Cyclone 3000W Build and Ride Report Review

January 9, 2016
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There is a lot of buzz around about the new Cyclone 3000W motor kit. This is a new improved motor just arriving to the mid-drive category that has been around a while, and has a respected following on the ebike builders forum endless-sphere.

Some very expensive re-brands have happened with the Cyclone. Its rumoured that the expensive Ego and AFT kits are just a Cyclone motor with better accessories and snazzier-looking components.

For more information on the Cyclone read our story here. 

 

Ride Report

WOW!…Just…wow. This thing is so awesome, but…since it is putting out 2000 watts+, it is definitely in the realm of being illegal for the street.

I have gotten used to my BBSHD which, in comparison…is a much milder and more refined riding experience. The Cyclone 3000W has gut wrenching power….it has this raw feel …nice solid freewheel noises, and it feels like it can climb anything . In fact, it feels much more like a motor-bike than a bicycle. It has get-you-in-trouble amounts of power.

We were clocking 40-MPH in high gear on a flat surface without pedaling. This thing is fun and awesome. I really was not expecting it to be this smooth…with a nice low pedal-cadence (so you can add pedaling if you want, to extend battery range) and a very solid feeling to it.

The 3000W Cyclone is audible…with the well-known whining of the electric motor…and it is definitely not “almost silent” like the Bafang BBS02 or BBSHD, but…it is not as loud as any other powerful mid drive I have ridden. This thing has true power…and when it is running at 40 amps and using a 52 volt battery, it is putting out 2100 watts. If I upgraded to a 72 volt battery, then I could get the full 3000 watts…and I imagine that I would be close to 50-MPH with even more torque.

If you didn’t need 50-MPH, the great thing about any mid drive is that…you can easily and cheaply change the gearing by swapping-out a chainring or rear wheel sprocket. A larger rear sprocket, or a smaller chainring (or both?) means you will have a lower top speed, but…more low-RPM torque, with a cooler running system.

This kit could get you into a lot of trouble. Sooo…before jumping on the power wagon, consider these points:

  • This much power is way more than any ebike needs
  • This kind of power would probably be considered illegal to operate at full power on most city streets
  • This kind of power can get you hurt bad if you crash at top speed
  • This kind of power will snap drivetrain components.
  • This kind of power is hard on batteries etc…
  • This kind of power is generally going to make the bike more unreliable.

Did I mention the Cyclone 3000 watt has a lot of power?

There are so many ramifications to a powerful ebike like this. If you buy this kit, and two months later you write to complain that now you have to replace your sprockets and chain more often?…nobody will cry for you, because…everybody knows that’s the price of joining the high-powered mid drive club.

Here is a video to give you an idea what 45mph with a 170 pound rider peddling feels like:

Cons of high power

  • Inefficient
  • noisier
  • possibly illegal
  • less reliable
  • hard on battery pack
  • you can hurt yourself

Pluses of high power

  • Easily go the speed of traffic, to stay ahead of texting car-drivers
  • Climb mountains
  • Blast through soft sand or snow
  • Impress your neighbors
  • Adrenaline thrills

Which Donor Bike?

Consider spending more money on your donor bike. If you use cheap components and add high power, it can be a dangerous combination…things you might want to consider:

  • Disc brakes are a must…preferably high quality
  • Full suspension is cool but difficult to mount, plus battery and frame might flex
  • Consider a hardtail downhill bike…the most practical donor solution
  • Quality ebike tires are a must, preferably DOT speed rated
  • High quality derailleur and shifters are needed to survive with high power

Our Donor Bike

CarbonFiberBeioubike1

 

We chose a $1250 carbon fiber hardtail bike from amazon. It was delivered in only two days. Actually we chose this bike for a BBSHD install but, the BBSHD did not fit this weird carbon fiber bottom bracket, so…we instead decided to try the Cyclone. Amazingly the Cyclone fit fine where as the BBSHD didn’t. If you DO get a hardtail, seriously consider also getting a suspension seat-post, like the popular Suntour NCX or the Thudbuster.

This 24-lb bike (not a mis-print!), uses 27.5-inch wheels, and the rear wheel uses a cassette freehub with ten sprockets.

Immediate upgrades you should consider

  • E-brakes! (the Cyclone kit does not come with ebrake power-cutoff)
  • High quality bicycle chain (remember if your chain breaks you are walking)
  • Ultra high quality disc brakes and rotors (we recommend Shimano Ice rotors)
  • Change to a thumb throttle
  • Cycle Analyst to limit and monitor power and battery

Which battery pack?

Picking a battery pack is not so easy for the Cyclone compared to most DIY kits…the stock Cyclone kit has a 40-amp controller that can handle up to 72 volts. 40 amps is hard on a cheap battery pack, and most cheap chinese battery packs will not put out this kind of power, especially if they are made from lithium cells.

