Lets Wrap This All Up
We can start with the battery and onboard charger, the cargo box liner and bits of interest, and finally the exciting details around the front motor and wheel.
The Custom Battery
This is a 2wd bike that sees heavy use, occasionally over long distances. The 2wd alone means I want a more serious battery; never mind the cargo bike part, and the long distances. And the steep hills. Part of the reason going big is less of an issue is I know I will never have to carry the battery anywhere. Its secreted permanently out of sight, under the bolted-down cargo bay floor.
I contacted Matt Bzura at bicyclemotorworks.com (who has built several batteries for me, including the custom 32ah pack powering the Lizzard King). I told him I needed a pack whose size fits between the crossbars of a Bullitt, and was not so deep it would interfere with the steering rod – it had to sit above it. Here’s what the specs for the pack came out to be:
|Size Constraints||No larger than 13.5″ x 3.125″ x 8″|
(343mm x 80mm x 203mm)
|Cells||Samsung 50S (21700’s)|
|Pack Config||14S7P (52v)|
|BMS Capacity||100a continuous output|
|Output Cable||Female XT90S / 8 ga|
|Charge Cable||Female XT60 / 12 ga|
Whats with the 100a battery management system? Peak output on the controllers of both motors is 25 and 30 amps, so the bike has an on-paper peak of ‘only’ 55 amps. A 70a BMS could handle that with fudge to spare. Unfortunately only 100a units were in stock. Rather than deal with the uncertainty of waiting on parts that may or may not arrive in a timely manner, I went with what was in stock.
Figures 1-4: Pics from an early test fit. The padding is 1/2″ MinicelT-600 closed cell foam, left over from the Lizzard King build. Its strong enough to lock the pack firmly into a box it only barely fits into (by design).
The thing to emphasize with this pack versus the Lizzard King’s is its increased capacity and decreased size (plus it was about the same cost). It may seem the ebike battery marketplace is stagnant in terms of technology, but there are incremental improvements going on and this is a good illustration of that.
The Onboard Charger
I have done onboard chargers on other bikes. Most notably 2Fat’s monstrous 8-amp, 480w fast charger for fast refills, or the more practical 320w, 5-amp charger on The Great Pumpkin. The 35ah pack on the Bullitt can easily take 8-amp charge current, but that is still a lot of juice, and would make for a very hot charger sitting inside of an enclosed aluminum box.
Those big chargers are special animals suited for a use case where a fast, closely-supervised charge is desirable. I ordinarily prefer to charge at low current levels. As low as 0.50 amps in fact (yes: half of one amp). Low amp charging is easier on the battery and safer in general. If you have the time to let the charger trickle power in at a rate of only 20-30w, its the best option.
Additionally, since the charger will be bolted under the floor, its not adjustable for current simply because I can’t get to it.
I decided on using the 185w Mean Well HLG-185H-54A. It can be set to a 100%, 58.8v charge at 3 amps current, which is still well under its 185w capacity (58.8v x 3.0a = 176.4w). 3 amps is still a fast charge by my routine-daily standards, and when running at 3a, this model of charger stays relatively cool.
Figures 5-6: More early test fitment showing the battery, controller (small silver box) and charger. Much neater looking when you don’t have to have the wiring all perfectly situated (and connected).
I lined the underside of the charger with thermal transfer tape before I stuck it – and bolted it – to the side of the front box. So the whole box acts as a heat sink during the charging process. Next, I ran the mains power cord back to my frame bag, where it has about an extra 0.75-meter length to reach a power outlet. Thats fine for use in my garage, but I carry a 4.6 meter (15-foot) flat extension cord in my frame bag in case I more reach at a public outlet.
The charger is permanently connected to the battery under the floor via an XT60 connection and 12 ga wires. I also Y-split the charge connection to another XT60 plug that is in my frame bag. This lets me charge the battery with an external charger – Occasionally I may want to do a precise balance charge with my Cycle Satiator.
Having a built-in charger is not a necessity, but it is a nice luxury that lets you just plug in anywhere, like you would any electrical appliance.
The Front Motor Controller
Just like for the Lizzard King, I used a 25a peak KT controller wired up for waterproof HIGO/Julet connections. I particularly like KT controllers for their relatively sophisticated pedal assist algorithm, which is not a laggy on/off algorithm. Instead it ramps power on gradually but firmly when there is a combination of low cadence rpms and slow wheel speed, and pares it back as cadence and wheel speed increases.
