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Ebike rec for hilly area novice

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Ebike rec for hilly area novice

Old 09-11-21, 05:31 PM
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brothmirepoix
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Ebike rec for hilly area novice

Hello, I'm entertainting the thought of an e-bike but don't know much about them. Not even sure if it's wise--i live in hilly Pittsburgh where there are quite steep hills. I never quite got into shape with my regular 18 speed I've had for years, and a few years ago I moved to the suburbs so I kinda stopped riding altogether. I'd love to get back into it but where i live right now is so inaccessible on bike just because of the hills and lack of bike paths. Even at my most in shape, I struggled to do anything but the bare minimum on my bike (my main mode of transportation a few years back) and so now I'm thinking an ebike might give me confidence and security to commute via bike again so i can stop using my car as much and enjoy cycling again.

What do I have to know to be an e-bike owner? Is maintenance expensive? Do people worry about it getting stolen more than a normal bike? Can you toggle the e-assist on and off?
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Old 09-11-21, 05:51 PM
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Lot to learn and the threads here will help. Many would point you toward a mid-drive, and the right DIY or OEM will provide the assistance you need. The DIY will be $1000 - $1500 plus whatever bike you install it on and mine hasn't cost any more except bike parts in six years. An OEM will be $2500 - too much.
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Old 09-12-21, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by brothmirepoix View Post

What do I have to know to be an e-bike owner? Is maintenance expensive? Do people worry about it getting stolen more than a normal bike? Can you toggle the e-assist on and off?
I live in similar terrain and have been riding DIY ebikes for the past year. From my experience, I’d recommend at least a 1000W system in order to maintain a minimum of ~14mph up the steepest hills and a cruising speed of 20mph up moderate ones. Because if you are commuting or even just running errands, speed counts! Dunno whether their are any OEMs like this, as 750W is the legal limit for ebikes here in the US. Don’t worry about that personally because I’ve got my system limited to 20mph and always pedal furiously along with the assist and always obey traffic laws, so LE has no reason ever to stop me and would probably never even realize my bike’s electric.

My first conversion “Blutus” was a dual 500W 48/52V 26” Bafang hub drive (throttle only, no PAS) with two separate 52V 20Ah Luna DireWolf battery packs, which worked great. But unfortunately Bafang’s wheels are not assembled with the most supple spokes and after only around 1000 miles broke one in the rear, for which the original vendor could not spec a replacement. Had to purchase a special spoke ruler to determine the correct length, am still looking around for superior quality units with which to rebuild both wheels.

Meantime, built a second ecumbent “Redundo” with both a 20” 500W Bafang front hub drive and a TSDZ2 mid drive to power the 26” Halo Combat rear wheel, reusing the same two battery packs from Blutus. When the TSDZ2 works the system is superb, but unfortunately the TongShen with Open Source Firmware I received is kind of a lemon and not reliable up the steepest hills. So purchased a 1000W Bafang BBSHD with which to replace it, in case I can’t get the TSDZ2 performing correctly with the standard, non-flashed display from Ali Express that’s currently on its way to me.



Internal replacement gearsets for either a Bafang hub or mid drive are readily available pretty cheap, but you should get many thousands of miles out of the conversion kits before that should be a concern.

I’m rural and don’t worry too much about anyone making off with my enormous[ly heavy] ecumbents but understand that would be a consideration in more urban environs. There are numerous threads here about locking up ebikes which offer way better advice than I could provide.

And yes, you can control the level of assist on any ebike. Bafang offers ten levels, from 0-9, and from an Intelligent Display such as the 860C or newer P860C you can modify that to 0-5 or 0-3, IIRC.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by andychrist; 09-12-21 at 07:57 AM. Reason: Linx
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Old 09-12-21, 11:00 AM
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Visit a Pedego shop in Pittsburgh and try to test ride. Their bikes have quite the markup, as their customer base is boomers with a lot of dough, who need their ebike experience delivered with a lot of hand held service, but you will see what is needed where you live.

