My Electric Neighbour

Guest Bike – The E-Ped City

The E-Ped City, aka the “Zhejiang Haoren”

Just over the course of the last week, some poor soul with a brand new scooter started posted some bewildered SOS messages to the Electric Motoring Forum. Apparently, his new e-bike, which he introduced to us as the e-ped city, had started misbehaving shortly after he got it. Knowing nothing about them, he needed a hand figuring out what was wrong. Despite our advice, though, it seemed that things just kept getting worse and worse. The bike did initially work, but then it seemed to grind to a halt. didn’t appear to charge, and finally lost all power to the 12V circuit.

It was only at this point that I noticed the name of his home town in his post details. This guy – called Nigel – turned out to be just down the road from me, just a short, five mile run out of town.

I was quite intrigued to hear about this bike, as my own model is the only one that I’ve encountered first hand. The link he posted showed a lovely, retro-looking thing. It was advertised as a 60V e-bike with a 1200W motor, a range of 35 miles and speed of “40mph+”.

The ludicrous claims made on the widespread marketing blurb for my own, original 48V Ego Scoota had taught me to be extremely sceptical about the extravagant claims made for these machines in their factory form. A typical 60V scooter with an SLA bank will typically tootle along at just over 30 mph , and the range – like that of the one claimed for my own bike – would probably be overstated to the tune of 60% or so. Perhaps in the ideal conditions of a planet with no atmosphere and a perfectly smooth, level surface, a scooter like this might hope to get achieve this range, but only if it was piloted by a small, trained monkey. 😀

Nonetheless the problems he was having were intriguing and I now knew my way around these types of bikes well enough to be able to help figure out what was wrong. I quite fancied the chance to have a look at it, and so, on a sunny Monday afternoon I offered to come out and have a look at his bike to see if I could perhaps help. It would also be a great chance to take some snaps and see the layout of a completely different animal to the one I’d been upgrading and tinkering with these last few months.

Unsurprisingly Nigel was only too happy to have someone round who actually knew how these things worked, so an hour later I found myself in Nigel’s back yard being protected from an excitable dog!

The most immediate problem was that the 12V system, which had been working fine until he ran the lights for a while to drain the batteries a little, was now completely dead. The obvious suspect here was the converter, which might be dead or have some kind of lose connection. So first stage was for us to take the thing to pieces to try and find it, and also to check out the batteries on the way.

The breaker switch on his bike is under the seat stuck to the side of the compartment, rather than mounted at the back of the bike with the controller. This makes it easier to get at them to replace, though, if they get burnt out by those big sparks from too much use.

Under these seat is the battery bank arrangement – four on the main bank on top, and one more further forward. The batteries were a little smaller than the 28AH ones on my bike, but I couldn’t see any markings on them. The documentation later said they were “20-24AH”.

The other problem that Nigel had reported was with the motor stuttering and almost completely losing power, which may have just been a case of drained batteries. However checking the voltage showed a very healthy 66V or so. Also, the charger he’d got rigged up by a long extension lead was quite clearly working, delivering the usual 72V or so to the system as it was running. So what ever it was that was going on here seemed to rule out the batteries.

Towards the rear is the controller, but no converter. The cables were all very familiar, but the phase wires and main power connectors are both housed in large, yellow threeway connectors. The throttle cable and hall sensor are like the ones on all controllers I’ve seen, housed in three-way and nine-way mini connectors.

This completely standard setup is great news for prospectively upgrading this bike, though, as an extra battery and uprated controller can bring this bike closer to reaching the speed and range advertised.

Only one connector here was one I couldn’t make sense of. The single, brown-to-blue one in the two-way that I thought at first must be the ‘high’, 12V+ brake cut-off. However disconnecting it didn’t stop the cutoff from working, and the fact that the 12V system wasn’t working anyway must have meant it was working in some other way. Probably there’s a ‘low’ wire serving this system somewhere.

The phase wires and hall connector

But where was that converter? Nigel had taken apart most of the bike before inspiration struck and I pulled off the foot mat. There was a little compartment there with the converter housed inside, with a couple of fuses attached. It was the typical configuration, with the high voltage red input, and a yellow 12V output both sharing a common earth (black).

The 60V-12V DC Converter in a compartment under the foot-pan

The fuses were intact (tested for continuity), and checking the high voltage input wire via the back of the connector showed the expected 66V. However nothing at all was reading from the yellow wire, indicating a dead converter.

In our excitement about discovering this, though, we’d forgotten about the minor issue of the motor being almost without power. It was spinning when on its stand, but barely had enough juice to propel itself along at all with a rider on board.It had to be either the controller or the motor, I figured. But it was highly unusual to have two components like this fail simultaneously.

The only other issue was that the bike had come as a kit, which he’d had to assemble himself with few useful instructions. The wiring for these bikes, though, where it needed to be connected is usually fairly self-evident, and the bike  had been working fine up until the previous day. Alas, I was kind of stumped, and sadly concluded that he’d be better off getting the vendors to take care of it, as clearly a brand new bike shouldn’t be conking out in such a weird way so soon after arriving. 😦

One more item of note is the speedometer (N.B: main display in kmph), which is definitely designed to raise expectations to dizzying heights! While the Ego Scoota’s speedo red-zones at 40 mph and only goes up to 50, this one goes all the way to a mind-boggling 80 mph! Just a tad optimistic, methinks 🙂

Scooter speedo hutzpah is taken to new heights with the E-Ped’s instrument display!

After breaking the bad news, I think we both agreed it was time for the vendors to pick up the pieces here. With nothing more to be done, Nigel showed me the hen coup he has in his back garden. This little sanctuary hosts more varieties of chickens that I even knew existed, and provide him and his family with with a steady supply of eggs. With the way supermarket prices are going, it may well even pay for itself in time!

No battery hens here! – Nigel’s urban farm

He was kind enough to put together half a dozen for me to take with me by way of thanks for at least attempting to help him sort this out. Thanks, Nigel! 🙂

Green eggs and ham, anybody? Six different varieties from Nigel’s feathered friends

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3 Responses to My Electric Neighbour

  1. nigel jennings says:

    Nice Blog Paul i feel quite famous and wiped out after a week of ups and downs with this bike, i still remain optimistic though as i have wanted to own a e-bike for years, ever since i saw the ego scooter on firebox.
    The eped is now parceled up and waiting collection to be sorted 🙂
    Maybe sometime we could go for a ride to Skeg for a bag of chips, as i am sure the battery would make it lol

    • zenid10 says:

      Thanks! Don’t fret, you’ll get there in the end. You might want to check out the issue with registration, like Mike said. If it’s a lot of hassle, then maybe your vendor can leave you with the current bike’s frame, but just swap out whatever doesn’t work…

      Yes, maybe we can go to skeggy together on our bikes, or perhaps a jaunt to France. Your speedo doesn’t red-line until 60 mph so I’m sure we’ll be able to cruise at 55+ 😀

  2. […] Photo credit: https://zenid10.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/my-electric-neighbour/ […]

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