notice the deck bar is longer than the rack, and bent up in the back. I did these two bends by sticking the straight alloy strip in a big steel door and frame, and putting my weight behind it. With that bend in place, mounted on the rack, the deck now has a sort of kicktail… like on a skateboard. It doesn’t serve the same purpose though: The extended bit of deck catches water spray coming up off the tire. So its part of the ‘fender’.

The deck is extended in a second bend that goes up to vertical. In the back of this portion, I stuck some prismatic red tape – the same type as is used in municipal street signs – for a big passive reflector. Additionally, on the front – because why not? – I mounted a square of yellow prismatic tape for forward-ish reflectivity (my local laws prohibit the use of red, facing forward).

Lastly, at the top of the kicktail, you can see a short black strip. This is a narrow length of thick rubber mastic tape. It extends well past the deck’s edge and folds over onto itself, so it becomes an extended rubber bumper. I have learned from doing kicktails like this in the past that if you don’t cover the trailing edge in rubber, sooner or later you cover it in blood (even if you file the edges down).

Last time, it was a ‘bobtail’. Bent differently so it was a smooth curve. Executed a little differently this time to give me a tighter radius bend and a perfectly vertical section this time for the rear reflector.

The Plastic Sheet

The second component to the rack deck is a bit of thin flexible sheet plastic. It has been cut to fully cover the rack, and then slipped under the aluminum bar. Holes matching the top deck have been drilled thru it and as such it is affixed tightly and permanently to the rack. To mount a pannier, you only have to lift up the very thin plastic and attach the pannier’s hooks as usual.

The use of a narrow strip of aluminum, coupled to a flexible sheet of plastic that covers what the alloy does not, gives me full rack deck coverage while maintaining my ability to easily attach a pannier. Why bother? Because this is a part of the rear fender-that-is-not-a-fender coverage.,

Rear Mud Guard

The closest thing to an actual fender is a really big mud guard. It is a Mucky Nutz Fat Face Fender XL (They sell white ones on clearance dirt cheap). It is a front fat bike fender, put on the back wheel, and reversed. Then to extend it in back I added some white gorilla tape. It is bolted to the frame in front using the fender bolt and boss that LvH put there. This bolt pulls the mud guard forward to clear the 2.0″ Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tire.

Working together, the rack, rack deck and mud guard provide full fender protection without the use of a fender.

A little matching white extra wide gorilla tape, judiciously applied, extends the mud guard up to the rack deck – no water makes it onto the rider.


Same as I do on every one of my bikes: I am using 203mm wide, 2.3mm thick Tektro Type 17 rotors and Magura MT5e 4-piston calipers front and rear. The front brake cutoff is connected to the front motor and the rear cutoff is connected to the mid drive. It is not possible to cross-connect the cutoffs to the dissimilar motor controllers so either one cuts off both motors.

Rear Wheel (and Drivetrain)

The Lizzard King, my original Bullitt, has an 11-speed drivetrain and a 52T (!) front chainring, feeding an 11-42T rear cluster. I only use the middle three or four gears to maintain good chain alignment and high pedaling cadence.

This time I need to negotiate steep hills whose slopes vary, often on the same climb. So a big rear cluster is a given, strength is paramount and I need more usable gears to work with the varying terrain.

The Bullitt has short stays in the back. A BBSHD moves chainline outboard. So no matter what chainline angle will be a challenge. Its going to be tough to use the smallest and biggest cogs on the cassette.

Done… Then Re-Done
Drivetrain Plan A

My first setup was a 9-speed system. I used the Box 2 Extra Wide derailleur, an ebike-friendly Box 1 single-shifter, and its matching Box 2 12-50T cassette cluster. I have used this hardware in the past. It is a premium solution that is not the cheapest, but a lot less expensive than the upper tiers of the other Big S brands.

Pics or it didn’t happen: The Box derailleur can reach the 50T cog. The 12T little one can be reached too. But both of them are too far over inboard or outboard to be used meaningfully.

I labeled the Box Components drivetrain as Plan A. We’ll look at Plan B, and why there is a Plan B, further on.

