Joe's 350W Kit Installation
Sitting here in California, I opted for the Dillenger kit after researching alternatives. There were choices from the U.S. and Canada, and this was the first time I dealt with an Australian company. I’m 70, 5’ 11”, and weigh in at 230 pounds, and use my bike to get exercise, riding almost exclusively on pretty flat bicycle trails. My objectives were to provide assistance on hills and against headwinds, to extend my range and time on the road, and to keep the overall bicycle weight down. And, of course, to do it as inexpensively as possible.
My bike is a Specialized Expedition Sport Low Entry hybrid. I purchased it used in good condition a while back for $175. I estimate it is about three years old. It’s got 3 gears on the front and 7 on the back, operated by twist shifters. It has linear brakes. Here’s what it looked like before conversion:
I chose the Dillenger 350W - 8Ah Electric Bike Kit as the best for me, trading off a bit of range against less weight and cost. The kit set me back $549USD, with free shipping included. Delivery was prompt and without incident. The packaging is excellent. There are no instructions included in the box, but you can download them from the Dillenger web site. Before doing anything else, I had to mount my old tube and tire on the Dillenger hub. This is nothing more than what you would do to change a flat, so it’s no big deal. But you have to do it, and it has to be counted in your installation time estimate. My first real installation decision was whether to use a torque arm or not. I had several conversations with Dillenger support, and it could have gone either way. On the one hand, the 350W motor probably doesn’t generate excessive torque, but against that, the Specialized bike has a front suspension with aluminum alloy forks. I agonized a lot, and eventually opted for safety, purchasing the Grin TorqArm_V3 for $30. I also spent a lot of time on YouTube researching the installation of torque arms. I anticipated problems because the suspension forks leading to the dropouts are pretty big around on this bike. The width between the forks was almost exactly 4 inches and the dropouts were precisely 10 mm. The hub fit in just right, and I was starting to feel confident. But then Mr. Murphy struck. The threaded axle is only so long; if I dispensed with the torque arm, the securing nut on the non-cable side could be tightened all the way down. But the torque arm is thick enough to take up valuable space on the threaded axle, and once installed made it impossible to get the nut all the way down with thread showing out the end. So the choice was this: guarantee better tightening but eliminating the torque arm, or installing the torque arm and getting somewhat less purchase for the nut. Tough decision. I decided to go with the torque arm after reassuring myself that the nut was not going to come loose. Incidentally, the Grin torque arm comes with the C-washer you need for the lawyer lips on the Specialized dropouts. It—the V3 model—was also the only torque arm that would have fit my fork and dropout combination. If you are going to install a torque arm, I encourage you to carefully examine your situation, and take measurements if possible. When I got the torque arm provisionally in place, I detected yet another problem. The cylindrical forks bulge out immediately above the dropouts, and the screws on the hub interfered with the fork. This was exactly the problem I had anticipated earlier. Fortunately, I was able to file a little metal off the inside of the fork at the place where the interference occurred, enabling the hub to spin freely. At that point I tightened everything down and declared victory on the front wheel installation. Here is a photo of the torque arm side of the bike, after other stuff was installed. You can see the details of the torque arm if you zoom in to the front wheel hub mounting.
The next adventure involved mounting the battery cradle. Upon dismounting the bottle holder, I discovered that the threaded insert holes did not match the slots in the battery cradle, so the best I would be able to do was to use one of them, and then use a hose clamp for the second point of attachment. I viewed that as a suboptimal solution. I considered several alternatives, and finally decided not to mount the cradle on the diagonal down tube, in part because I really didn’t want to sacrifice my water bottle holder. So I used hose clamps to attach it to the vertical downtube under the seat. The good news here is that the seat is high enough up to permit installation there without problems. So that part of the installation was completed.
Next, the handlebars. I really didn’t want to dismount everything to get at the brake levers. I was able to install the twist throttle and the control box, one on each side, and things looked pretty neat. Then I deliberated whether I really needed the motor cutoffs on the brake levers. After much thought, I decided once again to go for safety, and disassembled everything to install the brake levers that come with the kit. That added a few hours to the job, because you have to reinstall the brake cables and then adjust the brakes. But, when all was said and done, I was pretty happy with the new cockpit layout.
The next-to-last thing was the PAS. Once again, I had to decide whether to use it or not. Fortunately, I had tested an electric bike with pedal assist a few weeks before purchase, and the test ride convinced me that it was worthwhile. Installing the disk was a no-brainer—thank goodness!—but the sensor mount was tricky. All the mounting surfaces are curved, and you need to get the sensor to lie flat. It also has to be stable, and very close to the disk. As in VERY CLOSE, almost touching. So getting that sensor in place was challenging. Connecting it to the battery/controller was simple, as the bottom of the cradle was not far from the sensor mounting location.
Here’s a photo that shows both the PAS and also my addition of an Aussie flag to the Dillenger battery. Might as well let the Californians know where the kit came from.
The final step was connecting all the wires and making everything neat. The four-to-one connector that attaches to the front stem was a big help. Dillenger is to be thanked for that convenience. With the black spiral wire wrap, the four new cables—throttle, control box, and two brake cutoffs—could be grouped into two groups of two, and then those two new pseudo-cables run down each side of the handlebars to the four-to-one. In the end, only two cables go from the front of the bike to the back: one that goes from the bottom of the battery cradle to the front hub, and another from the bottom of the battery cradle to the four-to-one. All in all, a very neat solution that requires not too many tie wraps.
I tested everything with the battery installed. The system lit up on the first try, and by holding the front wheel off the ground, we could test the twist throttle. Check! Then we held the twist throttle on and had a helper squeeze each of the brake levers to see if the motor shut off. Check! Then we turned the bike upside down and rotated the pedal crank to see if the PAS was working. Check! The bike was now ready for field test, but I was having some problems with my somewhat ancient carcass—mine, not the bike’s! It would have to wait for saddle testing. A few days later, my back/hip/leg felt good enough to attempt the maiden voyage. I just took a few spins around the parking garage. I am happy to report that no wheels fell off, that the reinstalled brakes worked fine, and that the added weight did not make the bike more difficult to handle. The pedal assist sensor worked to perfection, and the hand throttle supplied boost on demand. I’m confident that when the weather and my hip improve, the first real road test will not fail right out of the starting gate. One of the marvelous things is how quiet the motor is. Sort of like a whirring noise, very stealthy. Compared to gasoline-powered bikes, this is definitely the wave of the future: no emissions, and no noise pollution either. I won’t say that the installation was a slam-dunk, but all the issues we encountered were overcome with a little thought and a lot of persistence. It took several sessions of a few hours each, a total of perhaps ten hours. My cost so far is $175 + $549 + $30, for a total of $754USD, which is about half what a low-entry electric bike costs today; in fact, the electric bike solution has a hidden cost of about $150 for shipping. I believe that in no case can you get away with anything under $1,000 for an electric bike, even with all the new low-priced solutions coming on the market in 2016. Other companies seem to have competitively priced kits, but when you compare the features and specifications, they don’t measure up. And when they come close, you discover that they have not been selling electric kits for very long. I encourage you to do your own research, but I am confident you will come to the same conclusion that I did. That decision was validated when I received the kit and did the installation. Dillenger delivers a quality product. Joe M