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  1. #1
    Rouleur gattm99's Avatar
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    Would an E bike work for us?

    OK here's the deal, I'm a road rider who enjoys training and riding hard. A few years ago I got my wife into riding with me and over the course of a couple years she became good enough to ride 60 mile charity type rides and she really enjoyed it. Several unrelated health problems kept her off the bike for almost 2 years in a row and now she's back to square one. She'd like to ride again, but she's not looking forward to starting over. I'm not looking forward to the slow and short rides that we did back when she was getting into shape.

    Many people suggest we ride a tandem, but we tried that and she didn't like not being in control, and I certainly didn't like her being in control. I read an article in Road Bike Action about an intern riding with a fast group on an e bike and it got me thinking.

    If my wife was on an e bike would it help balance us out so I can get a workout and she can enjoy riding with me? Where she needs the most help are the hills, but also she tends to bog down on flats when there is wind.

    One concern I have is her ability to control an elaborate system with throttles and buttons. It was hard enough getting her to understand how the shifting worked. Top end speed isn't a big concern. I typically average around 16 mph and I don't mind slowing down for her.

    At this point it's just an idea we're thinking about, and we don't want to spend a bunch of money on this. Her current bike is a road bike with flat bars and I doubt it would be suitable for a conversion. I'm looking at the 250 watt front wheel kits. Is it really like producing another 250 watts of power, because I'm certain that with that kind of power she'd be able to zip up hills. I'm a skilled bike mechanic and can fix just about anything and build up my own bikes, I've also got some experience with electrical systems so I'm considering experimenting with one of these.

    Anybody offer any experience to let me know if this is a good idea?

  2. #2
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    An E-Assist bike would certainly fit the bill, depending on the system there is not much to learn how to operate most... 250w would be on the low side for going up hills, IMO I would get a minimum 350w, 500w is what I would buy if I did it over again...
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

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    Just be sure you don't end up 20 miles from home when the battery gives out. It can be a very long, slow slog back with the extra weight.

  4. #4
    Freewheelin' Joe Perez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
    250w would be on the low side for going up hills, IMO I would get a minimum 350w, 500w is what I would buy if I did it over again...
    Having built a few e-bikes myself, this is absolutely spot-on. The last bike I built (while living in San Diego and commuting each day in very hilly regions) was 52v at 25A, or about 1,300 watts peak. (OTOH, I very much enjoyed blasting up 15% grades at 25 MPH, so YMMV.)

    One thing to really be aware of is that there are fundamentally two different styles of motor. Direct-drive hubs tend to be the cheapest, and some people tout them as being more reliable since they have only one moving part. This may or may not be true, but they're also the heaviest, least efficient and last-suited for hill-climbing.

    The better motors have both an internal planetary gear reduction also also a roller-clutch. This makes them smaller and lighter, and also gives them much better torque for a given wattage. A geared motor will never set any speed records (there are DD-equipped bikes out there doing 75+ MPH), but they are the best solution for real-world commuting in hilly terrain.

    As a bonus, the roller-clutch also means that geared motors freewheel when unpowered, whereas direct-drive motors cause significant drag on the wheel- it's like peddling with a flat tire. (This largely addresses the point which prathmann raises.)


    Often times, vendors will not make it clear which style of motor is being sold, but it's easy to tell the difference. Here is the very first e-bike I built, which has a large, direct-drive hubmotor:





    And here is a later e-bike I did. You can see that the hubmotor is barely larger than the brake disc:



    Cheaper geared hubmotors are even smaller than the one above. Example:

    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Yea, I would make sure that if you get a hub motor type it was designed so that you can pedal the bike with no resistance if you want, or must, because the battery ran out of juice...
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

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    Yep, I'd go with geared hub. My 450 watt 36v 10ah "MTB" conversion weighs in at 68-70 lbs and isn't too difficult to peddle w/out E assist. Range (depending, of course, on peddle input) averages out to be about 25-30 miles with a (no peddling) top speed of 17-19 mph on level ground. I generally peddle continuously while using the E power mostly for acceleration. As for the "buttons and controls"; this should become a second nature for her in very little time.

    Note: Don't bother with lead acid batteries. Either LiFePO4 or Lipo type batteries are the only way to go imo.
    Last edited by FMB42; 04-05-14 at 05:02 AM.

