E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by coinmaster » Nov 23, 2017 11:16 am

I need to commute about 40 miles per day and currently I am using an E-bike but I find myself craving more speed and winter is coming which poses its own problems.
The way I see it is that when the snow plows come along the snow ends up on the side of the road placing me in the car lanes.
I'm considering getting a recumbent KMX frame kit from Utah Trike and putting my Cyclone 3000 motor on that instead.
From my understanding it should go around 20mph faster then an upright for the same effort no?
A recumbent trike should in theory be faster, safer, and have better brakes.

There's so many variables, I need some advice from more knowledgeable people.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by pat_smtih » Nov 23, 2017 12:46 pm

After breaking my wrist I'll never ride on ice with two wheels again. The trike sounds like the winter best option.

P.S. What's a "car" lane?

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 23, 2017 1:02 pm

A trike is much easier to deal with on ice than a bike, of course. It doen’t mean that winter commuting with a trike is safe. City riding in winter conditions is dangerous and it is not for everyone. Many days you have poor brake and slow control, and all much heavier vehicles around you are even worse. I prefer to be high and able to jump off at any time, some might prefer not to have to dance the twist to stay on top of their wheels. In any case, never forget that safety is an illusion.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by docw009 » Nov 23, 2017 6:16 pm

You're on a recumbent trike that's 30"" high, and it's snowing, with cars behind you? You're a braver man than me.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by LewTwo » Nov 23, 2017 8:08 pm

pat_smtih wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 12:46 pm
After breaking my wrist I'll never ride on ice with two wheels again.
Unless we have another ice-age I will never live where riding on ice is a remote possibility.
The more I learn the more obvious the immensity of my ignorance becomes.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by Voltron » Nov 23, 2017 8:32 pm

A lot of it might depend on what your parking situation is at the other end of the commute.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by markz » Nov 23, 2017 10:34 pm

Why not a bicycle with studded tires?

You could even do your own, its like $80 for 1000 studs, could probably do 4 tires (250 studs per tire) so $20 in studs, then whatever your tire cost is.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by coinmaster » Nov 24, 2017 9:26 am

Studded tires are my current plan for my bike, it's just that as far as I understand I can go faster, safer on a recumbent trike.
I'd like to ride at least 40mph during my commutes which is a death wish on a bike in the snow, I would imagine a recumbent trike would have much more reliable brakes at that speed since it has 3 wheels, correct?
According the the bike simulator the battery should last significantly longer on a recumbent as well.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by melodious » Nov 24, 2017 11:39 am

On a 2 wheeler, I prefer to have both my feet on the ground. My folding bike was a confident ride because I could lower the seat akin to a child's balance bike. My Electra Townie cruiser, although not as nimble due to fork geometry, was almost as confident because the feet to ground was always there.

40mph on ice & snow is asking for trouble on a trike. The inconsistencies of the road combined with a lightweight vehicle will cause steering issues all the time. 1/2 ton cars get away with this, but suffer if they need to convert all that momentum & mass to zero. Combining a trike & car, sharing the same road, would be a intricate dance indeed. There's a reason you don't see videos of this, because it's crazy. What you will see, is them riding on roads clear of traffic. :lol:

Replace the bicycle wheels with DOT specific wheels. Insert studs into the treads. Get left & right rear view handlebar mirrors. Make your trike as visible as it can be. Do the commute dance. Pray for a safe journey at night. :pancake:
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 24, 2017 7:23 pm

coinmaster wrote:
Nov 24, 2017 9:26 am
Studded tires are my current plan...

I'd like to ride at least 40mph during my commutes which is a death wish on a bike in the snow, I would imagine a recumbent trike would have much more reliable brakes at that speed since it has 3 wheels, correct?
Studs are a must on ice and most snow conditions.

40 Mph city commuting in the snow is very dangerous, bike or trike.

Braking performance has little to do with how many tires that you have. On slippery conditions you can consider 3 factors:

1- how hard you can brake before loosing traction.

2- how long you will slide before traction recovery, or stop.

3- how easy it is to control the slide.

