Ebike as primary transportation
I'm considering buying an ebike to use as my primary mode of transportation around town (going to and from work, grocery shopping, errands, etc.)
The bike that seems, according to my research, to be best-suited to my needs is the Juiced Rider U500. I like that it seems to have longer range and ride time than many ebikes available, as well as the rear rack and extra power for transporting stuff. It also seems to be a pretty good value, and it seems like it's gotten very positive reviews.
I also have a single-speed road bike that I've considered converting. I figure I can always put front and/or back cargo racks, and I also have a bike trailer I could use for hauling crap.
Are there any other ebikes I might want to consider? Also, would converting my road bike be a better value? I know kits are often less expensive than pre-built ebikes, but what would get me the most bang for my buck?
Here are the features that are most important to me:
-Range of at least 20 miles and ride time of at least one hour per charge (and more is always better)
-Ability to transport stuff, whether it's with trailer, built-in racks, or ad-on racks
-Top speed of at least 15mph
-Less than $4,000
And here are the features that are not important to me (I'm not against them or anything, I just don't care one way or the other):
-Fancy LED display/computer
I realise that what constitutes the "best" ebike is highly subjective, but I'd appreciate some extra input about what ebikes or kits you think are best-suited to the job.
I have some questions for you.
1) What type of terrain are you going to ride in? Hilly, flat, paved rural, etc
2) How far is is to work?
3) Can you charge at work?
4) What type of winter weather do you typically expect?
5) How much do you weigh (sorry I have to ask that because it makes a huge difference on range and speed).
I ask all these questions because I built an ebike for virtually the same purpose. I have been testing and refining it for 2 yrs now and I'm getting ready to launch my business in March. The cost for everything you mention is approx $3000. Here are a couple pics of what the bike would look like.
The max speed I have achieved is 34.8mph (slight downhill grade), It will propel me at 25mph on a flat surface but, of course higher speed equals less range. It will propel me up any hill here in Bowing Green at 17mph. Your bike will have a 30ah lithium battery pack and a 750 watt motor. That will easily meet your needs (mine has a 900 watt motor). I weigh 225 lbs. All the speed numbers I give you are with me riding and no pedaling.
The ebike is built around a Motobecane Gran Turismo touring bike that is very robust and can accommodate tons of gear/load. Check it out. http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm
Please ask me as many questions as you want.
By bad, double post, can't seem to find an option to delete it.
Thanks for your response.
It's about seven miles from my home to my work, and it would be incredibly easy for me to re-charge at work, even if the battery doesn't detach from the frame easily. I work at a horse ranch, so there are lots of easily accessible outlets both outside and inside our big indoor barn. Terrain is relatively flat. We really have more slight inclines around town than we do bona fide hills, and the roads I'd be riding on are either paved or very hard-packed dirt. My primary mode of transportation at the moment (besides the bus) is a Scott road bike that is very lightweight and 100% NOT designed for riding off road. The bike I was riding for years prior to getting my Scott is a single-speed road bike, also very lightweight and very much designed for riding on paved roads (the single-speed is the one I'd convert if I decide to go that route). So, that should give you a pretty good idea of how easy-going the riding terrain is in my area; I got around for years relatively easily on a single-speed road bike. Nothing off-road, and nothing especially hilly. (Obviously the extra gears are nice to have, especially on longer rides, which is why I upgraded to the Scott a couple years ago, but they're a luxury rather than a necessity. A lot of people around here get around on fixed-gear beach cruisers.)
I live kind of near Los Angeles, and winter doesn't really exist here, haha. Neither does weather. It's pretty much 70 degrees and sunny all the time (okay, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one).
I weigh about 120-130 pounds, and I'm about 5'3-5'4, so I'm pretty small. That's actually one of my concerns. I think my Scott is either a small or an extra-small frame size, and I've noticed that a lot of ebikes only come in one frame size...which is probably going to be too big for me more often than not. I realise that fit is less of an issue on bikes that have a more upright riding position, but my size could still pose a problem. That's part of why converting my older road bike appeals to me, because it's one of the few bikes I've ridden that really, truly fits me well.
Oh, and I tried to look at the pictures, but the links don't seem to be working.