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    My problem was just the opposite and at 64 Keeping up with my younger wife who works out all the time. I bought a Falco add on for my Trek 7300 and love it. I wanted something that wouldn't break down on the trail and narrowed my choices to Bionx and Falco. I wanted pedal assist with regen. You can do custom programming of the hub if you wish. I'm 220lbs and get about 40 miles out of my 500 watt 10ah battery. The hub is virtually noiseless. No gears to wear out and has a 5 year warranty. System is easy to use. I can now do a 17-18mph pace no problem in mode 1. Only needing to hit turbo when climbing steep hills and leave my wife behind then. Read the posts you will see how much others are always redoing something with their systems. And watch out charging some of the available batteries can be very hazardous to your life. I dealt with the president Rakesh rakesh@falcoemotors.com directly. He invented the new hub.
    Tell him Tom in Faribault Mn. sent ya. I have no affiliation with the person(s) or company

  8. #8
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    At the end of last summer I bought a $200 front wheel Chinese kit (including shipping) that had a 350 watt Q100 motor. I bought a 15ah 36 volt battery (with back rack) from BMSBattery for $375 (including shipping). It took about a month for the things to arrive, and another month for me to figure out how to put it together - with great help from the folks here and on Endless Sphere. You'll have a lot easier time because you already know how to remove the bottom bracket so you can get the crank sensor on it.

    I put it on a reasonably cheap Schwinn comfort bike and am just astonished at how much I like this bike. I used it to commute 25 miles a day through much of the NYC winter - although February was so cold and icy that I did miss most of that. I also have a Trek Valencia+ that has a BionX kit mated to it. I love that bike too, but I find the narrow tires uncomfortable for commuting - I feel every bump on the road and I'm 62 so I can do without that. The Schwinn has 2" tires and I can run that at 55 lbs pressure instead of 80 so it's much more comfortable. And who cares about rolling resistance when you have e-assist?

    I did the commute for 12 years without an ebike, but it was getting to be somewhat of a drag with the hills and headwinds. With the ebikes I'm back to doing it as often as I can.

    The cheap kit does have some issues. Unlike the BionX, the assist really is more on/off than a gentle helper. In the lowest of the three assist levels it wants to go at least 12 mph, which can be annoying if I don't want to be going that fast. But if you're off to a 60 mile run, that won't be an issue. And, it is easy to turn off the assist if I want.

    In the highest assist level that bike will do over 20 on the flats. And I come home from a 25-30 mile ride with the battery at 50%. I'm around 190 lbs. Work a little harder and it will do 60 miles, and if not, it isn't very hard to pedal anyway. I have a plain old lithium battery - the LiPo4 batteries have greater recharge cycles, but weigh something like 30% more for the same aH amount. My battery weighs around 10 lbs, the motor is around 4. That isn't a whole lot of extra weight to pedal around even if the power does run out.

    One more thing - The Trek (BionX) is very easy to operate. Just set the assist (or regen) level and it really does react to how hard you pedal. The regular BionX kits have a throttle as well, but not the one mated to the Trek, nor is it needed. The right brake has a cutoff switch to kill the motor when you brake.

    The cheap kit is also easy to deal with, but not as easy. The assist kicks in when you pedal at a fairly low speed, but also stays on after you stop pedaling for a few seconds. Either brake will cut that off immediately. I actually use the throttle as a bit of a brake, since it overrides the pedal assist mode. So if I want to use just a bit of power, I use the throttle. If I want no assist, I flip off the assist completely. Using either system becomes automatic very quickly.
    Last edited by dgk02; 04-08-14 at 12:11 PM.

  9. #9
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    I would go with a 500 or 750 watt Bafang Bottom Bracket motor and a NuVinci rear Intearnally Geared Hub.

    This will give you the best combination of extremely simple operation and a wide range power envelope that is good for hilly terrain.

    start with pedal assist up around 7-9... And as she gradually gets in shape, she just sets the pedal assist lower. Lower pedal assists also buy her greater range.
    ( and, actually, hilly terrain can increase range since you use nearly no power running downhill... I have a long downhill into town...and even turn off the battery going down...Effectively saving the entire charge for the uphill leg.

    with the Bafang 750... And NuVinci gearing system, get the Bafang with the twist throttle, and she can twist the left hand for motor power, twist the right hand to adjust gear...

    Oh, and you'll find you won't have to slow down for her... You 'll likely have to up your game to keep up.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptingman View Post
    I would go with a 500 or 750 watt Bafang Bottom Bracket motor and a NuVinci rear Intearnally Geared Hub.

    This will give you the best combination of extremely simple operation and a wide range power envelope that is good for hilly terrain.

    start with pedal assist up around 7-9... And as she gradually gets in shape, she just sets the pedal assist lower. Lower pedal assists also buy her greater range.
    ( and, actually, hilly terrain can increase range since you use nearly no power running downhill... I have a long downhill into town...and even turn off the battery going down...Effectively saving the entire charge for the uphill leg.

    with the Bafang 750... And NuVinci gearing system, get the Bafang with the twist throttle, and she can twist the left hand for motor power, twist the right hand to adjust gear...

