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Complete rear-hub ebike or new bike with mid-drive conversion kit

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Complete rear-hub ebike or new bike with mid-drive conversion kit

Old 11-03-20, 12:25 PM
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gadgetadam 
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Complete rear-hub ebike or new bike with mid-drive conversion kit

1. Bike buying these days is difficult as not much is in stock than before. I hope during the winter people slow down buying bikes so I can get what I want!
2. Speaking of what I want I don't know what I want. I'm debating between a rear-hub ebike in the $1,500 range or buying a cheap bike and making it a mid-drive ebike that is also about $1,500. I would use an ebike to run errands, do some small grocery shopping, and things like that. There are some hills where I live but nothing too drastic (Kalamazoo Michigan(southwestren Michigan)). Most riding would be on flat roads and flat paved bike trails with a few hills here and there.

I'm trying to figure out what would be the best thing to do on what would give me better performance.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-03-20, 02:16 PM
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Considering your needs for e-bike is not aggressive trail type riding, rear-hub motor would likely offer more choices for less expensive options.
Likely better equipped (better componentry) bike on a rea-hub electric motor e-bike, too.
Depending on your weight, decide between 500w or 750w output motor.
If you plan on riding in the cold/snow up in Michigan, consider 20" fat tire/wheels, so you can allow lower tire pressure without full suspension for traction & comfort.
If you're only commuting on pavement with minimal rain/snow/mud travels, regular sized (26" or 700c) wheels with road tires would offer more efficient ride.
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Old 11-03-20, 06:40 PM
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Good advice above; a hub motor is an excellent choice if you're not riding off road and there are no steep hills to conquer. Most "experts" say you should use a rear hub system if possible (that is your donor bike doesn't have a coaster brake hub, IGH, belt drive or some other factor that precludes a rear hub motor. However, my first conversion was a front hub motor and I loved it. It's now on my daughter's bike.
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Old 11-04-20, 10:59 AM
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$1500 can buy an e-bike but it won't be a really nice one. Shop carefully there is a lot of low priced junk out there. The Aventon Pace 500 or Juiced Bikes CCX fit in that budget and are well regarded hub motor systems. There is another company, Dash, I think it is that makes a really nice looking bike for just a little bit more money. The real action in the commercial ebike market is around $3K. Raleigh Redux IE, Giant Quick E+.Yummers. Trek Allant 8s!!! But $4K+? So I decided to just roll my own. As the o.p. found out there isn't much in new bikes available in the bike shops. I found a Mongoose Envoy cargo bike and I bought a Tongshen TSDZ2 mid-drive motor kit and for ~$1800 I have an ebike with everything a turn-key electric would have: big rubber, long wheelbase, disc brakes and OEM racks and fenders. The DIY only works if you really know your way around a bicycles innards. Even a hub motor kit will require the installation of torque arms. Don't even think about putting a hub motor system on the road without torque arms.
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Old 11-04-20, 01:29 PM
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I thought as a general rule, in order to install a mid-drive motor, the frame has to be built with that in mind. I am not aware of a mid-drive motor that can be retro-fitted onto a frame with a conventional bottom bracket. If there is such a motor, I would like to be informed about it.
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Old 11-04-20, 03:28 PM
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2old

Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone. I ended up going with a Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X
(https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/crosscurrentx)

cat0020 I have a fat tire that I use in the winter for winter riding. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on an ebike and expose it to salt and salt water. I hose it down after most rides but still salt and salt water hurts.

Leisesturm Yea that’s what I was seeing. The price point for a good ebike was more than the $1,500 price I wanted to spend. Sure you get an ebike for that price but for a tad more you get so much more. Like I said I got that CrossCurrent X from Juiced Bikes. I’m 5 foot 4 and it’s difficult to find some ebikes that the standover isn’t too high for me and it’s in stock. That’s nice that your conversion kit worked out for you. I was thinking of going that route with one of my bikes but I decided to go with just a new bike.

MillCreek
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...ref_=pd_gw_unk
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Old 11-04-20, 06:12 PM
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I've had good purchases with e-bike under $1200 from eBay.