I converted a single speed bike for about $400. In its basic form it will do about 15-17mph and has a range of about 20 miles. I upped the speed to about 22mph range (by changing the motor). My commute is about 18 miles round trip, which gives me about 6 extra miles if I want to make detours on the way home (or of course charge at work if I need a longer route back). That is with a 36v10Ah battery. A 15Ah battery would give 50% more range.
My bike is not a hill climber, but it is light and fast (about 30lbs). I'm building a third bike from the frame up this winter to be more of a higher speed (25mph) cruiser.
The trick with using a single speed is you should have a steel frame, and you need a small motor that will fit within the narrower 120mm rear fork - most road bikes have 135mm rear forks. Or you could put a small motor on the front if you have a steel fork on the front and a motor in the 250 -350 watt range.
Do a search on my name if you want more info on my builds.
This bike would work extremely well for your situation. As far as your size is concerned, you should have no problems getting the desired speed and range out of it. This particular bike comes in many sizes and I can convert any size (the smaller size may limit the battery pack to 15ah vice 30ah. The great advantage of this is if the battery pack dies, you have an excellent hybrid bike that flies. If you don't like this particular bike, I can convert any bike for you. Just tell me the bike you want to convert and I'll figure out what it will take and how much.
Sounds to me like your "almost all flat lands & pavement or hard packed dirt" situation is the perfect application for simple hub-motor drive.
I think your biggest question you need to answer is if you "prefer" to do your own build or if you "prefer" to just buy a ready made unit.
If you "prefer" a ready made unit your "Juiced Rider" option I absolutely agree with as an excellent choice for your situation and needs as you describe them. The gears in the geared hub will eventually wear out (a couple years of daily use or so) at which point if it were me I would replace it with a direct drive hub of the same power rating. With your flatland situation you have the perfect situation for a direct drive hub and you don't need the extra hill climbing ability (per same power rating) that a geared hub allows and the direct drive ones last a lot longer because there is no internal gears to wear out. Don't get me wrong the big 500+ watt rated geared hubs the gears aren't going to wear out tomorrow or next month unless you abuse them to no end, but a couple years or so expect it to be time for a replacement.
Most e-bikes (with the exception of friction drives) can be put into three main categories:
----- Direct Drive Hub Motor = Simplest and least that can go wrong, very inefficient for climbing hills or pulling heavy loads, best used for flat land use. Do produce a noticeable "drag" when pedaling only with the motor off, capable of regenerative braking.
----- Internally Gear Reduced Hub Motor = More complex due to the internal gears which also introduce an additional wear point, but for the same power rating are more efficient and better at climbing hills and pulling heavy loads, best used for areas with reasonable hills where a direct drive hub would bog down too much on the hills and/or be too inefficient and drain too much battery juice when climbing hills. Usually do not have a noticeable "drag" when pedaling with the motor off, not capable of regenerative braking, often rated for lower powers then direct drive and often lighter weight (a big size geared hub motor is often rated for as much power as a small size direct drive hub motor).
----- Mid-Drives/Crank-Drives = These are among the most complex of all because their motor is not mounted in the wheel hub but rather in the bikes frame and they run their power through the bikes gears along with the pedal power allowing a large range of gearing options. When combined with a bicycle with a wide gearing range these are the most powerful hill climbers and heavy load pullers of all and also among the most efficient. But their complexity is a large downside with a large number of wear components and the more powerful ones can put considerable wear on the bikes gearing system as well. Usually do not have a noticeable "drag" while pedaling with the motor off, normally not capable of regenerative braking, available in the widest range of power levels all the way from less then 200-watt power systems all the way up into multi-Kilowatt systems.
----- Friction drives are pretty much at this point in time limited to just home-made "throw-together", "jury-rigged" stuff although at one time years ago they were pretty popular. Depending on how they are set-up they can have any and all of the strengths or weaknesses of the other systems along with their primary weaknesses of excessive tire wear, limited to non-knobby tires, and pretty much limited to only nice weather use and do not work well in rainy or winter weather.
