March 20 2019. Although it has not happened recently, I recall hearing from ‘some people’ “Well of course that image looks like that! If I had the gear you have I could do that too!” Uh huh…right! So I purchased the new Samsung Galaxy S10+ to replace my ‘battery only lasts 6 hours’ old phone. The S10+ has three different lenses on the back, normal , tele and wide. So I decided to take a shot using the wide lens and compare it to my 1DXII. Incredible for a camera phone!
Update March 2 2019
Mirror mirror on the wall…..
Having ridden street bikes (motorcycles) for so long and training people I just don’t feel comfortable riding without a mirror on the street. At least on the left side. As a trainer I use to ask “Tell me about your accident and I’ll tell you why it was your fault.” Even though I sometimes sit at a traffic light in a well marked bike lane on my way to offroad areas, I always keep an eye on my 6:00 in the event some dumb shit is using their cell phone as they approach the light or stop sign. Even a small tap or veering into the bike lane can be deadly for me. I hate antenna mirrors, so I installed a bar end left side mirror on my bike. The issue arose when I would get to my offroad area. Some of the paths are narrow and the mirror snags brush. So after much searching I found a small 2″ mirror that I had hoped would replace the bar end unit. I can see to my left, but unfortunately not directly behind me. So I reinstalled the bar end mirror and mounted the small 2″ on the right side.
I’m really fortunate that I live in an area where I can ride to offroad trails easily. Some folks poopoo (those who consider themselves hard core offroad riders…LOL) mirrors, but that’s OK. I don’t plan to get rear ended as I ride to my offroad joy.
Update February 20 2019
I wanted to update this post for several things, first the brakes. I needed to change my brake pads and installed the Resin Organic Semi-metal Brake Pads and all I can say is WOW!. The initial bite, the fade resistance and the modulation is incredible! Run don’t walk if you need to get a set of pads. The next item: Luna now imports a sticker that is made by Sur Ron which will indicate when the green/black wire is clipped the bike is no faster than a Bird Scooter. For those who ‘may‘ have law enforcement issues this can be an option to help keep you legal.
And finally since I have a custom made suede seat I have to cover it when washing the bike. I purchased an ultra large shower cap (since my gf was pissed when I used hers…) to cover it. And while I’m on the topic I use Simple Green to clean my chain and bike. I use a wallpaper tray to catch the sludge that comes off of the chain and a top cover of the bucket to shield my rear disc from that same sludge while washing my bike. I simply cut out a pie shape in the bucket lid so I can slide it over the axle. And I have used a Grunge Brush for years on my motorcycles, but have found and used a better product. The Tirox 360 degree Brush for Chain. At first it’s a little tricky to spin onto the chain, but man once done it’s a breeze to use and cleans ALL SIDES of the chain. That’s it for now!
Update January 20 2019
I’ve made a few changes to my bike since the 10th of January. I needed to replace my rear tire since it was worn so I decided to purchase a dual sport rear tire. The Shinko 244 Dual Sport Tire. Since I ride on a wide variety of surfaces I felt that knobbies were not best suited to my needs. I ordered the 2.75×19 inch tire. I estimate that it is about 3/4 of an inch taller overall than the stock tire. To date I have found that the grip on pavement, gravel fire roads and dirt is great.
I also opted to change to an O Ring chain to keep chain maintenance to a minimum. I found that the noise of an O ring chain reduces chain noise by about 50% to my ear.
And finally I had never been a fan of the “fenderett” of a rear fender on the Sur Ron. Not only did it not provide much splash protection, but in terms of aesthetics, it just appears truncated on the bike. So through some research I found that a Honda CRF70 body kit off of eBay would provide me with a rear fender and inner fender more suited to my bike and my taste. And for 21.00 it’s a bargain at that! So with a little measuring and my handy Dremel tool I adapted the rear fender to the Sur Ron and modified the Honda front MX fender to use as a rear sub fender. The one I had fabricated before was too narrow for the new Shinko tire.
Update January 10, 2019
A custom made seat to replace the Sur Ron torture rack! LOL
Nothing about the Sur Ron is a ‘must have’ thing. The reality is this bike is a pure luxury for me and most others who purchase them. My use of the bike is completely recreational in nature. Others use theirs for a wide variety of very cool reasons; mobility reasons, farm or land owner use among a few of them. Having owned and used my bike for around seven months, I can honestly say it’s the best two wheel motor vehicle I’ve ever owned. And that includes one Bultaco, one Maico, one Penton (now KTM) two Kawasaki’s, three Yamahas and four Hondas.
I’ve made four ‘major’ changes to my Sur Ron:
- The Cane Creek Headset
- Manitou Dorado Pro forks
- X Controller imported into the USA with regen braking and charging. (current model does NOT offer much regen or braking in the USA. Apparently the EU and AU versions do)
- Renazco custom seat
If I had to choose an order in which to make these changes, here’s how it would go:
- X Controller imported into the USA with regen braking and charging.
- Renazco custom seat
- Manitou Dorado Pro forks
- The Cane Creek Headset
Why a new seat? Well the longer I’ve owned this bike my trips become longer each time. Heck I even pack a meal because I know I’ll be out in remote areas. And for anyone who owns one of these bikes who rides more than 15 minutes at a time, the seat is a torture rack. Don’t think I’m sitting on my bony ass the whole time. When off road I’d estimate I sit about 40% and stand about 60%. On the street or bike paths I sit 90% of the time. After about 35 minutes on the stock seat my ass HURTS, not my butt cheeks, but the middle portion. The stock seat is only 5.5” wide and the foam contained in it is stiff. I had purchased an X seat from Luna which was ‘better’ meaning I could last about 50 minutes before I wanted to cut my ass off!
So I tried biking shorts….nope not much improvement. Then I bought two different Air Hawk pads. They were good, but I didn’t like how they looked and felt. Tried a gel/foam seat pad, nope that one didn’t help the middle of my butt.
Finally I tried a Mad Dog seat pad. I reinforced the sides of the pad by placing pipe insulation tubing under where my butt cheeks rest. This lifted the middle of my ass off of the seat and it was way more comfortable. Also by folding the front of the pad under, it removed the slope of the stock seat which prevented me from sliding forward during hard braking.
I had originally planned on heading down to Corbin seats in Hollister, CA about an hour and a half drive from my home. They make custom seats, but primarily focus on street motorcycles. So after researching on the web I came across Renazco Racing Seats located in Santa Rosa, CA. James, the owner has done quite a few off road and dual sport seats. So I sent him an email and didn’t expect to hear back for quite some time. Having read forum information about his seats, lead times were around 6-8 weeks. Plus it was Christmas time….
To my surprise I heard from him in two days and this was during the Holidays! He mentioned that he was intrigued by ebikes and would be more than willing to build me a custom seat. So I sent him my stock seat and in two days he wrote back to me that he had stripped the upholstery and foam from the seat. He mentioned that the seat pan was of a higher quality than most he sees and the foam was rather hard. He had questions like my inseam length, my weight and if I wanted any color of stitching. I had sent the stock seat to him with blue tape where my ass resides when I ride, which is the back quarter of the stock seat. I also had sent him photos of me sitting on the bike so he could get an idea of my posture while riding.
He wanted to cover the entire seat in suede, but I asked if the sides could be ‘carbon fiber’ and he told me he had just the color grey to match my bike. Suede is the favorite cover for his work since it breathes and grips as well. I also asked that the slope of the stock seat be taken out since it causes me to slide forward when I don’t want to do so. Taking out the slope combined with the suede would make the seat a whole new animal.
I had written to ask if he would mind sending me some photos as he progressed. But the very next day he wrote that the seat was done and he was shipping it back to me! Holy crap!!!
So how does it feel? R E M A R K A B L E! The padding he uses which is a special Tempur-Pedic foam over another proprietary foam which is both firm and lush, much like my Manitou Dorado forks! LOL. The shape of the seat now fits my skinny ass and does not hurt my perineum area. I’ve never had anything suede but I can tell you that it’s a fantastic choice. It’s not yet winter here but I can tell it will keep me from having ‘soggy bottom’ during the summer. And its ability to keep me in place and not slide forward is fantastic. Just lifting up a bit to readjust my sitting position is so convenient.