You are going to need a powerful battery pack that can support this bike…probably a large Amp-hour (Ah) pack, because the Cyclone does suck a lot of juice. I think a 20-Ah pack is ideal for this bike if you have a place on your frame to fit it. The Luna Cycle 18650 soft shell and triangle packs with 50 amp BMS are a good choice. We used a 48V Luna Cycle 20-Ah pack using authentic Samsung 26F cells, mounted in the triangle with a Luna Cycle triangle bag. This combination was powerful and reliable. The cells only got a little warm with hard street riding.

Alternatively you could use higher quality, higher amperage cells such as the 25R and then run a much smaller Luna Cycle pack like the 52V / 10-Ah Samsung 25R pack…and still another option is to go with a Panasonic NCR-B 52v 20ah pack in a back pack. Those two options may be worth considering if you really want a full-suspension bike, with a very small frame triangle.

The battery pack we chose

We picked the biggest battery that would fit in our Luna Cycle triangle zip-bag which is the 52V / 20-Ah Samsung 26F. The large 20-Ah size is awesome, so we did not need top shelf cells like the more expensive 25R. The 26F handles the Cyclones power just fine in the 20-Ah size.  (see battery in store)

High Power Means not as efficient and less range

A bike with a 3000W motor will not be as efficient if you use that power. Wind resistance becomes a huge factor in speeds of over 30-MPH (45 km/h). Also, pedaling input does not mean as much when you are juicing 3000 watts…remember, a top cyclist puts out a max of 700 watts…so if you are throttling to 3000 watts don’t expect your pedal input to add much to your overall range.

Peak range numbers were made for misers on the throttle. You can’t expect to be burning high amps, and still get fantastic range. There is a solution to this as mentioned before…just buy a larger Ah battery. 20-Ah should easily get you 30-40 miles on the Cyclone even if riding hard.

The Cyclone 3000W?…high power at an amazing price point

Luna Cycles is currently selling this Cyclone kit at $389 for the complete system (just add bike and battery/charger). This is an amazing price. And let’s face it…much of the DIY ebike movement is about building an affordable ebike with great performance. For achieving those goals, the Cyclone 3000W is ideal. The Cyclone 3000W kit should capture the hearts of a lot of hard core DIYers who want to go fast on the cheap.

I do not know any better option for affordable performance. Consider this: to get a 40-MPH out of a hubmotor, you would need to go with a MXUS 3000W kit or Cromotor which are 25 pound motors that cost twice the price of the Cyclone and are 25 pounds mounted in a bicycle wheel, which really does suck as much as it sounds like it would…especially if you are going to ride off road on slow and technical obstacle trails.

The Cyclone is a 10 pound mid drive (compared to an equivalent 25-lb hubmotor)…that mounts in the middle of the bike on the bottom bracket…low on the bike…acting like a keel, The Cyclone uses the transmission of the bike so that you can go fast on flats or climb slowly on the most brutally steep hills. Because it is so well balanced…our Cyclone-powered bike can still do wheelies…go off jumps, and ride off road.

The Cyclone was awesome for buzzing up and down the block. Neighbors would come out and watch us blast by. In comparison the BBS02 and the BBSHD look and ride like normal bicycles. The Cyclone screams “electric bike”.

I loved the way the Cyclone looked, once it mounted to the bike. ALthough it looked ugly off the bike, like this big monstrosity….once on the bike, I had no complaints at all about the aesthetics.

Our mechanic is an ebike commuter and we decided to give the Cyclone an acid test, by riding through the middle of Los Angeles at night, with traffic 30 miles away to Hollywood…climbing some good sized hills along the way.

The first night he rode home on it, we weren’t sure he would make it and had our cell phones on and had the Luna Cycle “rescue” mini van on call in case he broke down (or ran out of battery). We never got the call. And our mechanic has been riding the 60 mile round trip daily commute…every day for a week, without incident. The bike performs exactly like it should…and we have now gotten a lot of confidence in the set up….and feel it is solid.

This big hunk of motor

3000wstep1.jpg

I have really started to like this monstrosity of a motor. It actually looks awesome mounted to my bike…its a geared hub…and if you are only using 52V X 40A = 2080 watts, it never gets warm. I don’t worry about stripping the gears inside it, since they seem pretty damn beefy. This motor just does not seem delicate.

What makes the Cyclone pretty special is not how fast it spins…but how slowly it spins. It is spinning slowly with big torque, which is awesome for an ebike motor because you want to be able to have a usable pedal cadence and assist this beast, and the low rpms make that possible. Even though the axle is spinning slowly, the motor inside is spinning 5X as fast because of the planetary gear box…this makes the motor efficient, cool-running, and happy because all electric motors like to spin fast.

The Joy of building

OK, now we get to the building part which I know it doesn’t sound like the fun part. But there is a whole community of builders you can find on endless-sphere who take special thrill in building something that can blow the fenders off their buddies expensive store-bought ebike or the neighbors super easy to install but expensive kit.

