Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stokemonkey Kit Installation (classic version)

While I don't hate hills, we are not exactly best friends. I'll admit there are days when I dread conquering the beast at the bottom of my street. My girls and I prefer to travel by bike. They are getting bigger. They are growing in number, as we've just welcomed our third little girl in October. I'm getting older. I mean, just look at all these excuses. They're adding up. I don't like excuses.

For the past year or so, I've been saving pennies for an electric assist for my CETMA to flatten the hills. There are quite a few iterations of aftermarket e-kits out there, each with their pros and cons. I've had my sights on a Stokemonkey, which until recently had been out of production. In October 2013, relaunched the Stokemonkey. I've one mounted to the CETMA in my shed, right now. What follows is a detailed step by step of my experiences getting my bike rigged up with the 'monkey.

Below, is a list of parts and tools I used for this build.
  1. Tandem stoker crankset components:
  • Sugino XD Left Hand Front or Rear 170mm arm
  • Sugino XD Right Hand Rear 170mm arm
  • Sugino 26t 74 MTB Chainring
  • Sugino 38t 110 MTB Chainring
  • Sugino 42t 110 MTB Chainring
  • Sugino 50t 110 MTB Chainring
  • Sugino Single Chainring Bolt set 5/chromed steel
  • Sugino Triple Chainring Bolt set
     2.  Shimano UN-55 Square Tapered Bottom Bracket 68 x 115mm
     3.  Two (2) SRAM PG-971 P-Link Bicycle Chains (9-Speed)
     4.  KMC Missing Link Bicycle Chain Link (9-Speed, 6 pack)
     5.  SRAM PG-970 9-Speed cassette 11-34t
     6.  Avid Juicy/BB7 Disc Brake Pads
     7.  Stokemonkey kit:
  • Stokemonkey motor with mounting bracket and clamp
  • 36-72V 25A controller
  • V3 Cycle Analyst
  • ACS Crossfire Freewheel
  • Right side twist throttle*
  • Cable Tensioner
     8.  Half Grip Twist Throttle with Button for eBrake*
     9.  36V 14Ah LiMn battery pack with 5C Samsung cells and matching 4A aluminum charger
   10.  Aluminum Double Decker rear rack
   11.  Jandd Disk Brake/Fender Adapters .75"
   12.  Brake Cable Housing and Ferrules

Tools: (If I've a favorite, I'll list it in brackets)
  1. Set of Metric Hex Wrenches (Pedros)
  2. Crank Puller (Park Tools CCP-22)
  3. Bottom Bracket Tool (Park Tools BBT-32)
  4. Cassette Lockring Tool (Park Tools FR-5G)
  5. 12" Crescent Wrench
  6. Chain Whip (Park Tools SR-1)
  7. 15 mm Pedal Wrench (Pedros)
  8. Chain Tool (Park Tool CT-5)
  9. 8 mm socket
  10. Cable Cutters
  11. Pliers
  12. Screwdriver
  13. Dremel with a cutting wheel or a hack saw
  14. Heat Gun or a Lighter
  1. Grease ( Park Tools PPL-2)
  2. Flux brush ( for the grease)
  3. Steel Wool
  4. 5/8" stainless screws
  5. #6 stainless flat washers
  6. Curved washers from old canti brake pads
  7. Rags
  8. 14 Gauge Primary Wire
  9. 14 Gauge Butt Connectors
  10. Heat Shrink Tubing
  11. Liquid Electrical Tape
  12. Zip Ties
Ok, now that we've got that sorted out, let's start ripping her down to build her back up. Now, I could spend a whole bunch of time detailing how to remove/install the drivetrain, disc brake pads, cassette, etc, but that's all been done before and well. Instead, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of one of Lennard Zinn's maintenance books. They are invaluable. Below are some links to additional resources I've used to learn how to perform some of these tasks.
Installing the Stokemonkey:
Here's the part where you get to learn from my mistakes (my many, many mistakes). You may have noticed the * in the parts list above, next to the two throttles. You'll only need one. The throttle included with the kit does not have an eBrake button (kill switch). Ask about swapping out the default throttle for the one with the eBrake button to save time and money, when ordering. Alternatively, you may order a brake lever equipped with a kill switch/eBrake. Either way, make sure you have access to a kill switch, especially if you plan to be carrying children on your ride. 

