Recommendations for first ebike

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
chonger91   1 mW

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Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 05 2017 10:46pm

So I was working from home pretty much every day the past year, but suddenly I have a new boss that wants me in the office everyday. Parking downtown is too expensive and the bus is a real drag man. The though of riding an ebike to work is exciting to me, so here I am!

I was hoping I could get some recommendations for a cheap build, so I've included some details below:

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Rider weight: 130lbs
Desired range: 15mi
Terrain: Flat/Paved (EDIT: riding on bike trail along river, no hills in my commute)
Desired max speed: whatever my budget allows, I enjoy speed
Max range at cruising speed: 15mi at 15mph 15mi at 20mph with sprints up to 35mph (I don't mind pedaling some)
Wheel size: 26" (no disk brake)
Budget: around $500 $500-$700

I was considering this bike to build from:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/26-Schwinn-S ... tual_color


I'll be using my wife's raleigh venture 3.0 for now and upgrading the bike down the road.

I purchased an older trek hybrid on craigslist for $120.

I'm looking at rear wheel hub motors, but I'm not sure what size to go with. Pretty set on the 48v 1000w rear hub kits from ebay at this point. I'm really lost when it comes to batteries, any suggestions would be appreciated. Depending on the portability of the batteries, I may have the option of charging them at work reducing my required range to 7.5 miles.

Thanks!
Last edited by chonger91 on Apr 18 2017 8:35pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by Chalo » Apr 06 2017 1:02am

Your budget would just barely cover a basic new bike that's good enough to ride every day without lots of breakdowns and disappointments. It won't cover a decent used bike (or a horrible new bike), plus a motor, plus a battery. Not even for your very modest performance requirements. Sorry.

If all you can muster is 500 clams, spend it on a nice quality, lightweight used pedal bike. Trying to get an electric assist bike running on that sort of budget will buy you some memorable experiences​, but not the good kind.
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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by OneJohn » Apr 06 2017 4:47am

I used to commute around 12km (7.5mi) each way on a basic pedal commuter bike. To cruise at 24km/h (15mph) by pedal alone isn't hard with moderate fitness, though the average speed may be a bit less after taking stops into account. For this sort of commute on flat ground I wouldn't bother with electrics. It adds quite a bit of cost, complexity and overheads with battery removal, charging etc. I'd be looking at putting a good bit of that $500 into a decent commuter bike. It all adds up after you add in things like mudguards, rack, pannier bag, lights, good brakes etc.

I'm looking at going electric now, because my commute is now double that distance, and I want to take a 1 hour trip each way by pedal down to the 45 minute mark or less. I plan to do that with a Q100cst rear hub motor from BMS battery with a 36V 11.6Ah battery. It's a 350W motor, but if I limit it to 200W to meet local regulations, it will allow me to go from 27km/h (17mph) at pedal alone up to about 37km/h (23mph) with electric assistance. To do this I'll use a fast motor wind, which won't be usable without reasonably strong pedalling. Alternatively, with a slower motor wind, a similar motor could replace the rider to require no pedalling for the speed that a fit rider could do pedal alone. You need to decide the level of pedal input to work out which motor configuration and battery voltage to get. This is at the cheap end, and this kit of parts is going to set me back somewhere around $US600 once delivered, and I still need to get a rim, spokes and lace it all together. I'd say that including a bike, $US1000 is about entry level into electrification.

To work out what else you can do with more power, go to the ebikes.ca simulator, take a look at the load line. This one says how much power is needed for a given speed - it doesn't depend on the motor and controllers chosen. There you'll see that 160W gives you 24km/h (15mph) on a mountain bike. This is about what a reasonably fit adult will pedal at. 500W on that same bike will get up to about 37km/h (23mph), or 1000W to 48km/h (30mph). You really get diminishing returns as you add in more power. Motors aren't all that expensive as you go up in power, but batteries that will handle the high power flows will cost $$$.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by Philaphlous » Apr 06 2017 7:21am

Downtown Pittsburgh and you're riding on flat roads only?...you must live in the city? IIRC, driving through downtown and visiting...downtown is surrounded by hills...

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 06 2017 8:10am

Sorry, I'm just not interested in a pedal bike only. I did that before on this commute (with a very light roadbike) and I arrived to work so sweaty. Pittsburgh gets very hot and humid in the summer and it quickly stopped being enjoyable pedaling that distance (and then arriving at work). Also, after biking like that for several months I was still barely able to keep an average speed of 12mph with the headwinds. I would like to cut that commute time down and reduce/eliminate pedaling.

