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  1. #1
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    Looking for input on a commuter bike

    I have been thinking about an e-bike for a couple years. I live near Seattle and have a round trip of 20 miles with maybe a max of 100 feet of elevation gain. I'm in moderate shape, early 40's, 6'2" and about 185 lbs.

    I own an old cannondale hardtail and a more recent full suspension trek fuel 9 series. I thought about modifying one of them but would like a clean look and I'm only moderately handy on a good day.

    In a perfect world I would like a bike that fits my height, has pedal assist, is quiet, under 50 lbs, has a top speed of 25 to 35 mph with pedaling, can handle a light rain, do 20 miles on a charge and has a decent build quality.

    Spending $2,000 would be nice but I would consider up to as high as $4,000 if it made a significant difference. I appreciate the help and have found this forum very helpful.

    many thanks
    Chris

  2. #2
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky2020 View Post
    I have been thinking about an e-bike for a couple years. I live near Seattle and have a round trip of 20 miles with maybe a max of 100 feet of elevation gain. I'm in moderate shape, early 40's, 6'2" and about 185 lbs.
    Just curious, is there a reason you want an e-bike rather than a standard one? If you're in moderate shape, you should be able to take a 20-mile round trip with a 100-ft elevation relatively well, if not with incredible ease. I'm asking because you should be able to get a very nice (regular) bike that meets all your requirements except for the pedal assist for $2,000.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  3. #3
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    You may consider taking a look see at the Bacchetta line of recumbents. You should be able to find a vintage 02-03 corsa for under 1,000. You won't need anything fancy for that moderate grade fast & comfortable.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    R&E of Seattle , makers of their Own Rodriquez brand of frames , Perhaps ? You may not need a Electric Motor..

    but if you are disabled , Kent WA Is the Base of the Importer from China Of E-Moto Bikes , thru the port of Tacoma Of course.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-24-14 at 11:50 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Just curious, is there a reason you want an e-bike rather than a standard one? If you're in moderate shape, you should be able to take a 20-mile round trip with a 100-ft elevation relatively well, if not with incredible ease. I'm asking because you should be able to get a very nice (regular) bike that meets all your requirements except for the pedal assist for $2,000.
    Thanks Daihard. You make a valid point but the added time and getting to work a bit on the sweaty side is a deal breaker. It's true I could probably make it work by cleaning up in the bathroom each day but an e-bike seemed like a possible solution. I currently have street tires on a 2nd set of wheels for my Trek which helps but I was hoping this would get me over the hump to bike daily.

  6. #6
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky2020 View Post
    Thanks Daihard. You make a valid point but the added time and getting to work a bit on the sweaty side is a deal breaker. It's true I could probably make it work by cleaning up in the bathroom each day but an e-bike seemed like a possible solution. I currently have street tires on a 2nd set of wheels for my Trek which helps but I was hoping this would get me over the hump to bike daily.
    Thanks for the explanation. Cleaning up in the bathroom after each ride is something I'd like to avoid, too. Sorry can't help you much with finding a good e-bike. Hope those who are more familiar with the subject can chime in (as some have already done).
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  7. #7
    Junior Member ChrisD_'s Avatar
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    I think you've got the price range about right and can easily stay under $3K. Your height and weight put you within the envelope for riders. As I understand it, manufacturers use 170lbs as the "average" rider when they calculate their range estimates.

    Just about every manufacturer says their bikes will go 20 miles or more on a charge. The mileage estimates appear fairly inflated but 20 - 25 seems reliably in range. I weigh quite a bit more than you, 235 (and am about as tall) and with easy pedaling I can go up to 30 miles. Speaking of pedaling, computers on the bike may support two modes: pedal assist, where the motor adds energy to your ride only when you pedaling; and, twist-throttle or 'scooter', where you just sit and coast along. In throttle mode legal bikes are limited to 20mph. In pedal assist I readily go 25+ mph. A lot of bikes don't have scooter mode and now that I've been riding mine for a while I could do without.

    There seem to be several motor choices, and gearless / direct drive hub motors are indeed silent. Geared hub motors are not silent, which ruled them out for me, but may have advantages in torque. More recently I'm seeing an increase in availability of center, frame mounted motors. This mounting seems like a great idea, since it gets the motor's weight toward the center of the bike and gives it the added protection of the bike's suspension. On the other hand my bike is pretty well balanced, too.

    Looking at your post I see you mentioned weather resistance, build quality and weight. The first is definitely there, more-so in some bikes than I others. I live in the Bay Area and frankly weather isn't an issue, since I'll just drive the very few days we get rain. The components on these bikes are generally good, though it sounds like you're more than experienced to judge for yourself. As for weight - it's all tradeoffs right? In this case I think it's just weight vs cost, since there's no magic bullet regarding battery chemistry and as the overall cost of the bike goes up all of the components get upgraded as well.