     1.  Install the Stokemonkey clampset, loosely, on your CETMA's steerer tube, above the box mounting bracket tab. You'll be adjusting this clamp at least until the chain is on, so lightly install this clamp, for now. I must've installed and reinstalled this clampset three or four times, at various stages of the build, before I got the chain aligned decently and the cable tensioner adjusted properly. I used grease on the threads, but you may opt for Loctite.
Don't crush your tube.

I used the medium sized bolts, the third time, of course.

     2.  Install the freewheel onto the motor. Grease it up, first. It installs by hand, no tools required.

     3.  Mount your motor. Know where you want to mount your controller, prior to mounting the motor. Ensure the cables from the motor point towards where you will install your controller. I mounted the controller on the underside of my CETMA's flat-bed platform.
      4. Install the chain from the motor to your crankset. You'll need to size your chain properly. I ended up using a KMC Master Link and some SRAM chain, instead of the chain supplied with the kit. Spin the cranks and examine your chainline. You'll want a nice clean line from the freewheel to the crankset. You'll want good chain tension, too. Adjust the motor's mounting bracket left/right & up/down until you are satisfied, then tighten up the bolts on the motor mount (but not too tight...).
Lousy chainline.
Decent chainline.

     5.  Install cable tensioner. I felt the included housing was too short and it's ferrules would scratch the paint, so I installed a longer run of housing and new ferrules. Use an 8 mm socket to lock the cable down.

Short vs Long brake cable housing.

6.  If you're going to use a rear rack, as I do, install it now. I found the double-decker rack I'd ordered wouldn't clear my disc brakes. I used one 0.75" Jandd Disk Brake/Fender Adapter, in order to clear the brake mechanism. I installed only one of the two Jandd adapters because I didn't want to flex/bend the aluminum rack more than was necessary to get it installed. The end result is that the rack is off-center a little bit, big deal. I've found the bigger issue to be the weight of the battery on the rack, as it is pretty high up on the back of my bike, and it harshes my ride. I'm not sure how to describe it other than turns aren't as fluid with the battery up high in the back, as turns are without it installed or when the battery is installed lower on the platform or in the box up front. I also needed to cut the rack's struts, which connect to the seat stays, to make the rack fit my CETMA.

     7.  Slide the battery into the rack.

     8.  Mount the controller. Make sure the power cable from the controller will reach the battery, from your desired mounting point. I needed to add approximately one foot to the length of the power cable in order to mount everything where I wanted it. I used 14 gauge wire and butt connectors, to do so. I sleeved the splices with pieces of heat shrink tubing and finished them off with liquid electrical tape to be sure they would stay watertight.

 To mount the controller to the underside of the flat-bed platform, I used 5/8" stainless screws, #6 stainless washers and recycled some rounded washers from old canti brake pads I'd replaced. It's a nice secure fit. I'm not worried about any of the connections getting wet, as they're well shielded from the elements under the box, but I still plan to hit them with some heat and liquid electrical tape, just to be sure.

     9. I've installed the Cycle Analyst on the down tube. It's out of the way and visible, yet not overly conspicuous.
   10.  Install the throttle with eBrake button on the right side of your handle bar.
Green means stop, obviously.
   11.  Wire it up. This is where I stumbled most. Most of the connections are straightforward, male to female connector connections. There are really only two connections one could screw up. Yup. I missed 'em both. A couple of emails to and speedy replies from the extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff at and I was able to sort out my errors:  Make sure you connect the three pin connector from your throttle to the BLACK three pin connector from the controller, not to the white one. The other connection I missed is from the controller to itself, a white wire to the ground, creating a ground to short. This white to black connection controls the direction of the motor. Disconnected, the motor will spin in a direction that will not spin the freewheel. Once the white is connected to the black ground wire, the motor spins in the direction needed. I've the speedometer cable and magnet running to the rear wheel. Use zip ties to secure your connections to your frame.
White to Ground. Blue to ...meh, who needs Blue, anyway?
   12. Configure the Cycle Analyst. I've V3 of the Cycle Analyst (CA). The "Unofficial User Guide" for the CA V3 may be found here. You'll need to read and become familiar with this manual. It is very helpful. Section 3.5 of the manual details the minimum set of baseline configurations you must complete. I chose my in/out throttle to be controlled by Voltage.

