Author Topic: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!  (Read 6088 times)

mara

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Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« on: April 05, 2015, 08:17:54 PM »
Instead of replacing my last car with a new one, I bought an electric cargo bike. It's a Juiced Riders ODK500 V3: http://www.juicedriders.com/. It can go up to 75 miles on one charge and can carry up to 330 lbs. But first, I need to get used to riding it, because I hadn't ridden a bike in more than 20 years!

It's been about a month now, and I can ride it pretty well. I pedal most of the time and use the electric assist as needed. Now the snow is melting and the temps are less intimidating, I have commuted to work twice and will do more. It's 5-6 miles each way, and it feels like a good accomplishment, although short of badass by Mustachian standards.

I'm looking forward to cutting back to part-time work from home in a couple of months. When that happens, I plan to do more bike errands. Yesterday, I found the bike route to the supermarket on maps.google and drove it in my pickup. It's a beautiful, scenic route, under 7 miles.

The bike can carry a week's groceries for two, but I'm not sure about weight distribution. Can anyone help with that? The wheels are 20". I have two Koki paniers, which may be too small, and could get some kind of basket for the back rack. The bike itself weighs about 75 lbs.; it's like riding a moped. If I load it up with groceries, is it likely to be much harder for a small person to handle?

Let's share our cargo bike experiences and adventures, and we can help each other with information.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 02:56:28 PM by mara »

Barnaby

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Re: Let electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2015, 09:21:46 PM »
When it's all loaded up, just be careful that it is balanced as you smoothly stop. It won't be a problem while it's moving.

waffle

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Re: Let electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015, 10:20:41 AM »
I'd recommend getting a bike trailer. You can haul a lot more and not have to worry about the weight on the bike itself. Search on Craigslist for one. I found a good used one for about $40.

mara

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Re: Let electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2015, 10:34:15 AM »
When it's all loaded up, just be careful that it is balanced as you smoothly stop. It won't be a problem while it's moving.

Ah, yes... starting and stopping... they should improve as I get stronger. I'm finding the power assist sometimes helps keep me from tipping over when starting, especially headed uphill. Also, I've been thinking about MMM saying, "If you have to brake, you've made a mistake" as I drive along.

mara

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Re: Let electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2015, 10:43:40 AM »
I'd recommend getting a bike trailer. You can haul a lot more and not have to worry about the weight on the bike itself. Search on Craigslist for one. I found a good used one for about $40.

That's a great price! I was wondering about a trailer. What kind did you get?

waffle

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2015, 08:24:45 AM »
I don't know the exact model, but its a Burley. My wife uses it a lot to haul the kids around places during the day.

Syonyk

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 05:51:32 PM »
500W motor, 1100WH pack. Nice!

I'm running a commuter ebike with about a 1300W motor and 500WH pack. It's not a cargo bike but I do most of my local running around with it.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 07:21:28 PM »
I don't know the exact model, but its a Burley. My wife uses it a lot to haul the kids around places during the day.

The Burley products look great! I wrote to Juiced Riders. For my bike, the bike designer recommended starting with a basket for the bike rear rack. They show one in one of their promotional photos. It's made by Basil. I may try that before a trailer.

mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 07:23:39 PM »
500W motor, 1100WH pack. Nice!

I'm running a commuter ebike with about a 1300W motor and 500WH pack. It's not a cargo bike but I do most of my local running around with it.

That sounds like it would go very fast. Do you commute on it even in the rain? It's raining here today; I was glad to not be on the bike.

Syonyk

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 07:30:22 PM »
Power doesn't affect top speed that much - mostly hill climbing, which is what I built mine for.

It tops out around 24mph on level ground, though I wouldn't need nearly 1300W to do that.

And, yes, I ride in the rain because the alternative is radically more miserable - sitting in heavy stopped traffic all the way to/from work.  My "in a car" record is 45 minutes to get 5 miles home.  It normally takes 20-30 minutes in a car to get home during standard commuting traffic.  I can do it on the ebike in under 20.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2015, 04:02:48 AM »
Sitting in traffic is indeed a good motivator to use the ebike. Building it yourself is very cool and self-sufficient. I am very impressed.

I have an easier commute. We're closing our in-town office at the end of next month, so the ebike will be for errands and fun. My husband is thinking about getting a conversion kit for his bike... I sure hope he will. Riding together is tough on the hills.

