Originally Posted by frailsback
I searched a bit before posting this but didn't find what I was looking for. The subject of electric bikes has a huge amount of information associated with it. Like most things, I'm sure some of the info is good and some is not. What I do know is that I don't know enough about the subject to make an informed decision about which direction I should be going with electric bicycling. So I come to you, hat in hand, looking for advice and suggestions about it based on the following information.
First, I'm a big guy, around 280 lbs.
I like comfortable seats and comfortable bikes
Most of the roads around here are flat with a few exceptions
Speed is not terribly important, around 12 to 15 mph is fine
Acceleration from stop is kind of important
18 to 20 miles a day should cover what I need to do.
Based on that information, should I look for a 'turn-key' bike, if so which would be good. Should I build one? I have a K-2 Big Easy that I like real well. Should I use a motor hub or a crank motor, or what? How about battery and controller ratings?
I appreciate anything you can offer me.
First, one word of caution if you live in NY. It's the only state so far that has a complete ban on the use of e-bikes on public roads. (This is a mis-perception held by many e-bike enthusiasts there is no Federal law that says electric bikes can be ridden on public roads. There isn't; there are simply Federal definitions for purposes of determining which federal agency's safety standards apply to e-bikes sold in the US. Those electric bicycles sold in the US with speeds under 20MPH and a motor under 750W have their safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Administration rather than the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration under the rationale that they're a consumer product, not a "motor vehicle." Those bikes with specs exceeding those standards that are sold in the US have to meet the more stringent safety standards for mopeds and motorcycles set by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Congress has left it up to the individual states on how to regulate the operation of electric bicycles on public rights of way, including licensing.)
If you're not into speed, then you have many more choices. Since you have a bike that you like, an e-bike kit might be your best option. Given your size, I think you'll want more torque. I would suggest that you not limit your search to hub motors but look at non-hub motor kits too (cyclone, stoke monkey, etc.) since they have more torque and power. Some automatically dismiss them because they claim they're too noisy but the noise isn't really that bad and you'd better get used to wind, you'll hear lots of wind once you've got a motor on your bike.
With any hub motor, it's essential to use torque arms. Hub motors are a bit safer on rear wheels. You cannot use a hub motor on a front wheel that has an aluminum or suspension fork. Their drop outs are cast and subject to failure without warning due to torque. If that happens, you can lose control of the bike and be seriously injured.
Be prepared to pedal; battery technology is still the weakest link in any portable "electric" application. SLAs give you power for less money but with a trade off on weight and life expectancy. LIFEPO4 gives you good power and life expectancy (if handled properly), but they're still very, very expensive. Be prepared for sticker shock when shopping for LIFEPO4. That said, you're better off to go the the largest number of Amp hours you can afford. (The controller, and to some extent, the motor on the kit you buy will dictate what voltage battery you need to get.)
If you have any shops near you that sell e-bike conversion kits, see if you can test ride a bike. Otherwise, you might check to see if there are any e-bike clubs or organizations near you. If so, maybe a kind soul will let you look at and test ride their e-bike. Good luck. Come back and ask any questions that you have while researching.