Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

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Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » Feb 06 2018 2:05pm

I'm planning on building (or buying) an e-bike to make my commute shorter (quicker) as soon as winter allows, opinions welcome!

It's ~6mi of 70% bike path 30% city streets each way, mostly flat (200' elevation?) and I can charge at work if need be. On a regular bike, my avg speed is 15-16 kph. Either because I suck, or because I don't want to show up at work all sweaty.

I'm torn on the power/speed. On one hand, I want to go as fast as is reasonable when no one is around, on the other I'm not gonna blast by joggers, puppies and regular bikers like an a**hole at 40+mph. Sooooo option a : aim for 25-ish and call it a day, or option b. aim for 35+ with enough pick up and go to slow down for others, and speeding back up. I prefer option b, of course. :mrgreen:

I'd like to go as stealth as reasonable, visually and audibly. I don't want my bike to be a theft target, and if the constabulary can leave me alone, I'll take it. (law in Canada/Quebec is 28kph max w/assist and 500W max, I don't care about staying within that, it does not appear to be enforced at all, but you never know).

Bike wise, unless someone can convince me that a cyclocross will be perfect, I'm just aiming for a full suspension mtb with disc brakes. Feels safer for the speeds and unpredictability of city riding. Looking at 29" wheels for the stability.

Alright, to the build as it sits in my head.

Bike, I have my eyes on either a new Fuji 29er from bikesdirect (800$US), or snatching up a used Specialized Camber that seems to pop up regularly on kijiji locally (~1400$CAD).

Battery is the most unusual since I need so little. Luna's Mighty Mini sounds great at 6Ah, 52V. If it was a more easily integrated shape (think triangle that I could jam in one of the frame corners) it'd be perfect, but I suppose I can just use the seatbag. Any other tiny batteries out there I could consider?

I'm favoring a hub since it's more stealth, quieter and we have virtually no hills. I've mostly looked at Luna, so Smart Pie? MAC motor looks nice but $$$$. Integrated controller is always a plus. Thinking ~1000W would be plenty
I've looked at bbshd or even ultra mid-drives, but seems to be a lot more work for less stealth and more noise, so meh.

Alternatively to all this, I see the eDaiquiri thingies on ebay and wonder if they'd be even remotely half decent.
I suppose I could build a similar light single speed for possibly less than they sell those for? And if I build it myself I know the quality of components.

Anyways, input is welcome!

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by wturber » Feb 07 2018 1:07am

Unless your roads are crap, no need for a full suspension bike for commuting. That said, If you really only need about a 12 mile round trip range, then you probably don't need a ton of frame space for a battery either. So if you really want rear suspension, why not?

But I think that a good quality used hardtail - hopefully with the paint a bit worn and beat up and an ordinary non-bright color - will make for an unattractive theft target. Starting with a new bike will make for a more attractive theft target. Shiny new bikes get more attention in general. Dull , beater looking bikes tend to be ignored. I'm clearly favoring the latter look since even by pretty moderate riding speeds are in violation of the Arizona 20 mph maximum speed for an e-bike. On a recent ride I was riding at 28 mph in front of a local sheriff's car. But I was pedaling away and I don't think he even noticed me - or that I was electric. I was just some guy on a beater mountain bike. It reminds me of when I had an oxidized, metal-flake brown Toyota hatchback in the 80's. I could be 20 mph over the speed limit and cops couldn't see me. But at 5 mph over the limit in my white 1970 Trans Am, and they'd follow me - close - for a couple of miles.

If you are an average weight guy and don't have long steep hills to climb, a DD hub motor is perfectly fine. My el-cheapo ebay 1000 watt DD hub gets me well over 30 mph and goes up 10% grades easily. I like direct drive hubs for their reputation for being durable and reliable. But the geared hub drives are smaller, lighter and more visually stealthy. The lower weight probably won't mess with a rear suspension as much since it adds less mass to the unsprung weight. Only you can decide how to prioritize those things.

I don't have any clue why 29" wheels would be more stable than 26" wheels in any meaningful way for commuting. For a commuter, I can't see how it matters unless maybe you have really rough roads. Seems like mostly marketing baloney to me. Mountains out of molehills. But what the hell do I know?

I think I'd go for a bit more than 300 watt hours on the battery just because its nice to have some reserve and the ability to take longer trips now and then. Also, larger batteries tend to last longer because you can undercharge them and you don't have to discharge them as deeply. But that battery should work for a 12 mile round trip.