Next in the drivetrain, there’s the front chainring. I have used the 40T Lekkie chainring and the smaller-than-stock motor cover it requires on my Apostate, and knew it worked well. The 40T ring also has a lot of inboard offset, which you need on the LvH frame.

The Lekkie ‘Pro’ 40T chainring, which only fits over top of the Lekkie motor cover. Note the smaller chainring teeth that are 10-12 speed compatible. No 9s.

But I need as much offset as I can get. Lekkie makes a ‘Pro’ line of chainrings, and they have an additional 2mm of offset. I wanted that extra 2mm as I will ride this bike on the bigger, inner cogs. Complicating things: the Pro rings are not 9-speed compatible. They have a different tooth profile meant for 10-12s systems.

I got around this by using a SRAM EX1 mid drive chain, which is compatible with 8, 9 and 10s systems, so I’m still good.

By using the Pro chainring I gain 2mm. If I perform an optional modification to the Bafang motor casing, I gain another 2mm. With those two mods I moved the chainring a full 4mm inboard towards the seat tube.

Shave off some of the BBSHD motor housing, just behind the Lekkie motor cover. This lets you do without a 2mm spacer to gain that much more offset. Done in about 15 minutes with a hand file.

Drivetrain Plan B

After I built the bike, and ran it for a couple of hundred miles, I was not happy with the Box Components drivetrain. The matched set of components are every bit the butter-smooth, high quality system I expected them to be. However, chainline considerations kept me from using three of the gears on the 9-speed cluster. Since I am a pedaler and not a throttler, I still benefit from lots of gears despite the electric assist. A 6-speed leaves room for improvement. I was missing my 11-speed on my other Bullitt.

Contemplating this, I had – sitting on a shelf unused – a Microshift Advent X 10-speed drivetrain looking for a home. It looked like a solid alternative that might give me a couple more gears, with no meaningful penalties. Here’s a comparison I put together while I decided what to do:

My real comparison was between the top two choices, but I also threw in the Microshift Advent 9-speed steel cluster on the Box 2 derailleur (I use that on my Apostate) just to see how it lined up.

In the chart above, the red cogs are too skewed to use. The yellow are livable if I must and the green are good to go. This chart told me

  • If I am limiting myself to my 3rd-from-the-top cog to be absolutely safe, both clusters are giving me the same 34-tooth big cog.
  • The next cogs down on the Advent X give me as-good or better higher gearing.
  • I get more gears to work with – two more – on the Advent X.
  • I never want to use the smallest cog anyway on any mid drive build, so I don’t care about the little one on either choice.
  • It looks like the Advent X is going to give me smaller cogs for when the ground is flat.

The saying goes that ‘Steel is real’ when it comes to tough bike frames. The same is also true of a cassette cluster that gets flogged by a mid drive motor.

Here are some known issues that aren’t on the chart:

  • I’m going up steep hills with 100+ lbs of load on the bike, not counting my own self and my extra heavy locks (2 meters of boron steel noose chain and two motorcycle U locks). This puts severe strain on the drivetrain and demands a conservative limit on how skewed I run the chainline.
  • The Microshift Advent X cassette is ideal as beefed-up mid-drive-friendly clusters go. It has all steel cogs and is permanently pinned together on all but the smallest cogs, so force is distributed across the entire cassette body rather than having one cog dig in at a time.
  • My handlebar layout made space a premium. The Box One shifter surprised me: Shifting often required the full throw of the shift lever, so it needed more space on the bars. SRAM shifters only require a very short throw. So there was something else I was missing.

Chainline on the inside, middle and outside. Even though I can get to the 48T cog, chainline is too skewed for a hi torque uphill slog.

with 250 miles on the odometer, I changed the drivetrain for the Advent X. It has worked beautifully. Shifting has been great all across the gear range. When I need a new cluster, I’ll be replacing a US$40 part.

I also followed a tip from a Youtuber and put an 11-speed chain on this 10-speed system. 11s chains have identical inner dimensions to 10s. They are just a hair narrower on the outside. Using an 11s, you gain an absolutely silent drivetrain. I didn’t realize how loud my SRAM chain was until I switched and… blessed, complete silence. It runs as quietly as a belt.