Syonyk

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2015, 08:49:52 AM »
How hilly is your area? The front wheel conversion kits are OK up through maybe 300W, but beyond that you should use a rear motor unless the bike is designed for a higher power front motor like yours.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2015, 04:54:28 AM »
How hilly is your area? The front wheel conversion kits are OK up through maybe 300W, but beyond that you should use a rear motor unless the bike is designed for a higher power front motor like yours.

Our area is quite hilly, so a rear motor sounds like the way to go. Thanks for the tip! We might have bought the wrong one and regretted it.

It's time for the bike to prove itself now. DH will be using the pickup for errands to help our daughter, who is relocating back near home, so I'll depend on the bike for transportation while he is busy.

Last week we announced to our biggest clients that we will be closing the office in five weeks and our assistant will be available to take over the work. The response was mixed. It's a stressful situation. I think riding my bike will help me feel better.

Syonyk

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2015, 11:24:31 AM »
Our area is quite hilly, so a rear motor sounds like the way to go. Thanks for the tip! We might have bought the wrong one and regretted it.

It'll probably be fine, you'll just have to pedal more than you would with a bigger motor (but less than you would without a motor).  You've got smaller wheels as well, so the motor is effectively "geared down" and should hill climb decently (just won't help as much at high speed).  Your bike is designed as an ebike, so the front motor should be fine, if perhaps a little bit "spin the front wheel when starting uphill in the rain" prone.

The real concern is when people try to put serious power on the front forks on a non-custom-designed-ebike.  The forks simply are not built for that, so any bike that's pushing more than 250-300W should have the motor in the rear (where you can push several thousand watts if you throw a torque arm on).  Rear drive is also better for traction, since most ebikes tend to be tail heavy due to the rider weight and battery pack.

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It's time for the bike to prove itself now. DH will be using the pickup for errands to help our daughter, who is relocating back near home, so I'll depend on the bike for transportation while he is busy.

It should work great.  ebikes are awesome for getting around.  If, down the road, you want more power, you can always sell the current one and upgrade.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2015, 11:46:44 AM »
Syonyk, the conversion kit would be for my husband's mountain bike. My Juiced Rider's ODK ebike works great on the hills and everywhere.

Rode the ODK to work today and it was a great experience. I am getting more accustomed to riding it and also picked up the speed. :-) The fastest I went was 21.3 mph.

Questions:
Do you pull off to the side of the road for any particular kind of traffic or expect drivers to pull around you in almost all situations? (This morning I pulled off the road twice, once for a pickup truck and once for an 18 wheeler.)

When riding a bike, do you always stop at stop signs or pause and keep going if there is no one around?

This may be obvious, but after you park and lock your bike, do you strip it of everything removable before you walk away?

Are there ebike clubs for fun bike outings? I'm guessing muscle-only-powered riders wouldn't want to go with an ebike rider.

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2015, 12:08:37 PM »
Syonyk, the conversion kit would be for my husband's mountain bike. My Juiced Rider's ODK ebike works great on the hills and everywhere.

Ah, ok.  If you decide to convert his, it might be worth considering a rear motor.

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Do you pull off to the side of the road for any particular kind of traffic or expect drivers to pull around you in almost all situations? (This morning I pulled off the road twice, once for a pickup truck and once for an 18 wheeler.)

It depends on where I am.  Normally I'm in a bike lane, so they can use the main lane, but if there's no bike lane, I'll often scoot over into the shoulder.  It just depends on the area and what drivers are used to.

Quote
When riding a bike, do you always stop at stop signs or pause and keep going if there is no one around?

Congratulations.  You've just stumbled onto a "holy war" question that will get people pissed off from here to next year.  Legally, you're supposed to stop.  I just do what's safe, but really, I don't run into that many stop signs.  I usually at least slow down.  What's annoying is that if you actually stop, about 97% of the time (at least where I live), people will sit there and wave you through until you go.  So all stopping does is slow everything down at the intersection.  With a motor, it's a bit easier to get speed back up, so it's certainly worth slowing down somewhat.

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This may be obvious, but after you park and lock your bike, do you strip it of everything removable before you walk away?

I don't.  My bike doesn't look expensive, though (even though it is).  I've not had trouble with anyone messing with it, but I also don't leave it locked up places that long (I park it inside the garage at work, and generally don't spend hours at the stores).

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Are there ebike clubs for fun bike outings? I'm guessing muscle-only-powered riders wouldn't want to go with an ebike rider.

