The Sonic Stomper has been a long time coming.  We set out to design our own eBike.  The majority of competing companies rebrand a generic bike, which can be good or bad. We didnt want to be the same as everyone else, and that is when the Sonic Stomper SS was born.

Over the last 2 years we have cut our teeth making eBikes.  We have converted our own bikes.  We have converted other brands into eBikes. Through it all, we have learned what makes for a good bike, and how many fall short.

One of the main keys is the frame.  With a motor, and added speed, the frame becomes the most important design aspect of the bike.  When a frame is underbuilt, the sheer torque of an electric motor will cause the frame to twist and contort.  If you compare any of our frames to the competition, you will see the frame tubing is significantly oversize, and is not round.  Overall, our tubing dimensions are nearly 3 times larger, which increases the strength and torsional rigidity significantly.

Our geometry is a bit different as well.  We run a 67.5 head tube angle, similar to a downhill suspension bike.  At speed, this helps with stability, and slows down steering inputs to inspire confidence.  A twitchy bike can work against you.

Additionally, we worked to integrate the battery into our frame.  From a security standpoint, this is better, but aesthetically, it looks so much better.  All of the cabling is housed in the frame as well.

The Sonic is truly a purpose built eBike from the ground up!

While most of our competition chooses a rear hub motor, we opted for a mid drive system from Bafang.  The smoothness of using a mid drive is unmatched.  And just like a car, we feel that it is better to use the existing drivetrain to push power through, rather than a hub.  You get significantly more torque, and you can use the various gear ratios to fine tune speed, or your efficiency.

On our SS model, we utilize TRP Zurich eBike specific brakes.  We felt it was important that the right brakes went onto the best cruiser eBike on the market! Disc brakes are a must on any eBike, the added stopping power inspires confidence.  We went a step further with the Zurich model over our normal Tektro hydraulic brakes. The Zurich is a 4 piston brake, where many brakes are either a 1 or 2 piston version.

A bike in this category should be simple to operate.  Effectively keep the battery charged, air in the tires and you are good to go.  That is why we use a Sturmey Archer internal gear hub.  This 3 speed hub is simple and strong.  It features the equivalent upper and lower gear ratios of any 7 speed system, and that is enough to get you up most hills, and achieve top speeds approaching 30 mph!

Ergonomics

One thing that everyone loves about our bikes is the ergonomics.  We get tired of leaning over, with numb hands and and uncomfortable seat.  First off we feature one of the best seats for cruisers on the market.  This quilted saddle features multiple layers of foam, so it has just the right density.  Additionally, it has two rubber elastomer shocks built in as well.  All this makes for a comfortable sitting position.

From there, the dimensions of our bike try to position your shoulders directly above your hips.  We help that with our BMX style rise bars.  These provide just over 7″ of height, and are fairly wide as well.  The Sonic features a MTB style direct mount stem and a 31.8 bar size.  So it is light weight and strong.  The cross bar is there for looks, but also to support the bars for added strength.

We feature CNC billet platform pedals that are color coded to the bike model.  Not only do these look sharp, they also support your feet and prevent slippage.

Conclusion

When we completed the design of the Sonic Stomper, we wanted to make sure that we built a bike that we wanted.  It had to be strong, fast, comfortable and easy to ride.  Test ride one today, and you too will find how great this bike is!

Adjust the brakes on any bicycle is a tedious process only sped up by experience.  We will go over several steps that can help improve that process for you and get you riding quicker.

  1. Ensure the caliper mount bolts are tight.  There are 4 bolts that hold the caliper onto the bike. 2 that bolt the caliper mount to the frame, and 2 that bolt the caliper to the mount.  Ensure that the two that mount to the frame are reasonably tight.  You dont have to go crazy and crack the paint.  Brake mount bolts
  2. Sight through the top of the brake caliper to check for rotor clearance.  You cant look through the center of the caliper, it has to be from the top on the front brake, and the top back on the rear.  We are trying to identify how the caliper is orientated in regards to the rotor.
  3. Try loosening the caliper to mount arm bolts 1 turn, and adjusting the caliper in regards to the rotor.  If the caliper wont move, loosen a bit more.  You are looking to barely be able to move the caliper, not to be totally free floating.
  4. When you adjust the caliper, aim to have equal clearance between the pad and rotor on both sides.  Tighten the caliper 1/4 a turn while trying to maintain the adjustment.  We try to keep the brakes simple without concave washers for a firm mount that shouldnt come out of adjustment under use.
  5. If you find that you can get some clearance on both sides, but the pad is not parallel to the rotor, you can bend the caliper mount arm to adjust the angle of the pads.
  6. To bend the caliper mount we place a crescent wrench on the black portion below the brake itself.  Using the crescent we tweak the arm slightly, just enough to get the pads more parallel to the rotor.
  7. Continue to adjust the caliper until you have an even gap on both sides between the pads.
  8. On Tektro hydraulic brakes there is no manual adjustment of the pads. You can adjust the lever throw at the lever itself, it is a small 1.5mm allen that is from the inside of the lever to the plunger.
I wanted to put some things together about our eBikes, systems and batteries.  This will be just about batteries.
Currently, almost every battery unit we sell uses LG Chem 18650 cells.  We did for a time have Samsung 35e cells, but have not used those in some time.  We are trying to get a better battery case, where the mount works well on our bikes, but also provides a USB port for running devices.  Our first group of batteries we had with these specs worked well, but as the installer I wasnt happy with the mount. I had to modify it far too much for a simple easy installation.

