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Thread: e-Bikes - Let's talk

  1. #1041
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    I regularly ride in traffic on Key anytime we get a noticeable amount frozen precipitation and I don’t feel like switching wheel sets or dealing with ruts.
    Not dead yet.

  2. #1042
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    Test report on my e-bike build: it is a game-changer. Its maiden voyage to work and back was yesterday.

    My background: I used to bike to work near the Capitol from Arlington every day in the early 90s. I used to have legs like steel bands. I've been motorcycle commuting for the last 20 years or so from West Falls Church to downtown. I still ride a bicycle to work on occasion, but don't like to do the 28 mile round trip in a day. It's brutal. So sometimes I use my motorcycle bike rack (a sight to see) to ferry my bicycle to work for a one-way trip bicycle ride home, and ride it to work the next day when I'm fresh. My wife wanted a pedal-assist e-bike for her commute (she usually drives but took a bike a few times last year) so I have assembled and e-bike rig to an existing mountain bike (didn't want to tamper with her nice, newish 700MM wheel bike, and e-bike wheels for a 26" bike are cheaper).

    The bike: a used Schwinn Frontier, tiny 15" chrome-moly frame (worth about $50). 26" mountain tires, front fork suspension, centerpull rim brakes.
    Motor: 48v, 1000w brushless rear wheel, with tire, gearset, spindle and controller, thumb throttle, replacement brake levers with motor cutout switches. Cost $140.
    Rear rack: aluminum cantilevered seat-post mount, with support legs as well. Very strong and light. Model B671 on Ebay. Cost : $16.
    Storage: All gear stored in stereo pannier (M-WAVE Amsterdam) ($35) for low center of gravity and weather protection. Hard to tell it is an e-bike because the pannier partly covers the rear wheel motor. There is also a little room left over for personal belongings.
    Batteries: Used two sets for the test. Four small Bikemaster 12v motorcycle lithium batteries (very light, 5 pounds 4 OZ) ($200) in one pannier, alongside the controller, and pack #2 is four 12v 10AH lithium batteries ("reasonably" light, 12 pounds) ($300) in the other pannier. Both battery banks, and the controller, have Anderson Powerpole disconnects so a battery bank bag can be quickly pulled from the bike pannier and taken with you.

    Report: bike handles well, and the front of the bike, though much lighter than the rear, is stable and responsive. Bike still functions well when pedaling when there is no power to the motor, and brakes, though rim and not disk, stop the bike quickly and solidly. If you were to max this thing out at 30 MPH, you'd probably want disk brakes. But this test was for normal pedaling speeds, with motor assist for hills and exertion issues. The motor has a sophisticated phased power input and motor position sensor output to the control unit, so there is controllable but considerable torque off the line. I rigged the thumb controller to remain at whatever set position I selected so I wouldn't have keep working it on hills. I'd start it by pedaling in a lower gear, then hit the throttle as soon as I was moving and as I shifted to high gear, then pedaled with the throttle off. Under throttle there is no bogging at all on hills. The rig is never wanting for more power. A lazy cyclist could fly on this thing everywhere and never pedal, but the power demands would be considerable. I took the W&OD and Custis trails and, to test the tiny motorcycle batteries first, used the motor (quite a bit) with pedal assist, and pedal-only on the straights. It took me only five miles, and the on-board battery circuitry that prevents full discharge abruptly cut power to the controller. Then I hot-swapped to the other bank for the rest of the way. I recharged the 10AH pack at work and it took me all 14 miles home even though there are many more hills in that direction. They were just about depleted by the end of the trip, so I's say that the range of a 10AH pack is 6-40 miles, depending upon how much you use it. Generally on the flats I'd cycle only, giving it a quick throttle at some junctures so I could then effortlessly pedal along in high gear. It was so wonderful to have a quick squirt of power whenever I wanted it! Down hills I would coast and relax at times when I normally would be doing whatever I could to get to get some momentum for the next hill. Up the hills and under throttle, I found myself pedaling with minor downshifting for pedal assist. Except for downshifting in anticipation of a near/full stop, I found that I didn't shift much like I normally would be. One nice thing was that if I needed to slow to a crawl behind a pedestrian because there was an oncoming bike, after that bike passed and then went around the walker I could hit the throttle and be back up to cruising speed within seconds with no effort, and then could resume pedaling normally. In general I found that the usual considerate behaviour of slowing down when overtaking a dog walker was more joyful when I could easily get back my previous speed after passing. So being on an e-bike does not necessarily compel one to be a daredevil, quite the opposite if you have the mindset for it. My commute is usually 0:25 on a motorcycle on the highway, 1:00 should I take a METRO train (if there are no delays), 1:15 TO work on bicycle, 1:45 home on bicycle (due to hills/ being tired). With the motor assist it was 1:00 each way, but It wasn't because I was going ant faster on the straights; it was because the I could take the hills at regular speed. There's no way I could physically do this round trip every day on a regular bicycle, but yesterday, though I pedaled quite a bit with no assist, I wasn't the least bit tired afterward.

    I'm back to my motorcycle today but as far as I'm concerned my experiment passes the test. For lightness I'd go with only the tiny battery pack if I had a short commute and I was conserving the motor for hill assist only. But It's the 10AH @ 48V batteries for the win if you want some real range or more assist. There are massive 20AH batteries in the market but IMO that would make the bike a bit heavy for your regular cycling without assist. 35 pound bike, 15 pound rear wheel/motor/controller (slightly heavier, but subtract the wheel and gearset that was removed), 6 pounds of rack and pannier, 12 pounds of batteries (10AH) = heavy but still manageable, but some might want to remove the batteries and carry them separately, if lifting the bike up a flight of stairs, or onto a car rack.Click image for larger version. 

