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Daox 10-26-2012 05:31 PM

Electric assist bicycles
It was suggested I look into electric bicycles for my commute to work. I looked into this when I got the job last year, but it never went anywhere. So, I am now looking into it and am wondering if I could get some more info.

My commute is roughly 7 miles one way, there are some decent hills. I am not in the worst of shape and believe I could fairly easily work my way up to biking it, but I do have a bum knee from ACL surgery about 10 years ago.

So, what is out there? I know there are conversions out there as well as production bicycles. Suggestions?

Frank Lee 10-26-2012 05:35 PM

Having only had one ebike and one test ride on another, I don't have a great first hand experience base with what all is out there. But I've had that Songi for a couple years now and I absolutely LOVE IT! You would not believe how often and how long the car remains parked on the sidelines when you have one of these! The Songi has a 25 mile range- flatland of course. It has pedals and I have used them when pushing past the batt pack's capacity; do that a few times and you know exactly how far it'll go. It has a basket and I use it for shopping and general errand running. It has full fenders also with flaps and I'll even ride it in the rain, or after the rain. My riding season ends when the streets get icy and they start salting the roads. Still, that is a nice chunk out of the year to leave the car parked.

IamIan 10-26-2012 08:21 PM

There are a ton of options ... I'd start with considering what you want ... not just from the finished product but from the process.

Meaning for some people like me the conversion , the modifications , etc ... where fun activities in and of themselves ... I wanted to do them.

That isn't the case for everyone ... many people are all about the use it ready.

The use it ready by far is easier and such ... it will save some headaches that end up happening in a 'project' ... the quality of the project will depend heavily on the skill and time invested of the project builder ... but a project does allow you to customize much more than a ready made product ever could.

If you don't have a specific need for it ... I would recommend avoiding the folding bicycles ... some are not bad ... but unless you specifically need that feature it will just cost more money and have bike design compromises you don't need.

That having been said mine is a folding ebike ... I personally prefer it , for a few reasons ... but there are cons to them ... so if you don't need that feature don't bother with it.

My bike is chainless ... It has a drive shaft going to a mini 8 speed transmission built into the rear wheel ... I like it for the removing of the chain issues , maintenance , grease and dirt , etc ... but it isn't free ... so if you are used to and don't mind the comparatively minor issues with bicycle chains ... just stick to those , it opens up a lot more options for you.

Make sure the bike itself a base is comfortable ... if it starts off uncomfortable , it is likely to always be uncomfortable.

If you only are considering some assist to make those bike rides and commutes easier and such ... and you are not looking for an electric scooter where you don't plan to pedal at all ... Then there is not much reason to go with anything more than the mini motors rated around 200 to 300 watts.

If you want that scooter like pure EV like mode with zero pedal power from you ... than that is when the higher over 300 watt motors can become useful.

Be mindful that many places will legally consider a ebike with more than about 700watt rated motor as a scooter or moped like device , and may not be allowed on bike trails and paths ... where as many places a eBike under 700 watt rated motor is still legally a bicycle and can still use those bike trails and paths and such.

Regenerative braking on a bicycle is mostly useful if you plan to use it for training ... meaning if you get in great shape and you want a hard work out , you can use that extra resistance for additional exercise the human efforts ... other wise it can pick up a bit more energy efficiency ... but there is usually a price to pay for that feature ... a price larger than the price of electrical kwh are ever to likely recover ... so it is good for some applications ... but if that isn't your thing ... it is a feature that might not be worth the cost.

Many eBikes that do not have regenerative braking instead offer a better free wheel ... allowing the bike to coast further and generally require less energy to go a mile ... this better free wheel often tends to be not as expensive as the regenerative braking feature.

There are some nice power monitors and displays ... I like my Cycle Analyst ... but most of the eBike kits have safety minimums already built into the electronics ... so , such a fairly expensive monitor is mainly for the user ... it has nice features that I like and wanted ... but it may not be cost effective for many people ... who mainly are just going from point A to point B... and having a monitor that logs the distance tells you your speed monitors battery voltage amps Ah watts wh etc ... those things are not worth it to everybody.

Make sure you put a little consideration into weather proofing / resistance ... even if you don't plan to use it in the rain ... there are some simple and easy steps that can be taken ... things that can be useful latter if you get caught by an unexpected shower and such.

