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  1. #1
    Newbie 76Nish's Avatar
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    Need advice from experienced e-bikers

    Hello; I've been considering an e-bike for some time now, but am still a little confused about the best option. My situation is this: I'm 47 now, and have been a cyclist for most of my life. I do it because it's the only form of exercise I really enjoy. I have lived in San Francisco for the last 20 years and while this city has many advantages, it is not conducive to cycling, at least not for someone of my abilities. I can handle the hills, but I don't enjoy doing so. The net effect is that I ride far less than I should. This is compounded by the fact that my house is on the side of one of the highest hills in the city, so after a ride I always have to contend with a long uphill slog at the end. I'm a big guy, too. 250 lbs. I curently ride a 24 spd 'hybrid' bike with 700 x 25c wheels.

    My reason for considering e-biking is simply to help with the hills. I thought the Bion-x PL350 would be ideal, since the area I usually ride features some loooong downhills for utilizing the regenerative feature. However, I've recently read that the most you recover with the regen mode is 3-5%. Plus, I understand that the Bion-x doesn't allow freewheeling. I really only want the assist on the steep hills, and would prefer using 100% human power on the flats and small hills.

    Given that I'll typically meet three or four steep hills on a ride and that I'll need enough power to gain about 500 ft. in elevation at the very end, can I get enough power for a 20 mile ride out of a converstion kit? If so, can you offer any advice as to the best options?

    I'd appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Snowsurfer's Avatar
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    Interesting case.

    I figure Crystalyte with the 408 motor and a Ping LiFe PO4 pack, preferably a 48V 20Ah.

    Totally sweet. You can freewheel as well.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GTALuigi's Avatar
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    the BionX 350 will give you aprox 60+ miles per charge, on assist mode 1, which is what i use.
    same reason as you, i only use it for those really steep hills.

    it's actually more miles if you count the regent rate.

    it's perfect for me, as my daily commute is 25mi 1 way, so a full round about to work and from work is exact, with room to spare.
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  4. #4
    Newbie 76Nish's Avatar
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    Thanks to both of you. I'll look more closely at the Crystalyte. I've heard of that brand, but never really studied the options.

    GTALuigi, with the BionX, are you able to opt for "zero" assistance (i.e., use no battery power)? If so, do you experience much drag from the motor? Is the regeneration rate as low as I mentioned above (3%-5%)?

  5. #5
    Accept no substitutions Kingofgreens's Avatar
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    I'm totally pleased with my BMC hub.
    I looked at a bunch of different options before I purchaced & from what I discovered , the BMC is top notch. There's a video on youtube in which 2 ebikers with comparable systems had a short race & the BMC wins hands down.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGoLMGPPwow
    There is some concern with the longevity of the BMC , but I run the exact setup they talk about & have hundreds of miles on my righ with no issues yet & I'm also about 250ish lbs.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member GTALuigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 76Nish View Post
    Thanks to both of you. I'll look more closely at the Crystalyte. I've heard of that brand, but never really studied the options.

    GTALuigi, with the BionX, are you able to opt for "zero" assistance (i.e., use no battery power)? If so, do you experience much drag from the motor? Is the regeneration rate as low as I mentioned above (3%-5%)?
    zero assistance = off
    if it's off, it drags... it's good if you are "training" for muscles and endurance
    is not a bad drag, just like a un-oiled wheel hub, with dead weight, from the combination of the batteries + motor hub.

    regen is actually higher, instead of breaking, use regen to slow down even at normal flats.

    it's just like the new buses / cars, same concept the more you break, the more you regen.

    after you install BionX, you'll have no much use for the original brakes, although it takes some get to used to.

    if you use the regular break... then you are wasting energy.

    at power assist 3, is like riding an electric scooter, but that will drain your battery faster of course.

    so it's good to use P3 for steep hills, and P1 for normal rides.

    even at P1, it feels like you are always on Downhill when on a flat.
    with P2 or P3, you can easy match cars going @ speed limit... which of course is so rare to see actual car drivers that sticks to the post road speed
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  7. #7
    P7 Fanboy JinbaIttai's Avatar
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    An ebike sounds like a perfect match for you needs and for where you live.