    Oh, and you'll find you won't have to slow down for her... You 'll likely have to up your game to keep up.
    This doesn't really add up,? In my experience hills always decrease range... Even when I use the re-gen going down the hill, you only get back about 10-15% of what you used getting up the hill...
    Last edited by 350htrr; 04-26-14 at 12:21 PM.
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
    This doesn't really add up,? In my experience hills always decrease range... Even when I use the re-gen going down the hill, you only get back about 10-15% of what you used getting up the hill...
    It depends on the terrain. For me, I generally ride into town from my house in the hills. Quite literally, it's all downhill or level going Into town... I often turn off the motor and battery entirely...ergo... I do half my ride without using one watt of electricity. I am halfway the distance I ride...with a full battery.

    I am GOING to use X amount of energy climbing back up those hills, and you're right... It's more electricity than riding half the ride on level ground... But if I were riding the exact same distance both to and fro with motor running, I would use more electricity overall, than I do reserving the full charge for just the second half.
    If you are riding a route that you don't need power for fully half of the distance... You can shut off power and not waste electricity.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptingman View Post
    It depends on the terrain. For me, I generally ride into town from my house in the hills. Quite literally, it's all downhill or level going Into town... I often turn off the motor and battery entirely...ergo... I do half my ride without using one watt of electricity. I am halfway the distance I ride...with a full battery.

    I am GOING to use X amount of energy climbing back up those hills, and you're right... It's more electricity than riding half the ride on level ground... But if I were riding the exact same distance both to and fro with motor running, I would use more electricity overall, than I do reserving the full charge for just the second half.
    If you are riding a route that you don't need power for fully half of the distance... You can shut off power and not waste electricity.
    You are right, you would go farther on a charge doing it that way but not because of the hills and gaining distance going down but because you shut the power off, not using any, thus you can go farther...
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

  13. #13
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    gattm,
    make sure you pick up quality kit/ebike especially if you are NOT thinkerer/DIY person.
    Hundreds of hours of reading ebike forums tells me you better be handy tech person if you want to go for cheap
    stuff. Those cheap kits very often do not come with clear instructions.
    tominfaribo,
    your choices tells me you know how to distinguish cheap junk from quality edrives.
    5 years warranty tells it all about FALCO, no other ebike/edrive manufacturer can match it.
    Complete silence is the virtue of ebiking for me, my all 3 ebikes are totally silent even under hard acceleration.
    It would be my choice either.
    Middrives/Bottom Bracket types are very efficient and excellent on hills but they are add to mechanical complexity,
    wear and tear on BB drives is much bigger than on DD hub edrives. Example chain, chainrings, cassettes, freewheels BB drives wear out much faster than on DD hubs. Plus noise of gears can by annoying for some people.
    The best BB drives: Panasonic and Bosh well engineered and quality materials-made still have above characteristics but much, much better than amateurish BB drive Cyclone.
    I owned BB drive Merida before and it was "attention getter" really on bikepaths.
    Last edited by powell; 04-26-14 at 01:34 PM. Reason: a

  14. #14
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    Another consideration for range is the difference in power consumption between a hub motor and a mid-drive.

    a hub motor has more resistance related to terrain, because it compensates for up hills by dumping power into the coils.

    a mid-drive channels power thru your gears... And so you can reduce motor loading by choosing a lower gear... Just like in your car climbing the mountains.

    you still burn more energy going uphill... Because a lower gear means going slower, and therefore longer.... And there is some increased loading on the motor... But you can mitigate it by going to a lower gear.

    the result is that a rider has more control over, say, motor temperature, and preventing high heat resistance losses with a mid motor, especially if their rear wheel is properly geared.

    my Alfine 8 has a low ratio of 0.53.
    if i had to carry larger loads uphill, or up a lot more hills... A Rohloff has 5 full gears Lower than the Alfine's.

    i find the mid motor solution gives longer range just in its ability to use gearing to reduce peak load.

  15. #15
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    Curious if you've purchased an electric system yet.

    My 2 cents as a former electric bike owner. I owned a hybrid with a Bionx 250 watt system. At the time I was just starting to ride again after almost a decade off the bike. My friends continued riding and were fast Cat 4 racers at the time (now Cat 3). The system had a speed limiter of 32 km/hr, so that would make it a bit hard to keep up with them when I reached the speed limiter and they were travelling faster. Also the range wasn't great and long rides would mean a dead battery. The bike was heavy so although it helped on hills, I agree with others when they say 250 watts isn't going to be enough for hills, particularly if you're an avid road rider and fast.

    Depending on how fast you are I'd guess the others are correct that a 350 or 500 watt system is what you're going to need. The 250 watt system wouldn't be enough to keep up with fast Cat 4 riders. Maybe your wife is faster than me. To give you an idea of my riding ability at that time I would have taken almost 6 hours to complete a hilly 130 km Gran Fondo on a CX bike.

