Completing the Bafang Conversion

The last step to completing the Bafang conversion kit was mounting the speed and shift sensors and wiring everything together.  The speed sensor is basically the same as any other wired bicycle speedometer.  A magnet is mounted on a rear spoke and the sensor is mounted on the frame. The control panel is then programmed for the proper wheel size to calculate the speed each time the magnet passes the sensor.

While I was tempted to bypass the shift sensor to save a few dollars, I’m glad I didn’t.   Since you must be pedaling to shift the gears and the motor is engaged when the pedals are turning, the motor would be engaged while shifting.  The problem is that the motor provides far more torque than the derailleur, cassette and chain can handle while shifting and would damage these parts without the sensor.  The shift sensor disengages the motor when you shift for normal torque on the parts when shifting.

Bafang Wiring Harness

Wiring it all together was much simpler than I expected.  The Bafang wiring harness and components are all color coded for plug and play wiring.  It is just matter of matching the colored plugs, lining up the pins and sticking them together.  It was as simple as that and I was ready to ride!

Ken Whittaker


Bafang Cockpit

Perhaps the hardest part of converting a road bike into an electric bike with the Bafang kit is the cockpit. Space is very limited on my handlebars because I have four brake levers (drop and cross top levers).  So, finding space to mount the BAFANG controls along with my Garmin GPS/bike computer was challenging. 

Making matters worse, the Bafang controls are designed for mountain bikes with straight handlebars that have a 31.8mm mounting diameter and taper to 22.2mm at the bar end.  Because the on/off switch, pedal assist level selector and throttle are meant to be mounted towards the end of mountain bike bars with 22.2mm diameter mounting clamps, the Bafang controls will not fit the considerably wider road bike drop handlebars. 

This seems a bit short sighted by Bafang to ignore the road bike market.  However, there is a work around that works well.  I purchased a handlebar extender that mounts to a 31.8mm diameter drop handlebar and has a 22.2mm diameter extension bar.  With the on/off, pedal assist level selector and throttle mounted on the extension bar, both are within finger reach while both my hands are firmly planted on the tops of my handlebars.

Getting a tight fit on the handlebar extension can be challenging.  I had to make shims for the handlebar extenders to ensure a tight fit on the handlebars.  Shims can be made by cutting strips out of an old inner tube or aluminum beverage can.   Caution, do not overtighten the clamps as the clamps are made out of an aluminum alloy and will strip the threads if over tightened.

Ken Whittaker


Mounting the Battery

Rack Mounted Battery

Mounting the BAFANG battery was a bit tricky. The battery is designed for mounting on the down tube using the water bottle cage mount. However, my 48V 17.5Ah Jumbo Shark Pack Battery is so large that I would have to give up both water bottle cages.

Instead, I mounted the battery on a rear rack. Although they make rear racks especially for e-bike batteries, my battery is so large that I couldn’t find an e-bike specific rack the battery would fit on.  As a result, I had to repurpose an old touring rack for the job and make my own mounts for the battery.

While I like the battery on the rear rack there are two drawbacks to carrying the battery on a rear rack. First, it puts the battery weight (approx. 9 lbs.) high on the bike. And second, it places the weight directly over the rear axle.  Ideally you want the weight lower and centered with a more even weight distribution on the bike for better handling. Nevertheless, carrying a battery on a rack is not uncommon and I will ride it this way for a while to see how I like it.

Ken Whittaker


In with the Bafang

Mounting the BAFANG motor is easy. The whole unit simply slides into the bottom bracket shell and is fastened into place with the provided hardware. Here again, you will need a special bottom bracket tool for this job. I would recommend purchasing the tool directly from BAFANG with the motor. It cost about $20.

A word of caution! Pay attention to the torque on the bolts mounting on the motor. The motor case is aluminum and can easily be stripped if over tightened.

Next, I installed the chain ring, crank arms and pedals. Take care to make sure you mount the crank arms on the correct sides. While they look identical, there is a left and right arm. If you get this step wrong, like I did, you will need a crank puller to get them back off. So, take your time and check the markings on crank arms before installing them.

Ken Whittaker


Out with the old

Anyone handy with tools can do a Bafang electric bike conversion in a few hours.  I started by removing the front derailleur, crankset and bottom bracket on my bicycle.

The front derailleur is no longer necessary and the crankset and bottom bracket are replaced with the BAFANG motor and cranks. A crank puller and bottom bracket tool are needed for their removal. And if your chain doesn’t have a master link then a chain tool will also be needed to remove the front derailleur.

Here are the parts that I removed with the tools I used. However, there are different types of cranks and bottom brackets. So the tools you need may be different. If you don’t have the tools needed consider having your local bike shop do this step for you. If you are a DIYer like me the tools will cost about $50 and can be found on Park Tool’s website at https://www.parktool.com/ along with detailed help on how these jobs are done.

