cyclone chain

Taking on the Cyclone 3000W Mid- Drive…An Ebike Brute

December 27, 2015
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Read our build and ride report published January 9th 2016 (read now)

 

High performance ebike stuff is still in the development stage, and most kits or parts you order do not come with documentation. The Cyclone is a great example of getting a Chinese made kit, and good luck figuring out how to mount it to your bike. It’s amazing that Chinese manufacturers do not go the extra mile of paying someone a couple of hundred bucks to document how to install it…and whenever you do get documentation, it is rare for it to be written by someone who is a good writer or someone who speaks English as their first language. This is kind of par for the course in the ebike industry. Even the ultra refined Bafang mid drives do not come with any kind of instruction sheet.

 

Luna Cycles Brings the Cylone to the USA

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Recently, Luna Cycle.com ordered a bunch of these kits from Cyclone (based in Taiwan) and got an amazing price…which we decided to pass on to our customers. No longer do you need to get a kit air shipped from Cyclone’s warehouse in Taiwan. You can buy it from right here in the USA, and have USA support for the same price you would get from Asia. At the moment you can still get the 3000W Cyclone kit, which includes motor, controller, throttle, bottom bracket and crank-drive set for an amazing $389.  (click here to go to Luna Cycles) The power to dollar ratio here is something you cannot find on any other kit on the market…and the fact that this is a mid drive makes it extra special. (read on the benefit of mid drives over hub motors)

Not Street Legal Unless Limited

Most of the USA has a 750 watt power-limit on street ebikes. This mostly applies to store bought ebikes and there is an on-going debate about whether that applies to a DIY kit or not.

These kits are too powerful to be street legal in the USA and are for off road use only. The user can limit the Cyclone with a device such as the Cycle Analyst to 20-amps to make it more street legal.

3000 watt drive with Planetary Gear Reduction

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All electric motors like to run fast…and the faster they turn (RPM’s) the happier and more efficient they are. The base of the Cyclone uses a planetary gear reduction, so that the motor turns much faster than it would without it…and what this does is allow it to make a lot of power-to-weight, and improves efficiency. Many cutting edge mid drive motors such as the Bafang mid drives use this technology.

In the pic above, the drive gear has 11-teeth, and the output ring gear has 54-teeth. The 11:54 reduction means the motor spins 4.9 times for every time the output shaft drives the freewheel.

 

Cyclone Performance

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The performance of the new  Cyclone 3000W drive is impressive by all accounts. Watch this video of ours to give you idea of the performance it offers. The test bike in the video has a 52v Luna cycle triangle battery, weighs less than 40 pounds, and does 45 mph and cost only $2600 to build.

Cyclone has been in the business of building high performance mid drive systems for many years, and it’s pretty well-known that the expensive Ego Drive is based on the old Cyclone Kit, but with stronger and better-looking mounting brackets. For sure when you spend $3500 on a drive system like the Ego (including back pack battery) you are also getting written documentation and support on how to install it. You can buy a very similar setup with similar performance direct from Cyclone (their older drive) for much cheaper….but it will not have the beauty and ease of install as the Ego Kit…and you will have to figure out your own battery solution.  More on recommended batteries later.

 

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The Ego Drive set up…a older and less powerful Cyclone with fancy mounting brackets. Note that the older drive has a much smaller form factor than the new 3000W drive.

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The 1500W Cyclone drive, installed on a folder bike. Pretty much the same drive system internally as the expensive Ego kit. It is about a 3rd the price of the Ego.

 

According to Cyclone, their new 3000-watt kit is not only capable of putting out twice as much power as the old Cyclone unit, it also runs near silently which is one of the big complaints of the old Cyclone set up. It is also easier to install, and also has a lot fewer moving parts because the gear reduction is built into the motor, not running on the outside of the motor like with the old unit. Their are always draw backs, and the biggest draw back to the new 3000 watt setup is that it is considerably larger than the old unit.

You can cruise over to the Cyclone website and see what kind of power this kit is capable of. There are videos of bikes in Taiwan climbing stairs etc…pictures of 50-MPH bikes etc. Even the old Cyclone drive rated at just 1500 watts was amazing…so much that it ended up on some boutique ebike builds that cost over $10K. The new 3000W drive according to Cyclone is even better, it is quieter and instead of a lot of noisy chains like the older Cyclone drive, it uses a complex planetary reduction system which is built into the motor (much like the Bafang system).