   13.  Enjoy!

I now have a functional ebike. I still need to play with the CA configuration a bit to dial it in more. I've not got the speedometer working yet, but I believe that's because of the distance between the sensor and the magnet. I plan on replacing the standard magnet with a rare earth magnet from an old IDE hard drive. We'll see. I've ridden it about 70 miles since I've rigged it up. I tend to use it mainly on hills and to get up to speed from a dead stop in traffic. It has performed admirably. I've only charged it up once and have well over half a charge remaining.

I hope this helps you get up and running easily and to avoid some of the hiccups I'd experienced. Let me know if it helped you out and/or if you've any suggestions to streamline and/or improve the install and configuration. I'll post a follow up review in the not too distant future.

Ride on.
Maiden voyage for beer and burger, on 12/2/2013.
More photos from the install may be found here.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


My daughters and I rode the Bike Not Bombs Bike-a-thon in June. It was awesome! We did the 25 mile route with our CETMA. The ride to and from the start/finish was about 7 miles. 32 miles in a bakfiets is pretty good. Our route was pretty hilly and I'm glad I'd just tuned up the disc brakes, as some of the singletrack downhills were hairy! Anyway, I'd meant to post about this ride sooner. The reason I haven't is that I was hoping some pics of my bike would show up on the interwebs. The CETMA was mobbed. Everytime I looked around, someone with a fancy camera was taking a shot of it. It looked pretty sweet with 3 racing bibs taped to it. Since so many others were taking pics of it, I figured, incorrectly, that I wouldn't need to take any pics of it myself. Man, am I kicking myself. So, if any of you reading this have any pics of the Largo all decked out, please drop me a line. Thanks! I've lots of interior shots. It was a hot day with many hills, but we had a blast.

During Bay State Bike Week, I won the 1st ever Pack Mule Award. I've got to admit that I was psyched! I sent in some pics of the CETMA loaded up with fruit and kids from the JP Bikes Spring Roll. The award was sponsored by Light & Motion and Kryptonite. I got some fantastic swag!

Photo by the talented Nathaniel Fink
Oh, and the girls and I are in the AUG/SEP 2013 edition of Momentum Mag with our CETMA, which is pretty cool. Props to Nathaniel Fink of CycleStyleBoston for taking some great shots of us for the spread in Momentum and for featuring us in his blog, Cycle Style Boston!

The family and I made a trip out to Portland, OR over the summer, as well. We had a left coast family reunion. I was hoping to rent a bakfiets from Clever Cycles, but they were all out. I asked the interwebs where I might be able to find one for use whilst in Portland and it was then I learned of What an awesome idea! People list their bikes for rent on this site. Spinlister requires both supplier and demander to create accounts. Spinlister handles the cash and insures the bike up to $5000. I rented a bakfiets from Esther. She rocks! Her bike was well loved and used by us. If you're ever looking to rent a bak in Boston, check Spinlister for a CETMA  :)

This bakfiets was a bit more of a relaxed riding position than that of our Cetma. It definitely had a cruiser feel to it. We rode it about 10 miles to McMenimans in Troutdale. We found many wild blackberries and playgrounds along the way. We used it to tool around the town for a few days before heading back into Portland.
A bike path bridge on our way from Troutdale to Portland

We took the scenic route, about 21 miles, via the Springwater Corridor and I-205 bike trails. They were nice, scenic and wide.
Bakfiets parking at Clever Cycles
Stopped at Clever Cycles and picked up a Momentum Mag, Rain Legs and a bell for Clem.
A picnic at McMenimans

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Took the girls fishing on Sunday. It was great! My oldest caught her first fish, just shy of 2.5 years old.  This was my youngest's first time out and she looked like a pro after five minutes.  She's got until mid-July to best her sister's "first catch" record.  Game on!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brookwood Community Farm Pancake Breakfast and Plant Sale

My girls and I headed out pretty early to Brookwood Community Farm, on Saturday. It was a perfect spring day, sunny, not too cold nor too hot. The CETMA earned us a slew of beeps and waves along the way. A fellow rider even asked to snap a photo.

