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shepherdsflock 04-16-13 02:44 PM

Why do you ride an E-bike?
I mainly follow the Commuting forum, but I see this forum and it got me wondering, why do people ride E-bikes? From my perspective, I think if I wanted something that was self-propelled I would buy a scooter or motorcycle. Not to offend anyone, that's just my train of thought. So, I'm curious, what do you find attractive about an E-bike versus a fully human powered bicycle?

usnavystgc 04-16-13 03:03 PM

So I don't arrive to work all sweaty, So I can make it up the hills easily. So I can show off to all my friends.

EBikeFL 04-16-13 03:46 PM


Originally Posted by usnavystgc (Post 15517940)
So I don't arrive to work all sweaty, So I can make it up the hills easily. So I can show off to all my friends.


Also, the cost of owning a car keeps going up:

It's cheaper to ride an e-bike. If you use a scooter or motorcycle you'll still visit a gas station. The last time I visited a gas station for fuel was last year. :thumb:

My friends all own bicycles but they drive more than they bike. Since I finished building my e-bike I ride more than I use my car. How many U.S. Presidents have said we need to break our addiction to oil? Well there you go...I just did. ;)

Allen 04-16-13 05:01 PM

Mine is a cargo hauler. Carrying the same load on my normal bike is a misery.

zydeco 04-16-13 05:53 PM

I started riding an ebike because I was in poor health and needed the electric as a crutch. Thanks to the ebike I am in better health now and enjoy 25+ mile rides several times a week. It is very rare that I start my truck these days. The only time I drive is if I need to go somplace and the weather is bad.

Scaliboy62 04-16-13 06:02 PM

I have Hypertension & Diverticulitus & the e-bike keeps my weight in check & I get a great workout, it's more fun to ride my E-bike then my regular bikes it's a real adrenalin rush.
Also I was able to sell one of my cars as I use my E-Bike for Post Office runs for my business & other errands { I put 5500 miles a year on my E-bike.**.
Also It reminds me of my Motorcycling days back in the 1980's
Shepardsflock- you stated that you would buy a motorcycle or scooter if you wanted something self propelled the thing is with E-Bikes you dont need insurance, registration fees , gasoline costs & & you can ride it like a bicycle through parks, on sidewalks etc.

Allen 04-16-13 07:40 PM


Originally Posted by shepherdsflock (Post 15517856)
I mainly follow the Commuting forum, but I see this forum and it got me wondering, why do people ride E-bikes? From my perspective, I think if I wanted something that was self-propelled I would buy a scooter or motorcycle. Not to offend anyone, that's just my train of thought. So, I'm curious, what do you find attractive about an E-bike versus a fully human powered bicycle?
Would putting a trolling motor on this and taking it fishing seem odd?

bluegoatwoods 04-16-13 08:25 PM

I use mine for adverse weather conditions. Warm and heavy rains or 95 deg hot summer days come to mind.

When I bought it I was actually a bit apprehensive that I might ride it too much, neglect the pedal bike and not get enough exercise. It hasn't turned out that way, though. Though it's a joy to ride, it takes more looking after than a regular bike. Plus it's heavier. As a result I'm finding that I'd just as soon ride my pedal bike unless I expect to encounter weather that makes me want the extra help.

350htrr 04-16-13 08:51 PM

Sold my STi because I was driving it too much, just for fun... Bought the E-Assist to put on my bike because I was now using it as transport, I am probably saving $10,000 a year on gas , insurance and vehicle depreciation...:eek:

profstack 04-16-13 09:45 PM

I ride the e-bike (Ohm Urban Bionx) because it reduces the slopes of Seattle's hills and lets me ride every day if I want.

Being on the wrong side of 60, my body appreciates a more gentle ride. I set the boost level as low as possible to keep my fitness better.

I've put more miles on the Ohm in 8 months than I usually do on the regular bike in two years.

509 04-16-13 10:39 PM

So I can ride like I am twenty-six again.

The Trek Electric has four levels of assist and I lose a decade at each level of assist!!

You have to pedal the treks otherwise they just cut out. They are totally silent.

A scooter or motorcycle has the noise and smell issues.

