Good night, Ancheer.

So, in March of 2018, I had posted that I bought an Ancheer folding electric mountain bike.

I bought it so that I could cycle more, get to places easier without requiring the use of a bus, but still potentially have the backup option of loading onto a bus should weather or health necessitate said choice.

And ride that bike I did. I would sometimes just go out for 12 mile rides with no rhyme or reason, just a strange need to be in the moment, making the pedals spin. I was able to enjoy cycling again, because I could go much further, much longer, and be in far, far less pain overall. It was exercise that I didn’t dread, and I had fun taking those Saturday trips into downtown for sushi, then going nuts along the river trails and through neighborhoods.

Turning heads when I ride was actually kind of nice. Hey!, someone would shout from a vehicle or at a crosswalk. Is that one of those electric bikes? And I’d turn and reply that it was. People loved it, because here’s a big person, cruising along on a bike that you could see they’re putting pedaling effort into, but not looking winded, and cruising along at up to 20 miles per hour.

I like to think that older folks, upon seeing this, feel more inspired to go out and spend some cash on an electric bicycle, whether they build it themselves, or pick up a pre-fabricated machine. With the number of folks I’ve passed this summer and fall, riding their own electric cycles, I think it is true. Seeing someone do it daily gets them to think, Well, sheesh. If that person can do it, then I can do it.

I noticed somewhere in late Summer, maybe early Fall, there was a crease in my frame in a spot that didn’t make sense. The frame was seemingly cheap and weak, prone to damage, even with careful riding. I didn’t replace the bike then, because other than that weird crease, it seemed I could at least probably get to the end of the year, maybe even to tax season where I could consider replacing it with a better performing e-bike, or even converting another bike.

I had even thrown money at someone to build a new battery for it recently as the existing battery started to just hold less and less of a charge.

Well, with less than two weeks left in the year, my bike decided to give up the ghost. On my short ride to work today, I heard an unusual pop, and felt the bike geometry shift.

It’s a folding bicycle… that was now in danger of folding while I’m trying to bike to work. The hinge latch had popped, unsecuring the bike’s hinge while I’m cycling up a bridge that I cross every day. The front wheel is now about an inch to the left of where it should be.

I can’t use my front brakes at this point, lest the front of the bike slow down quicker than the rear of the bike, forcing it to fold rapidly and toss me off.

I switched immediately to twist throttle mode, so I could at least limp it the rest of the way to work, with judicious application of only the rear brake and short bursts of throttle — pedaling would likely cause enough lateral motion that the broken clamp situation would have only been exacerbated.

With the last half mile covered, I did at least make it to work on time, but it tells me this bike is at its end. Safety-wise, I would not trust the bicycle for anything beyond harvesting its parts and building a new e-bike or e-scooter up from that, and even this might be questionable as I need to have a look at the various components.

In the interim, this leaves me without my daily machine to get around. I do have my previous bike, which I never did sell. This is a moment in which I’m glad I had NOT done so, because I can at least use it to get around, albeit at a much reduced rate.

Also, with having been under the weather really bad in the past couple of weeks and missing work, it’s really not in a happy place of my budget to just buy a new machine. 😐

I’ll figure stuff out, though, I guess.

Two months of Ancheer.

Hey folks.

It’s now been a couple of months since I’ve purchased the ANCHEER folding mountain e-bike.

It has been my daily rider, to and from work, the mall, grocery shopping, and so on.

Right now, I think it is safe to say that this is actually a pretty good beginner’s e-bike, a solid place to get your feet wet and experience the concept of getting around with a battery assist.

I realized, after running Strava for a week or so, that I actually ride my bike a LOT MORE than I thought I did: I was estimating that I ride about 13-15 miles a week. I’m riding about 30 miles a week. The estimate I had made prior would be accurate for my old bike, which is in a storage closet right now.

This bike does give me more freedom than I had on the previous one, knowing that I can toss it onto the bike rack of the buses here if I’m not able to ride back under my own power, while still being able to get somewhere faster than taking the bus. As an example, I wanted to treat myself to Chipotle one Saturday. The closest one is about three miles away by car or bicycle, but well over 30 minutes away by bus, as it requires two buses to get there.
A short, twelve minute bike ride later, I’m pulling up in the Chipotle parking lot, only slightly winded because I decided I was going to race a ghost in Strava for part of the trip (and be soundly whipped by it, of course, because we’ve got guys and gals here who can do 20-40 miles per hour on pure leg power, no augments).