I know nothing about the eDaiquiri. I guess the question is largely whether you think you'll have fund building your own bike or not. Also, in general you can get more bang for you buck performance wise if you build your own.
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » Feb 08 2018 9:39pm

Thank you, appreciate the thought-out reply! I'm with you on most of it.

The MTB would be overkill, for sure. It would be more comfortable, more solid, more fun, safer (in case I do hit a pothole or curb, or have to emergency brake), but there is something to be said for a light slippery roadie that wouldn't need 10kW just to get out of its own way. On top of that, a roadie would be cheaper (new or used) and definitely more stealth. Just possibly less fun.

Theft isn't a huge concern. Not that bikes don't get stolen but I have a garage both at home and at work, and would try one of those GPS locators. And I just like shiny things too much. :mrgreen:

DD is definitely fine power wise, it's more of a stealthiness thing. No hills to speak of (well ... one) and I'm 150lbs and in shape. My only problem with DD is the size. If I could find one that's the size of a brake rotor I'd be all over it, but I don't think it's a thing. In doubt I'm leaning towards more stealth and geared.

Being a rookie builder, I'm leaning towards a cyclocross bike with discs and a SmartPie, done deal.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by molybdenum » Feb 09 2018 12:18pm

You mention that are in good shape and you like a stealthy appearance; have you considered the Q100 or Q128c in a lightweight road or hybrid frame (respectively)? These geared motors are small and inconspicuous. If you like to pedal, such a motor will keep your bike feeling like a bike and not an 80 lb + moped that pedals like an elephant. Geared motors freewheel smoothly when un-powered, whereas there is some cogging effects from the magnets in dd hub motors + they are bigger and heavier.

There are many threads describing builds with these "cute" motors. I get a top speed of 40 kph (25 mph) on flat ground using a max of 500W at 48V (mostly, 250W with strong pedaling effort is enough); saving on battery weight with a low power setup will keep your build under a total of 40lb if you choose the frame wisely.

Although the best handling is with the battery weight in a frame triangle, you only need 48-52V at 11.5 Ah for 45-60km range in such a build, and the battery would be 5 lb or so; this could easily be tucked in a pannier without significant loss of handling, and provide an even stealthier appearance. For anti-theft measures, you will need a removable battery anyways.

Although geared hub motors won't last as long as dd motors, I've gotten 10,000 km from my first Q128c before it started to misbehave - and needed lubing at 6000 km; these motors cost less than $90.00 US from BMS battery, and when I replaced mine, I unscrewed the innards (gears + axle assembly) of the old motor from the motor shell laced to my old wheel - and screwed in a new set of innards from my replacement motor, saving a lacing job.
2012 Kona Dew Deluxe, Q128C and 9spd cassette, S12S sinewave controller, 48V Panasonic battery

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by PRW » Feb 09 2018 12:43pm

this is what a Luna mini looks like on a 29er cyclocross - I am not recommending a cyclocross over a FS mountain bike, but the mini has worked for me at around 12 miles max (I do a fair bit of pedaling, but I am also a lot bigger than you).
IMG_1811.JPG
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the bike description is here - people admire the bike close up, without even realizing it's electric
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by amberwolf » Feb 09 2018 11:09pm

I'm with Wturber on the appearance thing, regarding theft. The duller and dirtier/dinged-up something looks, the less it's worth taking, unless they know bikes well enough to know if it's components are worth something.

I also discovered that extreme high-visibility (see my DayGlo Avenger thread) can also be a deterrent, because you can't miss seeing them if they're riding around on it, and I think they might figure that out before stealing it. ;)

Being highly visible also means that other people on the roads will notice you too, which can be good or bad depending on how much you want to be seen, and by who. My purpose for the DayGlo look was to *be* seen by everyone, and it did work, though I've found that being larger and quite unusual works even better. ;)


But...anything not nailed down is still a target, and I had lighting batteries (mostly repurposed used laptop packs) stolen off taht bike more than once while grocery shopping, though the whole bike never seemed in danger. The problem got so bad at that Safeway that for that reason and others I stopped shopping there (though it took a few years, was riding a version of CrazyBike2 by then), because the management not only didn't care, they seemed glad taht bikes were being messed with or stolen (they didnt' seem to like anyone shopping there that didnt' have a car, and didn't treat pedestrians very well either). There were sometimes pieces of bikes still locked to the bike lockup there, sometimes for a long time.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » Feb 14 2018 4:55pm

I had not heard about the Q100 / 128c motor until I got on here recently. Is there a hub motor out there that is small (~5" dia.) with integrated controller? That'd be absolutely perfect for me.