Whether you buy a ready made unit or build your own from kit or scratch good to keep the basic categories and their strengths and weaknesses in mind. Me personally I like in the foothill valleys of the mountains so I'm pretty much a Mid-Drive/Crank-Drive guy although I do have some limited experience with all three of the other options as well. If I lived in flat land like you though I think I'd be running mainly direct drive hubs, geared hubs, and/or single ratio chain drives (one I forgot to mention that is usually custom home built only where you get a custom rear wheel hub that has both regular freewheel threads on the right side and south-paw left side drive freewheel threads on the other side and you just put a left side freewheel and chain on and run it up to a simple motor mounted in the frame on the seat tube, basically the same advantages of geared hub but without having to worry about the internal gears wearing out because there are none just a regular second bicycle chain on the left side for the motor with the right side chain going to the pedals as usual). In a flat-land situation unless your pulling a large amount of cargo weight (100's of pounds) there really isn't much need or use for the complexity of a Mid-Drive/Crank-Drive set-up.
Do you see the Juiced Rider as a pedal able option? I see it as a scooter that has pedals. The classic drawback to them is that they are very inefficient to pedal. So when the juice runs out, your sucking. The review I read on it pretty much said that.
There are some things you should know about "pre assembled" ebikes (or ebikes that are not conversions):
1) Federal law limits top speed to 20mph
2) Many accomplish that with speed limiters
3) Conversions are not limited by Federal Law but some states and munincipalities have laws regarding convervsions
I think that ODK is a very sweet ride for multi-purpose urban. Lots of torque. But I think you will find that the speed is lacking somewhat, probably topping out in the low twenty MPH range. If I had some surplus cash I would love to juice that frame with a decent direct drive hubby that would take to me to 30mph on the flats - maybe a Crystalyte or Nine Continent. The gearedd motors are pretty torquey but lose all their assist pretty quickly in the low 20s in my experience. Except a MAC motor, wound fast. I've got an EZEE 20" motor on my vision recumbent and I'm a bit disappointed in the speed. The same motor in a 26" wheel would be better, losing some torque for the extra speed. I think it would pretty "pedalable".
Because the stock hub-motor used on the Juiced Riders bikes is internally gear reduced that means they have a freewheeling clutch so you don't have to turn the motor to turn the wheel.
Therefore, yes, its a very "pedal able option" with the only "sucks to pedal" part being the additional weight of the electric drive components and the fact its only got a three speed IGH for pedal gears. Not only that but it has classic upright cruiser bicycle slightly relaxed crank forward geometry and a pedal location and Q-factor set-up for strong human pedaling with a gearing range that although a little narrower then I would like allows effective pedaling at any speed between 8.5-mph (60-rpm pedal cadence in low gear) up to 26.5-mph (100-rpm pedal cadence in high gear). (Run the math, 52t chain-wheel, 16t sprocket, SRAM three speed with 37% even split under-drive/over-drive gear steps on a 20" diameter BMX drive wheel). That isn't exactly what I would consider a "pathetic" human drive power system.
I do personally own one bike with a direct drive hub motor (a big Crystallite Brute thats a 1.4-Kw motor) and that is very much a PITA to pedal with the motor turned off. I also have a couple bikes with internally gear reduced hub motors on them and they are a dream to pedal only with the motor off compared to the direct drive hub motor.
One should realize though that I'm not a "weight weenie", quite to the contrary I run a lot of cargo bikes several of which I regularly haul or tow hundreds of pounds of cargo with. I'm not one who minds a little extra weight, even when just pedaling only. Now a constant drag I can feel in the vibration pulsation resistance in the pedals as the motor rotor of a direct drive hub rotate past each permanent magnet pole, that is extremely obnoxious in my opinion. Thus I almost never ride the one bike I have with a direct drive hub motor under pedal power alone and thus always keep it charged and never run it beyond its range.
I like to pedal and even when I'm running the motor on any of my builds I'm doing my part as well with pedaling. This can be done on any decent build using any of the motor styles available so long as the human drive system isn't ignored and is built to be fully functional just like a pedal only bicycle. And from the OP's description of his situation it sounded like that is what he wants to do too, namely both pedal and run the motor both, thus so long as he gets a big enough battery for the distances he is going to covering he should never have to just pedal only unless he really want too. That combined with his flat lands situation makes me think a hub motor would work just fine for his needs. Juiced Rider comes stock with a geared hub which is freewheeling with no drag from the motor when pedaling only and for at least the first couple years or so of use if its not abused that is how it will remain. Then comes motor replacement time since a geared hub does eventually wear out its gears and you usually can't just buy replacement gears for them only. As with any e-bike under pedal power only he is going to have the extra weight of the electric drive components to haul around, shouldn't be any worse then that.