Having never owned anything suede I asked James about caring for the seat. He places a waterproof membrane between the seat upholstery and the foam so the foam does not become a sponge for moisture. He does recommend that you don’t get the seat wet either through rain or washing. So I went on Amazon and found a jumbo shower cap that fits perfectly over the seat when I wash the bike. Bingo!
So is it worth the price? Oh hell yes for me it is! $400.00 is not a small price to pay for anything. But for a handmade, well designed piece of craftsmanship that allows me to ride as long as the battery last rather than how long my ass lasts is a godsend. Each of us gets to choose how/why we spend our hard earned after tax dollars. The Sur Ron brings me more joy and fun than I could have ever imagined before owning one. Now James’ seat makes that joy last longer than ever before. (And all guys want to last longer! LOL!!!!) And since I too am a small business owner I love supporting other small businesses that produce remarkable hand made products.
Update December 8, 2018
23:32 SOLVED! The forks need to be unweighted when adding or removing air. Granted most people mount these forks on a 40 pound mountain bike, not a 110 pound electric dirt bike. Doing that allows both the negative and positive air chambers to fill easily when they are fully extended. Whew!
Manitou Dorado Pro Sag Adjustment
Today while attempting to adjust the amount of static sag in my Dorado’s using my Manitou air pump air suddenly escaped from the forks causing them to collapse to almost a fully retracted state. Yet the pressure gauge continued to measure 5 bars. I have contacted Hayes who manufactures Manitou forks.
When the pump is attached to the valve I am able to extend the forks to their full extension. Of course letting them go returns them to the aforementioned compressed state. When the pump is not attached I cannot extend the forks higher than 1/3 of the way.
Update December 7, 2018
I decided to upgrade both the forks and headset from the Sur Ron stock parts. Unlike some on a Facebook Group I experienced no head set issues like play or binding. Nope mine were fine. And the RST forks are very satisfactory for 85% of the riding I do. That entails street riding to run errands, fire roads, bike paths, OHV parks and trail riding. The only times I noticed less than good front end behavior was during high speed bumps or holding a line in fast bumpy corners. What that means is hitting something with a hard edge, or ‘high speed’ compression. Think of running into and over a curb or down a long flight of stairs. Those are the types of bumps considered ‘high speed.’ The result was a rather jarring hit through the handlebars, or holding a line in a bumpy corner without having to over compensate to remain on my line. If large bumps are present for an extended run (300+ yards) arm pump would set in for me.
If you’ve read further down in this post you will see that in a former life I was a road racer. I had switched to Ohlins suspension on my RC51 and was overwhelmed by the difference GREAT suspension makes in a bike. In truth Ohlins suspension will spoil anyone who experiences the smoothness, the tracking through corners, etc. etc. Now paying 3-5k for racing forks is a different story when you’re in competition to win. No way was I going to fork over the cost of my total sur Ron on suspension for a bike I use for fun. I looked at Ohlins DH MTB forks….way too pricey for what I need or will ever use to their full potential. I’m pragmatic and maybe in a prior life I would have purchased them.
But a fellow owner alerted me to an AliExpress deal on a set of forks called the Manitou Dorado Pros. I had never heard of them and in truth had never researched any forks for the Sur Ron. I was just happy that Luna had opted for the Killah RST forks after assessing them against the DNM (Do Not Mount was their joking way of referring to those forks) forks originally installed on the first Sur Rons. So for $642.27 USD including shipping for a pair of Pros I just could not pass it up. After doing extensive research on the forks, Downhill News’ review finally convinced me to make the purchase. I have found their reviews to be very comprehensive, candid and fair.
The only other worry for me was AliExpress. Since this would be my very first purchase through what many say is “The Amazon of China” plunking down 600 bucks and change made me a tad nervous. So I entered my credit card info and kept an eye on my account. Just ten days later a package arrived all taped and wrapped securely. My forks had arrived!
During my research of the Dorado’s I had noted that they made a major change to their forks in 2014. The pair I was purchasing was listed as being manufactured in 2014 so I checked the date on the box as well as on the fork legs. Sure enough both legs, although manufactured on different dates, were manufactured in 2014.
I’ve done loads of work on motorcycles and bicycles, but had never replaced or removed a headset on either. So I was just a bit nervous. After talking to several individuals I decided to buy the right tools for the job. Most I will never use again, but I always believe in using the right tool for the right job. Here are the tools I felt I needed to replace the headset:
- Extra headset spacers. To compensate for the stem height difference between the RST and the Dorados.
- Headtube cutting guide. To cut the steering stem to the length I wanted. I can definitely use this later to cut any round tubing.
- Star Nut Driver. EVERYONE I spoke to said this is a must have. Driving the new star nut STRAIGHT into the new steering stem isn’t easy without this.
- Headset Bearing cup removal tool. You can use a punch or screwdriver, up to you.
- Headset Cup Press Set, Bottom Bracket Install Tool. Some use threaded rod and washers. I bought this since it is inexpensive and would prevent me from sourcing the items I would need to build it.
Remember NONE of the above is absolutely necessary. I just like to keep my cussing to a bare minimum by using the right tool for the right job.
In the image below you can see the stock RST fork and how the spacers are placed along with their size. One below the top triple clamp and one under the bar mount. The distance from the top of the RST steering tube to the bottom bearing race is 8.25″
You can see in the image below that I used the stock bottom spacer from the RST below the top triple clamp. I increased the size and number of spacers (with those I bought) between the top triple clamp and the bottom of the bar mount. This increased the height of my bars by 0.75″. I had previously replaced my stock bars with some that have a 3″ rise so in total my bars are 3.75″ higher than stock. Actually they are a bit higher than that because I reversed the stock handlebar mount which gave me another inch of height. I find that height just right for me when I’m standing on the pegs or pedals. BEFORE CUTTING ANY STEERING STEM MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE. If you fuck up, it’s expensive. And be sure to leave at least 3mm of space LOWER than the top of the bar mount. If not you won’t be able to tighten down the forks against the headset which will give you too much play in the headset.
People have inquired about the ‘thing’ just to the right of the handlebar mount so here is a photo of my cockpit.
Here is a great headset installation video made by one of the guys at Luna Cycle where I bought the Cane Creek headset I installed. I highly recommend this headset. It’s made in the USA. Lots of folks buy Hope products. They’re good but just because they’re made by white folks in the UK to me doesn’t mean they’re NOT imports. Most folks seem to feel that stuff made in Europe aren’t imports…bullshit. In the installation video Jason is not using a star nut tool because he’s reusing the same forks. If you’re changing forks, you need a new star nut. There’s also no need to remove the bottom bearing race from the RST forks if you’re not reinstalling those forks.
So I’ve had a chance to do a cursory run with the Dorados. I can only say they are PLUSH in their ability to absorb both low and high speed bumps. Being able to set up static sag is super easy with an air sprung fork. I followed the advice of the Manitou manual for initial settings. I also noticed that a single click of either high speed/TPC (low speed) or rebound damping has a noticeable effect on handling.
I have lots more to experiment with in a variety of situations. But at this point I will just say that I am not disappointed with the purchase. They feel much like my Ohlins did when I first installed them, incredible. More to come….
Update October 7 2018
A member on a Sur Ron group I belong to lost their key and had to have a new one made. They kindly listed the type of key blank their locksmith found which works so I’m listing it here. It’s an Ilco X121 DC3 key.
Update October 4 2018
Not really an update but as a photographer I just could not help myself to use some smoke, strobes and reflection for a portrait of my beloved Sur Ron I named “Wall-E.” Fun!
Did another portrait of my beloved bike! LOL
Update September 19 2018
I was made aware of a fender upgrade a fellow FB group member made to his bike using the Topeak DeFender FX Bicycle Fender he purchased. Although designed for use on the front of a MTB, he modified it to use as an inner fender to keep muck off of his rear shock linkage and shock. Although further down in this post I had done the same, I like the aesthetics of his better since it follows the line of the tire. Anyway I decided to purchase the same unit to improve the look of my beloved Sur Ron. And while doing so I made some modifications of my own….