    Quote Originally Posted by 76Nish View Post
    . . . I really only want the assist on the steep hills, and would prefer using 100% human power on the flats and small hills. . .
    I understand what you mean by only wanting help on the hills; I felt the same when doing research for the right kit a few months back. It's difficult to describe in words. If I could do it all over again I would not attempt to build an ebike to be rode at 100% human power except for steep uphills, and I'm glad I didn't.

    I think you'd see what I mean easily by riding on one for 5 minutes.

    If I lived a little closer I'd ride by and offer you a test drive of mine; it seems like a perfect match for your route and needs. I'm using a Chinese Schwinn MTB, a 48volt 20 amp hour LiFePO4 battery, and brushless rear 500 watt motor.

    There must be at least one San Fransisco ebiker in this thread:
    Thread: Your Creation's Before & After Pics


    I don't prefer BionX because it is too expensive and the batteries are proprietary.
    I bought my battery here: Ping's website
    And the kit here: ampedbikes.com


    My round trip is only 13 miles, but it is over a 1000 foot elevation change. I usually ride about 5-15 mph up the hills, cruise at about 20, and if I'm in a hurry it will do 27MPH sustained.
    The setup is good for 20-80 miles depending on hills and how aggressive I am on the throttle. I would have to be incredibly lazy to only get 20 miles out of my battery, but it is possible in theory.

  8. #8
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    I went with an Ezee front hub motor and a 10 ah LiFePO4 battery, If I had known that I was going to enjoy it this much I would have gotten one sooner.

  9. #9
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    I have a Chrytalyte 408 motor, and have a rather hilly area that I ride around in, and I live on the hill portion of the valley, and my work location is down in the bottom of the valley.

    There is a definate "Cogging Effect" of hub motors when you do not apply power and want to just ride the bike. What I do when I want to have the workout of pedalling, I just apply enough power to have the motor, not help, but just overcome the cogging effect.
    What that feels like is shifting down a couple of gears, but you maintain the speed of being in the higher gears.

    My understanding of the Ezee hub motor is that it has a built-in freewheeling in it and does not have the cogging effect of the hub motor. When I bought my conversion kit, the Ezee was just first coming out, and it is somewhat more expensive that the hub motor kit I got. A good writeup of both is at:

    http://ebikes.ca/hubmotors.shtml

    Some people think that slapping a electric motor on a bicycle makes it totally not a pedal bike anymore. I disagree, it is officially called "An electric Assist motor".

    So what that means is that it will carry you along the flats by itself, but if you bring it up to speed first, it will maintain it, with little effort from you. However on hills, this is where it becomes a joint effort between you and the motor. I have hills that I used to have to walk and push the bike up, now with the electric assist, the motor will not take me up by itself, but together we can do it, once I am
    in condition after the winter. Until I get into the condition to tackle to that hill, pushing the bike is easier, because I can have it carry its weight itself, while walking beside it. All of the other regular
    hills are made easier because of the electric assist, but again, its a joint effort. Then once up on the flat, I can rest a bit and have the motor carry me along on the flat.

    Like you I have always enjoyed riding a bike, and for some years I was riding to work every day. But it seems as the years passed, those darn hills seem to have gotten taller and steeper as I have aged!!!
    The electric motor sure has helped, and has put me back into the bike seat again, and out of the vehicle seat.

    So this year as I reach "Freedom 55" I will be able to ride my bike still, and can ride because I like it, and won't have to ride it to that place called work!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. #10
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    I live in San Francisco and I currently have 4 ebikes. All of my ebikes have utilize sprockets with chain on the left side since this is what I preferred. It is because I have tried the hub motors but did not like the minor drag. Also, my current setups allow me to change the sprockets to alter for either more speed or torque. I can show you my bikes too if you are in the city.

  11. #11
    Newbie 76Nish's Avatar
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    lyen;

    I've been thinking about going the chain-drive route myself, using an old MTB frame that I have. Again, though, I am looking more for an "assist" that will allow me to ride under my own power most of the time. Do the chain-driven types work well for that?

    Also, since you're in SF, I'm sure you can understand my concern for being able to handle the hills. I'm getting the impression that some hub motors simply don't have the ability to handle steep hills, and I understand that the Bionx won't even cut in until 3-4 mph anyway. On some of the hills I encounter that would be top speed for me going up, so I guess I woundn't get any assist from a Bionx.

