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  1. #1
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Is there an EBike right for me?

    I do not own an ebike but I am seriously considering it. If I do get one it will be used as a fitness bike. I want a bike that will help me prolong my riding time and range (30 to 40 miles in one charge over several hours).
    Yesterday I visited my LBS and spent some time talking to the owner of the shop about getting a Trek FX model. If you are not familiar with the bike, it is at its core a fitness bike with the addition of an electric assist motor. What I heard for the owner was a bit discouraging. He believes that although the concept is great, in reality the ebikes fall short of delivering the desired effect.
    The problem as he sees it is this: Ebike are simply too heavy to peddle without the use of assist. Most ebikers (is that a word?) he is aware of are forced to go into assist mode even on the slightest of hills due to the weight of batteries and motor. The effect of the motor overwhelms most peddlersí efforts.
    Iím 60+ years, a little but not grossly overweight. I can no longer keep up with my 10-12mph bike club. Maybe Iíd be better off buying a newer lighter non ebike riding more and eating less. Iíd love to hear any success stories about weight loss/fitness on an ebike.

    First time poster
    Thanks for listening
    BobV

  2. #2
    Senior Member knurly's Avatar
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    First, I stepped away from the Doritos and stepped up to a bag of carrots. Then I dropped the cookies and picked up some apples. The first 25lbs melted off in the first month.

    I got my ebIke conversion for climbing one particular hill to get to a trailhead to go hiking. While it is still muddy or snowed in up there, I take other routes when it is a nice day. I bought a trainer stand too as the bike has a regenerative mode. I believe I get a better workout on the trainer than coasting around town. But I reside in a mountainous area of eastern Oregon, if I want to get off the highway it means climbing a hill. Since my ride is either going up, or going down with rare flat spots, I don't notice much time spent in the neutral mode of the ebike. It is either assisting or regenerating.

    However, there is a loop I wish to do this summer. The last couple of weekends I've been going as far as I dare with enough daylight to get back. Its good to see how much battery is left if I use it or not. The trip is 25 miles out and a rise of 2000', most often facing a headwind on the way up too. But I got lucky last time with no wind and went most of the way without using the battery so, I'd be pretty weak indeed if I said that ebikes can't be ridden without their assist. If it matters, I'm 55.

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    My 60 year old husband rode a Trek FX+ on the first half of the TransAm this summer (Oregon coast to Pueblo, CO) and several tourers asked him the same thing: "Don't you think you could do this ride without the assist on a lighter bike?"

    Answer is a definite no way Don could have made it up the mountain passes without the electric, he has quite a few medical issues. We averaged 40-50 miles daily and he had to conserve electric and ride plenty of hills without it.

    Can you find a shop with one to test ride? His FX+ is 49# and the mountain bike I ride is 30#, yet I feel like I'm flying on his bike without any electric.
    Last edited by Yumadons; 04-20-12 at 06:36 PM.

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    With an FX+ and your normal amount of effort you should be able to pull your 10-12 mph club around behind you. Use your pedaling energy to propel the bike and let the motor assist you as necessary. That is why they call it motor assist and that is how you will get the best combination of fitness for yourself and energy out of the system.

  5. #5
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Wow, that all sounds like great news because I love the concept. The first LBS I visited did not have any ebikes at all for testing. Maybe that should have been my first clue. There are other Trek dealers in the area I can visit to see the bike first hand. That is what I really like. BTW I know how to drop the bag of chips. I did that 6 years ago when I also dropped about 50lbs, but with 20 of it coming on, age, diabetes, and a mild heart attack, I need a boost, inspiration or something.
    Thanks for the replies
    Bob

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    As I remember there as an issue with Trek bikes having spoke problems. If you search around in this Forum there might be more information. You could also do a Google search for `ebikes' or `electric bicycles' and see what you get. There are a bunch of them out there but getting 30 - 40 miles on a battery may not be possible...yet.