The reason I'm not needing power for hills is I'm taking the paved bike trail along the river for the entire commute.

If anyone else has suggestions, even if I need to raise my budget somewhat, please share. Thank you.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 06 2017 8:14am

OneJohn wrote:I used to commute around 12km (7.5mi) each way on a basic pedal commuter bike. To cruise at 24km/h (15mph) by pedal alone isn't hard with moderate fitness, though the average speed may be a bit less after taking stops into account. For this sort of commute on flat ground I wouldn't bother with electrics. It adds quite a bit of cost, complexity and overheads with battery removal, charging etc. I'd be looking at putting a good bit of that $500 into a decent commuter bike. It all adds up after you add in things like mudguards, rack, pannier bag, lights, good brakes etc.

I'm looking at going electric now, because my commute is now double that distance, and I want to take a 1 hour trip each way by pedal down to the 45 minute mark or less. I plan to do that with a Q100cst rear hub motor from BMS battery with a 36V 11.6Ah battery. It's a 350W motor, but if I limit it to 200W to meet local regulations, it will allow me to go from 27km/h (17mph) at pedal alone up to about 37km/h (23mph) with electric assistance. To do this I'll use a fast motor wind, which won't be usable without reasonably strong pedalling. Alternatively, with a slower motor wind, a similar motor could replace the rider to require no pedalling for the speed that a fit rider could do pedal alone. You need to decide the level of pedal input to work out which motor configuration and battery voltage to get. This is at the cheap end, and this kit of parts is going to set me back somewhere around $US600 once delivered, and I still need to get a rim, spokes and lace it all together. I'd say that including a bike, $US1000 is about entry level into electrification.

To work out what else you can do with more power, go to the ebikes.ca simulator, take a look at the load line. This one says how much power is needed for a given speed - it doesn't depend on the motor and controllers chosen. There you'll see that 160W gives you 24km/h (15mph) on a mountain bike. This is about what a reasonably fit adult will pedal at. 500W on that same bike will get up to about 37km/h (23mph), or 1000W to 48km/h (30mph). You really get diminishing returns as you add in more power. Motors aren't all that expensive as you go up in power, but batteries that will handle the high power flows will cost $$$.
Thanks you've given me some things to consider.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by docw009 » Apr 06 2017 8:28am

Well, there are some big hills in Pittsburgh especially around the Mariott, and I bet they haven't gone away since we were last there in 1998. My wife wouldn't drive my stick shift car thru town. If the OP says it's flat, well OK.

Good advice though to buy a good lightweight bike and ride in on nice days. Take the bus when it rains or gets cold. Impress the new boss, get more money, and go electric later.

Regarding the low end bikes, the world, even the USA, is full of poor folks who have get to work on beater bikes. Doesn't mean you have to do so, but low end ebikes can work if you can deal with the tradeoffs. All my ebikes were pretty inexpensive, and my first one was under $500 for motor and battery.

If missing the 9AM conference call gets you fired though, you do want to make sure your transport is reliable.

If all you care about is the commute, and not the fun of riding a lightweight pedal assist, I think the low cost $200 direct drive 1000W kits on ebay plus a $500 battery/charger will get you to work at high speeds w/o sweating. Never owned a DD, ,but some users claim thousands of miles.I believe you're dead in the water if the electrics fail, as they don't pedal well.

.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 06 2017 8:49am

Pittsburgh is very hilly. My commute however, is flat (trail along river). I expect to take the bike 3 days a week, since I'll be home 1 day a week and we get a fair amount of rain. I would retire it during the winter months. Like you said I'll take the bus when it rains/gets cold.

I do have some flexibility if I'm late. Of course its not ideal.

I'll look into a better quality bike. The 1000w 48V Rear Hub kits seemed like a good option, I just have no idea what battery to go with given my needs. I don't think my needs are super demanding, so I don't want to spend more than I need to on the battery.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by Ykick » Apr 06 2017 9:03am

1st thing, always pay attention to what Chalo says about bicycles.

2nd thing, your budget and expectations are simply unrealistic, IMO. $1000-$1500 can get you into a legit DIY commuter. Anything less is up to the resourcefulness of the individual but unfortunately when you don’t know much about the topic, it’s too easy to make rookie mistakes which may cost even more in the long run….
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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by tln » Apr 06 2017 9:27am

chonger91 wrote:Pittsburgh is very hilly. My commute however, is flat (trail along river). I expect to take the bike 3 days a week, since I'll be home 1 day a week and we get a fair amount of rain. I would retire it during the winter months. Like you said I'll take the bus when it rains/gets cold.

