Making it your own, unlocking your bike’s potential

Djangodog

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Claremont, NH
This being an ebike review forum, I thought that this would be a good place to display our modifications and provide our opinions.

I have upgraded almost everything on my Cross Core. The bike is fine stock, but it is also a good place to start to make the bike that you want, but can’t find.

The first things that I changed were the tires, (Maxxis Receptor 40mm), and the saddle, (Fizik Aliante). The Maxxis tires are more compliant and much lighter. These were the most important and probably the most common changes.

I replaced the wheels with DT Swiss CR 1600, (the stock wheels are fine, but I ruined one during transport). The CR 1600 is a rugged gravel wheel and it also provides a nice ride.

I also replaced the stem with a Red Shift suspension stem, the seat post with a Cane Creek Carbon eeSilk Gravel, Salsa Deluxe Bend bars, Spank Oozy pedals, TRP Spyre brakes and SQLabs 710 grips with Specialized Carbon bar ends repurposed as inner bar ends. The drivetrain is now a Shimano SLX 1x11, 46t chainring and 11-42 cassette.

The Garmin 830 and Varia are shared with my conventional road bike.

It went from nice hybrid to capable flat bar gravel bike. It’s not too fancy, but just a very enjoyable bike and a blessing when the grade approaches 20%. It’s a bike that wasn’t available off the rack and with all of the changes, I still have less than $4,000.00 invested.

It’s a shame that they don’t offer a frame and Yamaha motor, battery and electronics. I built some of my road bikes up from a bare frame and for me, it makes more sense because over time, I will probably change everything to something that I want rather than what the manufacturer chose.

Please share your upgrades and advice. Thanks
 

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I only wonder why you didn't complete that mod with SQlab Innerbarends 410/402 that are integrated with the 710 grips?

I already had the Specialized bar ends and I wanted to try them to see if I liked them. I do like them, but I may go with the SQ Lab at some time.
 
I've always shopped until I found what I wanted. Maybe to easily satisfied, but a different handlebar and a new saddle is the most custom thing I've done to my eBikes.
 
Upgrading/swapping is a requirement as all bikes have compromises. I'll not list out my mods, but 2 thoughts I have frequently:
  1. When we took n00bs offroading, we always emphasized - learn your vehicle, know your vehicle. Understand what it's good at, where it needs help, and really be honest about how you want to use it. Guys would get a brand new 4x4 and immediately do a suspension lift + bigger tires, but had no idea how to drive properly (or at all) offroad then would complain about tippiness, loss of power, etc. I'd say the same goes for bikes: for the seasoned vets, not really an issue. But for someone just dipping into ebike world, ride the bike for a while to understand how it handles, what changes might make it better, then do your upgrades in a sensible way - e.g. don't replace everything at once. Understand how the cumulative and the individual changes impact the bike and your riding.
  2. Focus on things that make riding more enjoyable. Not easier or faster, that comes with time. When riding a bike is a joy, we all ride more, which is great for us individually and collectively.
 
I've always shopped until I found what I wanted. Maybe to easily satisfied, but a different handlebar and a new saddle is the most custom thing I've done to my eBikes.

The Yamaha Wabash was close, but at $1,100,00 more than the Cross Core, it wasn’t worth price difference. They share the same motor, frame and wheels, so the original plan was to make a Cross Core into a Wabash. The converted Cross Core would have had better brakes, shifter and derailleur than the Wabash and still come out cheaper. In the end , I decided to go with flat bars and this is how it ended up.

I should add that the wheels were only upgraded because I wrecked the rear and Yamaha didn’t have a replacement.

The 1x11 didn’t happen until I had put 1,000 miles on the bike.

I hope that others will share their modifications. Making it your own is part of the fun. It gives you a personal connection and hopefully a bike that’s better suited to your usage.
 
