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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With the help of Craig at Mendon Cycle Smith, the original build of my moonlander was one I am proud of, and has been tremendously fun to ride. To name some of the highlights, it's an 18" frame with a lefty fork, Rohloff hub, Jones loop bar (aluminum), Selle Anatomica saddle with Eriksen seat post, and custom-length Phil square taper BB (pictured). This moonlander replaced one of the original "purple sizzurple" pugsleys, which was also a blast to ride. But the moonlander is a whole 'nother beast. It's a bit lighter, yes, but the real difference is the ability to run 100mm rims with no clearance concerns. I've tried it w every combination of BFLs and Nates, and for the lefty fork I settled on BFL f/r for trails and sand, and Nate f/r for snow. Compared to the pugs, either tire combination is noticeably more capable and more fun than the Pugsley, and as expected the Nates optimized traction at the expense of float and speed, and the BFLs vice versa. The shock definitely contributes to the fun as much or more as the wider rims, particularly at speed.

That was phase one. On to phase two.

I've been toying for a while with the idea of a motor-assist fat bike. I had a motorized front wheel and fork built up for my pugs when the moonlander came out, and I was sold. The idea was that I could swap out the front end - change the lefty and front wheel for the stock fork with a front wheel with a hub motor. Which is what I did. After some modifications to the brake adapter, calipers, and dropouts to make everything fit properly, I ended up with a Nine Continents 2808 motor from The Grin Cyclery mounted to a Choppers US 100mm rim (both are 36h), (pictured). (As a side note, with this combo, the spokes actually travel outward from the hub to the rim. Truing the wheel was a similar to what I've read of cross-laced wheels.) I have a Big Dummy with a stoke monkey, and used the same 36v 14ah battery for this build. I wanted to mount the battery in the frame, but unfortunately the ezee battery I used is a bit too big for the main triangle. First I tried a seat post mount (pictured in the first build pic, without a battery mounted), which didn't seem secure, so changed to a more standard rear rack designed to hold a battery (pictured 2nd, and again in a more natural habitat). The rack fit well with some generic aluminum spacers from the hardware store to center it. I took care to secure the wiring with velcro cable fasteners, so I can take remove the wiring without removing the frame bag or anything else. Swapping the motor package (fork, brake lever and throttle, and rack) for the lefty setup takes about 45mins to an hour, and I've gone back and forth a couple times since without any new problems popping up.

And this version is a blast to ride too. I'm really not sure which version is more fun. For faster rides, heavier loads, or hills, the motor really helps, and makes exploring much less daunting. I don't notice it much when I'm pedaling with the motor off, but then again I'm not trying to win any races; it's a surprisingly unobtrusive system when not in use. It's really fun around town and on the fire roads that abound here in Western Washington - when pedaling it's not hard to maintain 20mph on flats or mild hills, though I certainly do miss that Lefty at that speed. :) In snow it's a different beast because the motor is strong enough to spin the wheel, even with the nate mounted. With too much throttle, the bike wanders, and feels unstable. In snow, the motorized bike tends work best when the throttle is feathered at just under the speed I'm pedaling - making for a feeling of much less effort without the unsettling "auto steer" that happens when I rely on the front wheel for too much of the drive effort. When it's right it's like the pedaling just got much easier, and it's a wonderful, seamless experience.

And finally, either version of the bike is an attention-getter, as I'm sure anyone here knows. But the motorized one is something else. Most people don't know bikes, and don't notice the motor until I point it out. The last ride I took I met a guy with a motorcycle dirt bike who wanted to start a business selling complete motorized fat bikes to explore the trails that are closed to gas-powered dirt bikes. I smiled, we chatted, then I kept on pedaling.
 

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will rant for food
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The last ride I took I met a guy with a motorcycle dirt bike who wanted to start a business selling complete motorized fat bikes to explore the trails that are closed to gas-powered dirt bikes. I smiled, we chatted, then I kept on pedaling.
There's already a company with 3" (EDIT: 2.5") tire off road e-bikes in existence: Stealth Electric Bikes USA - Stealth Electric Bikes USA | Electric Bike | Electric Dirt Bike | Electric Motorbike

Pretty neat, but an ecological can of worms if you call attention to yourself. I'm a fan of e-motors myself, but you have to be aware that this is an unfriendly topic to most mountain bikers.