I do have some flexibility if I'm late. Of course its not ideal.

I'll look into a better quality bike. The 1000w 48V Rear Hub kits seemed like a good option, I just have no idea what battery to go with given my needs. I don't think my needs are super demanding, so I don't want to spend more than I need to on the battery.
This style makes for ideal commuter bikes. Safe lockable removable and easy to add to lots of bikes.

https://lunacycle.com/batteries/packs/4 ... hark-pack/

You can go down the hobby lipo route and maybe save a few bucks but there are hidden risks and costs.

1000w kit is a good choice for your needs. Good job scoping out your requirements!

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 07 2017 2:14am

tln wrote:
This style makes for ideal commuter bikes. Safe lockable removable and easy to add to lots of bikes.

https://lunacycle.com/batteries/packs/4 ... hark-pack/

You can go down the hobby lipo route and maybe save a few bucks but there are hidden risks and costs.

1000w kit is a good choice for your needs. Good job scoping out your requirements!
I like this option. The 48v Panasonic 11.5ah Luna battery, what max speed/range could I expect paired with the 48v 1000w rear hub?

This battery (and better bike) would raise my budget quite a bit, but may be worth it in the long run.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by tln » Apr 07 2017 4:16am

chonger91 wrote:
I like this option. The 48v Panasonic 11.5ah Luna battery, what max speed/range could I expect paired with the 48v 1000w rear hub?

This battery (and better bike) would raise my budget quite a bit, but may be worth it in the long run.
You can figure that from wh/mile such as listed in this thread

https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 28&t=61167

25wh/mile would give you about 20 miles. 15wh/mile gives you 33 miles. I bet you could average either depending on throttle use!

Look for some build threads using your exact kit if you can to get more realistic numbers especially on speed to expect

I'm guessing you will need to charge at work or risk running your battery out everyday which isn't good.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 07 2017 11:06pm

tln wrote:
chonger91 wrote:
I like this option. The 48v Panasonic 11.5ah Luna battery, what max speed/range could I expect paired with the 48v 1000w rear hub?

This battery (and better bike) would raise my budget quite a bit, but may be worth it in the long run.
You can figure that from wh/mile such as listed in this thread

https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 28&t=61167

25wh/mile would give you about 20 miles. 15wh/mile gives you 33 miles. I bet you could average either depending on throttle use!

Look for some build threads using your exact kit if you can to get more realistic numbers especially on speed to expect

I'm guessing you will need to charge at work or risk running your battery out everyday which isn't good.
Thanks for the info! What is the general consensus of lithium batteries from aliexpress? I found this one:

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/produc ... 0.0.tYk4e7

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by tln » Apr 09 2017 1:44pm

My personal experience is buy quality or buy twice!

That battery is not very powerful. Only 15A. Battery should be able to handle whatever your controller can draw. The battery I linked is 30A at least if Im reading it right

Also you lose out on a nice case. Mounting that brick in a triangle could be hard. Way better to have your battery in a triangle.

I would recommend sticking with well respected vendors be they in China or US! Just search the forums...

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by LockH » Apr 09 2017 3:44pm

Hi Philly... Toronto here (Steel frames rule!) Hehe

Nobuddy has brought up that ED thingee (the Ebike Disease)... where ya start riding more than "usual"? Or riding further than "usual"... How "regular" routes may be "flat", but then along somes some hills...

Can suggest you size the battery as "bigger" than you thought you need? (EG, will power for X distances when "fresh"/new, but EVentually maybe not so far... EG in colder temps?)

And I LOVE the DIY folks! So, got lots of tools? Like to "fiddle" with "stuff"? Anyway... Last time I checked, locally one can finance the purchase of one new electric bike (with a thing "good credit rating") where monthly payments about HALF of watt it costs for a monthly pass on pubic transit (sp?) So this route usually gets you some warranty and support included in the cost to purchase...

I've actually been reading news reports from... somewhere... where an employer actually does the financing then deducts payments off paychecks? Just a thought. `Case that "new boss" wants to do something "Eco-Friendly" for your company?

One other thing? When Alt-Reality Sphere first started up so many years ago, "ebikes" were sorta a "rare" thingee... But these daze more and more companies are getting into the act. EVen Euro "car" manufacturers...

