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Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 1:45pm
by cbr shadow
I'm looking for advice on either a store-bought ebike, or else a kit that I can add to an existing bike (bike to be purchased used, likely) for my commute.

My commute is 14.5 miles with only 200' of climbing. I'm a pretty avid cyclist so a non-electric bike works fine, but I thought there's opportunity to go much faster with an ebike. So it needs to be powerful (30-35 mph average would be great), very reliable, and good value - I'd prefer not to spend $3000+ on this 'experiement'.
Also there is 3 miles of light gravel on this commute, but the rest is paved and almost no stops. I can also recharge at work and at home.

Any suggestions?

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 2:10pm
by billvon
cbr shadow wrote:
Feb 18 2020 1:45pm
So it needs to be powerful (30-35 mph average would be great), very reliable, and good value - I'd prefer not to spend $3000+ on this 'experiement'.
That's doable - but it is going to be hard to do it for less than $3000 unless you do most of the work yourself. 30mph average is going to take a LOT of energy, which means a large battery, which means $$. You could do the rest of the bike for around $1000 (BBS-HD or 2-3kW hub) but you are going to need a 1.5kWhr+ battery. And they run around $2K. That's $3K before you add the bike.

However, if you do the battery yourself you can save some $$, especially if you use salvaged cells. But that's a lot of work and the results of a mistake are rather dire (fire.)

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 4:05pm
by E-HP
cbr shadow wrote:
Feb 18 2020 1:45pm
I'm looking for advice on either a store-bought ebike, or else a kit that I can add to an existing bike (bike to be purchased used, likely) for my commute.

My commute is 14.5 miles with only 200' of climbing. I'm a pretty avid cyclist so a non-electric bike works fine, but I thought there's opportunity to go much faster with an ebike. So it needs to be powerful (30-35 mph average would be great), very reliable, and good value - I'd prefer not to spend $3000+ on this 'experiement'.
Also there is 3 miles of light gravel on this commute, but the rest is paved and almost no stops. I can also recharge at work and at home.

Any suggestions?
I'd spend some time playing with the simulator. I think 200 ft in a 14.5 mile commute is just noise (not presenting any particular challenge). I'm also guessing that you're willing to pedal a bit to extend the range. Here's a 9C hub motor, running a 20Ah 52volt pack, for example; but you can get the battery and hub motor kit, less bike, for between 6 to 8 humdred, depending on the quality of the battery cells used in the pack:
https://www.ebikes.ca/tools/simulator.h ... h&cont=C35

This gives you 25 mile range with no pedaling, so if you add 100W of human power, you extend that to 30.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 4:27pm
by flat tire
Cruising speed is much easier to calculate than average so we'll go by that in this post. Cruising speed of 30-35 mph is easily obtainable with so called generic 1000W chinese hubmotor kit. I think they will last 14 miles at that speed unless you live in a very hot climate..particularly if you pedal and have a forward leaning body position.

14.5 miles one way with a recharge at work and home means you can get by with a pretty small battery pack. 750Wh usable capacity would do the job even if you don't intend to pedal and aren't trying to be aerodynamic. That's well under 500, with more savings if you assemble yourself. You can either balance the cells individually, in banks with an RC charger, or automatically with a BMS. It's always a good idea to get the biggest battery you can afford, within reason.

You can add this stuff to a bike of your choice. Keep in mind you might want suspension at 35 mph unless your roads are perfectly smooth. Mountain bikes are a good choice for hub motor conversion.

Simple charging solution, you can get a cc/cv boost converter and DC power supply from amazon (or pc psu). Under $100.

Add some torque arms from Grin or whoever and you will have a pretty reliable setup. You could easily do all this for under $1K, maybe even including the bike if it's cheap. Keep in mind you won't have a great ebike setup, but you will have something that works and may be reasonably reliable with your oversight.

Store bought ebikes pretty much all represent awful value for money and aren't that great. Even if you're rich you will have to resort to a custom build to get a really badass bike.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 4:46pm
by cbr shadow
flat tire wrote:
Feb 18 2020 4:27pm
Cruising speed is much easier to calculate than average so we'll go by that in this post. Cruising speed of 30-35 mph is easily obtainable with so called generic 1000W chinese hubmotor kit. I think they will last 14 miles at that speed unless you live in a very hot climate..particularly if you pedal and have a forward leaning body position.

