Sunday, October 20, 2019

E8000 with Integrated Light

Update 10/21/19. Dana at Bent Up Cycles tells that me he can make changes using his dealer software so the light has 0% priority. I'll be checking that out.

Let me start by saying that integrating a light into the Shimano E8000 reduces the power assist range of the battery. Let me explain...

I originally ordered my ICE Sprint FS E8000 with the integrated Edelux light. It's tied into the E8000  battery and is operated via the E6100 display. The problem...the firmware of the E8000 gives priority to the light. Why is this a problem? The battery indicator on the display shows 5 bars when the battery is fully charge. Not to long ago I was riding up a substantial hill and my battery indicator went from 2 bars remaining down to 1 bar. Fine...I thought I had 20% of battery life to get me over the hill and home. NOT. A few seconds after the display showed only 1 bar the motor shut down and I was on my own. Remember that light priority thing I just mentioned? Well the firmware allocated the last 20% of battery to the light and shut down the motor. Even turning the light off didn't solve the problem. 

Easy fix. Using Shimano's E Tube app for iPhone and Android (see  my post E8000 Customizing via Bluetooth) you can disconnect the light from the system. And then remove the light by taking the access cover of the motor off and undo the light wires (pic below). You'll have to use a light with its own battery that is independent of the E8000 system. Without the integrated light the motor now utilizes the entire battery range.

The two silver screws hold the light wires in place. The larger black and white wires are for the front light. The smaller black and red wires are for a rear light that proved to be useless as a daytime light and the connection wires on the light kept falling off.

It would be nice if the firmware allowed the user to decide whether or not to prioritize the light. But it doesn't. So here is what you can do, when the display is connected to the E Tube app on your phone (or Pad) choose Customize then select Drive Unit and on the final screen you'll see Light connection. Decide if you want the light connected or not.

iPhone screen shot

iPhone screen shot

iPhone screen shot

I now use my old DiNotte light with its battery on the boom.  It's a great daytime running light.
BTW if you choose the integrated Edeluz light it's excellent for night riding but it's useless as a  daytime running light because of the way the light casts its beam. However when I was using it I cut a piece of frosted plastic film and put it on the lens to diffuse the light for daytime running. It worked well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

E8000 Customizing via Bluetooth for E6100 Display

As always ICE costumer service goes the extra distance to make sure it's costumers are taken care of. Neil at ICE Trikes put together a quick video for me (not on YouTube) showing how to connect Shimano's E TUBE app with the E6100 display for the Steps E8000 via Bluetooth on your iPhone or Android. Doing so allows for customization and updating of the E-Assist.

My display doesn't have a Bluetooth sync on it's menu so I wasn't sure if Shimano's E TUBE app could be connected to the Shimano Steps E8000. In the video Neil walks me through the process of customizing the assist settings on my E8000. Also the E TUBE app can check for firmware updates. The app also allows me to make minor adjustments to the odometer to allow for different tire sizes. The E TUBE app also connects with Shimano's Di2 electronic shifter.

Many thanks to Neil at ICE Trikes for all the help. E-Assist is new to me so this was not the first question he has answered for me and it probably won't be the last. 

I'm have just shy of 1,000 miles on my ICE Sprint FS E8000 and it's been a game changer for me. More  rides, longer rides, flat hills and more fun. And now knowing how to customize the e-assist's all good.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Lighthouse Century 2019

Let me start by saying that the ICE Sprint FS E8000 was an absolute joy to ride in the e-friendly/recumbent friendly SLOBC Lighthouse Century. I rode the half century (50 miles) with 2,156 feet of gain. I'm was more than happy to let others proof their physical prowess and do the century with it's 6,331 feet of gain while I enjoyed the ride along the coast keeping up other DF riders who were doing the same. On the climbs I could easily go 9 mph at half energy while the DF riders were slogging up at 4 to 5 mph. Wanting not to be obnoxious I usually scaled back, only passing the slowest riders early in a climb.  For the ride I took along an extra battery. I probably could have squeaked out the 53 total miles on one battery but why stress. I changed out the battery at the halfway rest stop. During the last 10 or so miles I used more assist than normal as my right calf was starting  to get tight. Yet another reason for having e-assist.