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    Hi BobV,
    Getting onto a regular bike and getting into better shape is a great idea, but for many folks a 40 mile ride is A LOT of training away... Your idea of getting onto an electric bike for a little help is right on track! I used an electric bike to replace my car for short commutes and eventually moved onto a mix of regular/ electric depending on the day. The great thing is when I need to look good and not sweat(here in Phoenix it gets HOT) I just jump on the electric bike and only pedal a little if at all- I arrive refreshed and sweat free. This is how I got into electric bikes and now I build them for HyBikes.
    Look around and shop for your electric bike, the use of throttle and pedal assist is most desirable for most people-the trek only has pedal assist. With the throttle you can make the bike go, then pedal as much as you are able to help it.
    Our Kinetic Mountain bike is great for keeping up with friends/family. You only work as hard as you want to.
    -Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race. ~ H.G. Wells
    HyBikes Electric Bikes Bikes for every age.

  8. #8
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    I know I really need to ride an ebike to answer many of my questions but I'm curious about something. I've seen references to a 20mph federal or state speed limit. Is 20mph the max the motor will accelerate you to? And will I be pulled over by police if my bike exceeds 20mph on a downhill or otherwise?
    Back to finding a bike: Maybe the Trek FX+ will not be the best fit. What if I was to find a good used Hybrid and add a BionX conversion kit. I have been looking at a rear mounted Pl350 48V system.

  9. #9
    Senior Member knurly's Avatar
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    At about 17mph I notice my Bionx conversion kit starts to throttle off with the assist. You can stay on top of the battery at this point that is, the battery isn't draining so much. The 20mph limit is more to define a bike as a motor vehicle requiring a license to operate. Bionx won't assist at speeds above 20mph, you are effectively in that neutral bike mode and pedaling on your own if you want to argue with the cops. Bionx is only looking out for their own legal arse, the governor can be thwarted if you search through all the discussions. But don't. Its a wonderful system as it is.

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    the governor can be thwarted if you search through all the discussions.
    I've actually turned off the governor and found the motor still tops out at around 20 MPH, simply due to the counter EMF. This is actually good engineering on BionX's part, as motors tend to run at optimal efficiency at around 80% peak RPM if at full load, meaning that the motor is optimized to operate at speeds between 15-20 MPH.

  11. #11
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, however I'm much more interested in how much time and distance I can tweek out of an ebike rather than speed. The time and distance being complemented by my peddling. I found a LBS yesterday that has a trek fx+ for demo purposes but it was not charged. They asked that I stop back by and I will. I may not get the Trek FX+ but I do expect to either build or buy one with a similar setup sometime. I though as a comparison I would also test ride a non motorized top of the line Trek FX. Maybe the switch from my current bike, a 6 year old entry level ($500) fitness bike to a top of the line ($2000) is what I really hunger for. I might even put ebike idea on the shelf for a while and treat it as a project. I've sorta grown bored with building computers, OS, and networks.

    again thanks for everyone's input
    BobV

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    I have gotten up to 99 miles on my BionX equppied Xtracycle by pedalling down hill with the regen on (this was during a century ride to see how far the battery could go). In real-life it depends on the amount of regen you use, how hilly the terrain is, and what speed you ride at. I've found the BionX to be most efficient between 15-17 MPH, so if you keep it in that range you will go far. Any slower, and you start getting a heavy current draw from the battery as the motor gets bogged down. In a practical riding situation with only a mild to moderate exertion, you should expect a 30-50 mile range between charges depending on the variables listed above.

  13. #13
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Saturday I ordered a Trek FX+ which is being delivered tomorrow at my LBS. I'm very excited to see how much this bike will extend my daily riding. I ride in a somewhat hilly rural area where the sight of a barn is much more common than that of a store. I've been riding my standard bike fairly regularly now for about a month but at no time have I exceed 20 miles. (youth you don't how good you've got it) I want to get in several rides before this coming Sunday when I take the bike on its first group ride, a pancake run. It's an all speeds ride of around 35 miles where we stop at the halfway mark for a pancake breakfast at the volunteer fire hall. It will also be interesting how the bike and I will be received. I did not receive any unfavorable comments when posting to their forum but I can't help feel a little like Im cheating.