    FWIW I felt balance (front to back), ride-ability (transparency of the motor assist, for example), and UI and operation of the computer mattered a lot to me once I got to a bike store and started test rides. Some highly regarding, well-reviewed bikes had seriously primitive computers and/or abrupt power transitions or acceleration that seemed distracting or even potentially dangerous. I knew an e-bike was a great idea but I didn't know how much I'd enjoy riding regularly again. It's so great to watch the sun come up or see the tides high and low or wave 'hi' to the little kids going to school on the bike path.

  8. #8
    Senior Member heywood's Avatar
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    Hi Chris, i used to commute daily about the same distance, then medical and financial problems stopped me for about a year.. i gained a bunch of weight, came out of a nasty depression (thanks to my bike), but found that the commute by bike was a bit daunting..i kept trying to keep it up but would find myself weeks later only having done one bike commute per month.. Purly by accident i discovered that the range of these e bikes has increased enormously and also they are now similar to regular bikes..you can use them as both an electric vehicle and a pretty decent bicycle (if you spend the money).. The scooter e bikes always turned me off because i figured you might as well just get a gas scooter but having a regular bicycle with the optional assist to flatten out the hills really appealed to me. I test rode a few and finally went with the Neo Easy Motion (eMotion) city commuter.. I'm in love with this thing! Comes with all the options i would have put on it, rack, lights (hub generator), etc.. When on the lowest peddle assist i'm flying up the hills and along the flats even in a nasty headwind. I ususally have no assist until i come to a nasty hill, i also do feel i've had a workout when i get home or to work, i'm on the bike longer and look forward to my commutes.. for fun i sometimes go full assist just to fly around keeping up with the cars but be careful it can get addictive. I also now use my regular Trek cruiser more often since my stamina has increased, so i'm thinking by the end of the summer i'll be back up to running the the couple 100Km i was used to. As a practical form of transportation they're great as a regular bicycle as long as you're willing to spend the money they're great too.. Top brands now that i'd recommend: the BH Easy Motion Neo line, The Izip E3 Dash, any of the Pedego line of e bikes.. Also..test ride..test ride..test ride.. it's the best way to find what you're looking for..

    Cheers!

  9. #9
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Pedal assist generally means around 250 watts and a top speed of around 20mph. More than 500 watts or more than 25mph is generally an electric bike. Anything above 250 watts is going to blow away what you are capable doing by yourself, making your contribution a token contribution at best. Besides, 25mph is pretty darn fast on a bicycle. Those are racing speeds on a 16lb bike, and quite fast on a bike that weighs over 50lbs.

    So, do you want something that assists your pedaling, or something that does the bulk of the work for ya?

    As for biking daily, it is a lot of fun on an ebike!

  10. #10
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    Hi Chas58. I guess I liked the idea of being forced to pedal along with it feeling more natural. The e-bikes I have looked at seem to have pedal assist or pedal assist + throttle. I agree with you - 25mph is really fast on a bike. My need for a higher speed is due to time restraints on my commute.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Heywood. I was able to try about 10 bikes last weekend. The Neo line does seem like a good deal for the money. I also really liked the Stromer ST1 but for my bumpy commute I might fork over the extra cash and get a full suspension bike. Others ahve recommended the E3 Dash but I have to ride one. Hard to know where to draw the line on how much to spend since I don't know if I will use it through our rainy season - 10 months out of the year

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ypedal's Avatar
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    Take a look at Pedego City Commuter, i got my hands on one not too long ago to work on. :

    Untitled Document

    700C wheels and large frame are nice for tall riders, both pedal assist and hand throttle modes, i'd ride it in the rain without worry.. and 48v with rear Geared hub motor scoots along well.

    A serious daily driven ebike needs to be done right or you likely will give up on the whole thing... i've done it for years 8am to 4pm monday to friday, rain . sh.. or shine.. get some good rain gear, including Shoe Covers ( I buy from Mountain Equipment Coop Mountain Equipment Co-op ? MEC ? Shop climbing, cycling, running, yoga and more .. i'm sure there are US equivalents )

    With the right gear and proper bike, it's never a chore to ride home or to work... highlight of any day.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    20 miles at 25+ MPH needs a lot of battery. Ebikes live by the same laws of physics as regular bikes, so power required for 30 MPH is 4 times the power required for 15 MPH. A 185 lb rider on a 50 lb ebike is going to need about 250W to hold 20 MPH (on a flat route with no wind). At 25 MPH that increases to 440W. A lot of the typical ebike solutions only target 20 mile range at 20 MPH, so you'll need something with significantly more battery (about 500 Watt hours). Your own pedaling contribution (in order to stay non-sweaty) is probably no more than 100W. That's enough to go from 20 MPH to 22.5 MPH, so you can't really rely on pedal assist to add much range at the speeds you want to travel.