Also check out some of these you tube videos to get an idea of what this 3000W kit is capable of  (not in English) This builder used a custom mount for the drive.

 

 

And also watch this video to see an example of an ultra clean installation on a Mongoose bike. Note that this user custom-welded a bracket to his bike. The Cyclone comes with a giant hose clamp and even some big zip ties to rig it to fit to most bikes. But of course if you take it to a welder and have something fabricated you will get a tighter installation.

 

 

 

Choosing the Right Battery

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The Cyclone requires a powerful battery to match its performance. Thanks to the new vendor Luna Cycle  (sister company of electricbike.com), high performance lithium batteries are finally available at an affordable price, which suddenly makes a 3000 watt cyclone a doable solution.

We recommend one of our 52 volt batteries, and the more Amp-hours (Ah) the better (larger size also means more power), using either Samsung 25R, 30Q or Panasonic PD cells. We highly recommend a 20-Ah pack with this set up, especially if you are going to go with the more affordable (lesser performance) cells. This drive system can draw so many amps that it will heat up and degrade the life of a low amperage battery pack.

The better the cells and the bigger the pack, the more performance you can expect. We recommend that you use one of our battery packs with a 50-Amp capacity BMS. The Shark or Dolphin batteries probably will not put out enough power to maximize this kit, because they only have 30-Amp maximum BMS. We do not recommend to use Panasonic NCR-B cells with this set up because of high amperage limitations.

Installation of the Cyclone

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The Cyclone is definitely not an easy kit to install, and it does not make it easier that this is a new kit without much published information on how to install it.

I personally scoured the internet for installation instructions and came up practically empty…I even emailed Cyclone, and the most I could get was a few pictures and a few vague sentences. It is up to the user to get this kit to work with your bike. With Cyclone, even us as a dealer have no idea how it all comes together with this brand new 3000 watt kit, and since nothing exists on the internet we will have to figure it out like everyone else by just taking a donor bike and adapting it while scratching our head. Here is one great resource I found on endless-sphere for Idiots Guide to Cyclone Drives.

The Cyclone was designed with the idea of using two chains and a trials crank set using a complicated freewheeling chainring pair to adapt everything. Like most DIY mid drives this bottom bracket set up with dual sprockets and freewheels comes from Sick Bike Parts which I have heard buys many of their parts from Cyclone.

The kit does not come with any bicycle chains, so you will have to furnish these and make them the right size youself. Difficulties you will face are how to make your chainline as straight as possible…and the Cyclone has several critical adjustments. For example, the sprocket has about an inch of travel on the drive shaft…and there is a set screw you can loosen so you can adjust it more in or out.

 

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So yes, it’s a hassle to build this kit…but if you are a tinkerer…the reward is immense…this kit comes with a 40-Amp controller that combined with a 72 volt battery can put out 3000 watts (times the volts by the amps to get the total wattage) read our article on ebike math for more…it’s capable of putting out even more watts in the future if you decide to go with a bigger controller. The motor is monstrous and designed to easily take 3000 watts. All this at $350 price point…half the price and at the same time, twice the power of the Bafang BBSHD 1000W (which actually works well at 1500W).

The motor is beefy and does not weigh that much (10 pounds) for this type of power. It has a planetary geared reduction which makes the motor more efficient and easier to install than the old Cyclone drive system.

The ebike market has changed a bit where people outside of the hard core building groups are buying kits to install. Many of this new generation of kit buyers do not want a difficult to install kit. The easier and less wirey the kit, the more successful it seems to be.

Three of the most popular kits on the market, the BBS02, the  BBSHD and the Golden Motor Magic PIe V5 have built in controllers which make for a significantly easier and cleaner installation with less wire mess.

The Cyclone by contrast comes with an ugly ebike controller which is standard for the high power DIY industry, but very intimidating with its cluster of wires and Chinese connectors. Not only is installation difficult because there are more wires to figure out, but also hiding those wires to make your bike aesthetically pleasing is a challenge. (read our article on the ebike wire rat nest)

You only need to use half of the plugs installed on the controller that comes with the Cyclone to get the drive going out of the box. The other half are used for things you might not even use, like pedal assist, 3 position speed switch, cruise control etc…yes we said cruise control. Leave it to the Chinese to think of cruise control on an electric bike. One thing the Cyclone does not come with that we really suggest you buy is an ebrake cut off switch, and one of the extra connectors is so that you can easily hook this up.  This is a powerful set up and you want to be able to cut the power in case your throttle acts up etc.

