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Thread: eBikes

  1. #1
    rcannon100's Avatar
    rcannon100 is offline Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. ~~Samuel Beckett

    Default eBikes

    So lets talk ebikes....

    I may be in the market. I have my old Canondale Bad Boy commuter. Thinking that the Bad Boy is a solid bike and a good candidate for a conversion kit. Seems like buying a new eBike, the bikes themselves tend to be crap..... or well there is the Specialized for $5K.

    Any thoughts on an ebike for commuting? Any thoughts on conversion kits? If you do a conversion, front tire versus rear tire? What about those new folder ebikes?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    What is motivating you to do this? Fuel cost? Food IS more expensive than electricity. Time saving? Remember to factor in the health benefits of human powered transportation. Dominating the slacker team's leaderboard? Go for it!

  3. #3
    TwoWheelsDC's Avatar
    TwoWheelsDC is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Capitol Hill


    Maybe some day the Copenhagen Wheel will be real...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Leesburg, VA


    I'd look at the radpower ( ) bikes. They are very reasonably priced for what you get and are geared towards being useful commuters (integrated rack, come with fenders and such).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Vienna, Va


    For conversion kits, take a look at I'm happy with the stuff I've bought from them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Arlington, VA


    Quote Originally Posted by rcannon100 View Post
    Any thoughts on conversion kits? If you do a conversion, front tire versus rear tire?
    Neither, consider a mid-drive kit to leverage the bike gears to get up hills. Weight distribution is affected by motor and battery placement on the bike frame, bottom bracket mounted motor with a bottle cage or frame-bag mounted battery provide low and central weight distribution. A mid-drive motor can mean you lose the front derailleur how much does this matter or are you OK compensating with a wide range rear cassette and smaller front chain ring combo to narrow the gear range? If you want to keep your front derailleur gears a wheel hub motor will let you, motors are heavy though so if you're seeking more power you might like to buy the motor, checking that it works with your bike disk or V brakes, and have a custom wheel built with eyeletted rims, 12 gauge stainless steel spokes and brass nipples. Don't put a front wheel hub motor on aluminum or carbon forks as they can't take the torque and will break, steel forks work best and add a torque arm (or two) to prevent the axle spinning out. This article is a couple of years old but the pros and cons advice about mid-drive motors hold true and it covers kits for the DIY ebike builder. Changing gears under load with a mid-drive motor will crunch and wear your chain and rear cassette so work arounds include a gear sensor or kill switch you can use like a clutch. This article by a UK writer describes mostly mid-drive motors used by ebike manufacturers that build a frame around the motor. How comfortable are you doing DIY electrical soldering, removing the bottom bracket, etc? I reccomend the excellent 3-part series about how to install a mid-drive kit on this website - in my case I had to teach myself to solder, it's common in the DIY ebike world for owners to purchase kit from one manufacturer and battery from another which results in motors and batteries with different/incompatible connectors - there are local bike shops in the DC area who will do the conversion for you, however DIY feels great when it works plus you built it yourself so you can troubleshoot when things go wrong. You can use your local bike shop to do some of the harder tasks eg I had my LBS remove the bottom bracket and fit a new rear cassette.

    Do you want throttle or pedelec-only control, or both? Cheaper pedelec kits use a pedal cadence sensor which works well enough. You can get a torque sensor that plugs into the Cycle Analyst bike computer, but as that goes in the bottom bracket you have to use a wheel hub kit. How much power do you want/need? Do you want an insurable ebike - your home/auto insurance will not extend liability, and Markel cover only manufactured ebikes or kit adapted bicycles that fall under the CPSC definition <750W peak power, <20mph that eliminates most but not all kits. Remember kit manufacturers only give out nominal power ratings - you need to calculate peak power using the formula battery voltage multiplied by the ampage of the motor controller e.g. for a 250W BBS01 kit peak power is 36V (battery) X 15A (controller amps) = 540 Watts, whereas for a 750W BBS02 kit peak power is 48V X 25A = 1200 Watts. You should preferably decide at the outset in advance of ordering any kit what you need/want because the cost of shipping a lithium battery yourself e.g. in case of return to seller is remarkably expensive if you later change your mind e.g. $80 via Fed-Ex ground hazardous material from Arlington, VA to California. Peruse this trusted vendors list, I've had good experiences with several US based vendors on this list.

    Familiarise yourself with the byzantine world of ebike law, here's a comparison of state laws but also consult the regulations's for VA, DC, MD plus local jurisdiction bylaws e.g. Arlington, DC, etc.

    A couple of ebike discussion forums I have found useful are Endless Sphere, and Pedelecs (UK). Ebike journalist Court Rye maintains a reviews website. An industry perspective is provided by Electric Bike Report.

    All that said many ebike wheel hub conversion kits are plug and play like this Dillenger front wheel kit, so it's only as complicated as you want to make it, but I hope this gives an overview if you go down the DIY route. Good luck with your build!
    Last edited by Dewey; 11-16-2016 at 07:50 AM.

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