Since I no longer live in Cambria, on the Central Coast, I decided to check back in with the beauty of the Central Coast and join in the Lighthouse Century ride sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club. SLOBC's Lighthouse Century has always been a recumbent friendly ride. Many of it's members ride recumbents. Now the Lighthouse Century is an e-bike friendly ride. So I packed up the ICE Sprint FS E8000 in the car and Carrie and I headed to Morro Bay for the ride. Me to ride and Carrie to visit the beach and antique stores.

HWY 1 from Morro Bay up through Cambria has been repaved with plenty of good shoulder as the rumble strip is along the white line leaving plenty of room to ride and pass.

Conclusion...I would not have done the ride without the e-assist. I was able to enjoy the ride without the worry of physical limitations.

 First long climb of the ride on the new pavement. Although overall less climbing than I usually do on local rides.

First rest stop at Harmony

Climbing the hill through Cambria

Riding back to Morro Bay and the end of the ride

Helmet off and end of the ride. Time for lunch with Carrie.

To finish the day a dinner with Carrie overlooking Morro Bay and Morro Rock

Monday, September 16, 2019

E8000 Display Problem...Solved?

Updated 10/13/2019 - After 260 miles the display started again going on and off on rough roads. I added a plastic shim between the side of the holder and the display. Problem solved again...for now. I've been sending ICE updates on this little problem to get their input.

While riding the other day the display would turn off and then right back on. I contacted ICE and they told me to check the display by wobbling it in the cradle as shown in the ICE video below. I was ready to turn a minor problem into a big production by checking all the wiring for a loose connection. A bit embarrassing that I didn't think about checking the display connections. Oh well...I'll still admit by lack of clear thinking and pass on what I learned to other Shimano Steps users.

Video from ICE Customer Service

If the above video looks like a problem you're having then the fix may be easy. On the back of the cradle is a screw that's used for security. If tighten enough the display will not come off the cradle. It also seems to make the display more snug in the cradle and keeping it in contact with the contact points.

I'll note here that my display problem looked like the one in the video but it didn't turn on and off while testing it in the comfort of my garage. My problem occurred while riding in 95 degree heat and generally when hitting a rough patch on the road. By tightening the cradle screw the display problem hasn't reoccured. Hopefully it stays that way. 70 miles with the adjustment and all is well.

Back of the E8000 display panel and cradle

If the display does loose contact with the cradle for a brief moment chances are contact will immediately be reestablished but you'll be without assist for a couple of seconds and you'll have to reset the assist level on the display. Luckily for me the battery stayed on and I didn't have to reboot the assist by stepping off the pedals to allow the torque sensor to set. Also the electronic Di2 shifter on my trike kept working while the display booted back up.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Steps Error Code E043

After getting the error code E043 twice in last few days I decided to take my ICE Sprint 26 FS E8000  for a firmware reinstall and a download of two new firmware updates using Shimano's ETube.

I'm told the error code E043 is the most common. Shimano says simply restore the firmware. While riding the assist stops assisting and the error code flashes. I turned the system off and then back on again and the system rebooted and I was off and cycling again with assist. 

 The trike plugged into Shimano's E Tube program on Dana's computer at Bent Up Cycles for restoring and updating the firmware.

Dana's computer updating the firmware.

Plugged in

I believe this is the first time in 10 years that I had to take a trike in for maintenance. I've always done my owner maintenance. Shimano's ETube program for use with the Steps is available to be downloaded on Windows. I have Mac. It's also available as an app for a Bluetooth connection to the assist system if your Steps has Bluetooth. No Bluetooth on the Steps assist I have. So I'm kinda stuck for now and will have to take the trike in for updates and system analysis. Oh well, I'm not use to relying on others for trike maintenance. But it's good to check in with Dana at Bent Up Cycles for something other than buying a new trike. Hopefully in time this will be worked out so I can at least install updates on my own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Couple Program Changes on My ICE

The original programing on the E8000 speed sensor on the front tires was set up for a 40/406 tire. I now have 35/406 tires on the front causing a 2% error in bike computer reading my speed. It says I'm going 2% (1.9% to be exact) faster then I'm actually going. Only dealers are suppose to have the program to recalibrate the speed sensor so customers can't cheat the system. In addition dealers can only just the sensor 5% one way or another in . 5% increments.  

In addition I had Dana and Jim adjust the TRAIL assist level to provide more assist when in that setting. For me the level of assist between the ECO and TRAIL settings is too close. By lengthening the gap between ECO and TRAIL and closing the gap between TRAIL and BOOST I feel I can use the TRAIL assist more efficiently when climbing and delay going to the BOOST level as the climb gets steeper. Since help with climbing, not speed, is my priority I hope to increase my battery range this way. 

