The precarious side-stand finally got the better of me today. With it being mounted so as to prop the bike at approximately 1 degree from the vertical, I’ve already had a few near-misses with this badly designed mechanism. Just a waft of air, an insect landing on the right wing-mirror or anything else to even fractionally upset the bike’s precarious center of balance can send the bike keeling over to crash ignomoniously into whatever unforgiving surface it happened to be teetering over.
On this occasion it was removing my helmet – for the first time – from the top-box that was sufficient to sending it crashing into the tarmac, scratching up the pristine paintwork on the right-hand side. Mercifully the ‘Street Scoota’ logo that is seemingly laminated onto the bike’s side panel took the brunt of the fall, and the scrapes aren’t to noticeable.
Still, it has left me seriously contemplating removing it altogether, or at least – as I did on my TZR 125 that has a similar problem – having the stand blowtorched and bent so it stands at a more respectable angle to the ground. Others have also complained that the stand whacks against the ground if you lean the bike over too far, but as yet I’ve not pushed it far enough on bends to have this happen.
It’s been about a week since I tweaked it up to 60V, and I’ve seen the same controller issues that were reported by Nig in his own blog: Fully charged, the voltage is just a fraction over the limit that the 48V controller will tolerate, and Nig’s workaround for this was to simply take it for a quick spin round the block in 48V mode to take enough edge of the voltage to bring the five-battery configuration within the controller’s operating range.
Witnessing this for the first time with all my batteries fully charged, I decided to experiment to try and establish where the cut-off point lay. Not having easy access to the full battery bank below the underseat area (with it all being set up and primed with the extra battery), I settled for just taking voltage measurements from the easily accessible extra battery.
The first measurement I took put the battery at 13.1V. So I turned the headlights onto main beam and waited a minute or so, occasionally checking the throttle, with the bike on its stand, to see when the thing would whirr to life. A couple of minutes later it did just that, and so I switched off the lights and rechecked the voltage: It was now registering about 12.9V. A reasonable approximation of the critical value, then, is about 13V per battery, or 65V total. Just using the main beam, though, rather than taking it for a ride in 48V mode seems sufficient to deplete them enough for the controller to kick in. It did, however, take a little longer to get there after a fresh charge this morning. After five minutes of this it still hadn’t come to life, but switching off and then re-engaging the breaker switch seemed to nudge it to life for whatever reason.
72V on the horizon…
I don’t expect to be fudging things with this configuration for too long, though, as I almost have all the bits I’ll require for the full 72V upgrade. The 72V charger that I initially thought might be faulty turned out to be OK. An adaptor I was using had a mysterious condition whereby it would run my electric shaver, but fail to operate the controller. The next day it wouldn’t even start the shaver either, and it turned out that its 1amp fuse had blown, but – oddly enough – only partially (is that possible?), as it still briefly operated the shaver even after I’d tried to run the recharger off of it a couple of times.
It’s been nearly a couple of weeks since I ordered a 72V controller, again from a Chinese vendor. The price looked good, but shipping times look pretty uncertain, and I’ve been unable to get the vendor to tell me when they shipped it or how long they expect it to take beyond the stock answer they have on their web-page. The poor English, and apparent complete lack of comprehension of anything I say in my emails leads me to believe that they’re using one of those on-line translators which renders anything but the simplest sentences into barely comprehensible gibberish. Presumably this is then fed back to them in the form of Cantonese pictograms, from which they pick out key concepts like “when” and reply with stock, menu-driven statements in the hope that it will suffice.
Well it won’t, so in desperation I’ve ordered one from the first affordable vendor who could respond to an email in coherent English within 24 hours. So I’ll either have to send back the surplus unit, or – more likely – hang onto it as a spare or sell it on to somebody in the EV blogosphere (or ‘forumasphere’). I should at least be able to claw back what I paid for it, as I can see offering next-day delivery on something that usually takes weeks to acquire being a very appealing selling point.
Until then, it’s onto my next little project, – an upgrade for the dodgy battery meter that comes as standard. Apart from the fact that it won’t work on 60/72V configurations without bodging, in my opinion it’s not very good anyway, and is worth replacing with something better. But more about that later…