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Shop Tools: Double Dolphin Fixture for Shimano STePS

Shop Tools: Double Dolphin Fixture for Shimano STePS

TCF-TUBES-Fixture-Shimano-STePS-Double-Dolphin (7).jpg

eBikes are a thing, like it or not. The technology is out in the world and they are not going away. Some grumble about the rapid adoption of motor assist by the bicycle industry, and to many the argument that eBikes are no longer bikes but rather motorized cycles is a valid one. We consider those hairs best split by others and instead choose to accept and focus on the very real fact that for a very large number of people eBikes provide a practical, user-friendly alternative to traditional cars, trucks, and even motorcycles, while at least maintaining the basic idea of a bicycle. (In the case of the electric assist bicycles that require motion and power input by the rider, not electric scooters, which are a different beast altogether.)

As the eBike market has developed the available product lines have been refined and expanded, and one of the most robust and integrated-with-existing-bike-components systems we have used is the Shimano STePS platform. STePS has been available in international markets for a long time and since being introduced to the US a few years ago we have used it on a number of city bikes and cargo bikes with an overwhelmingly positive response from riders.

Mellow Yellow  CarGoAway  with Shimano STePS drive

Mellow Yellow CarGoAway with Shimano STePS drive

Blacked Out  Rando/City  bike with Shimano STePS drive

Blacked Out Rando/City bike with Shimano STePS drive

While the units themselves can be kind of gee-whiz complex, for mechanics and bike assemblers STePS is relatively painless to install and wire up on a frame. It uses the same eTube plug and wiring format as Shimano’s well established Di2 system components, which gives STePS a versatility that few other systems have. The drive can of course be used on its own, but is more robust when paired with a rear Alfine Di2 internally geared hub (IGH) or a standard 1x setup with a traditional full range cassette. The system wide Di2 integration provides for a seamless setup with almost any style of bike, flat bar or drop bar, including customizable cockpit controls — for instance using the left hand shift lever to control the STePS motor and the right hand shifter to control the rear gearing mechanism — and near and dear to our hearts is the motor’s auxiliary output to connect a hard wired head-/tail-light system that can be both powered from the STePS system battery and switched on/off with the push of a cockpit button. The powered light connection also eliminates the need to work with just a handful of options for a front dynamo generator hub and opens up any available hub/wheel manufacturer as an option.

Of course the bicycle industry wouldn’t be the bicycle industry without incompatibility and so it goes that the newer generation E6100, E7000, and E8000 STePS system motors utilize a different mounting pattern than the original E6000/E6050 motors. Hence the need for an updated fixture for locating the motor mount in a standard framebuilding jig.

We made a handful of extra plates when cutting our own shop fixture and found that a number of framebuilders were in need of the same part. Our second small batch is in process now, with a limited number available for sale. Parts should be available to ship early February and can be ordered now, while supplies last. ===>

 
 

Shop Tools: T47 Tap Handles

Shop Tools: T47 Tap Handles

T47 taps are a tool we use almost daily. They are neither inexpensive nor readily available. And titanium is hard on cutters. So when one of our taps cracked earlier this year we were less than thrilled. We found no comfort in learning that another titanium frame builder had the same experience the same week. The only good news was that we had broken opposite side taps and thus we now have a spare set.

To protect the investment in a fresh set of taps, Dave made a pair of handles with extra width for increased leverage and rectangular rather than round tap retaining tabs to avoid the point loading of the tap's retaining notches that we suspect may have hastened its predecessor's demise.

We've been using them for several months and they've proven a welcome addition to the wall, and as a bonus we no longer need to switch between T47 and BSA English taps on the same pair of handles.

Shop Tools: DR4050-Series Insert Driver

Shop Tools: DR4050-Series Insert Driver

Threading in the inserts for 15mm Thru-Axle fork inserts is a mild pain with a regular pin spanner. The tool holes on the outside face are larger diameter than most spanners and since the dropouts are hooded it is necessary to lean the tool to clear the fork leg on each rotation as the insert threads in. It just feels sloppy and it is easy for the tool to slip and mar the insert face.

Granted this is one of those small annoyances, but having a snug and convenient tool for tightening down fork inserts is inversely satisfying.

Dave came up with a quick fix using an old socket with a knurled holder and a quartet of M5 bolts turned down to pins of the appropriate diameter.

Voila!