Last year, I bought two 20" wheels folding e-bikes, 500w hub motor, 7-spd, LED display. head/taillights. One with fat tires/wheels, another with regular road tire/narrow rims.
Both given away, one to a friend & his wife who moved to a hilly area in Virginia, DC area, with off-road trails & hilly pavement. Rider weight of 200+ lb., they have been happy with those bikes.
Average rides for them are 10-20 miles, they live in a very hilly area, even though the rider had been an avid road cyclist, they still welcomed the e-bike, even with smaller 20" wheels.
The e-bikes I gave away have fenders and lights, probably do decent job of protecting the bike from snow/salt wash offs.



Some good deal I saw today: https://electrek.co/2020/11/03/lectr...dable-e-bikes/


BTW, 48v 750w mid-drive is likely to wear out chain quicker than hub-driven motor, the amount of torque those motor generate is quite substantial.
Without a good rear suspension system, mid-drive motor may not transfer all that torque to forward moving motion; either the battery power go to waste, or cause extra wear on the drivetrain & other parts of the converted bike.

Last edited by cat0020; 11-04-20 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 11-04-20, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
I thought as a general rule, in order to install a mid-drive motor, the frame has to be built with that in mind. I am not aware of a mid-drive motor that can be retro-fitted onto a frame with a conventional bottom bracket. If there is such a motor, I would like to be informed about it.
The link the o.p. put under your name is one such system. Bafang makes 3 models of mid-drive: BBS01, BBS02 (linked) and BBSHD. The only two worth considering (IMO) are the BBS02 (500 - 750W) and BBSHD (750 - ??!!). The Tongshen TSDZ2 comes in a 36V (250W) for the EU market and a 48/52V (750W) for the US market.
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Old 11-04-20, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
BTW, 48v 750w mid-drive is likely to wear out chain quicker than hub-driven motor, the amount of torque those motor generate is quite substantial.
Without a good rear suspension system, mid-drive motor may not transfer all that torque to forward moving motion; either the battery power go to waste, or cause extra wear on the drivetrain & other parts of the converted bike.
Chains are cheap. In fact cheap chains are stronger (and heavier) than expensive ones. Cheap steel cassettes are available. Most people don't ride enough to wear out a chain in even a couple of years. Someone who rides much more is still under $50/yr. in chains, cassettes, or brake pads. And actually, no suspension at all is much better than any kind of affordable suspension for transferring all of the motors power into forward motion. In 2020 the best, most affordable suspension for a street only ebike is a large section (2" - 2.5") clincher tire at low pressure ~45psi. Even $4K e-bikes are going fully rigid because if you are doing it right, suspension adds $1k at each end. Better to save the weight and expense and stay alert when in motion.
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Old 11-04-20, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MillCreek View Post
I thought as a general rule, in order to install a mid-drive motor, the frame has to be built with that in mind. I am not aware of a mid-drive motor that can be retro-fitted onto a frame with a conventional bottom bracket. If there is such a motor, I would like to be informed about it.
The above-mentioned one and a BBS02 as well as several others, but those are the two mentioned most frequently. Below my BBS02-equipped bike now in its sixth year of trouble-free off road riding.
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Old 11-05-20, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Chains are cheap. In fact cheap chains are stronger (and heavier) than expensive ones. Cheap steel cassettes are available. Most people don't ride enough to wear out a chain in even a couple of years. Someone who rides much more is still under $50/yr. in chains, cassettes, or brake pads. And actually, no suspension at all is much better than any kind of affordable suspension for transferring all of the motors power into forward motion. In 2020 the best, most affordable suspension for a street only ebike is a large section (2" - 2.5") clincher tire at low pressure ~45psi. Even $4K e-bikes are going fully rigid because if you are doing it right, suspension adds $1k at each end. Better to save the weight and expense and stay alert when in motion.
Sure, chains can be cheap; but you can't deny that powerful mid-drive wear out components quicker.

Have you ever tried to replace a chain in sub-freezing temperature, in the wet snow?

Last edited by cat0020; 11-05-20 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
Sure, chains can be cheap; but you can't deny that powerful mid-drive wear out components quicker.

