Seeking advice on e-bike selection

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
Longwing   1 mW

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Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 14 2017 12:45pm

As my post count suggests, I'm a terrible terrible noob. Please bear with me.

My commute/situation
I'm about to change jobs. One of the benefits of the new job is a minuscule commute of 2.2 miles, mostly on 25mph neighborhood roads. However, the trip is almost entirely uphill in the mornings and I’m out of shape. As an added hurdle, I’m working for a bank with no cycling accommodations and a strong emphasis on a clean presentation. I cannot afford to show up to work sweating, even if it means using a throttle the whole way and getting 0 exercise.

Additionally, while I’ll be traveling mostly on 25mph roads, there are brief stretches on major roadways. For those, I’m going to need a lot more power to stay safe, and for the hills, I’m going to need a lot of torque.

I'm 6', about 190 pounds, and I'll probably be hauling another 10-20 pounds of random stuff back and forth. It'd be nice to be able to haul a few bags of groceries from time to time as well.

Finally, there's cost. If money weren't an issue, I'd be retired instead of biking to work. I don't have a strict limit on spending, but I'm most comfortable with something in the 1-2K range. I can go higher if I have to, but the closer I get to 3K, the less I'm going to like a given option.

Should I build or just buy?
This is a tough choice and I’d appreciate some advice. I’ve been losing my mind examining e-bikes from various manufacturers. Reviews are either spotty or next to useless (just about every manufactured bike gets glowing praise, with no real sense of how they compare to each other). I’m a decently handy person with a shop full of tools. I don’t have much experience with metalwork, and I’ve never built/maintained my own bicycle, but I’m confident in my ability to learn.

My biggest concern with manufactured bicycles is the rather arbitrary speed limit, and the way manufacturers have chosen to answer that limit. I’m inclined to agree with this article, which points out some of the problems with underpowered motors. This inclines me towards building my own bike. If I'm buying one, it'd be nice to get one I can hack/unlock.

However, this may also be the voice of inexperience. Maybe it's just not worth worrying about? It’s not that I want to fly along at 30-40-50mph. 20 seems plenty fast to me. Rather, I’d like to have the power available if I need it for sudden acceleration. Plus I want the ability to tackle hills, probably without pedaling if I’m being honest.

The drive train
Whether I’m building or buying, I think I’ve already settled on a couple of things about the bike’s design.
  • First, I want a mid-drive system, as those are more efficient and better for hills.
  • Second, I absolutely loathe derailleurs. I’m bad at shifting derailleurs and constantly pop the chain. I really want a bike that DOESN’T use standard bike gearing. I’m open to suggestions here. This article points out that in-gear-hubs are maybe a bad fit. I’ve seen some NuVinci-based designs, maybe that’d be a solution? Perhaps I should just give up on gearing altogether and get a fixed gear and rely on the motor for hills? Thoughts? Advice?
The frame
There are a few things I’m looking for in the frame for the bike. Whether I’m converting it, or buying an ebike outright.
  • I need a standard wheelbase - I already own a Day-6 Journey, which I love. However, I don’t want to convert it because its massive wheelbase isn’t compatible with my city’s bus bike racks. The buses around here offer bike racks, and I’d like to be able to use them from time to time.
  • I think I’m looking for a hybrid or a cruiser? - I generally like a higher stance. The less I have to stoop to ride a bike, the better. My posture is bad enough as it is. As I said, I love the Day-6, but it's massive.
  • Low step-through would be nice - I’m still working out the details of this commute, but there are plenty of places where I’d like an easy mount or dismount from the bike. Hop off and walk it down some steps, hop on and drive it through a parking lot, etc.
  • I don’t really care about shocks - I’m riding on well maintained paved roads, I don’t think I need fancy shock absorption. I get that shocks are nice and comfy, but they just don't strike me as a priority. Are they?
  • I want a bike, not a spaceship or a motorcycle - This is probably the silliest ask here, but I don’t like bicycles that are trying to look like they belong in a SF blockbuster. I also want the social hack of cops seeing the bike and saying “that’s a bicycle” not “that’s a motor vehicle”. I have a driver's license, but that doesn't mean I enjoy traffic stops from curious law enforcement.
Some possibilities?
I've been bouncing around a lot of sites looking at recommendations, and reviews. Luna Cycles have come up a number of times. I’ve been looking at the Luna Smoothie. I like the ergonomics, but it’s ostensibly a woman’s frame. Maybe it's too small for me?