I'm probably preaching to the choir.

The reason I quit the e-bike thing (though I still have a wheel sitting my basement) is the babysitting that the batteries require, and that current battery energy density is still such **** compared to petrol.

Nice thing about e-biking in the cold: even with a gear-reduced hub, leave the throttle wide open up a 10% grade, no worries about cooking the motor.

Have you considered using the motor in a rear wheel, so you can have your E-motoring and front suspension at the same time?

Put some studs on and find a big frozen lake with such a configuration, that would be a riot.
 

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Awesome. I've been thinking of doing this to a pug with a 70ish mm rim and Black Floyd's

Never considered off road possibilities. Sure would help with the real gooey stuff and monster climbs!
 

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cjbrubaker, Mate, great info. I have a little project on the go and have been considering what you've done. I peddle around remote areas here in Oz and at 51 yo am starting to struggle pushing the crap that I carry up sand hills, its getting too strenuous. My thought was to put a hub on the front and use it to assist me when pushing the bike over the dunes. This way I can keep my sus front but not bust my guts getting over the dunes. Big problem is battery power. I'd go LiFePO4 but 36 v proves problematic to charge in the bush by solar panels and a 12v motor is just too power hungry, plus there are issues with constant V, constant A charging. Great to see you've done it though. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Took the bike out at a local beach at low tide. Had fun bashing over rocks and baby heads, where I really noticed the advantage of the moonlander over the pugs for the first time. It just kept rolling! I didn't use the motor much on the nasty stuff, but it came in handy in a couple situations in sandy, clay-like mud where the rear BFLs would slip, but the nate front would hook up. Together, I was able to get through more terrain without walking than using the rear wheel alone.

I finished the evening on the beach at sunset. I didn't need the motor there, but it's really fun to pedal and add on the throttle; just eats up the miles.... And it makes the climb back home that much easier too.

I also added on a Hebie Chainglider to keep sand out of the drivetrain... will see how it works over time.

Drew Diller - I was a little worried about an unfriendly response, but it seems to be great here - and I say anything to get out more. https://forums.mtbr.com/images/smilies/biggrin.gif I've had no trouble with the battery, and my configuration leaves it pretty exposed. Maybe I've been lucky so far. And I thought of using the motor in the rear to keep the suspension, but I liked the idea of 2WD, and really wanted to swap the motor in and out, hence the front motor. If I was mounting the motor permanently, it's probably be better in the back.

Alanm - Here's an interesting link to a gent who rigged a solar array for long-distance touring on his big dummy (worked OK, but not great) - My Solar Bicycle « « Bikes As Transportation Bikes As Transportation

Then same guy, take two - basically putting adding lead-acid batteries (which, admittedly, would be hard to carry without the xtracycle) to extend the range to over 100 miles - Long Distance Trip on My Ebike Workhorse « « Bikes As Transportation Bikes As Transportation
 

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My lbs owner has a moonlander with a bionx rear hub, I took it for a spin and its so sweet. I think the bionx has the best solution where it is pedal assist power and you just ride without having to throttle it. It also has a throttle button if you want to juice it. The downfall is bionx is 350w hub max, and expensive. Not as powerful as some of the other ebike motors out there from what i see. He says the range is around 25 miles with the bigger battery on the moonlander, also the bionx was laced to a large marge rear rim instead of the 100mm clown shoe, might not fit on the clown shoe? idk
Just curious what watt motor your front hub is and what kind of range do you have?
 

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Hybrid Leftys aren't real
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I got to throw a leg over the Bionx rear wheel equipped Pug they had out at the Dirt Demo in Vegas last fall, that thing was a riot!

I've been saying to myself ever since, gotta get one of those, but I just haven't had the $ and time to do so.