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I think you should just assume that you are going to upgrade the touch points (pedal, saddle, grips), often before you even get out of the store. I am using Issi stomp pedals and an Ergon touring saddle these days. I've experimented with about a half-dozen saddles over the years. These days it is a close competition between the Ergon SMC and Ergon ST Core Evo saddles.

At least for me, chain guards don't survive very long.

Most e-bikes, in my opinion, have seriously inadequate brakes and rotors for their size and weight and the likely weight of their riders. I've upgraded to a 180mm rear rotor and a 203mm Shimano ice-tech front rotor and much beefier brakes front and rear.

The SKS bike fenders on my R&M are getting seriously ratty and I am planning to upgrade to the Portland Design Works 650 Beast fenders with mudflaps.

Also upgraded the suspension seat post to a Kinect .

I've evolved on tires several times, currently running Schwalbe Hurricanes.

Right now I am anticipating the arrival this fall of a new acoustic adventure bike and the customization on that bike from the factory will be pretty extensive, with racking, fenders, and touch points done by me and my LBS. Along with the rando rack there will be a rando front bag as well. A rando bag is basically an enormous handlebar bag, typically 2 times or more voluminous than a normal front bag and with the rack supporting it I can comfortably carry more stuff in it.
 
I liked the 2017 yuba bodaboda, mostly because it never has snapped the front fork sideways & thrown me over the handlebars on my chin. Like the Diamondback MTB (twice) the Pacific MTB (twice) and the Huffy Savannah (once).
I've had 6 different seats on it. Suspension posts are not an option, yuba post is a strange diameter.Yuba seat was for women. Schwinn was wide enough but hard as a rock, Selle royale respiro was ****, Brooks was ****, Workman salvage had nice springs but wouldn't stay straight on the rail to post adapter, this Uno 280 mm only cost $39 but stays straight on the rails and I can tolerate it for 6 hours.
Handgrips, the best were 2" diameter foam cut from pool floats, but they changed the floats to a smaller ID 2020 and I can't use those anymore. Everything else makes my hands go to sleep.
In 9/2018 it took me 6 hours to get home in a 30 mph headwind at 94 deg F, so to avoid that I put a front geared hub motor 1300 w a 25 amp controller($221) and a 48 v 840 wh battery ($630) &. Great, except gears wore out in 4500 miles. 1000 w DD motor was too slow across a 6 lane highway to make the 6 second green light. Mac12t motor 1000 w was great, but came with a clutch that slipped 1:10 and deteriorated 3000 miles later to slipping 1:3. When rain burnt the pins off the ASI controller 7/21 I parked it. Can't buy another one in the US. Due to shutdown of Shanghai 2021 only used 500 w 36 v bafang hub motors were available, which are cheap ($36) and really wimpy. One will help me and 60 lb cargo up a 12% grade at 2 mph if I pedal real hard and pant to the max. The 1300 w motor and the 1000 w Mac12t would pull 170 lb me + 60 lb cargo up 15% grade at 8 mph without pedaling at all.
Oh, in customiztion I deleted the display, it lied a lot and kept me from rolling the bike upside down to change tubes after a flat or adjust brakes, deraileur, or chain. I wrapped up the PAS pickup so it wouldn't function because the minimum speed 11 mph was dangerous on Ste Rd 3 berm, and I don't want to accelerate at 500 w minimum on my rutted grass driveway.
I put an aluminum angle rack on top of the yuba child seat rack, on which I can carry a 24x48 sheet of plywood, a shelf unit, an airconditioner, 2 1/2 gal of weed killer, or today a welder in original box. The battery rides in an aluminum rack on the front, which has thwarted two wannabe thieves at the grocery store.
8 speed SRAM sprocket cluster gave me 24 pedal ratios of 32:32 to 52:11, which was great for 8000 miles, But this year the rear derailleur decided not to upshift anymore. New X3 derailler, new X4 takeup, new SRAM shifter, new jaguar cable housing, new jaguar cable core, won't budge the derailler, which is stuck in 24 sprocket (better than the 28 which was 1 mph). I can shift down all I want, down to 1/2 mph, but the spring won't pull the cable to shift up. Bought a Shimano 7001-8 spd IGH last month and was coached Friday in the secret knowledge required to actually buy a shifter lever & disk brake adapter. Let the adventure begin.
The Garmin radar light works great as a rear flashing light, but was useless as a warning device, warned me of trucks over on the freeway about 150' away through a chain link fence, warned me of cars approching a 4 way intersection I passed 200' ago. I've deleted the display, just use it as a taillight. I also have a Brightz pink flashing light on the rear under a polycarbonate rain shield, if the battery on the Garmin quits. Now if I could find a 150 lumen headlight that wouldn't burn out the first time it rained? Burned a catseye Friday night, burned a niterider last year.
Oh the yuba cargo bags are great. After 4 years the vertical seam ripped on one of them last month. Maybe leaking diesel fuel dissolved the glue? Poked holes in fabric with a awl and "sewed" it up Thursday with five 2 mm screws nuts & washers. 4-40 screws wouldn't fit through the holes, that fabric is really tough. The glue they used to seal the seam is only semi-tough.
Tires a yuba white city tire (freedom) got a flat at 700 miles, so I converted to kenda, sun, or giant 2.1" knobbies. I can usually get 2000 miles out of one of those without a flat. Rolls right over road trash. With the covid production problems, I've been unable to get those, so a Panaracer knobby for twice the price wouldn't fit on the wheel without having a big lump in it, and a Schwalbe Marathon that came with one of the Uber used motors had a bump in the cord and kept wearing out tubes every 500 miles. Ordered a Continental Friday, see what I get? At least it is rated at 55 psi, compared to the 40 PSI tire city I'm running now on front because it is the only thing left.
Building a sofa cushion for the Uno seat out of a leather purse. I've sewed it into a semblance of a seat cover I can tie under the seat with nylon cord. But haven't found a way to make a contour pad out of a 4" thick urethane sofa cushion yet. All the fat melted off my hips age 62, I really miss it. The fat on my belly sticks like glue, but at least I'm down lower in weight this month than I have been since 1976
 