Does anyone have any other ideas? My anti-derailleur stance severely limits my options.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 14 2017 2:27pm

Your attitude towards derailleurs-- and it is common-- is that of someone who hasn't used an up-to-date model in the last twenty years, or someone who's only ever ridden trash quality department store bikes. Don't get me wrong-- bad derailleur shifting is awful to live with. But take note: The things that make derailleur shifting bad anymore (poor maintenance, incorrect adjustment, inept operation) are the same things that break internal gear hubs beyond repair. Internal gears are not a cure for inattentiveness.

I suggest one of the NuVinci hubs. They look and act sort of like internal gear hubs, but they're not. They don't contain any gears at all, only rollers. Because the rollers are always engaged, such a hub can't be out of gear, between gears, popping and slipping, etc. It's always fully "in gear", ready to transmit torque.

I recommend a BBSHD kit-- not because you need the power it has (you don't)-- but because it encompasses all the design improvements, gearing/chainline options, and programming support available at this time. And it's so easy to install that there's no need to consider a turn-key e-bike. I have a BBS02. It's cheaper for sure, but the chainline is bad and difficult to remedy. Because gearhubs have very little latitude to change their chainline, you have to be able to fix a discrepancy in the front.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wturber » Sep 14 2017 3:05pm

How steep is your steepest hill - on your commute, and then on other places you might want to ride?

I think you may be overly concerned about derailleurs, not only for the reasons Chalo brought up, but because once you have a fairly powerful motor on the bike, you seldom need to shift. Over the past couple of weeks I've ridden over 100 miles going up grades 10% or steeper and haven't shifted from my top gear (42x14 on 26" wheels) once. I do need a taller top gear though, so I can imagine that once I increase the size of the front chainring that I might shift now and then. But as it sits, I figure I'll need three gears at most.

Now if you have 18% grades that you have to deal with, I can imagine that you may need to shift more than me. OTOH, you could just feed your motor move volts and amps than I am.
Last edited by wturber on Sep 14 2017 3:11pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wturber » Sep 14 2017 3:10pm

Chalo wrote:Your attitude towards derailleurs-- and it is common-- is that of someone who hasn't used an up-to-date model in the last twenty years, or someone who's only ever ridden trash quality department store bikes. Don't get me wrong-- bad derailleur shifting is awful to live with.
Funny. I was thinking about getting rid of my front derailleur and changing the rear one to a friction shift since adding the rear wheel hub motor changed the cluster from a 10 gear freehub to a 7 gear freewheel. Less junk on the handlebars is good IMO. I grew up with friction shifters and they've always worked fine for me.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wturber » Sep 14 2017 3:22pm

Longwing wrote: I've been bouncing around a lot of sites looking at recommendations, and reviews. Luna Cycles have come up a number of times. I’ve been looking at the Luna Smoothie. I like the ergonomics, but it’s ostensibly a woman’s frame. Maybe it's too small for me?
The older I get, the less I care about such things as whether others see a step through frame as a woman's bike or not. The biggest negative for a step through frame IMO is that they tend to compromise rigidity. Next is that you lose places to hang batteries and other stuff that you might want if you think you'll fiddle with (people call it upgrading) things down the road. Also, that "Smoothie" has no suspension ... which seems the opposite of "smooth" to me. But I'd ride one in a heartbeat if I thought it fit my needs well.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 14 2017 4:24pm

Thank you both for your replies, they're extremely helpful in informing my decision-making process.

To answer some of your questions:

Derailleurs aren't that bad, are they?

You're absolutely right, I haven't ridden a quality bike with quality derailleurs. I've ridden crappy bikes (as a kid), skipped cycling for a long time, then got a Day-6 Journey with an internally geared hub. I loved it, and continue to love it.

