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Needing Help Choosing a Kit!

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Old 06-29-16, 03:03 AM
  #1  
thompkinz
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Needing Help Choosing a Kit!

Hey there folks, I'm in the process of shopping for an electric bike kit, mostly to use about once a month for some camping and hiking trips, about 50 ish miles one way. I'm mostly considering something that's pedal assist because I'd still like the journey to be a workout. I'm also looking for something that isn't too difficult to install and uninstall because I'll be using the bike almost daily without the motor needed and I'd like to just attach it whenever I need it, so I'm thinking something with a front wheel attachment?? It seems like those are quicker to install but I could be wrong. I've been looking at everything from the hill hopper to the bionx systems. Im leaning towards the hill hopper because it seems like a better value compared to the pretty pricey bionx. I'll be installing it on a vintage schwinn and univega (I'll probably buy two units for the same purpose) anyway thank you guys very much!
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Old 06-29-16, 05:46 PM
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Your only consideration for "relatively" easy removal is a front hub. However geared hub or mid-drive systems pedal fairly nicely when installed although you'll have 7-10 pounds of extra weight (assuming you remove the battery). Also, small motors like the Hill Topper will provide nice assistance on flat areas (assuming you're 170 pounds or so), but don't help much ascending (IMO). Good luck especially with the range you've prescribed. You'll need to be able to charge wherever you go or have an enormous battery.
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Old 06-29-16, 05:53 PM
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50 miles one way, pick the most expensive one you can afford... JMO
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Old 06-30-16, 11:48 AM
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7-10lbs of extra weight isn't so bad to leave attached to the bike so maybe I will consider looking for a mid drive style motor. I would definitely be going places where I could charge the battery and possibly even eventually purchasing multiple batteries to bring along.

I'm not looking for something that will actually assist me for the entire 50 ish miles but only sporadically during the journey to give me a break, so maybe a guess could be 20 miles assisted total. But I would like something that would give assistance on some greater inclines. So you don't think the hill topper would really aid at all while pedaling up a hill?? That might be a deal breaker! What other kits would you recommend?? Also thanks a lot for the replies!
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Old 06-30-16, 12:18 PM
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One thing to watch out for is motor drag when not using it, as some set ups have a lot and can't really be ridden when not on. Since that is how you want to ride I would recommend the BionX as I have one, and don't even notice it when I ride the bike without assist... You don't need to un-install it just ride under your own power when you want to...
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Old 06-30-16, 02:14 PM
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+1 on BionX if it's within your price range; I haven't owned one, but have ridden several and am very impressed as with the three yer warranty. Second choice, for about half as much or so (and not as high quality) would be a BBS02.
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Old 07-01-16, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by thompkinz View Post
So you don't think the hill topper would really aid at all while pedaling up a hill?? That might be a deal breaker!
I have the Hill Topper 250w front hub motor, and it certainly does really aid in helping the rider get up a hill. That's the main reason I purchased it - to help with a slightly annoyed knee that needed time to heal while I could keep biking in hilly terrain, and to allow me the option of switching the front wheel back to a regular bike wheel within seconds. It's also nice that the front hub motor has zero resistance when you want to just pedal along. It also doesn't stress the chain, unlike mid-drive motors.

One thing about the Hill Topper - it is an "all or nothing" assistance. If you want assistance, you press the button and it will quickly take you up to 21mph on the flat, and give you a nice boost climbing hills. I often find I'm not having to use it all the time, especially on the flat, and so my bike functions as a normal bike then. When I want a tiny bit of a boost, I just engage the motor for a moment or two to get me to the speed I want, then release the button and pedal on my own. I like that about this kit. And on the rare times when I just want to fly along with the wind in my helmet, I press the button and let the wheel do all the work while I enjoy the scenery.

I have the 20 mile lithium batteries, and love their compact size and the ability to put them anywhere on the bike that I'd like to have them. Easy to transport, easy to charge up, easy to be totally "stealth" in their design.

I still have my motorcycle license, and my son (who has a crotch rocket motorcycle and is a cop) got the chance to "play" on my bike the other day...and had a blast with the Hill Topper, tearing all over the front yard. He thought it was a hoot. I also had fun being "challenged" by one A level rider in our club one day during a club ride - we both were trying to get to the top of a really steep hill, and were virtually neck and neck going up. He (20 something) was on his 2 oz Cannondale road bike, and I (60 something) was on my 40 lb vintage steel hybrid with the Hill Topper while the club members trailed behind us cheering us on. Guess who won with barely 1 inch to spare? He did!! But then he said to me he was blown away that I was actually next to him the entire way, and that I was "great motivation". He was also super impressed with the little 250w motor doing as well as it did.

Frankly, I think you'd be happy with it.

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Old 07-01-16, 10:50 PM
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Good review, mom; was basing my sentiments on my 350w, 36V front hub system which seems "weak" to me. Good that you're enjoying the HT which is 24 V AFAICR.
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Old 07-06-16, 02:57 AM
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Thanks a lot, mom! That actually sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. Your review definitely helps me make my decision
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Old 07-06-16, 07:30 AM
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My only complaint about the Hilltopper (I seem to have exactly the same as Mom) is that I would have preferred a thumb switch that I don't need to hold, for those times when I'm REALLY pooped and need to keep the motor running awhile. Other than that, I love it. I'm slowly researching adding a motor to my little folder (Downtube 9FS), so that I can noodle around for a good long distance then take the train home. HT didn't make a 20" model last time I looked, and I think I'd prefer a rear hub anyway. Good luck on your quest, and let us know how it comes out!
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Old 07-06-16, 07:26 PM
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You're welcome, thomkintz. The kit has the option of ordering the axle quick releases, which is what I have as I'd wanted to be able to remove the wheel without tools in case of a flat. I also thought I might want to switch back to a regular wheel from time to time, and didn't want to have a hassle of needing tools to do it. I've yet to do either - switch back or have a flat.