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I understood going in that I would be making many changes to my bike. This being an ebike review forum, I had expected to see more emphasis on reviewing bikes, accessories and components, and there is a fair amount of that within the forum, but it is not always easy to find, so here is a mini review of my bike and components.

Yamaha Cross Core: Reasonable weight, very good warranty, long established company. The price wasn’t low, but seemed to be very competitive considering what you got. The bike was a good platform to customize. I wanted a class 1 that handled well, had a reasonable weight, had a fairly powerful mid drive and natural feel. The Cross Core ticked off all of the boxes and is still the bike that I would choose today, so no regrets.

Cane Creek Carbon eeSilk gravel seat post: Expensive, but after two spinal surgeries last year, the cost seemed worth while. The change in comfort was immediately noticeable. The post takes the shock out of big hits and smooths out the smaller irregularities without bobbing. The only thing that you notice is that the ride is much smoother. The Carbon version doesn’t add much weight and is visually pleasing, (to me anyway). Also, no regrets.

Red Shift Stem: Pretty much the same as the Cane Creek seat post. It does what it claims and there are no real negatives.

Salsa Bend Deluxe handlebar: I find this bar to be a worthwhile upgrade from the generic bar that came on the Cross Core. Mine has the 17 degree sweep which I find comfortable. It is light and seems to be more compliant than the stock bar as well. My wife tried it and immediately ordered one for her Cross Core. We are very happy with this bar, but the angle may not be right for some others. They do make a 23 degree sweep as well and because the bar bends forward before sweeping rearward, the reach remains approximately the same as the stock bar.