Update September 13 2018
I have assembled a downloadable PDF that lists the equipment I’ve changed or added to my Sur Ron along with links to those items. You can download the v2.0 PDF here -> Sur Ron Modification parts v2.0
Sur Ron Seat
A few months ago I recall being very interested in the Sur Ron X that appeared on the Sur Ron China site. Two of the new improvements which were of particular interest to me; the X Controller with a Sine wave, regenerative braking and an improved seat. There were other new improvements which were of little interest to me. Subsequent to the announcement I happened to be one of the lucky 50 in the USA who obtained the X Controller and in my view it is all that it was touted to be.
I never heard anything more about the new and improved seat. So many of the people I converse with through a group complained about the OEM seat; too hard, too narrow, hurts the ass much more quickly than the battery runs dry. And to each of those complaints I wholeheartedly (or assly) agree. So I decided to purchase one of the $35.00 OEM seats Luna had listed on their site. My plan was to use the extra seat as a form for Corbin in Hollister, CA. I’ve used Corbin in the past for motorcycle seats and they are true craftsmen. So my thought was to take the seat down there and have them make a custom seat. I know it would not be inexpensive, but for me it would be worth the price.
When I got the OEM seat from Luna I wasn’t sure if it was wishful thinking and seeing, but it appeared that the new seat was thicker and of a slightly different shape than the one which came on my Sur Ron. “Naw Mark, you’re just wishful thinking……” or was I?
So I decided to measure the seat, the width, the thickness and the shape. And guess what!!??? It is thicker and of a different shape. So I can only surmise that the new OEM seat being sold by Luna is the NEW X SEAT that comes on that model! YIPPEEE!
The real test though was my seat of the pants test. By no means is this scientific, but according to my ass the seat is a HUGE IMPROVEMENT. I rode my normal route which is about 13 miles. Normally when I get home my ass is sore, specifically the part that is three inches on each side of my crack. It aches and if I continue to ride it becomes painful after about 10 more miles. So in those instances I take a break and get off the bike. With the new seat my anal cleft and surrounding fleshy parts didn’t hurt AT ALL after the 13 mile ride.
Will I have a Corbin Seat made now? Nope. This is the best 35 bucks I’ve spent on my Sur Ron. My ass thanks me and a happy ass means riding longer!
Update September 4 2018
OK so up front I want to say that what I install on my bike are almost always attachment points that are temporary and don’t alter the stock form of the Sur Ron. I don’t like to drill, grind or do anything to the body work or frame. It’s just my personal preference.
I use the following items only when I am riding on the street to run errands which makes the tedium of errands fun for me. But if I am riding on a bike path or exclusively off road I remove the turn indicator. Off road only I remove both which only takes about 3 minutes in total to remove or reinstall.
I use hand signals and eye contact when changing lanes or turning/stopping.
Having ridden motorcycles on the street I just don’t feel good about not watching what goes on behind me, especially at a stop sign or signal. So for me a mirror was a must for the street errands. The turn indicator was just something I found that seems ‘ok’ and was cheap and easy to install and uninstall. YMMV, but I thought I’d just pass this along.
Update August 29 2018 – Luna Cycle Sur Ron Bash Guard
I recently purchased Luna’s custom fabricated bash guard for my bike. In the old days when I raced motocross and desert, in some of my bike’s configurations the exhaust header exited downward. In other cases they exited upward. So when I would land ‘wrong’ the bash plate would dent the header pipe and never crack the cases. Sure a bent header pipe is crummy, but much better than a cracked case with oil spilling out all over. As well as the inevitable wrenching and money.
But with the Sur Ron there aren’t any exhaust headers! But there is a bash plate. The stocker is made out of steel and by my mic measurements is 2.16mm thick weighing 0.8 pounds. It is also easy to flex both laterally and horizontally by hand. As of this writing I have NOT hit the stock bash guard hard enough to severely dent or bend the unit. What concerns me was just on the other side of the bash guard is the electric motor. And unlike the dirt bikes I’ve owned in the good old ‘vintage’ days bikes had double cradle tube frames which would somewhat protect the engine cases along with their bash guards, the Sur Ron does not. There is one tube that runs laterally under the engine, but that’s it.
So a direct hit with enough force onto the bash plate ‘may’ crack the engine case. I say ‘may’ because I don’t know for sure and certainly don’t want to test that theory! I am not an expert on stressing metal, so I have no expertise in that area. And how/where/what one strikes the bash plate with, along with how much force/weight will also determine a failure rate. That much I do know.
Luna’s custom stainless steel bash plate is just about the same thickness as the stocker in my measurements, 2.13mm. The weight is significantly different at 1.93 pounds, a full 1.13 pounds heavier than the stocker. Some of you may think “Well sure they added the right side engine protection panel.” True, but even though I didn’t measure its thickness, the side panel is definitely thinner than the actual bash plate. I’d estimate about half the thickness.
I was NOT able to flex the Luna guard at all by hand like I could with the stocker. I would estimate that the Luna model could easily take twice the impact of the stocker without bending. I have no idea how much force it would take to dent the Luna guard enough to damage the engine. Again that would depend on so many factors; the speed of impact, the concentration at the point of impact, the weight of the rider, on and on and on.
The Tig welds are well done and the shininess of the unit is less than I had anticipated. I contemplated painting the Luna guard black to match the bike, but after installation I’m not so sure. So I’ll leave it its native stainless for a bit and decide later.
Which leads me to…
You must reuse the fender nuts that are attached to the stocker. (Fender nuts is one of the terms for those types of nuts with housings) The bitch of the installation is the Luna guard is NOT extremely accurate in alignment with the attachment points. I installed three of the four bolts into the frame/fender nuts and DID NOT TIGHTEN THEM DOWN. I simply started the threads in each to hold their places. The first one was easy. The second on the same side (I started on the cool engine guard side, the right side) took me having to use an awl to line up the holes before inserting the bolt.
On the left side of the bike I had to do the very same awl alignment to insert the top screw. And then came the bottom left bolt…..resulting in Mark’s 6/10 cussing level of frustration. Huffing and puffing, cussing at Eric, cussing at the Sur Ron, cussing at life and FINALLY I lined up the holes and rushed to put the final bolt into the hole. Guess what? It slipped back. Fuck! But I finally got them all in.
I would have liked to see both sides of the engine protected. This side, the left side is where I often ground down the cases on my racing bikes. But heck I guess if I didn’t fall, I would not have needed a guard…LOL.
So do I think the Luna guard is worth the 85.00 plus shipping and tax? For me it is because I ride on paths, roads, off-road and in OHV parks. Considering a new stock engine for this thing is currently 650.00, 85.00 insurance is worth it to me. Would I buy the guard if I only road in the street or on paths…nope. Sure you can always hit the plate on a curb, but that seems unlikely.
I’m glad they made this, as I feel the engine has a better level of protection. Will I paint it black or remove it again? Doubtful…unless I feel like cussing some more! Hahahahaha.
Comparing the Sur Ron to KTMs and Altas
Recently I have seen and read articles written by a number of users comparing the Sur Ron to KTM gas 350s, Alta MXR electrics, and KTM SX-E Freerides electrics. They are entertaining to read and it led me to realize that the reason people are comparing a $3495.00 electric dirt bike to $8000+ motorcycles is because Sur Ron has developed a new segment in EV bikes. There really aren’t other bikes to compare it to. Sure there have been kids off road gas motorcycles for years. Heck we used them as pit bikes at Laguna, Thunderhill, Sears Point and Buttonwillow. (some of those track names have changed, but I refuse to use them…LOL) The closest bikes like the Neematic, The CAKE are currently all vaporware AND TWICE TO THREE TIMES THE PRICE OF THE SUR RON!