I should mention that I personally don't own a Juiced Rider but I do have one bike that uses the exact same motor it comes with stock from the factory and my battery for it weighs just as much if not more then theirs does. I do have a different pedal drive arrangement consisting of a standard 7-speed derailer gearing instead of IGH three speed though. I also have several custom home built frames that use a geometry set-up very similar to the Juiced Rider frame which I would consider a "mini-long tail" with slightly relaxed cruiser type geometry.
NOW, it is true that there are certainly "e-bikes" out there that totally sabotage the human drive capability and the pedals are just there for "show" and I personally find scoffing haughty insults the very notion of a hybrid human/electric drive system that should not ignore the human motor and should take full advantage of it as well.
The most obnoxious of these in my personal opinion are those fre-fab electric scooters with their plastic bodies that have a platform for your feet to sit up forward of the seat just plain doing nothing and then as an after thought have these pathetic little short arm pedals mounted a couple inches back behind the seat that go through a single (usually hardly usable) gear ratio and are mounted way too wide and too close to obstructions to be actually used in any kind of effective way and will make your hips sore if you do try to use them due to being mounted so wide appart (large Q-factor). Stuff like this:
That is not a human/electric hybrid vehicle. That is an electric vehicle that has had pedals added to it so that it can squeak by and just barely meet legal requirements. Try actually pedaling one of those things with or without using the motor at the same time and you will see what I mean, the human motor as part of the drive system was never taken even remotely seriously.
Not that I'm against such vehicles in principle being operated on the public roadways as low speed vehicles that if charged off of clean energy resources are much better and wiser for our planet then their gasoline burning counterparts. But for goodness sakes if your going to mount pedals then take them seriously and do it right and respect the human motor as an important part of the drive system. Or don't put pedals on it at all !!!
Next up, are those e-bike builds that the pedal drive is only useful at low speeds. One of my buddies has one of those that I sort of helped him out with finding and buying something that would fit his needs. It was on crag's list across the state border in Idaho and I went along with him to look at it and tell him whether he should buy it or not (since he knew nothing about e-bikes at all). It was an old home-built job where someone had taken a 48v electric scooter 13" wheel direct drive heavy duty mini-monster hub motor and taken an old steel frame mountain bike and cut off the back triangle and welded steel tubing to made a new rear triangle on the bike forming a slightly longer tail with wide low drop-outs to mount that smaller diameter rear wheel hub motor back there and then cut threads on the motors right side outer shaft bearing cover to take a single speed bicycle freewheel and hooked up a single speed pedal drive to the big chain-ring on the mountain bike crank with two 50-cal ammo boxes mounted above the rear wheel on each side to hold the batteries which were worn old Ni-Cd packs. The original builder had done a pretty good job and the motor and controller were all good and sound and the frame was certainly plenty strong and we were able to ride it around for 15-minutes or so on the little charge the old Ni-Cd packs would still hold and the price was right. So he bought it and we recycled the old Ni-Cd packs and replaced them first with one Ping pack that fit in one of the two 50-cal ammo cans and then later on he bought another Ping pack to put in the other ammo can when he had saved up more money to pay for the second pack so he would have double the range. He is still riding it around town to this day (he lives in town unlike me).
Point being though that the single speed pedal drive with that small diameter 13" scooter size rear wheel is geared low enough you can't pedal fast enough to keep up at much more then about 12 mph or so. Basically with that bike whenever you take off from a dead stop like when the red light turns green you pedal along with hitting the motor throttle to help you get up to speed quicker but once your up to speed its pointless to pedal because you can't keep up with the motor anyway. With the motor turned off the low gearing works just fine because that bike is fairly heavy anyway plus the slight drag because the motor is a direct drive hub motor (but surprisingly doesn't have much drag that you can feel, significantly less then my one direct drive hub motor bike where its hub motor was made for bicycle conversion and isn't a re-purposed electric scooter hub) so it really isn't that bad to pedal only, just a little slow due to the low gearing as a result of the small sized rear wheel and then occasionally when you hit a hill big enough to slow down that bikes electric motor enough then you can pedal along with the motor to add your power to help get up the hill.
