Author Topic: Electric bikes  (Read 61184 times)

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3229
Electric bikes
« on: October 05, 2014, 07:30:23 PM »
I thought I would start this thread for any discussion of the most recent e-bike post, and the second one that will be following.

My specific question is whether anyone has used an e-bike to tow a load.  A kid trailer, a trail-a-bike, or a cargo hauler or some sort. 

I can't justify an e-bike at the moment, but I am trying to imagine possibilities in the future.  I am curious how much towing reduces the range you can expect to get, as it seems I am frequently needing to tow either children or heavy objects. 
Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

GuitarStv

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8342
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2014, 06:59:22 AM »
I'm kinda curious as to how the range of the battery is affected by winter conditions.  At 20 below how well do these things tend to work?

train_writer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Location: Brussels
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2014, 02:30:15 PM »
Spouse of Train Writer checking in, I am testing e-bicycles as a job.
The most important things are

- Type of battery, lead or lithium. Both have advantages, depending on if you use your bicycle mainly for longer distances or for many short errands AND it depends on your climate. You also have hybrides and new li-on and 'all plastic' batteries that can resist temperatures up to +45 celsius and down to -40 celsius. But they are expensive and not easy to fix.

- Total weight of the bicycle. Heavier is good on longer distances. I have tested the heavier bicycles with cargo, 100 kg trailer, and the most efficient can go already almost 70 km on one load.

- Speed, support up to 20 km/h, 25 km/h, 40-45 km/h. The 40-45 km/h have too many bugs still, but my girlfriend train-writer rides one with support up to 35 km/h and that seems to be a sweet spot.

But, IMHO, the better e-bikes are yet under development and are showing very promising test results and especially much easier to be 'tweaked' to be efficient on varying personal situations.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3229
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2014, 11:27:52 AM »
To be honest, a faster ebike scares me.  15 mph seems plenty fast enough!  There is a reason I have never been on a motorcycle, those things look like death traps.  Yes, I am a wimp. 
Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

train_writer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Location: Brussels
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2014, 01:20:23 PM »
Than one that supports up to 20km/h is perfect for you, they are also the most energy efficient and sturdy. What brands are available in the States or are you thinking of building your own or ordering online?

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2355
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2014, 06:45:28 PM »
Quote
both are still sipping on the tanks of gas I bought them in April 2014.

You might want to see to that. Gas shouldn't sit for six months in your car. I'd probably want to burn a tank every two months or so - just fill up smaller tanks if it's being used so rarely. Or use stabilizer...

Quote
I test drove a 2015 Nissan Leaf over the summer and was floored by its lightning acceleration, solid handling

As some say: "lol."
« Last Edit: October 09, 2014, 06:48:25 PM by gimp »

BPA

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1080
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2014, 06:55:10 PM »
Spouse of Train Writer checking in, I am testing e-bicycles as a job.
The most important things are

- Type of battery, lead or lithium. Both have advantages, depending on if you use your bicycle mainly for longer distances or for many short errands AND it depends on your climate. You also have hybrides and new li-on and 'all plastic' batteries that can resist temperatures up to +45 celsius and down to -40 celsius. But they are expensive and not easy to fix.

- Total weight of the bicycle. Heavier is good on longer distances. I have tested the heavier bicycles with cargo, 100 kg trailer, and the most efficient can go already almost 70 km on one load.

- Speed, support up to 20 km/h, 25 km/h, 40-45 km/h. The 40-45 km/h have too many bugs still, but my girlfriend train-writer rides one with support up to 35 km/h and that seems to be a sweet spot.

But, IMHO, the better e-bikes are yet under development and are showing very promising test results and especially much easier to be 'tweaked' to be efficient on varying personal situations.

Excellent!  Thanks for sharing.  I used to have a cheap, crappy Canadian Tire ebike that was great but broke after about six months of use.  The spokes kept breaking off.  That was 2010.  I had cancer that year and felt very weak, but could use the motor whenever I needed to, so I still got to ride.  I couldn't wait to cycle under my own power again!  But if I get sick in the future, I would buy another ebike.  I figured that they could only get better.

My boyfriend made one like MMM did from a kit and he pulled his son on the back.  His son was a big kid at the time: 8 and a big boy for his age.




Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
  • Age: 27
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2014, 07:54:33 PM »
I thought sol's comments in a different thread were right on.

Can anyone here reconcile the post promoting electric bicycles with the post about muscle over motor?

I still can't wrap my head around why the blog would shill for electric bikes, given the long history of posts encouraging people embrace a little hardship, get fit, flex their stoicism muscles, reject consumerism, and save the planet.  It's like a bad April Fool's Day post, except I think he was actually serious.

All I can figure is that his desire to play with new toys overcame his desire to keep the blog message internally consistent.  Once upon a time he turned down $4k/month so that he could continue to swear on the blog but now he's suddenly subverting the entire blog message for a free ebike?

I guess I can rationalize shilling ebikes to a certain audience, a certain way, with the caveat that they're a halfway measure.  A diet soda, an electric lawnmower, a basic cable package.  Not badass at all.

GuitarStv

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8342
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2014, 05:44:26 AM »
At first glance, I was pretty against the idea myself.

The main reason that I'm sort of interested in electric bikes now is that it would be a way to convince my wife to bike to work with me.  We both work at the same place, and it's just over 11 miles each direction.  I don't mind the commute, but she would never do this distance on a regular bike.  Prices are still a bit high, but it would be a way for us to drastically reduce our usage of the car.  If we got one of the pedal assist type e-bikes then both my wife and I would get some exercise doing this as well.

Otherwise when she's off maternity leave she'll drive to work every day, and there's not much point in my biking to the same place so I end up losing my bike commute.  :(

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3229
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2014, 05:55:00 AM »
My justification would be as a means to get rid of one of the cars.  It wouldn't work where we currently live, because there are too many highways that it just isn't safe to ride on.  But I hope we move somewhere that I can bike 90% of the time! and if so, extending my range via e-bike would make ditching the car possible. 

My main hang-up is that I have kids.  So all summer, I would be limited by their range as well, since they are too big to stick in a burley but I can only trail-a-bike one at a time.  So it's probably a no go until they are high school age or so, which is fine, as the bikes will only improve between now and then. 

Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

SisterX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Location: 2nd Star on the Right and Straight On 'Til Morning
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2014, 12:30:15 PM »
I thought sol's comments in a different thread were right on.

Can anyone here reconcile the post promoting electric bicycles with the post about muscle over motor?

I still can't wrap my head around why the blog would shill for electric bikes, given the long history of posts encouraging people embrace a little hardship, get fit, flex their stoicism muscles, reject consumerism, and save the planet.  It's like a bad April Fool's Day post, except I think he was actually serious.

All I can figure is that his desire to play with new toys overcame his desire to keep the blog message internally consistent.  Once upon a time he turned down $4k/month so that he could continue to swear on the blog but now he's suddenly subverting the entire blog message for a free ebike?

I guess I can rationalize shilling ebikes to a certain audience, a certain way, with the caveat that they're a halfway measure.  A diet soda, an electric lawnmower, a basic cable package.  Not badass at all.

Someone, perhaps MMM himself?, said in the comments that it was meant to be for people who aren't entirely sure about biking all the time.  A starter for the ultimate badassity of not needing electric, if you will.  Also, for people who would like to ditch their cars but can't, ebikes could solve many of the issues.  For me, I would like to get an ebike at some point for many of the reasons other people here have stated.  I'm planning to move to a very hilly area (Seattle) and to haul both children and groceries (at the same time) an ebike would be not only convenient but would force me to avoid car trips since I couldn't justify wimping out with electric assist.  I would still have a regular bike for other rides, but for hauling lots of stuff, an ebike would totally be worth it.

Am also interested if anyone else has done an ebike with a trail-a-bike or trailer?  Also, someone in the comments (this one got deleted) mentioned an El Bota Bota.  Looked into that and would really, really like to hear more as it sounds fairly perfect for what I want to do.  Any reviews?

Druid

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Age: 35
  • Location: California
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2014, 01:13:02 PM »
I think e-bikes can go with the the mrmoneymustache theme. If a person is looking for a cheap way to get to work then the e-bike would be cheaper than buying a reliable used car. The more extreme followers of this blog would probably buy a used regular bike, but like mrmoneymustache said these people could reach farther distances with an e-bike. So the frugal elites can make this decision based on how far their commute is.

With half of the people in this country being overweight the e-bike may help a lot of these people who are looking for a cheaper alternative to a car. After all $1500 is not that much money when you are saving on car insurance, registration fees, yearly car maintenance, parking costs, and other related expenses. Some obese people might find these bikes as a great way to start on the path to a healthy or frugal lifestyle.

I also can not stress the importance of not having body odor in the work place. If you are "that smelly guy" in the office you will not get the same promotions as the guy who is not smelly and has similar qualifications. The money saved because you choose the ebike and got the promotion may result in you being in a better financial position than the hardcore frugal cyclist who rode to work on a $50 used bike. I know this may sound like a ridiculous point, but companies want their higher ups to be presentable and odor free to deal with their clients and vendors. Some people may shower, use cover up sprays, or have a change of clothes but all of these methods have costs associated with them including the cost of time..

I am considering an e-bike!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 02:14:06 PM by Druid »

hybrid

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1669
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Richmond, Virginia
  • A hybrid of MMM and thoughtful consumer.
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2014, 02:06:33 PM »
I know plenty of folks who are a little older and a lot of out of shape, better to have an e-bike than no bike at all.
Life is a game. Play it better.

train_writer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Location: Brussels
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2014, 04:36:26 AM »
We don't own a car and have friends in neighbouring villages and cities. We would probably not own an e-bike if mr train_writer wasn't in that job, but it is great to have one or sometimes 2.

- We go cross country for a family visit if the weather allows
-  Visits to craigslist seller or Ikea to get wood panels/ a mattress/ furniture
- I use the e-bike on Fridays and Saturdays to ride to a certain job which is 30km away.
- At the moment, our pregnant neighbour uses my e-bike on errands throughout the week

All those things are doable on a normal bicycle, and we still do most of the time! But it makes it much more convenient when no car is available or if your physical condition is a -temporarily- problem

Shropskr

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 161
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2014, 12:35:24 AM »
I love my xtracycle radish with electronic assist.  There is no way I would have started biking without it.  2 kids to go on back who were 5&8 when I got it and I live in Seattle.  I couldn't peddle myself the distance let alone me and two kids.  Since I got my awsome bike(my second car) we sold the real second car and became a one car family. 

I make Costco runs with my xtracycle and climb a Huge hill on the way back there is no way I could do it without the electronic assist.  I love my bike.

Johnez

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 583
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2014, 08:56:24 AM »
Hey Mayday, I think the wind resistance plays a bigger role than weight in affecting an ebike's range. The folks at endless-sphere.com have tons of advice and rides to share. If you've thought about it, someone there has likely been there/done that. There are many cargo bike builds and tricycles, tho I've not seen any trailers.

I'm currently researching and putting together my ebike. If/when it all goes well I'll post a thread. Good luck!

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2014, 09:25:13 AM »
I thought I would start this thread for any discussion of the most recent e-bike post, and the second one that will be following.

My specific question is whether anyone has used an e-bike to tow a load.  A kid trailer, a trail-a-bike, or a cargo hauler or some sort. 

I can't justify an e-bike at the moment, but I am trying to imagine possibilities in the future.  I am curious how much towing reduces the range you can expect to get, as it seems I am frequently needing to tow either children or heavy objects.

To answer your question, it depends on how hard you pedal, but I would say that when I am alone I get approximately 50 miles range and when I have a passenger I get about 35 miles.  With a 70 pound dog on the trailer I'd say the range might drop to 40 miles.  If you have a load of groceries or other things added it would negligible.

Also, it is funny that I get the "that's cheating" from a lot of people when I tell them about the e-assist (the latest was from a guy that was very over weight, smoking a cig, and drinking a beer :).  The problem in this country is that we always think of bicycling as recreational and not also as transportation.

If you were to ask me I would say that e-assist bicycles are awesome and I would suggest you try them out.

I have a cargo bike and posted the following on another thread:

Escape2020 - I may not convince you since you have such a hardline on this, but I do think you are wrong.  For others out there who are less fixed on this I can offer you a bit of insight into electric bikes.

