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  1. #1
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    Looking at a cargo bike for kid transport: worth it to add Power Assist?

    Our family just moved to Germany, and we'd like to replace our daily kid-moving van with a cargo bike/trike. We've tested out a few options and really fell in love with the Bakfiets cargo trike. Our only concern before we order one is that we aren't sure if we should spring for the "power assist" option (http://bakfiets.nl/eng/accessoires/c...ll/elektrisch/). Our new home here is kind of hilly, and there are situations where we could be climbing a moderate grade for a mile at a time, on a daily basis. We'd be really happy to be able to do all that with pure leg power, but I'm concerned that we may not be up to making that climb without some help.

    Back in the States, we never really lived in a bike-friendly area, so I never looked at e-bikes until the past few weeks. I'm not sure if the "power assist" is really what we want or not -- I'm not sure what the right terminology is, but I think we may need the kind of e-bike that "pedals for you", rather than the kind that "helps you out".

    Last week, we got to try the trike without power-assist, as well as a power-assist build of the 2-wheel Bakfiets. The bike with power assist didn't seem to make *that* big of a difference when climbing a hill, but I don't know if it's just the way the software on the controller is set up, or if it's just not powerful enough to provide the torque I had hoped for.

    We've looked around on the Internet, and I don't think there's going to be any way to try an electric trike in our area. What I'm trying to figure out is, will the power-assist version give us as much help as we're going to get, or should we order it without and look at a more powerful conversion kit from the after-market?

  2. #2
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    Germany has pretty low limits on how much assist an ebike can have - it's 300 or maybe 350 Watts max. However, most EU countries are limited at 250 Watts, so a fair amount of bikes in Germany are 250 Watts. This isn't a ton, but it's enough to make a difference. I have a 250 Watt pedelec, which gives me a 4-8 mph higher top speed than I might otherwise have...

    Also, most EU ebike assists seem to taper off at 25 kph (though I know some german ones go to 45 kph), so if you were going faster than that on the hills, you might not get an assist.

    Each ebike I've tried has had a different feel. If I were you, I'd try out the available standard ebikes (vs. cargo) in order to get a better idea of the sort of feel you want.

    "helps you out" = pedelec
    "pedals for you" = idk a specific term, I just say throttle-based.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply -- that's good information to have. Really, our only reason to look at the assist is for low-speed situations: getting started with a heavy load, or climbing a hill that's difficult to get up. I'm looking at the legal issues on other sites, and it seems like most of the laws are aimed at curbing top speed. I wonder if a higher-power motor that caps out at low speed would be an issue?

  4. #4
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    I'd look for a mid-drive system, if you can swing it. That way the motor will gain the mechanical advantage of your gearing. This should be a bigger help on hills than a hub motor.

    This is of course assuming that you're comparing motors with similar power (very likely in the EU, less likely in the US).

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