We did own a electric bike that had a scooter mode where it would run without pedaling. It did not feel like I was riding a bike. The Trek's are totally a bicycle experience.

It is interesting that we originally bought the electric bikes for my wife. She is starting to prefer a regular bike. I, however, have gotten pretty much addicted to riding the electric bike.

Metal Man 04-17-13 01:50 AM

An E bike isn’t about not pedaling, it’s about going further, faster. It’s about climbing hills you wouldn’t normally be able to climb. It’s about hauling MUCH more cargo than you would normally be able to haul.
You don’t pedal less on an E bike, you pedal more because you are MUCH more likely to use it.
I have over 800 miles so far for the year in crappy weather PA. If it wasn’t for the E bikes I’m sure that number would be a small fraction of that.
I’ve lost 12 pounds already in my ride every day in April pledge, am I pedaling?
I haven't touched my road bike since fall, am I worried I won't be very strong on it? No, I think I'll be kicking ass on it when I get around to it. Well, OK that's as much as I ever kick ass on it, but I'll be fine.
I have over 9,000 miles on my e cargo bike since November 2010.

chvid 04-17-13 06:06 AM

I'm 58. I've logged just over 7400 miles on my recumbent e-trike since I aquired it in 2010. My typical ride is 40-50 miles around the waterfront of Victoria, just for fun. I can load up the trike with full camping gear and water and food, and tackle longer ranges of 80-90 miles on a daily basis with the addition of an extra pack. I only use my van for kayaking and dump runs now, as I am so motivated to ride. I get a lot of exercise with continuous pedalling as much as I can, somewhat faster than the regular bike, and hills are a breeze even with lots of gear - way more motivated to ride than on a regular bike, for distances of 40-50 miles without killing myself. And way more comfortable reclining in a recumbent. There is also the fun aspect of the hobby - I've built nine different bikes - folders, two trikes, two-wheel LWB and SWB recumbents etc. and they are all great for their particular niche. Also have four different trailers for hauling camping gear, or garden waste etc. I've always been a regular cyclist, more of a hipster geek than a jock, and I enjoy the science and the social aspect, as well as the pedalling. I like the look of that cargo bike - maybe that's my next built. Scouring craigslist for unwanted wierd bikes for the next "Bride of Frankenstein"....Great hobby! And it saves me tons of gas money for 95 percent of my ex car-trips. I could ride a road bike I guess, but my neck and shoulder and rear-end would be killing me, and it wouldn't be nearly as fun.

shepherdsflock 04-17-13 07:52 AM

Wow, the responses are eye opening, especially the aspect of cargo hauling. I'm glad I posted here and asked. Hopefully nobody took my question as being provocative, I was just curious. I'm glad the e-bike crowd seems to be a genuinely friendly group of riders. Thanks for your responses. I appreciate being able to peek into other forms of cycling that I don't ordinarily involve myself in. Where I live (Iowa) you don't see many e-bikes. I think I've seen two or three over the last few years in my city. But there seems to be enough traffic in this forum to lead me to think they're much more popular in other areas of the country.

I also wasn't aware that there are e-bikes that won't provide assist unless you're pedaling. That's a neat concept. I only see one problem with it, though. If I had a chain failure (which is extremely rare) and needed to rely on the motor to get me to a safe place, it sounds like that couldn't be done.

What kind of range do you get out of the assist feature? I'm sure that's hard to quantify in miles, since it likely depends on how much work the rider is doing. But, maybe it could be quantified in time. How many minutes of assist power do you get on a full charge?