I used a Wipperman Connex 11se ebike chain on sale at JensonUSA for a whopping US$23.94 rather than the usual US$106.95. After seeing how well it performed, you can bet I bought enough spares at that price to last me for the foreseeable future.

On the innermost cog, which we’ve already established is not usable, the limitations of a mid-length cage versus the Box 2’s extra-long cage are apparent. Its a smaller cog than the Box 50T, but the derailleur is pulled far forward thanks to its lesser ability to wrap chain. Right picture: Three cogs down – the one I consider the max on really steep, loaded climbs – the derailleur is in a happy place.

I still love the Box Components drivetrain. I’ll move the 12-50T cluster to the Apostate, which can use the bigger cogs. The derailleur and shifter… I’ll find a use for them someday.

Drivetrain Plan C

Update – July 18 2023: Figuring out the ideal drivetrain for this bike reminds me of why I wrote Musical Chainrings back in 2020. I got great results from the Microshift Advent X rear drivetrain and Connex chain, but I wanted to do better. The Plan B cog diagram with the 40T Lekkie chainring shows the 40T rear cog in yellow. That is because it skipped occasionally under severe load (steep hill, loaded with cargo). To get 100% reliability I needed to be down on the 34T ring.

Thinking I needed more offset, I decided to swap in a Luna 42T Eclipse chainring – swiped from my Mongoose Envoy, which got a new/fresh Deruiz 42T chainring that I had socked away as a spare.

The Lekkie 40T ring, in conjunction with the fancy motor cover and the filing mod I described above in Plan A, delivers 22.25mm of inboard offset. The Luna Eclipse on the other hand delivers 24.8mm. An inboard shift of just over 2.5mm. I expected that to do me no favors on my lowest 11T chainring… but since this bike is a hill climber, I’m OK with that. Plus, since I was going up to 42T from 40T on the front ring, I expected to get some of that lost speed potential back on the next cog up.

After and Before: Plan C at top, Plan B at bottom.

What ended up happening was a better result than I expected, and for a reason that is obvious now, after the fact. Sure, the increased couple of millimeters helped with my big cogs in back some, but the real benefit came from the different tooth profile.

Lekkie Pro rings have different teeth than other chainrings in their product line. The Pros are 10-12S compatible, rather than 9-11. The Pro teeth are noticeably smaller, and it turns out that is the real problem causing the skipping. The smaller teeth simply are not well suited to cargo bike duty in steep hills.

By contrast, Luna Cycle’s Eclipse uses what they call a ‘wicked’ tooth profile designed to aggressively prevent chain drops under severe circumstances. It turns out the ring creates a bit of chain noise, but otherwise it works noticeably better across the board. Chain engagement is largely skip-free at the extremes of low and high gears, and even the 11T cog I expected to be shut out of is usable on flat ground for unloaded speed runs.

Those chainring teeth sticking up and out past the height of the chain… maybe they are kinda wicked at that.

The increase to 42T from 40T has not been a problem since I can now get to much bigger cogs in the back. The extra gearing has actually proven to be a benefit on flat stretches where I’m not loaded and want to go a little faster.

Plan C has been on for a few hundred miles and I expect this is finally the setup I’ll stick with.

Build a Wheel

The final drivetrain item is the construction of the rear wheel. I originally wanted to duplicate what I did on the Lizzard King, but the almost-indestructible SunRingle MTX39 rim was unavailable. The DT Swiss FR560 downhill rim is at least as strong, half the weight and twice the price. I’ve used them before and they are awesome so thats where I went.

I stuck with my usual DT Swiss 350 Classic ratchet engagement rear hub, with added ebike/tandem 24pt ratchet and steel cassette body upgrades. I’d have preferred a DT 350 Hybrid that includes these upgrades on a beefier hub, but just like the MTX39’s, they were nowhere to be found at the time. Spokes are Sapim Strongs with brass nipples.

The rear wheel is shod with a Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour, which has a near-knobby articulated tread. Our local bike paths get covered in sand whenever the wind blows, which is a lot here.

This is a paved path about 15 feet wide and the main local urban cycling thoroughfare. It was buried in sand the day before when the wind kicked up. I need knobby tires year-round here.

The next step from the back of the bike forward is mid drive motor installation and (drumroll) configuration. That is a big enough topic to make this a good time to wrap up, take a breather and continue the story in the next post.