Very cool stuff. Gorgeous beach, I'm jealous, where are you at in the world? Righteous snow, AND beaches, very lucky fatbiker you are. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The wattage of the motor changes depending on how much juice the battery has and how fast it's spinning. Most I've seen is about 800W. I limit the current to 20 amps, and get about 30 miles using it most, but not all of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
They are fun, aren't they? :)

I'm pretty lucky here in Seattle. All the pictures have been within an hour's drive, and the beach is less than 30 minutes away.
 

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cjbrubaker,

Thanks for the links, made for interesting reading.

Al
 

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Hybrid Leftys aren't real
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They are fun, aren't they? :)
Yep. The thing I really liked about the Bionx was the assist style it gives. It's not a moped. You don't get oin and it takes you for a ride.

It encouraged harder pedalling. The more you push, the more is gives. No push, no help. Ha ha you fat lazy biker, no push for you.... :p

A far better Ebike solution, as it keeps the biking/physical aspect of the equation, in play.

That said, I don't sell any and know little about them, what's the deal on yours, same thing, or simply push button, get more juice?

Gotta move away from here. Last winter sucked so bad I want to cry, and as I try to find beaches to ride, I can't. We do have nice taxes and rich wankers in BMW's talking on cells though.... :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yep. The thing I really liked about the Bionx was the assist style it gives. It's not a moped. You don't get oin and it takes you for a ride.

It encouraged harder pedalling. The more you push, the more is gives. No push, no help. Ha ha you fat lazy biker, no push for you.... :p

A far better Ebike solution, as it keeps the biking/physical aspect of the equation, in play.

That said, I don't sell any and know little about them, what's the deal on yours, same thing, or simply push button, get more juice?

Gotta move away from here. Last winter sucked so bad I want to cry, and as I try to find beaches to ride, I can't. We do have nice taxes and rich wankers in BMW's talking on cells though.... :D
Hope you find some beach near you. When I lived in Ohio I couldn't wait for the snow to come.

My version is more like a scooter - push the throttle and it goes, independent of pedaling effort. The BionX setups have a (thus far) unique torque sensor. There should be ebike cycle computers coming out in the next few months that will support torque sensors, making the BionX setup possible for DIY e-bikers too. :thumbsup: should be cool.

I do like the e-assist version of the bikes better - it's how my big dummy with stoke monkey's set up (albeit, without the proportional assist) and it makes it a more "bicycle-like" experience to pedal when the motor's running.

On the other hand, go to NYC, and there are tons of e-bikes that people are using as cheap, light scooters. I think whatever gets people out of cars and onto any kind of bikes is a good thing.
 

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On the other hand, go to NYC, and there are tons of e-bikes that people are using as cheap, light scooters. I think whatever gets people out of cars and onto any kind of bikes is a good thing.
This is actually how I got back into cycling after a few years of sedentary life - sort of gave up on myself after a bad shoulder injury and subsequent surgery... every attempt at exercise was demoralizing. The e-bike was like a proverbial gateway drug (a concept I don't subscribe to, but you get the idea) because it only had so much range. Every day I found myself using the motor less than the previous day.

The biggest thing was wind. My commute was in an openly windy area for miles. The motor had me get used to it again. I think this, and rain, might be one of the first "holy crap I cannot do this" roadblocks for people that want to commute by bike but don't feel like they are up to the task.
 

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The motor is impure and unclean, it offends me.:skep: Nice job on the build though:thumbsup:, looks like its fun to ride (I cant believe I just said that). The electric motor disgusts me:madmax:, but yet I want to ride it:rolleyes:.
 

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Clever Cycles » Stokemonkey overview

too bad they aren't shipping anymore. its what i wanted to do with our bakfiets, or a future big dummy.

i wouldn't do this to a bike i was using for just myself though - but for the bakfiets or the big dummy it would have made sense to me as our second family vehicle. my biggest month on the bakfiets was 232 miles. toting the 18 month old, groceries, running errands, etc. etc. having that stoke monkey would have probably had me adding another 100 miles to that total.
 

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This project has my overwhelming respect. I have thought of something similar, mainly to add 2wd capability. The cost of the motor seems to be sane compared to mechanical 2wd systems, plus there are other benefits. I too would prefer a torque sensing assist as it would allow the rider to precisely control the torque to the wheel.
 
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