    I'm curious to know your experience with battery power while riding in the city. My usual ride is from Mt. Davidson out to the Cliff House and back, which involves climbing the south side of Forest Hill (to avoid the cars on 7th Ave), and also part way up the hill at Lands End. The last three miles are from sea level up to about 500'. Given a 48v, 15 AH battery, do you think I'd have enough battery power to last me the entire ride? Do you ever run out of 'juice' while riding in the city?

    Thanks to everyone who has replied. I've read every response and gotten some good info.

  12. #12
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    Hello 76Nish! I usually assist the motor by pedaling along. The chain driven setup works well for me by trigger the throttle to give me just enough assist power I want. This way, I can go further. However, my commute ebike (ebike #3) is optimized for commute to work from San Francisco North Beach to Brisbane. It is a 10 miles ride and typically takes about 35 minutes due to steep hills & traffic lights. There is no drag at all from the motor setup. Also, given the bigger 700C wheels + thin wheels even makes it more rolling resistence. It is quite very enjoyable.

    As for steep hills, I would not suggest using anything motors for that unless you assist the motor to avoid overheating with the exception of the type of motors that are designed with high torque. A hub motor may do the job such as the Crystalyte 5305 & 4011 series but thats 25lbs for the 5305 & around 15lbs for the 4011. Also with those high torque motors the top speed will typical be quite slow unless you are ready for 72v or higher. Then again, it will bring you with another weight & batteries mounting issue.

    The Bionx is a very unit that you should considered. They also makes a PL500 and that is the one you want to attack hills with if money is no object. I highly recommended because in San Francisco, you have to make your ebike as light as possible in order to engage emergency stops. I have learned it the hard way for the last two years when I commute with my ebike #1 & #2. That's why I have ebike #3.

    Mt. Davidson is a good place for bikers. A 48V 15aH LifePO4 may not last long enough for the ride you mentioned unless you pedal with it or ride at turtle speed. But you have to consider the total weight of ebike. Because not only more weight consumed more power but also makes you more difficult to stop & turn. It will drive to fun factor away when you feel you have less confidence to turn & stop. Just my 2 cents.

    I do ran out of juice many times due to high wind, forgotten to top off the battery, forgotten to bring my badge to work, flat tires, unexpected closed route and ATT park. That's why I love my ebike #3 the most. It is the easiest to pedal even without power assist. You simply have to design a bike that is optimized for your area and purpose.

    Ebike #1:
    Mountain bike (steel frame)
    21 speed
    26" wheels on knobby tires
    1000 Watts Currie direct current motor
    Modified 48v 60A brushed controller
    1 x 36v Nimh battery or LifePO4 48v 10A battery
    weight: around 70 lbs
    range: 10 typical San Francisco hilly miles
    top speed: 31mph

    Ebike #2:
    Mountain bike (steel frame cruiser type with suspension fork)
    21 speed
    26" wheels on knobby tires
    750W BMC brushless motor
    36v/48v 35a brushless controller
    battery: 2 x Nimh 36v 10aH
    weight: around 70 lbs
    range: 15 typical San Francisco hilly miles
    top speed: 27mph

    Ebike #3:
    Dahon Cadenza 'hybrid' bike (Aluminum folding bike)
    18 spd 'hybrid' bike
    700 x 25c wheels (upgraded from 26")
    Continential Ultra Skin tires
    600W BMC high torque motor
    24v controller built-in on motor
    battery: 4 x DeWalt DC9360 A123 LifePO4 power tool batteries
    weight: 50 lbs
    range: 10 typical San Francisco hilly miles
    top speed: 25mph

  13. #13
    P7 Fanboy JinbaIttai's Avatar
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    Sorry about jumping in.
    lyen, do you ever bother folding up bike #3 at all? I have wondered about folding ebikes.