Like csi56 I would love to have a thumb throttle. Holding down the button for long periods of time can be tiring, but then again, I'm using the Hill Topper to give me cycling power for those brief times when I want it, NOT to be a motorcycle ride.

I will say that I tried (for the first time) a mid-drive the other day. Our LBS has now started carrying a line of Trek ebikes, and was offering a weekend of open house "try out an ebike". It was an interesting feel, very different from my HT. Because these are pure pedal assist, you have to pedal or the motor doesn't engage. Nice.....but....when I shut off the motor to simply pedal without assistance, I could feel the drag from the inert motor. The bike felt heavy at that point, and not inclined to be "normal bike peppy". I found I wasn't smiling. I was frowning. I kept switching through the levels of power assist to find what I wanted, but kept coming back to switching the motor off to pedal the bike on its own. I just didn't like stepping up and stepping down the assists to get to point A to D, and I do find the display to be a bit demanding of my attention. Again, it was nice that it takes the guesswork out of how you are doing, and how much battery you have left. But without that "look at me" LED distraction (the Hill Topper just has that button, nothing else) I find my eyes are up and I'm paying attention to my riding, to the road/trail, and using my own mental sense of what I think I've used out of the battery based upon the terrain/distance I've done on the bike. I already have my Garmin 810 Edge GPS bike computer AND a Garmin Forerunner 201 to give me my speed/distance/pace, etc. so that part of the LED was redundant. And the GPS gives me a map and routes, so I don't ride without it.

The LBS was willing to deal, knocking $800 off the demo bike (retail $2,899), as I was thinking about getting it for hubby. But I just couldn't warm up to it. To me, and this is just me speaking: it felt like a boring automatic transmission car would feel to someone (like me) who loves a true manual 5 speed stick shift that gives you a range of options to play with at whim.

If you have the option of being able to try out a mid-drive, do it. I think an informed option based upon your own actual trial of a system is the best way of determining if that system will work best for you.

I give 2 thumbs up for the Hill Topper because it does make me grin like an idiot when I ride my bike, and it engages and disengages with a touch of the thumb and has zero drag. My bike feels totally normal and acts like any other bike out there...until I touch that button. Then it becomes an eager partner, a hand in the small of my back, leaping to the challenge of whatever I want - speed or hill climbing. Then the thumb releases the button, and my bike morphs back to being/feeling like a normal bike again.

If I ever get into mountain biking, however, I think...no, make that I *know*... I would want to convert a bike to a mid-drive. No question. I do use my HT bike for litter pickup on my adopted roads (which are 4 miles of gravel roads) and the hub drive just isn't as good as a mid-drive PA would be for this type of terrain. I found myself walking my bike on some of the hilly portions of loose gravel because the front hub just slipped on the gravel a bit too much for my comfort. I'm pretty sure I would have ridden up those same sections with a mid-drive PA. But then, when I finished cleaning the roads, I took a 6 mile paved road home, and was again grinning like an idiot with the fun of engaging the HT to race me back home, happily boosting my speed up to 22.8mph, and then backing off and letting me do the higher speeds on my own. What...a ....blast.

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Old 07-10-16, 05:42 AM
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I've been contemplating a vintage bike with Electric power too, and came across this kit:
go-e | ONwheel bike motor

It seems really easy to take off, which is a neccesity for me. I didn't investigate it any further because I don't have a vintage bike yet, but it looks well built and well thought through to me.
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Old 07-10-16, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
I've been contemplating a vintage bike with Electric power too, and came across this kit:
go-e | ONwheel bike motor

It seems really easy to take off, which is a neccesity for me. I didn't investigate it any further because I don't have a vintage bike yet, but it looks well built and well thought through to me.
Please reconsider getting this, as it seems to be a rebranded add-e. The add-e looked promising to me, but turned out to be not too great in reality.

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Old 07-11-16, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tds101 View Post
Please reconsider getting this, as it seems to be a rebranded add-e. The add-e looked promising to me, but turned out to be not too great in reality.

https://youtu.be/z-SliovUrUg
Thanks, that curbs my enthousiasm. But I still like the concept though, especially for vintage bikes, and maybe it will develop further.
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Old 07-11-16, 06:24 AM
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It seems to me that the Go-E and Add-E are different implementations of the same friction drive concept. The Court video's main complaint was noise and weak performance from an advertised 600W motor. He did use it on knobby tires, which Go-E says is verboten. Maybe friction drives lose a lot of efficiency and waste expensive battery capacity.

By the way, the first 20 minutes of that video showed them beating on the 20 year old pedal arms with torch, hammer, and finally a saw. Yeah, I had to do that too. I found it funny that even the experts have real world issues.
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Old 07-11-16, 06:34 AM
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As an additional comment, putting on the requirement for quick user removal is pretty restrictive. Hub motors use relatively high forces to secure the axle, compared to your skewer quick release. You're going to need to carry a big18mm or 19mm open end wrench, It can't be good to be stretching the axle threads with frequent removal, and most of the wheel connectors used on ebikes were not designed for that many re-insertions.
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Old 07-11-16, 12:36 PM
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Also, FYI, (FOR ME) front drives are effective on smooth trails, but not on bumpier ones since the motor spins when the front wheel is off the ground, then "skids" when it comes back down. YOMV.
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Old 07-11-16, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
Also, FYI, (FOR ME) front drives are effective on smooth trails, but not on bumpier ones since the motor spins when the front wheel is off the ground, then "skids" when it comes back down. YOMV.
This makes sense to me,...
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