Looking to buy an e-bike

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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Kinoss   100 µW

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Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 01 2010 2:43pm

Hello! I've been looking around the internet at various e-bikes and kits and I saw a comment somewhere about this site as a good place for help.

I have an older pedal bike at home. A friend of mine found it on the side of the road and gave it to me since I was looking for one. It was all mangled up. Brakes didnt work, tires were leaking, and the rims were bent up. I was able to fix it up a little to the point that I was able to use it regularly. The brakes are still not very good and the wheels squeak a lot. I used to exercise on it regularly a few months back, but I've been procrastinating :oops: .

Anyways, I've been looking for ways to save money to help pay the bills and such. One large expense I have is gas for my car, which is usually about $120 a month. So I tried biking to work. I did it a couple times, but it takes so much time and I'm usually sweaty when I get there. Then I thought how nice it would be if I could attach a motor to my bike to give it a bit of a push. So I did a bit of Google-ing and here I am.

At first I was looking at kits to upgrade my bike, but now I think I just need a new bike. A lot of the sites I've been to show e-bikes over a thousand dollars. I am on a budget and would like a cheapo e-bike, but I would still like it to last me a while and not break down after a few months of driving to work every day. Round trip is just about 20 miles, and I live in florida so its all pretty flat too. Although I do have to get over a bridge. I would like to not spend much over $500. I found this on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Trailz-E ... s_sg_1_img Is that any good? Oh and I'm around 170lbs.

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by jmygann » Oct 01 2010 3:24pm

48 V Semi-recumbent

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Drunkskunk   100 GW

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Drunkskunk » Oct 01 2010 3:33pm

Welcome to the forum.

That Currie Ezip is an amazing bike for the price. Its the older sibling to the iZip, but still a compeditive bike, especialy for the price.

Things to be aware of. The motor is loud. you won't be sneaking up on anyone. Its not obnoxious, but its not stealth quiet either. It might get you 20 miles, but thats going to be under ideal conditions. Pack your charger and charge up for the return trip. The battery is the weak link. The bike should last a long time but the battery will need an upgrade eventualy.

But everything has weak links. We don't sugar coat things on the forum, so there's the down side.

On the up side, its one of only 2 prebuilt bikes I'd recomend at any price range. and the other is a $2500 A2B
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by LI-ghtcycle » Oct 01 2010 6:56pm

I don't know what else is available, but I know of a shop that sells lots of those EZip bikes, and they have a good reputation, but I would still strongly suggest that if your going to be commuting and putting lots of miles on the bike, don't go cheap, save up and ride the bike you have until you have enough for a good quality bike and add a good kit to it.

If I were in your shoes, I would look around and see if either you have a local bike shop or other shop that sells E-Bikes, and get one built up from a quality bicycle that you can find very reasonable price like a 90's Trek or other major brand.

I don't know about your area, but I find amazing deals on Craig's List, my best yet is a Trek 830 (Crome Molly Steel frame, nothing tougher!) with high-end clip-on pedals for $20. I then had only to spend another $40 to make that bike perfect for E-Bike use.

The most expensive part of any good E-Bike is it's battery. If your budget is really tight, you can always go cheap on the battery and then up-grade in a couple years when SLA's generally start to go south.

I helped put together a brand new bike with one of Oatnet's Tidalforce Frames, and it was sold for $850:

http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewto ... 31&t=19763

I know you are on the East Coast, but I can't believe you can't find someone local who would help (maybe just a friend if you're not feeling up to it) and just look at builds here, you can definitely build it for yourself for MUCH cheaper.

Just remember, if you buy a cheap anything, you will in the end have to replace the cheap components, and that is what is the main difference from a cheap bike to a bike shop bike, and you will be much happier in the long run. A cheap bike will never shift right even when it's new compared to a good quality shop grade bike. My father had me build him a very cheap E-Bike from a Magna bike, and now that he has Up-graded to a much newer and nicer Giant, it's all the difference in the world for him. Don't get me wrong, I used to buy the cheap bikes and now that I know better, I am soooooo much happier on the good stuff, I won't even buy a cheap bike anymore. :wink: Brakes are another issue! Some of the cheaper bikes have plastic brake levers that bend so much the brakes are almost worthless as just a regular bicycle, now add another 60 - 80lbs of E-Bike battery and motor and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Now if you were just saying you wanted to tootle around once in a while on a week-end, and the bike would see the garage more than the street, then I would say go ahead and buy a cheap E-Bike, but I still think in the long run you will be much happier if you just get quality.

