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EBike 101 Questions

Old 06-08-20, 08:37 AM
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Paul Barnard
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EBike 101 Questions

Hi folks. I have been kicking around the idea of an Ebike for my wife. Honestly, it won't see a lot of use. We can do okay together on short rides on conventional pedal bikes, but once the distance goes past 15 miles, the fun factor diminishes for her. When we do those rides, I am not getting much exercise. The primary purpose will be to allow us to get some exercise together. We do travel a good bit and take our bikes. If there are any hills at all, she won't ride. Each summer we vacation in Crested Butte CO. I am thinking an Ebike would allow her to ride some shorter rides there with me. She's kinda on board with me, but like me, she isn't real sure what the experience will be like.

First question. Can any of you provide a good Ebike 101 type link? I have read here and there, but still find myself with more questions than answers. When I think I have answers, I look at a specific bike and am not sure the answers apply to the specific systems on the bike in question.

I know that she prefers upright ergos. Riding will be done 90% on paved roads/paths with occasional hard pack gravel roads. Trips will be about 2 hours max, so maybe 30 miles +/-. Most much shorter than that. I can do most wrenching on a conventional bike and as a consequence order most of my bikes/frames online. I am much more inclined to go with a local shop, though I could be persuaded to order if the price is right. It seems like Bosch may be slightly favored over Yamaha and Shimano. All of them have good reputations.

Questions now:

1. Are Specialized (and other manufacturers private label) motors and batteries rebadged?

2. Assuming a 250 watt motor and maximum pedal assist setting, would a 3 mile average 4% grade be doable for a casual cyclist?

3. I see max speed listed as 20 MPH on the bikes I am most interested in. Will they go faster on long downhills?

4. It looks like some battery packs are very unique in size and shape. That gives me concerns about replacement availability in the future. Is that a valid concern?

5. I am sure I want to do a mid mount. Does the battery location (down tube or rear rack) location make any practical difference given the stated use?

6. I guess the major systems have been out long enough to give us a glimpse into their reliability. It seems like reliability is good. Are there any common trouble spots with batteries, motors or computers?

7. Anything I should absolutely avoid?

8. Not this bike specifically, but bikes in this style, feature, performance category is where I am concentrating. Can you point me to any good competitors in this class?
https://feltbicycles.com/products/ve...lectric-e-bike

Thanks as always for your considered feedback.
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Old 06-08-20, 10:12 AM
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First question. Can any of you provide a good Ebike 101 type link? I have read here and there, but still find myself with more questions than answers. When I think I have answers, I look at a specific bike and am not sure the answers apply to the specific systems on the bike in question.

Poke around here:
https://www.electricbike.com/
https://electricbikereview.com/


Questions now:

1. Are Specialized (and other manufacturers private label) motors and batteries rebadged?

Spec tends to make their own inhouse stuff, but yes, most of them are Bosch, Yamaha, etc...

2. Assuming a 250 watt motor and maximum pedal assist setting, would a 3 mile average 4% grade be doable for a casual cyclist?
Really, a 36v motor is 350+ watts, and a 48v motor is 500++ watts, all depending on current.
A strong cyclist can pretty much equal the power output of a basic 36v system. Most 48v systems are going to be much stronger than any non professional cyclist.


3. I see max speed listed as 20 MPH on the bikes I am most interested in. Will they go faster on long downhills?
Good question. That is the power the motor assist cuts off at. Yes, it will go as fast as you can get it to go with the motor turned off, its just not going to give you any boost over 20mph.

4. It looks like some battery packs are very unique in size and shape. That gives me concerns about replacement availability in the future. Is that a valid concern?
Uh, yeah. I would be concerned. Ask about the cost of replacement batteries. Mine tend to last 3 years even if I don't use them much (they would probably last longer if I used them or charged them more often).

5. I am sure I want to do a mid mount. Does the battery location (down tube or rear rack) location make any practical difference given the stated use?
Good question. Down tube gives great weight balance. Putting a battery on the rear rack makes it very top heavy, rear biased and awkward. It sucked (IMHO). I did that once, but hated it, so I moved the batter to inside the frame triangle.

6. I guess the major systems have been out long enough to give us a glimpse into their reliability. It seems like reliability is good. Are there any common trouble spots with batteries, motors or computers?
Sooner or later you will probably have to replace the battery, so keep that in mind. They can last a long time if properly maintained.
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Old 06-09-20, 03:17 AM
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Thank you Chas. I'll give those links a read.
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Old 06-09-20, 07:33 AM
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I think ebikes are modeled after mopeds. Gas Tanks and Batteries just so happen to be in the same place as batteries are on ebikes now. On my rack mounted ebike, the battery disconnects some times because the battery moves due to bumps in the road. The fastner wears out. I would go with a downtube or inclined tube mount. Most ebike websites have buyers guides that are very informative.

An ebike for your wife. If you're open you could get a class 3 ebike for your wife that will go up to 28 MPH with pedal assist. My graphic for ebikes is PeeWee Herman's big adventure where Pee Wee is passing the racers. It will make a big difference for your wife and make it fun for her. You're an average ebike customer if that makes a difference.

I have enclosed some video buyer guides. Good luck. The best advice that I can give to you is go and test ride and ebike. Test riding will answer a lot of your questions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BghrrhmQvU

https://youtu.be/qfViBJa6vx8



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Old 06-13-20, 11:36 PM
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A good local shop is important for an e-bike. The standard bicycle parts you can maintain yourself but anything with motor, battery and controls will probably require a shop visit.
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Old 06-14-20, 05:51 AM
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This is what I ended up getting her. It had to be ordered, so we don't have it yet, but at $1800 it seemed like a good deal. I have a short riser stem on the way and may have to get some bars with more sweep as well.

https://civiacycles.com/bikes/north-loop-ebike
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Old 06-14-20, 02:09 PM
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Looks good; let us know how she likes it.
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Old 06-27-20, 06:28 AM
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I have the bike set up and rolling. I got it in the day she left for Colorado, so she hasn't had a chance to ride it. I am taking it out there when I go in two weeks. He first shot at riding it will be in Crested Butte. She'll be able to do some of the rides I do now. She is going to like it no doubt. I have piddled with it a little bit. I am impressed! The bike will be in the back of my truck on the drive out and back. It will get rained on. Is there anything I need to do to try to protect the electrics?
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Old 06-27-20, 10:03 AM
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Couldn't hurt to put some kind of plastic wrap around the display, electrical components on the handlebar and motor, with the latter the least important IMO. On the other hand I reside in CA and you know what the song says.
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Old 06-30-20, 05:33 PM
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If the bike is made properly water won't hurt anything. Smearing a little automotive dielectric grease on all the connectors is a good thing to do.

Have to disagree with the statement a shop is needed for the motor and electronics. If you can maintain your own bikes than you should have no trouble with the motor and drive parts. Lots of info on line.

Also these bikes use software to enact the 250 watts and 20 mph limits. The Bafang units can be reprogrammed to vary the limits. I've cruised at 38 mph on my bike. Not sure that is possible with the Bosch stuff.
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