chvid 04-17-13 09:49 AM

My range is about 50 miles, on a 48V 15Ahr battery, containing about 720 watt hours of energy. That is if I pedal moderately, and average 14 watt hours per mile, and keep my speed down, maybe averaging 17mph. If I pedal harder and boost my speed to average over 20mph, my watt hours per mile might go up to 20, due to the increased wind resistance, which is a cubic function of speed. Add another pack and I'm good for over 80 miles before I'm tired, having pedalled continuously over that distance, but just nicely tired with no sore spots. Either direct drive or freewheeling geared motors let you contribute meaningful assistance through pedalling depending on how you feel, or not. The virtues of PAS ("pedal assist") are virtually nil - a throttle lets you pedal just as much, but with greater intentionality. You can just as easily limit your amps through a CycleAnalyst to force yourself to pedal more, but I never bother. I just pedal as much as I feel like - power is power, energy is energy, whether delivered through PAS control or throttle control or torque sensing like a Bionx. PAS is a neat concept -on paper, but it is just unnecessary control on your intentionality/freedom to use as much power as you want, when you want it - for example - do you want to be limited to PAS when you are accelerating to get through an intersection fast? I want full throttle at that moment. The only PAS that is really any good, is torque sensing PAS, not RPM based PAS (crank rpm), such as a Bionx or THUN bottom bracket torque sensor. It works great - but I still prefer a throttle. A lot the cheap controllers support rpm-based PAS due to the overly restrictive European legislation mandating PAS aka "Pedelec", with the circular ring of magnets that go around your crank axle.

powell 04-17-13 12:33 PM

On my 1000W EPLUS ebike reaching max speed is up to me
When I pedal I can reach 50km/h
Eplus is wonderful exercise machine it wants you to pedal along
And because I pedal really fast on 11T rear sprocket I get excellent cardio exercise
that is impressive millage indeed
American designed and bult system makes a difference here
Especially since you use it with hudge cargo load
any mechanical prolems wih Eplus motor?

rickk 04-17-13 01:22 PM

I outfitted my bike with a freewheeling geared motor to start trying to get more exercise by riding to work. I knew I would never ride to work the 13 miles each way (26 miles a day) without assist. Now I can use more assist on the way to work when I am in a rush, and take a more leisurely ride home using less electric - I end up getting way more exercise than riding in my car and spend more time outside enjoying the ride.

My ride in uses twice as much electric on the way in to work than the ride home when I have more time and want more of a workout (the ride home will use the same if I am lazy or in a rush).
Driving takes 20-25 minutes, riding in the morning takes 40-45 minutes. Having electric made the speed fast enough that it was a workable amount of time.
I just have the throttle control and am able to adjust it to suit the workout I want.

I did not get a scooter because it is noisy, and you can't take it on trails - with my bike outfitted I am fairly stealthy (it is very quiet - my motor sounds like mountain bike knobby tires type hum) and no one notices if I use it on a sidewalk or trail to avoid some streets.

As others have said - it makes me younger - Even with the electric I am still riding slower than some of those racing youngsters!

chvid 04-17-13 02:27 PM

Rickk hit the nail on the head for another reason - TIME. You basically can do more as a grown-up adult with responsibilities and time pressure to get a lot of things done in a day, without stress, with an ebike. Saving half an hour on a 10 mile utility ride might not sound like much, but if you've got to do those 3 or 4 times a day, you might as well have fun doing it! Carrying a lot of stuff if needed, in regular clothing, and saving TIME.

Trikin' 04-17-13 05:35 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I use my pusher trailer just for touring. Loaded with sleeping bag, tent and most of the other essential's on the trailer, I've been able to continue cycle touring with relative ease.
The 500W Crystalyte Front hub laced into the 16"wheel on a BOB trailer has worked extremely well.
I'm using a 36VLit- Ion battery thats mounted to the trailer deck.
We rode into Sooke Potholes last summer (day of the earthquake) on the Galloping Goose, there's a trestle thats been out for years and there's steepdirt trails up &down.
(you might know the area Chvid) I used the the throttle ever so gently while pushing and steering my trike and trailer up those hills. I'm using a Shwable BigApple at 40lbs pressure, generally pretty good but can spin-out if it's not carefully regulated. I've been pleasently surprised at how much distance I can get out of a single charge (over 120K). I usually don't exceed 10-15K while using the motor climbing a hill. I like to keep up with the other trikers on the ride better than to race past, but it sure can do that.

509 04-17-13 09:15 PM


Originally Posted by AllenG (Post 15518920)
Would putting a trolling motor on this and taking it fishing seem odd?

There are two types of bicyclists. Those that are bicyclists and those that ride bikes for other reasons. I ride for other reasons.