I just posted news today:
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 5#p1278636

... where a bike chain manufacturer in Taipan is quoted "leading German and Japanese manufacturers are planning to launch products with a lower retail price of 1,000 euros (US$1,059) to accelerate market expansion, compared with the current average of 2,500 euros."

So my suspicion is that "store bought" electrics are about to get EVen "cheaper"...

:)
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Eff. June, 2014 Phoenix Ebike Promotions

(Current ride? High speed lawn chair.)
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=57408

Phoenix Ebike Promotions conversion kit (work in progress. More drink holders, etc etc)
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=60564

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by flat tire » Apr 09 2017 5:08pm

Budget: around $500

Dude, for real? like the other posts have said get a good USED pedal bike as $500 won't even buy you dogshit brand new...and I'm talking about a pedal bike with no electronics. Fortunately the used bike market is gigantic and bicycles depreciate almost as bad as cars so $500 can get you a really nice bike of just about any style.

Your speed / distance requirements are so slow and short that if you're in even halfway decent shape you can pedal FASTER under your own power. And you will be in halfway decent shape if you start riding a bike 15 miles a day.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by LockH » Apr 09 2017 5:30pm

^^ Watt he said. (`Cept the "boss" may be less than impressed if arriving for work in Sweaty/Stinky Mode... Needing a shower plus change of clothes. And a snack. And a nap...) Yah pedal for warmth and for exercise, and in "Ebike Terms" to shave peak power battery outputs at startups and up hills, etc. Means extending ranges per charge and also helps the cells ("battery") last longer before EVentual recycling/replacement. It's all about lowest cost for energy per mile overall. (Less poop-per-mile.) Others may refute/expand...
ES changed my life (for the waaaaay better).

Eff. June, 2014 Phoenix Ebike Promotions

(Current ride? High speed lawn chair.)
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=57408

Phoenix Ebike Promotions conversion kit (work in progress. More drink holders, etc etc)
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=60564

Joined yer local chapter of EA yet?
(Ebikers Anonymous - Where we're all miserable failures, but the parties are hilarious...)

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by 2old » Apr 09 2017 5:55pm

Recently I purchased a mid-90's Nishiki steel mountain bike for $50; YESCOM 48V, 1000w motor kits or a similar system are less than $200. Wait for Luna to have a sale and you'll probably be able to have a comparable bike for $600 or so. My 1000w kit and 52V, 10 a/h Luna battery (different bike) easily goes 10-15 miles (I think the furthest trip was 16 miles), runs 32 mph (only tried for short bursts) and has operated flawlessly for 18 months. The battery doubles on an off road BBS02 bike.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by flat tire » Apr 09 2017 6:11pm

The problem is the OP apparently doesn't own a bike for conversion and so he'll need to at the minimum double his budget to accommodate buying the bike and then electrifying it. Then he has a remote possibility of assembling something that is actually fun to ride and pleasurable to own. You'll want 35 MPH sprint capability and the ability to do your range at 20+, because that will literally triple your enjoyment over a max speed of <20.

To summarize: for $500 you will not have a fun ebike unless that's JUST the battery, you build it yourself, and get EVERYTHING else for free. :D And a bike that is optimized for 15 mph cruising is not fun. Fortunately for the OP, he does not need a big battery but even if he is willing to pedal he will probably need 600Wh. (15Wh/mile pedaling / crusing @ 20 mph * 15 miles * 2 for roundtrip) = 450Wh. The extra 150 is a good reserve for pack health and will give you flexibility with changing conditions.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 09 2017 6:16pm

tln wrote:My personal experience is buy quality or buy twice!

That battery is not very powerful. Only 15A. Battery should be able to handle whatever your controller can draw. The battery I linked is 30A at least if Im reading it right

Also you lose out on a nice case. Mounting that brick in a triangle could be hard. Way better to have your battery in a triangle.

I would recommend sticking with well respected vendors be they in China or US! Just search the forums...
Thanks, good point about the amps. I started looking at batteries with a higher discharge rate since I'd like to push this motor at times! I saw this one with 50A max continuous. (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1600W-2 ... 56259f35db) I'm really split here because it has good reviews and for the money that's a lot of battery, but it's not an established brand. I don't mind mounting it on a rear rack.