  14. #14
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    I'm starting to get nervous. The bike came in yesterday, a day later than I was told. When I went to pick it up at the prescribed time it was still in the box. So I was told to leave and come back again in another 2 hours or so which would make it a half hour before closing. I did and everything looked great until it was determined that the battery never charged. The mechanic and I both agreed that either the battery or charger were defective, but there was also the possibility we did not know what we were doing because charger did not match the one in the owners manual. I fear more delays and defective parts. BTW the computer did not match the one in the owners manual and this was the first ebike the mechanic had put together. What could possibly go wrong? I WANT MY TOY (first world problems)

  15. #15
    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    I'm starting to get nervous.
    Hi, Bob. I think you're right to be concerned about the mechanic's inexperience with electric-assist bikes, but I don't think you should worry much about the quality of the drive system. [One of my ebikes is a Valencia+ and I'm familiar enough with the BionX motors and controllers to be confident.]

    If you can ID the charger for us (markings, photos), I'm sure one of us will know how to use it and how it's supposed to behave -- LED colors and sequences, charging time, etc. In any case, Trek won't leave you stuck with defective parts, although they move more slowly than you would prefer. They're huge and bureaucratic now.

    The rear wheel spokes on these bikes take a lot of torque, not just on the drive side, and spoke breakage was a frequent early problem. The current spoke spec is better, but they're still machine-built wheels. I'd suggest that a good wheelbuilder true and tension the rear before you ride it very much. Hopefully the LBS where you're buying it has someone who qualifies.

    Also, the installation of the rear wheel and the axle nut torque are critical. The details should be in a little "RIDE+" pamphlet that comes in the box with the bike. If you read that, you should be able to check the mechanic, or guide him, as necessary.

    I'm sorry this is a frustrating process so far, but I'm pretty sure you're going to love this bike. I'm a big, old guy with some heart rhythm issues and a defibrillator in my chest, so I started using electric assist on my commuter and cargo bikes, to help me stay in the saddle. The Trek/BionX combo is really extremely well thought out and implemented. You'll feel like you're simply riding a bike that happens to be amazingly easy to pedal -- anywhere. And when you don't need the assist, the extra weight won't be much of a burden at all.

    Keep us posted.

  16. #16
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    I picked up my bike Friday, got it home and went out for a 21+ mile ride. Saturday I did about the same. It did what I hoped it would do with only two minor flaws. At least I hope they are only minor. The first I hope is only a derailer adjustment where the chain seems to have rubbed the motor housing while on the inner most gear. Secondly while coasting I feel a rubbing of sort form the rear wheel. This is most easily detected while no assist or generation is being given. I want to say that it might be the breaks rubbing the rear rim. I’ll put the bike on my own bike stand to check it out and make adjustments in the next few days.

    Flash back to the battery not charging on Thursday. The charger was at fault and meanwhile they have lent me their charger from their demo bike.

    Back to the bike, its ride and performance, overall I’m happy. I used to riding a mid-grade Fuji road bike with flat bars that is not unlike the Trek FX+. The FX+ has a few rattles I did not expect and need to fix. I want a quiet bike. The shifters were smooth although “grannie gear” seemed unusable due to the needed derailer adjustment I’ve already mentioned.

    I was a little surprised at my and the bike performance as measured in average speed but maybe I should not have been. There was very little improvement in overall speed but my ability to ride longer was enhanced significantly. The bike has the effect of flattening out the ride while using both assists and generation modes. It’s easier going up the hills but I’m no longer just coasting down them and that’s exactly what I was going for when I purchased this bike.

    Kalliergo, what additional precautions do you take with you to guard against rear flats? Do you carry special tools? Do you use special tires and/or tubes? Am I going to be S.O.L.? In your estimation is a rear flat fixable on the road?

    The Bike computer has a flaw and it’s a major one if you want/need to track trip distance in miles. The silly thing lets you switch from kilometers to miles for viewing instantaneous speeds but the distance and average speed remain in kilometers. One last thought. I think that maybe I should have purchased the “girl’s” or step through model. I’m used to kicking my right leg up and over the seat then swinging it over rear tire to mount and dismount the bike. But now with the rear battery rack it’s no longer an easy feat.