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    Pics: Heavy 10AH packs (4) on scale, aluminum rack mounts to seatpost and frame or lugs, and is height adjustable in front and back, and deck adjusts on rail. Schwinn with everything installed, my wife's Trek Seventy-four in the background.
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    Last edited by phog; 02-21-2018 at 10:23 AM. Reason: added pics

  3. #1043
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    I've taken the lane on Key Bridge many times, but I've never enjoyed it. I've tried because I am uncomfortable riding past so many pedestrians on the sidewalk there who have varying levels of comfort and experience and sense around bikes. I cannot imagine using an e-cargo bike on the Key Bridge sidewalk. Riding something like that there would feel (be?) rude and unsafe, no matter the speed. But it's clear to me that some cyclists are not concerned about the comfort or fear of pedestrians, which makes me sad. Pedestrians should be able to use the sidewalk without feeling afraid or being unduly startled.

    Key Bridge needs a bike lane, though that wouldn't solve the whole problem. You see people riding on the sidewalk downtown all the time when there is a bike lane right next to them.

  4. #1044
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    I typically use the sidepaths on Key Bridge itself, but I ride the roadways in Virginia (Lynn / Ft Myer) and DC (M St) leading to the bridge. So I use the downstream sidewalk inbound and the upstream sidewalk outbound. When the sidewalks were intermittently closed for construction last year, I took the right-most open lane across the bridge rather than try to cross over to the "wrong" sidewalk. I can't say it was comfortable (especially on a CaBi at 6pm), and I did get honked at, but I experienced no dangerously close passes.

    Key Bridge desperately needs a bicycle lane in each direction. Those sidewalks are inadequate for the growing number of users.

  5. #1045
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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    I cannot imagine using an e-cargo bike on the Key Bridge sidewalk. Riding something like that there would feel (be?) rude and unsafe, no matter the speed. But it's clear to me that some cyclists are not concerned about the comfort or fear of pedestrians, which makes me sad. Pedestrians should be able to use the sidewalk without feeling afraid or being unduly startled.
    Have you ever ridden a cargo bike - e or not, with kids or not? They are all longer than normal bikes, but the vast majority are not wider than their handlebars. In fact, bikes with trailers are longer, wider, and handle in less predictable ways. Far from being rude or unsafe, I always get nice waves and comments, particularly from pedestrians when kids are on the bike. One could certainly ride one rudely or unsafely, but I see far, far more roadies riding in ways that are rude and unsafe than folks on e-cargo bikes (on the Key Bridge or elsewhere).

    As a frequent runner on the Custis (scandal, I know), I much prefer being passed by cargo bikes (e- or not) than bikes with trailers (e- or not), because the riders with trailers don't always seem to know where their trailers are in relation to them/ the people they've passed and/or aren't always in control of where the trailer is going.

  6. #1046
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    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    Quote Originally Posted by phog View Post
    One nice thing was that if I needed to slow to a crawl behind a pedestrian because there was an oncoming bike, after that bike passed and then went around the walker I could hit the throttle and be back up to cruising speed within seconds with no effort, and then could resume pedaling normally. In general I found that the usual considerate behaviour of slowing down when overtaking a dog walker was more joyful when I could easily get back my previous speed after passing. So being on en e-bike does not necessarily compel one to be a daredevil, quite the opposite if you have the mindset for it.
    THIS!!!

    And nice set up. Sounds like you've put a lot of thought and love in it. Glad it's gotten you back to biking.

  7. #1047
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    As a frequent runner on the Custis (scandal, I know), I much prefer being passed by cargo bikes (e- or not) than bikes with trailers (e- or not), because the riders with trailers don't always seem to know where their trailers are in relation to them/ the people they've passed and/or aren't always in control of where the trailer is going.
    Lots of people out on the trails in this good weather, I know you agree a child trailer is an inexpensive way to get into family biking, so is a child seat of course. I don't attempt to thread the needle between trail users when towing a child trailer as it's too wide, on street that width pushes me to ride further from the gutter than I usually do so as not to strike a kerb stone, although with my clumsiness I think that might happen if I rode a long or mid tail cargo bike which is why I admire the thoughtfulness of models where you can remove the foot rails when not carrying children. I've found an articulated trailer useful to get around tight corners and carry groceries but awkward to back up.
    Last edited by Dewey; 02-21-2018 at 11:37 AM.

  8. #1048
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    I suspect differences in people knowing how to handle the trailer can probably be correlated to cycling experience. So far my impression is that people buying box and cargo bikes have been doing this cycling for a little while.

    I've only ridden an electric box bike a little bit; it was absolutely terrifying to me. But I am sure you get used to the e-assist.

    I am amazed at the number of additional e-bikes I am seeing in this warm weather.

  9. #1049
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post

    I've only ridden an electric box bike a little bit; it was absolutely terrifying to me. But I am sure you get used to the e-assist.
    The first couple of times that I rode a ped-elec it was very uncomfortable on starts and while turning because the assist was kicking in at times that I didn't necessarily want it to. I got used to it by the third ride.

  10. #1050
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    The first couple of times that I rode a ped-elec it was very uncomfortable on starts and while turning because the assist was kicking in at times that I didn't necessarily want it to. I got used to it by the third ride.
    Yes, magnet pedal cadence sensors act like a simple on/off motor switch and aren't particularly responsive. For kit conversions I admire the pedal torque sensors Grin Tech sells though you have to drill a hole through your bottom bracket shell for the cable that connects to the controller. OEM systems like Bosch use multiple sensors and are very responsive starting and stopping in line with your pedalling. For the rest it's an argument for having a throttle and why Class 2 ebikes are a good thing.
    Last edited by Dewey; 02-22-2018 at 04:17 PM.

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