In theory, first 2 points favour the bike and the third favours the trike. Yet, theory and reality often disagree. The fact is, one need to be a much better rider to master snow riding on 2 wheels, than 3. But in a crash situation, my opinion is that you are more likely to be hurt on 3.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by wturber » Nov 24, 2017 8:07 pm

LewTwo wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 8:08 pm
pat_smtih wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 12:46 pm
After breaking my wrist I'll never ride on ice with two wheels again.
Unless we have another ice-age I will never live where riding on ice is a remote possibility.
Exactly. Human beans are composed mostly of water. I consider any environment that causes water to change its state to liquid or gas to be fundamentally hostile to human beans - and hence strongly avoid living in such places. As it turns out, that also means I encounter very little ice on roads. A nice side bonus.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by Chalo » Nov 24, 2017 8:13 pm

coinmaster wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 11:16 am
I'm considering getting a recumbent KMX frame kit from Utah Trike and putting my Cyclone 3000 motor on that instead.
From my understanding it should go around 20mph faster then an upright for the same effort no?
No. Trikes are wider and mechanically less efficient than bikes, so you'll offset whatever modest Cd benefit you get in that way. Small wheels are slower than large ones, too. Don't expect to go faster, is all-- and most definitely not 20 mph faster.

Trikes are better at keeping wheels on the ground in icy conditions, but they're also better at putting you on your head when things go awry. The lower the trike, the less likely it is to get upside down-- but the less you can see in the direction of travel, the more treacherous potholes become, and the less other road users can see you. Also note that KMX and most other tadpole trikes put very little weight on the rear wheel, which limits the amount of traction you can get even with studded tires. Just being on three instead of two won't necessarily improve your safety outlook.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by coinmaster » Nov 24, 2017 8:22 pm

Do you think it would be better to have individual control over the L & R front brakes rather than use a front + rear setup?
Don't expect to go faster, is all
Is the ebike simulator not to be believed?
Also note that KMX and most other tadpole trikes put very little weight on the rear wheel, which limits the amount of traction you can get even with studded tires. Just being on three instead of two won't necessarily improve your safety outlook.
I have about 50 LB worth of batteries to load up the rear so I should be alright in that case.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by wturber » Nov 24, 2017 8:31 pm

coinmaster wrote:
Nov 24, 2017 9:26 am
Studded tires are my current plan for my bike, it's just that as far as I understand I can go faster, safer on a recumbent trike.
I'd like to ride at least 40mph during my commutes which is a death wish on a bike in the snow, I would imagine a recumbent trike would have much more reliable brakes at that speed since it has 3 wheels, correct?
According the the bike simulator the battery should last significantly longer on a recumbent as well.
The problem with recumbent bikes for commuting, IMO, is visibility. I think routine speeds of 40 mph on a conventional bike are relatively unsafe due to the high center of gravity that limits braking. Recumbent bikes or stretched/lower bicycle frames help mitigate that, but their lower stance introduces more of a visibility issue. And the number one hazard for bikes is cars.

Good luck if you do this, but I think 40 mph in possibly icy conditions without at least crash/roll cage protection of some kind is kinda risky.

P.S. The lower profile of a recumbent is faster than a conventional bike at higher speeds, but not 20 mph faster. It might make a 30 mph bike about 5 mph faster.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by coinmaster » Nov 24, 2017 8:54 pm

Okay so I should expect only marginal speed gains and safety is a toss up.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm scared of what would happen with my 50lb rear battery on a slippery road on my two wheeled bike. My rear rack almost weighs more than the rest of the bike. I feel like the trike would have an advantage there.

I see what you are saying about the visibility issue, are light up strobe flags not sufficient?

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by LewTwo » Nov 24, 2017 9:31 pm

are light up strobe flags not sufficient?
they make good targets
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 24, 2017 9:32 pm

wturber wrote:
Nov 24, 2017 8:07 pm
LewTwo wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 8:08 pm
pat_smtih wrote:
Nov 23, 2017 12:46 pm
After breaking my wrist I'll never ride on ice with two wheels again.
Unless we have another ice-age I will never live where riding on ice is a remote possibility.
Exactly. Human beans are composed mostly of water. I consider any environment that causes water to change its state to liquid or gas to be fundamentally hostile to human beans - and hence strongly avoid living in such places. As it turns out, that also means I encounter very little ice on roads. A nice side bonus.
Hehe. I believe most venimous, venenous and poisonous life forms would agree with you. :wink:

