E-assist, xtracycle and advice
New here and am trying to find the best solution for our family. I am
trying to go carless as often as possible and love the idea of an
xtracycle with an e-assist. I have a 19 month old who has been riding
in her Safe-T-seat (http://www.ibertinc.com/) on my my bike but we
need a change. My bike is super uncomfortable, does not fit me, and
is horrible on hills where we live (Austin, TX). So, we are thinking
about what to do. Getting a new bike and putting an xtracycle plus
e-assist is TONS of money and we don't know how fiscally responsible
it is to just plunge right in like that. So, we were contemplating
the eZip iTrailz (only $450) and seeing how I like the electric bike
before we go all the way. But the eZip isn't very comfortable for me
either, so I would need to replace the saddle and handlebars. Is
there an in between option? Like getting the Trek bike I want and
adding an e-assist. Once I like that, I would like to add the
xtracycle. Is this an option? Which e-assist would be best for this?
Is this the right forum to be asking?
Thanks and feel free to ask questions for more clarification.
It is always best to get a bike that fits, then add an Xtracycle. However, it may be more cost effective to buy an complete bike from Xtracycle. Detail with them, your height and inseam and other fitting issues to see which one of their models would best fit your intended application.
Then when you are ready, add an electric kit of your choice. A decent electric kit producing between 500W to 600W will cost between $450 - $700 depending on your options. AS you can see from my thread here (Xtracycle Bike + Wilderness Energy BL36), I am very happy with the outcome
Since you are on the rootsradical signup mailing list, you have already seen the custom 2 seaters being made for carrying 2 children out of marine plywood. Some very good solutions there.
Photostream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25872288@N06/
As you child grows, you can add stoker bars for support and mountain bike bar ends for foot pegs. Like this:
Check out my blog that looks at heaps of child carrying options:
How mechanically and electrically inclined are you?
A decent mid-drive kit added to a bike that fits you well, preferably a bike set-up specifically for kid and cargo carrying (I personally prefer front loading cargo bikes for kid carrying to put the kids in front in full view rather then behind where they can fool around without being noticed) would probably be best for your needs, you did mention some hills and mid-drives are the best hill climbers.
But then I'm highly mechanically inclined and can manage on the electric end such that I would just find an old steel frame that fit me (or whoever needed the bike if not me) and and then start hacking and welding to extend the front out for a front cargo loader with kid seat(s) mounted up front and then install a decent electric assist mid-drive system. Not everyone can just go and do that though.
About the best kit sold state side on-line for a low price I know of is the ones being sold by SickBikeParts(.com) just click on their electric conversion kit section and take a look at what they offer especially take a look at their .pdf installation instructions file which costs you nothing to look at and gives you an idea of what is involved in installing such a kit.
Should note that their kits in question aren't exactly what I would personally use and do not include the battery you have to buy that separate which of course increases the cost. It isn't a "bad" choice for a low budget person who needs a kit with all the parts though. Anymore for the most part I personally don't even bother with kits hardly anymore and just buy components to do my own builds from. The motor in that kit is a pretty decent one although a little on the loud side (it's a generic "Headway" brand wide range DC brush-less gear reduction motor head). Controller included in that kit (controller is what goes between the battery and motor and controls the motor and gives you a throttle and is not optional with modern brush-less high efficiency motors, can't just connect straight up to battery) is overkill and bigger then it needs to be with both higher amp current limit and higher voltage then I like to run and in my opinion allows the motor to pull too much power and run a little hotter then I like so I prefer a controller with a lower power limit circuit running lower voltage. And then I have no need for the included mounting hardware since I just do a hard mount welding a face mounting plate for the motor right into the frame when I do a build using one of those motor heads and like to choose my own freewheeling and chain components and such. But over all if I had to build from a kit and didn't have the skills I now have to build from components I would probably go with it, a better kit and cheaper then the first kit I personally ever installed.
As for a battery to go with that kit, do some searches on e-bay to give you an idea what your looking at on that end (But don't necessarily buy there! Just good place to get an idea what the current market is doing for comparison when you do your real battery shopping.) As a beginner your probably going to want to go with an aluminum cased all in one unit made for e-bike battery probably one of the ones that includes the rear over tire rack that it slides and locks into or down tube mount that it slides and locks into, etc. rather then a more generic big plastic cased brick type battery that you have to figure out your own mounting for. I personally build my own packs up from LiFePO4 prismatic cells with screw top terminals which are my favorite kind of battery and end up with a better quality battery system for less money, but probably not something a beginner is going to be game for doing.
Anyway, that's my thoughts in response to your query. A little rambling I know and hopefully not too much of it over your head. I think the strongest thing I would stress for you is that "Kids & Cargo Hauling Through Hilly Terrain = Mid-Drive Kit" as your best option and that starts with getting a bike that fits you and works for you with a good mountain bike type gearing system to start with and then you go from there with adding the kit to the bike. There are a few ready made bikes out there both from large companies and "make them one at a time as orders come in" small shops that can do it for you but your going to spend a whole lot more money that way and probably not have a bike that fits you right if the typical 19" MTB size frame doesn't fit you well (which sounds like the case). For me that typical middle of the road slightly on the large size frame set-up which is so typical is just barely big enough for me with an extra long seat tube extension and often a handlebar extension as well and still a little scrunched up in seat to bars length, plus the typical MTB geometry is not my preference. Sounds like you might have the opposite problem, that typical frame which everyone seems to want to build their factory e-bikes on being too big for you?