14.5 miles one way with a recharge at work and home means you can get by with a pretty small battery pack. 750Wh usable capacity would do the job even if you don't intend to pedal and aren't trying to be aerodynamic. That's well under 500, with more savings if you assemble yourself. You can either balance the cells individually, in banks with an RC charger, or automatically with a BMS. It's always a good idea to get the biggest battery you can afford, within reason.

You can add this stuff to a bike of your choice. Keep in mind you might want suspension at 35 mph unless your roads are perfectly smooth. Mountain bikes are a good choice for hub motor conversion.

Simple charging solution, you can get a cc/cv boost converter and DC power supply from amazon (or pc psu). Under $100.

Add some torque arms from Grin or whoever and you will have a pretty reliable setup. You could easily do all this for under $1K, maybe even including the bike if it's cheap. Keep in mind you won't have a great ebike setup, but you will have something that works and may be reasonably reliable with your oversight.

Store bought ebikes pretty much all represent awful value for money and aren't that great. Even if you're rich you will have to resort to a custom build to get a really badass bike.
Thanks guys for the advice so far - much appreciated. Agreed that the 30-35mph speeds are the top cruising speed, probably not "average" since it's mostly open but there are some little slowdown areas.
I do plan on using a mountain bike for this, or possibly a gravel bike (no suspension, larger volume tires than a road bike)

Above you mentioned "Keep in mind you wont have a great ebike setup, but you'll have something that works" what are the main compromises I'm making by being a cheapskate? :-) Are there any parts there are definitely worth getting that I'd be missing out on?
Thanks! - Ryan

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 5:20pm
by hrc
I commute 18k to work (each way) and until recently did it by a normal gravel bike. Recently I installed a 750w tsdz2 hub motor to my hardtail mtb and jumped to average 25-30km/hr to 38-42 km/hr on the emtb.
As you know aerodinamics is a huge issue once you get some speed, so a 750w hub motor (or more) on a gravel bike should be enough to go 40km/hr +. The more aero position makes a big difference.
With a 48v13Ah battery I can go 2 times to work.. so 70-75k.. (But I like to pedal).
I paid about 550 usd for a tsdz2+battery on pswpower.. sweet deal
Summarizing, if you want high speeds, can pedal and have a save road, aero riding position will help a lot (Go for the e-gravel bike)

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 5:52pm
by grindz145
[completely biased] I think my bike would be a good fit for you, check out the Maxwell Stoic, 1200 bucks, ready to go, I basically add air and plug it in and do very minimal maintenance, doesn't attract thieves, lightweight et all. Let me know if that's what you had in mind or not.

www.maxwellmotorbikes.com


[edit] nevermind, just saw that you said 30+ mph. You need to spend at least 2k, look at the juiced bikes scorpion S. That's probably in line with what you're looking for.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 6:15pm
by torker
I want a Scorpion. :D After 4 back surgeries I need plush. 28 mph on a bicycle is scary fast for me. It is really hard for me to relax above 20 mph. with all the people on cell phones now. And I'm almost 60 :o

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 6:46pm
by flat tire
cbr shadow wrote:
Feb 18 2020 4:46pm
Above you mentioned "Keep in mind you wont have a great ebike setup, but you'll have something that works" what are the main compromises I'm making by being a cheapskate? :-) Are there any parts there are definitely worth getting that I'd be missing out on?
Thanks! - Ryan
Literally everything on a low-budget build will be a compromise from the bicycle itself to the motor to the controller to the throttle to the battery to the bms to the charger to the display (or lack thereof).

As you ride and gain experience, you will see for yourself where you want improvements. You don't need any "upgrades" at first though.

But, to hypothesize:
Ideally your build would be something like a full suspension mountain bike with expensive dampers and powerful brakes, a domino throttle (don't underestimate the benefit in a high quality throttle, since it's your main interface to the bike AT ALL TIMES you are under power) a lag-free torque request motor controller (twist for how hard you want to go, not how fast...much less twitchy and easier to control) a badass battery with all the capacity you dream of and a high end BMS, high end automatic fast charger, a super high efficiency and powerful motor with special magnets, high temp wire and potting to protect it, and of course a cycle analyst or whatever display you want.

Above all keep in mind that you don't need any of that stuff to get moving and have fun. An inexpensive setup will do to get you started.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 7:11pm
by tigcross
I'm a pretty avid cyclist
If you have some knowledge of bikes to go with your interest, then I would suggest either converting one of your existing bikes to electric, or buying a good used bike and electrifying it. If you are in North America then I would suggest buying a wheel kit from Grin Tech https://www.ebikes.ca/ The site also has a lot if useful information that you might want to check out.