Shimano SLX 1x11: So far, so good. I lost some redundancy and so far, I like it very much. I went with a 46t SRAM chainring and an 11-42 Shimano cassette. The stock Sora had failed to shift down to the small chainring a few times, and the 1x11 provides a better range and so far, it is very reliable. I haven’t had it long enough to determine longevity, but so far, I see it as an improvement.

Maxxis Receptor tires: They are wearing well. They have approximately 1,100 miles on them right now. It looks like the rear will need to be replaced in another 500 miles or so. The front will probably be good for at least 3,000 miles. They are a “dry” gravel tire. They roll well and are quiet on the road. They grip well on dry dirt roads and gravel. They are more compliant and much lighter than the stock tires, but not as puncture resistant, (I have not had a puncture yet). When the time comes, they will be replaced with the same.

DT Swiss CR 1600 Spline wheels: I would not have upgraded the wheels if I hadn’t wrecked the original rear. The DT Swiss set are noticeably lighter and they are also wider, which helps to smooth out the ride. I like them, but it is a relatively expensive upgrade and if I hadn’t had to replace my stock rim, I wouldn’t have upgraded. I do like these wheels and I don’t regret the choice. They are also a gravel wheel and rated to 130 Kg.

Spank Oozy pedals: Nice quality, good grip and a nice size for me, (my shoe size ranges from 10 to 10.5 US). They are fairly light and rebuildable. They look nice enough. I have never slipped off of them. They simply work and I never notice them, so I consider that a good thing.

Fizik Aliante saddle with Ti rails: This was a takeoff and not in current production. I would buy another if I could find one. I rode Selle Italia Flite saddles for many rears. Then I rode the Gel Flite, until they changed the design. The Fizik Aliante is the best shape for me, (Fizik calls me a bull because I am not very flexible). It is difficult to review a saddle because it is a very personal choice. The Aliante works for me. It is light and compliant. The build quality is in my opinion, exceptional. My all time favorite.

TRP Spyre brake calipers: If I had it to do over, I would have just gone with Shimano XT hydraulic calipers and levers. The Spyres work well and I have no real complaint, but they are not noticeably more effective than the stock calipers. The real advantage is that I can just adjust them by the barrel adjuster because they simulate a two piston caliper. The real drawback with cable actuated brakes on the Cross Core is the cable routing around the mid drive, (I went with Jag Wire Pro brake cables and after carefully routing them, they work smoothly). There is a good chance that I will eventually replace the brakes with good hydraulics, (poor quality hydraulic brakes can be less effective and much less reliable than decent cable actuated brakes).

I hope that this thread will be helpful to others that are looking to refine their bike a bit. I do tend to go overboard and be a bit obsessive, so take what I did with a grain of salt.
 
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On the new bike I am actually looking very hard at Paul Klampers. They are crazy expensive but are very powerful mechanical brakes:

It took 3 years of in-house development before the Klamper met all of our extremely high goals. We wanted absolute reliability, easy adjustability, and field serviceability. We wanted super strong stopping power but without hydraulic fluid and fussy bleed kits. After countless drawing revisions, fine tuning of piston design and bearing ramp profiles, and probably 20 prototypes, we nailed it, and the Klamper has quickly become a cult classic.

What’s the secret sauce? We don’t want to give away all our engineering secrets, but the bulk of our power comes from using oversized ball bearings, and machining our pistons from 12L14 steel. Using this steel alloy allows us to heat treat the pistons which also hardens the bearing ramp races to resist pitting for a lifetime of silky smooth lever pull. Using flat needle roller thrust bearings instead of a plastic thrust washers doesn’t hurt either.

These brakes are perfect for long mileage deep wilderness bike touring where field serviceability with nothing but a good multitool is crucial to getting back to civilization alive. They’re also great on cyclocross race bikes where tool free independent pad adjustment and a simple cable barrel adjuster means you can fine-tune brake feel specific to course and conditions. We constantly see them on custom built steel hardtails and gravel grinder shred sleds where a rider wants the proven quality of as many American made components as possible.

 
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