This Ruff Cycle “Tango” framed Cruiser has a simple drive system, but…it is the style and accessory choices that the owner made…which make it such an outstanding example of a custom ebike.
Richard works in the Bay area, right in the heart of silicon valley. I’ll let him tell the story of this awesome custom build from here on out.
“...I’ve wanted a powerful “fat e-bike” for years – ever since I saw the ones that my good friend Shaun James @Street Lethal Kustom (SLK) was building for friends and family in Shreveport, Louisiana. Last year (with permission from the “boss”) Shaun and I embarked on a project to build a custom e-bike just for my needs and to my preferences and specifications. We knew the process would be complicated by the fact that he’s in Shreveport and I’m in Austin, Texas, but…Shaun also happens to be the partner of my beautiful step-daughter, Sydni, so we visit them a lot anyway!
I decided to start with a manufactured frame rather than full on custom mainly for expedience. Another good friend, Clint Smith, was willing to build a custom frame for me (he built the frame for Warhammer, one of the fastest e-bikes on the planet) but he was involved in several projects at that time, so I decided to buy a frame that I already loved, the Ruff Cycles Tango. Ruff Cycles manufactures everything you need to build the coolest of fat bikes, and they also sell complete bicycles, including a new line of beautiful e-bikes called “The Ruffian”. Their frames are some of the prettiest on the market, IMO.
The Tango is one of many classic (but custom-looking) Ruff frames, and…I’d always admired the lines and how it was kind of a cruiser with a “chopper” look, plus a touch of low rider. Ruff makes nice forks and bars that go great with the Tango, so those decisions were easy. Shaun and I agreed he’d build me a fast street e-bike around the Tango frame, with a QS motors rear hub brushless gearless motor, and lots of battery juice from a reputable supplier.
It would be fast enough to satisfy almost anyone, but…not record-setting, with lots of pretty paint and bling componentry. The batteries and controller would be tucked away in a custom metal tank. Sort of an “urban attack bike” made to show pretty, but…still ride fast.
To get the ball rolling, Shaun put me in touch with Clyde James at (web page) Clyde James Cycles. And FB: Clyde has a great shop in Haltom City, TX (DFW area) where he sells bikes, parts, and all kinds of services: bike repair, vintage restorations, customized builds, the works. I picked out a Tango V2.0 in the raw, a Ruff 38X600mm straight fork in chrome, Ruff Ron Bar, medium in chrome and then, I drove to HC to pick em up!
The battery is an 86V 15Ah HPC ELITE USA A lightweight, high performance Li-NMC battery system from Hi-Power Cycles. Nice video here. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Hi-Power Cycles (HPC) is an electric bike manufacturer, specializing in creating high performance e-bikes made entirely in the United States. UN 38.3 Certified Li-NMC Batteries with increased safety, more range, higher performance, lower weight and faster speeds.
Hi-Power is one of a small number of e-bike companies who “acknowledge”, but…decline to limit themselves to the e-bike power/speed limits mandated by US federal law at 750W/20 MPH limit in the US. Hi-Power builds bike with up to 8000W and 60+ MPH, but warns they be used off road only. I figure these are the guys from whom I want to buy my batteries.
The controller is an 18-FET 4115 Mark-II Highway Speed 84V-134V version from Lyen controllers. Edward Lyen’s controllers have an Infineon-clone based circuit-board that he modifies for high-speed and high-power applications. I wanted my system to be powerful (around 86V X 60A = 5160W), so…the Lyen controller was just right for the job.
A key characteristic of these controllers is that they are fully programmable. You can log the controller into a laptop via USB, and set parameters such as battery and phase current, low voltage cutout, high voltage cutout, or regen voltage limit. Plus multiple programmable speed settings, and so on. Edward performs modifications such as…soldering-in improved FETs, and wiring the programming cable onto the board. If desired, the end-user can get the traces beefed-up and also have the programming pre-set by Edward to your preferences.
The Lyen edition con troillers are most likely to help if you are trying to push your system beyond the stock design limits, and have the technical skills to do so. I believe that Edward sells to primarily the more-informed high-power and off-road enthusiasts…who are likely to modify thier ebikes, and have the skills to get that done safely.
I can say (from personal experience), that Edwards technical help (both pre and post-sale) is superb. He will answer any question expertly. I also bought a Cycle Analyst from Edward.
The Battery Box.
Christopher Samuel Thompson at Built 2 Clown Cycles made me an aluminum battery box custom-fitted to the Tango frame, that holds the battery pack and the controller. I think the box really makes the look of the bike. I love how it fits close to the upper bar on the frame. Chris also fabricated a wider bottom bracket that is needed for the 100mm rear tire, and the 135mm dropout width on the motor, plus the box itself. The bottom line is, we needed a wider bottom bracket and Chris made it custom for my bike.
In the pic above, Richard chose the White Industries ENO Bash Guard Ring, using a chainring with 32 teeth, silver finish, and also the EVO Road Crank Arms that are 165mm from the center of the spindle-axle to the center of the pedal-axles.
“…I used HopeTech3 V4 on both front and rear; Hope floating 203mm rotors, all in custom colors: orange and silver/polished aluminum. These may be the baddest disk brakes out there. Made for downhill racing, they are well made and powerful. I also picked up some other Hope parts: quick release seat clamp and some handlebar plugs. Also Hope F20 Flat Pedals…
The Final Accessory List
For handlebar grips, Richard chose the Portland Design Works bicycle speed metal grip in Silver, 128mm 5″ Soft Grip Bike.
Headset: Chris King 1-1/8” NoThreadSet Sotto Voce, with Chris King spacers
The Quan Shun QS 205/50H V3 hubmotor shown is the 5T variant, and was sourced from Mike Moser in Philadelphia. Shaun and Mike have taken the time to find the most reliable motors direct from China, and US builders have been very satisfied so far. This motor is massive, and it pushes Richard along very briskly without getting hot. He used a 16T White Industries ENO freewheel to complete the package.
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, July 2017