The important thing is, I now have more freedom to go places, limited only by bicycle parking options when I arrive, and overall battery capacity.

Here’s another example: If I had to go to the bowling event work was having by bus a month ago, I’d not have gone, because getting there by bus is extremely tedious. It takes upwards of 70 minutes to get there: the layout of our bus system necessitates me taking a bus to downtown, to catch a connecting bus that comes back out and over to the bowling alley. By e-bike, it was a twelve minute journey which didn’t leave me winded and pained at the end. On a regular bike, I’d need to add several minutes to this, as part of the trip requires a bridge climb.

All things said before, there are things that I would change overall about this bike:

  • There’s this nub of a center stand underneath the center bracket. It is USELESS when you have the bike folded, as it doesn’t sit high enough — the chainring barely clears the ground, and the bicycle tries to tip over. A folding center kickstand would have worked far better for what Ancheer was attempting to do: Keep your chainring off the ground while the bicycle is folded for transport.
  • The screws that were used for the chainring guard (to keep your pants leg clean, of course) were made out of really soft metal. When my chain jumped on an uphill climb, the chain sheared through two of the screws holding the guard on. That was a pain to rectify.
  • The gearing ratio is a little low. I figure the bike could use a forward ring that’s got another dozen teeth on that top gear to give me a little more legpower space to work with…
  • But the bike oscillates precariously at 31 miles per hour, which I can hit on the downhill leg of my trip to work daily. Therefore, finding a happy midpoint of about 24 miles per hour would also be necessary with said change. This would get me 6 mph more speed on top of what I was getting with the pedal assist system.
  • The lack of an easily detachable cable for the hub motor makes replacing the tubes difficult++. Easiest way to do it is to turn the bike upside down, unbolt the tire, lift it up to unseat it, then lay the tire onto the upturned frame.
  • The overall lack of documentation on how to effect repairs and troubleshoot issues needs a change.
  • Puncture resistant tires would be wonderful. The lack of them on a mountain bike is interesting.

Would I buy this bike now with what I know about it, and the work I have put into the existing hardware?

The answer is Probably. It lands mainly on budget as a deciding factor. I would certainly prefer a bike with a 48 volt, 500 watt system, because while this bike does flatten the one hill I encounter daily, it’s not something I would use for trying to ride up the local buttes with the pedal assist or throttle systems active. The sound the hub motor makes when strained is concerning enough that I know I don’t want to try it for more than 20-30 seconds at a time since it’s an air cooled system.

If I could cool the hub motor in some fashion (oil bath? ferrofluid/Statorade? spoke radiators (heatsinks)? something?), then trips like that would be less worrisome, but the current hub motor designs seem to be compact. While it’s good, because super short spokes are bad, I feel that the center space between the long spokes could have been put to better use, like what BionX did with their BionX D hub: Large housing in the center, with spoke lacings close to the center of the wheel to allow for longer, stronger spokes.

Housing something to dump extra heat would be good, especially as we start to get into the hot part of the year with three digit temps.

If I didn’t go with the Ancheer, I’d consider building my own e-bike, simply because it has the potential to save me money compared to buying something already mass produced and on the market. Buying a pre-built regular bike and upgrading with e-bike components would be the way to go, whether I go for a front-mounted hub motor and a push-button throttle, or something more robust and positioned toward the rear.

I’ll also not make this one mistake again: No more folding bikes, and no rear suspension.

A few weeks with the ANCHEER folding electric mountain bike.

Hi, folks.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I had purchased an ANCHEER Folding Electric Mountain Bike.

I’ve had it for a few moist Oregon weeks now, and have taken it out in all of the weather the state has offered me recently. High winds, cold rain, and bleary sunlight admixed with clouds… yep, I’ve been out and about!

Let’s start with the important bits: this is an actual mountain bike (MTB) with a battery-powered pedal assist and twist throttle system. It works just fine with the electric systems turned off, but is noticeably stiffer to ride when the electrics are turned off when I compare it to my 2013 Giant Cypress DX hybrid road bicycle that I’ve rode faithfully for nearly half a decade now. The hub motor and battery do add weight to the overall chassis, making this bicycle about 60 pounds. Again, compared to my Giant, this bike is deceptively heavy, which has lead to an interesting conversation with a bus driver.

