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Mid-Drive Electric Bike (E-Bike) For Touring?

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Mid-Drive Electric Bike (E-Bike) For Touring?

Old 10-23-18, 08:57 PM
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AlanK
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Mid-Drive Electric Bike (E-Bike) For Touring?

I hope I'm not staring a duplicate thread. I searched and couldn't find a thread in the touring section that addresses touring on e-bikes.

It seems like touring on a mid-drive bike would be viable, at least in relatively developed areas. Mid-drive bikes aren't all that much heavier than comparable conventional bikes (about 15 pounds), and obviously can traverse hilly terrain much more quickly. While any e-bike is more complex and therefore have more potential failure and maintenance issues, mid-drive bikes aren't overly complex and operate similarly to a standard bike.

It seems like the major limitation is range. Mid-drive bikes' typical range is typically about 50-70 miles, though this can be extended by selectively using battery power. It's also important to note since they aren't onerously heavy mid-drive bikes can still be peddled reasonably without battery power; though it requires more effort it's certainly viable occasionally.

There don't seem to be all that many mid-drive suitable for touring, but there are a few. Here are a couple possibilities. Let's have a productive discussion...
https://www.raleighusa.com/tamland-ie

https://www.raleighusa.com/redux-ie-step-over
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Old 10-23-18, 09:05 PM
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Who are you going to call when you run out of juice in the middle of nowhere?
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Old 10-23-18, 09:21 PM
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There was a poster named BBassett who is now banned that toured on one. You can search his posts/threads for ideas.
Here's one about his bike: Tout Terrain Panamericana?

Last edited by Happy Feet; 10-23-18 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 10-23-18, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Who are you going to call when you run out of juice in the middle of nowhere?
Did you actually read the entire original post? Crank drive bikes can be peddled without power and only weight about 15 pounds more than conventional bikes, so you can peddle them at least occasionally without power. The extra weight would be problematic for extended periods, so yes mid-drive bikes probably aren't well-suited for extended touring in remote areas. On the other hand, in this day and age there aren't many places left where electricity is completely absent.

So unless you'll be regularly peddling for days at a time without access to electricity, mid-drive bikes seem viable.
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Old 10-23-18, 11:09 PM
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Not to mention some of you waccos() are riding around with 60+lbs of gear anyway. You could add 15lbs to my touring load and it would still come in solidly under 60lbs. So, even with a dead battery, not the end of the world. And as the OP mentioned(which Allen didn’t feel like reading...), much of the world has electric these days. I think an ebike might fit right in for many who like to CC tour. As you naturally age or your career is your main focus and regular touring is no longer your preferred option, why not use the assistance of an ebike and CC tour? If they have a CC machine, there’s probably an outlet to plug the bike into.
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Old 10-24-18, 12:35 AM
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Almost everyone seems to stop for meals, often at places that have power. I would imagine that a bit of juicing during meal breaks could extend the range of an e-bike beyond what most people would normally ride.

My spouse is toying with the idea of modifying one of our tandems to be electric assist. We're tied down during the school year now and for the next four years (grandparent duties, best job in the world), so our touring time is squished into the summer. Adding a bit of speed, particularly on climbs, might cause us to explore a few more interesting places to ride. Neither of us is committed one way or the other, but I think it's interesting.
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Old 10-24-18, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
Did you actually read the entire original post? Crank drive bikes can be peddled without power and only weight about 15 pounds more than conventional bikes, so you can peddle them at least occasionally without power. The extra weight would be problematic for extended periods, so yes mid-drive bikes probably aren't well-suited for extended touring in remote areas. On the other hand, in this day and age there aren't many places left where electricity is completely absent.

So unless you'll be regularly peddling for days at a time without access to electricity, mid-drive bikes seem viable.

That's not quite accurate. A typical touring bike weighs between 25- 30 lbs. The typical ebike, equipped with fenders and a rack and mtb style tires usually weigh between 55 to 75 lbs. The radrover fat ebike weighs around 66 lbs. for example. A super lightweight emtb like the pivot shuttle weighs around 44 lbs. The faraday porter with a very low capacity battery, around 300 watt hours, still weighs 42 lbs.

If you want a lightweight ebike, you will have to give up a lot of battery capacity and therefore range. You'll also need lightweight tires and wheels, which is a terrible idea with the added weight of electrical components and a battery and a motor.