On charging:

Two trains of thought, one is to plug it in, and let it charge until the light on the charger unit goes to green.  About 5 hours on full discharge. The theory is that the charger only puts out 54.6 volts, so it cant overcharge.
The other train of thought is to purchase a light timer, like what is used for Christmas lights. I have used one of the $9 versions from Home Depot where you pull pins for when the lights come on.  Hook up the charger to it, and program it to charge for 2 hours, rest 1 hour, charge 2. This up down cycle puts less charging strain on the battery, and could potentially lengthen the total life of the battery.

Charge Cycles

The batteries are rated for 600 or more charge cycles.  That is defined to be full discharge to full charged state.  The batteries have a similar life cycle as a cell phone battery has. If you look up LG cell phone battery deterioration   you can get an idea how most lithium ion based batteries perform.

Heat

Heat is a major factor in both the motor and the battery.  We recommend during hot times of the year to charge the battery in a cool place.  Since we are based in the Arizona desert, we see 120 degree and above garage temperatures, and know that is beyond the safe limits of the battery and charger.

We get asked all the time, do we repair bikes?  We certainly do here at our location in Tempe, AZ. We can fix nearly any bike.

The beauty of a beach cruiser bike is the simplicity.  Generally, keep ample tire pressure going and you are ready to ride.  With Soul Beach Cruisers, we build a premium bike, but it is easy to maintain.

We choose hydraulic brakes because they have little to no maintenance.  Brake pads wear out in perhaps 4-5 years of standard dry weather riding.  If they get wet frequently, they will wear faster.

The Sturmey Archer SX-RK3 3 speed hub is low maintenance as well.  It runs sealed bearings on the rotor side, and everything on the shifter side has seals to prevent contaminants from getting in there.  Basically, adjust the shifter every once in a while and you are good to go.  That is the only real adjustment you do mechanically to the bike. Everything else needs little attention.

Our chains are coated in several ways.  Most of the chains are plated, with a specialty coating over the top to prevent rust.  We run chrome chainrings and cogs, so only the tips of the teeth get wear and could show rust.

Keep good air pressure in all of your tires. When ample air pressure is maintained, you get less flat tires.  On our fat tire bikes we try to keep 30 psi in them. Thinner tires go a bit higher, sometimes to 40.

We recommend a wax based chain lubricant such as White Lightning. This lasts longer, stays cleaner and is easy to apply.

With the advent of manufacturing bikes in Asia, the function of quality has changed significantly.  There used to be a hierarchy where products from Japan were better than from Taiwan and so on. That still holds true today. And, the adage that you get what you pay for rings true more than ever.

If you start studying all bikes on the market, you will see a line, where below you have budget minded choices and above you achieve a premium status.  It becomes quite obvious where corners were cut, and value takes a hit.  With Soul Beach Cruisers, we aim to build that bike that is simple, but offers great value and achieves a premium level.

We do that by offering an internally geared hub to start.  Budget beach cruisers will have cheap drivetrains that use basic derailleurs, poor quality chains and bottom end gears. These rust up, and require more maintenance over time. They are also not simple for the owner to work on and maintain

All of our bikes use premium KMC chains that are nickle plated as a minimum, and most have extra coatings that further protect from rust.  All the gears are chromed as well on our Stomper and XTR models.

We use Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on all of our Stomper and XTR models. Stopping is so easy! One finger is all it takes.

Our frames are purposely overbuilt. We use hydroformed tubing throughout, and then reinforce stress areas with added gussets. This allows bigger riders to enjoy our bikes. But the biggest added bonus is they can accommodate electric conversions very well.

On lower end bikes, you will see the frames are underbuilt, and use lower grade tubing of smaller diameters. These frames lack structural rigidity, so if you were to convert to an electric drive system you will feel less than confident.

Many people wonder why bikes dont last as long as they used to. Schwinn used to be a premium brand. The added cost meant something, and provided a better quality bike that you were proud to own. We feel the same way, and have thousands of proud Soul Beach Cruiser owners.

Everyone worries about the saddle on a bicycle. It is the sore spot for many! But finding the right saddle is not always simple.

Just simply putting a tractor saddle on a bike doesnt make it comfortable. There is a trade off on wide versus supportive.  If a saddle becomes too wide, as you pedal, the back of your thighs push you forward off the seat.

Also, soft sounds great. But, if it is too soft, it will wrinkle. Wrinkles will create pressure points. The same way that loose clothing can be an issue.

We feel the best cruiser seat is from a company called GrandStar, a maker in Taiwan. We equip this saddle on every Soul Beach Cruiser we make!  It features two layers of dense foam, and a quilted top which give a soft feel, but does not distort.

We use a rubber spring in our seat as well. Springs start to make noise after a while, rubber is nice and quiet! This combination of foam, quilting and rubber springs give comfortable support where it is needed.