  14. #14
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    Lyen
    Your stable of bikes sounds great. In an earlier note you said all of your bikes were chain drive to a left side sprocket. This last note mentions a 750W BMC brushless motor and a 600W BMC high torque motor. I can only find those as hub motors. Where did you find them suitable for chain drive? And did you use a Currie like direct drive link to the rear hub?

    thanks, Don

  15. #15
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JinbaIttai View Post
    Sorry about jumping in.
    lyen, do you ever bother folding up bike #3 at all? I have wondered about folding ebikes.
    Yes, I do fold my bike whenever I travel long distance and put it in a trunk of my car. Since the frame also fold from the left, the motor has to be tuck between the spokes of the 700c front wheel. This is one of the reason I upgraded to the large size wheelset.

  16. #16
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donob08 View Post
    Lyen
    Your stable of bikes sounds great. In an earlier note you said all of your bikes were chain drive to a left side sprocket. This last note mentions a 750W BMC brushless motor and a 600W BMC high torque motor. I can only find those as hub motors. Where did you find them suitable for chain drive? And did you use a Currie like direct drive link to the rear hub?

    thanks, Don

    Don, they are all Curries like direct drive link which I found is the most efficient due to the balance of torque, low voltage, speed, and weight for the hilly city of San Francisco. you can find all the motors that I am talking about here:
    http://www.evdeals.com/Motors.htm

  17. #17
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    Lyen

    Thanks for the reply. I like chain drive too. It seems less complicated to keep things separated. My thought was easier maintenance but In two years and about 2000 miles I haven't had to do any. I guess the hub motors are reliable too. These are simple machines, that's one of the reasons I like them.
    http://www.evdeals.com/Motors.htm doesn't have any BMC chain drive motors just now. Page says "TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE". BMC seems to be doing a lot of hub motors with 'High Power Cycles'.
    You must have some pretty big sprockets on your wheels with those high rpm output motors ( > 3,000 RPM). I'd guess 65T to 80T. Does that create any issues?

    thanks for your thoughts, Don

  18. #18
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donob08 View Post
    Lyen

    Thanks for the reply. I like chain drive too. It seems less complicated to keep things separated. My thought was easier maintenance but In two years and about 2000 miles I haven't had to do any. I guess the hub motors are reliable too. These are simple machines, that's one of the reasons I like them.
    http://www.evdeals.com/Motors.htm doesn't have any BMC chain drive motors just now. Page says "TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE". BMC seems to be doing a lot of hub motors with 'High Power Cycles'.
    You must have some pretty big sprockets on your wheels with those high rpm output motors ( > 3,000 RPM). I'd guess 65T to 80T. Does that create any issues?

    thanks for your thoughts, Don
    Hello again Don! I chosen the chain driven setup because it put less stress on my hybrid/road bike rear drop out. Also, the drop out of my bike #3 drop out width is only 130mm and I do not feel safe to widen another 5mm just for the hub motor. Most hub motors requires the width of 135mm for the rear drop out. I also do not want for install the motor in the front due to the lightweight aluminum fork although it gives better balance. I do love the BMC hub motors because of its high torque, but currently the gears inside are not made of steel except for the newer 1000watts model. The hidden thing about my BMC 600w 24v motor is that the built in controller can take up to 33.75v which is almost exactly what my Dewalt DC9360 batteries provide. Lastly, my rear sprocket is a customize sprocket with 48 teeth one and I can go 25mph @ 33.60 volt. The typical RPM is around 2900 and it barely gets warm to touch. The only issue I have is the battery connector is not conductive enough and the metal motor bracket is quite heavy. If I have to it again, I will use a 750watt motor with an external controller + 4 x 11.1v 10000mah RC Li-Polymer batteries. This way, I can reduce about 4-5 pounds of weight & go faster with the same range.

  19. #19
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    Lyen

    I assume you made up your own wheels for the 26" and 700 x 25C bikes. Where did you find the hubs with the left handed threads on the left side? I can find left handed freewheels and a choice of sprockets. But so far I only have one Currie left hand threads, left side, normal freewheel threads right hub from an eZip bicycle and they don't seem to want to sell just the hub.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance, Don

  20. #20
    Lyen lyen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donob08 View Post
    Lyen

    I assume you made up your own wheels for the 26" and 700 x 25C bikes. Where did you find the hubs with the left handed threads on the left side? I can find left handed freewheels and a choice of sprockets. But so far I only have one Currie left hand threads, left side, normal freewheel threads right hub from an eZip bicycle and they don't seem to want to sell just the hub.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance, Don
    You can get any brake disc attachable wheel hub & attach the sprocket in place of the disc. Simply, lightweight, and efficient.