DIY Bicycle Front (And Rear) Dash Cam, Part 3

Here is a quick wrapup on DIY, ultra high-resolution bicycle dash cameras. We look at sharing between bikes and issues that go with routine daily use.

This is the conclusion of the topic introduced in Part 1, where started out by looking at the rationale and parts needed for a high-quality DIY front and rear dash camera solution.

Odds and Ends

I originally wrote most of what you see here within the Part 2 Installation and Config post, but for clarity and brevity’s sake its better suited to a short, separate treatment.

There are only a few things you will want to stay on top of when living with your dash cam setup. Lets go over them now.

Long Term Maintenance?

Camera Settings

Every once in a while, the camera will have a brainfart. One morning you will fire it up and it won’t work right. Investigation may lead you to discover it has reset itself to factory defaults. Thankfully, it only takes a couple of minutes to redo them – especially now that you have a guide to use to knock them out quickly.

What I usually see is a message telling me “Memory card is full”. Which should never happen, because the camera is doing loop recording. It is supposed to automatically records over the oldest recording on the Micro SD card. So the card can’t fill up. But it did.

That is a sign that loop recording has shut off. Enable it again and you solve that problem, but if that setting reverted, very likely you will find they all changed. That includes both the video settings changes and the overall system settings. Literally this morning I just had to re-enable all of the video settings, and then also had to go into the system settings and a) redo the date/time formats and b) enable the date/time timestamp… but the camera still remembered the correct system time, so it wasn’t a total loss of memory (still, check the system time just in case) or a full reset.

Riding daily and thus needing two runs per day with the cameras – to the office and back home again – I find this happens about once a month with my older camera models (the one that balked this morning was an older Akaso V50 Elite, which I would not buy again now that the V50x is available). It has not yet happened with one of my V50x’s.


Over time the battery loses capacity. Not a big surprise as that is normal for a li-ion pack. Hooking up the camera to an external power source is a big help for this. The power source just keeps the li-ion pack inside the camera topped up… almost. It doesn’t replace it.

When the camera starts getting old, you start seeing a situation where even if the camera is connected to an external power supply, it still dies mid-ride. That is because running the camera at this high resolution and frame rate means it eats a tiny little bit more power than the power feed can pump back in. As the battery ages, this slight disparity catches up with the camera.

The solution: every week or two on an old camera I need to turn the camera power on and let the camera sit, turned off, and charge its battery. Then its good again for a couple weeks. This can be done while I am charging the bike so its no big deal. Also, since these cameras come with two batteries, switching them one for the other on occasion puts wear on both of them and staves off this issue for quite some time.

I have never had a battery get so worn I considered replacing the camera. So this is an issue but its not the end of the world.

Sharing Cameras Across Multiple Bikes

I shared a parts list in Part 1 already, but lets do another, slightly different one and look at project cost for one bike, then two.

front + rear cameras for single Bike:

Action Camera    US$90.00 x 2
SD Card             20.00 x 2
Front Camera Mount  18.00
Rear Camera Mount   12.00
27000mah Power Bank 30.00
USB Cables (2 pak)  11.00
Total Cost         291.00
Cost Per Bike      291.00

Front + Rear Cameras For Two Bikes:

Action Camera     US$90.00 x 2
SD Card              20.00 x 2
Front Camera Mount   18.00 x 2
Rear Camera Mount    12.00 x 2
27000mah Power Bank  30.00
USB Cables (2 pak)   11.00 x 2
Extra Scuba Box      13.00 x 2
Total Cost          358.00
Cost Per Bike       179.00

What we’re doing above is buying two of everything to mount the cameras, but just one power bank and one set of cameras.

To move from one bike to another we just pop the cameras and power bank off of the one bike (remember the scuba boxes make for quick-detach) and right back onto the second bike in literally just a few seconds.

US$291 sounds like a lot until you look at your alternatives. Tally up the features you won’t have when buying a commercial bespoke solution, versus this one. We went over the alternatives in detail in Part 1. If you add to it the fact that it is easily made portable, works for two bikes and gets your costs down to US$179 per bike… you are way ahead of the game.