    Thanks for listening
    Bob
    Last edited by BobV13; 05-14-12 at 06:12 AM. Reason: readability

  17. #17
    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Hi, Bob. I'm glad you're mostly pleased with the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    The first I hope is only a derailer adjustment where the chain seems to have rubbed the motor housing while on the inner most gear. Secondly while coasting I feel a rubbing of sort form the rear wheel. This is most easily detected while no assist or generation is being given. I want to say that it might be the breaks rubbing the rear rim. I’ll put the bike on my own bike stand to check it out and make adjustments in the next few days.
    I'd be proactive in correcting the derailer setup if the chain is rubbing the hub motor. You'll probably be able to see it when the bike is on the stand. I'm sure you'll find the cause of the "rubbing while coasting" then, too.

    Flash back to the battery not charging on Thursday. The charger was at fault and meanwhile they have lent me their charger from their demo bike.
    Good. I've heard of a couple of BionX chargers dead out of the box, but the replacements, and the others I know of, seem to work for a long time without problems.

    Back to the bike, its ride and performance, overall I’m happy. I used to riding a mid-grade Fuji road bike with flat bars that is not unlike the Trek FX+. The FX+ has a few rattles I did not expect and need to fix. I want a quiet bike. The shifters were smooth although “grannie gear” seemed unusable due to the needed derailer adjustment I’ve already mentioned.
    Yeah. I hate rattles, too. But you almost always have to find and fix 'em yourself, unless you want to drive the LBS guys nuts. You'll likely do a more thorough job, anyway.

    After you adjust the rear derailer, you'll have to tweak the front, anyway, so be sure to do the rear first.

    I was a little surprised at my and the bike performance as measured in average speed but maybe I should not have been. There was very little improvement in overall speed but my ability to ride longer was enhanced significantly. The bike has the effect of flattening out the ride while using both assists and generation modes. It’s easier going up the hills but I’m no longer just coasting down them and that’s exactly what I was going for when I purchased this bike.
    That's my experience, too. I don't go any faster, overall, but those hills are a lot more comfortable and I'm much less tired at the end of longer rides.

    Kalliergo, what additional precautions do you take with you to guard against rear flats? Do you carry special tools? Do you use special tires and/or tubes? Am I going to be S.O.L.? In your estimation is a rear flat fixable on the road?
    Well. . . I did a simulated tube replacement in the living room when the bike was new. Frankly, it was a real pain and I want to avoid doing it by the side of the road as much as possible. I put Schwalbe Marathons on the bike for maximum puncture protection and there's Slime in the tubes. The tires aren't cheap, but they last a long time and they really are very puncture-resistant. The only "unusual" tool I carry is a pedal wrench, which fits the axle nuts. I'm prepared to pull the wheel on the road, if I have to, but I might call for a ride instead, depending on circumstances and my mood/condition.

    You probably have the same warning in your little Ride+ manual that I have: If you need to remove the rear wheel, Trek recommends you take the bike to your dealer. It seems ridiculous, but it probably isn't, for most riders. There's a lot of extra fiddling involved on these bikes, getting the torque close to right is pretty important and it would be easy to end up with a power or control cable in the way of spokes or (on my bike) a brake disc.

    Of course, if you can just pop the tire off on one side and find and fix the puncture, it's no harder than any other bike, except for fenders, rack, etc. getting in the way.

    The Bike computer has a flaw and it’s a major one if you want/need to track trip distance in miles. The silly thing lets you switch from kilometers to miles for viewing instantaneous speeds but the distance and average speed remain in kilometers.
    I think you have a slightly different controller than I do, but I remember discussions about this. I think it's changeable in programming. Your dealer should have a "Bicycle Interface Box" to go between computer and controller and a BionX program that allows setting a bunch of parameters easily. If not, many of them can be set by combinations of button-presses on the controller itself. I'll see if I can find links to some online explanations.

