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I'm moving to a (dormant) volcano! E-bike for hill climbs?

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I'm moving to a (dormant) volcano! E-bike for hill climbs?

Old 12-11-17, 03:35 PM
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I'm moving to a (dormant) volcano! E-bike for hill climbs?

Hi everyone. My goodness, it's been years since I've posted here. I'm still commuting as much as I can in Houston, especially now that the weather has gotten better.

Anyhow, in a few months my commute is going to shrink to less than 5 miles. It's also going to get a lot steeper. My new home is going to be on Saba island in the Caribbean, which is basically 3 little towns nestled on the banks of a dormant volcano. I don't really see the need for a car, and I'm fine with using a bike for travel and grocery hauling. However....the roads are steep. Crazy steep. King Kong Skull Island steep. I'm not used to hills. Also, I'd rather not arrive at work sweating my ___ off and gasping for breath. Oh, and did I mention the winds?

So I'm thinking an electric bike might be a good idea. I know nothing about them. I should probably have posted this in the electric forum, but I figured the commuters have a better idea of what I'm looking to do here. (I'll move the post if necessary)

My ride here is a Surly Crosscheck, which I love. Would it be possible to convert this to an ebike? It's got Shimano 105 components and the wheels were custom made for commuter-level-stress, so it's a pretty solid beast.

If it would be better to buy a pre-built bike - what kind of motor should I be looking for? I gather there are different power levels, and different mounts - but I don't really know the pros and cons of them.

Thanks for any advice!

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Old 12-11-17, 07:43 PM
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I converted my drop bar touring bike to an ebike. I used a bionx kit. It's nice. But if I were to go the ebike route today, I think I would just go ahead and spend the money on a good mid-drive ebike.
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Old 12-12-17, 02:47 AM
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I'd have a mod move this over to ebikes. You'll probably get a better crop of responses there.

Agreed with above poster about purchasing a mid-drive bike, preferably one with higher torque to help with those hills. But these tend to be on the higher end of the price scale. What's your budget? For a good off-the-shelf mid-drive bike with a Bosch/Yamaha/Brose/Shimano motor, expect to start around $2000.

Some people opt to retrofit an existing bike with a mid-drive, but this is often done either because of budget, or to skirt the restrictions of pre-built solutions (speed limit, max motor power, throttle, proprietary batteries, etc).

Since this is going to be your only vehicle, you might consider a utility bike or even a small-ish cargo bike for all those times when having some extra hauling capabilities would come in handy. Having a motor really changes the game of hauling loads up hills.
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Old 12-12-17, 06:21 AM
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You want a German pedelec ... like these ...

https://www.ebike-manufaktur.com/de/e-bikes.php

Also, toughen up ... I use to cycle from the center of Frankfurt into the foothills/mountains to work everyday
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Old 12-12-17, 08:21 AM
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You’re moving to a Caribbean island. The pace of life is different there. Everything moves at a slower pace. No need to blast around the island at 30 mph on a bike.
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Old 12-12-17, 10:09 AM
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A mid-drive set up would work the best but I would get a bike made for it, but a BionX would work well too and you can "probably" just put it on your bike, as for assist the D500 would help up hills noticably and re-gen good going down hills helping with the braking too...

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Old 12-12-17, 04:20 PM
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You want a German pedelec ... like these ...

https://www.ebike-manufaktur.com/de/e-bikes.php

Also, toughen up ... I use to cycle from the center of Frankfurt into the foothills/mountains to work everyday
Hey now, I'm a middle aged woman who has been living in the land of no hills for 10 years. Cut me a little slack for being concerned about a potential 250 meter climb in just 3.1k

Thanks for the suggestions so far, these are useful. I also found out there's an e-bike retailer nearby, so I'm going to go have a chat with them and maybe try a few out.
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Old 12-12-17, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Nightdiver View Post
I'd have a mod move this over to ebikes. You'll probably get a better crop of responses there.

Agreed with above poster about purchasing a mid-drive bike, preferably one with higher torque to help with those hills. But these tend to be on the higher end of the price scale. What's your budget? For a good off-the-shelf mid-drive bike with a Bosch/Yamaha/Brose/Shimano motor, expect to start around $2000.