A guy named Grantland contacted me to ask if he could try my Sur Ron. I NEVER let people ride my motorcycles, but made an exception for him since he was seriously considering purchasing his own. Like me he had only read about them which doesn’t really prepare you for what it’s like to ride one. And just as important to see the build quality of the unit. His question to me through his excited grin after his test ride, “Mark, why doesn’t everyone own one? OMG they are great!”
Yeah I know……he bought his own too.
Adam Emanuel Brennan posted this valuable Sur Ron chain length information for various sprocket sizes:
104 links 42T
106 links 48T
108 links 52T
112 links 58T
Thank you Adam!
I can verify that the RK 420 chain 110 link, fits the Sur Ron sprocket well. I purchased this chain to use with the Super Moto with pedal kit rather than the chain Luna Cycle provides with the SM kit. The SM kit does NOT anticipate being used with the pedal kit option. Also the cost of the chain (because it is not an o ring chain) is very inexpensive. I plan to purchase another one to use with a chain breaker if I need additional links for other applications.
Luna Cycle Sur-Ron Super Moto Conversion Kit Review
I recently purchased the optional Moto Kit from Luna. I like the option to change the personality of this fantastic bike from dirt to street. For $419.95 excluding tax and shipping I felt it to be a crazy good deal. It’s supplied with tires, rims, and spacers for the front rim, a rear sprocket and 203mm brake rotors on both wheels. They also include a chain to fit the 42t sprocket that comes with the set. Having purchased motorcycles and their associated parts my entire life, I estimate that this ‘ready to go kit’ would have cost me around 700 bucks if I assembled it myself. Not to mention the time it would take me to research where/what/how to source all of the stuff. So I made the plunge since it was a no brainer….
It’s pretty straight forward with a few caveats which will depend on how your Sur Ron is set up. On mine I have the pedal kit installed and for many personal reasons I love it. BUT the chain supplied with the Moto Kit does NOT contemplate having a pedal kit installed. It’s short by about two 420 chain links. The reality is no one but I will probably want the pedal kit installed with the Moto Kit. But for any other oddball who have the pedals, be forewarned that the supplied chain won’t fit. I didn’t try the stock chain to see if it would fit, but it may…..hum.
The rims size for both front and rear are 17” compared to the 19” stockers. It makes the profile of the bike shorter. Because of that the kickstand props the bike much more vertical than with the stock 19ers. Just keep that in mind. The kickstand still works well, but you’ll need to be mindful of where/what /how you park the bike because of the increase in vertical angle.
The other factor to be aware of is the tires come deflated, unlike the knobby tires that came on my bike. I measured tire pressure of 5 PSI for both the front and rear tires before I installed them onto the bike. In the package with the chain are two spacers for the front rim/tire combination. Others have said theirs came zip tied to the rim. For the rear rim/tire you simply reuse the stock rear wheel spacers.
My front tire was manufactured in March 2017 according to the tire’s date of manufacture mark.
Inflation recommendation for the front is 32 PSI measured while the tire is cold.
My rear tire was manufactured in August 2017
Recommended tire pressure is 36 PSI measured while the tire is cold.
Something I noticed after installing the rear rim/tire is the brake line is way too close to the tire/rim. I believe this is due to the smaller diameter of the rim over the stock 19ers.
Resolving this is very simple, just use a zip tie to attach the brake line to the swing arm and it’s all sorted.
Riding and Performance
Once everything was installed I took my bike out for a test ride. Because my former team mates and I installed racing slicks and new brake pads every race, I’m familiar with how to bed in brake pads and new rubber. BE VERY CAREFUL when you go out for your first run. The pads on your bike are bedded for the 19 inch discs and need to be re bedded to the new Moto rotors. Lightly press on each brake as you ride. Heating pad/disc evenly is important to obtain a great bite and feel on brakes. Also the whole thing you see where people are ‘weaving ‘back and forth does not break in tires. Accelerating and braking is what does. Don’t go full bore and then slam on the brakes. Get up to about 30 MPH, then gently squeeze the brakes which will heat up the carcass of the tire to remove any molding release agents. Keep doing that for about 20 repetitions and remember that the edges of your tires must be warmed as well.
The ride of the Moto kit is remarkable. It’s so much smoother than the stock knobbies, which they should be! It may be my imagination but the rate of acceleration with the Moto kit ‘feels’ stronger, perhaps due to my removal of the pedal kit. I did NOT attempt to corner like I did on a racetrack, getting my knee down in turns! The Sur Ron is NOT a sport bike by any means, but I believe this kit was developed to modify the bike into a super motard type of ride. So yes I did power slide the rear end like a super motard is meant to do. We use to call that ‘backing it in’ and it felt controlled and stable. Who’s this kit for? I believe people who will primarily ride their Sur Ron on the street, obviously. And for those folks this is a great way to transform an already remarkable piece of hardware into a fun street hooligan … and for not much cash.
X Controller Update 8-18-18
So today I opted to remove my moped plate and ride as an “ebike” to visit Joe and Luis, the two fellas of Motostrano in Redwood City. Motostrano is where I purchased my Haibike Fullnine RC “Sofia” as I named her back in 2016. And yes I still ride her regularly, she’s not to be ignored…LOL. I wanted to ride to Joe’s shop in a combination of bike path/on public roads to see how the X performs in regenerative braking and charging. Unlike my prior test the Sur Ron was fully charged to 100%. When Wall-E is fully charged I always start off in EP mode. Why? Well I am aware that the X controller does not have the ability to discontinue regenerative charging during deceleration even if the battery is at 100% capacity. This ‘could‘ damage the battery, the engine or both. So I travel about 2-3 miles in EP mode to bring the charge down to 95-97% just to play it safe.
Today’s combined dirt/public road journey was 15.9 miles round trip with a top speed of 38 MPH. Both of those stats are from the Sur Ron display since I did not use the GPS app on my phone. The route I took today was relatively flat as well. At no time did I use full throttle during this ride.
One of the things I noticed about riding on the street is I tend to NOT rush toward a stop and then chop the throttle. So getting off the throttle smoothly and early resulted in me slowing down much more quickly and well before the intersections. I had to give a little throttle to reach the intersections! LOL This indicated to me just how strong the X’s engine braking affects the bike. I was riding on the stock tires as I have not yet changed to the Moto kit.
Upon returning home my battery indicated a remaining charge of 61%. I’ll continue to post my finding about the X and the Sur Ron.
Sur Ron X Controller Review 8-17-18
This will be an ongoing post for the X Controller. I was completely intrigued by the Luna Cycle X Controller, especially after Matt Richard’s video review of the unit. I respect Matt and his reviews so I ordered one right away. Apparently Luna had only 50 of the controllers. Sur Ron is hesitant to import more to the USA for reasons unknown to me. At the time of this post they are currently sold out of the units and don’t have an ETA or when or if they will return.
Matt also created an installation video of the X Controller which is excellent. I did not follow his instructions to flip the bike upside down, but instead decided to leave the bike upright on a rear tire stand. I just felt it was a better solution for me.
One of the steps I feel is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY whether or not you keep your bike upright or on its back is to remove the battery. You will be disconnecting the main wiring of the controller and motor so you certainly do NOT want anything to arc or short out.
Almost all of the terminal connections on the X are the same as on the stock controller with the exception of one of the connectors. On the stock controller the smallest connector is not connected to anything and contains a blank socket. On the X controller there is a small triangular shaped connector that will not be connected to anything. I surmise that it may be for a future upgrade from Sur Ron. I simply placed electrical tape over the socket to try to prevent any moisture/debris from entering.
The Red, Green, Yellow, Positive and Negative terminal are clearly marked on the X Controller.
X is on the right, the stock controller is on the left
The X controller with the small triangular plug which does not connect to anything
The stock controller’s small non connected plug with a blank inserted.
I taped over the X controller’s triangular plug.
All buttoned up and ready for the test ride.
Luna makes the following claims for the new X Controller
- 25% increased power from the stock controller
- 10% increase in top speed
- Smoother, more linear power band
- Regenerative braking.
- ($220 trade in for old sur ron controller)
- Plug and play installation (max 20minutes)
So let’s take these one at a time….