No clue about ebike clubs.  I don't ride for fun, I ride because it's the least miserable form of getting around the Seattle area I've found yet, and is a wonderful little exploit for getting places quickly.  I'm occasionally mistaken for a hardcore bicyclist, despite being almost entirely motor driven.  And, yes, you're correct in that most muscle-powered bicyclists want little or nothing to do with ebike types, especially not on group rides.  I don't do "social bicycling," so I have no idea what's out there. Maybe check meetup.com?
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Syonyk

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2015, 12:11:26 PM »
Another useful thing I've found is that a neon helmet cover helps traffic see you, as does a neon riding jacket.  And, around here, it masks one as a "hardcore insane commuter cyclist," who are reasonably well known for road rage and other such unpleasant things when cars cut them off/ride in the bike lane/etc (me being also guilty of this), so people seem to give me more room when dressed in neon.

You also have a huge battery pack, so you can use it for driving absurd amounts of lighting. :)
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2015, 08:13:21 PM »
Another useful thing I've found is that a neon helmet cover helps traffic see you, as does a neon riding jacket.  And, around here, it masks one as a "hardcore insane commuter cyclist," who are reasonably well known for road rage and other such unpleasant things when cars cut them off/ride in the bike lane/etc (me being also guilty of this), so people seem to give me more room when dressed in neon.

You also have a huge battery pack, so you can use it for driving absurd amounts of lighting. :)

Ha! You are funny... I never saw bicycle road rage, but I guess I would have plenty of rage if run off the road. I looked up the neon helmets. They look cool! Although, my current helmet is a kind of florescent orange without being illuminated. Here's a picture of me and the ODK going off to work this morning.

I don't think I ever saw a cargo bike in person before I saw mine at the shop (shipped all the way from CA for me); I imagine people who see me think it's pretty odd-looking. On the way home from work today, a guy on a motorcycle smiled and nodded to me. That made me feel less weird. Maybe he was just laughing. Oh well, I'm doing my little bit to help save the planet, and save money, too.

I think the current florescent orange helmet is already over the top. And the orange bike, orange bell, orange flowers... don't you think an orange vest would be too much?

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2015, 08:29:02 PM »
There's no such thing as being too visible on two wheels.

Clashing neon is even better.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2015, 06:04:06 AM »
There's no such thing as being too visible on two wheels.

Clashing neon is even better.

Of course, you're right.

mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2015, 04:57:32 AM »
MMM started something wonderful with the article on electric bikes. It seems there aren't many electric cargo bike users on the forum, but I think that may change. Cargo bikes can work as car replacements, but are typically heavier than other bikes. Some of us, whether due to age, health, need to carry kids or a whole lot of stuff, or just wanting to get somewhere feeling fresh, can benefit from the electric assistance. Or maybe you want a vehicle that works as a pretty good car replacement and has a low carbon footprint. If you get a cargo bike, electric or muscle powered only, please consider sharing your story and pictures. How much stuff can you fit on your bike? Are you running errands or your kids' taxi service? Life isn't all about work, so let's have fun with the bikes, too. Do you use your bike to go camping? Do you carry a surfboard or a guitar? Have you ever loaded up your bike with a feast and met a friend at a park for a picnic? Are you tricking out your bike with cool accessories? It's your turn to share and inspire.

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2015, 10:27:03 AM »
I just ride my (not-cargo) ebike as a regular commuter/around town vehicle.  I've got more lights on the front than you can shake a stick at, though I don't typically fire all of them up unless I'm bombing down a poorly lit trail in the dark (it's not lit at all).  I can't say it's a particularly fun vehicle, just the best thing I've found for the east side of Seattle so far.
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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2015, 12:20:03 PM »
MMM started something wonderful with the article on electric bikes. It seems there aren't many electric cargo bike users on the forum, but I think that may change. Cargo bikes can work as car replacements, but are typically heavier than other bikes. Some of us, whether due to age, health, need to carry kids or a whole lot of stuff, or just wanting to get somewhere feeling fresh, can benefit from the electric assistance. Or maybe you want a vehicle that works as a pretty good car replacement and has a low carbon footprint. If you get a cargo bike, electric or muscle powered only, please consider sharing your story and pictures. How much stuff can you fit on your bike? Are you running errands or your kids' taxi service? Life isn't all about work, so let's have fun with the bikes, too. Do you use your bike to go camping? Do you carry a surfboard or a guitar? Have you ever loaded up your bike with a feast and met a friend at a park for a picnic? Are you tricking out your bike with cool accessories? It's your turn to share and inspire.

No need for a cargo bike to do insane things.