RE : theft, I have other bicycles, namely some 100$ WalMart junker that I use for sketchier destinations. It already got stolen, got another one, no biggie. I'd treat the e-bike like a motorcycle ... a 50lbs motorcycle that anyone can just grab and go. :?

PWR, I like that! Super clean.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by molybdenum » Feb 15 2018 5:33pm

I haven't come across any geared motors with internal controllers here or elsewhere. This would likely be difficult to implement owing to space constraints imposed by the planetary gear reduction assembly. A dd hub would be easier to implement this and the Magic Pie does this. Internal controllers take a lot of abuse from water ingress, heat etc.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Racer_X » Feb 17 2018 2:42am

Z0RR0 wrote:
Feb 14 2018 4:55pm
Is there a hub motor out there that is small (~5" dia.) with integrated controller? That'd be absolutely perfect for me.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by dogman dan » Feb 17 2018 11:56am

Rear hub on a 7 speed beach cruiser with a built in rear rack. hide the motor under pannier bags. Throw oil on it and ride it on the dirt, and then don't wash it. Or paint it with a brush.

It won't look worth cutting the lock on it.

48v 1000w kit will go 25 mph cruise the whole ride. One battery of decent size ( at least 500 watt hours) should go both ways, provided you do ride slower on the path.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Chalo » Feb 17 2018 1:13pm

dogman dan wrote:
Feb 17 2018 11:56am
Rear hub on a 7 speed beach cruiser with a built in rear rack. hide the motor under pannier bags. Throw oil on it and ride it on the dirt, and then don't wash it. Or paint it with a brush.

It won't look worth cutting the lock on it.
Kitty litter bucket panniers. Not only are they supremely useful, but they make a bike invisible to most people.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by wturber » Feb 17 2018 1:35pm

Chalo wrote:
Feb 17 2018 1:13pm

Kitty litter bucket panniers. Not only are they supremely useful, but they make a bike invisible to most people.

Image
Years ago my wife hired some interior decorators (who eventually fired us!) who were fans of what was then called "shabby chic". I think the kitty litter panniers should be called "shabby stealth".

I've kept my hoverboard scooter batteries packed in an old camera bag that in bungied to my rack. My original intent was just to have something temporary. But I've left it because it somehow looks appropriately crappy. I've had a number of people ask me as I explained the bike has an electric motor, "where's the battery?" It would seem obvious, but I guess not. Those kitty litter panniers have got me thinking. :D
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by motomech » Feb 17 2018 2:26pm

The MTB would be overkill, for sure. It would be more comfortable, more solid, more fun, safer (in case I do hit a pothole or curb,...
Trust me, you WILL hit a pot-hole eventually.


I always thought that the "Pie" in the Pie motors meant they are as big as a pie plate. Not very stealthy.
Around my neck of the woods, the best value in Ebiking are used mountain bikes. Folks buy 'em, hit the trails 1 or 2 times, find out how much work it is and park them.
Here's a 2007 GT IDrive 4 4.0 that I bought a couple of years ago for $600, about half of the MSRP. It had sat in his garage 6 or 7 years and was mint. I probably could have got him down even more, as the serious mountain bike guys aren't interested in anything more than a couple of years old and certainly aren't interested in anything w/ 26" whl.s;
100_0107.JPG
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It's a high quality(made in Taiwan)bike w/ entry-level components, but that's just fine for an street Ebike, where weight doesn't matter. And it only has 4 inches of travel, but once again, that's all that is needed for the street and it's world's better than a hard-tail.
The tiny Q100C, barely visible behind the brk. disc is fine for speeds under 25 MPH and in enviorns which don't have long, steep hills.
I use LiPoly, which is incredibly compact and light for the amount of energy it provides. The sm. frame bag holds 11.4 Ah's and the bottle battery holds another 4 Ah's, for a combined total of 14.4 Ah.s, or about 25 miles range cruising in the low 20's mph and pedaling moderately.
But I don't really recommend LiPoly and if I was starting over, I would use the a high-speed Q128C (328);
https://bmsbattery.com/ebike-kit/768-q1 ... e-kit.html
from BMS Battery and combine it one of their Li-Ion bottle batteries that have the controller intergrated inside;
https://bmsbattery.com/ebike-battery/67 ... ttery.html
All the connectors are the very stealthy 9-pin variety and these pieces make for a very clean install.
The Q-series motors w/ the sine-wave controller are dead silent and when I ride on the multi-use paths around here, nobody has a clue that it is an Ebike.
Tip for building stealth: Start w/. a dark color donner bike. That way, the wire runs sort of blend in.
Last edited by motomech on Feb 17 2018 2:54pm, edited 5 times in total.
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'03 Rocky Mountain Edge 2WD 260 Q100H frt and Ezee V1 rear 2 Elifebike 20A & 25A 9-FET controllers 12S/20Ah Multistar Lipo rear 5Ah Turnigy frt Luna Cyclops Extra lite Alex 24DM rims, Crazy Bobs run ghetto tubeless. 25 mph. Mean Well HLG-320H-54A
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by wturber » Feb 17 2018 2:33pm

It may be part of being semi-connected to road bike snobbery in the past, but I also think that putting a kickstand on an e-bike is a great way to communicate "not fast" to others.

