Seeking advice on e-bike selection

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
Longwing   1 mW

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 18 2017 4:54pm

Thank you all for your advice, it has been very instructive and helped me narrow down my decisions.

My next question is about bike frames and brakes. I prefer cruiser style bikes (flat foot, crank forward, etc.), but it looks like Cruisers don't normally come with disc brakes. How much of a priority are the disc brakes? I'm thinking they're pretty important, but I see a ton of electrics online with rim brakes instead. To make matters worse, aftermarket upgrades in this department look a little dicey.

Can anyone point me to a disc-brake equipped (or compatible) cruiser frame? If not, can you suggest an alternative? Am I worrying about something that doesn't make that much of a difference?

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wturber » Sep 18 2017 6:37pm

Longwing wrote:
Can anyone point me to a disc-brake equipped (or compatible) cruiser frame? If not, can you suggest an alternative? Am I worrying about something that doesn't make that much of a difference?
Upgrade the brake pads (Kool Stop perhaps) and rim brakes should be fine for your purposes. Something nobody mentions regarding ebikes but that worked well for me on a "hotrodded" Dahon folder (worked over the drive chain and could sprint past 30mph on it easily) - was using thicker gauge (1.9 or 2.0 mm brake cables with 6mm casings. Less mush and more positive feel. That bike had chrome rims, but with an upgraded pad, horrible brakes became quite good. Also consider regen for controlling your downhill and saving on brake wear.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by amberwolf » Sep 18 2017 6:41pm

I ride a multi-hundred-pound cargo hauling trike with rim brakes, in stop and go city traffic, and they work fine from 20MPH down (though when hauling several hundred pounds of dog food I keep a few MPH slower to reduce braking distances, as the braked wheel can skid). I also have regen braking and it works much better with that plus the rim brakes, but the rim brakes can be setup to skid the wheel by themselves.

In my case, I don't have great ones, so it takes two pair on one rim to stop this weight.

But a normal weight would be stopped by one. :)

And good ones would be even better.

So, setup correctly, with good pads, you'll be fine with rim brakes.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Drunkskunk » Sep 18 2017 7:52pm

Longwing wrote: How much of a priority are the disc brakes? I'm thinking they're pretty important, but I see a ton of electrics online with rim brakes instead. To make matters worse, aftermarket upgrades in this department look a little dicey.

Can anyone point me to a disc-brake equipped (or compatible) cruiser frame? If not, can you suggest an alternative? Am I worrying about something that doesn't make that much of a difference?
I can't think of any cruisers with disks right now. Adding them to a cruiser is a lot like adding a drag chute to the back of a minivan. kinda pointless, less effective, mostly for show.

At speeds below 25mph, rim brakes are superior in most situations. The rim IS a giant disk, and the brake pads have a much larger surface area.
A set of Koolstop brake pads will make a huge difference in performance on a rim brake.
if you plan to cruise at speeds above 30mph, then a pair of disk brakes makes sense.

I'm not sure what you've seen in upgrades that look sketchy. In most cases, upgrades are just that, upgrades: far superior to what came on the bike. You can get better parts aftermarket than anything that came from the factory on almost any bike made.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 18 2017 8:29pm

Drunkskunk wrote:I'm not sure what you've seen in upgrades that look sketchy. In most cases, upgrades are just that, upgrades: far superior to what came on the bike. You can get better parts aftermarket than anything that came from the factory on almost any bike made.
I was referring specifically to adding disc brakes to a frame that isn't built for disc brakes. The Cruisers I've found online don't appear to have the mounts for disc brakes (because why would a cruiser need them?) so if you want to add them after the fact, then you need to clamp or bolt something onto the frame. That's where things get a little "eeeh, I guess that could work".

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by torker » Sep 18 2017 8:37pm

I have heard good things about the torque sensing PAS systems on the new midrives. A system that doubles your output and no throttle. Just mount and go. That and a IGH would be sweet. . I rode a tadpole with a CVT. NuVinci I think. Loved it. And belt drive.. 8)

Get something you can fit large tires too.. There's my dreambike haha
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 18 2017 9:34pm

Alright, next question: Parts sourcing.

I've been eyeballing kit parts and complete bicycles from Lunacycle. Are there any other reputable vendors I should be looking at for Bafang mid-drives, batteries, and associated parts? I'm happy to pay a premium to skip the eBay/Aliexpress roulette wheel.

While I'm at it, several folks here have recommended regenerative braking. Any recommendations, both for brand/model and for a source to purchase? I admit I haven't done my proper homework here.

Finally, a handful of bikes I've been looking at if anyone would like to weigh in on their brilliance to stupidity ratio:

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 19 2017 5:06pm

em3ev.com is a well-respected seller of batteries and Bafang mid drives, among other things. He's located in China, but he's (I think) British, so communication shouldn't be chaotic.

You can't use regenerative braking with a Bafang mid drive.

The Six Three Zero bikes and the Raleigh you linked to have particularly ineffectual riding position, with compromised control, worst possible aerodynamics, and impaired ability to pedal effectively. It's easy to fix with different handlebars, but keep it in mind.

If you're mail ordering a bike, there's no need to pay bike shop prices for it. You should pay a local bike shop to set it in order for you, though. You can probably get a cheaper but also nicer bike than those from Bikes Direct or Micargi. Take a look:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/cruiser_bikes.htm
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 19 2017 7:15pm

Chalo wrote:You can't use regenerative braking with a Bafang mid-drive.

