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  1. #1
    Member NoSho's Avatar
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    Don't Know Where to Start

    I'm seriously considering commuter cycling as a way to help get back into and stay in shape. I live in a pretty hilly area and think that if this plan is to be successful, I may be better off getting an electric assist bicycle for the commute. I'm currently not much of a rider, but the Internets have assured me that my 5 mile commute is within the realm of the reasonable for a bicycle commute. Of course the Internets don't know what bad shape I'm in right now

    I really don't know where to start. I see a lot of different ebikes out there on the internet and the price range seems to vary incredibly, from $350 to $2k and beyond. Really, I'm just looking for some opinions on what makes and models to focus on. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    NoSho

  2. #2
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    What percentage of the 5 miles do you think are hills? Also, how steep of a hill? If it's not that steep, a regular hub motor will probably work. If it's a pretty steep hill and you don't want to pedal, you should look at the 5305 crystalyte hub motor, also called the Phoenix Brute. It will power you up any hill without pedaling.

    There's also some other hub motors that are powerful and will power you up hills. I think the Ezee would work. The 2806 Nine Continent might work. The advantage that the Ezee has over the 5305 is that the Ezee needs less battery but the Ezee also is a little slower and probably a little less powerful than the 5305. The 5303 is a very big motor but very powerful and very reliable.

    If it's not much hill or not a big hill, you can look at the Aotema kit from hightekbikes.com for about $300 total (with everything exept batteries). Or you can look at the kits from http://e-bikekit.com . Those two websites are well known in the EV community and have an established record of being trustworthy. Another well known website is http://ebikes.ca . It's based out of canada. That's where I bought my e-bike kit. It was 5303 hub motor with controller.

    For batteries, I don't recommend anything lower than about 15 AH for SLA batteries and 10 AH for lifepo4. So something like 36v15 AH in SLA or 36v 10AH in lifepo4 would be okay.

  3. #3
    Lost? No, seeing America.
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    If you're going to go with a hub motor kit, make sure your bike has a steel frame, especially if you plan on using a front hub motor (and use torque arms!). 36v15ah on a 500w motor will be more than adequate for a 10 mile roundtrip commute (assuming your "hills" are like what I mean by "hills"). You'll be cruising along at 20ish without much pedaling. You could go bigger and get a 600-1000watt motor and bump up to 48v, cruising along in the high 20's/30's without pedaling. I considered myself in shape before starting my 15 mile round trip commute by ebike and I still lost 10 pounds.
    '02 Fuji Finest AL
    '97 Trek Multitrack w/Amped rear 500w 36v15ah Ping
    13 mile roundtrip commute, 150 days/school year

  4. #4
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    NoSho,

    Welcome. Do you have a bicycle? If so, you could consider a kit to convert your existing bike. I retired to the far northern US Rockies and have some very steep hills to deal with. I added an electric assist kit to my mountain bike last summer and love it. Since you live in a hilly area, you need a motor capable of good torque. Most non-hub motors have better torque (I added a non-hub motor kit to my bike because I need good torque). You have to go with a pretty powerful hub motor to get good torque, but then you do run the risk of damage to your frame if it's not steel from the torque of the motor

    If you need a ready-made e-bike and you don't want to invest a lot of money until you know that you will commute by bike regularly, you could start with an affordable Ezip or Izip rack mounted battery model. They come with an SLA battery, but you could upgrade to LIFEPO4 on your own. If you've got more money and want an e-bike with a non-hub motor that's a good hill climber, you might check out the sale at High Tech Bikes. http://www.hightekbikes.com/htb_midmnt.html

    You may be hard pressed to find an affordable ready-made e-bike with a hub motor capable of good torque. Most of the ready-made bikes are made for the world market and have smaller motors that comply with the strict power and speed limits imposed by the EU and parts of Asia.

    You might want to check out Endless Sphere's forums before you buy anything, they've got a lot of useful information on hub motors, non-hub motors, controllers and battery technology. All things you'll need to consider when making your purchase. Good luck. endless-sphere.com/forums

  5. #5
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    I'm seriously considering commuter cycling as a way to help get back into and stay in shape.
    An e-bike can really be ideal in helping you get fit. The beauty of riding an e-bike commuting is that you can always motor to work (with as little pedaling as possible) and then switch off the motor for part of your way home to get a workout out of your commute. As you get fitter you can start turning off your motor further and further away from home. This way you are not subjecting yourself to a grueling ride from day one - something that might put you off commuting by bicycle.

    What percentage of the 5 miles do you think are hills? Also, how steep of a hill?
    Those are key questions. You shouldn't expect an average e-bike to carry you up steep hills without pedaling at all.
    But pedaling up a hill with a motor's assist is much easier than pedaling on your own.

    Other questions
    1. How busy is your route? Are you going to have a lot of vehicles sharing the road with you? How do you feel about that?
    2. What is the climate in your area? are you willing to ride in the rain/snow?

    the price range seems to vary incredibly, from $350 to $2k and beyond.
    Usually you'll find steel frames and lead-acid batteries on the lower end and big cycling brands on the higher end.
    I would recommend something in between with an aluminum frame and a Lithium battery.

    Kits could be a good value if you are handy. Otherwise I'd buy a ready-built ebike.


    You may be hard pressed to find an affordable ready-made e-bike with a hub motor capable of good torque. Most of the ready-made bikes are made for the world market and have smaller motors that comply with the strict power and speed limits imposed by the EU and parts of Asia
    You might want to take a look at the Empowered Ebikes models - they are actually made for the US standard - so they are capable of reaching 20 Mph on the flat. The motors are indeed only 350W but it should give you enough assist on the hills. Price-wise they are fairly mid-range.