Where I live, if you have a folding bicycle, you can board buses with the bike folded up, as long as you do not prevent a senior citizen from having a seat, and must give up the space if a wheelchair boards and you are in the way. I had a nearly flat battery, but needed to get from downtown to a destination about five miles out, plus come back at least three miles to get home. The bicycle rack was empty, but again, the overall weight is capable of damaging the rack.

With the bike folded, I approached the bus and asked, “May I board with my bicycle folded, please?”, having let everyone else board first, and having a couple of minutes until the driver needed to take off. Driver, ostensibly, balked at this because the front bicycle rack is empty, and asks me to load my bike there.

“This bike weighs about 60 pounds, and can damage that rack.”

I was reminded that I’ll have to deboard or otherwise move out of the way if a wheelchair or senior citizen needs to board in the wheelchair well on the bus, which I’m okay with — getting several miles down the road before I have to deboard is perfect, because I’m more likely to be able to finish up the trip on the limited battery capacity. Amazingly, we made it the whole way to where I wanted to deboard the bus, and got there a few minutes early. Driver asked me a little about the bike, because he was curious since I mentioned the weight and that it was battery powered.

Things to know: The bike’s battery is not the best, but it is realistic. In a mixture of pedal assist and twist throttle modes, I’m covering about 15 miles (25 km) on a single charge, which includes at least two bridge climbs per day as part of me getting to and from work. I’m also near the bike’s upper weight limit of 150 kg (330 lbs), which while the bike certainly handles decently with my weight, it has an impact on the battery life overall. On days where I skip the bridge climb, and go the long way around to get to work, it has less impact on the battery capacity, even though it adds half a mile to the trip.

The default seat post is too short for a person of my height, as well. I’m 5’10”. The post doesn’t raise high enough to allow for proper leg extension while riding. I had to hit up the local bicycle shop for help finding a post that fits, and is long enough to allow me to raise the seat higher. $12 later, I had a part from the local shop.

The saddle that the bike ships with is uncomfortable to use after a handful of minutes, which made my trip from Eugene to Springfield by bike uncomfortable enough that I rolled the bike onto the Emerald Express (our local bus rapid transit line) to get a ride most of the way back. I shortly replaced it with a saddle from Parateck, which I picked up on Amazon. Said saddle has a built-in strobe light, powered by CR2032 batteries. If you have a supply of these for low cost, you’re easily set. I’m tempted to tinker about and see if I can retrofit the battery socket with an 18650 battery, so I can just swap those out with the few of those I have around and on hand as needed. If that works, maybe I can add a few more LEDs in there, too — that’d ensure I’m that much more visible.

The fenders that ship with the bike, be ready to throw them away or put them on a smaller bike. For the 26″ wheelbase of this bike, the fenders do NOT stop water/mud from being flung up your back and in your mouth at any speed. They’re too short to offer protection if you’re using the bike for city commuting like I am.
I’m using an SKS X-Blade Fender on the rear of the bike, which I pulled off my previous daily rider. The front fender is still the one that came with the bike, but I’m looking for something that would work for the front, both to guard my mouth from flying roadjuice (bleh!!), and to stop the overall spray of muddy water at the controller box located on the downpost.

At some point, I strongly desire a bigger battery for this bike, because I know 36v, 8Ah is not enough. I’d like to have enough battery power for a full day excursion over into Springfield and back, which would be about a 22 mile round trip. This would be my primary goal to obtain.

My secondary goal would be an adapter: SAE J1772 to IEC-60320-C5. The former is the standard that most US sold electric vehicles use at public charging stations. The latter is what you see most on laptop power bricks: the Famous Mouse ears, as some would call them. If I could find out what would need to go in the box to make this work, so that I could connect it to a charging brick (or the gutted contents thereof), that would be totally swell.

Yes, I’d love the charging components to be separate from said adapter, because if it’s easy to make, it would be the most useful thing — folks can connect it to their existing bricks, or to a spare brick that they’ve picked up, or have hacked up into a box, or anything, really.

Enough rambling for now, though.

 

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