Grin also sells batteries, but if you're in the States you can get a better deal on a battery locally. Luna Cycle is a bit quirky sometimes but seems to be consistent on batteries. https://lunacycle.com/

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 8:28pm
by 2old
Agree with those advocating a 48V, 1000w rear hub motor on MTB. My YESCOM (or equivalent direct drive) system @ 52V will go 33mph (180 pound rider, no wind, flat terrain) and should be adequate for your relatively flat commute. Some individuals report 20,000 + miles with these systems. My battery is 10ah on the borderline for 15 miles @ 30 mph IMO. Also, roads in socal are great and I don't need suspension. The motor kit and battery cost about $600 five years ago ($600 - $700 now), and was installed on a mid-80's Schwinn High Sierra steel frame.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 18 2020 8:35pm
by markz
Store bought ebikes limit your speed, its the law, 20mph/32kph I believe is the limit. The law abidders over at www.MTBR.com forums know all the brown nose/rat info on laws and stock ebikes.

Build your own and you will be fine!
Its easy to do!

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 12:39am
by MikeSSS
Back in the distance pedaling days I lived on the aero bars. Love the drops too but for speed, comfort and distance aero bars were better for me and my riding buddy. We were faster on the bars.

Your commute sounds like great fun! For that ride I'd be looking at a gravel bike with drops, aero bars and panniers. The battery would be carried in the panniers. A suspension seatpost would be a good thing.

Aero bars: I used the kind that fold up when not in use, so they don't interfere with riding the hoods or drops. Besides folding, mine had widely spaced and elevated cups and thick foam on the pads.

The speed you mention will require a large big ring and small top gear cog. Toe clips or clipless pedals will make the ride easier by effortlessly keeping the feet on the pedals.

A motor with a low number of winds would be suited to the speed, I'd use a direct drive hub or maybe a mid drive. My 13s, 4p, 13.5ah, 48v battery would be inadequate for that kind of speed. 52v, 14s probably wouldn't do it either. 72v is my guess for a battery. For a given power use, higher voltage provides the power with fewer amps.

Like many mentioned, full suspension would be ideal, a FS frame with drop bars and aero bars would be great. The weight of a direct drive on the rear suspension would be a problem. If a mid drive could give the speed and reliability then that would be better. 1x10 or 1x11 drive trains should do this very well. Mounting panniers on a FS bike would be a trick, I use a seat post rack and it works well, but my speeds are 1/3 of your planned speed.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 1:07am
by flat tire
Aero bars are no bueno cuz you have way less control over the bike and the only reason people put up with them in human power TT and tri is because better solutions like fairings or recumbent geometry are against the rules. Aero bars would especially suck offroad.

It's a non issue here because you don't need that big of a battery to do 15 miles at 30-35 mph even without any aero optimization. And if you did want to optimize a fairing will give superior results.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 8:11am
by dogman dan
Hmm. 30 mph cruise bike easy peasy. 35, and assuming you mean to pedal at that speed, amazingly harder to pull off.

This is where I start saying get a small motorcycle, to a lot of first posters, those that are older, fatter, etc.

But you are an avid cyclist, likely still able to break or wear out chains. You need a fast e bike because you like riding pretty fast now. So it starts there with your bike selection. You need a fatter tire for that gravel part, so likely an mtb with a beach cruiser tire on it. 26 inch wheels. But most mtb's cant mount a 52 tooth front crank from a road bike. Sourcing a huge front ring that actually can mount on an mtb crank is also not so easy. But your starting point must be to look at the bike, and see how much clearance there is at the rear chain stay for a much larger front chainring. Once you find that, then your bike is doable, including pedaling along at 35 mph. But that one item is really your problem, even for pedaling along at 30 mph. Stuff like bars, and seats, etc are yours to choose to your liking. Me,, I like to sit up more and see that car trying to kill me on a commute. As a real cyclist, you know how important bike fit is, and make it fit you.

Now to the motor stuff. All you need is a relatively cheap direct drive 1000w motor kit, and 52v nominal voltage battery. 750 wh is enough, and the stock kits will cruise at 30 mph leaving the house, and 25 mph or so towards the end of the ride.

That's not your 35 mph, but you can get there later if you still want it. I still suggest limit out at 30 mph, using 52v stuff for now. Later on, you can upgrade the battery, the charger, and the controller to hit faster speeds. But many affordable, but not cheap ass mtb's are not so stable above 30 mph on pavement, so I suggest you try a year at 30 mph, before you opt for more speed. and then maybe,,, opt for a motorcycle after all.