Yeah, I hadn't heard of regenerative braking on a bike and hadn't done my homework. A quick jaunt around the internet taught me my mistake. I'm not willing to give up the advantages of a mid-drive just to get regenerative braking (especially as I only wanted it as a bonus braking option).
Chalo wrote:The Six Three Zero bikes and the Raleigh you linked to have particularly ineffectual riding position, with compromised control, worst possible aerodynamics, and impaired ability to pedal effectively.

My favorite bike is a Day 6, which magnifies these inefficiencies even further than a cruiser. My first plan was to add a mid-drive to that monster. This is what Day 6 themselves does for their ebikes. The only reason I haven't is that it won't fit on city bus bike racks. I realize that there are far more efficient postures/frames, but I find the relaxed stance personally very enjoyable.
Chalo wrote:It's easy to fix with different handlebars, but keep it in mind.
What kind of handlebars would you replace them with?
Thanks! I will.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 19 2017 7:40pm

Longwing wrote:
Chalo wrote:It's easy to fix with different handlebars, but keep it in mind.
What kind of handlebars would you replace them with?
At my bike shop, we replaced the giant goofy crescent shaped cruiser bars on our rental bikes with Wald 867 bars:

Image

These are very cheap, widely available, and provide a cruiser style riding position without rendering the rider helpless and awkward. Plus, they're still made in the U.S. of A.

I have also retrofitted many cruisers with BMX bars. Those allow a very upright riding position, but with much more authoritative control of the bike compared to pulled-back cruiser bars.

Image

You have to take care to get bars that have a long enough straight section to support all your handlebar mounted stuff. When that's in doubt, I use CW style bars that allow more mounting options than any other BMX bar.

Image
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 19 2017 9:31pm

Thank you, that's extremely helpful. I'll plan on swapping the handlebars once I have the bike.

I'm currently looking at the Raleigh Detour 2 and Detour 3. They're appealing because they come with trigger shifters. I know I can retrofit triggers, but it's one less thing to source/buy. The large size accommodates riders up to 6'. Other than that, it's a question of steel vs aluminum frame.

Really, it's a tossup between that and the sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women's 26-Inch 7-Speed Step-Through Touring Hybrid Bicycle, which looks like it puts the crank a little further forward.

I took a look at Bikes Direct. Sadly, their step-through models all appear to top out at 5' 10". The Raleigh's go up to 6' (just right), and the sixthreezero goes up to 6'5". Finding step-through models that don't hew to the really weird "step throughs are only for women" rule is surprisingly hard.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 20 2017 12:52am

That Six Three Zero bike is just a normal one-size cruiser, which would be a terrible choice for someone 6'5".

Bike manufacturers can say their bike fits whatever size people they want to claim; one-size manufacturers love to say complete hogwash like "fits 4'8" to 6'6"". Know what dimensions you're looking for. The seat tube length is important, but so is the top tube length (or effective top tube length). Secondary importance goes to things like front center, seat angle, chainstay length, and bottom bracket height-- though they're less about body size and more about personal preference.

Anyway, when a bike manufacturer or seller tells you what height range of riders their bike fits, instead of what size the bike is, that's already a huge red flag. The bigger the claimed size range, the worse the bike is likely to be.

If you're prepared to spend $400 or more on a bike, why don't you go to a bike shop? That's what they're for. You can get fitted appropriately, and leave with a bike that's been professionally assembled and adjusted by someone who'll be there to deal with later repairs and modifications.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by torker » Sep 20 2017 6:08am

Going to a local bike shop is a good idea. Then you can actually ride different bikes. Even if you don't buy from them.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by markz » Sep 21 2017 2:56am

I have ridden my Townie with them C-style handle bars, and I did not like them one bit. It wasnt like it was straight on (RH @ 6 oclock) but something from 5 o'clock (RH). I find I like a slight angle in.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 24 2017 3:15pm

Per suggestions here, I finally gave in and visited my local bike shop. After some story-time with the owner regarding what I was looking for, we settled on a bike that meets a lot of my requirements. It's pricier than I wanted, but the extra cash nets me a front suspension, disc brakes, trigger shifters, low step-through, and an upright riding position. Added bonus, no ridiculous handlebars.:

The Fuji Crosstown 1.3 LS 2018

Honestly, this is why I was so resistant to visiting a shop to begin with. I knew I'd find a fantastic no-compromises model, and said bike would be expensive. They don't have the 19" model in stock, but agreed to order it. We've agreed that I'm buying the bike as long as it's a good fit, or buying a different bike from them if this one won't work for me. This'll save me a bunch of time swapping out components or making after-market modifications on a cheaper bike, but it makes me wistful for the bygone days when I had the time and energy to bargain hunt.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by torker » Sep 28 2017 6:33am

Looks good. A bottle/shark battery will fit and still give you plenty room to step through.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by skyungjae » Sep 28 2017 8:43am

Longwing wrote:Per suggestions here, I finally gave in and visited my local bike shop. After some story-time with the owner regarding what I was looking for, we settled on a bike that meets a lot of my requirements. It's pricier than I wanted, but the extra cash nets me a front suspension, disc brakes, trigger shifters, low step-through, and an upright riding position. Added bonus, no ridiculous handlebars.:

The Fuji Crosstown 1.3 LS 2018

Honestly, this is why I was so resistant to visiting a shop to begin with. I knew I'd find a fantastic no-compromises model, and said bike would be expensive. They don't have the 19" model in stock, but agreed to order it. We've agreed that I'm buying the bike as long as it's a good fit, or buying a different bike from them if this one won't work for me. This'll save me a bunch of time swapping out components or making after-market modifications on a cheaper bike, but it makes me wistful for the bygone days when I had the time and energy to bargain hunt.
With the kit and battery, you won't be blowing your budget by that much. Besides... buy nice or buy twice. :wink:
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