Check in our for sale forums, you might find someone near you that has something just like what you're needing for sale!
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by dnmun » Oct 01 2010 11:41pm

$120/mth is a lot. is that how much most people are spending on gas? i am in the $20-25/mth range, but i'm a retired hermit too.

if you got the gas cost down to $25-40/mth then you could use the extra cash to build a bike up. but just the battery will cost you $500, and another $300-400 for motor and controller. first order simple estimate.

for florida, i guess you have $200-300/mth air conditioning induced electric bills too. i work on keeping the electric in the $30/mth range and gas too until the winter but that only adds another $60 for gas and $25 for electric heaters. 4 girls and me total. never had air conditioning here.

if you can cut your car expenses by carpooling to work, and eliminating extra trips that would get you part way in the cost cutting. can you capitalize a smaller car? just going from 18mpg to 33-35 would get you halfway almost, so you would have to calculate how to amortize that cost of capital but then you are in a better long term position to handle the gas costs.

but these are really lifetime decisions. but in my opinion, the hot places like the south, where it is flat mostly offer the best options for ebikes because the motion provides some cooling without the energy of pedaling so much. so people would ride an ebike, where they would not ride a regular bike, imo.

the big problem as always is cars and how to keep from getting run over by them. it would help if they raised the cost of gas to $8-10 like in europe to force change now before we run outa oil. carpooling works, see if that will help break the cost for you and use the savings to get ahead of the coming oil shortage. thank god the crude contract is back up to $82. i'm praying for $120 again.

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by rebelpilot » Oct 02 2010 12:05am


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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by spinningmagnets » Oct 02 2010 2:17am


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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Lessss » Oct 02 2010 6:25am

1st decision Legal or illegal
2nd decision Pre-built or retrofit
3rd decision Range
4th decision Budget
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by dingoEsride » Oct 02 2010 7:35am

Not a lot of specs on that e-zip bike but for the money I don't think you could go wrong and as drunkskunk mentioned the battery may need to be soonly replaced but a good sturdy looking bike that you can still pedal along the way to increase range as with going for a kit, make sure you have half decent bike some mechanical skills and get one that has lifpo4 battery
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Ykick   100 GW

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Ykick » Oct 02 2010 7:50am

Post a pic of your bike or link photo to similar one and we could better advise if you have a good conversion candidate or not? Another angle is Craigslist or garage sales - once you know what's what for a kit build you could find a suitable starting platform for under $100.

There are some decent looking complete eBikes out there and more coming all the time. Maybe you can find a Diamond in the rough for $500 range - but even that will surely need some battery upgrade for 20 mile/day service? Probably other components as well. if you can charge at work don't hesitate to get an extra charger and just leave one in each location. It's always good to have a spare charger anyway.

The better complete eBikes seem to be in the $1000-$2000 range and even those probably leave much to be desired. However, once you get up on the learning curve and survive some miles on the roads, in traffic, you'll know what works best for you and what doesn't.

As my learned friends have mentioned - the KEY to freedom from the high cost of Oil is the battery pack. Advertised ranges for complete eBikes are just ADVERTISEMENTS. Real commuting range is almost always about 1/2 that number, if lucky.

For me - the most satisfying, educational and enjoyable aspect of this pursuit has been the amount of knowledge I've garnered regarding Battery technology.

Even if you don't go down the Lipo chemistry path (which many of us have) you will do yourself a HUGE favor by introducing yourself to the RC (radio controlled model airplane/helicopter) battery technologies. That's where you will find lightweight & powerful products, components and knowledge to take us places we've never gone before.

I think you'll do yourself more of a favor building your own eBike because in most cases - that's where you'll be for maintenance/repair anyway. And, you will need maintenance/repair. It's a little different method of transportation but great once you get everything in place and you can reap the many benefits.

Many of us have probably started with the 1qty bike premise and as of now I can count 5 working plus 2 non-working on hiatus bikes laying around. Spares are good thing and some bike styles simply work better for other things - it takes experience to understand but it's really a great technology to wrap our heads around.

I repeat, solve the battery formula and you may someday learn to change bikes like changing socks. I have a grocery hauler, commuter, beach cruiser, standup scooter, etc. - but they can all run from the same battery pack(s). Battery and charging equipment is a large investment but once you have it, understand it and know how to take care of it - you'll save a lot more than the $120/month you currently give to the oil companies.

Enjoy and good luck!
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by veloman » Oct 02 2010 12:09pm

I'd recommend getting something that CAN move if you need it to. If you stick to the 20mph limit, you will yourself in a situation someday where you wished you could be going 28mph due to traffic.

The law will never cure your injuries, remember that.

More important than top speed, is acceleration. If you do get something that sticks to the 20mph limit, make sure it can get there, FAST.


IMO, you need to be able to go 0-20mph in 4 seconds to be safe in stop and go traffic with cars. At least then you can get up to speed quickly to get through an intersection and not have cars riding you as you putter at 14mph.
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Kinoss   100 µW

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 04 2010 10:13pm

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions! I've been convinced that I need to build my own e-bike and that it will serve me better in the long run. Seeing as how much I spend on gas, I can afford to spend a bit extra. I'll be able to recover my losses quickly by not spending 100+ on gas.

