It’s always a pleasure to share these pages with like-minded people. I found Bernt bike on the Internet and it couldn’t end up different then by inviting him to guest blog on this site. When he accepted my invitation to share his experience with my readers I was super happy.
I think Bernt’s experience is going to help people who are beginning their story with customized bikes and those who are looking for some inspiration. Please share this article with your friends and ask any question in the comment section below. Enjoy.
I’ve been asked to share my story about the making of my project, the Poker.
I am not the “Handy-man” who always manage to fix his mechanical issues, car or bike without asking for a helping hand or two. But last summer I took my retired old mountain bike (a Scott Blackstone from the last century) which had been sleeping for several years and waiting for a refresh. The biking scene here in mid-Sweden is 50% top-of-the-line full dampened MTBs for trail and downhill and 50% mostly very well worn old whatever bikes.
My aim with the Blackstone bike was to have it more like a daily go shopping bike with a more comfortable riding position and with a front rack for the groceries. I also created homemade fenders, and it turned out pretty good and I started in my mind to plan something else completely.
Why Custom Bike
In my daily life, I live in Vemdalen, Sweden and work 10km away in the nearby ski resort managing the buying of alpine hard goods like alpine skis, boots, poles, helmets and everything related to that. 10km is a nice distance to ride the bike to work if it isn’t like here when my home in the village is at 400m above sea level and my work is at 750m.
I’ve looked at the electric PAS bikes around and wondered why there are no cool looking bikes except those for +€5000. A PAS (pedal-assisted) MTB was not an option in my mind as an MTB to me is equal to a training device.
My intention became to create an Electric bike with a very comfortable riding position with enough power to carry me with my assist to work in style.
After browsing the internet night-in, night-out I found some cool companies selling nice looking retro styled bikes that were taking my interest more than others. But all of them who sell retro or cool looking bikes with PAS that caught my eye were way too expensive. How about buying a cool retro looking bike and adding a mid-drive PAS system to it myself (I mean, how hard can it be)? (Of course, there are plenty of things that don’t go as planned). That would be way less expensive (bike around €1200 and the PAS kit including a battery for €800 so an approximated end cost was €2100 for parts).
Both ruff-cycles.com (customizer) and kahaki.pl offers solutions to create your dream cruiser online and then you can get it assembled or as a kit and put it together yourself. There’s also tspcyclefarm.it who offer super nice cruisers that you can customize but no online creating. My choice fell on a traditional frame (the Porucho) from Ruff cycles and a PAS system from Bafang with battery bottle kit.
Then the parts came………….
I’ve never assembled any bike before other than changing some seats or handlebars or broken parts like brake cables or similar.
My advice will be to assemble it yourself if you are not in a hurry. To me, it was a bumpy road but generally, it went like expected with new parts slowly finding their place.
Assembly of the bike without crank was pretty straight through with almost no bigger setbacks. Then it was time to assemble the driving unit to the now (in my eyes) dream bike. Almost all custom bikes have the BMX standard bottom bracket instead of the normal BSA bottom bracket. The BMX bracket has a much larger radius than the normal BSA that all PAS mid drives are created for. Many thoughts about how to solve the problem rushed through my head. Did I have to cut out the existing bracket and re-weld the smaller one into an already painted frame or find out a way to weld or assemble the smaller bracket into the existing one? My solution became to drill and tap so the small bracket was pushed towards the wall of the larger existing one. With tread locking and additional locking nuts between the brackets, it became a really solid solution.
The first test-drive totally fulfilled my expectations, the solid 750W Bafang mid-drive surely delivered enough power to climb the steepest hills with ease and the setup with springer fork is an absolute success!
Lights, brake lights and flashers.
I really didn’t want to put some poor headlight with an extra battery on to a smart looking bike, but with a 48V battery for the driving unit and flasher relays and lights working at 12V, I got myself into a smaller issue. The result became to fit a converter 48/12V to achieve the correct voltage.
Finding lighting that would fit bike like this became a journey that took me hours and hours on eBay and AliExpress, even finding the right switches for the light and flashers became a trip into the unexplored ground. This is yet to be finished but as an old electrician, I’m not worried that this will cause any problems.
If I did it today- what would I change or do differently?
I’ll probably switch the beloved Bafang mid-drive unit to a Tongsheng that supports backpedaling to use the rear coaster brakes. Now I’m riding only with front disc brakes and sometimes this powerful bike, steep hills and my heavy body weight need a stop stretch that’s a little too long to make me feel absolutely secure. The winter is now here and I’ll have some months to sort this out.
Would I do it again?
For me, a guy with both my thumbs right in the middle of my palms this has been very fun and with no pressure from anyone I learned so very much, so yes I’d do it again and would love to do it again!
The Poker- the name.
As a big fan of Aussie rockers AC/DC (electric!) and the ‘double meaning’ names they give to their songs the Poker to me means the power from the PAS is like having someone pushing (poking) me forward.
Will I do it again?
In fact I’ll already ordered a new kit from Ruff for my lady without her knowledge. It’s a Tango ladies frame in white with white rims chromed straight fork and crème tires which I’ll build this winter and ad some additional bling before summer and a Tongsheng PAS kit that supports coaster brakes. How I’m going to pull this off without her knowing is probably the biggest obstacle in my very short bike building career so far… The question is, what should that be named? The Pusher is my thought right now.
Would I do it for someone else?
As it was great fun and at least myself is pleased with the result I should at least consider it, but then I would like to add my own touch to it making it unique. I really don’t think that it will happen as anyone can do this for themselves!
So go on, be inspired and build your own god damn bike! Because, if I can do it, everybody can!
The Result- The Poker
Still, have some questions or thoughts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernt (Berne) Holmkvist
Born in ’63 and raised in Vemhån mid-Sweden.Living now in Vemdalen with Helena + our 2 dogs/ 2cats & 14 horses.Our daughter is now 21 working alongside me at one of the destinations sports shops.Growing up in a small village meant that it was a good share of football, ice hockey, alpine skiing and all transport during April-October was by bike (this is way before studded bike winter tires).Started working at the nearby ski resort Björnrike in ’79Did that the following winters with other jobs in other half years.Decided after 6 seasons to grow up and get me a steady work.Educated me to an electrician and worked with that until ’92Got back to the mountain managing a sports shop.Last 5 years I’m now an office man purchasing all alpine hard goods for our 5 resorts and rocket growing webshop. Big fan of:Jaguar carsBomber skisAlpine skiingand cool bikes (of course)!