Extrapolate this out to as many bikes as you please. For three bikes, you come up with a total of US$425, which yields a per-bike cost of to US$142.

Video Editing Software

Recording your travels, you might want to look them over (or maybe you had an accident and need to show it to the cops or your lawyer). How do you dig the files out?

First, the easy (and almost useless) way: View them on your camera. You can scroll thru the vids and tap on one to run it onscreen. But the screen is like a 2-inch diagonal TV set, which can’t show any level of detail. You need to export the file to your PC to view and zoom in on a big screen monitor.

When you bought the camera, you also bought a MicroSD card to hold your files. Remove that card from your camera and plug it into a MicroSD card reader. This is one of the ones I have, so I know it works.

Plug that card reader into your PC. It will come up as a USB drive. Like a thumb drive. You will find files in three types.

THM files

These are Thumbnail files. These are merely the thumbnail images you see when scrolling thru the video list on your camera.

LRV files

These are Low Resolution Video files. I mentioned earlier a recorded file in 4K30FPS is enormous. An LRV file is a playable low res version. If viewing a video on the tiny camera screen, this little file is used. Otherwise, these aren’t going to be of any use.

MP4 Files

This is your high resolution recording. That will be obvious when you see the enormous file size. MP4 is a format this is a bit nebulous in terms of its use of standards, but you should be able to load it into common video software/freeware.

Copy the files to review to your PC’s hard drive. Load them into your video software. My Windows 10 PC came with Microsoft Video Editor pre-loaded. I use that to expand the video to full screen and play it back. I can pause it and click thru frame by frame until I can read a license plate of a car going by. If I am viewing the upside-down rear camera view, a couple of mouse clicks rotates the view to right-side-up.

Finally, once I find a still image that displays what I need, I can store a screen shot to hand over to a lawfully interested party.

Wrapping It Up

With any luck, all you will do with these cameras is install them, turn them on at the beginning of every ride and off at the end.

But if you ever need a witness after an accident, a super high-resolution, 170-degree forward and rear-facing, image-stabilized record of the event is there for you – and if you ever need them, they will be more than worth the time and effort it took you to set them up.

DIY Bicycle Front (And Rear) Dash Cam, Part 2

This installment will focus on the installation and configuration of an ultra high resolution (4K and 30fps) DIY front and rear bicycle dash camera system.

This is a continuation of the topic introduced in Part 1, where we went over the rationale and parts list needed for a high-quality DIY front and rear dash camera solution.

Lets Get Started

We’ve purchased and received our parts. Lets install them and get everything set up. This article is going to be rather straightforward and by-the-numbers, as we already went over the reasons for rolling our own dash cam solution in Part 1.

Before we start bolting everything on, we will modify the scuba box.

The What?

Yes I said ‘scuba box’. Pretty much every budget action camera comes with a waterproof box as an included accessory. It lets you take the camera to the bottom of your swimming pool or lake or whatever. Putting the camera into the box makes it waterproof (and somewhat crashproof, too). Thats great, but what we really want is to make it easy to remove from the bike.

Most cameras have a threaded hole meant to interface with a standard 1/4″ camera tripod fitting. You can use that to screw the camera down onto a mount directly.

We don’t want to do this. When you are routinely using a camera on a daily driver bike, you need a quick and convenient way to take if off.

Why Take The Cameras Off?

It was literally just yesterday when, at my local Costco, I was beginning my process of locking the bike. A curious onlooker leaning against his parked car asked me “You aren’t going to leave those GoPro’s on there, are you?”

“Hell no” I Replied

“They go inside with me, and back on when I come back out.” I showed him how I just opened the scuba box door, disconnected the USB power cord and into a little go-bag they go (I re-use the bag that holds my bike lock), along with my removable taillights, tool bags and power banks. I also noted they are not expensive GoPro cameras. But still, two of them would be a pretty nice haul for sticky fingers.

And THAT is the real reason for the scuba box.

But its not quite ready yet. When I first started using cameras like this, I relied on their internal batteries for power. I quickly learned it was a pain to recharge the battery so frequently. Besides, battery life could be insufficient to get through a single ride.

The solution is to plug the camera into an outside power source. The camera still runs on its internal battery, but that battery is constantly topped up by the power source you connected. It (almost) never runs out and you can forget about it. More on this below.