A little background, and response to Escape, I am capable of riding a bike AND have an electric bike.  In fact I have ridden well over 100,000 miles by bike in my lifetime.  Across many states, mountain bike, road bike, recumbent (100 miles in 4 hours 58 minutes and 20 seconds), and even a folder (bus-bike rides too).  Everything you can think of, I have done it - and continue to do so.

So, I recently purchased and electric bike.  It happens to be a cargo bike by Xtracycle with a Bionx kit on it.  I absolutely love riding this bike!  I have ridden it to work and back 13 of the last 15 days, where I might have ridden my touring bike twice during that time due to schedules and heat/humidity.  That would have cost $65 in my auto and pumped out a lot of pollution.  It cost me about $0.15 on the bike.

I've put over 500 miles on it in the past 3 weeks, carrying 80 pounds of salt home from the pool store, dropping off over a 100 pounds of donations, picking up the kids from school, dropping them at friends houses, etc. etc. etc. In fact my DW who usually picks the kids up in a 5,000 pound vehicle picked TWO kids up from school a few days ago using the electric bike!

Right now my eldest child is on it and across town doing lawn work.  I rode it with trailer attached this morning - with my 70 pound dog in it.

And for those that think you cannot get exercise on one you will be surprised.  Take the extreme of just using the motor (no pedaling).  That is more exercise than sitting on your butt in a car.  I actually pedal the majority of the ride (it has pedal "assist") and get plenty of exercise.  I have ridden 500 miles on it where I might have ridden the touring bike 50.  That is some pretty good exercise!

So, I could go on, but take my word for it, an electric assist bike is awesome.

BTW - you recommend a scooter 2020.  Have you ridden an electric bike or a scooter to provide such a recommendation?  For those of you that take this recommendation remember that there are many places those are not allowed, including most urban trails and sidewalks - and you really cannot pedal them so you skip the exercise option.

I believe that this is a viable option for commuting and doing local errands.  I start my auto and drive it about once a week now, where before I'd do that 5-7 days a week.  I think they will catch on with many people who are healthy and would normally want to ride a bike, but for a lot of reasons end up driving.  You cannot go anywhere on this bike and not get people asking you about it or studying it as they walk by when its parked (it is a long tail bike so it is a bit curious of course).  Imagine if people replaced that 2 mile trip to pick up a Redbox or aspirin at the drug store?  (I did this the other day and was back in half the time it would have taken in an auto!)  We'd have a heck of a lot less pollution and carbon dioxide in the air.

Really though, these are awesome and should not be pushed aside because someone thinks they are "cheating" or don't stack up to a "real" bike.  Are you kidding me!  50 miles vs. 500 - go for it!!

Lastly, you worry that MMM is becoming mainstream and selling their "stuff."  The people that put together electric bikes are very small companies and bike shops that have very little margin of profit.  They aren't what I would consider mainstream like maybe GM, or Apple.  Besides, these electric motors do go on bicycles that are waaay better than the "alternative."

SOl - you get one paragraph added.  The biking rate in most of our country is about .1%, with a few places at a few whole percentage points.  I think we can do better than to say that if you don't bicycle like a real man or woman you might as well drive an SUV.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 07:11:25 AM by Rollin »
I love being outside.

KC1983

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2014, 06:45:30 PM »
Rollin, great post! Sol's comment really annoyed me, and I'll leave your diplomatic response rather than add my own.

I was just in the process of taking a hybrid bike I don't care about too much and set it up to be an all-season commuter when I read this timely post. I didn't realize how far electric add-on kits had come, and how well they can work in electric assist mode. One of the biggest reasons I don't commute by bike regularly is because, with 3 months a year of 100 degree/90% humidity, you arrive at work soaking with perspiration. And the winters are just as bad in the opposite direction, with the need for cold weather/wet weather gear. Add the need to haul a small satchel and bike repair stuff, it makes biking to work an ordeal, and leaves you miserable once you're there. I was hoping I could get myself to bicycle to work at least 2-3 times a week, most weeks of the year. But with an electric-assist motor, I think I can bump that number way up. The beauty of an electric assist is that it really eliminates a lot of excuses. And frankly, often those excuses are valid. I couldn't even ride my bike around my old neighborhood -- the hills literally made me sick to my stomach.

I think MMM is right -- easy electric kits (esp. ones like the Copenhagen wheel and the Flykly smart wheel) are potentially 'gateway' drugs for lots of people to get those bikes that are collecting dust in their garages and drive lots left.

kendallf

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 908
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2014, 07:40:33 PM »
At first glance, I was pretty against the idea myself.

The main reason that I'm sort of interested in electric bikes now is that it would be a way to convince my wife to bike to work with me.  We both work at the same place, and it's just over 11 miles each direction.  I don't mind the commute, but she would never do this distance on a regular bike.  Prices are still a bit high, but it would be a way for us to drastically reduce our usage of the car.  If we got one of the pedal assist type e-bikes then both my wife and I would get some exercise doing this as well.

Otherwise when she's off maternity leave she'll drive to work every day, and there's not much point in my biking to the same place so I end up losing my bike commute.  :(

You know what you need... is a tandem!  :-)

We have a tandem (we have a LOT of bikes) and it gets a lot of use as the evening "get around town" bike.  When we first bought it my wife was not a cyclist and the tandem allowed us to go distances and speeds that she could not achieve alone.  We rode it on the MS150 one year, did a few centuries and other long rides on it. 

These days my wife has her own bikes but the tandem is still the default choice for evening dinner dates, especially if she's going to drink since she's a lightweight!

The saying is, "Whichever way your relationship is headed, a tandem will get you there faster."   :-o
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2014, 06:52:11 AM »
Rollin, great post! Sol's comment really annoyed me, and I'll leave your diplomatic response rather than add my own.

I was just in the process of taking a hybrid bike I don't care about too much and set it up to be an all-season commuter when I read this timely post. I didn't realize how far electric add-on kits had come, and how well they can work in electric assist mode. One of the biggest reasons I don't commute by bike regularly is because, with 3 months a year of 100 degree/90% humidity, you arrive at work soaking with perspiration. And the winters are just as bad in the opposite direction, with the need for cold weather/wet weather gear. Add the need to haul a small satchel and bike repair stuff, it makes biking to work an ordeal, and leaves you miserable once you're there. I was hoping I could get myself to bicycle to work at least 2-3 times a week, most weeks of the year. But with an electric-assist motor, I think I can bump that number way up. The beauty of an electric assist is that it really eliminates a lot of excuses. And frankly, often those excuses are valid. I couldn't even ride my bike around my old neighborhood -- the hills literally made me sick to my stomach.

