First, thanks for all your comments and suggestions that you’ve shared with each other on this subboard of the bikeforums. I’ve learned a lot. Keep ‘em coming. I especially appreciate it when you post money-saving specials that you find on the net (I missed the golden motors brushless deal by a few weeks, drat).
I’ve had this ebike kit for about 190 miles (4 months?) and I apologize for not having reviewed it earlier. Been busy and just needed to sit down and knock out this review.
Pros: Price, ease of installation, comes complete (pre-wired, batteries, hub, controller, everything)
Negs: weight, bumpiness
My weight: 175 lbs.
Price paid: $199 (+$44 shipping)
Weight of bike w/complete setup (bike, batteries, rack, controller) : 74lbs
Installation: Installed it on a Schwinn Frontier MTB. The Frontier MTB is made of hi-ten steel. Installation was straightforward with no major issues. This Frontier had “C” cut outs to handle this front hub. It went in and “sat” with the shape of the hub screws. I did not have to expand the front fork to make the hub fit. The time-consuming part is having to run the wires from the controller to the hub, handi-tie them, install the included rear rack etc. The included directions are not very helpful. The only positive is that the directions had a lot of pictures.
They say you should install the controller on the outside of the battery pack, but I put it in a under saddle bag (see pix). I think they want to avoid the controller from getting too hot. This controller gets slightly warm, but not hot to the touch. A plus for my setup is that you can hide it by zipping it up.
The thumb accelerator also works well. I cannot compare it to the twist type, since I’ve never used it, but I’ve had no problems in terms of turning it or comfort problems.
Also, I later swapped out the MTB knobbies for some smooth slick tires (60PSI max).
Speed: I can attain a max speed on flat ground of 16mph. It is somewhat hilly in my area and the hub can pull me up a slight incline at 8mph. When doing a steep hill, you have to pedal or the hub will give out. I find myself pedaling when I do all the hills anyway. Can’t stand to lose speed, I guess. The hub motor really helps out on those steep hills too.
I realize that 15 mph is not too fast, but when you considering it is pulling about 250lbs (me plus the bike), it’s pretty amazing. Also, there are safety considerations when going fast or down a hill and have to stop. For example, when braking, I think you can put a lot of stress on V brakes with this weight/speed. Taking tight turns while at higher than 15mph speed and with this weight could also be hazardous as the bike could slip out from under you.
I do concede that a 36V motor could probably pull me up those steep hills without pedaling. However, the pedaling I do is so light/easy that it may not be worth it to upgrade to a 36V. It is just light pedaling and the hub motor really does “assist” you up.
Ride: I guess having so much weight on this bike makes for a bumpy experience. I swapped out the stock saddle and put in a brooks b67 because it has springs. It helped slightly, but you can still feel the bumps. I’ve thought about moving this kit to a full suspension MTB, like those cheap walmart ones, for a less bumpy ride. All I’ve found are aluminum bikes, though. Perhaps, I can switch out the front aluminum fork in those to a steel one.
Range: The kit came with 2 heavy Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. I have not really drained out the 2-12v SLAs, but I had one long ride of about 15 miles where I found the motor wasn’t pulling me as fast as it usually does. I was home already and did not push it past 15 miles. I would guesstimate that the range is between 15-20 miles on one charge.
I do not charge my batteries while at work. They do not recommend this. I’ve been measuring the degradation of the batteries with a radio shack battery tester and they have been on the high range (85-90%) of the meter. So far, sulfination has not set in by me not recharging at work. Maybe it’s because the distance of the commute, who knows.
A definite future upgrade would be to go with lighter batteries like lithium ion. I’ve been keeping a lookout for cheap dewalt battery packs, which I know could be installed with this. Perhaps, the lighter lithium ion batteries can improve on the bumpiness as well as top speed?
Conclusion: Overall, I’m very pleased with my first ebike. My commute is 6 miles round trip. I use this hub equipped bike when I have to wear a suit and I do get to the office sweatless and not tired. Before I got this set-up I was a non-believer that a hub kit could really pull you around day in day out. I wish someone had photographed my face when I first rode it. My smile must have been ten feet wide.
I’ll try to keep updating this review if I encounter problems or perform a major upgrade. Thanks, again.