Some people opt to retrofit an existing bike with a mid-drive, but this is often done either because of budget, or to skirt the restrictions of pre-built solutions (speed limit, max motor power, throttle, proprietary batteries, etc).

Since this is going to be your only vehicle, you might consider a utility bike or even a small-ish cargo bike for all those times when having some extra hauling capabilities would come in handy. Having a motor really changes the game of hauling loads up hills.
Considering this will be a car replacement (and I'll be selling my car), I'm OK with a budget of $2-3,000. I don't need to go fast, I just need to climb with stuff, so I'll check out some utility bikes.
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Old 12-12-17, 05:36 PM
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With a budget that size, maybe you go ahead and buy a realio-trulio electric bike; that way you get to leave your beloved crosscheck alone (are you taking it with you?)

Otherwise, I would look into a conversion kit that involves a front-hub motor. That way, converting your bike between electric-assist and conventional could be as easy as swapping the front wheel.

This looks pretty amazing, but there are simpler (and cheaper) solutions out there too.
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Old 12-12-17, 05:44 PM
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Here’s a question. Can you reliably charge an e-bike there? In a lot of situations where people are talking about e-bikes, I’m sure I’d rather have a 125cc scooter.
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Old 12-12-17, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
realio-trulio
one of our bedtime stories is Custard the Dragon. Kiddo doesn’t like it that much but he tolerates me reading it
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Old 12-12-17, 06:04 PM
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I love Custard.

Yeowch cried Blink, and ooh said Belinda
And there was a Pirate, climbin in the winda
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Old 12-12-17, 06:47 PM
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I've been to Saba a few times and am familiar with the roads. The climbs are seriously steep and will be hard on any e-bike. Expect your range to suffer and be well short of what's advertised. Also, there's a real risk of the motors running hot, possibly to where their life suffers.

Shop for a mid motor unit vs. a wheel motor. This way the motor will benefit from the gearing and do much better in that terrain.

Overall, how this works for you will depend on where you live and work. If your staying central, ie. Windwardside and St. John's , it won't be so bad. Even going to the Bottoms is still not too bad. But if there are daily trips down to see level, like the airport, those long climbs back up are going to put lots of wear and tear on the bike.
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Old 12-13-17, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by HoustonGal View Post
Hey now, I'm a middle aged woman who has been living in the land of no hills for 10 years. Cut me a little slack for being concerned about a potential 250 meter climb in just 3.1k

Thanks for the suggestions so far, these are useful. I also found out there's an e-bike retailer nearby, so I'm going to go have a chat with them and maybe try a few out.
I lived in Texas for 7 years and moved over to near the Alps. Didn't have a problem ... I'm also middle aged, but not a woman.

Also, the poster above is correct ... it's a Carribean island and not the Alps, so adjust to the lifestyle or else you won't enjoy it. 250m climb, really? I usually go up that many stairs per day. (50 or so flights at least).
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Old 12-13-17, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I've been to Saba a few times and am familiar with the roads. The climbs are seriously steep and will be hard on any e-bike. Expect your range to suffer and be well short of what's advertised. Also, there's a real risk of the motors running hot, possibly to where their life suffers.

Shop for a mid motor unit vs. a wheel motor. This way the motor will benefit from the gearing and do much better in that terrain.

Overall, how this works for you will depend on where you live and work. If your staying central, ie. Windwardside and St. John's , it won't be so bad. Even going to the Bottoms is still not too bad. But if there are daily trips down to see level, like the airport, those long climbs back up are going to put lots of wear and tear on the bike.
First hand experience, how awesome! Thanks so much for your advice.

I'll be working in The Bottom, but not sure where I'll be living yet. Not planning on daily climbs from the airport. Right now the plan is to just survive my first semester there and determine what sort of transport will work. But I wanted to get some idea of potential cycling solutions.
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Old 12-13-17, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I lived in Texas for 7 years and moved over to near the Alps. Didn't have a problem ... I'm also middle aged, but not a woman.

Also, the poster above is correct ... it's a Carribean island and not the Alps, so adjust to the lifestyle or else you won't enjoy it. 250m climb, really? I usually go up that many stairs per day. (50 or so flights at least).
I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I am not willing to adjust to an island lifestyle. And as far as a climb being "only" 250 meters.... it's not the height, it's the angle. I did bigger climbs on a hiking trip this summer, but I had a few more kilometers in which to tackle the elevation gain.