Back in my twenties I did a 2,000 mile tour of Europe on a bicycle. I went against my best judgement and thought that the ONLY way I could tolerate Europe was to keep myself as independent as possible. Loved the bicycling.....Europe, well it is so.....1970.

So for me bicycles are a mode of really cool transportation. Same with electric bicycles. Different era for me, different tool. I am hoping to use the electric bikes for touring New Zealand.

The Trek e-bikes will go about 20 miles on average. While touring Europe the perfect day with stops for castle and other tours was about 25 miles. Sure 50 miles plus were recommended as an average day but a tour stop in the morning and one in the afternoon, with lunch in between leaves you about 25 miles per day! I am still looking for a solar charging option for the bicycles, but none of the e-bike sites seem to care or realize how large this market.

I finally found decent touring bags: Arkel. So hopefully, we will hit our shakedown cruises this summer.

Trolling motor on a cedar strip canoe......only if it is solar powered:

I never had a chain break on me......neither e-bike or road bike....but then again I went 2000 miles in Europe without a flat!!

AdrianFly 04-17-13 10:16 PM


Originally Posted by chvid (Post 15522176)
Rickk hit the nail on the head for another reason - TIME. You basically can do more as a grown-up adult with responsibilities and time pressure to get a lot of things done in a day, without stress, with an ebike. Saving half an hour on a 10 mile utility ride might not sound like much, but if you've got to do those 3 or 4 times a day, you might as well have fun doing it! Carrying a lot of stuff if needed, in regular clothing, and saving TIME.

This sums it up for me as well.. and unlike a scooter/motorcycle I roll the bike into my bikeshop (which is located in the lower-half of my house) and park or hang it with my other bikes where it takes up little space and doesn't stink up the place with gas and oil fumes. Anyone who refers to Ebikes as "cheating" doesn't properly understand modern concepts behind this technology. The cool thing is that the technology is only going to get better..which is a good thing for those of us who are getting older. ;)

turbo1889 04-18-13 02:32 PM

In answer to the original question of the OP (not the second follow up question):

Have you ever tried to pedal a commercial moped or scooter equipped with pedals gas or electric? They absolutely suck when it comes to actually using the pedals, they are only there to make them legal in states that require usable pedals for them to be street legal. I want a motor assisted (electric or gas or other power source) bike to make full use of the human power plant as well and allow me to make a meaningful and useful contribution by continuing to pedal even when the motor is running and allow me to run without the motor under pedal power alone with only the additional weight of the non-running motor being the only determinate to pedal only operation. Like others on this forum I like to (in order of importance to me):

~ Climb hills better, faster, and easier then I can do under pedal power alone.
~ Carry, haul, and tow more cargo weight at higher speeds and up bigger hills then I could normally do under human power alone.
~ Go faster over longer distances then I can under pedal power alone.
~ Be able to ride the 10+ miles home with minimal pedaling at 3-4 a.m. in the morning when I'm beat tired after pulling a 14+ hour double back to back work shift fighting a 20+ mile an hour head wind in the form of a blizzard with 2" of blowing drifting snow (studded snow tires rock) on the roads and still not have to resort to using a car.

I own and operate a fleet of multiple motor assisted bikes that I built myself, some from kits, some not from kits, some I built from the ground up starting with welding my own frame. Some are human/electric hybrids, some are human/gas hybrids, and one is a three way human/electric/gas hybrid. The important thing to me is that ALL of them have a fully functional human pedal drive that is set-up so that both:

~ The bike can be effectively and efficiently driven under human power alone within its limitations (the 1/4-ton cargo hauler is a little slow under human only power especially when loaded to its full hauling capacity and the dedicated towing bike is also a little slow especially when towing a heavy trailer load).
~ Continuing to pedal while using the motor as well produces a noticeable improvement in both acceleration performance and top end speed (have to get the gearing right on both the motor and pedal drive to accomplish that and properly tune them to each other) and/or increased range for the electrics or decreased fuel consumption for the gas assisted bikes. This provides the incentive for the rider to continue to pedal even when the motor is being used because he can feel the difference and feel the extra performance and speed by adding his own power to the equation and not just relying on the motor alone. The additional benefit of longer range and better mileage although not an immediate gratification also helps.

