Requesting purchase advice on 1st high quality commuter

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
Hi All,

This will be my 3rd eBike. It will be used for a short commute (2.2 miles each way) and riding around a small city. This is what I have so far:
  • Trek Verve2 mechanical bike, it good shape. Nothing wrong with it, and I can commute on this when it's not too hot.
  • hebike Ranger eBike. This is currently my main bike. It is a (high quality) Chinese folder with 20"x4" fat tires, a 500 W hub motor and a 48 V, 15 Ah battery pack. I like it, but it squeaks and just doesn't have that buttoned-down feeling that the Trek does. It's fast enough and has a long enough range for all my needs, but it is just damned heavy, at 71 lbs., so that (for me) the folding aspect of it is wasted. Due to the big, heavy knobby fat tires, it's inefficient at > 10 mph and to pedal it faster than that is also unreasonable. (Amazon, $1400) I learned a lot about eBikes on it and I'm enjoying it, but it's not my holy grail.
  • Sailnovo "folding" bike. This is one I bought that is actually small enough to put in the trunk of my car. The handlebar and pedals fold, but that's it. Since it has 14" wheels, it's practically speed limited to around 15 mph, which is as fast as it goes. (Amazon, $480)
For this upcoming bike, I'm thinking of a mid-drive eBike with not-so-fat tires. Maybe < 3" wide and 2" would be preferable. Probably 26" or 70 cm wheels to help with the rolling efficiency. Doesn't need to fold. I'd like 50 lbs. or less and good quality components. Budget is ~$2k, so the Treks and Yamahas are out. Can I get good quality without spending ≥$2500?

I came across one last night that has a carbon belt drive instead of chain, so I don't have to worry about premature chain/sprocket wear due to powering it. I'd like a rack & fenders. If that's what pushes it over 50 lbs., so be it. I have a nice set of Bontrager panniers waiting to put on it. I'd also like integrated lights.
 

Nelson37

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
458
Points
28
I don't know what you are trying to do, other than you do not want it to squeak.

Don't see why you want a mid-drive, the three other bikes do not point towards this requirement.

Other than recommending against dealing with Luna Cycle, That's about it.

Oh, actually, you CAN use a hub motor, to create a mid-drive, technically. What you are intending is more accurately known as a "crank-drive", but the terms are used interchangeably.
 

Nelson37

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
458
Points
28
You have a hub drive that does what you want it to do, but the bike squeaks and is heavy. You have a budget you want to keep to, while getting a hi-quality bike, but you want to spend extra on a crank-drive with carbon belt.

You want lighter than what you have now and intermediate tires.

Get a good-quality donor bike that fits you and your purpose for about $1,000 or a bit more. Choose from a huge selection of standard bicycles available. Get a nice geared hub in the 500-1000 watt range, with a frame mount battery for well under $1,000, together. Spend 1-2 hours installing and setting it up. Battery sized to your range and weight requirements. Probably have enough left over for a selectable charger, maybe even a Satiator, either of which will greatly prolong battery life.
 

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
You have a hub drive that does what you want it to do, but the bike squeaks and is heavy. You have a budget you want to keep to, while getting a hi-quality bike, but you want to spend extra on a crank-drive with carbon belt.

You want lighter than what you have now and intermediate tires.

Get a good-quality donor bike that fits you and your purpose for about $1,000 or a bit more. Choose from a huge selection of standard bicycles available. Get a nice geared hub in the 500-1000 watt range, with a frame mount battery for well under $1,000, together. Spend 1-2 hours installing and setting it up. Battery sized to your range and weight requirements. Probably have enough left over for a selectable charger, maybe even a Satiator, either of which will greatly prolong battery life.
Why do you think there's no benefit for me in a crank drive setup? Most folks who have tried them seem to not want to go back to hub drive.

Do you think my current Verve 2 would work as a donor?

For the geared hub, would the common 750 W Bafang work? I looked on Bafang's site, and it seems like they normally have the stuff, but a lot of the pieces are out of stock right now.

I spoke to a buddy here at work who installed a direct drive hub (not geared, as you recommend) on a 70 cm wheeled hybrid and he said it didn't have much torque, but would go 40 mph and it was terrifying.

Any special tools I'll need? I have all the basic mechanic's tools and all the electrical tools I'll need.
 

Nelson37

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
458
Points
28
Install hub requires no special tools. Unlike a crank drive.

If you have used a hub motor, and it works for you, then there is no need for the higher price, more complex install, regular chain replacement, chainline issues, and possible knee problems from offset cranks. Hub motor is simpler, easier, more reliable, less maintenance, and less expensive. Also far fewer dealers, like the one I mentioned, who pay people to post glowing praise for the product. Bafang is a good company, but their are several other crank-drive makers. That vendor does not sell any other brand, that is why you rarely hear of them from the paid shills.

If the bike fits YOU, and what YOU want to do with it, has triangle space to mount the battery, and will mount a standard rear axle, then yes, it will work.

Your buddy installed a DD hub, in a 700C wheel, and did not like the lack of torque? No kidding, he has no clue what he is doing. Absolutely wrong install, unless you have ZERO hills, AND pedal EXCLUSIVELY on takeoff. DD hub has low torque in general, godawful in a large wheel. But, if you want to go 40, or faster, they are the ONLY way to go. No moving parts, bulletproof. Keep it cool and you can pour 2-3 times rated power thru them.

The geared hub is a compromise. Gears add parts, but give you better low-end torque while still getting good speed. All electric motors have a rated RPM at a specified voltage, most are available in numerous models of speed rating. Necessary to get the one you want. Want to go 40mph, get a motor rated for that speed. Only need 20, or 25, then get the motor rated at that speed. The speed rating is INDEPENDENT of the Wattage rating, they are somewhat related, but not directly. Also geared motors, with a clutch, coast better while the DD hubs drag a bit. Geared hubs also significantly lighter, in general.