  6. #6
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    I bought a Pedego ebike last May. I looked at many other brands and did extensive research before I settled on a Pedego. It was not a difficult decision. I found the Pedego to be the most comfortable to ride. You can see and feel the quality. A big plus is that they warranty their product for a year. They have all parts in stock at their Irvine office. The people there are great and really take care of you. I ride alot and am totally satisfied that I bought a pedego and highly recommend this bike for anyone who is looking to purchase an electric bike. Test ride it and you will see what I mean!

  7. #7
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    I think you could do 5 miles one way with any ebike you choose to buy if you are going to work and have some time to recharge there.I do 8 miles and I only have a 8ah nicad battery.It takes about3/4 an hour an amp to recharge with my charger. Have you thought about a place to recharge your battery at work?Will you have to take it off the bike and take it in?
    I already had a bicycle I like so I bought the Ezee kit from Ebikes.ca. One of its best feature is it is waterproof . I can testify to this..It is a solid kit. Also the hub motored is geared so you get better torque up hills and there is no drag when you dont use the motor and pedal unassisted. I weigh about 205 and can do 15mph up the hills in my area when I assist the motor with medium effort. I rode unassisted for 3 years before I bought the Ezee and I used to go about 7 mph up those same hills.

  8. #8
    Senior Member CowtownPeddler's Avatar
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    You may want to carefully compare the electronics in the kits. I won't recommend one kit over another, or one vendor over another, but the kit from eBikes.ca has a lot of custom electronics with some very nice features. I was very impressed by the knowledge they posted on the website and in terms of product knowledge, I'd rate them very high.

    I read Justin's account of his ride across Canada testing the electronics and I drooled over their Cycle Analyst and some of the mods he made to the controller for regen - which may (or may not) be a benefit....

  9. #9
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    All good input but perhaps the biggest factor is how much you know about bicycles in general as they do require maintainenence. That plus the added complexity of the assist system of your choice means if you are not mechanically inclined you will be best off seeking a source for you ebike from someone that is close by that has knowledge that they can share and even if their product is not the absolute best in the market the fact that they know it and have the parts and ability to help you out when and if a problem occurs so that you don't have to go to the internets for advice all the time you will be better off in the long run.

    That said a five mile commute even in hilly terrain should be well within range of just about any ebike out there. If you are unsure about the whole thing perhaps the best thing to do would be to get a cheap one to start out and work your way up from there as necessary. Good luck and you have the right idea, stick with it. And don't forget to pedal!

  10. #10
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    Get a brushless hub motor if you can. It has less friction and allow you to pedal like a normal bike if you feel like some exercise.

    As for staying in shape/lose weight, it doesn't work for me. It's too tempting to push that throttle and away you go. I didn't lose any weight all that time. I'm now going back to my normal bike, for commuting, and use the e-bike when expecting a really steep hill or a very hot day.

    My heart rate has increased more regularly now that I use my normal bike for medium hills. Try your normal bike first , if the hills are not too steep, because your fitness will improve.

    PS. Lithium battery is very handy as you don't need to worry whether there is enough charge to get you home. Mine last more than a week before needing a charge for a 10 miles return trip commuting daily - medium hills .
    Last edited by bdi121; 02-12-10 at 11:02 PM.

  11. #11
    Jerry the Spinner
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoSho View Post
    I really don't know where to start. I see a lot of different ebikes out there on the internet and the price range seems to vary incredibly, from $350 to $2k and beyond. Really, I'm just looking for some opinions on what makes and models to focus on. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    NoSho

    I started biking 7 month ago. I am in my late 40 and very out of shape. I started my commute with a Montague folding bike and doing 5 miles of my 14 mile(the other 9 mile I used my car) commute. I commuted for a month with some very steep hills and thought I was going to dye. I added a Currie 450W kit and it really helped me get up some of the hills.

    Since your commute is only 5 miles. I would recommend a low end EZip bike. This is not a big investment and is a great bike for a short commute. Even though I have purchased a Trek FX+ this was only when I gave up my commuting car. However for 5 mile commute the EZip should be fine.

    I personally have lost 60 pounds since I started biking. I try to use the motor as a tool to get me into better shape. You do need will power to pedal as much as you can without the motor. There are days even when you get in shape that are windy or you just don’t have it on a particular day. The motor is really great.

    Good luck!!

    http://www.currietech.com/currie-technologies-ezip-trailz-for-men-electric-bike.php

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/electric_bikes/ride_plus/fxplus/
    Bicycle Commuter from New York City.

  12. #12
    Member NoSho's Avatar
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    @JerryTheSpinner - how are you liking the FX+? I think the Trek+ bikes look really sweet and I'm seriously considering one.

  13. #13
    Jerry the Spinner
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoSho View Post
    @JerryTheSpinner - how are you liking the FX+? I think the Trek+ bikes look really sweet and I'm seriously considering one.

    I love it. I wrote a review on the Trek web site. Go to below link and the click review tab. There were 2 main reasons why I bought the Trek FX+.

    1. I wanted to buy the Trek FX 7.5 which is over 900 dollars. The FX+ is the same bike as the FX 7.5. I also wanted the BionX system which would cost 1900 dollars. The bike cost me 2550 dollars.

    2. The battery from Trek has a 2 year warranty. The BionX kit has only a 1 year warranty on the battery.

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...e_plus/fxplus/
    Bicycle Commuter from New York City.

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