The Cyclone is NOT an easy kit to install. It is rough and rugged. It comes with no instructional manual…you will not find a refined website with fancy install videos. With this thing you need to put it together and figure it out yourself. And when you do, you will feel this rewarding feeling that comes with building something that not everyone could pull off. The Cyclone is definitely a builders kit…and its not even really that hard to install…just a little tricky…but after you install it I bet you will get this tremendous rush knowing you have one of the meanest bad-ass ebikes on the block, and you were the one who built it!

To start your build we recommend you bench test your set up as soon as it arrives…get it working before you take the time and effort of installing it on the bike frame.

This is a great idea on a complex drive like this because its so much easier to troubleshoot when its on the bench then when its on the bike. Also, heaven forbid if your controller or motor is dead…you don’t have any time invested on the install, so its easier to send a part back for an exchange.

Although all our motors were bench tested we did not test each controller.

One of the trickiest parts of the cyclone is getting it to be just the right width for your bottom bracket (BB). We send it out in a base configuration…but, spacers can be taken out or prearranged to get it to work with different widths of bottom brackets. You may need to buy some basic washers to use as spacers. So it is up to the user to get the perfect spacing using your own ingeniuity and this is most of the difficulty in installing this kit.

Here are some tips we have learned with our own experience fiddling with the kit on our own install:

Getting the old BB off

  • This is a frustrating part of any mid drive bike build.
  • We recommend if you do not have bike tools to have a local bike shop do this step.
  • Taking the old BB cartridge out can take as long as 3 hours if you’re not a bike mechanic

There are two different sizes of BB. The cyclone comes with 2 types of BB….regular width and fat. You must use a combination of bearings or spacers (washers) to get the BB to fit on your particular bike.

Here’s a pic of the 2 different sizes of BB

 

The Cyclone 3000 comes in two different sizes…regular and fat. The only difference in the 2 kits is the Bottom Bracket and parts are different. On the left hand side you see the regular size, which is good for bikes from 68mm to 83mm…and then you see the fat kit for bikes from 83mm to 110mm (many fatbikes with 4-inch wide tires use 100mm). Between these two sizes the Cyclone will fit most BB’s, but…it will take some ingenuity on your part. Plus you may need to buy some bicycle tools that you don’t own yet.

Getting the BB to fit

 

  • On the standard BB kit (68-83mm) it comes with an extra bearing. You probably do not need this extra bearing. What we have heard from Cyclone is that the bearing is used for bikes with a 73mm bottom bracket..meaning the bearing gives you an extra 5mm of spacing.
  • There are many tricks to get the BB to work with the sizing you need. One easy trick is use of washers as spacers to get the spacing you need.
  • There is a 83-110mm kit that uses a different BB…and likewise you can use spacers as needed.

Basically use whatever skills and spacers you have to, in order to get the Cyclone BB to fit….or do whatever you need to get your old BB to fit. But because there is a lot of flexibility on how to get it to fit and no exact directions on how to achieve this, it can be a difficult step. This is something a local bike shop can help with. And let’s be honest, there are dozens of bicycle BB configurations, so there will never be a single solution.

Sizing of two chains

The Cyclone requires TWO chains…one from the front chainring to the back wheel, and one from the motor to the chainring. This is the old school way of doing a mid drive that Bafang and Bosch almost made obsolete with their ultra clean mid drives, but the 2 chain set up works suprisingly well once it is set up right. To get this right you have to get the size of your chains to just the right length, which can be a frustrating experience. Again we recommend you to defer to your local bicycle shop to quickly do this part of the install. Sizing bicycle chains can suck.

Getting Chain Tensioner set up Right:

 

 

Once you got the chains set to the right length, the Cyclone has a tensioner which needs to be adjusted any way you can (even with a ziptie) to make it just the right tension so your drive chain does not keep popping off. We had the chain come off a few times, but once we got it tensioned right? …the chain has not fallen off since.

Getting the throttle to fit

The Basic Cyclone kit comes with a right-side twist throttle. We love the quality of this throttle. It has a key on/off switch and a voltage meter. It is awesome. However it will not work with many installations because it might interfere with the stock bicycle gear shifter. Unlike the Bafang kits, it doesn’t come with a convenient simple thumb throttle which would be better suited for this kit. Twist throttles can be dangerous on kits such as this. Here are possible solutions to the problem:

  • You can turn the throttle upside down and run on the left side…
  • Change to a Half twist left-side throttle from Taiwan
  • Rewire it to any thumb throttle

Wrestling with an ebike Controller

 

This bike uses a standard ebike controller and these things can be a pain in the ass. They are a spaghetti-ball of wires with cheap Chinese connectors. Dealing with this mess can really be a pain. Here is a pic that will show you which wires need to be connected…and the rest you can just ignore.

More install pictures

Here are the install pics we got from Cyclone to help you figure out this installation:

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Written by Eric, January 2016

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


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