I think MMM is right -- easy electric kits (esp. ones like the Copenhagen wheel and the Flykly smart wheel) are potentially 'gateway' drugs for lots of people to get those bikes that are collecting dust in their garages and drive lots left.

KC1983 where you been?  With one post your writing reads like you've been here awhile :)

Heat/humidity - I can only ride so slow in the morning to avoid sweating.  On the really humid mornings I have just pressed the power button and pedal very little.  I pedal home though because it is so enjoyable and I don't care if I sweat or not.  Now that it is cooler, I pedal all the way in and home.

Hills - erased with the electric bike.  You will be amazed, as they really fly up the hills.  Mine senses the extra effort I put into the pedals and gets me going faster than the flats!

Consistency - when you eliminate a few of the pains associated with commuting by bike you tend to ride more often.  At least that has been my experience.  Also, you really won't hesitate to take the electric bike to run many of your errands, since it is really much easier than the auto IMHO.

Fun - just plain fun to ride!

As MMM stated, you can convert just about any bike you want to.  Start out with something sitting in your garage and see if you like it.  You can always take the system off and transfer it to another bike later if you so choose.  If you look at the long tail cargo bikes you might get hooked.  That is a total discussion in and of itself, but they are very useful - more so than my standard bike.  For something in between, look at the Xtracycle Freeradical to add onto your current ride - http://www.xtracycle.com/freeradical/ .  I'm considering converting my DW's bike to that instead of going to the dedicated long tail Xtracycle (like I have), so that I can save a few $$.

Update since last post: ridden it to work 21 of 25 days, and now have over 650 miles on it (owned it for about 5 weeks now).

Edit:  instead of peddling, I am pedaling :)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 07:13:21 AM by Rollin »
I love being outside.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3229
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2014, 05:53:24 PM »
The distance you can go (easily) is what really appeals to me.  Thanks to those who gave me some ideas about how towing would affect things.

All you crazy bike people (said lovingly!) say things like "you have no excuse not to bike if your commute is less than 10 miles!

l o fucking l.

I am a healthy, not overwight 32 year old in fairly good athletic shape due to normal daily activity but not especial athletic training.  I walk and bike and do some yoga and swim laps occasionally.  I bike about 7mph, and a 3-4 mile ride + return trip is plenty far enough, TYVM.  And I LIKE biking!

So then extrapolate that to the general population.  Of course all you serious bikers are going to hate on the idea that someone "needs" an e-bike to ride a bike.  But the vast, vast majority of us are much slower and less physically able than those of you who do these long bike rides.  And a huge chunk has time constraints to their commute (must get home to meet children from school bus or do daycare pickup).  So no, *you* don't need an e-bike.  You are not the target market. 
Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
  • Age: 27
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2014, 01:17:21 AM »
I am a healthy, not overwight 32 year old in fairly good athletic shape

I bike about 7mph

That's your problem. If you want to be Badass™, you need to push yourself! You don't bike fast over long distances without sweating if you don't work your way up to it! I'm a self-admitted cycling wimp who needs to train harder and I can do 14mph minimum over 10 miles. The first time I did that distance I felt like I was dying. Now I do it every weekend and often barely break a sweat. And plenty here could do that at 20mph+ without breaking a sweat.

Bicycling is often faster than driving for me as I have my own personal lane while cars are stuck in traffic.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3229
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2014, 05:20:48 AM »
You telling me that my problem is being too slow does not make me think you are less crazy. Saying "push yourself, go faster" is NOT HELPFUL. 

Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

GuitarStv

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8342
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2014, 06:31:35 AM »
At first glance, I was pretty against the idea myself.

The main reason that I'm sort of interested in electric bikes now is that it would be a way to convince my wife to bike to work with me.  We both work at the same place, and it's just over 11 miles each direction.  I don't mind the commute, but she would never do this distance on a regular bike.  Prices are still a bit high, but it would be a way for us to drastically reduce our usage of the car.  If we got one of the pedal assist type e-bikes then both my wife and I would get some exercise doing this as well.

Otherwise when she's off maternity leave she'll drive to work every day, and there's not much point in my biking to the same place so I end up losing my bike commute.  :(

You know what you need... is a tandem!  :-)

We have a tandem (we have a LOT of bikes) and it gets a lot of use as the evening "get around town" bike.  When we first bought it my wife was not a cyclist and the tandem allowed us to go distances and speeds that she could not achieve alone.  We rode it on the MS150 one year, did a few centuries and other long rides on it. 

These days my wife has her own bikes but the tandem is still the default choice for evening dinner dates, especially if she's going to drink since she's a lightweight!

The saying is, "Whichever way your relationship is headed, a tandem will get you there faster."   :-o

Huh.  That's something I've never even considered.

Aren't they un-maneuverable and generally shitty to ride in city traffic?  I don't think I've ever even seen a tandem bike in real life.

Johnez

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 583
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2014, 03:44:14 PM »
You telling me that my problem is being too slow does not make me think you are less crazy. Saying "push yourself, go faster" is NOT HELPFUL.

I'm not gonna rag on you here as I fully support your ebike idea, but I'm pretty sure you can go faster than 7 mph.  Something must be wrong with your speedometer (incorrect wheel setting perhaps?) as a normal person can WALK at about 3 miles an hour-I think it's actually harder to bike slower as you have to work harder to balance yourself. 

I must say though, your negative reaction to someone saying "push yourself" is interesting considering this entire blog/forum is about people pushing themselves. 

I will also say this-ignore the people ripping on you for getting an ebike.  People will always find a way to criticize.  It's your life man.  Mustachianism isn't about making life harder, it's actually the opposite lol.  Some folks here have the wrong idea.

kendallf

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 908
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2014, 05:57:45 PM »
That's your problem. If you want to be Badass™, you need to push yourself!
>>SNIP

You telling me that my problem is being too slow does not make me think you are less crazy. Saying "push yourself, go faster" is NOT HELPFUL.

This made me laugh..  Beric01, how do I say this tactfully?  Maybe ease up on the lecturing tendencies?  I may be remembering your "law abiding cyclist" posts, which also made me laugh..