Back in the day, a derailleur was responsible for one of the worst accidents I experienced on a bike. I popped the chain at speed, it tangled, and I took a nasty tumble. I was a kid, and none of the injuries have endured, but the impression of them as a dangerous and unstable has definitely stuck.

I have to be honest, even if they've dramatically improved, I'm still wary as heck. I'd rather bypass the problem altogether if I can. The point about hardly needing to shift is an important one though, one possibility is to simply set the bike to a middling gear and let it run. I might look into getting or making a bike with one, but with an eye towards upgrading to a NuVinci if it's still untenable.

What's the steepest hill?
The largest rise in the 2.2 mile run is 134 feet. However, most of that is concentrated in a couple of fairly sharp hills. I'm basically starting at the bottom of what used to be a river basin and climbing to the top. There's one monster hill, about 1.5 city blocks, that's probably 20 degrees. The rest is just a slow upward slog. I've attached the elevation guide from google maps. I realize this map is probably laughable to most cyclists, but it's daunting to me. Who knows? In a year or so of biking up it, I might not think of it as a big deal. My biggest problem is that I can't afford to show up to work sweaty. Ironically, the easy ride home is where I'd be fine putting in some exercise.

Riding a "woman's" bike?
I completely agree that the distinction is arbitrary and silly. I don't really care if it's not seen as a "manly" bike for whatever goofy reason. My only worry is whether the dimensions are reasonable for someone 6' tall. A bike designed for a woman's physique would treat 6' as an extreme outlier. I don't have any useful experience in the area of bike sizing, so I figured I'd ask.

As for frame rigidity or mounting space, I'm not really worried. I'm not taking this thing off road. Even if I'm riding for pleasure, there are tons of paved bike paths in my area. I'll probably want to add some panniers for storage, but that's about it.

No suspension?
I think I'm okay with this, but that might be inexperience talking. I'll be riding this on paved streets, and I can stand up for the occasional bump. I realize that shocks are a terrific convenience, but to my mind, they add a lot of expense and complexity that I don't think I'll need.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Drunkskunk » Sep 14 2017 5:00pm

Everything depends on the grade of hill you have to climb. I agree with the BBSHD as the best option for your needs.

IGH aren't a cure for your problems. If you just want one, then go for it. You don't need an excuse. If you want one because you believe it's more reliable or less of a hassle, then forget it. they aren't, for all the reasons Chalo listed and 1 more. IGH are 10% less efficient than a conventional chain drive. That means you're giving up 10% of your range among other things.

That Smoothie looks fair, but a commuter bike is different than a pleasure bike. You must be able to rely on the bike to always get you to work, 100% of the time. How many times will your boss accept you be late because you had bicycle trouble getting to work? I'm betting it's zero. Zero times is a good goal. But that takes work.

Ebikes need higher maintenance than a conventional bike, so building your own bike from a kit is the first step to knowing your bike intimately. Knowledge you will need to keep it running with 100% up time.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by docw009 » Sep 14 2017 5:05pm

Lunacycle for their $750 BBS02 and 13.5AH battery combo. Great deal. I have no chain line problems with a BBS02 and a beater mountain bike (department store diamondback).

My BBS02 will maintain 25 mph but no way am I'm going to ride with car traffic on any road, unless it has a dedicated bike lane.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by MexicanElmo » Sep 14 2017 5:28pm

Hi everyone,

I was wondering what about electric scooters? You mentioned that you had no cycle parking space, you don't want to get sweaty at all, and don't want to spend much on it.


https://www.amazon.com/SWAGTRON-Swagger ... ic+scooter

For example, that's a quite light and foldable scooter... at $300 USD, with a 5-15 mile range, 15 mph top speed that's sounds ok to me.

The only drawback is the grocery shopping you would like to do every now and then, but a bagpack may solve the problem, what do you think?

BTW, I do not know of scooter brands, models, quality and so on, but they seem so convenient for commuting short distances.

If you want to build a bike, it's an interesting experience, even if it's not electric, but it can take a while to get everything and put it together.