    One last thought. I think that maybe I should have purchased the “girl’s” or step through model. I’m used to kicking my right leg up and over the seat then swinging it over rear tire to mount and dismount the bike. But now with the rear battery rack it’s no longer an easy feat.
    Right. I've had to teach myself to lean the bike quite a bit more toward myself as I mount. Partly because the rack is pretty high and partly because my leg doesn't go as high as it used to.

    On the whole, it's pretty nice to flatten out those hills a bit, isn't it?

  18. #18
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalliergo View Post
    On the whole, it's pretty nice to flatten out those hills a bit, isn't it?
    Yes it really is. Sunday I was too busy to ride, yesterday it rained but today the rain should stop. I'd like to get in a 30+ mile ride in before this weekend when I'd like to make my first club ride. Today I may just need to stay inside and make some of those adjustments I've mentioned. Most rides within my group are between 30 to 40 miles and can very quite a bit between quite hilly to flat.

    I consider myself a bicyclist first and only a ebicyclist second. When discussing the ebike to bicyclist I feel a compulsion to apologize for it's use. I hope that fades because enjoying bicycling is what it's all about.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    It's an all speeds ride of around 35 miles where we stop at the halfway mark for a pancake breakfast at the volunteer fire hall. It will also be interesting how the bike and I will be received. I did not receive any unfavorable comments when posting to their forum but I can't help feel a little like Im cheating.
    Bob, how were you and the bike received? :-)

    Matt
    (my first post!)

  20. #20
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Overall the bike and I were received very well. I did my best to fit in with the group. As usual on rides such as the one I road people tend to break off into small groups with similar riding abilities. However in case it was more like choosing the speed at which I wanted to ride. I road with a group doing about 12mph letting them set the pace the full way. I was the bike's and my test to see how we'd perform over 35 miles at 12mph. The bike finished using just over half of it's full charge.

    I'm sure there are a few who dismiss my participation in club rides as not putting forth the effort that others do but there were no outward displays. In short the club promotes biking and I was viewed as such. Oh and they are a great group of people.
    Last edited by BobV13; 06-05-12 at 08:45 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    Overall the bike and I were received very well. I did my best to fit in with the group. As usual on rides such as the one I road people tend to break off into small groups with similar riding abilities. However in case it was more like choosing the speed at which I wanted to ride. I road with a group doing about 12mph letting them set the pace the full way. I was the bike's and my test to see how we'd perform over 35 miles at 12mph. The bike finished using just over half of it's full charge.

    I'm sure there are a few who dismiss my participation in club rides as not putting forth the effort that others do but there were no outward displays. In short the club promotes biking and I was viewed as such. Oh and they are a great group of people.
    How about starting your own e-bike club there? I'm sure there are others like you who feel they wouldn't be received as equal if they rode their e-bike. Besides, being the first e-bike club in your local area has a nice ring to it. Hmmm, I think I'll look into starting one in my area.

  22. #22
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    How about starting your own e-bike club there? I'm sure there are others like you who feel they wouldn't be received as equal if they rode their e-bike. Besides, being the first e-bike club in your local area has a nice ring to it. Hmmm, I think I'll look into starting one in my area.
    I'd love to ride with other ebikes but as of today I have not met them. For now I'll let things happen naturally. My best chance of finding other ebicyclists is to continue with the club I'm now with because that is when i come in contact with the majority of bicyclist. In fact there may be others in the club whom I just have not noticed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobV13 View Post
    I'd love to ride with other ebikes but as of today I have not met them. For now I'll let things happen naturally. My best chance of finding other ebicyclists is to continue with the club I'm now with because that is when i come in contact with the majority of bicyclist. In fact there may be others in the club whom I just have not noticed.
    The more you ride with them; the more they'll want to go electric. We are behind you all the way.

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    Do you have to ride with a club? My wife and I ride our ebikes and just let the racers go on by.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    I just picked up our first pedal assisted bike. A Kona Electric Ute cargo bike. This thing is a monster weight wise, but I was able to ride it with the motor turned off without issue with my 6 year old riding on the back. With the motor on, it doesnt help at all with speed, it is a lot slower than any of my other bikes, but it erases hills and headwind completely and I imagine when I try it fully loaded, Ill be glad for the motors existence.

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