I don't know how clear I was, but I am a complete noob when it comes to bikes. I can put the chain back on and fiddle with the brakes so that they work better, but more than that I dont know much. I am willing to learn though. I do love problem solving and gadgets so I don't see why this can't be fun too.

I have a "Raleigh Pointe" 18 speed mountain bike. Googleing that seems to show results for a late 80's or early 90's bike.

I tried looking through craigslist to see what they had for "Trek" bikes and there were a lot of results with all sorts of model numbers that mean nothing to me. If anyone thinks they can find the perfect bike for me just google "Spacecoast craigslist" thats the region I'm in. It looks like there are a lot of nice deals in my area, but there's just too many choices and I'm a deal hunter that doesnt know what the best game is.

Kinoss   100 µW

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 06 2010 11:39am

Any suggestions? I found a Trek 820 on Craigslist for $150, but there were also newer models for sale as well. Just unsure of what a good base to start from is. There was even someone offering a free Trek bike, and from the description it seems that its rusty and needs a lot of work. Like I said earlier though, just check out "Spacecoast Craigslist" on google and that will link to craigslist for my regional area.

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Drunkskunk   100 GW

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Drunkskunk » Oct 06 2010 12:29pm

Kinoss wrote:Any suggestions?
The bike you have should be fine. A 9C rear motor will mount a 6 speed rear cluster just fine, and your bike is an 18 speed, so it uses a 6 speed rear cluster.
Its almost a certainty that it will be old enough to have a steel front fork, meaning a novice can handle a front motor, if you chose. (check it with a magnet first)

Another bike would be fine, but your bike fits with what most people here will recommend: Steel framed mountain bikes with a conventional triangle frame design.
Besides, if you take that $150 or so you would have spent on another bike, and spend it on maintenance of the bike you have now, you'll have a bucket load more experience and skill working on bikes. Ignoring the benefit to your bike its self, you'll be better prepared to install a motor kit.

And for learning about working on your bike: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by neptronix » Oct 06 2010 12:50pm

I'll tell ya this. You can build your own eBike for around $700-$800, maybe even less. Cell_man has a cheap geared motor kit. ( see the for sale section here on the boards ) That is a good place to start for a budget build.

The eZips are okay for the price. But expect a Chinese quality bike, that is so heavy that it is almost impossible to carry, with lead acid batteries that last maybe 2 years at most. It's definitely a starter bike, but sort of a throwaway since ALL the components are super low quality.

I've ridden the golden motors Magic pie and was not impressed at all. I do not like the controller at all.. heavy motor.. kinda low quality.. and slow. A step up from the eZip, but very meh.
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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 13 2010 8:32am

I'm thinking of getting CellMan's 500W DD for my rear wheel. I assume this will fit on my bike? From reading his post it seems I'll probably also be buying a 36v battery. Any suggestions on battery? I see a lot of batteries for sale here, but I don't understand a lot of whats being sold. I dont want SLA, and would prefer LiFePO4 or something similar.

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 14 2010 10:27am

Oh, and I would like to be able to travel to and from work in a single charge. Otherwise I'll need to buy a separate charger to be kept at work. Round trip is roughly 21 miles. I was reading the forums for similar issues and someone suggested that a battery with 15 amps would work. I live in Florida and its really flat where I am. Except for a bridge I have to cross, but its not too steep.

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by busted_bike » Oct 14 2010 11:37am

36V * 15Ah is probably about right if you plan on minimal pedaling to assist the motor. I have a 36V*12Ah battery and a 16.5mi (one way) commute to work. I keep a charger at home and at work.

If you plan on pedaling hard, you can probably get away with a smaller battery (lighter, lower cost). For my part, if I use the motor aggressively and pedal hard to assist, I usually wind up using ~6Ah for the trip at an average speed of ~20MPH. If I reduce my average speed to ~17MPH by using the motor less (and pedaling the same amount), I use as little as 3Ah for the trip. If / when I manage to wear out my current battery pack, I'll probably go with something smaller (like 8Ah).

I'd definitely recommend Li-Ion as opposed to SLA. You'll get much less than the rated capacity out of SLA. The weight is also a killer - I have my battery mounted on the rear rack (not optimal), and when I initially tried SLA, I found it made the tail end of the bike really squirreley when I hit the brakes.

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Re: Looking to buy an e-bike

Post by Kinoss » Oct 15 2010 11:09am

I've been searching the web and the best deal I could find, apart from going to ebay, was this:

http://www.batteryspace.com/lfp26650bat ... -bike.aspx

Anyone have comments on this battery? I need around 400 Watt-hours to do what I want, and this comes close without being too expensive, but maybe there's a better deal out there I'm missing. I saw a few batteries on ebay for only 250-300 USD, but I'm not sure how those compare to this. Is it safe to buy a battery on ebay? Thanks for all the help so far.

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