These days, any bike is a target, and something that costs $800-3000 is a bigger one. Sure, you gotta worry about theft. Yes you can turn the power off, but many ebikes become 60+ pound slugs when the motor is off. You also have to worry about battery fires, at least a little bit. Same problem as laptops and phones when they were new. Batteries could catch on fire. There's some things to learn about storiing them, etc.
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Old 09-14-21, 07:06 AM
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thank you so much to those who responded so far! I'm going to continue to read thru the forum log and the advice given to me here--this has given me a great base if knowledge to jump off of! i appreciate the time you all took to help me!
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Old 09-14-21, 07:38 AM
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Yamaha mid drive

I live in Hilly Missouri and ride a Yamaha mid drive pedal assist bike. It has 4 levels of pas. I can ride up any hill on the 3 level and not hurt myself. It is pedal assist only, no pedal no help,but I wanted a bike not a electric motorcycle. Good Luck!
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Old 09-15-21, 10:24 AM
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Having both direct drive hub and Gear drive rear hub on the same hill I concluded the Geared drive was stronger up the hill but on flat ground the direct drive seems superior. Both are RAD bikes. Both and always with pedaling and PAS of some level.

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Old 09-15-21, 11:28 AM
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An e-bike can provide motor assist on the hills, and also when dealing with wind on a ride. Too much emphasis is placed on the power of the motor which is only an issue if you cannot pedal and need to rely 100% on the electric motor. My first e-bike had a 750W motor that provides 75 Nm of power and as a Class II e-bike I could move along at 20 MPH without pedaling. I replaced it with a Class III bike that has a 250W motor providing 35 Nm of power but allows me to have motor assist at speeds up to 28 mph and this better meets my needs.

The Class III has a battery pack that is a third the size and a third the weight of my prior Class II e-bike and so the total weight of the bike is roughly the same as my current non-electric mountain bike at 28 lbs in total.

People seem to forget that bikes have gears or chainrings and rear cogs and these can be used while riding to have lower gearing for hills. I can also with minimal expense put a larger cog on the rear cassette for a "granny gear" for very steep hills. When touring through the Sierras on a bike I would replace the largest cog, a 26 tooth one, with a 28 tooth cog for a 7% lower gearing if needed. I could have gone with a 30 tooth cog for a 15% gear reduction but it was not needed. On an e-bike one can change the rear sprocket or the front chain ring to get the gearing one needs. It is what people have been doing for more than 100 years with their bicycles.
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Old 09-23-21, 12:32 PM
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Check out Radpower and REI for less expensive e-bikes. With steep hills the motor may be providing 10% to 100% of the power needed depending on its motor output (expressed in Newton meters or Nm). Check the gearing for the bikes as it varies widely and many of the commuter type e-bikes have only 7 or 8 gear options.

The expensive part to replace is the battery and this can cost from $350 to $500 to replace. Likely to last 500 charge cycles and you do not need to recharge the battery after every ride. If you use the motor and battery to assist you when pedaling up hills the miles per charge will be greatly increased.

E-bikes cost more than an average bicycle and so they are more attractive to thieves. But as with any bicycle if it is left out in the open it will get stolen. Some e-bikes make it easy to remove the battery and take it inside a store or office which helps a little bit.

Even a regular bicycle the trick with dealing with hills is to have very low gears available. The bikes with a triple front chainring provide an ultra low gear range or with a double front chainring the smaller one can be changed out for an even smaller one and the largest cog on the rear cassette can be changed out for a larger one. These are inexpensive upgrades to make on a bicycle that can have a big impact on your ease in going up the hills.
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Old 09-24-21, 10:52 AM
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Living in the hilly Okanagan Valley my equal half bought her first e-bike last year — supposedly so she could keep up on our rides. That was/is a utility bike (no frills) that's limited to 23 km/h as far as the PA goes.
This years bike was better and at more than twice the price of the previous one it has frills and the 20 mph (32km/h) PA limit.
. Assembling and testing that one I started considering buying one for my rides.
But mine is promoted as a "MTB" https://www.rbsmsports.com/product-category/bikes/ e-bike but is pretty close to my analog DeVinci Stellar which is called a XC Sport.. Ideal (for me) for everything since I'm not into wild single track stuff.
The Mud Adder truly rides/handles like a hard tail MTB, .... very stable and it has more range — best so far on a single charge 70km (43miles) — than they advertise, Best price was on Amazon.ca ( https://www.amazon.ca/Adder-Electric...2501991&sr=8-1 ) Can$ 1800.00
They mention a speed limit of 32 km/h, but ..... that can be adjusted as "necessary".
So there are bikes out there that don't break the piggy bank.
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