Although that specific bike is a very clear example of this kind of situation it is not uncommon in the least to find e-bikes where the pedal drive is fully functional just as on any other bicycle but the gearing on the pedal drive is significantly lower ratio then the gearing on the motor such that once your up to speed with the electric motor you can't pedal fast enough to keep up with the motor and add your own power as well.
Those kind of e-bikes I do not consider to be true human/electric hybrids but are certainly a much better solution in my opinion then when the pedal drive is a pathetic joke that isn't even hardly usable and is just there for show and to meet legal requirements.
Finally, there are the true human/electric hybrids which is what I think an e-bike should be. Namely where the human pedal drive is fully functional and effective across the vehicles entire speed range and the rider can always be pedaling and always have their power output be fully utilized along with the power output of the motor.
There is of course some variation within this spectrum, mainly consisting of how well you can move the vehicle under pedal power alone with the motor turned off. But so long as the human motor is not ignored and is taken full advantage of when the motor is running then its a perfectly acceptable design to my way of thinking.
The Juiced Riders offering falls into this category as far as I'm concerned. Especially since when under pedal power alone the hub motor they use has a freewheeling clutch so their is no drag from the motor and its only the extra weight and being limited to just three gears that provide a little narrow gearing range then I would like that have any hindrance on riding under human power alone. As a testament to the fact that their frame design is set-up with a fully functional human pedal drive is the fact that they sell a pedal only non-electric version that uses the exact same frame only without the hub motor and battery and electric drive components.
So, yes, the Juiced Rider bike may be not as nice to pedal only with the motor off as a light weight road bike that has no electric drive whatsoever because your hauling around more weight and your seating position in an upright cruiser style makes for more wind drag and a slight reduction in how much force you can put into the pedals but it shouldn't be any worse then pedaling around a three speed beach cruiser with a picnic lunch in a rear cargo basket over the rear wheel that's equal to the extra weight of the electric drive system. Not a problem at least not in my line of thinking. But then I don't shave and oil my legs and dress in spandex and ride in a tight low tuck with my head craned up so I can see in front of me so long I get neck aches like some weight weenie roadies do fretting about every single gram of weight and every tiny bit of wind and rolling resistance either, so you have to take my viewing point perspective into account as well.
Thanks Turbo...a very good overview.
Excellent point on those electric scooters and radiculous pedals on them.
There are NOT ebikes - that is the whole point.
Good info Turbo, Thanks.
I am in the same boat, and am considering a significant commute. The trains in NY have been brutal, and I am considering biking 3-4 days a week (35 miles each way). I can handle the ride without assist, but this gives me a margin of safety and maybe cut 20-30 minutes on the trip.
Here's an odd question: How do these e-bikes work in crappy weather, such as rain? I considering some of the bikes above, as well as a Specialized Turbo or Stormer ST1 - looking for a "factory" bike, rather than a kit.
(I put this in e-bikes, but it might be better in the Commuter forum)
Any advice would be welcome. I've been testing with a CAAD 10/4 and a mountain bike with slick tires, but the electric would make a difference.
To put ebike in cost perspective.
My Tidal Force /USA designed and made/ cost me $3500 in 2005, it is my only winter /severe central Canada winter/ commuter with close to 24,500 km /!!!/ on odometer. On such ebike with quality electrical components /like weather-proof connectors/ and sealed motor rides are smooth and trouble-free in any weather for years.
So often mentioned on ebike forums "loose connector" or rust inside motor will not happened on quality ebike like TF or Falco.
Again on quality ebike like Eplus, Falco, Stromer you can ride for hours in the rain.
If you are even a bit technical person you know that sub $500 ebike or ekit cannot even remotly deliver such reliability. You cannot build your own weather-proof motor to start with.