    If you want to do long rides with your wife, make sure you get a big battery!

  16. #16
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    I put together a couple of bikes with the 4lb Q100 motor (about $500 delivered with 10ah lithium battery). I took a lot of tinkering to get it going, but it works great for me.

    That bit above about the motor doing 20+ mph isn’t right. The motors do about 15mph under load, maybe 17mph under no load.

    If you are looking for light assist, it is great. Unlike most kits, the bike still feels and rides like a road bike. It about doubles my power output, unlike larger kits which will do all of the work for you. And, it is easy and simple to ride without the motor on. I like that it is so light and inconspicuous (about 12 lbs total, and the motor is smaller than the gear set on the rear wheel).

    But yeah, if you want the motor to do all of the work for you, 500+ watts is fun. Sure, you can pedal with those too if it makes you feel better, but you are only going to generate a fraction of the power of the motor.

    With a small motor, you can get away with a small battery and still get good range (10ah gets me about 25 miles).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post

    What bike?

  18. #18
    Freewheelin' Joe Perez's Avatar
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    The base bike itself was just a cheap, steel-framed MTB that I picked up from the local big-box store- it was nothing special.

    The motor, battery and controller came as a kit from Amped Bikes. The design of the battery's on-board BMS is quite poor, and I went through two of them before finally convincing them to give me a refund. On the whole, I have mixed feelings about dealing with Amped. It's a small shop based in the US and run by a couple of nice folks, but they are not at all technically astute, outsourced the design of their custom-made battery to someone who didn't know what they were doing, and are far better at advertising then engineering.

    That was my very first e-bike build, and after that I started dealing directly with Chinese-based vendors, of whom Cell_Man was by far the best in my experience. His gear is what you see on the second bike in post #4 , with the blue Miata in the background. I still have that one.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
    The base bike itself was just a cheap, steel-framed MTB that I picked up from the local big-box store- it was nothing special.

    The motor, battery and controller came as a kit from Amped Bikes. The design of the battery's on-board BMS is quite poor, and I went through two of them before finally convincing them to give me a refund. On the whole, I have mixed feelings about dealing with Amped. It's a small shop based in the US and run by a couple of nice folks, but they are not at all technically astute, outsourced the design of their custom-made battery to someone who didn't know what they were doing, and are far better at advertising then engineering.

    That was my very first e-bike build, and after that I started dealing directly with Chinese-based vendors, of whom Cell_Man was by far the best in my experience. His gear is what you see on the second bike in post #4 , with the blue Miata in the background. I still have that one.
    Ping battery, have 4 of them, over a combined 13,000 miles ebiking and no issues. To the original poster go big box, make sure the frame and forks are steel, not aluminum or polycarbon. Visit or google Papamotor and order their 1000 watt 48 volt system with 15 amp battery. Top speeds at 32 MPH distance at 18 MPH at 29 miles per charge. Get the optional 5 amp charger and charge is cut in half or more to about 3 1/2 hours. For mainly road unless u do steep hill climbs, get the front hub motor kit. You won't regret your decision and forget pedal assist. Eventually u won't be happy and kick yourself with what you paid versus what you could have had. This is the best advice you'll get.

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    I love my E-zip!

    I have a 450 w E-Zip bike made by Currie and I absolutely love it! I have had 3 surgeries in 3 years and it lets me get around and still enjoy biking! Comes with the option to use pedal assist (where motor kicks in when needed) which I don't really like, or with the push of a button you can pedal or throttle or use a combo of both. It was cheap. I got it from Walmart.com. Love it and have had no issues with it at all.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by slickdude View Post
    Ping battery, have 4 of them, over a combined 13,000 miles ebiking and no issues. To the original poster go big box, make sure the frame and forks are steel, not aluminum or polycarbon. Visit or google Papamotor and order their 1000 watt 48 volt system with 15 amp battery. Top speeds at 32 MPH distance at 18 MPH at 29 miles per charge. Get the optional 5 amp charger and charge is cut in half or more to about 3 1/2 hours. For mainly road unless u do steep hill climbs, get the front hub motor kit. You won't regret your decision and forget pedal assist. Eventually u won't be happy and kick yourself with what you paid versus what you could have had. This is the best advice you'll get.
    Well, that depends on the person, I am very happy with my pedal assist and wouldn't buy an E bike without pedal assist, now a throttle is nice to have, but really? without a pedal assist option you may as well just get a moped... JMO
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

  22. #22
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    Love my old ezip where the motor and battery went bad after just 6 months, meanwhile the Papamotors conversion still lasts to this day. Neighbor tried my bike, loves it, said it is awesome.

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