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Old 02-16-12, 03:45 PM   #1
CarFreeFam4
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Advice needed on e-bikes

Pardon my ignorance as I know little about e-bikes.

My husband and I, along with our two children (ages 9 and 4) are car-free. We currently live less than 5 miles from most of the places we need to go, but will be moving this year to a town about 15 miles down the road. The distance doesn't concern me too much, but there are some fairly significant hills. My husband and I both currently ride Kona Utes. We frequently carry loads of 100-150 lbs, and we each weigh right around 200 lbs. My 9 year-old son rides a 24" tricycle if he gets around under his own power (as opposed to just riding on the back of my Ute).

I would like to spend no more than $7,000 to get all of us into e-bikes. In my situation, would you add kits to our existing bikes or look at buying new e-bikes, or perhaps a combination of both? At least one of our bicycles needs to be a longtail or otherwise capable of carrying lots of cargo/kids. I really appreciate your input.
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Old 02-16-12, 05:31 PM   #2
chvid
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I would add a kit to your UTE. It will cost way less, can be accomplished in only a few hours of work - you will have a more awesome version of exactly the bike you want.

Start here...

www.ebikes.ca
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Old 02-16-12, 05:33 PM   #3
Pedidelic
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Hi!

Not sure.... are you wanting your 9 year old to have his own e-bike? Hate to throw legality at you because e-bikes are nice to ride; but you may need to look at your laws concerning riders ages on e-bikes. I think, though, a child in a tow-a-long is OK.

Best Regards

Last edited by Pedidelic; 02-16-12 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 02-16-12, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedidelic View Post
Hi!

Not sure.... are wanting your 9 year to have his own e-bike? Hate to throw legality at you because e-bikes are nice to ride; but you may need to look at your laws concerning riders ages on e-bikes. I think, though, a child in a tow-a-long is OK.
Best Regards
+1

To the OP..
What state do you live in?
Why are you "car free"?
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Old 02-16-12, 09:57 PM   #5
CarFreeFam4
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I wasn't planning on letting the kid have his own bike to control. I don't actually let him ride out of our immediate neighborhood at the moment at all. He has a gross motor delay so sometimes it takes all the attention he has just to figure out how to pedal and steer at the same time. I have thought a bit about a tandem so I could at least get some work out of him, as opposed to him just sitting on the back. I would lose the cargo space I have now, though, and I don't really want to make up for it by pulling a trailer. I'm pretty sure that you have to be 16 to operate a bicycle with electric assist here, although it seems to be a little known statute in my neck of the woods. We live in WA state, about 50 miles north of Portland, OR. We have lived car-free for over three years now. It was initially a financial decision, supposed to be just for a year or so until we could get some medical bills taken care of. It turned out, though, that we really prefer life without a car. We're connected to our neighborhood more than we used to be, have found the pace of life is much slower, and of course the money we save is a nice bonus. We're moving because we have the opportunity to cut our rent by about $700/mo by doing so. That means that it still makes sense to move if we have to buy a car if we so choose, but we just like things better this way.
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Old 02-17-12, 03:58 PM   #6
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Hi!
Sure, for 7K you certainly can buy several nice e-bikes already assembled. I assembled my own bike for less than a thousand dollars, goes ~20mph+/-, for ~25 miles+/-. The individual prices of bikes and/or electric conversion bike kits vary. Only you know exactly what you want to accomplish with your e-bikes: is it for commuting or for leisure, how far you need to travel, what is your travel terrain like (flat or hilly), how fast you want to travel, how much electric assistance you need, how much cargo, pulling a trailer, etc...
I recommend that you research e-bikes on the net to get a good taste of motor types & sizes, battery types & sizes, etc... If you have that kind of money available, buy reasonably affordable bike(s) and save some of your money to replace your battery(s) in the future.
Really, all you can do is try an e-bike for yourself. If I were you, I would buy a conversion kit with ample motor (700+watts, direct drive) and battery (lithium, 48v, 20or30ah) to handle the distance and hills you speak of. (Not sure of your Utes existing brakes but with hills you will need good brakes.) Because you say your commute is hilly I would pay special attention to motors that have regenerative braking which could add power back to your battery on your hills. Try it out and see if it works for you. If it does not work out then you always resell the kit.
Best Regard

Last edited by Pedidelic; 02-17-12 at 04:16 PM. Reason: Additional
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Old 02-17-12, 06:16 PM   #7
Allen
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I would look at the Panasonic bikes (or other makes that use Panasonic mid mount drives).
http://www.kalkhoffusa.com/ <--an example of a Panasonic drive bike.
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Old 02-18-12, 08:50 PM   #8
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What I would do is to sell the Kona's and get a couple of Yuba's with the mid drive kit from here: http://www.urbancommuterstore.com/ The key factor is that this system drives the bikes drive train which is a big advantage and why the other poster recommends the Panasonic as it does basically the same thing. Much more reliable for carrying loads.

Looks like a Yuba with that system would be about $2300 or so and then you would need a battery. Don't skimp there, figure out how much you will want to be able to travel during the day and get one that will get you that far. Plan on $500 or so for a good one. So for under $6k you would have two brand new machines that will fit your needs very well. Use the money you get from selling the Kona's to get an electric trike going for the boy that has a pedelec system on it, so that it will only work when he pedals, that he can rip around the neighborhood on and you will still be money ahead of your $7k goal.

If you feel challenged by all this then I would go see Wake at the ebike store in Portland, http://ebikestore.com/2-ebikes. He shows a different motor setup on a Yuba on his site but as that is no longer available I am sure he would be willing to work with the mid drive. He is a Yuba dealer also which is a plus. BTW the Yuba has far better carrying capacity than the Kona, disc brakes and is all around a more sturdy bike.

Last edited by Mabman; 02-18-12 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 02-19-12, 09:08 PM   #9
crackerdog
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For that kind of money you should also check out Ecospeed in Portland.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:10 PM   #10
powell
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Kalkhoff, I love visiting that web site, their bikes screems quality , pleasure to look at close up pictures.
Made in Japan drive as you can see on picture lasts for years, well profen Panasonic drive.
That is not China brand "quality"
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