25% increased power from the stock controller – TRUE
Because I have no ability to test the increase in power on a dyno (nor do I think anyone has as of this writing) I cannot say objectively that the increase is specifically 25%. What I can say and attest to is my seat of the pants experience. Prior to the X I had installed the 60t Luna sprocket. Prior to its installation, I was happy, but not thrilled with the torque of the Sur Ron. It was good, but I wanted more grunt down low for the type of riding I enjoy. Installing the 60t over the stock 48t provided me with the amount of low end grunt I wanted. Sure I lost about 15 MPH of top end, but my riding is primarily in the dirt on climbs and so losing the top end didn’t bother me much. Instead of the claimed 45 MPH I could only attain 42 MPH according to the Sur Ron display. LOL, as if 42 MPH on a 110 pound bike is slow, yeah right.
I had the 60t sprocket installed on my bike when the X arrived. After installation I took it for a test spin. Holy Shit! The increase in power of the X combined with the 60t sprocket was too much for my taste. Now some will ask “How can too much power be a bad thing?” I’m all about control of power, not brute power. So I switched back to the 48t and thought “OMG this is the PERFECT combination for me, the torque of the 60t with the top end of the stock sprocket.” So my seat of the pants assessment, absolutely it has a 25% increase. Maybe more like a 30% seat of the pants increase.
10% increase in top speed – TRUE
I have the pedal kit installed so I feel that the extra drag created by that kit reduces the actual top speed compared to a non-pedal kit bike. Before installing the X I could attain 42 MPH. With the X I could achieve 47 MPH. That’s a 12% increase. I have started to use a phone app that tracks speed using GPS positioning. At the time I saw 47 MPH on the Sur Ron’s display my GPS app showed 43 MPH. So the Sur Ron’s may be off a bit, but that does not mean the top speed didn’t increase with the X.
Smoother, more linear power band – TRUE
For me this may be the best part of the X. Prior to it, whenever I started increasing the throttle the bike would slightly ‘lurch’ forward. Not dangerously so, but it would not be smooth. And I have always prided myself on great throttle control skills based on my race training. With the X controller, taking off from a dead stop is now like a fine car….smooth as silk. And the power curve? Again, no dyno, but seat of the pants assessment is it is linear all the way up to about 80% of maximum throttle. That is where the power levels off. It does not shut down completely; it’s just not ‘pulling’ strongly at that point. The stock controller has a big initial jump, then levels off at about 30% throttle, and levels off again toward 75%. It becomes completely flat after that.
Why is smooth linear power so important to me? Well I ride single-track and places where there is loose gravel or dirt on top of hard pack. And when there is pavement it is often covered with silt or dirt. Getting on the pipe when on surfaces like this can lead to the rear end sliding, overshooting a turn, a myriad of unexpected stuff if throttle input is not smooth. Imagine having an early generation turbo engine or a two stroke bike. There is a flat spot and then all of a sudden the power comes on. This is an exaggeration of the stock Sur Ron, but it helps illustrate the difference between stock and the X. Throttle input is strong, smooth and predictable with the X. Much more so than with the stock controller.
In some ways I feel that presents a safer situation than the stock controller, ESPECIALLY the stock controller paired with the 60t sprocket. Because the power delivery is much more abrupt with the stock one, the torque hit of the 60t can be surprising. This is NOT to say the stocker is dangerous, just less predictable than the X. Enough said.
Regenerative braking – TRUE
I’m going to combine regenerative braking and engine braking here which is something Luna does not mention. In terms of engine braking for those who have not ridden a regular 4 stroke motorcycle, imagine you’re driving your car. You are approaching a stop light and remove your foot from the accelerator. At that very instant you shift your automatic transmission to “N” for Neutral. What you would feel is the car NOT slowing down, but coasting fast, much faster than you want. THAT is how the stock Sur Ron feels with the normal controller, no engine braking. Basically the compression of gasoline powered cylinders doesn’t slow you down, which is the nature of electric motors. NOW with the X – that feeling, that physical action of engine braking HAPPENS.
What it creates is a more ‘natural’ feeling, one most of us associate when we lift/turn our throttles off, not coasting, but SLOWING. The X accomplishes that in spades. On downhill sections, approaching a stop; letting off the throttle SLOWS YOU DOWN without the need to apply the brakes.
Doing so then regenerates the battery pack. I did not measure the voltage (like Matt demonstrates in his great video) during my tests. BUT what was apparent is on the very same 17.4 mile loop going approximately the same speeds, in the same wind/topography conditions – here are my very unscientific battery readings:
- 100% charge at start
- 17.4 mile loop
- 3 miles of full throttle
- Combination of dirt/pavement riding
- Battery reading upon returning home: 48%
- 96% charge at start
- 17.4 mile loop
- 3 miles of full throttle
- Combination of dirt/pavement riding
- Battery reading upon returning home: 52%
($220 trade in for old sur ron controller) – Unknown but TRUE
I have not sent mine in, so I cannot attest to this being true. HOWEVER I have NO DOUBT that Luna honors what it says. And what for me is even more important? Honoring early adopters by offering a trade in amount….unheard of in my world! Bravo!
Plug and play installation (max 20 minutes) – Nope not for me!
So Matt’s video shows him installing the X with little to NO issues. Well…. That’s fine for him, but not for me. I had a hell of a time removing the wiring connectors from the neck of the bike. Yes I removed the tip over switch bracket, but the damn horn was in the way. And when I tried to unloosen the hex bolt to the horn bracket it was so tight I just gave up! So I pushed the horn to one side and was finally able to work the wiring connections free from the neck of the bike. Whew! In total it took me about an hour to complete the job. And my cussing scale was 8/10, mostly at Matt for making it look so fucking easy! LOL
This is certainly not my last or only post about the X. It will be ongoing as will my experience with the Sur Ron. I do NOT want anyone to get the impression that the bike is shit without the X! Far from it. The Sur Ron is a REMARKABLE bike, an INCREDIBLE value. The X Controller takes it to a different level in terms of smoothness, power, engine braking, and regenerative charging for 270.00 with the 220.00 trade in! Insane!
Unfortunately as I write this they are sold out. And Luna has stated that they are unsure if Sur Ron will supply more of them to the US. If true that’s sad because it’s wonderful upgrade to an already incredible machine. IF they are offered again, don’t be ‘that person’ and ‘wait’ just buy one!
Update August 13 2018
I belong to a small Sur Ron Light Bee group and wrote up how to bleed the brake system on the bike. I debated over posting it here, but decided that some may want to know. So here you go!
Bleeding Sur Ron Brakes
- My GF: “Babe I made you some lunch…wait what are you doing? I thought you JUST worked on your brakes!”
- ME: “Yeah I did but that guy Matt wanted to know how to do it so I told him I’d post a how to.”
- My GF: “You must really like this guy!”
- Me: “He’s the one with that adorable little daughter.”
- My GF: “Ah no wonder you’re doing this. OK lunch is ready.”
First and foremost I HATE when people try to tell me how to do something. Or worse they feel THEIR WAY is the BEST WAY. So I’m posting this to tell you how I do it. How you do it is up to you.
If you don’t want to do a full bleed, a simple way I maintain my brakes is to just remove the top mushroom screw, insert the plastic syringe into the hole, fill it about halfway with oil and pump the lever. As time goes on the bubbles move upward toward the brake lever and they’re easy to remove with this method. Up to you. Just be sure to adjust your brake lever so that it’s level to the ground and you’ve turned your handlebars so that the respective lever is higher than the lowest part of the brake line.
Here is the kit I purchased to work on my MTB and Sur Ron brakes:
I always remove the brake pads from the calipers no matter what I’m working on. Dirt bikes, MTB bikes, on road race bikes. I never want any contamination of the fluids to hit the pads or rotors.
- Step one is to remove calipers from the fork leg and the rear swing arm. I think it’s a 5mm hex but I can’t remember. Easy.
- Remove the pads from the calipers. Just use a number 15 Torx and unscrew the pin that holds the pads in the caliper. You’ll need to remove the small retaining safety clip on the end of that threaded pin. BE SURE TO INSERT A BRAKE PAD BLOCK INTO THE CALIPER!