Edit

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KP7W79

this one seems is a little more expensive, but it's specs are quite good, easily would handle your commute.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 14 2017 5:29pm

docw009 wrote:Lunacycle for their $750 BBS02 and 13.5AH battery combo. Great deal. I have no chain line problems with a BBS02 and a beater mountain bike (department store diamondback).
It is a good deal. However, chainline is a much more serious concern on bikes that don't have a derailleur to align and guide the chain onto the rear sprocket. You can't just fudge it and hope for the best. You have to get it close to correct.

With a derailleur to manage the chain, I'm not sure how you'd discern chain line problems on a BSO that never shifts right or runs quietly to begin with. I can say that on my 8 speed bike with normal 68mm BB and 135mm rear spacing and normal length chainstays, only the outer 5 of 8 gears work consistently without noise or occasionally throwing the chain off the ring.

My buddy has the same kit on his Big Dummy, and the long chainstay length allows him to use the entire gear range smoothly.
My BBS02 will maintain 25 mph but no way am I'm going to ride with car traffic on any road, unless it has a dedicated bike lane.
And yet some of us have been doing exactly that for decades, since bike lanes were rare and strange. It's a matter of what you're used to, and how criminal your local drivers are. At 12mph, I ride to the right side of the outer lane. When I can ride at 20 or better, I ride in the middle of the lane to encourage safe passing.

If you act like you don't belong in the street, drivers will treat you that way. You have to claim your right of way.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 14 2017 8:33pm

MexicanElmo wrote:I was wondering what about electric scooters? You mentioned that you had no cycle parking space, you don't want to get sweaty at all, and don't want to spend much on it
It's funny you should mention that. I spent some time looking at scooters. I was really interested in the GenZe. However, moped style electrics are capped at 30MPH.

Because of a very annoying arrangement of roads where I live, I basically have two choices for one part of my commute:

Option 1 - Drive about 3-4 city blocks on a 6 lane road with a 40MPH speed limit (which everyone drives at 55-60).
Option 2 - Take the sidewalk for 2 blocks, and a very short dirt path to hop onto local roads.

There are several other spots in my commute where I may be able to save significant time by taking a park path or using some small dirt trails between paved sections. If I get an e-bike, no one will blink at me riding it on the sidewalk (as long as I'm not going too quick), or taking it down a short footpath. If I get a scooter, then I'll probably get stopped and ticketed if I try riding on the sidewalk, and a 30MPH device is downright dangerous on a major road. People in my region are irresponsible and aggressive drivers. I don't trust them when I'm in a car with seatbelts and airbags.

If I get a scooter that's beefy enough to handle that short stretch without being a danger (IE, doesn't top out at 30)... then I also need to get a motorcycle license in my state. That means mandatory classes and training. No thanks. So I'm stuck with this really weird "how much is too much?" problem. I want something where I can get away with sidewalks.

I suppose I could go for a smaller standing scooter of some kind. If it were light enough or toy-like enough then the sidewalk would still be viable, and I could carry it places where I didn't think it could handle the terrain. However, I'd be concerned that it couldn't handle the hills, which is kind of the point of the whole exercise.

There might be a viable compromise here. Especially if I can find one that can take the hills at speed.
Last edited by Longwing on Sep 14 2017 8:48pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 14 2017 8:48pm