Figure 7: What the finished product looked like just before the floor was bolted on. The need to use extension cables of a fixed length from the controller to both the front wheel and handlebars meant I had a lot of excess cable wrapped in the front box. The need to split both battery output and charger input meant there was plenty of cabling to route in the battery box as well.
The Cargo Box Liner
The Lizzard King was lined with 1/2″ thick Minicel-T600 closed-cell EVA foam. This highly durable, very-dense foam – even at such a minimal thickness – is enough to allow a person to sit comfortably in the cargo box. After two years of use, my original liner still looks new, So I wanted to use the same material. This time, I wanted to use thinner foam. The thickness I originally used reduces the cargo area noticeably, I don’t need to carry passengers, and its overkill if all I need to do is prevent things from rattling around in the cargo box. This time I went material half as thick as last time at 1/4″.
Thankfully, sitting in a corner of my desk I still had my highly precise original blueprint used in making my original for the Lizzard King. I took that, a ruler, a Sharpie marker, some heavy duty shears and, one snip at a time, shaped and fitted the new cargo liner. The thinner material is just as good at deadening the sound of cargo items bouncing around in the box, and does just as good of a job concealing the floor (and the battery under it).
The Front Wheel
This is exactly the same wheel as was documented fully on the Lizzard King build. By the time 2022 rolled around, that wheel was a spare used for a winter tire, so when the hill climber came along I just popped it on and didn’t have to pay for an extra motor or wheel.
The 2.40″ Minion DHF is a serious BMX knobby tire, necessary thanks to drifting sand on the bike paths that can get pretty deep. Street tires like the Schwalbe Pickup or even the Maxxis Creepy Crawler have washed out on me. Not the Minion.
Since this hill climber is now my primary bike, and it needs a beefy front knobby offroad tire, I will swap over the wider wheel on my Lizzard King in the very near future. Since that wheel wasn’t discussed in the first Bullitt build series I’ll go over it now.
Why a New Wheel?
In the time since the Lizzard King was built, I took apart my spare AliExpress-sourced front wheel, kept the motor and chucked the rest. Then I built a new wheel using that same motor, Sapim Strong spokes, brass nipples and a portly (not fat) Stranger Crux XL rim.
If I already had a working wheel, why go to the expense of making a new one?
The donor wheel was part of an AliExpress kit. I bought it because of a months-long lead time to get a proper wheel built (this was during the worst of the COVID parts shortages). On general principles, I wouldn’t expect such a wheel to be of top quality and, while it worked fine for the months I used it, it was very, very narrow. Somewhere in the ballpark of 12mm internal width. I could get my preferred 2.40″ Super Moto X tire on it, surprisingly. Even more surprisingly the tire worked fine. But still, it was way out of spec and far from ideal.
I eventually got the Alienation Blacksheep-rimmed wheel built, and it has an internal width of 27mm. Thats sufficient – and that BMX rim is extremely strong – but it was still a little narrow (on paper at least) for the 2.40″ tire. So I did a lot of looking around and eventually found the Stranger Crux XL, which seemed to be the widest (42mm), strong double-walled rim that wasn’t actually a fat bike rim. The Crux XL is advertised as being optimized for use with 20×2.4″ tires, which is exactly what I was looking for.
Just like last time on the Lizzard King, this is another Bafang G020 48v/500w geared hub motor. It is rated for 45 Nm and is set up to complement the mid drive motor that powers the back wheel. Its not meant to provide a higher top speed. Instead it essentially gets the bike going off the line so the mid drive is not tearing at the chain from a dead stop. This team approach eliminates any accelerated wear and tear on the drivetrain. An in depth discussion of the ideas behind this is here.
One added benefit for this hill-climber is the added traction that comes from power to both wheels. I still dial down assist so I get a good workout, but neither motor works itself to death grinding up an intense hill since its part of a team.
Front Motor Settings
Even though I used the same motor, controller PAS sensor etc. as I did on the Lizzard King, some settings were changed. A couple of these are personal preference changes. A couple more are object lessons in being ready to cope with unexpected weirdness when building an ebike. The changed settings are in red below.
P1 = 100
P2 = 6
P3 = 1
P4 = 0
C2 = 0
C3 = 1
C4 = 3
C7 = 1
C8 = 0
C9 = 0
C10 = n
C11 = 0
C13 = 0
P5 – Battery Capacity
For no good reason, the auto-sensing feature does not work on the KT-LCD4 display. So I had to guess at a setting that works. Since this is just a visual graph on the screen and I actually use the numeric voltage gauge, getting this precisely right is not a priority for me.