That motor does blend in. you'd have to look for it. Also, a light motor like that probably doesn't affect how the suspension behaves as much as larger DD motors.
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
53T/42T Sakae Road cranks - 30mph+ on flats
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by amberwolf » Feb 17 2018 2:33pm

I recently ran across my old KLB panniers that I used on DayGlo Avenger (and previous bikes before I used motors) before I got the big metal box on there.

I had pairs (mismatched in this case because it's what I had), bolted side by side on an old rackmount equipment rail. Fender washers on all the bolts to help spread the load across more plastic surface area. Some versions of these I used big metal plates or strips there to spread the load better for really heavy loads. All of them have a tiny hole drilled out at the bottom corners so any water that manages to get in the lids drains out instead of soaking into the cargo. ;) Some of them I also lined with styrofoam saved from various packing material, to carry frozen (or heated) goods.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by zro-1 » Feb 17 2018 8:16pm

If you have crappy streets in your city then at least a front suspension is nice, full suspension is probably overkill. If you are going with no suspension, I recommend you learn how to bunny-hop. Seriously, Atlanta has some shitty roads with all sorts of debris and sharp car-scraps that get pushed off into the "bike lanes". At normal pedaling speeds you typically have time to get around the obstacles, but at eBike speeds, you may not. So with some suspension you can hopefully ride over them, but without it, you may need to get the weight off the front wheel, or even bunny-hop over the obstruction.

All that being said, you can definitely build a nice clean stealthy eBike without needing to buy a factory-built eBike. I'm currently doing just that. You can check out my build thread if you want (I'm using a Q100 rear hub), I also include a pic of my FS mid-drive bike there so you can see both bikes I have.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by motomech » Feb 17 2018 9:42pm

"Bunny hopping", like pedaling w/. the motor off and shifting lot's of gears, are things people think they will do when they ride an Ebike, but once they do, they realize riding an Ebike is a different than riding a non--powered bicycle. And, I can''t think that would be much good for the plastic gears. Maybe a better tack would to "unload" the weight on the pedals, but not get the tire in the air.
The fact is, rear suspension on an Ebike has few negatives and lot's more riders here have gone from a hardtail to FS, rather than the other way around.
And please, we really don't need the profanity here.
Motomech

'03 Rocky Mountain Edge 2WD 260 Q100H frt and Ezee V1 rear 2 Elifebike 20A & 25A 9-FET controllers 12S/20Ah Multistar Lipo rear 5Ah Turnigy frt Luna Cyclops Extra lite Alex 24DM rims, Crazy Bobs run ghetto tubeless. 25 mph. Mean Well HLG-320H-54A
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by zro-1 » Feb 17 2018 10:45pm

I apologize for the language. :oops:

motomech has a good point, bunny-hopping on an ebike may not be realistic or good for the drive-train. I guess you would need to consider your particular setup and what it and you can handle. I know that back in the day when I went to a rider school for motorcycles they recommended getting the weight off the front wheel when riding over an obstacle. The same has been true in my experience with an ebike. I guess you could try slowing down a bit and goosing the throttle instead of trying to bunny-hop over something in your way. Of course a good suspension frame pretty much eliminates those concerns.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Chalo » Feb 18 2018 12:12am

Do keep in mind that compared to a rigid rear end, mechanical suspension always, without exception, adds:
- weight
- frame flex
- cost
- maintenance
- points of failure

You can decide these tradeoffs are worth it, but that doesn't make them go away. I think that above 25 mph or so on the street, suspension becomes an obvious comfort and safety feature. Below that, it's a question of whether you want to ride something motorcycle-like at bicycle speed.

If you ride a legal e-bike, it seems to me that it may as well be a bicycle. That's what's proven to work in that speed and power regime.
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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by e-beach » Feb 18 2018 1:05am

My suggestion would be a bike with a big triangle for the battery. The best weight distribution is when it is in the triangle. Think motorcycle motor. As for motors, a 500w 48v system with a three speed switch on the throttle will probably get your job done. A 1000 watt motor will surely get it done, but the motor might look bigger and more conspicuous. Just don't run the 500w motor to the point of over heating it or the magnets go bad.