There are many battery options as well ... but keep in mind the use and application ... 100 watts of assist for ~15 miles at ~10 MPH is only 150Wh of battery power ... even 300 Watts under the same conditions is only ~450Wh ... unless you want a very long range ... or you are going up into the over 300Watt pure EV like scooter range ... there really is extremely little need for anything more than ~500Wh of battery power ... from 36V this is at most about ~14Ah ... But if you are going to do it make sure you have at least enough to able to use it freely ... I'd say about ~200Wh as a free use entry point for a under 300Watt just giving assist to your pedal efforts type of riding ... at 36V this is ~5.5Ah.

So once you have some ideas of the basic kinds of things you are looking for ... do and don't want ... etc ... then I think you can take those choices to go out and look at specific options and models , etc.

MPaulHolmes 10-27-2012 02:59 PM

I got a hub motor built into a wheel from I loved it, until my math class destroyed it doing experiments at like 40 mph with a guy that weighed close to 300 pounds. We weren't using a controller, just an on/off switch. haha. Hub Motor and Ebike Simulator

Ryland 10-27-2012 07:51 PM

I have a Crystalite rear hub motor from Electric Rider that I really like, I just don't use it much so it's up for sale if you have a reason to come up to west central Wisconsin any time over the winter, right now it's a full bike, with a 36v controller (some people say you can run the motors up to 96v but they were designed as a 72v motor), I also have a 36v 10ah Ping battery and am willing to sell the whole set up for $600 or just the motor/wheel, with speed controller, throttle for $500, no battery and no bike frame.
When I was running that bike with 33v dewal batteries it would go 27mph without pedaling and I'm 250lb so at a true 36v and with someone smaller on it it's going to go faster! that is why I bought that motor, I liked the idea of being able to go faster!

If I don't sell it, I plan to build a cafe racer Ebike using a Chinese scooter's title and vin so I don't have to have pedals on it.

Daox 10-31-2012 02:21 PM

Are there any possibilities in the under $500 range (not you specifically Ryland)?

IamIan 11-01-2012 08:39 PM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 337165)
Are there any possibilities in the under $500 range (not you specifically Ryland)?


Most easily if you are starting with a donor bike ... and in either the used category or the DIY category for the project.

For example I got my front hub motor and motor controller for about $150 for both of them ... that isn't the whole electrification part of the project, but it's part of it.

Once I had the core Motor and controller in hand ... the 3rd and last major component was a battery ... on the cheap you could use any battery you happen to have that can do the volts and amps ... I did splurge a bit for a higher capacity LiFePO4 battery but that is not necessary to go that far.

The 4th part is all the little bits and pieces ... things like:
  • Connecting wires
  • Controls ( Throttle and such )
  • Getting the motor spoked to a wheel ( any bicycle shop can do this for you if you don't want to DIY )
  • Securing the battery pack to the bike ... can be as simple as strapped to a bike rack ... or more complicated like the one I have has a lock , quick disconnect from the bike , a handle , etc ... but as long as it is securely on the bike , and functional , that is all it needs to be.

Off you go.

Staying under $500 when you have a donor bike ... is doable for a used system , or for a more DIY basic system.

Of course if you want more battery capacity ... lighter ... faster .. more power or torque ... better controls ... more displays ... etc ... etc .... more / better cost more.

- - - - - -

For example ... my 1st eBike was lead acid batteries strapped together ... my 2nd was NiMH D cells I soldered together ... as long as it is secure and functional it doesn't matter if it is pretty or not , unless that's what you want to pay for.

Daox 11-02-2012 09:34 AM

I was kind of thinking this would be a fun DIY project.

I just happen to have a 350W PM scooter motor. I also happen to have 12V worth of A123 20Ah cells. While it may not be the perfect setup, all I would need is a controller and charger to get things going...

IamIan 11-02-2012 07:08 PM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 337472)
I was kind of thinking this would be a fun DIY project.

I just happen to have a 350W PM scooter motor. I also happen to have 12V worth of A123 20Ah cells. While it may not be the perfect setup, all I would need is a controller and charger to get things going...

As long as you enjoy the DIY road trips , highs and lows together ... It will be fun ... it was for me.

From what you happen to already have you are off to a good start.

As long as you are only intending on using it to assist and make your pedaling easier ... ~350W should be fine ... do you know what voltage the scooter motor was originally used at?

Daox 11-03-2012 10:05 AM

Yeah, it is a 24V motor. That means it is setup for ~14.5A, and if I only use 12V I'll only get half the power output, so 175W.

As I mentioned in the first post. I think I can fairly easily work my way up to a 7 mile commute, but this would just help get up the bigger hills and not get to work all sweaty.

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