C1 – PAS Sensor Configuration
Here again, for no good reason this controller refused to allow the PAS sensor to work on the setting it should (on both the KT-LCD3 and LCD4 displays). Having reversed the sensor in its mounting ring, it is running in the proper forward direction, so C1=00 (standard forward 6 sensor) should work fine. When it didn’t, I ran thru all of the possible settings and found I could use the reverse-direction setting. Why? No idea. Reverse worked so took the win and moved on.
C12 – Battery Low Voltage Cutoff
For safety, I wanted to kick this number up by the max available 1.5v. With such a big battery in place, I’ll never get down this far anyway.
C14 – Pedal Assist Increment Strength
It is now set to the max. That means the strength of additional assist from, level 1 to Level 2 is “more” than it would have been in the General (normal) setting. How much more? That is undocumented. This gives me a little more pedal assist in each setting as I ramp up from 1 to 5. As it is 3 is my typical limit on a steep hill. I do not want to put that much strain on the fork dropouts. So this is just a personal tuning decision.
The Front Fender
A fender…. So what? The reason I bring it up is because so many people have trouble fitting a fender onto Bullitts that have large front tires. In my case, I’m covering a great big BMX tire that measures a full 2.40″. It is covered well enough I don’t get any splash coming up off the front of the wheel, and my cargo bay doesn’t get any water coming in and up off the back.
What I have done is use parts from two different fender solutions. The front portion of the cover is just the front half of an SKS Rowdy 20-24″ front fender. I spaced it away from the frame with a fairly thick M6 spacer, which lets the fender mount clear the fork crown and head tube. It also is just thick enough to let the tonneau fit over the front without fitment problems.
The back portion of the fender is nothing more than a simple flexible MTB mud guard. I just zip tied it, rearward-facing, to the back of the fork. There’s not enough room for it to fully extend but it just flexes up against the floor and frame as you turn the handlebars.
Widening the side panels
This was done exactly as I did it on the Lizzard King. The original writeup lists all the parts needed. I even used the same spacers and washers since I originally had to buy everything in bags of 10, and still had the leftovers on the shelf.
Something I didn’t mention in the original writeup is I stuffed in a length of silicone hose into the front gap created by the now-wider side panels. This hose plugs the now-open slot that lets dust flow into the cargo bay from the road. The hose is slit lengthwise to give it a little more flex when you stuff it down into this snug channel.
LED COB lights
This is another idea first used on the Lizzard King, which I improved a bit when I did it again here. This time around, I used a higher-temperature color to better mesh with the white paint the lights reflect off of.
These lights also came with built in dimmer switches, which I affixed to the front of the cargo wall with some mastik tape. I don’t use the dimmers but the on/off switches are handy.
Power is run back to the frame bag via USB extension cables that are run along the side of the cargo floor, under the foam cargo box liner. They connect to a USB power bank in the Blackburn frame bag hanging under the frame’s top tube.
The light that reflects off the frame – and the halo of light that shines down on the street around the bike in full darkness – makes for a fantastic enhancement to my visibility to others on the road.
Side Panel Art
You can buy pre-made art from Vorova that fits to pre-cut decals made to fit various parts of the LvH Bullitt. I didn’t use the pre-made art. Instead I jiggered together some shapes in the Vorova configurator to create a sort of lightning bolt look. Since I live on California’s Central Coast, I wanted to add some sort of line art that fit a coastal theme. I found some art I was able to license for free thanks to a 30-day trial of the image service, added it to the sample in the configurator and job done.
Panniers? Aw shucks lets call a spade a spade… These are office wastebaskets just like the ones I did last time. Being the second time I made a set, I was able to learn a bit and improve upon my previous effort.
- I bolted both nested cans together this time. Being able to pull out the inside can to easily carry in your stuff inside sounds great, but its not necessary. All you need is a drawstring laundry bag inside the can – just like a trash can liner. When you get home, just pick up the bag and take it inside. I still want the double-thick trash cans for sturdiness, but maybe this can be done without if weight is a concern.
- No more vinyl waterproof cover. In practice, this was just too much bother. If it rains, then yeah sure bring some along and cover the can with it as shown in the build article on making the panniers. In practice, the laundry bags provided plenty of retention when you use the drawstring to cinch them up. As a fail-safe, I also added a small elastic cargo net over the top of each can. You save money not buying the vinyl covering, but spend about as much as you saved buying the laundry bags and cargo nets.
The End …
Thats pretty much it for the bit-by-bit description of this bike. Its not the most exciting build, and certainly not a thriller as write-ups go. But with any luck you found something useful described here. Or if nothing else, now you have a list of things you definitely don’t want to do 🙂