Here are the pictures inside quality DDrive hub motor after over 24,000 km in severe winter riding - it proofs that hub motor can be environment protected. the black silicone you can see in pictures is mine, no respectful motor manufacturer would use silicone as a mean of sealing.
Also unlike cheap motors there are electrically undestructible with all kind of protections.
Endless Sphere is big ebike forums and there are many posts there about burnt cheap motors which got overheated by owners due to primitive electronics with no thermal protection at all.
Again it will never happen on quality ebike like Stromer, Falco, Eplus, Specialized...
By contrast these are pictures of China brand motor after less than 1,000miles, this motor was never submerged according to owner just ridden in some rain.
There are never ending threads on Endless Sphere about "restoring" rusting motors describing lenghtly "process".
Do you prefer to ride your ebike instead?
Outstanding - thank you powell. That Tidal Force looks like a beautiful piece of engineering!
I'm actually going to look at a Stormer today, and the Specialized this weekend. Ever since I started riding with discs, lousy weather has become an opportunity. Saving 350 USD/month on lousy train service would be icing on the cake...
Have you looked at the elBoda Boda?
It has good cargo capacity, especially if you add the Bread Basket on the front and has the added bonus of being able to transport a second person on the rack.
It uses proven technology.
It's lightweight yet strong and is fun to ride without the motor.
I know a family that has one and loves it. As an example of its range, I went on a bike camping trip with them and they rode 30 miles of fairly steady but slight uphill with a 7-year old and gear on the bike and still had juice at the end.
A cheaper alternative would be to buy the non-electric Boda Boda (or a Mundo or extracycle) and add a front hub motor kit. I have one from this company: http://www.gocarlite.com/Electricbikekitproducts.php. I can't really speak to its longevity, because it's only a year old, but it works well.
Honestly, I ride an electric bike nearly every day. All the time I hear these, what I consider, outrageous 30-50 mile range claims. Can someone expound on that. My questions are:
1) What is the weight of the rider?
2) How fast are you going (20mph the whole way, 15, 10, 4?)?
I just cannot imagine a heavy bike like that going 30 miles with a 9ah battery pack. Then you throw in gear and a 7 yr old? Or was the 7 yr old the rider and the gear weighed only about 40lbs? Even with only 80lbs on it, I can't see 30 miles on a 9ah pack.
The rider was a skinny 6'2" male. I don't know what he weighs, probably about 180 lbs. I don't think 30-50 miles is outrageous if you are truly using it as an assist and not as the sole source of propulsion. I don't know what level of assist he was using on the Bionx. We were moving pretty slowly, probably about 10 mph.
My Workcycles Fr8 is about 75 lbs unloaded. I weigh 140 lbs and my kids are another 75. I try to charge my battery regularly, so I don't really know its range, but I've gone 24 miles (16 without kids and 8 with) without getting my battery below "half" (though I know that half is really close to "empty.") The only time I've worn my battery down to empty, I had gone 32 miles--10 with kids and 22 without. My average speed is 12 mph.
There is a BIG difference between an E-Assist and a E-Bike... Depending on effort put in by the rider the E-Assist will out do an E-Bike only most every time the distance you can do... Here in post #1 are some mileage# on my E-Assist with different ways of riding my bike, http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...e-your-numbers
what you wrote in previous post is not outragous at all.
I think he should read more about BIONX not just generalize like that - there are edrives and edrives.
"I ride an electric bike...." ????
There are quite a lot info about BIONX drive /kits or ebikes/ on this forum.
BIONX is VERY configurable system, many parameters can be adjusted /mostly by dealers only/ like example PAS sensor sensibility.
I own BIONX 350W SL with G2 console with battery 9.6Ah/355Wh /not 9Ah/ mounted on Toba Edwin .
So a lot depends how PAS sensor is programmed and what level of assist you use.
In my case dealer programmed PAS very stingy or it came like this from BIONX factory and they just installed it.
In level 1 I don't feel any assistance from motor for example.
On my Toba Edwin I can ride in level 3 for 30km not using even half of battery.
with BIONX you need to work namely pedal, assist kicks in very smoothly, in complete silence.
Juiced Riders would have been a good name for the U.S. Postal Service pro cycling team.
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