I don't commute anymore, but I still ride my e bikes.. I love my ebikes, even after one burned my house down. But when I go 40 mph+ I do it on a very very affordable 85 mph capable scooter. I just find the e bikes really shine at 25 mph or less. To go faster the bike lane does not cut it anymore. So full of sharp garbage you can't see going 35 mph. So I get in the lane, and do the speed limit on the scooter. At my house, that's 45 mph or more to keep up with the cagers.

But what I just said is not the only way. When I choose to, I can hit 40 mph on a modified beach cruiser. ( put a 72v controller on it) It does start to speed wobble at about 35 mph, but at these speeds its a moped, you stop pedaling this bike at about 25 mph. Oddly enough, a vintage 52 tooth front ring from a Schwinn vastity bolts right on a modern Schwinn beach cruiser. Mostly, I ride this bike to a grocery, 5 miles away, and 25 mph and still pedaling is the mode. I lengthened the bike, and added 7 rear gears and disk brakes. Longtails make great commuters, because they can carry the grub home, and carry bigger batteries. They don't need suspension because of the location of the seat is away from the rear wheel.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 10:15am
by www.recumbents.com
I had a similar commute (15 miles round trip, in and out of a river valley each way). A 20Ah x 50V nominal battery (60V charged) and a decent hub motor as described by 2old will work great. I went to work and back without charging and cruised at about 30 using a BMC "600 watt" geared hub on a dual suspension mountain bike with street tires. It drew up to about 2000 watts up steep hills. I'd recommend a steel bike with at least a mid-range front suspension and disk brakes for that speed. Dual suspension is better.

Warren

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 11:25am
by E-HP
When I first started riding my ebike, I learned two things right away. First was how fun they are to ride. The second, on my second ride, is that I never want to fix a flat while on a ride. Something to consider if you’re just starting out and selecting a bike. Range anxiety for me is never about the battery, it’s worrying about a flat 25 miles from home. Choose a bike with rims that can support good thick/heavy tires. If you’re going with skinny tires, go with mid drive.


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Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 7:35pm
by cbr shadow
Let me know if you guys think this is a good idea:

- Full suspension OR hardtail mountain bike (used from Craigslist)
- I'd like to add 'drop bars' to this bike eventually. I know this complicates things to make a 'frankenbike' but I like the idea
- I'd also like to add smoother tires for better efficiency
- Bafang BBSHD motor kit with 48v or 52v battery (bottle cage mounted)


Order this kit + battery once I pick a bike
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RX ... th=1&psc=1

Will this be a reasonably reliable setup? Will the battery capacity (17.5ahrs) be enough? It looks like these are all 48v not 52v, so I'm guessing it may make sense to source the battery somewhere else.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 7:55pm
by flat tire
You are on the right track. The 17.5 Ah battery will probably be about dead when you finish your one-way ride so keep that in mind. 48v top voltage is 41v nominal, giving a capacity a little over 700 Wh. That's the bare minimum for your task, and you may need to slow down to make your trip especially as the battery breaks in and provides closer to 85% of rated capacity.

Mid vs hub motor:

The mid drive like you have linked will handle much better offroad but will require more maintenance, makes noise (hub motors are nearly silent with sinewave drive), and probably has less thermal capacity for high speed riding.

If you're not actually riding hard offroad, or riding fast over lots of bumps, the handling advantage of a mid drive will be nonexistent.

Keep in mind, DIY you could make yourself an equivalent build with a 1000W hubmotor and 50% bigger battery for 2/3 the price. Or for the same price, twice the battery.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 19 2020 8:42pm
by E-HP
cbr shadow wrote:
Feb 19 2020 7:35pm
Let me know if you guys think this is a good idea:

- Full suspension OR hardtail mountain bike (used from Craigslist)
- I'd like to add 'drop bars' to this bike eventually. I know this complicates things to make a 'frankenbike' but I like the idea
- I'd also like to add smoother tires for better efficiency
- Bafang BBSHD motor kit with 48v or 52v battery (bottle cage mounted)


Order this kit + battery once I pick a bike
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RX ... th=1&psc=1

Will this be a reasonably reliable setup? Will the battery capacity (17.5ahrs) be enough? It looks like these are all 48v not 52v, so I'm guessing it may make sense to source the battery somewhere else.
The battery in the kit puzzles to me. The Samsung 35ET cells, based on Googling the info, are protected button top cells, which seems unusual for building a battery pack, since in a pack, you'd usually rely on a BMS for protection. Most packs are built with flat top unprotected cells (no embedded chip).

