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Old 06-26-14, 07:23 PM   #1
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Considering electric bike.. help!

Where I currently live and may be living for another year, there is no long term free parking. As it is, my 20ft camper van is in paid storage 4 miles away. I am getting sick of bus riding. 15-30 minute waiting plus travel time on the bus of 30+ minutes usually.

I live upstairs in a studio apt so I need something I can carry up the stairs. I also need something capable of climbing very steep hills. I don't expect great speed of course.

Up to 15 mile range would be great, but 10-12 might be doable.

I was looking at the like of seated electric scooters since I don't weight much (about 155lbs) so I'm generally within the maximum weight for such scooters, but their range is pretty low and some people report they don't do more than slight inclines before overheating the motor.

If I had a way to store one outside safely, I'd probably just get a gas engine kit or even just a gas scooter or moped. I doubt they'd like me bringing a gas bike inside the apartment, although I did it back in 2003-2004 at apts in CA with a gas seated scooter and I was never spoken to about it. *shrug*

So electric is probably going to be my best bet.

So to recap I want/need:

- As light as possible
- 10-15 mile range
- Able to climb steep hills at least somewhat faster than a tortoise in molasses
- The lower the price, the better

I am thinking a conversion kit is probably going to be what I need given my budget. I can't sink $2500 in an electric bike nor would I want to due to lack of insurance, high risk of theft when out with it, etc. I am more than capable of dealing with installation of a kit. I just would need advice on what kits are good and what kits aren't.

EDIT: I'd also like to add that if the kit is fairly light, using the electric motor almost exclusively for hill climbing would be a possibilty which would greatly increase the range. It is VERY hilly in places where I live, but coming back it's mostly downhill. The less the motor is being run and I am coasting and/or pedaling, the longer the range will be.

Also if it came down to it, I could stick the bike on the front of a city bus and get home that way if a pinch if I was far away with a dead battery.

Last edited by Cubey; 06-26-14 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 06-26-14, 07:45 PM   #2
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Unfortunately when you are talking "kits" there is no such thing as good and cheap... It's one or the other... Now if you can build your own (being handy), yes it can be done. I suspect it's going to cost you about $1,500+ for a kit that would do what you want... Oh, Plus a bike to put it on...
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Old 06-26-14, 07:51 PM   #3
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Well how about a suggestion of a good USED model to get? I live in a major metro area so being able to find one might not be too difficult.
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Old 06-29-14, 07:45 PM   #4
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Check Craigslist in Seattle/Tacoma for used options.
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Old 06-29-14, 07:49 PM   #5
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I have been but I don't know what's good or bad... that's why I posted here.
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Old 06-30-14, 07:38 AM   #6
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Carrying an e-bike up the stairs will be a workout. Motors and batteries (at least the kind that can handle the range/hills you describe) are heavy. You're looking at about 50 - 60 lb assuming you start with a 25 - 30 lb bike. Price wise you're looking at $1300+ for a decent kit that can be installed with relative ease by a typical do-it-yourself-er. I have first-hand experience with the kits from and found them to be good quality. Buying direct from China is cheaper, but quality (and even delivery) is a gamble.

Keep in mind that if theft is a concern, e-bike batteries are a nice juicy target. Look for a system where the battery can be easily removed and taken with you when you park the bike.
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Old 06-30-14, 08:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kopsis View Post
Carrying an e-bike up the stairs will be a workout.
My daughter did this frequently for about a year. One thing to make it easier is to make sure that th ebattrey can be easily removed in order to carry them up in separate loads.
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Old 06-30-14, 07:21 PM   #8
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The biggest problem I see is weight. For your range you may need to be flexible on the weight piece. As tech progresses I am certain the weight will come down, but not in the near future.
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Old 07-02-14, 04:46 PM   #9
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I bought a 700c geared front hub lithium kit from Amped Bikes for my wifes 2001 Schwinn Sierra 700 limited edition and except for the speed have been very happy with it. They say on their web site 21-22 mph on the level with no peddling but it will only go 18-18.5 maybe 19. The geared front hub is about half the size and weight of a direct drive hub and has zero drag. The lithium battery bolts on where the water bottle holder was and is locked in place and is easily removed for charging or securing and provides less weight and longer range than SLA(sealed lead acid) batteries and we have gone as far as 34 miles in hilly terrain with no problems. Before this conversion my wife would seldom ride with me and now she goes all the time and easily zips away from me on hills. Be aware that front hub conversions need a bike with a steel fork as aluminum or magnesium forks will eventually break from the torque of the motor. This kit was bolt on and plug and play and has been absolutely trouble free.

Last edited by raiNcnh; 07-02-14 at 04:57 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 07-08-14, 10:27 PM   #10
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I converted a Spot Ajax usng a 750 watt Bafang bottom bracket motor...48v 11ah battery.

it weighs 40lbs, with battery. It runs for about 2 hours riding time... A shorter average ride would mean using a smaller and lighter battery... Putting weight around 37lbs.

it can go up 20% grade hills at 15 mph with easy pedal effort... It will run at 25 on level ground no pedalling at all.
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Old 07-14-14, 07:13 PM   #11
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I think people are being rather pessimistic about the availability of less-expensive but decent kits. It appears to me that the Hilltopper kit might work for you.

I added a Hilltopper kit to both my wife's and my hybrids. The price varies according to the battery capacity you select, but approximately $450 (IIRC) gets you the front hub motor mounted on a decent wheel, the controller, a push button on/off throttle, and the 10 mile battery. It's very basic, but in my experience it works well. It's a 250W motor (i.e. low powered) that is primarily there to provide an uphill assist (thus "Hilltopper"), rather than turning the bike into a no-pedaling-required e-motorcycle.

We've had our Hilltopper kits for about 10 months now and have been very satisfied with them - just rode to the grocery store and back (hilly route) this afternoon, in fact.

IMO you could easily craigslist a decent bike for $100-$200 and put the kit on to meet your requirements.

As an added bonus, I see that you live in Tacoma, and Clean Republic is in south Seattle near Safeco Field. We bought ours from Liontail Cycles in Seattle, and either place would be able to let you see the kits and test ride demo bikes.

Good luck.
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Old 07-15-14, 03:07 PM   #12
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To each his own, but many would not feel that a kit is the best way to go. My personal choice is A2B Kuo. Good speed, power and range. Folds to about the same size as a Dahon Speed 7 (very similar frame), light in weight as far as e-bikes go. I'm a senior, legally handicapped (mobility issues) & lots of arthritis and this bike is perfectly manageable. I wouldn't want to schlep it up more than one flight of stairs without a break, but it's manageable. Going down, I use gravity, and use the rear brake to control the bump from one step to the next. I also considered eJoe but it seemed a bit ad hoc.
Rather than the stairs, I usually just fold mine and stash it in the back of the car.

Last edited by kawika808; 07-15-14 at 03:08 PM. Reason: addition
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