Adjustment is always necessary.  Generally, you start with the saddle level to the ground. You can take a straight edge or level, and ensure that the nose and the tail are even. If the rear springs settle too much, pointing the nose up, then readjust the saddle to have a 1/4″ nose down angle. Having the saddle relatively flat like this prevents you from sliding forward or backwards excessively.

Generally, basic tires for cruisers have little if any technology built into them. So things like tighter thread casings and belts for flat resistance are not included due mainly to the price point and demand. Funny thing is that people want less flats, there is a demand there.

Most cruiser tires are built with a casing of around 20-25 tpi or threads per inch. Since cruisers are low pressure tire types, the need for heavier or more tpi in the casings is reduced.  Also the bead is made out of steel.

Normally, wire bead tires are less precise and fit fairly loosely onto the rims. The wider the tire, the less precise it becomes since it is difficult to have a tight fit on a wide 2 or 3″ rim.

We try to choose better tire compounds for Soul Beach Cruisers. While the carcass can be basic, tread and compound can be improved easily.  We run two tread types, the Duro Beach Bum style with deeper grooves and the Soul Fast which is lighter weight.

We are researching higher quality casings that reinforce the bead area so that on eBikes you have a stronger tire.  The main sidewall will always be thin for ride quality. Thicker sidewalls may seem good, but on a bike the tire is the main suspension, so a flexible sidewall is important.

High quality tires are very important to bicycle performance. Even for cruisers, some tires actually make riding hard due to rolling resistance. We choose to run a 3″ tire on a 4″ rim to help with rolling resistance and overall performance.

There will always be a ton of debate about which bike parts are right, or wrong. But we have to separate looks over functionality.  Many people are hung up on looks, and think that something can function rather than understanding how things work.

We have been riding bikes since the 1970’s. Hundreds of thousands of miles actually. We have experienced just about every bike design ever generated. And, while not everyone is the same, there are a few things that are pretty universal.

Handlebars need to be strong. If your bars are slipping, they flex, or could bend easily, you lack control. Flat out. Thus, we are not be proponents of ape hanger bars.  With 15″ of rise, on just a 7/8th inch or 22.2 diameter tube, there isnt much strength there. With the added leverage we actually see stems bend and fail.

Traditional cruiser bars are awesome. Until you have to turn, then you will see the issue.  It is also why you see sweep bars turned up at a 45 degree angle. If you turn sharp, you stab yourself in the thigh, and probably end up having an issue. Also, we dont think a sweep bar is all that great ergonomically.  Generally, you push with your palms, so steering is makes more sense if your hands are perpendicular to the ground in front of you.

We designed a mid rise BMX style bar for our bikes.  We add the crossbar for strength as well.  The bar has 7″ of rise, and paired with a reasonable stem height most riders will feel well balance ergonomically.  If you get your hands too high, the blood will flow out of them, and your arms get tired easier.

The XTR & steel frame STOMPER’s are identical in frame geometry sharing the majority of the same components. XTR’s are 7-8 lbs lighter with the 6061 aluminum frame topped off with billet aluminum pedals, stem, and seat post clamps. Additionally the XTR features aluminum bars and seat post and upgraded Brako brake rotors. These rotors provide better braking power with an aggressive look and you won’t find them on any production bikes due to their cost.

The July 2018 production run of XTR’s will also have the new performance Soul Fast tires that are 35% lighter and provide a better handling ride as shown on the pre-production Shark Grey XTR. For the performance minded rider the XTR has it all.

What does this all mean?

The XTR and STOMPER are both great bikes. The overall purposes of both bikes are the same, have fun!  Both feature wider frames to accommodate the 3″ tires and wheels.  Most people are surprised riding our fat tire beach cruisers the first time.  The extra 2″ of width of the frame plus the big tires makes it way easy to balance.

The lower weight of the XTR comes in handy. Whether it is lifting it up stairs or onto a bike rack, the 8+ pound lighter bike can make a difference.  Where we see the big difference on the XTR is with an e-Bike conversion.  When we build the XTR for electric, it is so awesome.  The lighter frame absorbs vibration at speed. The result is an ultra smooth ride that doesnt beat you up.  The cracks and bumps in the road are less harsh.

We love the XTR for so many reasons.  Try test riding one, and you will like it!

Yes, our new CAD drawings are done! Small changes mean so much in making the perfect eBike.  Just like they used to say, this is not your father’s eBike…..

Like a number of manufacturers, they believed that all they needed to do was slap a motor on a bike and their engineering was done.  Many are finding now that there is more to an ebike.  Integrating a motor or battery is not simple.  We worked hard just on getting better ground clearance.  To have a high wattage motor, at this time you need a larger case for the motor.  Until motors improve further to produce higher wattage in smaller cases, we will have to contend with specific bike designs.  And, we love our fat tire beach cruisers for that purpose.  It is an incredible e-Bike platform.

Updates include:

  • A more secure integrated battery
  • Better ground clearance
  • An even stronger fork
  • Soul Fast tires that are 35% lighter than our current tires
  • Improved Tektro brakes

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