So plugging the camera in is great, but we encased it in a watertight box, so you can’t plug anything in. Unless you…

Take A Drill To The Scuba box

The V50x camera – and every other action camera I have used – has a USB Micro-format combination data and charge plug. To get to that plug, we need to drill a slightly oblong hole in the box (speaking of which, when buying USB cords do not pick one with a big blocky plastic guard around it, or you’ll need to drill a huge hole).

In the left picture above, the hole is bigger than it needs to be. Oops my bad. But even so, an oversized hole like this should not cause a problem in even a heavy downpour. Still, you should be more careful than I was.

I said ‘oblong’ hole. To get that, I a) drill a round hole and then b) press against the side of the hole with the running drill. That grinds away just some of the top and bottom of my once-round hole. Then I incrementally test-fit and expand the hole some more until the cable fits snugly. There’s usually more hole than I need, but it never is so much it compromises the box’s structural integrity.

My Milwaukee step drill bits (I have this set) go thru the boxes cleanly in hot-knife-thru-butter fashion. So its easy to over do it. I have never ruined a box, but still be careful.

This set is part number 48-89-9222 and is the cheapest step drill set Milwaukee sells from what I see.

You can also use a simple old school drill bit and work it from side to side. Conventional bits are more difficult and leave more mess in terms of shavings. Once you get the hole drilled the rest is pretty simple.

Mount The Front Camera

First, this mount is more-complex than necessary. But it is what I consider to be a more ‘evolved’ method. I use a handlebar extension to raise the camera up high. This makes it more obvious to cars around me. I am using the following components, from the top down:

This thing is really up high but is not in my way
  • The Akaso V50x camera, inside of its scuba box. You can see the USB Micro wire coming out of the side connected to the USB port of the display, providing continuous power.
  • The adjustable forward camera mount. I added a red adjuster knob to it.
  • The camera mount is attached to a short handlebar extension, angled up to about a 2 o’clock angle. This helps because I need to mount a special light there, thanks to the particular setup of that bike. For your needs we only care about the extension because it raises up the camera. Zoom in. You can see it has two mounting arms (the product sells with just one). I had an extra. If you don’t, buy a second one and use the arm that comes with it. You could also buy a longer extension as those come with two arms, but I wanted to keep it small.
Step back from the bike a bit. That camera – raised up by the handlebar extension – really sticks out. Which is totally the idea here.

If you don’t have to mess with the added complications of a display and a light sharing real estate with the camera, you may still want to use that extension to raise the camera up. It is solid, doesn’t jiggle and helps make it obvious to others a dash camera is in use.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I have done a lot of these with a simpler mount – no extensions. The bottom-most picture below is an almost identical bike with the same displays and even the same funky light. That time I mounted the camera to the side.

For all of these bikes above, I just bolted the camera mount directly to the handlebars

If you are going this simpler route, it may be smart to put the camera on the left side as you face forward, where it will be more visible to neighboring vehicles. I hadn’t figured this out when I did these bikes.

Mount The Rear Camera

There is much less going on in back than on the front mount. I’ve only found one ‘best’ way to do this:

  1. Attach the saddle rail camera mount.
  2. Attach the scuba box to the mount, with the camera inside.
  3. Attach the right-angle USB cable that feeds power to the camera.

Pretty easy. You will spend more time routing the USB cable to your power supply so it stays tidy.

Above: That short cable running thru the frame and seat rails is a seat leash, which, coupled to the dual-bolt seatpost clamp, makes it more time-consuming to steal the saddle and seatpost.

What Power Supply?

There are a few different ways you can go here.

Use the Internal Camera Battery

This is the way I did it for the first couple of years I used these cameras. At the end of a commute into my office, I pulled the camera from the scuba box and plugged it into a USB charger. At the end of my workday at home I did it again.

This was before I started drilling holes into the boxes, but we’ll get to that. When going this route, it is the least convenient because of the charging, but it is also the easiest to install with no extra effort.

Use An External Power Bank

Charging the camera twice a day was a pain on a daily driver bike. So I moved to an external power source. Since I still needed that scuba box for ease of removal, I drilled a hole in it so I could plug into the camera.