Ken Whittaker


The Bafang Kit

Bafang 750 Watt mid drive kit

The Bafang 750W BBS02 mid drive motor kit includes all the hardware needed to convert most mountain or recreational bikes with flat handlebars into an electric bike.  However, in my case, I was converting an old 1997 Cannondale road bike with Shimano RSX 3×7 indexed shifter and integrated brake levers.  As a result, the Bafang mechanical levers provided in the kit wouldn’t work for me.

The Bafang levers have built in Ebrakes that cut the power to the motor when the brakes are engaged.  Initially I felt this feature was not necessary since the motor only provides power when the rider is pedaling and automatically cuts the power when the rider stops pedaling.  This seemed unnecessary since I felt it was counterintuitive to pedal and break at the same time.  However, on my first test ride without Ebrakes I quickly realized that on slow tight turns I did pedal and brake the same time to maintain the proper speed in the turn and it was not a time good time for the motor to kick in the power.  Clearly, this was a safety feature that I didn’t want to give up.     

Fortunately, with a little research I found Minshine MS-BK-1R inline brake sensors that plugged and played with my Shimano integrated shifter and brake levers and the Bafang Motor.

Ken Whittaker


Bafang it!

Bafang E-Bike Conversion Kit

As I’ve said earlier, I haven’t always been a fan of electric bikes (see http://cycleacrossamerica.com/2018/11/29/e-bike-slackers/).  But now that I am a septuagenarian and still love to get outside and ride my bike, electric bikes are looking more attractive to me.  Unfortunately, electric bikes can be very costly ranging in price from about a thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars. In addition, specifications can be very confusing with some retailers omitting important details from their advertisements (more on that subject to follow in later posts). 

Not wanting to make an expensive mistake with my first e-bike, I decided to build an e-bike using a Bafang electric bike conversion kit.  In that way, if I decided that I wanted an electric road bike I could use it on my road bike.  But, if I later felt that I would rather have an electric mountain bike I could easily transfer the motor and battery to my mountain bike.

As a result, I decided on a Bafang 750W BBS02 Mid Drive Motor and Battery kit I found online at https://www.bafangusadirect.com/bafang-750w-bbs02-mid-drive-motor-and-battery-p/60.htm.  Although I never heard of Bafang before, I found that it is a leading manufacturer of e-bike drive systems in Asia.  While Bafang offers a larger 1000 Watt motor, I chose the 750 watt motor since electric bikes with motors over 750 watts are not legal on US roadways or allowed on federal trails.   

Ken Whittaker


Emphasize Movement

Even your socks can help keep you safe when cycling.  Since the human brain is wired to notice movement and has the ability to recognize a rhythmic up-down movements of pedaling motion as a cyclist’s, by adding strikingly bright socks to your cycling kit can offer a powerful and low-tech tool for enhancing visibility on the road.

I try to wear as much Hi-Viz colors as possible on all my moving body parts, including my helmet, sun sleeves and gloves.

Check out the science at An Open-Road Study of the Daytime Conspicuity Benefits of Fluorescent Bicyclist Apparel

Ken Whittaker


Be Noticed!

In my post “5 Step Guide on What Clothing to Pack” I talk about how cycling clothing is notoriously functional at keeping a cyclist comfortable. Just as important, however, your cycling cloths can also help improve your safety on the road too.

I’ve noticed an alarming fashion trend toward dark cycling cloths recently. While they may look cool, dark cycling clothes blend into the environment and they reduce your visibility to motorist on the road. Recently, I was astonished to meet a cyclist wearing camouflage clothing. I don’t want to sound cruel, but what was he thinking? Was he trying to win the Darwin Award for contributing to the evolution of humanity by removing his genes from the gene pool.

On the road, I wear Hi-Viz clothing. Hi-Viz colors stands out and can be seen well from a distance and in low light. That’s why yellow has become the standard worldwide for warning signs. Similarly, wearing a Hi-Viz clothing serves as my warning sign to motorists that they are sharing the road with a cyclist.

While this seems like common sense, if in doubt you can find the supporting science here at “The Safety Impact of a Yellow Bicycle Jacket“.

Ken Whittaker


Bicycle and Car Collisions aren’t Accidents.

Riding high in April, shot down in May.

Just five days after returning home from completing a fifty-two-day bicycle trip from coast to coast across the United States, I was struck by a car and severely injured just two miles from my home.  It was not an accident.  By definition an accident happens by chance or without apparent or deliberate cause. However, this is not the case when a car collides with a bicycle on the road.  Either the cyclist, driver or both violated the motor vehicle safety laws and caused the collision. In all collisions between a bicycle and a motor vehicle someone is guilty of carelessness or negligence.

However, regardless of who is at fault, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured or killed.  The first step in keeping yourself safe when cycling is to be alert of the traffic around you at all times and follow the same motor vehicle safety laws as motorists.  Nevertheless, as in my case, you can do everything right and still be stuck by a motor vehicle. Hence the adage, “You can be dead right”.

As a friend and two-time coast to coast cycler once complained, it’s like wearing the Cloak of Invisibility while cycling.  To improve your safety on the road you need to be noticed.  Over the next several post I will talk about what I do to be more visible to motorist on the road.

Ken Whittaker