I recently found a new company that is based in Italy, and they make a full-suspension electric fatbike which uses the well-known BBS02 mid drive in order to keep the price as affordable as possible. There are quite a few choices in Europe when it comes to off-road mid-drive ebikes, with the Bosch power system being the dominant drive system. However, as much as the Bosch unit is very sophisticated and polished in its application, the Bafang BBS02 is not bad, and…for many enthusiasts on a budget, this ebike just might be the more affordable solution they’ve been looking for.
The wheels, fork, seat, and handlebar assembly are (of course) all sourced from suppliers of well-known brands. When looking at the parts list, I realized that Mekkanobike had done their homework. It is not outfitted with the cheapest components, because they care about the performance and the feel of the ride. However, they also did not select the most expensive parts, in spite of the fact that doing so might have slightly improved the ride quality.
Every part of this ebike tells me that they wanted to create a turn-key ebike for off-roaders in the European Union (EU) who wanted a product that provided the best bang-for-their-buck.
The central part of the frame had to be manufactured by them in order to meet their design goals, because there is no existing frame quite like this. Large portions of this frame are machined from billet aluminum, and…even if that is not “necessary” in order to achieve adequate strength, it also creates a look that I like very much.
The Battery Pack
This style of frame allows the designer to mount a large and rectangular-shaped battery into the downtube section. There have been many variations of having a battery pack in this location, and it remains one of the best places to locate the weight and bulk of the battery, so that the handling of the ebike remains as nimble as possible.
This last year, the shipping of battery packs has become very difficult and expensive. It is easy to purchase a bulk order of individual cells from the factory, but once they are assembled into a high-voltage and high-amp battery pack, there is a fear that the bouncing and vibration of shipping can cause an electrical short, with a catastrophic fire!…which resulted in a great deal of regulation for international shipments.
When Mekkanobike researched their battery pack options, they decided that the only way to affordably source battery packs was to spot-weld and assemble their own. This meant that they would take on a tremendous amount of liability, but…they would also be able to control every aspect of the quality of their battery packs, while keeping the price affordable for their customers.
They have a pack option that is 13S / 5P, which is 65 of the 18650-format cells. Since the listed capacity is 14.5-Ah, then these are 2200-mAh each, and I have been told they use Samsung cells, they are likely the well-known and affordable 22P cell. Drawing 25A from a 5P pack configuration means each cell is expected to put out a occasional peak of 5A per cell, so this is a well-matched cell choice for this drive.
The Drive Unit
The Mekkanobike lineup has several different versions available. You can buy a street version using normal street tires (instead of knobbie fat-tires). However, Italy and most of the EU have severe power limits. If you want a street-legal 250W Mekkanobike, they will provide a 36V / 10S Bafang BBS01 drive unit, with the excess battery case volume available for adding a lot of miles (kilometers?) of range with additional cells in the parallel groups.
The motor location is rotated up into the frame, which helps protect it, and to also provide a very high bottom-bracket clearance for crawling over technical obstacles when off-road. The road version may not need that, but it doesn’t hurt, right?
There’s not much to say about the BBS02 that hasn’t already been said. We wrote about this drive when it was new, about two years ago. It had a few teething pains at first, but was quickly upgraded, and is now a well-known drive unit. The performance and application is quite good, though maybe not quite as polished as the upscale Bosch and Yamaha mid-drives.
The “1.2” on the side of the motor (in the pic above) references that; this model is their most powerful ebike. It stands for 1.2-kilowatts (1200 watts), which is achieved by using a 48V battery and with the controller programmed for 25A. Not only does this ebike cost less than the Bosch-equipped ebikes, but it can also use quite a bit more power than the 500W-max Bosch.
Fatbikes in the EU
Northern Italy is at the foot of the Alps, and it is only a short drive into Switzerland, where any weekend enthusiast can access an endless series of trails for anyone who wants to enjoy the uncrowded wilderness.
The two places where the fat tires are most “at home” is on sandy beaches, and also on the snow. Here are some pics of a full-suspension fatbike in its natural element, eating up snow and spitting out fun.
The brakes are hydraulic units from Magura, with the front disc being 203mm in diameter, and the rear is 180mm.
The suspension fork is the well-regarded Rock Shox Bluto for fat tires. The rear shock is a Rock Shox Monarch RL, which allows the air pressure inside to be adjusted by the rider for conditions.
The Surly tires are 3.8-inches wide on 80mm wide Mule Füt rims, sourced from Sun Ringle.
The weight is 26-kg (58-pounds)
The rear wheel uses a ten-speed cassette, with a single gear on the drive unit. Mekkanobike provides CNC-machined billet drive-sprockets for the BBS02 made from 7072 aluminum, and with tooth-count choices of 32T, 34T, or 36T
Where is Mekkanobike?
Mekkanobike is in Italy, in a town called Tavullia which is close to the city of San Marino. It is located on the north-east coast, with a view of the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
The owner of Mekkanobike is Thomas Vidari, and the EU distributor is Fabrice Iani, from a company called “Nitro Bike“.
Here is their home web-site (in English)
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, March 2016