Have you ever tried to replace a chain in sub-freezing temperature, in the wet snow?
A combination of a cheap chain, poor chain maintenance ( not necessarily you, but a common occurrence), and a mid drive motor is going to lead to chain problems.
There are some chains that are marketed for ebikes, I dont know if they are substantially different.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
A combination of a cheap chain, poor chain maintenance ( not necessarily you, but a common occurrence), and a mid drive motor is going to lead to chain problems.
There are some chains that are marketed for ebikes, I dont know if they are substantially different.
Regardless cheap or expensive chain, lack of proper maintenance will reduce chain life.

Question is whether mid-drive motor quickens the wear & tear of the drive chain?

When a chain breaks prematurely; would you rather have a hub-driven bike to be able to ride & get to where you need to be?
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Old 11-05-20, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
Regardless cheap or expensive chain, lack of proper maintenance will reduce chain life.

Question is whether mid-drive motor quickens the wear & tear of the drive chain?

When a chain breaks prematurely; would you rather have a hub-driven bike to be able to ride & get to where you need to be?
I agree with your first point.

A mid drive will increase wear and tear, but maybe that is not a problem, depending on your expectations and use of the bike. Mid drives are much better for off road uses.

I have a hub motor on a 1980s vintage mountain bike, it works well for me on urban uses. It may not be suitable for other uses.
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Old 11-05-20, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
A combination of a cheap chain, poor chain maintenance ( not necessarily you, but a common occurrence), and a mid drive motor is going to lead to chain problems.
There are some chains that are marketed for ebikes, I dont know if they are substantially different.
Why don't we ask @2old how many chains they have replaced in six years? As I understand it, cheap chains are actually stronger because they aren't trying to save weight. I don't know .... seems to me that EVERY major commercial manufacturer of ebikes is using a mid-drive system. There must be many hundreds of thousands, if not 1M+ of them in daily use. They can't be as bad as you imagine, to have become the defacto industry standard. Especially in Europe. When you "only" have 250W to play with, if you aren't using a mid-drive you will be seriously limiting the potential of the bike. I wouldn't know, but I have read that the ticket to long chain life is daily(!) oiling. A cheap chain, oiled daily, with cheap chain lube can last multiple riding seasons. Ebike specific chains are sold with $3K+ models but most of the Bafang and Tongshen DIY mid-drives use whatever chain was already present. I think it really would depend on just how much more expensive the ebike specific chains are.
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Old 11-05-20, 10:39 AM
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There's some good information from several posters above. I'm not necessarily a good "model" for chain wear since we don't have inclement weather in socal very often, I'm meticulous about chains and lubricate them every time I ride, and use an 8-speed drivetrain since it was inexpensive and the chain is wide. I'm on my second chain in five plus years of riding off road, 400 - 500 rides. Because the terrain that I enjoy is pretty steep, a hub system wouldn't work unless it had a massive, powerful motor, and to me heavy hub motors depreciate the quality of off road excursions. However, for most commuter, city uses a hub motor is the system of choice, and what I've used for errands except in the current environment I don't do much street riding. The manufacturers play a "me too" game of providing what the customer wants. Haibike was the first big ebike company and everybody followed suit.

Errand bike.
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Old 11-05-20, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Why don't we ask @2old how many chains they have replaced in six years? As I understand it, cheap chains are actually stronger because they aren't trying to save weight. I don't know .... seems to me that EVERY major commercial manufacturer of ebikes is using a mid-drive system. There must be many hundreds of thousands, if not 1M+ of them in daily use. They can't be as bad as you imagine, to have become the defacto industry standard. Especially in Europe. When you "only" have 250W to play with, if you aren't using a mid-drive you will be seriously limiting the potential of the bike. I wouldn't know, but I have read that the ticket to long chain life is daily(!) oiling. A cheap chain, oiled daily, with cheap chain lube can last multiple riding seasons. Ebike specific chains are sold with $3K+ models but most of the Bafang and Tongshen DIY mid-drives use whatever chain was already present. I think it really would depend on just how much more expensive the ebike specific chains are.
I generalize my statements because I'm not looking for anecdotal solutions.
When you specify one person for their way of doing things, that's a very limited sample pool to determine the need of participants in a forum/thread/discussion.