FWIW, I'm a masters racer, I have ridden 100 miles in 3:46 (yes, that's 26+ mph average).  I would absolutely rock an electric bike and I'm seriously considering one.  Don't let the naysayers stop you, MayDay.

You really would rock your world if you got serious about riding more and more intensely, though.. took me from a fat guy to a not-so-fat guy.  I'm still bald, though.


Huh.  That's something I've never even considered.

Aren't they un-maneuverable and generally shitty to ride in city traffic?  I don't think I've ever even seen a tandem bike in real life.

It's a bit like a tractor trailer at first, but they're perfectly maneuverable on city streets.  You just have to watch when you want to do slow speed turns, and starting and stopping require care.
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2014, 06:21:01 AM »
FWIW - and probably considered by some un-mustachian, I have ordered a second electric assist cargo bike (yesterday - a Surely Big Dummy with the same BionX system as my Xtracycle).  There is a lot of competition at the house for the one I have, and since I have it at work most days the fam either doesn't go where they want or need, or they get driven by DW in the SUV. :(

So, while expensive, it may help us save a little more of the world, and have fun at the same time.


Update - working on 800 miles in less than 2 months on the Xtracycle.  Also, picked up 2 gallons of chlorine, 1 gallon of acid, and a large (4'x2'x1') box containing a new pool cleaner (I asked for and received a $60 discount!) Saturday on the Xtracycle.  Easy peasy too!
I love being outside.

KC1983

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2014, 08:16:48 PM »
Hey Rollin,

Thanks for the good words. Your posts are super helpful and very supportive, which I think is what this forum is really about.

Yes, I've been happily reading MMM for a couple of years, though the electric bike post what the first time I felt motivated to join the forum. I think you have done a very nice summary of why I'm excited about electrifying a bike I was on the verge of selling (2008 Fuji Absolute 2.0). It's the bike that got be back into bicycling, and then I moved up to a Cannondale road bike (to keep up with my wife), but the road bike is less than ideal for commuting for a variety of reasons. After doing some more research, I think I'm going to try to fit a Bafang bbs001 mid-drive system to the Fuji. It sounds almost perfect for me (preserves the 9 gear rear cogs, better balance, proven system, reasonably light, can probably do it myself, etc.). I just need to confirm that my bottom bracket is the right size, and pick a battery and a battery mounting system.

I have the feeling that this is going to really take off over the next couple of years, and these systems will get cheaper. I would love to do this all for the price of a Copenhagen wheel, but in any event I'm going to try to spend no more than about a grand.

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2014, 06:39:59 PM »
The mid-drives are very efficient and also work well because they use your existing gearing.  I've not heard anything bad about the Bafang either.  My first choice years ago was a mid-drive, but at that tame there wasn't much available.  It you can afford it, I'd go with a Lithiom Ion (or other Lithium...) battery.  The lead acid batteries might be cheap, but they are very heavy, are wonky when it comes to when you can and cannot charge or discharge, and only have a fraction of the life of the LiPo batteries.  They are well worth the extra dollars.

The Fuji looks like a great bike to use.  However, you may never use the mid or small chainring again :) since you'd be riding five + miles faster everywhere!!

Enjoy - and if you have the time, please update us on your decision and experience.

BTW - did you see this post?
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-marketplace/fs-bafang-electric-mid-drive/msg360077/#msg360077

Not sure it is still for sale, but...
I love being outside.

MoneyCat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1758
  • Location: New Jersey
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2014, 08:33:41 PM »
I could see the e-bike being very useful for someone who wants to commute by bicycle to work but whose job does not provide showers on site.

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2014, 09:09:58 AM »
I could see the e-bike being very useful for someone who wants to commute by bicycle to work but whose job does not provide showers on site.

Yes, it is cool here now, but I used it for a few weeks before our cooler weather and I could get to work (7.5 miles) without sweating.  Another good reason for having one relates to the difference in time it usually takes to ride a bike for an errand or to work vs. an auto.  If you are really in a hurry the extra 5 or more mph vs. non-assist can really make a difference.  I would say that I am faster on on the e-bike for <4 mile round trips than the car, and maybe only 10 minutes longer from door to door for the work trip (25 minutes vs. 35 minutes).  The more "city" the driving the more the bike has an advantage (or more accurately, the less the car's capabilities can be taken advantage of).
I love being outside.

KC1983

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2014, 05:38:05 PM »
Hey Rollin, yes I will definitely be getting a Li battery!

I was thinking of trying to put the who kit together myself, but then I found this: http://em3ev.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=45&product_id=183
This vendor gets high marks in the Endless Sphere community (where there's a 150 page thread on these motors!), so I will probably pull the trigger soon. I hadn't seen the ad you linked to -- if he was in my neck of the woods I'd get to bargaining, but with shipping I'm pretty sure I can get a new system with a warranty for about that, if not a touch less.

And I will definitely update here when I get it on the road!

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2014, 07:37:43 PM »
That looks to be a well integrated kit.  Often I see these with all kinds of what look like mismatched parts, but not that - and a very good price.  I didn't see the actually battery though - maybe I missed it.

Yes, I will be looking forward to your taken it once you get to using it a few times.
I love being outside.

innkeeper77

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 196
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2014, 07:50:20 PM »
EM3EV is great! My wife and I both have batteries from Paul at EM3EV, and she has a bafang mid drive as well. We had a problem with the batteries (the "bottle mount" ones like in the kit you linked) where they would no longer turn off. He realized a bad batch of BMS's were sent out, that had seemed fine in testing but were not. He upgraded to a different supplier, tested the new ones well, and sent me- for free- new BMS's, an adapter cable (to connect to the old style connector on our batteries) and told me what to do. Only a tiny bit of soldering, and we have two perfect batteries. So, even if you are in the 1% of people who has a problem with a product, they will take care of you! (Though a bit of technical ability and comfort with soldering made it a lot faster, since we didn't have to sent the whole batteries back to Hong Kong- expensively and slowlt)

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2014, 06:45:36 AM »
EM3EV is great! My wife and I both have batteries from Paul at EM3EV, and she has a bafang mid drive as well. We had a problem with the batteries (the "bottle mount" ones like in the kit you linked) where they would no longer turn off. He realized a bad batch of BMS's were sent out, that had seemed fine in testing but were not. He upgraded to a different supplier, tested the new ones well, and sent me- for free- new BMS's, an adapter cable (to connect to the old style connector on our batteries) and told me what to do. Only a tiny bit of soldering, and we have two perfect batteries. So, even if you are in the 1% of people who has a problem with a product, they will take care of you! (Though a bit of technical ability and comfort with soldering made it a lot faster, since we didn't have to sent the whole batteries back to Hong Kong- expensively and slowlt)

That is great to hear, since product support is so important on these systems.  That's one of the reasons I went with BionX.  I do however like the mid-drive units as they are likely the most efficient electric assists you can find.  Do you agree?
I love being outside.