How tall is the building you work in? Because the Empire Building has 86 flights of stairs. So if you're doing 50 flights a day.....I'm not aware of a skyscraper in the Alps.
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Old 12-13-17, 10:41 AM
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The island is three miles wide with about six miles of roads. Just add some lower gearing to your existing bike and you’ll be fine. Save the money or spend it on travel to nearby islands, dive lessons, or other adventures. Colossal waste of money to spend it on an electric bike. Worse case scenario is you get some exercise.
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Old 12-13-17, 10:46 AM
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My LBS does Mid drive conversions to MTB for hunters.. they replace the crankset so could fit your 'crosscheck'

a hub motor will lack the torque to climb. they are for flatlands with headwinds.





....
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Old 12-13-17, 10:54 AM
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Another possibility is, you just bring your beloved crosscheck (maybe with a smaller crankset and/or bigger cassette), and resign yourself to sometimes walking the bike. Nothin wrong with that
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Old 12-13-17, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
My LBS does Mid drive conversions to MTB for hunters.. they replace the crankset so could fit your 'crosscheck'

a hub motor will lack the torque to climb. they are for flatlands with headwinds.





....
Depends on how much "assist" you want/need, and the size of the motor whether it would be "enough" assistance... But, technically a mid-drive would, "work better"...
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Old 12-13-17, 11:21 AM
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Check out these cargo bikes, available with motor.
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Old 12-13-17, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by HoustonGal View Post
I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I am not willing to adjust to an island lifestyle. And as far as a climb being "only" 250 meters.... it's not the height, it's the angle. I did bigger climbs on a hiking trip this summer, but I had a few more kilometers in which to tackle the elevation gain.

How tall is the building you work in? Because the Empire Building has 86 flights of stairs. So if you're doing 50 flights a day.....I'm not aware of a skyscraper in the Alps.
The building I'm in has 6 floors, I teach in other building and often up/down between 2 to 6 flights.

Usually by lunch, I've logged 20 flights ... Just arriving and going to my office and to a different building to teach usually yields (0 to 4, 4 to 0, 0 to 2, 2 to 0, 0 to 4) or 14 flights. Throw in a lunch at the pub (at 10 more flights) and a few admin duties (0 or 2 to 4) and it's easy to get to 50 a day.

Based on that calculation, it's really 50 up and down per day. So, I apologise for the exaggeration in my original statement.

The tallest building of Europe is going into the Alps, actually. Once it gets built.

https://www.theguardian.com/artandde...a-town-of-vals

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Old 12-13-17, 12:46 PM
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Electric motors and components will not fare well in a marine environment, whereas your legs will grow stronger each day.
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Old 12-13-17, 12:55 PM
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Your commute will be short, so you don't need speed or highest efficiency; but you do need an e-bike with a high torque at low speed to get up the steep hill... some of them are better at that than others. Generally, the ones that drive the rear wheel would be a better choice for your application than the ones that drive your crank.
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Old 12-13-17, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by HoustonGal View Post
First hand experience, how awesome! Thanks so much for your advice.

I'll be working in The Bottom, but not sure where I'll be living yet. Not planning on daily climbs from the airport. Right now the plan is to just survive my first semester there and determine what sort of transport will work. But I wanted to get some idea of potential cycling solutions.
If you're working in the Bottom you'll want to live there as well. There's no logic to being a commuter on Saba. As such, if you end up living in the Bottom, don't bother with an e-bike. The bottom is like a big bowl, and you won't be doing much climbing getting around the area, though the town does include areas climbing up the side.

The only other place you'll be visiting often enough will be Windward Side, and that'll be mainly for dining and drinking, meaning returns after dark, so go with friends in a shared ride or cab.

As for the bike, change to mtn type gearing, ie. a triple with 24t granny and that'll be enough for everything except the ride back from Fort Bay. As long as you avoid going down there, a bike with decent gearing will do for getting around, though maybe not for a long(ish) commute. The ride from the Bottom to Windward Side or Hell's Gate isn't all that bad except for the initial climb. If you want to train, ride to the airport and back.

For those not familiar with then highest peak in The Netherlands, hare's a link to a contour map of the island.

Last edited by FBinNY; 12-13-17 at 01:11 PM.
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