Unlike motorcycle master cylinders the Sur Ron’s are tiny. Hence they use tiny screws too. On motorcycles I would draw the fluid from the top down. With the Sur Ron I push fluid from the bottom up. I like it better since it moves air bubbles up rather than down.
- Pick which brake you want to bleed first. Loosen the brake handlebar 5mm bolt and adjust the lever so that it is level with the ground. You should turn the handlebar to the right all the way if you’re working on the left brake. This will allow the brake line to be as high as possible.
- In this case go to the back caliper and remove the teeny tiny 15 Torx screw which is the ‘bleed’ screw. Don’t worry if mineral oil starts to leak out. Place one of the threaded hose fittings (the one that fits from the kit I use) into the bleed port on the caliper. Attach the hose. Fill the syringe ¾ of the way with mineral oil and attach it to the fitting.
- Undo the very small mushroom screw and place an empty syringe into the opening. Be careful to notice if the rubber washer is on the screw or left in the threaded hole. Place the non-threaded syringe into the hole.
- Go back to the caliper and start compressing the syringe with the ¾ amount of oil. You will see the syringe on the brake handle start to fill and you will see bubbles too. That’s what causes the mushy feeling when you brake. Stop when you have about ¼ inch of mineral oil left in the caliper syringe.
- Then pull the oil back through the line by drawing the caliper syringe back until the one on the brake handle is about 4mm from the bottom. Reverse the procedure and again push the mineral oil back into the line.
- Doing this removes more bubbles than just doing it once. Once that’s done place the pushing rod slightly into the top of the brake lever syringe. Not too much, it’s just to keep the fluid from flowing out of the caliper fitting once you remove that syringe.
- Remove the syringe, nipple and replace the bleed bolt.
- Use the caliper syringe to suck out the majority of fluid out of the brake handle syringe after removing its plunger.
- Replace the mushroom bolt, do NOT over tighten.
- Wipe down everything with a rag and alcohol. (Not the kind you drink) The caliper, the brake handle, anything that has oil on it.
- Remove the brake pad block and reinstall the brake pads and be sure to align the spreading spring properly as to NOT be in front of the brake pads.
- Reinstall the caliper. I use Blue Loctite on the threads.
- Remove the mushroom screw and reinsert the plastic syringe without its plunger.
- Fill it halfway with mineral oil.
- Pump the handle. This is to remove any remaining bubbles. If some remain, you will see them rise up from the brake handle. Do this for about three minutes.
- Reinstall the mushroom screw and adjust your brake lever to where you like the angle.
The brake levers are also adjustable for reach, although it may not be readily apparent. Using a 2mm hex wrench you can adjust the reach to be further or closer to the handlebar with this small screw:
Update August 11 2018
I recently purchased and am awaiting the Super Moto kit from Luna Cycle. I have also changed from the 60t sprocket back to the stock 48t sprocket since I have also ordered the new X Controller which offers more torque, top speed, engine braking and regenerative charging! During the sprocket change I noticed that the pedal kit I have installed was coming apart. The pedal kit is the weakest link in the build quality of the Sur Ron and is actually a poor build. It is basically a tube that gets bolted to the frame. A rod runs through the tube and is held in place by two screwed in caps on each end. No bearings, no shims, just a hole on each side. The sprocket itself that turns does have a bearing. But because the end caps are just ‘large threaded washers’ the play of the rod is quite large. What this means is that the chain tension varies as the pedal sprocket turns because the rod has so much free play. Much like a motorcycle whose sprockets or chain are worn, the tension varies depending on where the pedal kit through rod is in its varied position. Not good.
When I got my bike which had the pedal kit installed, I noticed that the chain tension was very tight. MUCH tighter than I’d ever have on my motorcycles. I had read and been advised by other owners of the Sur Ron that the bike didn’t need to have chain slack like a regular motorcycle. The opinion of one owner: “Because of the jack shaft, the chain tension does not change through the entire motion of swing arm travel. Thus the chain can be tight and it will keep it from flapping. The fact that there is no chain guide confirms this. I run my SurRon snug and my motorcycles proper loose.”
Well intended, but what I found in my actual experience is by loosening the chain to allow play of about a 1/2 inch either up or down in the middle of the chain, it provided me with seat of the pants torque equivalent to the 60t sprocket compared to the stock 48! Yes THAT LARGE OF A DIFFERENCE. Better acceleration, higher top end, just by allowing more play in the chain than it’s been since delivery. Whether or not the ‘jack shaft’ location has anything to do with the chain becoming more tight or more loose as the swing arm compresses, my recommendation is that having some play in your chain is well worth trying. Some without the pedal kit installed recommend 5/8″ play. Your own mileage may vary, but give it a try.
For the poorly designed and executed pedal kit; I may look into bearings which will fit the ID of the pedal tube and the OD of the shaft. That would solve the poor tolerance issues.
Update August 8 2018
Luna Cycle asked Matt Richards to test their new X Controller for the Sur Ron. This is the YouTube video which show the results which are very impressive. It is expected to be released by Luna later this month. Once I have the chance to test the controller I will post my findings here. Stay tuned, but this bike just gets better and better and better! I have begun to use my Sur Ron on the street since it is now licensed and insured as a moped in California. Formerly mundane errands are now fun not to mention saving wear and tear on my car. Make no mistake, my primary use for the Sur Ron is off-road and now with a valid CA Plate it is legal at all CA OHV parks too! To have it serve as a dual sport electric bike is incredible!
I have also ordered Luna’s Sur-Ron Super Moto Conversion Kit which will be delivered later this month. I plan a full test and review on that road option as well.
Update July 11 2018
My motorcycle pal Chris sent me this screen grab of an article about the evolution of technology and how that relates to motorcycles and now ebikes. Very cool that it specifically mentions the Sur Ron Light Bee.
Update July 9 2018
Not really an update on the bike, but had fun jumping Wall-E yesterday until something went wrong that I cannot remember because I got knocked out for 45 seconds. And for those who think I’m silly to have mounted a first aid kit to the front forks, this is the reason why. Not my first concussion on a bike, but the first for the Sur Ron. At least I didn’t get airlifted to a trauma center after crashing at 145 MPH in turn 10 at Thunderhill Raceway! LOL. No one saw the actual crash, but I must have gone over the bars. The only damage really was the right foot pedal arm got a bit bent and the right bracket of the Fisher FabHouse headlight got a bit tweaked. Other than that no damage. I think that because the mass of the Sur Ron is so low (110 pounds) damage is low during a crash. Kinda like when I crash my mountain bike, little damage occurs….
I certainly look much worse than the bike…thank goodness as I was too handsome anyway! LOL!!!!!
Update July 8, 2018
When I was riding street bikes one of the most used features of the tank bag on my bikes were the bungee cords on the top of the tank bag. It was so convenient to shove my gloves under the little black cords or clothing I wanted to shed when the weather turned warm. So I decided to fabricate something similar on my Sur Ron (Wall-E as he’s been named….)
The tough part was figuring out how to mount everything. My workflow is to NOT permanently alter things by drilling or cutting native materials. Wall-E’s ‘tank’ is plastic and I could have easily placed eye hooks through the plastic by drilling into the cover and bolting the other end from the inside. But I opted instead to use hooks to secure the bungee cords. The first issue I had is what the hell are those flat kinda hooks called? Well they’re known as ‘gutter hooks’ and I found the ones I needed through Wolfman luggage. (The same company who I purchased an off road tank bag for Wall-E BTW) Then in examining the slope and angle of Wall-E’s battery cover, I determined that I’d need to secure the top gutter hooks to the plastic by using some sort of tensioning strap. I decided upon some Reusable Fastening Cable Straps off of Amazon specifically the 18” one. I bought the bungee cord and tightening lock from REI.
I simply ran four zip ties through the gutter hooks and then crossed the bungee through the zip ties. I had originally thought about just running the bungee through the gutter hook slots, but they are too narrow and would not allow the bungee to smoothly slide. On the back gutter hooks, I securely attached two other zip ties to keep the ones I used for the bungee cord from moving back and forth.