Drunkskunk wrote:Everything depends on the grade of hill you have to climb. I agree with the BBSHD as the best option for your needs.
I'm really encouraged to hear that, as my own research kind of leaned in that direction. It's good to know that I wasn't following a completely flawed line of logic, even if I haven't hammered out all the details yet.
Drunkskunk wrote: IGH aren't a cure for your problems. If you just want one, then go for it. You don't need an excuse. If you want one because you believe it's more reliable or less of a hassle, then forget it. they aren't, for all the reasons Chalo listed and 1 more. IGH are 10% less efficient than a conventional chain drive. That means you're giving up 10% of your range among other things.
I like the IGH on my Day-6 Journey. It's a very enjoyable ride. I'd say my biggest concern with using one is the possibility of destroying it under load from the torque. However, the comments from this thread are making me re-examine derailleurs. I may just stop complaining and get a bike with normal gearing after all.
Drunkskunk wrote:You must be able to rely on the bike to always get you to work, 100% of the time. How many times will your boss accept you be late because you had bicycle trouble getting to work? I'm betting it's zero. Zero times is a good goal. But that takes work.
I have some recourse here. There's public transit which solves my problem "well enough". It's slower and carries its own share of annoyances, but it's what I'll be using until I've figured out a better option. I'm also in an urban enough location for short-notice Ubers and Lyfts. So if I've got an issue in the morning, I can get to work and deal with the issue later. Where I could potentially get into trouble would be a breakdown mid-trip.
Drunkskunk wrote:Ebikes need higher maintenance than a conventional bike, so building your own bike from a kit is the first step to knowing your bike intimately. Knowledge you will need to keep it running with 100% up time.
I definitely agree that I'm going to need to learn to maintain whatever I get. I disagree somewhat with the need to build from scratch. Not that I'm knocking DIY, I'm quite fond of DIY, but there's something to be said for getting a complete setup that someone else has designed and tested. You can then take some time to get to know it, learn where it shines and where it has compromises, and learn to maintain it. Maintenance training wheels, if you will.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wesnewell » Sep 15 2017 12:24am

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by wturber » Sep 15 2017 12:36am

I almost wrecked one time because my shoelace got wrapped around the pedal axle and I suddenly found my foot being yanked off the pedal as I spun. I still use shoelaces. I just tie them more carefully when I ride a bike. :^)

FWIW, I've never had a rear derailleur problem that might have caused an accident. I have lost the chain on the front though and that got dicey. I doubt you need more than one chainring and hence no front derailleur. And if you are really concerned about throwing a chain, you might want to install a chain guard like the ones used by downhill racers. I have never used one, but it seems like it might add a tad more chain security and peace of mind. Maybe others can wade in with direct experiences with them?

I don't know about 20 degrees, but maybe a 20% grade. Given your need to get up with no physical effort if necessary, then I really do think everyone's advice about a mid drive makes the most sense.

If you plan on staying under 20 mph and are mostly taking short rides, then no shocks is probably fine. Bikes have gotten by without them for many years. Proper tire selection and inflation can aid in tuning for ride comfort. So too can the right "shock absorber" seatpost. There is one model that I've heard many people rave about. I just don't recall the name. My concern on speed is your downhill sections. They are seductive and you can quickly find yourself going well over 30 mph. Now I've done that a lot on my road bike. But I'm crouching, light on or off the seat, and using my body as the sprung weight and the lightweight road bike as the sprung weight. That just doesn't work as well on a heavier bike. Then there's the whole issue of the unseen rode hazard. My worst crash was from such a thing. It turned my front wheel 90 degrees and I went over the handlebars. Not good. Front suspension may have had me rolling over that weird, hard to see lump of asphalt with no ill effects. Hard to say, but maybe.
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by amberwolf » Sep 15 2017 1:13am

Longwing wrote:I have to be honest, even if they've dramatically improved, I'm still wary as heck. I'd rather bypass the problem altogether if I can.
Just to add a bit of perspective, it's also possible for an IGH to fail in a way that jams the hub and locks up the rear wheel. It's probably rarer than misadjusted (or crappy) derailer failures, but it still happens.

It's also possible for even a regular hub to fail in a way that locks up the wheel--I had one whose bearing cup was destroyed and cut in half along the contact line with the bearings by (I think) bits of a bearing that failed, and the wheel's hub then collapsed on that side enough to jam the rim against the frame and brake pad. No crash, but wasn't fun walking it home.


The issue of an IGH being damaged by torque: It's not usually the torque itself, but the sudden slam-on application of it. If you have a lot of torque being applied to it by the motor, you could make a "cush drive" adapter for the input sprocket (or the output sprocket of the motor end), to prevent the teeth of the IGH gears from being damaged.

The NuVinci has a limit to input torque partly because of the way it works, and at least some IGH's have a limit because they are built with a protective shear pin or other device to prevent damage to the harder-to-fix (and more expensive) gears themselves.

The point about hardly needing to shift is an important one though, one possibility is to simply set the bike to a middling gear and let it run.
If you use a middrive, you may want to be shifting gears for it, to keep it in it's efficient zone, to save power (making for a smaller battery requirement) and/or to keep heat down in the motor system if it's a smaller unit.

