The Humble Bafang Spanner
by Alvin Carpenter, Island City eBikes
Anyone who has ever built an eBike using the Bafang mid drive kit has encountered the famous Bafang spanner. Just what is a “spanner” in the first place. A spanner is what we call in the United States, a “wrench.” The British have called wrenches “spanners” for as far back as they can remember while Americans have called spanners wrenches for as long as they remember. Sometimes this wrench/spanner is simply called a “Bafang Installation tool.” I think calling this simple device the Bafang installation tool is the most definitive description of what it actually accomplishes.
While training a service tech at a local bike shop I picked up the Bafang spanner and said, “this is the most important tool you will use in the installation of the Bafang motor.” He replied that he had his own tools and would not need that cheap piece of junk (not his exact words but you get my point). Now, I think it is always proper decorum to render respect to the bike mechanic for a number of reasons. First, most mechs’ have many years of experience working on every type of bike one could imagine. Secondly, bike mechanics are problem solvers. You give a bike mechanic enough time and he/she will solve any mystery that involves a bike. Thirdly, when a bike mechanic corrects you they are probably right! But when it comes to eBikes sometimes there may be something yet to learn.
I asked the mechanic what tool would he use to tighten the fixing nut on the Bafang motor. He walked up to the tool board and removed a Park Tool HCW-17 Lockring wrench (spanner) and said, “this is what a professional uses.” I said, “good choice, let’s give it a try.” Started out fine but then the Park tool would not fit when the nut got close to the motor. As you know, the fixing nut has to be very tight. This is why we use the Bafang installation tool and not the Park Lockring wrench. The Park wrench cannot get close enough to the motor before it hits the housing.
These Bafang wrenches are very inexpensive and most, not all, are very well made. I am using the same Bafang spanner for over 50 eBike builds and will continue to use until it gives out or I give out. Here I will venture my opinion: How can dealers sell a Bafang Kit knowing the buyer will never be able to install the motor without the humble Bafang spanner?
The other day two students came to my shop and purchased a BBS02 and a battery to build an eBike and enter it in a statewide collegiate event. I ask them if they wanted to purchase a Bafang installation tool to which they replied, “naw, we have lots of tools.” As I rung up their order a pang of guilt came over me and I said, “tell you what boys, I’ll throw in the Bafang installation tool for free.” They said “thanks” and went on their way.
Call it a spanner, call it a wrench, call it a Bafang installation tool, but what’s important is that without this “cheap piece of junk” installing these fantastic Bafang mid drive motors is going to be more work than it should be. Someday, on that tool board, next to all those blue Park tools there will hang a funny looking tool and someone will ask the mechanic, “what is that cheap looking tool?” The mechanic will say “that my friend is the humble Bafang spanner.”