What I really like about this set up is that I can still see the battery indicator and lift the plastic cover to remove the battery if needed. And since it’s always on Wall-E if I stop somewhere to grab a sandwich, or need to shed clothing I can simply stuff it under the bungee contraption……score! And a final convenience is I can leave this on the bike even when I’m using my Wolfman tank bag! (I have a photo of that bag and a link to it down toward the bottom of the post.)
Update: July 1 2018
Update: June 27 2018
This posting appears with my permission on ElectricMotorcycle.com
Today I installed the Luna Cycle 60t stainless steel sprocket. My desire for more lower end torque over top end prompted me to purchase one of Eric’s units. Went on easy as can be. My only concern is that the included chain extension takes the chain adjusting screws to almost the end of their reach. Not a big deal, but I will probably remove a link to keep the rear axle in the middle of the adjustment range. The added torque down low changes the personality of the Sur Ron more to my personal taste. Exiting a corner and the ability to climb steep hills has always been good, but now it’s great!
Tonight I wanted to see just how much the 60t sprocket reduced my top speed. (like I need ANY excuse to ride Christy!) Luna states that it will max out the top end at 28MPH. Another user stated he obtained a top speed of 32 MPH. Tonight I got 36 MPH measured via a GPS app on flat ground. The hill climbing with the larger sprocket is incredible especially for a bike this small and this light. For what I use my bike for anything over 30 MPH is plenty. My top track speed on my RC51 was 168 MPH so if I want top end I’ll ride that bike! LOL
I’m not sure what the angle degree it is to get up to this spot, but it’s easily over 30 degrees. No question if the Sur Ron would climb this hill, not even a slight hesitation. Remarkable.
I am pleased with the modifications I’ve done to my Sur Ron. I added a First Aid kit to the front. Why? If you’ve never crashed while riding alone in a remote area then you have no experience in being injured and alone. Enough said. I continue to be impressed with the Sur Ron and plan to mount the 60t rear sprocket I purchased from Luna next week. Don’t need top end, need more torque…. Stay tuned. The fenders work very well to keep mud from being flung onto the controller and the rear linkage and shock body. One definite improvement I’d like to see either Sur Ron or a third party make happen…a better seat! I tend to ride an average of 20-25 miles at a time and man my ass hurts! I’m not a big fella nor do I have a big ass, but the seat makes my ass hurt. Even when I wear bike shorts with padding! And if you think it’s because I have a peddle kit, think again grasshopper! LOL
After….(my mods to make her my own)
I realize this is my photography site. But I like to post things I’m passionate about and two wheeled vehicles DEFINITELY fit in that category. They have occupied my thoughts and activities my entire life. So for you photographers looking for my latest assessment of a strobe, modifier or something similar, keep moving along. And for the two wheel crowd who are visiting and wondering WTF is a photographer doing posting about the Sur Ron Light Bee on this site? Life isn’t about just one thing is it? And like my photography posts this is all about Paying it Forward. The experiences I’ve had and the modifications I’ve made to “Christy” are to enhance my use of the Light Bee and may not apply to your needs/uses. But if some of what I’ve done helps others, so much the better.
So before getting into my impressions of the build quality, performance and value of the Light Bee and Luna Cycle’s customer service, I’m going to post a bit of my background. I’ve ridden two wheeled motorized vehicles almost all of my life. I’ve raced motocross, TT and long haul desert events. Saddleback Park (RIP), Barstow to Vegas twice, Carlsbad, and Indian Dunes were just a few of the places my dirt bike days covered. Roger De Coster, Brad Lackey, Charlie Bower were my dirt bike heroes. I owned a Yamaha DT125, a Penton 125, a Bultaco Pursang (250) and a Maico 250 with leading link front forks. On road courses I campaigned a Honda RC51 1000cc vtwin. I belonged to Keigwins at the Track and was one of their original instructors. Laguna Seca, Buttonwillow, Thunderhill and Sears Point were our venues for both track days and training racetrack tactics.
As I aged I finally surmised I’d never contend in World Superbike and felt that my reaction times had gotten to the point where I may endanger my fellow racers so I stopped racing. Chasing a mid-level AMA racer and crashing in turn three at Laguna and then a helicopter ride to the Enloe Trauma Center in Chico after crashing at Thunderhill Raceway convinced me. I still did track time for a year and a half after that chopper ride though…..
And street riding, well I loved it in the early days, but after 28,000 miles of track riding/racing it just no longer appealed to me. So I got into mountain biking because I missed the ‘offroad life’ and bought a Specialized Hard Tail with Rock Shock forks. It was sure fun, but I missed the tinkering and fabricating a ‘real’ motorized two wheeled ride offered me. So I began looking into eMTBs and bought a Haibike Fullnine RC in 2016 from Motostrano in Redwood City. I’ve written a post about my experience with “Sofia” in another post on this site. You can read that here.
I wanted a ‘bit more’ in terms of speed and power so I started researching other ebikes. Not necessarily legal either…. I found two possible bikes, one made right here in San Francisco called The Bolt (which has now changed to Monday Motorbikes and they have moved to SoCal). At the time it was not really available for sale. I’m not sure if it is now since their website is not very clear about sales only preorders. And I could find very little non marketing material by real users of the bike. Plus the bike is really designed for street riding. And if I’m going to do that I would just use my now street legal RC51. But again, I’m not keen on street riding anymore. ESPECIALLY with all of the fuck heads who think texting is OK because they can multi task. Bullshit. Let’s play slap face texting. You text on your fucking phone while I slap your face and let’s see just how quick you can react to block my hand. Enough said.
The other bike that was VERY intriguing to me is the Neematic. A trellis frame, 50MPH top end and ‘seems’ well built. But at 8500 Euros and still vaporware I didn’t have much hope for the bike actually being produced in quantities that would actually hit US shores. And as of this blog post (June 2018) I still cannot determine if it’s being produced. And no actual user reviews of the unit…..bad. Not really much new marketing materials either…..suspicious.
I cannot recall how I happened upon the Sur Ron Firefly as it was called when I first happened upon it. But I sure as hell am glad I did!
The Meat and Potatoes
OK so like you I searched a LOT on Google about the Sur Ron. Lots of video reviews were done and the ones I especially appreciated are from Homes Hobbies on YouTube. John (ahem he must get a LOT of shit about his name…LOL!) has such informative and useful information I highly respect his channel. The other resource I found helpful is by Sur-RonUSA and I’ve followed several of his recommendations on my own bike. I also researched Luna Cycle and had originally planned on flying down to LAX to visit their location. I grew up not far from LAX (Crenshaw) and know right where El Segundo is, but after reading TONS of information about the Sur Ron I opted to nix that idea. Why? Because reviews from actual users about both Luna and the Sur Ron convinced me to just pull the trigger. Eric and his crew at Luna seem like no nonsense, no bullshit fellas, the kind I like. As a matter of fact Eric reminds me of Paul Buff, a guy who doesn’t give a good hot shit about what established makers think of what he’s doing. He seem to only care about innovation and quality, much like Paul (may he rest in peace). And like Paul he has built his own company albeit a bit smaller and younger than PCB.
I can tell that Luna is a young and growing firm, having the same growing pains all young companies experience. But what instilled trust in me parting with 3500.00 USD plus tax and shipping was the level of response I received from his crew. And the other web posts that talked about his other products, those developed well before he became the sole US distributor for the Sur Ron. His video on the teardown of a Sur Ron was the final selling point. Having wrenched on Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki motorcycles has shown me how brands stand above and beyond each other. Small things like bosses welded into frame points rather than loose connectors are the small things that show build quality. The video and the fella’s comments illustrated that. And when I received my own Sur Ron I confirmed the quality of the build. It’s a Honda level quality build and that’s saying a fucking ton.
Shortly after I made my purchase I noticed that Luna had discounted the pre orders by 200.00. I wrote to them to ask if I could get that price. They responded immediately that my account was credited 250.00 for any future purchases. Again, excellent customer service, well done and timely.