This is where my power banks go on both of my Bullitts

One power bank can easily power two cameras. A big power bank can do it for a long time. I like to recharge them once weekly, every Friday. I use a big power bank, but that big bank also powers other lights, so for just a camera you can use something smaller. Your mileage may vary.

My project parts list includes two options, both of which I use personally. One is a high-quality name brand. The other is a low-cost, no-name product with good reviews that is working just fine for me.

Use The USB Port On Your Display

This one is kind of a no-brainer. It makes for the cleanest setup. You can select options on the camera so when you turn the display on and off the camera goes on and off with it. Also you can skip the weekly power bank charges since you are using the main ebike battery.

However, not every display has a USB port. None of them have two ports to accommodate a front and rear camera. I have 2wd bikes with two displays so I can cheat, but thats true for almost nobody else.

You may want to just hook up one camera to your display and one to a small power bank. Or if you are handy with electronics, wire in a USB buck converter to your main battery for multiple USB ports.

Camera Settings For Dashcam Use

There are a variety of ways to fiddle with settings. In particular the power-on options to make the camera turn on and off automagically when you plug it in, power up your ebike display or turn on your power bank. I have found the most reliable method is where I manually start things up and shut them down. Letting the camera manage it, I’ve had one too many experiences where it has decided to take the afternoon off and shut down mid-ride for no apparent reason.

Driving Mode vs. Video Mode

Driving Mode is one of the 9 main modes that the V50x camera has for startup. Driving mode is a dedicated dashcam mode that – in theory at least – helps makes the camera completely automatic. When it senses power, it powers up the camera and immediately begins recording. When external power is no longer fed to it, it shuts down. That means if your ebike display comes on or shuts off, so does the camera.

That sounds great but in practice on these cameras, it literally does not work for some reason. What happens is the camera powers on exactly as expected, but then within seconds (before I have a chance to climb on the bicycle and start moving) it shuts off. Its not motion-activated because riding the bike does not trigger it to start back up again. If there is a way to make it work as advertised, the instruction manual is completely silent on it.

I prefer to use simple Video Mode, where I use the on/off and recording start/stop switches myself. Done that way it always works with no surprises.

For the settings below, if I do not list something that is on the menu, the setting is left in its factory default state.

Video Settings

This is the best setting for getting clear readings on a moving car’s license plate.
Image StabilizationOn
You need this for jiggle-free video
According to the manual, this is the same thing as Image Stabilization. I turn them both on for the smoothest possible recording.
Loop Recording Time3 minutes
This sets how long each video snippet is. You want short loop recording time. A 3-minute video in 4k running at 30 fps will be well over 1 gigabyte in size. A longer loop sounds like a great idea until you try and work with a two gigabyte file in your video software.
Audio recordOn
It can’t hurt to have sound to go with your recording. Audio will be muffled thanks to the scuba box encasing the camera.

System Settings

Soundsall enabled
This just turns on all audio feedback to your touchscreen presses.
Distortion CalibrationOn
According to the manual, this is a helper for Image Stabilization. It narrows the field of view slightly.
Angle170 degrees
The widest angle possible. Since we’re trying to gather evidence in case of some sort of traffic accident, more is better.
Diving ModeOff
Do not mistake this for “driving mode”. It compensates for the lack of red light while diving under water.
WDR (Wide Dark Range)On
Allows greater detail in shadows when an image contains both bright and shadowed areas.
Auto Power OffOff
The camera can be set to power off during inactivity. Turning this off prevents the camera from deciding it needs a vacation.
Screen Saver1 minute
This just shuts the screen off to conserve the battery
Date Formatyyyy/mm/dd
Personal preference. The format used for the onscreen date stamp
Date StampDate and Time
This sets the recorded onscreen stamp to show both date and time.

Wrapping It Up

With any luck, all you will do with these cameras is install them, turn them on at the beginning of every ride and off at the end.

But if you ever need a witness after an accident, a super high-resolution, 170-degree forward and rear-facing, image-stabilized record of the event is there for you – and it will be more than worth the time and effort it took you to set it up.

We’ll cover odds and ends, which includes video software to extract your little home movies, in Part 3.

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