At this point I think I'll use my wife's bike for this project so I can dedicate my limited budget to battery and motor costs. She doesn't really ride and it's proven to be solid and very comfy (raleigh venture 3.0). I'll consider upgrading the bike at a later time. Doubling my budget just isn't in the card right now.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 09 2017 6:26pm

flat tire wrote:The problem is the OP apparently doesn't own a bike for conversion and so he'll need to at the minimum double his budget to accommodate buying the bike and then electrifying it. Then he has a remote possibility of assembling something that is actually fun to ride and pleasurable to own. You'll want 35 MPH sprint capability and the ability to do your range at 20+, because that will literally triple your enjoyment over a max speed of <20.

To summarize: for $500 you will not have a fun ebike unless that's JUST the battery, you build it yourself, and get EVERYTHING else for free. :D And a bike that is optimized for 15 mph cruising is not fun. Fortunately for the OP, he does not need a big battery but even if he is willing to pedal he will probably need 600Wh. (15Wh/mile pedaling / crusing @ 20 mph * 15 miles * 2 for roundtrip) = 450Wh. The extra 150 is a good reserve for pack health and will give you flexibility with changing conditions.
I agree. Since posting this I've decided to use my wife's bike for the conversion (raleigh venture 3.0), and increase my budget somewhat. I'll upgrade the bike down the road.

35mph sprint capability sounds amazing. I was setting my standards too low to accommodate my budget but I'm definitely going to aim higher. I'm willing to pedal some! Just don't want to get sweaty on my way to work. Appreciate the info!

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by flat tire » Apr 09 2017 6:55pm

Even a inexpensive ebay 1000 watt hubmotor will get you to a top speed of 35 at the nominal voltage. And if you stay around the 50V range you will still have decent efficiency at slower speeds where you're pedaling. Don't cheap out on the battery or you'll regret it...make sure you get decent cells like Samsung 25R LG HG2 Samsung 30Q or Sony VTC4. Also a Cycle Analyst is incredibly useful and the cheap throttles included with most controllers / kits suck so a Domino makes a huge different...see how this works? :D

Whichever route you go, a a sine wave controller is a necessity in my opinion, because they are not only very smooth but also basically silent. Non sine wave controllers are surprisingly noisy.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 09 2017 6:56pm

flat tire wrote:Budget: around $500

Dude, for real? like the other posts have said get a good USED pedal bike as $500 won't even buy you dogshit brand new...and I'm talking about a pedal bike with no electronics. Fortunately the used bike market is gigantic and bicycles depreciate almost as bad as cars so $500 can get you a really nice bike of just about any style.

Your speed / distance requirements are so slow and short that if you're in even halfway decent shape you can pedal FASTER under your own power. And you will be in halfway decent shape if you start riding a bike 15 miles a day.
I challenge anyone to bike 7.5 miles in pittsburgh humidity without breaking a sweat. Oh, and keep the trip under 30 mins. I'm in decent shape, but that's just not realistic for me. I love biking, and want to incorporate it into my commute as much as possible. But I can't arrive to the office with swamp nuts. Not again LOL. So that's why I'm planning this ebike project.

Your points about the budget are valid tho. I'm upping that and using my wife's bike now.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 09 2017 7:16pm

flat tire wrote:Even a inexpensive ebay 1000 watt hubmotor will get you to a top speed of 35 at the nominal voltage. And if you stay around the 50V range you will still have decent efficiency at slower speeds where you're pedaling. Don't cheap out on the battery or you'll regret it...make sure you get decent cells like Samsung 25R LG HG2 Samsung 30Q or Sony VTC4. Also a Cycle Analyst is incredibly useful and the cheap throttles included with most controllers / kits suck so a Domino makes a huge different...see how this works? :D

Whichever route you go, a a sine wave controller is a necessity in my opinion, because they are not only very smooth but also basically silent. Non sine wave controllers are surprisingly noisy.
Nice, I hadn't heard some of these details yet. Much appreciated!

And dangit FINE I'll stop looking at the cheaper batteries lol. You guys have me convinced.

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Re: Recommendations for first ebike

Post by chonger91 » Apr 09 2017 8:47pm

Thanks again for everyone's input. Def feeling better about the project at this point.

I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on the following:

($151.99) Rear Hub 48v 1000w brushless motor kit: http://www.ebay.com/itm/26-Front-Rear-4 ... n88llyVyXw

($435.99 + $30 charger) 52v Panasonic 11.5ah bottle battery: https://lunacycle.com/52v-panasonic-11- ... e-battery/

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