Electric Bikes - the share your wisdom with a newbie thread
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04-30-08, 11:53 PM
hey, I want to buy an ebike for quick trips around town and maybe to commute to work but I know very little about them.
I'd like for it to cost a $1,000 or less and I'm not mechanically inclined so I'd prefer a pre-built ebike if there's a decent enough one in my price range. 15-20 mile range, 20-30 mph, easy enough to pedal as just a bike, and powerful enough to go up small hills without much if any assistance.
I'm more then happy to do my own homework, but if anyone could point me towards a bike that suits my needs or share a link to some ebike reviews or give some advice, I'd appreciate it thanks.
05-01-08, 12:01 AM
by the way, my local dealer carries this model: http://www.electricrider.com/electrec/index.htm
I test rode it, seemed fine (if maybe not quite as much pick-up-and-go as I would like) but I have limited knowledge about bicycles so I'm not really sure what to look for, the only ones I've ever owned we the wallmart varitey so... yea. anyone know anything about this particular one?
For the most part, the complete electric bikes you will find have motors that don't contribute much (or any) power at speeds over 20-22 miles per hour. They will give useful acceleration from a stop and climb steep hills a little bit better than a regular bike. It sounds like that's the kind of performance you got from the "electrec" bike- don't expect a lot more from the competitors' bikes. Customized bikes can give much better performance at similar cost, but it'll require a lot of tinkering.
05-01-08, 08:59 AM
so you're saying putting together my own bike will give me better performance but will be more complicated? I'm just scared that it wont work quite right if I do it myself, like I said, it's not my cup of tea. but I want to get the most bike for my $1,000 so if there's not a decent one I guess I'll have to.
Defenely :) Customized is the way to go.
05-01-08, 01:13 PM
well if I went that route, what bike would make a good frame for the kit?
and is it really going to be a great improvement over the bike I posted above? I don't have to be the fastest bike in town, just want a comfortable ride to work and such.
05-01-08, 02:38 PM
Any modern frame that fits you and delivers the type of ride posture you desire will be fine. Advanced considerations have to do with braking capacity, suspension (or not, maybe front only?) motor power, steel or alloy and wheel sizes. Don't overlook the fact that if you get a successful eBike - you may find yourself spending much more time in the saddle so comfort can and will become an important issue. Personally, I like feet forward cruiser riding postures. Do youtube searches to see the variety of custom assembled eBike projects.
You wouldn't want that eBike in your link to be much more powerful because V brakes won't safely support much higher performance. Did you see any personal kit-built rides at electricrider? I always got the impression they use what they sell so somebody there has built some good rides. My suggestion is that folks go for a nice assist system and try to remember the point is to devise a low-sweat bicycle. NOT a motorcycle.
Motor/controller/frame be important but batteries are the single most important component for serious eBike transportation use IMO.
I used to live in KCMO, hung out in Lawrence a bit. Those were the days...
05-01-08, 03:34 PM
that makes sense about the brakes. so your comment about getting an assist and not a motorcycle, was that advising me to get the lower power bike above?
I guess I really don't really know what speed I'd be the most comfortable with, slow enough that it's easily controllable, fast enough that I don't feel ridiculous, powerful enough to get up the hills or let me ride a while on just the motor when I'm tired.
I'll go look up some youtube vids, thanks.
05-02-08, 07:56 AM
The thing about pedal assist is that as long as the battery holds a charge you rarely get tired. But I do like to motor along from time to time. I have a 400W hub motor recreational beach cruiser ebike that lets me do that although for serious commuting I choose my Panasonic pedal assist 100% of the time. I go twice the distance or more for the same AH battery with the later.
The electrek is a proven if not dated design. Those little motors hanging off the rear frame seem to hold-up and there's plenty of support for 'em if you want to mod things a bit or need repairs.
I like speed/power but for a bicycle it can get out of hand very quickly - +700W motors and speeds above 20mph are getting into the motorcycle range and need proper brakes, wheels, frames and designs to safely handle those demands.
my first project was a aluminum frame and V brakes, it was a white-knuckle ride. frame flexed like a wet noodle.
and the brakes took about 5 car lengths to stop so i was always looking ahead. and thats with a 500watt motor. :)
one thing about using the cheep shwinn izip as a project bike, its cheap all steel comfort frame and the added disk brake makes for a solid ride for miles.
im picking up another one.
05-02-08, 11:04 PM
well my finance's parents heard I was thinking about motorizing a bike and offered me a supposedly good quality donor bike to have my way with. I'm not one to look a gift bike in the mouth, so I'm going to take a look at it next week and see if it's a good candidate for a kit.
05-03-08, 03:32 PM
so after much research, I'm thinking I might go with the cyclone kit and lead acid batteries (until I can afford to upgrade them) making the grand total (if the donor bike works) like $400-ish, assuming there's not something else I need that I don't know about.
05-04-08, 12:25 AM
I'm not sure why people are dissing the "V-brakes" because they always worked excellent for me. Disc brakes are the rage and people want whats new, yeah they work good but so do V-brakes. I have both types of brakes and three electric bikes, v-brakes are still a good choice.