Also, while I think ebikes are great and will likely buy one at some point next year, but the possibility of a mechanical failure is not a minor consideration. At that point, not only do you have all of your touring gear, but you have to pedal a 55 to 75 lbs. bicycle to boot. EBikes do fail. The motor, controller or battery are all possible points of component failure. These are not foolproof components. Most of these components are being churned out in large numbers under ridiculous time pressure to meet delivery deadlines.

Dismissing the possibility of ebike component failure as a trivial issue is a mistake. You will need a contingency plan if you want to tour on an ebike.

There are certainly documented ebike tours. It's clearly possible. But you will need some way to replace or repair electrical components if and when they fail, and potentially even replace an inoperable bicycle. I won't name names there are plenty of reports of component failure that you can read about on ebike company's Facebook pages or on ****** or other forums.

I would go so far as to say you should EXPECT electrical component failure and have a plan for repair or replacement. It's not like a driving road trip where auto mechanics are around every corner. Obviously, you will need some location where you can recharge a battery for 3-7 hours at a time as well.

It's doable, but you need to be realistic and plan to account for recharging sessions and how to deal with mechanical failures.
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Old 10-24-18, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by radroad View Post
That's not quite accurate. A typical touring bike weighs between 25- 30 lbs. The typical ebike, equipped with fenders and a rack and mtb style tires usually weigh between 55 to 75 lbs. The radrover fat ebike weighs around 66 lbs. for example. A super lightweight emtb like the pivot shuttle weighs around 44 lbs. The faraday porter with a very low capacity battery, around 300 watt hours, still weighs 42 lbs.".
You don't seem to familiar with the newer mid-drive crank motor e-bikes. I'll post a review of one that could be well suited for touring below.

A good-quality mid-drive bike with a typical range of about 50-70 miles weighs about 47 pounds. And as I mentioned before, the range can be extended significantly by selectively using the power primarily or only on inclines. If you don't use power on declines and use minimal or no power on level terrain, a range of 80-90 miles is plausible. This is significant considering a typical touring cyclist travels about 40-50 miles/day.

While I'm tempted, the price is prohibitively expensive. A good touring-capable mid-drive e-bike costs a minimum of about $2800, and most are commuter rather than touring bikes.

But as with many things it's possible the prices will decrease if and as the technology becomes more widespread and less expensive to manufacture. We'll see...
https://electricbikereview.com/raleigh/tamland-ie/

Last edited by AlanK; 10-24-18 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 10-24-18, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
You don't seem to familiar with the newer mid-drive crank motor e-bikes. I'll post a review of one that could be well suited for touring below.

A good-quality mid-drive bike with a typical range of about 50-70 miles weighs about 47 pounds. And as I mentioned before, the range can be extended significantly by selectively using the power primarily or only on inclines. If you don't use power on declines and use minimal or no power on level terrain, a range of 80-90 miles is plausible. This is significant considering a typical touring cyclist travels about 40-50 miles/day.

While I'm tempted, the price is prohibitively expensive. A good touring-capable mid-drive e-bike costs a minimum of about $2800, and most are commuter rather than touring bikes.

But as with many things it's possible the prices will decrease if and as the technology becomes more widespread and less expensive to manufacture. We'll see...
https://electricbikereview.com/raleigh/tamland-ie/
You are wrong. I've ridden at least a dozen different models of bikes, almost all of them mid drives. Brose and Yamaha motors are notoriously underpowered. They are a less than ideal choice for a loaded touring bike trip with any serious climbing involved.

Also, heavy bikes can be uncomfortable to ride. Especially heavy aluminum bikes. You will want suspension for that Raleigh and that will add weight.

There are big differences in comfort depending on tire width, wheel composition, and frame materials. If you are contemplating an actual tour you are best advised to demo for at least a day to see if a trip is viable with the model you selected. This means a demo with a rack or two, panniers and loaded.

I bet a 50+ lbs ebike with racks and bags and maybe fenders, alu frame and skinny tires is going to beat you up pretty good.

I take it you haven't ridden a fully loaded (racks, bags, gear) aluminum ebike with no suspension and skinny tires. The experience may not be what you had hoped for. Demo and find out before contemplating a purchase further, much less a multi day or multi week trip.

Last edited by radroad; 10-24-18 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 10-24-18, 04:24 AM
  #10  
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Several years ago there was a thread on ACA's forum about a guy with COPD who was doing a mountainous portion of the Trans Am route on an assisted bike. He and his partner stayed indoors and ate out, so n camping and cooking gear. He never ran out of juice.
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Old 10-24-18, 05:03 AM
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I don't know if You have actually pedaled an e-bike or a mid drive e-bike without the assist but in theory they can be pedaled but in reality IMHO they are terrible experience even in emergency. I would never rely on saying I will pedal my fully loaded touring e-bike if I run out of juice. Instead I would probably tow a mini trailer and have an extra battery.

Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
Did you actually read the entire original post? Crank drive bikes can be peddled without power and only weight about 15 pounds more than conventional bikes, so you can peddle them at least occasionally without power. The extra weight would be problematic for extended periods, so yes mid-drive bikes probably aren't well-suited for extended touring in remote areas. On the other hand, in this day and age there aren't many places left where electricity is completely absent.

So unless you'll be regularly peddling for days at a time without access to electricity, mid-drive bikes seem viable.
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Old 10-24-18, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Several years ago there was a thread on ACA's forum about a guy with COPD who was doing a mountainous portion of the Trans Am route on an assisted bike. He and his partner stayed indoors and ate out, so n camping and cooking gear. He never ran out of juice.

I also rode that portion of the route, from Kansas to Utah, on an assisted trike. I never plugged in, not even once. I had a pair of solar panels over the trike providing a steady supply of power, and a nice sunshade too.

I camped, all but two nights, and cooked my meals. I was way overloaded as I was on my way home for the summer

If I were to do it again (when I do it again) I think I will put the panels on a trailer. By putting them on a trailer, it will be easier to orient them to the rising sun. I would also ship anything I don't need for the ride to reduce the amount of stuff I am carrying.
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Old 10-24-18, 06:24 AM
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An e-bike has a motor, it is a misnomer, it is a motorbike. They are just another form of motorized transportation. Touring on a motorbike is comparable in size with touring on a motor-scooter. If you use motorized transportation, please stay out of bicycle ways.
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Old 10-24-18, 08:26 AM
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I think you are underestimating the weight. From my research, I would say that the motor would be at least 10 pounds, possibly closer to twenty when you figure in related components, and the battery would be about 10 pounds as well. That said, it still seems feasible, maybe. I've looked at e-bikes for my commute because some times it would be nice to get to work not needing a complete wardrobe change. The problem I found when looking at them was that the range was never quite what I would want. I only need to go twenty miles a day to get to work and back, but in reality, I frequently go other places, so I always felt the odds of depleting the battery were too high. But I've seen improvements in the technology lately, and I've indirectly experienced some success with distance travel on an e-bike, so I think it could work. You would likely have to be a lot more picky about where you stop for the night, so that you could always recharge. Pedaling a battery-depleted e-bike is certainly possible, but you wouldn't want to make a habit of it. If you couldn't properly manage battery life well enough to keep going almost all of the time, you'd probably be better off leaving the 20-30 lbs of e-bike-related weight at home.

Last year I did a short, credit card tour down the GAP with my wife and aunt and uncle. My uncle had been talked into it by my aunt, but he does not bike regularly, and he was not prepared for the trip. As a result, he did not have a great time. This year we did a similar trip along the Katy Trail, and this time he had converted his bike to an e-bike. He had two panniers on his rear rack, which also had his bike battery, and his motor was not a mid-drive, but a hub drive installed in the rear wheel. He had a much easier time and, as far as I know, never came close to running out of battery. He said he mainly use the motor to get the bike up to speed. He'd activate the motor, get himself up to a reasonable cruising speed, then shut it off until he felt he needed to catch up or tackle a hill. Fortunately on the Katy there aren't many hills except when we left the trail to get to our lodging, and since we were not camping, recharging was never an issue. Days ranged from 35 to 50 miles between recharges. He did have an issue that I think was related to the e-bike: He broke 4 spokes. The first two we noticed on the 3rd, night, I think, and he felt like he had broken them on the hill into town. I had a fiberspoke, but since he had broken one spoke on each side, we decided not to use it, hoping that the tension had more or less evened out, at least enough to finish the trip. The next day he did fine until we had to climb a fairly steep hill at the end of the day, at which point he broke two more spokes. Our final day of riding was only 30 miles, so rather than limp to the nearest bike shop and hope they could rush a repair, my wife and I just rode ahead and fetched the car. It was lifting my uncle's bike on the the car rack that I realized just how much weight the motor and battery added. It was more weight than my luggage added, although maybe comparable to the weight of my full, camping, touring load. I could see how all that weight in the rear of the bike, plus the torque of the motor, plus the possibility that the wheel build hadn't been done those issues in mind, could have resulted in broken spokes. Of course with a mid-drive, you have better weight distribution and standard build on the rear wheel, so that's likely less of an issue.

