Hi, I would like to share with you my new pride and joy eBike . No, it's not the Schwinn AL1020 ( more about that near bottom of my post), it's a dual suspension mountain bike. I want to share my good and bad ebike experiences with you so that those who are thinking of buying the Schwinn AL1020 may know what they are getting themselves into.
My new ebike turns heads when it passes seasoned road bikers. Those who took it for a spin love it and want one. The bike is super quiet and a joy to ride. Friends tell me they have trouble telling the difference between a regular bike and this one, until they pay close attention to the rear hub motor and the controller that's tucked away under the seat. At a glance, it looks just like an ordinary bike.
Here's how I put it together:
I bought a brand new dual suspension mountain bike for $100 at Walmart, and modified it using the following components, which I purchased from ebikes.ca:
26 inch 408 Rear Wheel. with Shimano 7 Spd Freewheel
48V 12Ah LiFePO4 with BMS (40A max continuous discharge rate), comes with charger
Direct Plug-in Cycle Analyst
36V 20A Start Immediate Brushless Controller, can be used up to 48V
Crystalyte Half Twist Throttle
Mudguard: I added a mudguard to the front wheel so that I don't have to eat dirt on rainy days.
Bell: I added a bell. I was told by a local bike store (I live in Toronto) that I could get fined $110 if cops find me riding without a bell, much like a car on the road without a horn. I don't blame them at all for doing this. The bike is super quiet and I find the bell a necessity for alerting pedestrians who are j-walking and when passing parked vans/cars.
Controller: I clamped the controller to the bike using two pipe clamps which I bought from Home Depot. I placed the controller right below the seat and clamped it to the support beam of a back mounted rack (20lb capacity). I sawed the inside lip of the rack to allow the rack to fit more snugly against the controller and I extended the support beam using a 2cmx3cm piece of wood (not shown in pictures, but I can provide this picture if you like).
By having the controller clamped to the bike, I'm able to safely lock my bike at work and take the battery with me to the office. Right now i use two sets of bungee cords to secure the battery to the rack. Two cords hold the battery to the rack. Two more cords are wrapped longside around the battery and seat pole, to keep it snug against the seat. For now it's a viable solution and works well.
Currently the controller is sealed in double plastic film (same as used to weather proff your widows). What I really want to do is buy formal coating and spray the inside of the controller. I found this website selling this product: http://www.mgchemicals.com/products/422a.html. I haven't yet checked if Home Depot or Lowes carries this.
On day 2, I had one incident where I could not get the controller to start my bike. It turns out that all I had to do was shut off the controller and unplug/replug the battery 5 or 6 times. The incident hasn't reoccurred since (1 week now). This info was provided to me by a very helpful gentleman at ebike.ca (The Renaissance Bicycle Company), where I bought the components.
408 Crystalyte motor: the side covers. The side covers need to be tightened really well. Mine came loose after 3 weeks of riding and, as a result, the back wheel wobbled. When I found out it was because of the bolts on the side covers that came loose, I bought some threadlocker and undid each bolt at a time, dipped it in the solution and put it back tightly.
The cycle analyst is a very smart tool. It just doesn't provide you with realtime information such as your current voltage, speed and distance, total AH used, but also let's you set the cut off votlage (for a 48v battery, set it to 40 to 42 volts) , the maximum Amp (this limits the maximum current drawn from your battery) I set mine to 25 Amps. You can also set your cruising speed when at full throttle; more about this cycle analyst is documented at http://ebike.ca/drainbrain.shtml.
Vbrakes: I use vBrakes on both the front and back wheels. I got a crash course on tuning up my vbrakes by following the instructions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGgidUE8drE
Tires: I got some slick low friction directional road tires that can be pumped up to 70 PSI, making for a very efficient ride. These tires are flat resistant (invest the money, it's worth it) which i bought for $50 a piece from a local bike shop, here in Toronto. These tires must be installed in a certain direction, you need to read the arrow on the tire when putting them on. Because they can be pumped to such high PSI, you get better performance on the road.
Bike Performance: I've been using it mainly to get to and from work, the trip each way is 14 km. I only use up 4 ampHour each way and recharge the battery as soon as i get to work, using the compact plastic charger provided with the battery. It tops off the battery in a couple of hours.
I can easily do 40 km/hr pedaling and 35km/hr full throttle alone. I get to work in 30 minutes (compared to 45 minutes using my previous ebike (Schwinn AL1020 Folding Electric Bike)
I can get up steep hills at a respectable 20/25 km/hr with little pedaling.
The bike is a smooth ride, due to the full suspension, and I feel much safer on this bike than I do on the 15 inch wheel Schwinn.
With a bike capable of such speeds, I ride on the road, keeping to my right and use hand signals http://www.bikemiamivalley.org/safety1.htm
Incidentally I returned my Schwinn bike for a full refund ($630); the company that sold it to me replaced the bike once and finally reimbursed me. The first bike, the frame cracked right below the seat, the second bike the back wheel twisted out of shape and the front wheel assembly torque forward when using the front brakes. I've only been using that bike on the road in Toronto. I donít recommend the Schwinn AL1020 Folding Electric Bike to anyone who is seriously considering getting to work safely over a respectable distance. The wheels are far too small (15"), making for a very unsteady and dangerous ride, the bike lacks back wheel suspension, the frame is poorly designed and the rims are not sturdy for the type of road commuting Iíve put it through.
I've tried to post my honest opinion at Canadian Tire, but my post never made it to publication. So i'm posting here. My honest opinion is, if you are thinking of commuting to work more than a few kilometers, do not buy the Schwinn AL1020.
Total cost of the bike: $1700.00.
Ok, so that may appear a bit steep as comapred to $600 for the Schwinn; but with my mountain bike I know I'm safer, got a better frame and far better performance. The battery alone is $900 and is good for 1000 cycles and keeps a constant voltage throughout your ride at 48 volts 12 ah vs. the lead acid one for the Schwinn which is 200 cycles and sosts $200.00 to replace and the voltage drops linearly as you ride 24 volts 8 ah (which btw hits 20km/hr pedal assisted, and you have only one speed.... not very very powerful and not something you would want to be on when trying to catch the light)
Attached are pictures of my ebike. You can guess which are the mountain bike and which are the Schwinn. The one with the red circle shows the location on the frame where the crack occured. Notice the poor design of the frame, with little support to the seat and absolutely no shock for the rear wheel.