I think I'm okay with this, but that might be inexperience talking. I'll be riding this on paved streets, and I can stand up for the occasional bump. I realize that shocks are a terrific convenience, but to my mind, they add a lot of expense and complexity that I don't think I'll need.
I ride on poorly maintained city streets at 20MPH with my heavy cargo trike, and the only suspension it has is a low-end front spring/elastomer fork, and fatter tires in the back. The front shock is helpful with the curbs and some of the potholes, and the bigger tires help enough on much of the pavement.

If I could, I'd rather have offroad-type shock absorbing ability for some of the stuff around here. :lol:

But I expect you'll get by fine with no suspension.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chalo » Sep 15 2017 2:53am

Longwing wrote:If I get a scooter that's beefy enough to handle that short stretch without being a danger (IE, doesn't top out at 30)... then I also need to get a motorcycle license in my state. That means mandatory classes and training. No thanks.
But you'd do it (did it, most likely) for a car, right? What's your issue?
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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by dogman dan » Sep 15 2017 7:49am

Bike that can take the shortcuts. Stay the hell off that death trap road.

Bingo, one problem solved, 20 mph will be plenty, but of course, do go ahead and get something a bit more powerful, and more fast than that. A typical 48v, 1000w rear hub system added to a decent enough MTB.

Stop worrying about shifting, you won't be doing any. You'll put it in high gear, and climb the hills in that gear. Only enough pedaling to help a little will be needed. You won't get there sweaty, or even breathing hard.

You won't need a huge battery, but at least 9-10 ah will be wanted to supply the motor on those hills with enough amps.

If 20 mph is fine,, then lots of options open up in ready to ride bikes. Pedegos for example, because they don't use the tiniest motors on them.

Mid drives also a fine option, but not really needed for your particular commute. A simple hub motor with derailleur should be more able to ride and forget it, for longer periods. You will need to keep after any hub motor wheel at first, but by 100 miles, spoke maintenance should be minimal.

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skyungjae   10 kW

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by skyungjae » Sep 15 2017 9:08am

Out of curiosity, are you going to be locking your bike up outside or bringing it into your workplace?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by melodious » Sep 15 2017 9:43am

In America, make your Ebike look like an ugly, trash bike. It's to keep the thieves away. The higher end production Ebikes look too nice to the eye, that's where you either give it a Fugly paint job or you use a nice donor bike to electrify & uglify. Your distance is so monumentally small, you could get a slim shark battery to easily pop it out of the bike and take with you when the rest of the bike is locked.

The first build advice will always confuse you to which direction you go. You'd be surprised what a small 250w motor can do to your exertion level, but the truth is your just not going to go stupid fast (don't get me wrong, 250w is fast & enough for most) and the time it takes to get to point A to B is not as fast as a higher powered Ebike. Inevitably, if you decide you like this mode of transport, like most of us here on this forum, you jump to an Ebike with lots more power @750w and above :twisted: .

And another thing to consider for a bike is how it handles where your riding it. Riding up that hill on an assisted cruiser boardwalk beachbike is not a problem. It's when you ride back down that will haunt your nerves :lol: .
Last edited by melodious on Sep 15 2017 9:49am, edited 2 times in total.
Surly Ogre rigid 29er, rear 10T MAC @ 50V 25AH & 40A: 30mph road/gravel/hill machine
42" dual diagonal Eskateboard @6s & 90mm wheels
Next: eMTB @10-12s & 8"-12" pneumatic wheels; Got Strapped? d-(',')z

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 15 2017 9:47am

Chalo wrote:But you'd do it (did it, most likely) for a car, right? What's your issue?
I got my drivers license back when I also had summer vacations. Now I have a full-time job and a list of obligations as long as my arm. Getting another license has a significant time cost.

That said, there's validity to the argument that I should get a motorcycle license. Even a low-end motorcycle would allow me to reach my new job using major roadways, cutting the commute from 15-20 minutes to about 5-10. A small car, trike, or motorcycle capable of about 50MPH on the upper end would solve a lot of problems.

