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E-bike review: DŌST / DOST Kope CVT

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E-bike review: DŌST / DOST Kope CVT

Old 08-23-23, 08:12 PM
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Bikes: DOST Kope CVT e-bike; Bilenky Ti Tourlite

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E-bike review: DŌST / DOST Kope CVT

Folks who have been on the forum for a while may remember that in 2022, I asked a lot of questions about available e-bikes and about touring with e-bikes. In June last year, I posted about a ride I had taken along the Erie Canal with my ďoldĒ ebike, while waiting for the new one to arrive. (Thatís at https://m.bikeforums.net/showthread....1650&styleid=8 if you want to refresh your memory.) And then I went silent.

The bike I had ordered during the lockdown period of the pandemic got caught in the global manufacturing snafu, then spent months tied up in the global shipping snafu. But I received it in September 2022. And now that Iíve had it long enough for more than first impressions, I wanted to let you know what I think about it.

What I was used to: I wanted something that could handle commuting 8 miles each way on potholed city streets, plus be capable of occasional bike tours. About ten years ago, I was in the habit of taking a week-long cycling vacation Ė 6 summers in a row! Ė with 300-400 mile weeks. I started those on a city bike, then moved to a titanium touring bike as I got more experienced. And then in autumn 2015, my ďcheck kneeĒ light came on. After that, pushing on the pedals hurt. (My knees are stronger now than they first started hurting, but Iím not back to my baseline.)
What I learned from: My first e-bike was a kit conversion from a step-through Breezer 8-speed.

A grey Breezer step-through bike, modded with a Bafang mid-drive motor. A battery is attached to the rear rack.It got the job done. I could commute to work; I could get over the hills in my neighborhood (sometimes called the ďManayunk WallĒ); I could go 20-25 miles confidently if I wanted a longer ride. With an extra battery carried in my pannier and with conservative levels of boost, I managed a metric century through hilly terrain (the Covered Bridge Classic near Lancaster PA). But it didnít work as a bike for loaded touring.

What I realized I wanted: Riding the Breezer for several seasons helped me understand a bit more about what I wanted in my next e-bike.
  • made as an e-bike: the Breezer just was not the best starting frame for the demands of an ebike. The battery up on the rack threw the center of balance off. It was tippy all the time.
  • a stiff frame: especially when travelling fully loaded, I could feel the bike flex at speed. Not a good feeling going downhill at 25+ mph. It may be possible to do as a step-through, but I looked for stand-over bike instead.
  • disc brakes: E-bikes tend to be heavy. Iím a heavy rider (I still post in Clydesdales & Athenas). Stopping a heavy load needs good brakes Ė and the Breezerís rim brakes didnít feel up to the challenge all the time.
  • mid-drive: the bikes I was looking at for other reasons tended to have mid-drive, so this wasnít a reach; but I didnít think hub drive would give me the power I was looking for.
  • range: last year the Breezer, fully loaded, couldnít get me 60 miles between overnight towns along the Erie Canal. I was hoping for 80 mile one-day rides and 65 miles or so packed for overnights
  • load capacity: I mentioned Iím heavy (210 lbs these days). Plus if Iím packing for an overnight, thereís tools, a charger, clothesÖ it adds up. Last year, touring on the Breezer, the rear axle bent. Ouch.
  • gears you could shift without moving: hey, if Iím wishing, let me look for what I really want. One of the times in riding that stresses my knees, maybe more than hills, is starting from a complete stop. Good practice, of course, is to pull away from a stop in a low gear, and then up-shift as needed. But I donít always remember to down-shift as I approach a stop. Something without a derailleur Ė like an Alfine hub, a Rolhoff hub, or an Envolio CVT -- would make that easier.
  • belt drive: OK, now Iím just looking for comfort and convenience. Iím one of the few cyclists I know who can get a grease mark from a chain on my left calf. And there have been times on tour when Iíve lubed my chain with lip balm, because it was what I had handy.
  • and the big one Ė A THROTTLE: when I started riding an ebike, I wanted the throttle so that if my knee completely gave out, I could make it home without pedaling. Thatís not how I wound up using it. For me, being able to get a heavy bike moving with minimal torque on my knees is a huge factor. I use the throttle for about 5-10 seconds at a time, getting the bike up to 8-10 mph. Iím not using it to replace pedaling for most of my ride; Iím not looking for an electric moped. But that little boost away from a stop light is a key part of whatís keeping me riding comfortably.
The need for a throttle eliminates anything with a Bosch motor, anything made for the European market. The good news is, it kept me from getting caught up in the VanMoof debacle. And there were things that I know people look for in an ebike, that I didnít need: I donít need a folding bike. I donít need it to be particularly light. Iím not carrying it up and down stairs, or bringing it into my office. (My office has banned ebikes indoors. Sigh.) And, well, I know that this is a pricey wish-list. And itís a weird wish-list. A belt drive with a Bosch motor? Thatís relatively easy to find. Both of those read as ďhigh-endĒ features. A belt drive with a Bafang motor? Thatís a lot less common.With those factors guiding my decision, in late 2021 I ordered a DOST Kope CVT with delivery expected in spring 2022. Eventually, I got this tank of a bicycle delivered to my home:

A heavily-built ebike with a stand-over frame, painted black with red accents.

This isnít quite the way I received it, but itís the way I ride it: Ortlieb tank bag and pannier (brought over from the Breezer); water bottle mounts on the handlebar bag; and Crank Brothers pedals (eggbeaters on one side, flat on the other) to replace the original flat pedals. Thereís one battery in the downtube (14Ah 48V), and you can see the removable secondary battery (10.4 Ah 48V) attached to that. The headlight is original equipment. Thereís a taillight that you canít see, hidden behind the pannier.

I am very, very pleased with my decision.

It took me a while to get used to the bike. One of the biggest differences is that because this bike frame was designed to have a motor down by the pedals, the bottom bracket is a little higher off the ground than I was used to. It took a while for me to get the seat height and the handlebars where I wanted them, and I stand on tip-toe at stops more than I used to. The secondary battery attaches to the downtube where a water bottle might otherwise be attached, so I was really happy to find a tank bag that lets me attach water bottles to it.

Little things that delight me: the rack is made so that the panniers hang from horizontals that run an inch or two below the platform, so that if I strap a tent or something to the rack it wonít hit the panniers. The saddle has a handle built in, under the widest part, to give you something to grab on to when you try to muscle this 65 pound tank around. The fenders were part of the design: they attach better and give better coverage than after-market fenders Iíve had on other bikes.

There are little annoyances, too. You need to change the batteries independently, and the connectors are on opposite sides. But I can deal with that.

This past weekend I went back to the Covered Bridge metric century. Remember, when I did that ride on the Breezer, I carried a spare battery in my pannier. One year I didnít have enough power for the last hill before the finish (but I did have enough juice for the flat terrain after that to the finish line, about a half mile away); the next year, with a replaced battery, I had about 2 miles worth of travel left. And the range on the Kope? Riding with minimal pedal assist on the flats (level 1 out of 9 possible), and using my gearing so that level 2 was enough for most hills (level 3 was for HILLS), I made the 65 miles and 3800 feet of rise with 29% of my battery pack left.

If youíve got questions, Iíll be happy to try to answer them.
- Jeneralist
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