60 Volts are Go! 🙂
I was just one 6mm ring connector short of my home-made battery lead that I’d need to hook up the extra battery and reach the milestone 60v upgrade. So I made the short trip to the local Halfords to try and find a connector more substantial than the flimsy items they had in stock for 12v wiring. One overpriced purchase later, I was heading back home with a pair of 30 amp connectors pretty much identical to the one I already had in place, when I heard an odd rattling noise. All was not well.
I stopped to have a look around and quickly saw the problem, the nut and bolt securing the rear mudguard to the left side of the frame were conspiciously missing, frustrating as I’d only done 70 miles on the bike from new. It was double annoying because yesterday the throttle practically came off in my hand in the middle of a journey because of a small, poorly tightened alan bolt securing the throttle housing to the bike. Quality control has something to be desired when they’re not properly tightening the nuts and bolts that hold the thing together.
The previous day the bike batteries had had a full charge, and I left the extra, brand new battery on charge with my Optimate 3 12v charger hoping that I would be all ready to connect up to the bike in the morning. However eight hours later a “weak” warning light came on, indicating that it thought there was a problem it. I took the clips of the battery, fiddled about a bit, and switched the unit off then on again, and the light promptly disappeared, going back again to the orange ‘charge’ light.
It seemed unlikely that a brand new battery would fail, and it occurred to me that, though practically unused, the charger had been just lying around for some years, and might have just succumbed to some kind of electronic senility. The voltage across the terminals was about 14v, which I was told is about what I should expect.
There was only one way to settle it. I’d hook it up to one of the bike batteries, isolating it first, and see if I got the same results. If the near-full battery it was still on orange “charge” after a couple of hours, then it would be some issue with the charger, and not the battery.
The Big Day
Lo and behold, two hours and a couple of forum posts later, the light was still steadfastly orange. I’d finished off my battery lead and was all set to hook it up, and decided that enough was enough. The suspense was killing me and I was dying to see what difference the extra cell would make. I knew that a full charge of all the batteries can result in the controller shutting down until a little of the oomph has been taken out of the batteries, but between picking up my final parts and finding a replacement for the vanishing nut and bolt, I’d done three or four miles this morning and figured that this should be more than enough.
Nig described how a quick run round the block in 48v mode was sufficient to take the edge off the charge enough for the voltage to drop that tiny bit below the threshold permitted by the bike’s controller.
This kind of messing around, plus the fact that the extra battery has to be taken out and charged separately did initially put me off bothering with the 60v fix; I figured I’d just skip straight to the full 72v upgrade, complete with new controller and homemade converter. But as things progressed, I realised that some of the components – such as 72v controllers and chargers – are only readily available in China, and that my orders may take weeks to arrive. 😦
Since I’d have to eventually cut a hole in the underseat compartment anyway, I might as well do this in half-stages, and see if the new battery really did make that much difference. After all, all I had to do was build a suitable cable, make a hole to accommodate the extra battery, and wire it in.
I have to admit I was more than a little nervous though. So many things could go wrong. Changes have been introduced unannounced between runs of this model (such as the new 63 amp circuit breaker), and I was concerned that some change might have been introduced that would give me nothing but a fried controller for my trouble.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I switched the circuit breaker back on, and gingerly turned on the ‘ignition’, wincing slightly in anticipation of some noise that would signal a serious failure of some component. But I needen’t have worried. All the lights on the display sprang to life in their usual fashion. But the proof of the pudding would be in the throttle, I thought, and so hopped on and gently opened up the throttle.
The Test Ride
The difference was quite obvious right away, the response was much sharper, pulling away and accelerating up through to 25 mph with pleasantly surprising swiftness. Whereas before, the acceleration felt progressively soggier as you got into the twenties, now it cheerfully pulled my 92 kg mass (+ 4.5kg chain) past thirty before starting to flag, and maxing out at about 34 mph (clock speed) on a dead level straight, as opposed to the 28 mph I was getting before. It felt like it had finally found its legs.
In heavy traffic I didn’t feel quite as apologetic about the ubiquitous car hovering behind, waiting impatiently for a chance to get past me, and the slow pace now seemed more in keeping with the appearance of what I was driving – a low-power moped capable of a (real) 30mph or so. Hill climbing was also less of a struggle, with speeds staying above 20 mph on all but the steepest of inclines.
Though there were still long periods of holding the throttle full on and really wishing there was more juice to draw on, I fully expected this, and look forward to the next rung of the ladder when I have all the parts for the full 72v conversion. It feels much more like a real bike now, and less like an egged-up mobility carriage.
So all in all, I’m delighted with the improvements that such a minor change has brought, and think it is well worth the inconvenience of removing the battery every couple of days or so. I plan to just short the cables with a nut and bolt so I can charge the on-board batteries in the usual way. All I need now is a charger that actually tells me when I’m done charging…
The Big Speedo Debate
This brings me to another point that has been muched discussed amongst Ego riders, – that is the extent to which the speedometer over-rates the actual speed. It’s well known that most speedometers do over-rate speed to the tune of 10% or so, but the Scoota makers – desperate to make the factory Ego look less pathetically slow – have taken the piss a little with their display.
I was fortunate enough pass one of those read-your-speed signs as I was struggling up an incline on a main road. As it flashed “19 mph – Thank You” at me, I noticed the speedo needle, which was wavering somewhere between 22.5 and 23.5 mph. Based on this observation I’d put my clock at +17% of the actual speed. So I think a fair assessment – based on individual variation – is that the speedo on the Ego Scoota over-estimates to the tune of 15-20%.
Based on that, this conversion chart might be useful as a guide:
Actual — Car Speedo — Ego Speedo
10 mph —- 11 —————- 11.5 – 12
20 mph —- 22 —————- 23 – 24
30 mph —- 33 —————- 34.5 – 36
40 mph —- 44 —————- 46 – 48