    Plenty of hobbyist ebikes can do that kind of range/speed, but not many commercial models (since more than 20 MPH usually runs afoul of regional ebike regulations).

  14. #14
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    There are systems where you can do 60 miles on a charge on relatively flat terrain when riding at 15.5 mp/h, that the limit here in Germany.
    Id recomment you take at good look at what brand for battery and drive unit you want to use, there are big differences in quality, comfort, performance, riding distance, price....
    The Stromer ST2 is a nice bike but personally I prefer the slightly slower Pedelecs, those quick E-Bikes just feel and ride closer to a motorbike in my opinion.

  15. #15
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    That is a good point. Relatively small increases in speed (~5mph) require near a doubling in power. Being happy at 20mph is much easier than doing 25mph.

    This calculator does a good job of showing you what you need:
    eBike Simulator - Tools

    I’m probably not a good example, but I designed a bike with a motor that is good for maybe 20mph (250 watts) and then add about 200+ watts with my legs, and go 25mph for 25 miles on a 36v10a battery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kopsis View Post
    20 miles at 25+ MPH needs a lot of battery. Ebikes live by the same laws of physics as regular bikes, so power required for 30 MPH is 4 times the power required for 15 MPH. A 185 lb rider on a 50 lb ebike is going to need about 250W to hold 20 MPH (on a flat route with no wind). At 25 MPH that increases to 440W. A lot of the typical ebike solutions only target 20 mile range at 20 MPH, so you'll need something with significantly more battery (about 500 Watt hours). Your own pedaling contribution (in order to stay non-sweaty) is probably no more than 100W. That's enough to go from 20 MPH to 22.5 MPH, so you can't really rely on pedal assist to add much range at the speeds you want to travel.

    Plenty of hobbyist ebikes can do that kind of range/speed, but not many commercial models (since more than 20 MPH usually runs afoul of regional ebike regulations).

  16. #16
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky2020 View Post
    Hi Chas58. I guess I liked the idea of being forced to pedal along with it feeling more natural. The e-bikes I have looked at seem to have pedal assist or pedal assist + throttle. I agree with you - 25mph is really fast on a bike. My need for a higher speed is due to time restraints on my commute.
    If you like to pedal, a smaller (250-350w) motor is not going to overpower you. A 500+ watt motor is really going to over power you and you won't be adding much by pedaling as the motor is so much stronger than you. I don't know of anyone who makes a light, fast, moderately powered e-bike. The problem with e-motors is that they go up to a certain speed and then just don't anything more. you can add power by pedaling, but you'll just get 1-2mph more as the assist from the motor quickly falls to zero as your speed increases.

    If you want to go 20+mph, you can do that with a small 250-350 watt motor, and feel like you are adding something to it. A bigger motor is going to make the whole system heavier and your input more trivial.

  17. #17
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    I strongly recommend FALCO MOTORS, they sell all range of hub edrives and ready ebikes also.
    Wonderfull, throttle and power assist system, well integrated and intelligent. Designed in USA and manufactured in India.

  18. #18
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    I modified my Cannondale hardtail with an Amped kit (geared rear hub, 48v / 20ah) . It really wasn't that difficult. I think the biggest task of the process was modifying my Blackburn rear rack to hold the battery. It's not super clean looking due to some extra wires/connectors. But on casual glance it doesn't look like an e-bike (and if I ever get around to hiding the battery in a rack bag, it'll be pretty stealthy).

    Top speed w/ battery only is around 24mph on level ground. Pedalling will add a few mph to the top end, but the geared hub doesn't allow a very small sprocket (and I'm too cheap/lazy to add a bigger chainring). Honestly though, you wouldn't want to go much faster with an old hardtail (no suspension, no disk brakes, etc.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member profstack's Avatar
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    Go to Seattle Electric Bike, in the Ballard/Greenwood area. They have Ohm, Felt (German), and e-Moto. They only sell quality stuff and have good advice.
    Give your best every day. Each morning brings new opportunities.

  20. #20
    Junior Member jasonplett's Avatar
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    I was of the same mindset and similar weight and fitness level a year ago. I was truly looking for a simple all in one solution. I chose the Pedego, but to be honest it has it's drawbacks, but at the time it was the best option for my <3k budget, and still met my needs. I have just over 1k miles on it and have not had any problems. I upgraded to the 48V and don't regret it, although full disclosure I didn't ride any others to compare. I really appreciate all of the folks that are tinkering and pushing ebike tech to the limit, and admire their moxie, but for me a canned solution was key, and there are several that provide that at this point. Seattle Electric Bike is a very full option retailer in your area, I had a chance to stop in on a recent trip and they have their crap together and are on the cutting edge when it comes to complete bikes.

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