Rickk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 81
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2014, 06:52:08 AM »
EM3EV is great!

I will second this.  I bought my kit from Paul as well and have only good things to say about working with him.
My only complaint was the cost involved in both shipping and money conversion.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2015, 05:42:50 PM »
Since there were some unanswered questions in this thread, I thought I'd go through and answer a few of them.  I've been playing with ebikes for a few years, and my current one is my "daily driver" for pretty much everything - commuting to work, running errands, bouncing around town, etc.

I'm running a custom ebike with a ~1300W geared rear hub motor in a 26" mountain bike frame and a 500WH LiFePO4 battery (~2x my normal daily usage).  I've gone to a single large front chain ring as it's a dedicated ebike, and my solution to "The motor has failed and there's a hill" is "walk it if it's steep enough."  I don't see a need for additional complexity for incredibly rarely used situations.  The rear shifter is a twist grip on the left bar (it shifts "backwards" but you get used to it quickly).

I'm in the Seattle area, so hills are a bit brutal here.  I *can* pedal bike to work, but the "showing up sweaty" thing and I don't get along, so the ebike it is (most of the time).  It's now also faster to ebike than drive, so I really only drive to work once a month or less if I have a lot to carry or am dressed in a suit for whatever reason (it's rare enough that a bicycle suit carrier is not worth it).

I consume 25-30WH/mile (give or take - I don't have exact numbers, but this is about what I've determined based on range) under normal riding, so about an order of magnitude better than a Tesla or Leaf - you can, in fact, call them electron guzzlers.  Depending on what you eat and how your power is generated, it can actually be lower carbon than a regular pedal bike.

I'm kinda curious as to how the range of the battery is affected by winter conditions.  At 20 below how well do these things tend to work?

Somewhat poorly if the pack gets cold.  Search for "[battery technology] temperature curve" and you'll see charts that show capacity/power dropping off quickly as it gets below freezing.  I can certainly feel a difference in the winter (around 32F) vs the summer (70-80F) in power delivery.

However, the good news is that there are some easy enough solutions to the problem.  One simple solution is to add additional pack capacity so that even a reduced temperature pack has enough range.  Another is to, in the cold weather, keep the bike indoors (or at least the battery pack indoors) and insulate the carrying case.  The pack will start out warm and it's internal heat generation while discharging will keep it warm enough for a normal range ride.  Finally, you can buy battery heaters that run off the battery and keep it warm.  This probably isn't worth it for a typical ebike use case unless you're riding 20-30 miles in the cold, since a well insulated pack will be perfectly fine if it starts out warmer.

On the plus side, if you have enough additional pack capacity, you could install heated grips or run heated gear in the winter (this is common for people who ride motorcycles year round).  And, you can just pedal a bit harder in the winter to generate your own heat. :)

- Type of battery, lead or lithium. Both have advantages, depending on if you use your bicycle mainly for longer distances or for many short errands AND it depends on your climate. You also have hybrides and new li-on and 'all plastic' batteries that can resist temperatures up to +45 celsius and down to -40 celsius. But they are expensive and not easy to fix.

I respectfully disagree.  There is no reason to use a lead acid battery on an ebike now.  They're heavy, short lived, and dreadfully inefficient at higher discharge rates that are common for EVs (even ebikes).  A lightweight lithium pack will outperform a lead acid pack in every metric, and the costs have come down enough that it's not even worth bothering with lead anymore.

There are a few different lithium battery types, though, and most ebikes use a standard lithium ion battery.  This is typically good for a few hundred cycles before losing significant capacity.  I'm actually a big fan of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries for ebikes.  You need a physically larger pack for a given capacity, but they have a cycle life measured in thousands, are a bit safer (though it's not really a big issue anymore with a decently designed system), and, nicely, have a nearly constant voltage across their discharge cycle, so end-of-ride voltage (and power) is almost identical to start-of-ride voltage (and power).  It's also a bit more expensive, but for a serious ebike build, the high cycle life means the total cost over the years is radically lower as they'll last almost indefinitely if cared for reasonably.  And constant power throughout the discharge is a nice perk, though it does mean you won't have much warning before the batteries quit on you if you run the pack out.

The spokes kept breaking off.

This is, sadly, a common issue.  The best option seems to be to get a motor/wheel assembly from a reputable ebike vendor.  The lacing pattern is a bit different with a large motor than with a normal hub, and many motors are drilled for larger spokes than standard for bicycles.  If you use the proper size spoke and a lacing pattern that works with the motor diameter, it's far less likely to be a problem.  It's also a good idea to go with a heavy duty rear wheel if it's offered as an option.  I've not regretted the extra money I've spent on getting heavy duty rear wheels, as they break spokes far less frequently.  An ebike is typically going to be heavy, and run fast, so it puts a lot more stress into the wheels than typical bicycling duty.  Combined with a heavy rider, you can easily overstress a lightweight wheel build and cause it to start failing.

I thought sol's comments in a different thread were right on.
[insert sol's comments about how ebikes are not hardcore enough and MMM is selling out]

I know plenty of folks who are a little older and a lot of out of shape, better to have an e-bike than no bike at all.

I've had this conversation numerous times, since I work on a team with a rather hardcore bicyclist.

My view is that it strongly depends on the situation, and an ebike is still radically better than a car.

If you're FIRE, potting around town on your own schedule, in good shape, and don't care if you're a bit sweaty, great - a regular muscle-bike is the best approach.  If you work in an environment with showers, and don't mind getting to work hot, showering, cooling off, changing, etc, then a muscle-bike is also a great way to get around.  However, not everyone is in that environment (or wants to spend the extra time in the morning showering/cooling off/etc).  An electric bike allows you to, for example, use a good motor assist going to work so you can get to work cool, and pedal more on the way home when it doesn't matter as much.