Of course, cold countries are not comfortable for half of the year. Yet, people in cold countries are, by all statistics. living longer and healthier. So there must be something good at living in the cold. What I like here, is that it is clean. I mean, all the nuisances to men die every winter, every spring is a fresh start and summer temp is just perfect. We do winter sports and actually like the winter when we are not on the dirty streets.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 24, 2017 9:47 pm

coinmaster wrote:
Nov 24, 2017 8:54 pm
Okay so I should expect only marginal speed gains and safety is a toss up.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm scared of what would happen with my 50lb rear battery on a slippery road on my two wheeled bike. My rear rack almost weighs more than the rest of the bike. I feel like the trike would have an advantage there.

I see what you are saying about the visibility issue, are light up strobe flags not sufficient?
You want weight on the front to ride slippery conditions. That is because yo can control the loss of traction much better on the rear than front. Racing on ice, we are on the handlebar for the entire race. In the snow we are playing a lot with fr and rr balance, but turns are always on the front.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by wturber » Nov 24, 2017 10:04 pm

MadRhino wrote:
Nov 24, 2017 9:32 pm

Hehe. I believe most venimous, venenous and poisonous life forms would agree with you. :wink:

Of course, cold countries are not comfortable for half of the year. Yet, people in cold countries are, by all statistics. living longer and healthier. So there must be something good at living in the cold. What I like here, is that it is clean. I mean, all the nuisances to men die every winter, every spring is a fresh start and summer temp is just perfect. We do winter sports and actually like the winter when we are not on the dirty streets.
Living longer just to shovel more snow seems pointless to me. :D

All kidding aside, most studies I've seen tend to confirm my somewhat tongue-in-cheek "hostile environment /water change-of-state theory". Cold weather is more deadly than hot weather. I wouldn't be surprised if the cold country statistic is one of those things where correlation may not indicate causation - especially when I consider how much poverty there is in relatively warm areas like India, Africa and South America.

But hey - I wish more people agreed with you. I'm tired of all these people moving here.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 24, 2017 11:13 pm

Yep, the warmer the climate, the higher the poverty and diseases numbers, and the variety of creatures that are dangerous to man. Those factors are for the most part of why people are living longer and healthier in cold climate. As for population density, cold countries have lower population because the major part of their territory is wild, but the populated areas are dense and experience the same trafic problems.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by markz » Nov 25, 2017 4:59 am

MadRhino - Cool factoid, army forces that start training in cold climates are better adaptable to hot climates.

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by lester12483 » Nov 26, 2017 12:41 pm

With an etrike you are guaranteed to hit a pothole with one of the three wheels. :|
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 26, 2017 1:02 pm

lester12483 wrote:
Nov 26, 2017 12:41 pm
With an etrike you are guaranteed to hit a pothole with one of the three wheels. :|
Yep. A bike you ride, a trike you drive (unless it is leaning). They are so different, either you love it, or hate it.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by coinmaster » Nov 26, 2017 7:32 pm

lester12483 wrote:
Nov 26, 2017 12:41 pm
With an etrike you are guaranteed to hit a pothole with one of the three wheels. :|
No potholes along my route that I've seen, thankfully.
I suppose I can get suspension for the front wheels to help.

Should I use fat or skinny tires for general safety and reliability?

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Re: E-bike or E-trike for winter commuting?

Post by markz » Nov 26, 2017 10:37 pm

Buy the 1000 stud box and build a very aggressive stud pattern with somewhat longer studs then normal, then just see how it goes with the speed you want. Be sure to think about stud clearance as well. U will have to replace studs more often, how often depends on how much pavement is ridden on. I would put lots of long studs on the outter sides of the tread, depending on your lug pattern, every lug I'd guess. Then in the center line, put a stud every 3rd or so lug. Then in the area between the center line and the outter sides, install a stud somewhere in between those to frequencies. Gosh 40mph is ultra fast thats like 64kph safer to go 25-30mph ~40kph. That could be done. I am just thinking of not only the ice, but rows of snow piles in the curb gutter, sidewalk shovel piles, and snow pushed away from 2 main roadway paths, caused by the auto in the lanes, where the tires go.

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