As was pointed out panniers do a nice job of hiding a rear hub motor.

A small battery never suited me. Although I have always been able to charge at work, there are times when you get a reason to go farther then you expected and pedaling a heavy e-bike for miles is no fun.

I prefer front suspension to no suspension. It is good to have when you hit that unexpected pot hole. And as stated, you will hit the unexpected pot holes.

For city commuting I prefer narrower tires 1.5 inch to wider tires, 2 or 2.5 inch. I feel they give as much pneumatic cushioning and are more nimble when needed.

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by motomech » Feb 18 2018 3:32am

The 1.5 inch tires make me nervous when rolling over grates.
Once in Mexico, I actually had my frt. tire drop down into one, stopping the bike abruptly. The road was flooded and I didn't see it.
The latest tire I'm using is the 1.85" WTB "Slick" w/ a Flat Guard layer. It's big for a 1.85", but still fits the typical skinny hub motor kit rim.
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'03 Rocky Mountain Edge 2WD 260 Q100H frt and Ezee V1 rear 2 Elifebike 20A & 25A 9-FET controllers 12S/20Ah Multistar Lipo rear 5Ah Turnigy frt Luna Cyclops Extra lite Alex 24DM rims, Crazy Bobs run ghetto tubeless. 25 mph. Mean Well HLG-320H-54A
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=83430
'07 GT Idive 4 4.0, Q100C 201 14S LiPoly elifebike 9-FET 20A controller. 23 MPH.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=49691&p=1378484#p1378484

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Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » May 25 2018 12:44pm

Long time no update, sorry to those expecting a quick build!

I got me a donor bike, a Redline Conquest Sport! Stock photo:
Image

Friend of mine wasn't using his gravel bike, and it looks like a good option so far. Not crappy, disc brakes (mechanical), nice little entry level performer but quite light @24lbs, skinny-ish tough tires, works really well even just as an analog bike.

I've ridden it ~100km since I got it and 2 things are clear. I really enjoy the exercise aspect (thus might keep it analog), and I'm really not sure about bombing down the bike path at 40kph, let alone 60 (I do about 20-25kph right now), both because of the traffic and how scary it feels at speed (grew up riding MTBs).

But I still like the idea of light slippery ebike, especially on those headwind days! Seriously leaning towards a Q128 or Q100 and slap the controller under the seat.
I'd love to find a battery small enough to fit in a normal water bottle, but that looks like it's going to have to be custom. Unless I go the Mighty Mini route @ 52V, not sure it isn't too much for the Q128.

miro13car   1 MW

1 MW
Posts: 1539
Joined: Mar 26 2007 1:30pm
Location: Calgary, Canada

Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by miro13car » May 25 2018 1:29pm

Zorro
you mention Quebec in your first post?
Every Canadian know about famous potholed streets in Quebec.
You need suspension.

Z0RR0   100 µW

100 µW
Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 06 2018 1:04pm

Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » May 28 2018 2:27pm

Indeed, from QC. Shockingly enough, I don't think it's a necessity given my route. I'm on a bike path most of the time, and the few streets I have to ride on are narrow/busy (15kph max, I'd say) and in decent shape. I do have a couple hundred feet of pavers, but I don't plan on barreling down those anytime soon.

I'm more concerned with the roadie ergos and brakes than the lack of suspension to be honest. Not saying it isn't a concern at all, but it's (a little) lower down the list and not dealbreaker.

Z0RR0   100 µW

100 µW
Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 06 2018 1:04pm

Re: Stealth & quick-ish e-bike for short commute, opinions

Post by Z0RR0 » Jul 20 2018 3:43am

What's everyone's take on the ebikebc kits?
Specifically, this one: https://ebikebc.com/product/d35-complet ... -kit-350w/
It's 1,000$CAD all said and done. Not necessarily all the oomph/speed I originally wanted, but rather discrete despite the big controller and presumably very easy to set up (perfect for a noob like me).

edit - I just found a 48V bottle battery that still looks like a bottle :
https://www.dhgate.com/product/eu-us-no ... 16838.html
Not sure how reputable that site is, but feels like it's worth a shot.
With 48V, I could then go for the 500W ebikebc setup :
https://ebikebc.com/product/b50-complet ... -kit-500w/
The question being, how hard is it to unlock the max speed on that controller?

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