Two pretty insane things I've done with my muscle powered hybrid and an old plastic tub Burley:

1. Riding 26miles RT with 150 LBS of kids, 13 miles with an extra 100 LBS of Costco between trailer and panniers.

2. Riding 55 miles in a single day (two trips) with same 150 lb load of kids in trailer. I was, needless to say, quite tired :P

But I'm all for getting people onto bikes of any kind. The fresh air benefit alone is worth it.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2015, 04:53:58 AM »
Hi goblinchief,

Those are very impressive distances with the kids and groceries! I bet the kids loved it, too. How do they like riding in the trailer? Does it feel funny to be bouncing along, so close to the pavement?

I have a heart defect and try for smaller achievements. Recently, DH and I made it to the grocery store for a full week's groceries, about 13 miles RT. I had aquired a basket for the back rack of my bike. With the basket, panniers, and backpacks, we were able to carry everything. I had one mishap on the way to the store. The bike was hard for me to handle going slowly up a steep hill behind my husband (who does not have electric assistance) and I fell against a guard rail. The impact sent a strange jolt up and down my spine, and I ended up limping around the store. I was achey for a few days, but the ride itself was beautiful, the experience fulfilling, and I am eager to go again soon. Next time, I will pass him on the steep hill and wait for him at the top. An interesting note: the bike actually felt more stable when it was weighted down with the groceries.

We officially entered semi-retirement yesterday. Hooray!! I am looking forward to lots more bike rides. And sleep. And exercise. And recovery from a high stress career.

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2015, 09:33:41 AM »
Congrats on the semi-retirement! I'm looking forward to the day my wife can do the same.

My kids loved the trailer until they got too big, which was this year. So now the trailer is mostly just for cargo purposes. Otherwise my oldest two ride on their own bikes and my youngest rides on a trail-a-bike unless our destination is quite close.
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mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2015, 08:11:08 PM »
Congrats on the semi-retirement! I'm looking forward to the day my wife can do the same.

Thank you! I am sooo happy we will be able to do just part-time work at home. It started to feel real this morning when DH connected a computer (from the old studio) with a large display to the TV, put on a Youtube of a live performance of BB King, and we danced around the living room while BB played The Thrill is Gone on both monitors.

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2015, 01:45:13 AM »
Regarding visibility and the space that drivers give you: I generally get more space wearing my pink hi-vis than any other colour. And those little hub lights that fit on your tyre valves are great for getting drivers to see you when they pull out of a side street at night (check if they're legal tho - in the UK you can have any colour except blue)

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2015, 09:15:47 AM »
And those little hub lights that fit on your tyre valves are great for getting drivers to see you when they pull out of a side street at night (check if they're legal tho - in the UK you can have any colour except blue)

On the topic of wheel lights, I saw some of these the other day and it looked the freaking aliens had landed -- at a rave.

mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2015, 07:50:29 PM »
And those little hub lights that fit on your tyre valves are great for getting drivers to see you when they pull out of a side street at night (check if they're legal tho - in the UK you can have any colour except blue)

On the topic of wheel lights, I saw some of these the other day and it looked the freaking aliens had landed -- at a rave.

Playing with Fire UK, I see the tire valve lights come in great colors! Thanks for the tip.

Jack, I watched the Kickstart video about the Monkey Lights... they are amazing! It looked like those might be for daylight riding, too.

I've been having some more adventures and misadventures with my bike. It may be able to carry up to 300 lbs., but I find it hard to handle with a heavy load of groceries. The bike trailers are looking pretty good right now, but I don't know if there are any that would work with my bike, with its disc brakes and internal gears. Also, at this point, I need a frugal solution. Most of the trailers on Craigslist are the ones for kids and I don't know if there would be a way to attach one to a bike that doesn't have a quick-release rear wheel. If anyone has a suggestion, I would love to hear about it. (Bike pictures here: http://www.juicedriders.com)

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2015, 02:50:18 PM »
mara, you might find something useful on this forum:

http://www.bikeforums.net/utility-cycling/

I remember reading about somebody who had problems with a hitch loosening the nut on his axle, either an igh or a single speed.


mara

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Re: Let's talk electric cargo bikes!
« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2015, 06:17:04 PM »
mara, you might find something useful on this forum:

http://www.bikeforums.net/utility-cycling/

I remember reading about somebody who had problems with a hitch loosening the nut on his axle, either an igh or a single speed.

Awesome! Thank you! I will read through there.

I recently tried out the idea of the Burley Travoy, but I can't raise my seat post enough to attach it (due to my height) and the special bike rack attachment won't fit the bars on my rack. I just talked with customer and design service at Burley. They said Pedego makes a special Burley Travoy hitch attachment for electric cargo bikes. The Travoy gets rave reviews on Amazon. I have yet to find one used for sale, but that's one option.