Stay away from lead, they might seem like a good deal at first glance but the li-ion batteries are conciderably more cycles and more power density than lead. Long story short, lead sucks, literally.
You will love E-biking, don't forget to buy panniers to carry groceries and stuff, because you'll be ridin often. Good luck.
05-04-08, 07:54 AM
I've bookmarked some panniers to look at when I have the bike set up. although now I'm going back and forth on adding a cyclone or wilderness hub motor. it's too bad about the lead acid batteries, but I just can't add another 300 to the cost right now. maybe a month or two down the line I can put some more money aside for them.
05-04-08, 08:11 AM
When I said "V brakes won't safely support much higher performance." I was talking about motorcycles with pedals that some people build with this technology. Regularly hitting speeds of 35-40mph or more - sure, people do it with V brakes but they wear very quick and if/when you have a failure at those speeds, what then? On an assisted bike if regularly inspected I think V brakes are fine - my Panasonic has a V front and drum rear. For high speed electric motorcycle builds - be very careful thinking V brakes are the bomb...
If I were looking for suitable ebicycle frame disc brakes would give me that added confidence in case I wanted to up the performance a bit. It's not a deal breaker and I'm not saying V brakes are junk - but the edge goes to disc brakes if there's a choice to be made.
I have mixed feelings about SLA (lead) batteries. My feeling is that it can offer an affordable opportunity to check out eBiking without sinking $1k into a project. If it weren't for SLA I might never have figured out which end is up with regard to eBikes. For those on a very limited budget I normally suggest minimal AH SLA to sort out the mechanics while saving for eventual Lithium chemistry.
NiMh is the one chemistry that I don't think makes much sense for eBiking. As I've stated before - without daily use you will need to carry more AH capacity so that you're not saving any weight over SLA. Considering that cell balance issues are just as complicated as Lithium, prices are up there too - why bother with NiMh? I've got 2qty 13AH NiMh packs - I paid a lot of money and use them but they're not a very good solution in my daily experience.
I keep hearing about trouble with that freewheel crank system on Cyclone systems? Hub motors are a nice way - what about Currie motor hanging off the back frame? Have you checked Craigslist? I found an Autozone hub motor steel eBike for next to nothing - plenty of 'em with bad batteries! Haha - had that sorted out in no time for what I would've spent on a kit and that's now my beach cruiser!
$300 for lithium? Maybe those Ping's will work out but I think any reasonable cost estimate for dependable Lithium chemistry at this time is $500-$1,000.
05-04-08, 08:45 AM
Hey check out pg 3 pic thread - dman-ebike in particular has assembled a great looking ebike that wouldn't break the bank yet get the job done well. Add lithium to that and you got a real winner IMO!
well if you dont mind adding your own battery, you can pick up a rear dc hubmotor and controller for 328.75
from ebikes.ca. and thats shipped. i think my new projects going to need disk brakes:D
this build's for my kid to save a few buck's to and from work.
05-04-08, 11:52 AM
yea, the hub motors at ebikes.ca seem to be my cheapest option right now (just have to figure out which one I need, can't tell one from the other) with some lead acid batteries to get me started. didn't realize lithium were that expensive, $1,000? maybe I could rig something...
and I can't find the pic thread you're talking about joe, mind posting a link?
if you wana keep the price down even further, you can run the dc motor without the controller. just use a toggle switch.
05-04-08, 02:07 PM
by controller are you talking about the throttle? cause if it really came down to it I could build my own throttle (I love diy electronics projects) or I could buy something like this maybe: http://cgi.ebay.com/Pro-Throttle-Grip-Motorized-Bicycle-Moped-Engine-Kit_W0QQitemZ220195768575QQihZ012QQcategoryZ11332QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp163 8Q2em118Q2el1247
so it's looking like my costs are going to be-
donor bike: free
hub motor: $300-ish
3 12v lead-acid batteries: ?
pannier for batteries: $30-ish
road tires for bike: ? (since it's a mountain bike)
any other parts to get bike in tip top shape: ?
total: not enough info yet (but under $500)
or I could buy a kit that includes everything (minus bike maintenance products). I was looking at this one:
$369 + $40 shipping = $409
just want to get the most bike for the money, and I can only put 300-400 bucks towards it right now. later on I'll upgrade the batteries and add a few accessories to it (I like the computer ebikes.ca has for ebikes).
good price go for it, never tested it yet :) share your results.
05-04-08, 08:26 PM
Here bro - http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=364676&page=3
Scroll down a little and find the 3 photos of dman-ebike Very nicely done!
Here's the electric rider page you need:
Check out the power system only option. If I'm not mistaken the Wilderness kit is brush motor, Roadrunner is brushless (BLDC) DC motor = low/no maintenance. Brushes can and will wear out if you ride long enough and then it's a very dirty messy job to replace if you can find the brushes. BLDC is the future to motors like lithium is to lead batteries. The old ways work but the new ways work better.
This guy was very helpful when I was shopping/comparing and seemed willing enough to price a kit minus batteries -
These guys look pretty good too but I have no 1st hand dealing with 'em:
Unfortunately, unless you buy used sourcing a serious eBike under $1k is proving to be harder than I would have imagined. That electrec is looking better by the minute to me...
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