An ebike is also a great solution if, for whatever reason, you're not able to fully power yourself around (hills being a common problem for many people).  A surprising amount of interest in my ebike comes from older people who haven't cycled in years due to knee/hip trouble.  In many cases, there's "that one hill" that they cannot comfortably deal with getting home, and a small motor assist would enable them to bike instead of driving.  Not everyone lives in the flatlands, and I'm not one to tell a 60 year old to suck it up and get in better shape (though, if they're bicycling instead of driving, that happens anyway).  Many of them didn't even know that electric bicycles were a thing.  I have no idea how many have actually gone out and picked one up, but there are quite a few who now know, if they want to bike, there are options they can work with.

As my boss pointed out when I was arguing about carbon output between ebikes and pedal bikes, "FFS, you're both on bicycles and using a fraction the energy of a car to get around.  You're not the problems!"

I think everyone would agree that an electric bike is a radically better transportation solution than a car.  Going back and forth about bicycles vs ebikes is hair splitting way off on the end of the bell curve of transportation methods.  Either way is radically cheaper and better for the environment and the person than a car.

The folks at endless-sphere.com have tons of advice and rides to share.

Endless Sphere is a slightly silly place, at times.  There are far too many people interested in going way too fast on way too cheap a vehicle to do it safely.  They will certainly help out for dirt cheap ebike ideas, but well executed, safe, reliable ebikes are a bit rare at times there.

The beauty of an electric assist is that it really eliminates a lot of excuses. And frankly, often those excuses are valid. I couldn't even ride my bike around my old neighborhood -- the hills literally made me sick to my stomach.

Yup.  "Oh, it's too hot, I don't want to show up drenched in sweat" goes away as an excuse with a motor assist.

Quote
I think MMM is right -- easy electric kits (esp. ones like the Copenhagen wheel and the Flykly smart wheel) are potentially 'gateway' drugs for lots of people to get those bikes that are collecting dust in their garages and drive lots left.

I tentatively disagree, mostly because things like the Copenhagen Wheel have yet to actually be released.  I'll have a better opinion on them once they're available, but from what I've seen, they're radically inferior to either an electric bike available now, or one you build.

The Copenhagen wheel is still vaporware, as far as I'm concerned.  A few demos does not a viable product make.

The FlyKly is also mostly rubbish, IMO.  A 250W motor is not worth sacrificing gearing on the rear for (it's only available as a single speed rear, as far as I can tell), it only works with rim brakes, and it's rather of expensive for what it is.  You could put a 250W front wheel hilltopper kit on a bike for substantially less money and still keep your gearing.

The "fancy" ebike conversion wheels are limited in power, limited in range, and are mostly a set of compromises determined by "I'm going to fit everything in an unmaintainable wheel!"  Build something with more traditional parts and you have a more powerful, longer range ebike that's easier to work on.  I'm sorry, I don't feel the need to sync my ebike to my smartphone.  I want a minimum of things to go wrong.

Bicycling is often faster than driving for me as I have my own personal lane while cars are stuck in traffic.

At least in Washington, ebikes can also use the bike lanes. :)  I'd feel bad about blowing past people uphill, except I rarely see other people in the bike lanes anyway.  But, yes, it's faster than driving for me as well.  A car commute (in the evening) is typically 25-30 minutes for 5 miles, with a peak of 45 minutes one day.  I can get home on my ebike in about 18 minutes, regardless of traffic (I suppose if it's really, really bad, I might take 20 minutes because of a few lights that stay against me longer).

The mid-drives are very efficient and also work well because they use your existing gearing.  I've not heard anything bad about the Bafang either.

The mid-drive motors are certainly efficient at any speed, but I'm not entirely sold on them unless you need one (for a heavy cargo bike or heavy towing).  Mostly, you're putting a LOT of power through a chain system that's not built for it, and this stretches the chain and wears the sprockets quickly.  Replacing chains and sprockets adds up quickly, and at some point, a more powerful geared hub motor in the rear wheel is likely to be cheaper in the long run.

Anyway, sorry for the long reply.  Hopefully it helps a few people.  I'm happy to answer any other questions people have.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2015, 12:55:24 PM »
Syonyk - great reply - sums it up!
I love being outside.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #38 on: April 13, 2015, 02:44:13 PM »
No problem.  Glad you found it useful!  I'm happy to answer any other questions people have as well.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Erica/NWEdible

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 974
    • Northwest Edible Life - life on garden time
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #39 on: April 13, 2015, 08:27:26 PM »
Syonyk - thanks, very interesting. I've been off the forums for a while - is there a thread, or somewhere off forum, where you describe how you built your ebike? I'd love to know more.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2015, 08:29:37 PM »
No. I should work on something though.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Erica/NWEdible

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 974
    • Northwest Edible Life - life on garden time
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #41 on: April 13, 2015, 08:45:25 PM »
If you opt to, I'd love to see it. You seem to know your stuff - maybe a downloadable ebike conversion PDF booklet could be a side hustle for you! :)

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #42 on: April 13, 2015, 09:27:27 PM »
Eh. I've got enough side activities already.  Might work on my website though.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #43 on: April 14, 2015, 05:59:01 AM »
It's still difficult in many parts of the country to drop into a bike shop and buy something pre-made.  Also, if you do usually the bicycle quality is so low that you really end up overpaying for the package.

There are those shops that specialize in this and you end up with much higher quality, but you pay the price.  I ended up somewhere in the middle, working with my local shop to build from quality bicycles (a Surely Big Dummy and an Xtracycle - both cargo bikes) and adding a Bionx system because I couldn't seem to get enough comfort with aftermarket systems.

However, if you are more knowledgeable or have someone that can guide you that works well to getting you on a decent quality bicycle with a great e-assist.  Not that I'm volunteering Syonyk, but the information offered from him/her? is very helpful in getting one started.
I love being outside.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #44 on: April 14, 2015, 08:09:00 AM »
BionX is definitely a good company to get a conversion from, though a bit underpowered for the cost and a direct drive motor on at least most of the kits. You get regen, but there's a "cogging" drag without assist that's not present on a geared motor with one way clutch. It's probably the best of the fully integrated kits, though, and at least doesn't put the battery in the wheel like so many of the current crowd funded vaporware.