If a given vehicle needs a motorcycle license, then it will cost me time. If a given vehicle costs much more than 3k, it will cost me money. I'm inclined to think that an e-bike is the best compromise, but maybe I just haven't seen the right alternative yet? I'd like to at least stick to electrics if I can.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by docw009 » Sep 15 2017 9:57am

Chalo wrote: If you act like you don't belong in the street, drivers will treat you that way. You have to claim your right of way.
Nope. There's one ghost bike I see on the way to my former workplace (retired now), in memory of a young gal who was commuting on a 25 mph road, where the drivers go 35-40.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by skyungjae » Sep 15 2017 10:51am

Longwing wrote:
Chalo wrote:But you'd do it (did it, most likely) for a car, right? What's your issue?
I got my drivers license back when I also had summer vacations. Now I have a full-time job and a list of obligations as long as my arm. Getting another license has a significant time cost.

That said, there's validity to the argument that I should get a motorcycle license. Even a low-end motorcycle would allow me to reach my new job using major roadways, cutting the commute from 15-20 minutes to about 5-10. A small car, trike, or motorcycle capable of about 50MPH on the upper end would solve a lot of problems.

If a given vehicle needs a motorcycle license, then it will cost me time. If a given vehicle costs much more than 3k, it will cost me money. I'm inclined to think that an e-bike is the best compromise, but maybe I just haven't seen the right alternative yet? I'd like to at least stick to electrics if I can.
If time is your concern, you're best off purchasing a turn key e-bike. Building your first e-bike is going to take time. You will make mistakes, you will make many changes while owning it, you may even scrap it and start over.

Are there any local e-bike shops or bike shops that sell e-bikes near you? It's an incredibly valuable resource if you have that type of support after a purchase.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Longwing » Sep 15 2017 3:55pm

skyungjae wrote:If time is your concern, you're best off purchasing a turn key e-bike. Building your first e-bike is going to take time. You will make mistakes, you will make many changes while owning it, you may even scrap it and start over.
Are there any local e-bike shops or bike shops that sell e-bikes near you? It's an incredibly valuable resource if you have that type of support after a purchase.
This gets complicated. Time IS a concern. However, it's pretty easy for me to tinker with an e-bike in my off hours. I have a well-stocked shop where I can work on it (though I'll need to get bike specific tools). Plus, I'm the kind of person who just can't leave well enough alone. I acknowledge the advantages of a turnkey solution and argued that point further up-thread, but I AM a tinker. I mess with stuff, I take things apart. I apply dubious improvements. It's just part of how I operate. It's one thing to steal an hour or two to work on a bike late on a Thursday evening. It's another thing entirely to show up to X of X many classes mandated by the State of Maryland with a test at the end.

I'm somewhat inclined towards an assembled bike to save me some work, but it probably won't be recognizable by the time a year has passed. This is still a decision I'm chewing on. If I can save enough money by buying parts, I'll definitely be buying parts.

As for shops? There is an e-bike shop in my area. I intend to visit them to look at assembled bikes, price compare, and test drive. If their prices are reasonable and they've got something I like, I may get it from them. It'll be a few weeks before I have a chance to visit them though. We'll see.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by Chefkeith » Sep 15 2017 5:02pm

With your budget, I'd spring for the BBSHD, you won't regret it. You seem smart and capable enough to build the bike yourself, and more importantly maintain it - you'll save a ton of money here.

Save $200 for new brakes. My new brakes saved me from hitting two deer that crossed in front of me in the middle of town a few days ago.

One thing you're probably not counting on is how much you'll grow to love riding - pedaling or not. Don't be scared to take a 4 mile route to work to avoid the busy roads. I've spent hours on Google Maps using satellite view and street view to plan routes.

That said, get the largest battery that will fit your budget. As you get in shape, you'll probably want to go for much longer weekend rides. Did I mention ebikes are fun?

I went from biking a near zero amount to work, to biking 500 miles in a month after I built my ebike.

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Re: Seeking advice on e-bike selection

Post by docw009 » Sep 15 2017 5:23pm

Longwing, if you like to tinker, there isn't a derailleur that you can't learn how to adjust or replace, and they will be shifting like toggle switches.

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