The route we chose to ride took us through the Blue Hills, which presented us with a fairly lengthy and steep climb.  This is why I installed a triple chainring with mountain gearing, folks.  We made pretty good time, as it took us just over half and hour to travel the six and a half miles to the farm.

We were able to roll right in to line for pancakes, unlike the cars which were directed to a parking lot a quarter of a mile away.  I love when that happens. Really, I do. The pancakes and cider were spectacular.  My oldest ran into four or five of her friends from pre-school and they had a ball roaming the farm together, blowing bubbles, climbing trees, digging in the dirt and playing frisbee. 

Brookwood sells organic flower and vegetable plants.  I filled up a large flat with a few varieties of tomatoes, peppers, zuchini, yellow squash, herbs, geraniums, butterfly weed, nasturtia, sun flowers, and more.  Brookwood was humming.  Everyone wore their smile.  My favorite part of riding up the Blue Hills is being able to ride back down the Blue Hills!

On our way home, we decided to stop off at Houghton's Pond. As it turned out, it happened to be National Take Your Kids to a Park Day. Score.  Mass DCR was on hand with nets and clear containers for the kids to use to scoop critters from the pond. The girls caught crayfish, tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs and snails.

Mass Audubon was on hand with live owls and turtles.  It was neat.  My youngest LOVES owls.  She kept "whooo whoooo whoooing" to the owls, expecting a conversation.

After hanging out on the playground for a while, we decided to head home, again, when I received a text from a friend who lives not far from where we were headed.  So, we swung by.  Fireman Dave is a new dad.  He was out in the yard planning this year's garden with his little boy.  The girls were enamored with the little guy. 

The sky started to darken and we decided we should beat it back home.  As we hit the bottom of the hill, my rear brake cable snapped.  Lucky for me, there's a brake on the front wheel, too.  As we were only half a block from Fireman Dave's house, we turned around for some aid.  FD came out with an assortment of wrenches, pliers and a third hand tool.  There was just enough of the cable left for us to fudge the rear brake connection to at least get us home. 

Today, we'll be planting some seeds, readying beds for more daylillies and installing a new cable, maybe some new brake pads on the CETMA.  I hope you're enjoying this weather, too.  Oh, and Brookwood Farm is selling plants today, too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ride of Silence

 Tonight, I rode in Boston's Ride of Silence, held in honor of the five cyclists killed on our streets in 2012. BostonBiker has done a nice job of reporting on these tragedies. It was drizzly and overcast; It seemed fitting. We all wore white. There were police officers on bikes from Boston, Brookline, BU and other nearby communities. We rode in silence, uninterupted, from Government Center, down Comm Ave, and then back, escorted along the four mile route by police officers riding motorcycles and bicycles. 

I didn't think I'd be overwhelmed, but I was. It didn't take long. Once I'd arrived at the designated starting point, I almost lost it. I thought of the five cyclists and their families.  I thought of my family. I thought of how I was hit by cars twice last year. How horrible it must be for those poor families. I nearly lost it again. I thought of the daily near misses.

I truly hope we've no souls to ride for next year.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Team Big Orange Bike!

Hi there, Sophie, Clementine and I will be riding either 25 or 40 miles in our CETMA Largo as Team "Big Orange Bike", on June 2nd, in order to raise funds for Bikes Not Bombs. This will be Clementine's longest ride yet! This is a big bike. It has a plywood box. The kids will be my cargo. People will say we're crazy. Please, sponsor our lunacy as generously as you are able. We appreciate your support to help us each reach our fundraising minimums. Thanks!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

JP Bikes Spring Roll Recap

Bob has the best stereo in Town.
Awesome Day!  Yes, it was a bit wet, BUT, we had a ton of families show up to bike a nearly four mile route, despite the weather!  Special thanks to our sponsors:  JP Bikes, the Boston Cyclists Union, City Feed, Whole Foods, Harvest Coop Market, Fiore's Bakery, and Ferris Wheels bike shop. Plenty of more pictures on my Flickr Set, for ya!

Picking up the grub.

Barely raining at all, right?

I'm really proud of these families!