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  1. #1
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    Question lots of questions from a noob

    Hi all,
    I've been lurking here for a while, trying to absorb all the info on e-bikes as Dh and I are in the process of putting together a 'grocery/kid-getter' bike for me. First, the background: Most of the places I would go are less than 3 miles, and we live in a hilly area- some are short and steep, some are longer but not as steep. I want to be able to pick up the kids (3yrs and 6yrs) from school, or go to the store without getting super sweaty, or having to drive my minivan.

    I don't currently have a bike, and am looking for more of a 'comfort' or hybrid type due to back and wrist pain when riding my borrowed MTB. Our plan is to purchase a bike, add a FreeRadical kit from Xtracycle, then add some e-assist, as there's no way I'd make it up the local hills with the kids or groceries on the back. I can ride the hills by myself but with +60lbs? I'd be off and walking for sure!

    DH has been doing some internet research and I've been doing some test rides at LBS. We are thinking of adding a Wilderness Energy front hub to a bike like this: K2 Big Easy. I've already test ridden this bike and really liked it...my only big concern is the lack of disc brakes. I am a bit nervous about stopping on the hills if I have the e-assist, plus cargo weight. But other people have told me that the v-brakes will be fine. Plus this bike is only a 7spd....will that be ok going up the hills or should I go with a 21spd?

    An alternative would be a hardtail MTB like the Marin Novato...which comes with disc brakes and 21spd. It's not 'comfort' but I have ridden it and with some mods (new bars, different seat and shorter stem) it would prolly be fine. This particular bike (and most MTB we've seen) has AL forks, which I gather might not be good for a front hub motor?

    So I'd love to hear any pros/cons, advice or tips that y'all have....

    TIA!
    Morgan

  2. #2
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I think in your case the more gears the better time you'll have towing kids up hills. I had a Wilderness Energy brushless 36V hub for a couple of years before it was stolen and found it reliable. None of the hubs do a really great job on hills. You will still have to pedal. Find a dry place to mount the controller and cover the accelerator with a plastic bag in the rain and you're good to go.

    From the distances travelled, it sounds like the SLA battery will do you. Just keep it charged. They don't like being stored dead.

  3. #3
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    With that much weight, I'd recommend disc brakes, especially if there's ever a time you'll be biking in the rain.

    Also, sounds like all the weight's on the rear, so having a rear wheel motor is better.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan23 View Post
    I don't currently have a bike, and am looking for more of a 'comfort' or hybrid type due to back and wrist pain when riding my borrowed MTB.
    If you're experiencing back and wrist pain, you might want to check out a Dutch-style or recumbent bike.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
    With that much weight, I'd recommend disc brakes, especially if there's ever a time you'll be biking in the rain.

    Also, sounds like all the weight's on the rear, so having a rear wheel motor is better.
    Dh is worried if we put the motor + batteries + xyrcycle kit + cargo/kids on ALL on the back wheel, it'll be too much weight and the bike will handle badly. He used to work in a bike shop years ago and knows his bikes pretty well, so I trust him on that part. I can see how all that weight on the rear of the bike will make the front wheel too light. He was thinking if we put the hub motor on the front, then the batteries can be stored on the back and I'll effectively have AWD since I can use the front hub power + pedal the back wheel if I need to.

    Disc brakes: I was hoping to find a bike with DB already on it, so I wouldn't have to upgrade. My local LBS says it'd be about $200 for a DB upgrade. I was thinking if I got a bike with existing DB, we could leave the rear one on and put a V-brake on the powered front wheel?

    I think in your case the more gears the better time you'll have towing kids up hills. I had a Wilderness Energy brushless 36V hub for a couple of years before it was stolen and found it reliable. None of the hubs do a really great job on hills. You will still have to pedal. Find a dry place to mount the controller and cover the accelerator with a plastic bag in the rain and you're good to go.
    Thanks for the info. I was planning on pedaling on flats and up all the hills...the e-assist would just be to help me get cargo/kids up the hill faster and in a less-sweaty manner.

    If you're experiencing back and wrist pain, you might want to check out a Dutch-style or recumbent bike.
    I love the look of the Dutch bikes, but I dunno if that's a do-able alternative since it's all hills here. I will actually be up in Portland this weekend and am planning on visiting Clevercycles so I'll be able to check out the Dutch bikes in person.

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