Lastly the integrated light that I ordered with the E8000 was disconnected and the program adjusted accordingly. It turns out the light is given priority over the assist when the battery is running low. I feel this is the reason I lost assist a short time back when I thought I had 20% more range on my battery. There are 5 bars to monitor the battery level. On a recent ride I lost assist immediately after the level indictor went to one bar. The E8000 program is designed to make sure that when a front light is connected to the E8000 system it has at least two hours of shine time. I'm back to using a DiNotte light totally independent of the E8000.

I'll update this post after few rides to talk about the changes I've made and how they're working for me.

Dana and Jim at Bent Up Cycles checking the dialogue 
between computer and trike

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Climbing with the E8000 Re-Visited

Hopefully this post will give current and future E8000 trike riders some idea on what to expect when climbs are part of their route.

First the Stats

As of August 3rd I now have 514 miles on my ICE Sprint FS E8000 and 36,509 feet of gain. I picked up the trike on May 18th from Bent Up Cycles. My average per mile gain is 71 feet.

How I Use the Assist

The E8000 has three levels of assist; 1) ECO seems to compensate for the extra weight of the trike, panniers and the heavy Marathon Plus tires I now use on the trike. 2) TRAIL provides some extra boost but nothing that blows your socks off. 3) BOOST is assist on steroids and it gets me over hills with ease. When you go to Boost you feel it and it feels good on a climb.

On flats and descents I don't use assist. As the terrain starts to rise I'll kick it into ECO. The trike now feels like a normal lighter trike. I'll use the ECO mode on grades between 1% to about 3%. The TRAIL mode is brought into play on grades between 3% to 6%. There's no appreciable speed advantage over my unassisted trike using either ECO or TRAIL modes as I use them but it does save my Piriformis. At 6% grade or more (or for longer climbs of 4% to 5% grades) with a click I'm in BOOST mode and the hills feel flat. On a hill at a 8% to 9% grade I use to grind up at 3-4 mph on my Catrike 700 while working up a sweat. Now I can go up at 7-8 mph barely breaking a sweat. I can easily get up to 12mph with a little extra effort and a bit of a sweat but this really drains the battery. Also I've concluded that a steep climb drains the battery faster than a moderate climb even though the average gain per mile may be the same. On occasion I'll bomb uphill just to mess with the minds of other properly contoured younger riders on their carbon fiber DF bikes. Once I pass them with a smile and a wave they figure out I have an assist and in my mirror I see them sit back down on their saddle and continue their grind up the hill. It's usually all in good fun but occasionally I'll come up on a rider with an attitude but I still give a friendly wave cause I know they'll be passing me later... but not on the downhill.

And yes, I get plenty of exercise riding with assist. No one can tell me otherwise. Probably more than before with all the extra miles and riding days I can now enjoy. That's all I'm going to say about that!

What to Expect from the Battery when Climbing

Having put over 500 miles on my ICE Sprint FS E8000 and given my average per mile gain of 71 and my compulsive log keeping I can say that with the E8014 418wh battery my range is between 30 and 36 miles per battery charge. I use 32 miles per charge as a benchmark as it was at 32 miles I ran out of power. It was right before an extended 10% climb that if I had made it to the top it would all be downhill to get back home. Given that the lowest gear inch is 24 with the 44t chainring and the weight of the trike I wussed out and called for backup knowing that the climb would fry my Piriformis. I parked in the shade of a tree and waited for Carrie to pick me up knowing I saved my old bones for another ride the next day.

While riding I'm constently changing the assist mode to maximize battery use. It's not much different than shifting between chainrings to maximize human output. But now I'm changing assist modes instead.

Having E-Assist has made it possible for me to ride multiple days in a row without ill effects on my Pirifomis or partially atrophied calf. I ordered another battery so I can extend my range. Battery range is now my consideration for the routes I ride, not how many hills lie ahead. That's a trade I can easily accept. For the first I'm exploring options for overnighters. As long as I have a place to plug in at the end of the day all is good.

Final thought; If you have used E-Assist for awhile now you've probably heard the comment "it's cheating". With a smile I say "how can it be cheating? I'm not trying to win anything". With that comment and a smile I usually get back an acknowledgement along the line of "yah, you're right". Sometimes even a short conversation takes place before triking on.