Those are important features in my mind that are severely lacking in almost every commercially produced scooter or moped out there and I consider them almost essential to ensure the rider is "in the game" and it is my opinion that keeping the rider in the game makes for a better safer driver and reduces mechanical abuse of the motor drive system such as trying to climb a hill without downshifting as necessary and "lugging the engine" on a gas engine or badly overheating an electric motor by dragging it down to too low of an RPM and trying to compensate by just dumping more and more watts into it.

In answer to the OP's follow up questions:

As to the level of assistance, the lowest assistance bike I have is one that has a custom built "hill helper only" set-up using the lowest wattage and voltage cheap front hub motor I could find that is instead built into a custom rack inside the right rear pannier bag that is hooked to the rear wheel of the bike via. a second chain on the big 34 tooth #1 position "granny gear" on the rear sprocket spool providing a 2.125 gear down ratio which will drive the bike up a hill using the limited wattage available to provide high torque at low hill climbing speed. Because the motor is geared down so much on the flat I can pedal faster then the motor can go so there is absolutely no reason to use the motor on anything but going up a hill and if it isn't a very steep hill I can still pedal up the hill faster then the motor can drive the bike so it only gets used as an assist for climbing steep hills otherwise it actually slows me down when it is engaged. It runs off a small capacity (for minimal weight) battery pack that is good for a little more then 40 minutes of assist time. I built it to be set-up that way specifically and very deliberately. I have help for climbing the steep hills but nothing more then that because the motor is geared to low and goes too slow on the flat so their is no point in using it except to help when climbing a big hill. I consider this the purest form of a motor motor assisted bicycle and is more true to the pedal bicycle then even a PAS system that only helps out when you are pedaling only because a PAS system will help you go faster on the flat and its use isn't limited to hills only.

My most powerful bikes all put out the maximum legal power by the laws of my state for them to not have to be registered as motorcycles - that being 2-horsepower (about 1,500 watts).

For the electrics some like the bike with the hill helper only motor have a very limited range - only about 6-1/2 miles for that one since the max speed under motor power alone is only about 10-mph and you only have 40 minutes of battery power but if you only use it for steep hills that is 6-1/2 miles of steep hills which can take you a long way if you are not using the motor on the rest of the route. Currently my longest range electric can go about 20-miles under motor power alone, double that if you are constantly pedaling and keep the motor at lower power levels in its peak efficiency range.

For the gas bikes its not a matter of range but rather of fuel efficiency. All of them running unloaded without hauling or pulling heavy cargo loads will get at least 80 miles per gallon even if you aren't pedaling. My most efficient one consistently gets over 150 miles per gallon and I've almost broken the 200 miles per gallon threshold on several rides with it where I was strongly pedaling the entire way on long flat ground runs. The 1/4-ton heavy hauler bike (the three way hybrid power bike) will get at least 50 miles per gallon even with a full load if I'm not running in extremely hilly country and I'm doing my part. The lowest mileage I've ever gotten was with the dedicated towing bike where I had about 200+ pounds of weight on it itself as cargo and for traction on the two rear driven wheels while pulling a trailer with about a ton and a half of cargo on it, I still got 30+ miles to the gallon even when running in very low gears to tow that much weight over fairly hilly terrain.

turbo1889 04-18-13 03:15 PM

Since I brought up the non-electric motor assisted bikes I should mention that both gas and electric have their own sets of Pros & Cons:


~ Pro:
----- Quiet
----- Clean
----- Smooth
----- Best for low power builds
----- Less drive complexity to get the motor and pedal drive to work well together and compliment each other
----- Stealth capabilities, in some variations you can run with electric assist without anyone but you knowing its not just pedal power
----- More socially acceptable
----- Better operational efficiency
----- Paying for electricity to charge the batteries is generally cheaper then buying gas even at 150+ miles per gallon