I commute in NYC, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queen, where e-bikes are seen by the dozens every other block, majority (90%) of e-bikes I see on deliveries are hub motored, most of them rarely get propelled forward by pedaling, in between NYC traffic, jumping on/off curbs and likely none of them cost more than $1000.

OP is not looking for $3k e-bike, I assume OP is looking for a workhorse e-bike that can serve him reliably in the snow in Michigan.
Again, have you ever had to change a drive chain in sub-freezing temperature, in the wet snow?
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Old 11-05-20, 12:16 PM
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If I was going to get an ebike for mountain biking, I would get a mid drive as they are clearly superior for that purpose. I wouldnt do a conversion as the mid drive puts more stress on the drive train, which, on an analog bike, isnt designed for the extra stress.
For most other uses I would use a hub drive and I would convert an existing bike. Its extremely simple to do.
Many of the big ebike manufacturers prefer mid drive, because it locks customers in to proprietary systems, which can only be changed or modified by expensive name brand products.

Nothing wrong with mid drive, if it rocks your boat, go for it.
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Old 11-05-20, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by gadgetadam View Post
2old

Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone. I ended up going with a Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X
(https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/crosscurrentx)
That looks like an excellent bike for your needs. Enjoy!
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Old 11-06-20, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by gadgetadam View Post
2old

Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone. I ended up going with a Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X
(https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/crosscurrentx)
Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
That looks like an excellent bike for your needs. Enjoy!
Complete bike is most likely a wiser purchase.

What made you decide to spend nearly $1k more than your original budget?
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Old 11-06-20, 11:07 AM
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1-I liked the Class 3 option. All bikes I were finding in the $1,000 price range were Class 2 if not class 1.
2-The battery on the CrossCurrent X is one of the largest I've seen and I really like the range it gives before having to recharge.
3-I have the same tires on my touring bicycle and I've never had a flat on them, as of 11/6/2020 12:05pm eastern time(as I'm knocking on wood)

Yea, my fiancée questioned my budget vs what I actually spent also.
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Old 11-06-20, 11:49 AM
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FWIW, I would have given you a referral code for your Juiced Bike purchase; if I had known that your budget would allow.
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Old 11-06-20, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
FWIW, I would have given you a referral code for your Juiced Bike purchase; if I had known that your budget would allow.
Darn it but thanks. I would have used it.
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Old 11-06-20, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
OP is not looking for $3k e-bike, I assume OP is looking for a workhorse e-bike that can serve him reliably in the snow in Michigan.
Again, have you ever had to change a drive chain in sub-freezing temperature, in the wet snow?
With how much salt Michigan throws down that becomes salt water my fat tire is the only bike that I ride in the winter. I try to rinse it down after each ride with a garden sprayer but that doesn't happen all the time. I expect to start replacing parts on it in the next few years. I really don't want to risk spending a lot of money on an ebike only for salt snow/water wearing it down very quickly.

I was looking for an ebike that I could use rather than driving my car. I try to use one of my seven bikes rather than my car when I can but at times I don't want to arrive somewhere sweaty or don't have enough time to ride at 14 or so MPH.
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Old 11-06-20, 06:37 PM
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There is plenty of road salt in NYC metro, and those cheap Chinese e-bikes that are ridden every single day by delivery workers that log 40-60 miles a day are definitely not getting sprayed down every day or every other day.
Speed is whatever you feel comfortable riding in.
My commute is about 12 miles, I ride in sub-freezing temperature in the winter, but no more than 4-5 miles for one sitting, beyond that I will ride the subway or bus for part of my commute, then get back on the bike.
Riding faster (20 mph+) is just getting wind chill in the face, and risking injury when lose control.
Even with little pedaling effort, it's not particularly safe to do 20+mph as you lose senses in your hands/fingers or the inside of your gloves get wet from sweat.
Personally, I'm never in a hurry to get to places when I'm commuting on my bike, it put me in a position to take more risk than necessary.
After 30+ years of cycling, I prefer to arrive at my destination at the end of a ride than getting there faster, but each of us have different priorities.
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