When you buy an accessory such as e-brakes…don’t worry about matching the devices connector with the controller’s connector…they rarely match. Just cut off the Chinese connector and use sodder or crimpers to hard wire the wire together.  If you are going to run a traditional ebike controller like this you will find that connecting wires is going to be something you have to do regularly…so you might as well invest in a soldering kit or nice crimping kit now.

What sucks is typical of these Chinese ebike controllers is they use cheap and bulky Chinese connectors that do not look very good. You may decide to cut off the wires you don’t need after install and reduce the wiring clutter and get rid of those goofy connectors.

Here is a picture of the the controller with the controllers plugged in with the mandatory accessories for operation that come with the kit. All the plugs you see toi the left in the picture that are not plugged in are optional for future accessories you may install. Basically all the extra connectors make your controller more capable of future upgrades.

 

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Here are some additional pictures that could help you with install. In the pic below, the bottom bracket is assembled and ready to put on the bike:

 

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The crank kit and all the chains:

 

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The hose clamp and zip-tie combination to hold the Cyclone up on the downtube of the bike:

 

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A Luna Cycle Christmas Story

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So on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus in a big rig truck delivered to us 100 Cyclone kits that many of our customers have pre-ordered and have been waiting for.

At first I was really excited, but when I found out that the 100 kits came in pieces I was not happy…it was up to us to put all the parts together to be able to send them as kit…also we wanted to do as much of the assembly as possible so our customers wouldn’t have to.

 

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So guess how we spent Christmas….working on assembling toys like Santa’s little helpers.

 

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Now on the 26th we have all 100 motors assembled and bench checked and ready to send to our customers.

 

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Are you ready for the Cyclone?

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We sold many of these Cyclone drives on pre-order…and now we have bench tested them and have them all ready to send out. As of tonight the Cyclone is ready for anyone who wants to purchase it for $389 (click here to see). Its been pre-assembled as far as we can take it in our shop.

We are offering any of our customers who bought them in pre-sale a full refund if they read this story and change their mind on the suitability of the Cyclone for them.

Taking the Cyclone on is an adventure in building a very powerful mid drive eibke at a very affordable price. It is a worthy ambition of any ebike builder but this one does take a bit of mechanical skill and elbow grease to bring it all together.

We expect a typical Cyclone  installation to take a full day. Our next project in the Luna Lab will be to install the Cyclone on one of our shop bikes. We will do a build report in a later story. We will then have a better idea of what it takes to mount the Cyclone. More information then. UPDATE: We have completed the build and test of the Cyclone and you can find our complete report here.

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Written by Eric, December 2015

 

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.

  • Al

    Looks like you need a bigger workbench.
    Wondering how long a derailer setup and chain is gonna last with 3000 Watts going through it.
    And wondering if a ISIS BB with an ISIS trials crank is gonna fit.
    And if I can use off the shelf chain wheels on it.

  • Dennis Horning

    The fastening for the Luna Triangle Battery Pack by the Luna Cycles methods is inadequate for my riding. First I had the velcro triangle pack but all of the velcro straps broke except those on the seat tube when I landed on top of the battery pack after a tip over on deep snow. Next I tried cable ties and they all brake on a very cold day when I fell over onto the pack in deep snow. Solution:: Get a very light weight ratchet tie down from Wal Mart and fasten the strap with a knot to the ratchet after cutting off the steel hooks. The simple elegant pattern where you alternately change sides while passing the webbing across all the mid points of 3 tubes is not stable in that configuration unless at least one crossing is anchored. The unanchored solution will end up on the short leg of the triangle. I used the motor clamps as one anchor.

  • v3ngence

    Awesome kit I really enjoy it, thanks for the review!

    • v3ngence

      After 5 months with the kit, it still rocks!
      I did manage to seize up a 14t motor freewheel, but my 13t is still going strong!

  • RC

    It actually has a 6 to 1 reduction ratio and not 4.9 to 1. You might want to correct it in the article because I almost didn’t buy the Cyclone because of this. https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=69867&p=1147878&hilit=+washers#p1147701

    • Electric Bike

      ok will change …thanks for that.

      • RC

        It still says 4.9 in this article =) I’ve noticed errors on your Luna website as well. You might consider setting up Disqus there so that we can help you out by pointing them out to you. BTW, I’m really happy with the Cyclone I purchased from you!

  • Angela schade

    Need to find an ignition for my cyclone bike help