~ Con:
----- Maximum power and/or long range set-ups tend to be heavier then equivalent gas power
----- Recharging batteries takes longer then filling a gas tank and carrying extra gas is a lot lighter weight and easier then extra batteries
----- Initial cost of a quality set-up tend to be higher then a quality gas set-up
----- Have trouble operating in cold weather (winter commuting) and fowl weather (drenching soaking rain)
----- More pollution and environmental impact then a pedal only bike, better then almost every other motorized option option but still a bigger footprint then a pedal only bike


~ Pro:
----- Maximum legal power with less weight then electric power
----- Range is nearly infinite, at 100+ miles per gallon a five gallon can can last you for days of continuous riding cross country or weeks and weeks of just regular commuting
----- No waiting for batteries to charge
----- Initial cost of a quality set-up tend to be less then a quality electric set-up
----- Operate better and more reliably in cold weather (winter commuting) and fowl weather (drenching soaking rain).
----- Gas stations are everywhere so you can run on just a tiny super light weight tank and fuel up only at the start and end of a commute of reasonable distance
----- Still way better for the environment then a full sized heavy gas powered vehicle (especially if you use a modern clean burning 4-cycle engine more on that in the con section)
----- Still get your exercise and stay healthy even though you are still burning gas, at least you aren't sitting in a car seat and getting fat
----- If you use a modern, clean burning, high efficiency, 4-cycle engine over all less pollution and less environmental impact that per-person impact of common public mass transit systems and even a full size electric vehicle if you charge it using the standard mix of "grid power" almost anywhere in the world including the U.S.

~ Con:

----- Loud (4-cycle with good muffler alliviates)
----- Dirty (Using a modern, clean burning, high efficiency, 4-cycle engine alliviates) (Crappy old tech 2-cycle aggrivates)
----- Not as smooth of power and can be harder on bicycle drive components
----- Does not work well at all for low power builds
----- Always at least mildly heavy weight, electrics with limited range or low power can be built with less added weight
----- More drive complexity to get the motor and pedal drive to work well together and compliment each other
----- No Stealth capabilities, everyone knows you have a motor and aren't just pedaling
----- Less socially acceptable
----- Often cannot use bike paths
----- Lower operational efficiency
----- Paying for gas even at 150 miles per gallon is more expensive then electricity to charge an electric bikes batteries unless you have very high electricity prices and/or a very powerful electric bike with a big battery
----- More pollution and environmental impact then an electric bike of equivalent power, better then a full size vehicle including an electric full size or even per-person footprint of most public transit but still a bigger footprint then an electric bike of equivalent power

I own, have built, and use both types. I feel that having both available and using the appropriate bike for each situation is the best solution. But then you are talking to a guy with a garage full of bikes some pedal only, and some with motor assist of all different kinds from light fast sleeks to big heavy bulky ugly hulks designed to haul or tow more cargo then most people ever thought was possible.

chvid 04-19-13 12:14 AM

Turbo...that was a great summary...your garage sounds like my basement, except no gassers since they're illegal on road in British Columbia. So many bikes so little time. Thanks for that.

StephenDedalus 04-28-13 12:37 AM

In 2008 I was t-boned while riding my bike. The recovery was long and I put on over 130 lbs. I had previously had a lot of success losing weight cycling. I went from around 400lbs. to 230lbs. in the early 2000s and got my life back by commuting by bike. Back then I did 35+ miles a day round trip. After my accident getting started again was really hard. Low back pain, shoulder pain, you name it. I bought an e-bike to try and get my life back and so far it's worked. I now bike between 15 - 25 miles a day and I'm losing weight again. We'll see where this takes me, but my hope is that it's not too late to live a healthy, long life. For my family and for myself. The e-bike has become, as someone said earlier, my crutch to make sure I can "just keep riding" and stay moving.

Oh, and for the OP. You mentioned that the same thing could be gained by pedaling the bike yourself. I would actually agree that bikes with throttles aren't as enjoyable. That's my personal preference. The bikes I've preferred and the bike I bought are pedal-assist bikes. Meaning I have to pedal. The bike is simply going to make life easier. It isn't going to get me where I'm going for free. And that's how I want it. I want to feel the wind on my face and all that good stuff, but I still want to ride a bike.

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