When I ride, I try to be an free from the electrical grid as possible, so I don't have to factor that in to where I ride and where I stop. I don't think an e-bike would suit that model. I'd rather walk up the steep hills than risk pedaling twice my normal gear weight when I run out of juice, but I do think it could be done. I could see trying it if I had to carry more than my normal load for some reason. But otherwise I'm more tempted by the idea of a local, electronic transportation option than I am a touring option.
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Old 10-24-18, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by radroad View Post
You are wrong. I've ridden at least a dozen different models of bikes, almost all of them mid drives. Brose and Yamaha motors are notoriously underpowered. They are a less than ideal choice for a loaded touring bike trip with any serious climbing involved..
I'm calling BS on you. I've ridden Brose and Bosch powered bikes and 'under-powered' is one of the most counterfactual ways to describe them. On a steep incline you can maintain 15 mph with moderate effort. Since the Brose assist tops out at 28 mph you can go this fast, but it takes some effort on a steep incline and it really depletes the battery.


I also peddled them without power and it's not that bad. They are more onerous than a comparable standard bike, but occasionally peddling them about 10-15 miles is entirely doable for most fit touring cyclists.


Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
An e-bike has a motor, it is a misnomer, it is a motorbike. They are just another form of motorized transportation. Touring on a motorbike is comparable in size with touring on a motor-scooter. If you use motorized transportation, please stay out of bicycle ways.

Technically standard bikes have a motor as well - your legs. A mid-drive crank motor bike operates the same as a conventional bike; the motor just enables it to climb more efficiently. They don't force the rider to go faster; it's just an option. There's no need to harbor an ideological biases against an e-bike.


Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
I think you are underestimating the weight. From my research, I would say that the motor would be at least 10 pounds, possibly closer to twenty when you figure in related components, and the battery would be about 10 pounds as well.
More BS. The motor and battery of good e-bikes each weigh about 7-8 pounds, for a total of about 15 pounds for both. Wiring is the only additional component, which is minimal.


E-bikes also need hydraulic disc brakes and somewhat beefier wheels to deal with the higher speed and torque, but this only adds a couple more pounds, hence my original point ultimately they're only about 15 pounds heavier; 20 if you want a more generous estimate.
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Old 10-24-18, 10:59 AM
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I read somewhere that the range of most e-bikes is vastly overstated by marketing departments of e-bike companies. Real world conditions can drastically reduce range. So why all the hype? You still didn’t answer my original question, other than to say you will pedal 10-15 miles. At what speed? Are you looking at two hours to get to the nearest outlet, and then sitting around for a few hours while your battery charges?
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Old 10-24-18, 11:24 AM
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Adventure Cycling has embraced e-bikes enthusiastically in their magazine and reviewed/previewed a couple machines. For touring, they've suggested taking a second battery & planning indoor accommodations for the required multiple hours of recharging each night. With a machine like the Bulls Urban EVO, Giant Road e+ or Specialized Turbo Vado, touring seems pretty straightforward & doable.

But is it bike touring?
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Old 10-24-18, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
I think you are underestimating the weight. From my research, I would say that the motor would be at least 10 pounds, possibly closer to twenty when you figure in related components, and the battery would be about 10 pounds as well.
More BS. The motor and battery of good e-bikes each weigh about 7-8 pounds, for a total of about 15 pounds for both. Wiring is the only additional component, which is minimal.


E-bikes also need hydraulic disc brakes and somewhat beefier wheels to deal with the higher speed and torque, but this only adds a couple more pounds, hence my original point ultimately they're only about 15 pounds heavier; 20 if you want a more generous estimate.
Great, if you've sourced satisfactory equipment that suits your needs, more power to you. But my numbers come from looking up specs of mid-drive set-ups I was considering. They are not BS just because you found lighter set-ups. I have selected higher powered motors when considering what I'd be interested in building because my priorities would be range and ability to carry a good amount of weight. Most electric bikes are aimed at the commuting market for local, short-distance travel. Can you make one work for touring? Maybe. I don't know. I did just take a multi-day trip with a guy with an e-bike, and his bike felt more than 20 pounds heavier than mine, but it's not like I put it on the scale, so who knows. All I know is that if I'm looking at hauling gear over a long distance on an e-bike, I'm probably not going to be using the weight as a deciding factor. I'm going to want a strong motor and the highest capacity battery I can fit. That's not going to be the lightest.