I've considered starting my own line of ebikes at some point, but it would be down the road some years. Plenty of higher income things to take care of first...
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #45 on: April 14, 2015, 09:11:17 AM »
BionX is definitely a good company to get a conversion from, though a bit underpowered for the cost and a direct drive motor on at least most of the kits. You get regen, but there's a "cogging" drag without assist that's not present on a geared motor with one way clutch. It's probably the best of the fully integrated kits, though, and at least doesn't put the battery in the wheel like so many of the current crowd funded vaporware.

I've considered starting my own line of ebikes at some point, but it would be down the road some years. Plenty of higher income things to take care of first...

Agreed on all points.  When you are not using the assist there is considerable drag from the magnets, and when coupled with the heavier cargo bikes it is not something that I would enjoy doing 30 miles from home!  I always make sure to borrow the second battery when I go over 40 miles away so that I have enough "juice" to return.

I went with the Bionx because it is so well integrated, but then you cannot use another company's battery and things like the controller are expensive (and proprietary) - don't ask me how I know!

As far as the power it has been great for us.  Again, they are on cargo bikes and we often carry a passenger or heavy load (80 pounds of salt, plus 2 gallons of chlorine) and still move along without pedaling at 20 mph.  One can easy peddle up our shorter hills with a passenger at 18-20 mph.  Not sure this system would be best for loads if you have steep hills.

I went with direct drive hub motor due to the durability and lack of noise (from the gears in a geared hub), as I use a multi-use trail that says no "electric-bikes" which is a grey area arguement that I could win based on federal and state law, but it is better to be quiet, considerate, and responsibly than to argue so well that the next round of legal arguments closes any loops.  I wanna ride, not argue!

BTW-I have about 2,000 miles on each and have only had these since last summer.  My van sits in the driveway for weeks at a time now.  My estimate for weekly ride to work is about $0.10/week as opposed to $25/week in gas for the vehicle.  I still haven't offset the cost of the bikes, but will eventually.  That was only part of the reason to get the bikes though.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2015, 09:13:08 AM by Rollin »
I love being outside.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2610
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #46 on: April 14, 2015, 12:23:57 PM »
Stealth ebiking is certainly a strength of direct drive motors, especially if you use panniers to hide the motor fully.

The geared motors are a lot smaller physically, but definitely have a whine to them.  I haven't had any people complain on my commute (which is on a trail that I don't think allows ebikes), but I just cut the throttle and pedal past people when I'm passing them.  I figure the number of people who are on the trail who know what an ebike is and how to identify one is small enough that it's not likely to be a problem.  Worst case, if someone official yells at me, I can always go back to my old commute route.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #47 on: April 14, 2015, 02:34:23 PM »
Stealth ebiking is certainly a strength of direct drive motors, especially if you use panniers to hide the motor fully.

The geared motors are a lot smaller physically, but definitely have a whine to them.  I haven't had any people complain on my commute (which is on a trail that I don't think allows ebikes), but I just cut the throttle and pedal past people when I'm passing them.  I figure the number of people who are on the trail who know what an ebike is and how to identify one is small enough that it's not likely to be a problem.  Worst case, if someone official yells at me, I can always go back to my old commute route.

Or ride like the wind and let 'em try and catch you!

Yes, on the cargo bike the rear tire is completely obscured by the panniers.
I love being outside.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1554
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2015, 05:14:21 AM »
Yeah, I get the whole 'What about muscle vs motor?' thing as well. Although, MMM has indicated in his article that it's a gateway drug, a good way to get people riding who otherwise wouldn't (older, live in hilly areas, longer commutes, etc). Insisting on a manual bike in that situation might be a case of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I started commuting via (regular) bike a month or so ago. Originally I was going to keep taking the tram and then convert the bike to electric for bicycle commuting in the spring (currently mid autumn). Instead I decided just to ride anyway and build my fitness up, and now I'm riding in work clothes without an issue (although the cooler weather has helped there too).

I'm still kinda keen on riding an electric bike and maybe buying/building one, but some of them are expensive. I may be keen on an ebike conversion, but not if the conversion costs almost as much as a brand new 125cc scooter. Some kits are cheaper (~$700 or so) though. Here they need to be no more than 250W to be road legal.

Rollin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
  • Location: West-Central Florida - USA
Re: Electric bikes
« Reply #49 on: April 15, 2015, 05:44:22 AM »
Yeah, I get the whole 'What about muscle vs motor?' thing as well. Although, MMM has indicated in his article that it's a gateway drug, a good way to get people riding who otherwise wouldn't (older, live in hilly areas, longer commutes, etc). Insisting on a manual bike in that situation might be a case of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I started commuting via (regular) bike a month or so ago. Originally I was going to keep taking the tram and then convert the bike to electric for bicycle commuting in the spring (currently mid autumn). Instead I decided just to ride anyway and build my fitness up, and now I'm riding in work clothes without an issue (although the cooler weather has helped there too).

I'm still kinda keen on riding an electric bike and maybe buying/building one, but some of them are expensive. I may be keen on an ebike conversion, but not if the conversion costs almost as much as a brand new 125cc scooter. Some kits are cheaper (~$700 or so) though. Here they need to be no more than 250W to be road legal.

I often compare the price of my bike(s) with cars (or scooters) like you have with scooters and its not pretty.  I have a $10K van, but just paid $7K for two electric bikes, and have about $7K more in other pedal bikes.  However, I use them almost daily and keep them for years.  They all have many thousands of miles on them and yes I save the world one pedal stroke at a time and I'm in shape, but there is something else that I get from riding as opposed to twisting a throttle or pushing a gas pedal (e-assist or not) and that is the freedom to be out of an automobile or off my motorcycle.  Sometimes I feel trapped when I drive.  However, on the bikes I can take just about any route I want, my mind is not stressed - ever - as compared to the auto or motorcycle (less so with that).  I'm really feeling this difference lately as I normally commute 15 miles by bike.  However, I am having to drive 1 hour in the morning (about 30 miles) in tough traffic and then since I have the auto I have to drive home.  I miss my bike commute.

On comparing costs with a scooter make sure you factor in the maintenance, license, insurance, etc.  Not saying they are a bad idea, just that there are extras involved.  Once you buy a bike you are usually done for a long time.
I love being outside.