  21. #21
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    Lyen

    Thanks for the reply. Does that mean you put the freewheel on the motor? I looked at that but the smallest freewheel I found had 16T on its sprocket so that meant the sprocket on the wheel had to get REAL big to get the right reduction.

    Did you find a way around this?

    Don

  22. #22
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    Lyen

    I think my brain just cleared up a little. Your motor doesn't have a gear reduction so it isn't bothered by being driven (by your pedaling with power off). My motor has a gear reduction. So it doesn't take well to being driven. There's quite a lot of resistance.

    Your way offers a lot more flexibility, maybe next time, I'll do it that way.

    It's fun sharing thoughts. I'm learning.

    Don

  23. #23
    It's easy being green. recumelectric's Avatar
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    I think a Bionx-type set-up is the way to go for you. I've been seeing less expensive versions of it. That's why I'm saying "bionx-type."

    You can't totally "freewheel" with any motor, since there is weight involved. With the Bionx-type motor, there is also drag from the magnets. However, you can turn the motor on with "Power Assist 0" for pedaling flat surfaces.

    You can also do the re-gen thing while going downhill. It won't totally re-charge your ride, but it does give a good boost. I do mostly flatlands in Arizona, and I get a little more fuel if I hit re-gen on the downhill slopes. I imagine that I'd get a lot more when coasting down a serious San Francisco hill. Of course, going up will take a lot more out the battery, too.
    When I ride, the troubles just roll off my back.

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    Every bike is noble steed, a stalwart machine, a clever device, a stealthy speedster.

  24. #24
    Oooooooofffff SALESMAN! The Big Wheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyen View Post

    Ebike #2:
    Mountain bike (steel frame cruiser type with suspension fork)
    21 speed
    26" wheels on knobby tires
    750W BMC brushless motor
    36v/48v 35a brushless controller
    battery: 2 x Nimh 36v 10aH
    weight: around 70 lbs
    range: 15 typical San Francisco hilly miles
    top speed: 27mph
    Hi Lyen, I was going to PM but then decided to ask you this question here in case it might help someone else out.

    I really like the specs on your ebike #2.

    How much did your bike weigh before all of the modifications?

    Can you please post links to everything that I would need to build your e-bike #2? I really like the 27mph speed as well as the 15 mile range. Thanks!

    Also, how much was the total price? Not including the cost of the bike of course.
    "Why give some drunk the chance to plaster me against a car? That's why I don't even own a bike light, or one of those godawful reflective suits. Because if you've put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe -- to see you, and to give a @#$% -- you've already blown it."


    http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/p...M08/bike11.jpg

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Western New York, The FingerLakes Region, small town, Bloomfield, NY
    My Bikes
    2008 Currie eZip Trailz, 1971 Raleigh Super Course, bought new for Honeymoon camping trip around Nova Scotia
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    Lyen

    After thinking some more I wonder if you have a

    LashOut® 19 Tooth Freewheeling Planetary Speed Reducer
    OEM planetary transmission for the Lashout® electric bicycle. 19 tooth freewheeling front drive sprocket for #25 chain. Measures 3-3/4" x 2" excluding motor mounting flanges. Designed for use with rear sprocket SPR-2554 mounted on a 26"-27" bicycle wheel (top speed around 18mph).
    Item # SPR-2519F
    Compatible with the following items:
    BMC® 24V 600W motor (MOT-BMC24600)
    LashOut® 54 tooth rear sprocket (SPR-2554)

    on the output shaft of your motors? That would make your sprocket sizes seem more reasonable and take care of the freewheel issue. You said you started with a 600W BMC motor and they were often paired with this sproket/clutch/freewheel. I'm not sure what the ratio of this speed reducer is but it would make your 2900 rpm / 48 tooth wheel sprocket / 25 mph on a 700 25C wheel easier to understand.

    Could this be what I missed? It is $180 from http://www.electricscooterparts.com. But I think it may be worth it for the flexibility it gives.

    thanks, Don

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