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Customizing your E-1 and E-3 Betterbike

Customizing E-1 and E-3 Betterbikes


The two-wheeled EZ-1 (picured here) is the most popular recumbent on the market, largely due to its excellant reputation and low price ($700).

The three-wheeled EZ-3 (now the X3) provides the same great features with a stable, no-balancing-required configuration.

In addition to electrifying either of these recumbents to create a betterbike, several other after-market options can improve the quality of your riding experience. These options include:

Storage Space for Cargo
Battery Placement and Capacity
Lights - Head, Tail, and Decorative
Tires and Flat Protection
Kickstand and Chain Guard
Fairings (windshields)
Body Sock and Tail Sock

Click for instructions about installing an Electro Portal E-4 kit on an EZ-1 or EZ-3.

Storage Space for Cargo

Substituting a betterbike for a car often requires you to carry cargo. Generally available mountain bike racks don't sit level when mounted on an EZ-1. Even with the best-case installation, the standard bike rack (left photo) still tilts to the rear. And only about half of the attached Wald folding basket can be mounted to the rack. That's why it's important to use an EZ-1 rack from Easy Racers as pictured in the right photo. Notice that the rack rests atop the frame. Wald baskets attached to the EZ-1 rack extend past the end of rack, but work well.

The EZ-1/EZ-3 basket (left) adds storage space for bulky items. It mounts to the back of the seat (with hangers) and the seat struts (using the quick-adjust pins). Because it's so high, we suggest you find another place to put heavy cargo.

We also recommend the Timbuk2 Dee-Dog messenger bag. Shown hanging off the back of the seat in the left photo, the bag provides plenty of storage space. Use it like the saddlebags of old west days; when you head inside, sling it over your shoulder.

Although a pipe bent at both ends is used to secure the straps of the messenger bag (so it hangs high), a stick would probably work, also. The pipe is simply tie-wrapped to the seat back uprights; at that spot is a braze-on on each upright to which a loop was screwed for securing the tie-wraps.

Here's a custom battery deck for the EZ-3. It provides a convenient, solid location for the battery pack. The extra storage space on the other side could be used for a second battery pack, which would double your range. Make your own using these photos (deck, template) and instructions. (Right photo is before primer and paint.)

Battery Placement and Capacity

The standard E-4 battery pack mounts nicely on the rear rack. Its five velcro straps hold it in place and the battery wire reaches to the front of the pack. If you want to use space on the rear rack for cargo, instead of mounting the battery pack horizontally, try vertically (as shown by the green arrow and below).

The underseat panier rack can be used to mount the battery pack low and centered. The left photo shows the standard E-4 battery pack mounted vertically. This was easy to do, but we caution against low placement of the battery pack which may impede use of the kickstand.

When mounted vertically, the wide top strap and bungee cord are important to support the battery pack's weight. (The 4 side straps secure the pack to the rack.) The key switch was moved from its original location under the wide top strap. With the switch near the side, it's easier to access when mounted vertically on the pannier rack.

Want to go far? Replace the standard 12Ah batteries with bigger batteries. Here are a pair of 18Ah batteries which increase the range by 50%. Alternatively, a second battery pack (about $150) could be wired in parallel with the standard pack.

Here's a wiring diagram for a system control box containing a switch for lights, a switch (key switch) for the motor/controller, and a charging port. Notice the two fuses; one is between the two batteries. Here is a list of holes to drill/punch into the control box and their sizes (which may need to be resized for your parts):

Lights - Head, Tail, and Decorative

Good lighting is important for safety - both for seeing the road ahead and getting the attention of drivers. Most front lighting for bikes are expensive or ineffectual. Since Betterbikes™ already have plenty of battery power and a charger, you may consider using two 12-volt garden lights wired in series.

I use the charging port in the battery pack for powering my lights. When I want to turn them on, I connect the light plug to the charging port. The light cord (wire) is tie-wrapped to the frame as it leads to the front handlebars.

The light on the left is a Malibu "outdoor heavy duty floodlight" with 20-watt Halogen bulb (model # CL507). On the right is the Malibu "outdoor floodlight" with 20-watt Halogen bulb (model # CL9). (Due to its greater side visibility, we use the CL507 exclusively.) Two metal straps were screwed to the braze-ons on the handlebars. Then the lights were tie-wrapped to them. The two lights are wired in series so that the 12 volt bulbs don't blow with the 24-volt power supply.

For most casual riders, the standard LED blinky light you see on most bikes is sufficient. If you want high-intensity flashing that's visible even during daylight hours, consider the Lightman Commuter Xenon Strobe ($40). This model includes a remote switch on 2 foot cord (switch is circled). The Lightman switch is mounted with tie-wraps. (Caution: We managed to yank the wires from the switch when we moved the seat forward.) Another model has an integrated ON/OFF button. Two AA batteries provide 6 - 8 hours of high-intensity flashing. Available from Electro Portal E-4 dealers.

Tires and Flat Protection

Although airless or flatless tires stop 100% of flats, most folks find that tire liners combined with thorn-resistant tubes work very well. (When the Specialized folks come out with an Armadillo tire in 16" and 20" sizes, we may be recommending them.) When you do get a flat, a small puncture can often be sealed with some internal goop like SLIME or Flat Attack [prefered by editor]. If you don't pre-load your tubes with the goop, you can still put it in after the flat. After squeezing some in (4 oz./26" tire), pump up with air and go for a ride. Chances are good that the goop will seal the puncture so you don't have to replace the tube.

Tires for 16" and 20" wheels

Most bikes have 26" wheels. So, when it comes time to replace your tires, options are limited:

"Fat" 20" Tires: ACCESS:
Check with your local bike shop.

If you plan to visit Burning Man, you'll want to put fat Sting Ray tires on your 20" rear wheels to better handle the soft playa silt.

Kick Stand and Chain Guard

Most kickstands work with the EZ-1. In addition to the standard kickstand in the standard place, an adjustable kickstand can be mounted near the rear axle (see photo at top of page). Also, double-legged center stands are available. These are a good solution for supporting the heavier Betterbikes™. Just don't sit on the bike while the center stand is down; you can bend or break the center stand. The two-legged one in the photos is from Switzerland and costs about $50. I got it because I used to have big batteries and I wanted a more stable stand. I don't think you'll find it necessary with your Electro Cycle E-4 set-up. If you do want one, your local bike shop can get one from J&B Importers (Esge double kickstand, #94199).

Chain Guard

For a chain guard, one can use a piece of 1/2" black drip irrigation line or other hose. Cut it lengthwise and slip it over the chain. Make sure that the circled support/restrainer keeps the chainguard from sliding into the sprocket at the arrow. I also added a chainring guard. They keep my pants legs from getting greasy.

Recumbent Fairings and Tailsocks for Streamlining and Comfort

Price estimates are subject to change.

Windwrap Fairings by Mueller Human Power provide two models suitable for recumbents. Retail price is currently $295 for either model.
ERX style http://www.windwrap.com/ezsport.htm
RNS style http://www.windwrap.com/rns.htm

Zzip Designs (http://www.zzipper.com) offers a wide selection of fairings including ones that fit the EZ-1 and EZ-3.

Body Sock and Tail Sock

TerraCycle provides our tail sock frameset and Free Form Fashions provides the tail socks and body socks.

Terracycle Tailsok Frameset http://www.terracycle.com $150
Firefly Safety Option for Tailsock $18. (This small flashing strobe lights up the inside of the tailsock for high visibility at night.)
Free Form Fashions Tailsock for Terracycle http://www.bikeroute.com/FreeFormFashions $79