You have a lighter set-up that will do what you want? Great. Enjoy.
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Old 10-24-18, 11:30 AM
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Some of the cats along on the Brompton to Bollinger multiday tour rode Brompton Electrics (not mid-drive tho, so the OP might call BS on me). You can spot the Electric riders by the small (battery) bags on the front, storming away from their mates on the hills:


Comments from tour participants:
Rider on pedal bike: 'It's been hard, and the hardness creates a tremendous bond amongst the team.'
Rider on Electric: "It's super cake, like a walk in the park."

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Old 10-24-18, 11:58 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
I hope I'm not staring a duplicate thread. I searched and couldn't find a thread in the touring section that addresses touring on e-bikes.
...
Touring with someone riding an e-bike?

I have nothing to add to the comments I made on that other thread.
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Old 10-24-18, 12:31 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
I'm calling BS on you. I've ridden Brose and Bosch powered bikes and 'under-powered' is one of the most counterfactual ways to describe them. On a steep incline you can maintain 15 mph with moderate effort. Since the Brose assist tops out at 28 mph you can go this fast, but it takes some effort on a steep incline and it really depletes the battery.
You need to call BS on yourself. I clearly stated that Brose and Yamaha are underpowered, not Brose and Bosch.

As you can see, Yamaha and Brose, especially Brose, offer the least power of the ebike motor manufacturers.

Read my posts before commenting.

Originally Posted by radroad View Post
You are wrong. I've ridden at least a dozen different models of bikes, almost all of them mid drives. Brose and Yamaha motors are notoriously underpowered.

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Old 10-24-18, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
Technically standard bikes have a motor as well - your legs. A mid-drive crank motor bike operates the same as a conventional bike; the motor just enables it to climb more efficiently. They don't force the rider to go faster; it's just an option. There's no need to harbor an ideological biases against an e-bike.

I have nothing against motorized transportation as along as you ride with cars, all for it if you make cars slow down. I have never seen anyone on an "e"-motorbike actually using the pedals. Soon new "e"-motorbikes will do away with the pedals, since most people don't actually pedal such a motorbike. Motorbikes on trails, motorbikes on bike paths, its already happening. Perhaps, the initial minority of people are respectful of bicycle riders, but in the US that will be replaced by the motorized masses young and old that choose to not bother with any sort of physical exertion.
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Old 10-24-18, 02:12 PM
  #23  
PedalingWalrus
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Most ebikes MUST use pedals to go forward and they are not the same as riding a moped. They are totally and almost the same as pedaling a bike because you need to pedal them :-) I personally have used ebikes but I do not enjoy them as much as a normal non assisted bicycle but they have a sense and purpose to be included with bicycles and not with mopeds.

Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
I have nothing against motorized transportation as along as you ride with cars, all for it if you make cars slow down. I have never seen anyone on an "e"-motorbike actually using the pedals. Soon new "e"-motorbikes will do away with the pedals, since most people don't actually pedal such a motorbike. Motorbikes on trails, motorbikes on bike paths, its already happening. Perhaps, the initial minority of people are respectful of bicycle riders, but in the US that will be replaced by the motorized masses young and old that choose to not bother with any sort of physical exertion.
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Old 10-24-18, 02:14 PM
  #24  
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In Baraboo, WI back in 2015 on my bike trip I bumped into a guy who was riding the perimeter of the US on an e-bike. He had already ridden from his place in FL along the southern US, up the west coast and had made it back to WI and was then heading up to ME before heading back down to FL to finish off the trip. I guess you could say he had proved it was a feasible concept. I'm not sure what weight range of ebike he was on so I won't try to quote that.
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Old 10-24-18, 03:44 PM
  #25  
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I saw people all over Europe touring on ebikes. Make sure you are areas you can take care of the power issue, they are fine. As stated, remote areas they may become a liability, but if I were to tour on one, I'd have limitless amount of places I could go and never worry abotu power.

Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
An e-bike has a motor, it is a misnomer, it is a motorbike. They are just another form of motorized transportation. Touring on a motorbike is comparable in size with touring on a motor-scooter. If you use motorized transportation, please stay out of bicycle ways.
Anyone who honestly makes an argument that touring on an ebike is more akin to touring on a motorcycle or a scooter than touring on a bike needs to really sit down and examine reality. If I were to stick an electronic motor and battery on my Mazama, it is still much closer to what it was than to my BMW F650GS.
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