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 20 2020 1:35am
by MadRhino
There is one data missing here: stops.

If you can ride your commute route continuously, there is no problem with 30 mph average, but if you are going to stop on red lights and stop signs, achieving this average speed does require a much faster bike.

In a populated area, with traffic and all stops required, I can maintain 30 mph average. Yet I wouldn’t call it cruising, with hard accelerations, some up to 60 mph. Some days, I can’t do it that fast because of the traffic and road conditions, for it would be suicidal.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 20 2020 7:32am
by dogman dan
More suspension better, unless its cheap sucky suspension.

No, you aren't going to average 30 mph, unless you cruise 40, in any city.

I wont knock the mid drive, but my advice to use a rear direct drive hub motor for your particular commute remains the same. I speak from 5 years of e bike commuting. Durability, quietest, least maintenance, and the ability to hop it up to a 40 mph bike with 72v later.. Can't do that with the mid drive. My years of e bike commute is part of why I tend to say get a motorcycle at a certain point, where the rider wants more than 30 mph, and reliability.

The mid drive does have one advantage though, you could more easily fix a rear wheel flat, or even have dirt wheels for weekend trail rides.

DONT ride a city commute in the drop bars. Ride with your head up, and look for the car trying to kill you. Or the dumbass on his phone walking out into your path. Get over it! Its a commute ride, not a race, nor a training ride. NOBODY thinks you are going that fast on a bike. They will right cross you all the way to work and back, every day.

weight don't matter anymore with a powerful very fast motor, or aero. so drop the drop bars.

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 20 2020 12:43pm
by cbr shadow
dogman dan wrote:
Feb 20 2020 7:32am
More suspension better, unless its cheap sucky suspension.

No, you aren't going to average 30 mph, unless you cruise 40, in any city.

I wont knock the mid drive, but my advice to use a rear direct drive hub motor for your particular commute remains the same. I speak from 5 years of e bike commuting. Durability, quietest, least maintenance, and the ability to hop it up to a 40 mph bike with 72v later.. Can't do that with the mid drive. My years of e bike commute is part of why I tend to say get a motorcycle at a certain point, where the rider wants more than 30 mph, and reliability.

The mid drive does have one advantage though, you could more easily fix a rear wheel flat, or even have dirt wheels for weekend trail rides.

DONT ride a city commute in the drop bars. Ride with your head up, and look for the car trying to kill you. Or the dumbass on his phone walking out into your path. Get over it! Its a commute ride, not a race, nor a training ride. NOBODY thinks you are going that fast on a bike. They will right cross you all the way to work and back, every day.

weight don't matter anymore with a powerful very fast motor, or aero. so drop the drop bars.
I really appreciate the advice from everyone so far. This forum is so helpful!
I'm now convinced on doing a rear direct drive hub motor per your recommendations. It's less discrete looking, but it's quiet and more reliable. Is there an 'easy' kit that I can install on a common used gravel bike? I'd like to avoid having a custom wiring harness built, custom controller, etc. Ideally I'd get a wheel that is already built and ready to go (700c road wheel, lots of spokes, 11 speed) if it's a gravel bike. Same goes for a dual suspension mountain bike, but different sized wheel of course.

The only benefit I see to getting a gravel bike over a mountain bike is that it would be more "believable" that I'd be going 30mph on the gravel bike. I don't think police in this area are very strict on ebikes though.

The commute luckily has only 1 stop. I hop on a paved bike trail that runs next to a river and takes me all the way to a long bridge with a protected/flat/open bike lane that has very few other cyclists on it.
It seems like there are a lot of people on the forum in my area so I'll post a link to the route, but it's from Fremont, CA to Menlo Park, CA and goes over the Dumbarton Bridge.

So which direct drive motor would you recommend, and which controller?

Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 20 2020 12:51pm
by E-HP
cbr shadow wrote:
It seems like there are a lot of people on the forum in my area so I'll post a link to the route, but it's from Fremont, CA to Menlo Park, CA and goes over the Dumbarton Bridge.
Facebook?



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Re: Best Value fast ebike for my commute?

Posted: Feb 20 2020 1:44pm
by cbr shadow
E-HP wrote:
Feb 20 2020 12:51pm
cbr shadow wrote:
It seems like there are a lot of people on the forum in my area so I'll post a link to the route, but it's from Fremont, CA to Menlo Park, CA and goes over the Dumbarton Bridge.
Facebook?



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Yep Facebook. I'll be able to secure the bike indoors and charge the battery for the ride home.