Luna shipped my bike via FedEx Freight which is different than the way I normally received FedEx packages. I was told from Luna that the driver would contact me via phone to confirm a date/time when my bike would be delivered. As I waited for the day my bike showed it was to be delivered, I received no call. And their website never showed “Out for Delivery.” So I called FedEx and was transferred from the number I normally call to their Freight division. I was pissed when I was told that the bike which showed it was to be delivered on a Friday would not be delivered until the following Wednesday. As a young man I had the patience of a teenage male’s stiff dick and as a more elderly person now I have a little more patience….of a 28 year old hard on! LOL!!! Just be aware that when you get notification from Luna that FedEx has picked up your bike, CALL FedEx Freight. Their number is 866-393-4585, don’t call their normal package delivery number. Don’t just trust their website, call!
My Sur Ron was well packaged and included the installed Pedal Kit which I had ordered. As a matter of fact had Luna not offered the pedal kit I would not have purchased the unit. In reality the pedals don’t really do much to propel the bike forward. And of all the elements on the bike the rotating spline on the pedal kit is the weakest link. It is not well machine and has a significant amount of play while rotating. Why get the pedal kit at all? I’m not going to answer that for you, but it should be obvious why you’d want them…..enough said.
One of the YouTube videos I watched shows the guy cutting the shipping straps, but I found that they make handy tie downs so instead of cutting you may want to just untie the ends and release the buckles.
I suggest that you immediately remove the battery and begin the charging process. My Sur Ron arrived with an 83% charge in the battery.
I believe this is v2 of the charger. In Homes Hobbies video he mentions that Sur Ron had revised the charger from the one he received which I don’t believe had the fins or fan. This charger remains dead cold as it charges, as does the battery.
The Pedal Kit includes the pegs too, so not to worry. A simple tool kit is included which takes care of mounting the front wheel.
Luna’s Mountain bike pedals are nice large flat and studded pedals. One of the issues I found is on the left side of the pedal kit the threads are not reverse threaded meaning counter clockwise tightening. Since the pedals rotate counterclockwise on that side it can loosen the 14mm nut. I found that putting Blue Locktite thread locker on the nut/bolt thread helps prevent this. Also the two hex head bolts on the right side of the pedal kit must be tightened to get any friction on the pedals. Mine shipped loosely fastened.
The user guide refers to a ‘fuse box’ located in front of the ‘air switch’ and an extra fuse. I could not locate a fuse box or an extra fuse. I believe the air switch is a breaker switch, much like you have in a modern house.
In this shot the breaker switch is the red switch just below the ignition/USB plug. I’m not sure what the white connector is with the black electrical tape’s function is for the Sur Ron.
The suspension is damn impressive. Compression and rebound on both front and rear. I converted my RC51 to full Ohlins forks and shock just to get those features!
Compression for the front really works. Just adjust a click at a time.
Rebound on the same fork leg as the compression adjustments dial is located at the bottom of the right fork.
Rear shock’s compression damping is on the top of the remote reservoir. Rebound is located on the bottom. I’ve adjusted the spring preload. It comes fully extended, so adjust to your weight/riding preference.
During my first rides I had an issue where my Sur Ron would either cut off engine response to the throttle or not respond at all to the throttle when leaving my garage. The level of battery power varied anywhere between 100% to 70%. The lights and the display stayed on, just the response to power died. After writing to Luna it was suggested that it ‘may’ be the brake safety sensors. After contacting John Homes at Homes Hobbies he instructed me how to remove the brake cut off sensors. I removed the threaded collars that are just below the brake lines on each of the hand levers. I noticed that on the front brake (right) the very small set screw was backed very far out. I’m assuming that may have caused my no throttle issue. I have no idea how those sensors work, as they don’t seem to be pressure sensitive, but rather magnetic. In any event after removing the brake sensors I have not had any issues with the throttle not responding.
I replaced the sleeve bolts and filled them with Instamorph (BEST shit EVER!!!) to ensure moisture doesn’t get into the master cylinder levers.
These are the brake sensors in the levers. I could not locate any moving parts which may indicate they are magnetic sensors.
I found that both the rear and front brake lines were about 5 inches too long. So I shortened them to what I feel is the proper length so they don’t catch on brush or branches. Like mountain bike hydraulic disc brakes the Sur Ron uses Mineral Oil for hydraulic fluid. I have tons of that from changing my ebike brakes. Just use a sharp pair of cutters to cut the lines and buy some brake Olive and connector pieces. Bleed the brakes and you’re all set!
Removing the brake sensors and trimming the brake lines made Christy’s front end very tidy!
I also took the advice from one of the site’s I’ve listed to increase the height of the stem by simply reversing it upside-down. Doing so adds about an inch of reach at no cost. Very slick! The Quad Lock bracket simply holds my cell phone when I ride.
I like riding in the rain and the resulting mud. OK so I never outgrew the toddler phase of my life, so what?! LOL. But after racing off-road I know firsthand the toll packed mud can take on suspension or cooling fins. It’s never pretty. So I’ve installed a fender on the front of Christy and am installing a rear off-road shock guard to keep mud off of the shock body, linkage and spring.
Front Fender by Mud Hugger. Rear is fabricated by me. I simply took a 5.5 inch piece of 90 degree aluminum and cut/bolted it to the existing bosses on Christy’s swing arm. Just buy an addition 5mm x 12mm long bolt for the right side boss which is empty. I attached a Honda mud flap to finish the job.
I will be riding solitary most of the time. I don’t know others who own bikes like this so I feel it’s important to carry some basic tools with me along with a first aid kit. I use to tell students at the track, “Hey I know it’s fucking hot today. It’s fine to not wear your back protector. Just wear it when you know you’re going to crash!” The Sur Ron uses fasteners that are basically mountain bike nuts and bolts so I’ve lashed a multi tool pouch with a MTB multi tool to the right side seat frame.
And I plan to go on extended rides, sometimes at night. So I want to carry snacks or extra layers of clothing. So I simply bought an off road tank bag by Wolfman. It’s perfect for my needs and stays damn secure on Christy’s ‘tank.’ And yes that’s a water bottle on the right side of the frame. I hate wearing a backpack so I installed some removable boss fittings onto the frame to attach a water bottle cage. Does it stay secure? Yes it does!
What Luna and Sur Ron have here is what I consider to be an absolute winner. The build quality of the bike is incredible. I have no idea how either of those companies make a profit off of these bikes. The margins must be very slim. The fun factor is incredible and I’m sure there will be loads of performance upgrades.
In terms of performance upgrades I’m a real bitch about tire pressure, brake performance and suspension over horsepower. I had read somewhere that a user was going to change the stock Sur Ron brakes to Magura MT5s. I installed those on my eMTB, but I find the stock Sur Ron’s are great and don’t plan on any brake conversion. Great feel and modulation on the stock units.
Sure like anyone else I like ‘more power’ but after racing I KNOW that it’s what you can USE and for me races are won or lost entering and exiting turns. Late braking and getting on the pipe coming out of the corner is where it’s at. Additional horsepower is great, but at the expense of greatly reduced battery range would be an issue for me. I’ll keep Christy for what I think are for the rest of my days. And after that my daughter wants Christy! She’s pissed that I let her ride it on Father’s Day. Now she’s figuring out how to budget her funds to get her own…..or when her old man will die and leave her the bike and all of my damn tools!
My son had the opportunity to ride the Sur Ron and he loved it. Since he wants to get a street bike I discovered just how valuable this bike is for a new rider. Learning on dirt (the way I did) is MUCH better than on the street with a heavy bike. Teaching him throttle control, body position, sliding, hard braking, etc. on this thing is brilliant! The feel and the mechanics of bike riding are much better done on the dirt too. So cool!
I had purchased a Thule Easy Fold bike rack prior to purchasing my Sur Ron for the two ebikes we own. Both are Haibikes one a Full Nine and the other a Trekking. So I wanted to find out if I could use the Easy Fold to transport the Sur Ron and guess what? It can which means I don’t need to have or rent a truck to take it to off road parks or trails! SCORE!