When I say "rated", I mean that is the way it is built. Wattage rating is an estimate of what power it will take, on a continuous basis, without melting. Something of a guess and "continuous" is defined in various ways. But RPMs/volt, that is dictated by design.
 

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
Install hub requires no special tools. Unlike a crank drive.

If you have used a hub motor, and it works for you, then there is no need for the higher price, more complex install, regular chain replacement, chainline issues, and possible knee problems from offset cranks. Hub motor is simpler, easier, more reliable, less maintenance, and less expensive. Also far fewer dealers, like the one I mentioned, who pay people to post glowing praise for the product. Bafang is a good company, but their are several other crank-drive makers. That vendor does not sell any other brand, that is why you rarely hear of them from the paid shills.

If the bike fits YOU, and what YOU want to do with it, has triangle space to mount the battery, and will mount a standard rear axle, then yes, it will work.

Your buddy installed a DD hub, in a 700C wheel, and did not like the lack of torque? No kidding, he has no clue what he is doing. Absolutely wrong install, unless you have ZERO hills, AND pedal EXCLUSIVELY on takeoff. DD hub has low torque in general, godawful in a large wheel. But, if you want to go 40, or faster, they are the ONLY way to go. No moving parts, bulletproof. Keep it cool and you can pour 2-3 times rated power thru them.

The geared hub is a compromise. Gears add parts, but give you better low-end torque while still getting good speed. All electric motors have a rated RPM at a specified voltage, most are available in numerous models of speed rating. Necessary to get the one you want. Want to go 40mph, get a motor rated for that speed. Only need 20, or 25, then get the motor rated at that speed. The speed rating is INDEPENDENT of the Wattage rating, they are somewhat related, but not directly. Also geared motors, with a clutch, coast better while the DD hubs drag a bit. Geared hubs also significantly lighter, in general.

When I say "rated", I mean that is the way it is built. Wattage rating is an estimate of what power it will take, on a continuous basis, without melting. Something of a guess and "continuous" is defined in various ways. But RPMs/volt, that is dictated by design.
Great info!
I know a bit about motors. It seems like they should be able to make a DD motor with more poles for greater torque, but I guess gearing is a lot less limiting.

What product and retailer do you have a good experience with? It seems like a kit might be the way to go. I’m pretty competent, mechanically and very competent electronically. The Trek Verve2 seems like a perfect base.
 

Nelson37

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
458
Points
28
The DD hubs are a somewhat commodity item. Clones of Clones, all about the same, variations are more day of the week it was made than company (airquotes) that made it. 9C is the one they all clone, and the 9C is a clone of the Crystalyte, the grandaddy. Grin sells these.

Geared hubs are a bit different, quality control a bit more important. Ebikeling does a decent job as a vendor and has been around a while. A reputable dude used to do their tech support. He's the kinda guy who would never work for someone like the Loon. Grin in canada is another, a bit on the pricey side. MXUS, Bafang two good manufacturers, Mac another. The Mac is a bit on the high end, like BMC used to be. I Think BMC is gone now. The MXUS 350W is what I chose. 8 yrs, 25,000 miles. I do my research thoroughly.

The way to get torque from a DD hub is to put it into a very small wheel, like you see on all the electric chinese scooters. Crank higher volts for speed, and a buttload of amps, and you get the whole package of speed and climbing power, with reliability. Plus regen braking. Downside is they are heavy, and inefficient. Such is the price for high power and near-bulletproof reliability. Take a cheap, 1500W 9c clone, a few bucks for Statorade and some heatsinks and you can pump 2-3000 W thru these for extended periods.

IMO the best compromise is the geared hub, 350W to 1000W, various speeds. The Mac comes in 6T, 8T, 10T, and 12T models. T for torque and lower number for more speed. An 8T at 48V in a 26" does about 30mph, IIRC. Check these in a good simulator. Grin has an excellent simulator with many models correctly entered. Well worth spending some time with. Complicated, LOTS of info, play with it, think about it, then go back and play some more.
 

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
I started looking into some of those companies. It's too much to slip in at work, I'm gonna have to make some time after the wife & kids go to sleep.

I took a cursory look at MXUS first, based on Nelson's research and confidence. Their website doesn't give me the same confidence though. They brag about how big and old and successful their company is, but their site doesn't reflect that at all. It's like something I would have manually written html code for in my college days, and stopped before I fine-tuned it or got anyone to proof it. I guess most of their business is to OEMs and that's why they don't need a customer-friendly site. (they don't even have a link to a retailer, that I could see...)

ebikeling makes the kit my colleague bought. He probably went for the DD hub motor because of less moving parts, but without knowing it would favor insane speed over everyday-usable torque. (ebikeling doesn't make this clear at all; they like to advertise Watts that are above the legal limits for road use) There are some good usable specs and tables, though.

Bafang's site looks great. They have these interactive tools to help and a robot chat that actually points to useful links. They're obviously geared up to sell direct to the public. (in addition to OEMs) I didn't get to Grin, Mac or BMC yet.

****************

Back to pre-built bikes for a minute. Aventon is a big name, at least in terms of advertising. But their after-sale support has an AWFUL reputation. Even worse than a lot of the Chinese Amazon/alibaba brands. I'm taking them out of the running. I just posted a question in the Amazon product page re. how to tune the screech out of my heybike Ranger's disc brakes. They replied one day and asked me to email their after-sale support line and they would give me a tutorial. The result is that while the quality is commensurate with the price, (mid-low range for the spec) they at least are willing to help later.
 

Nelson37

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
458
Points
28
Ebikeling does not make anything, they just put their name on it.

MXUS does not sell factory-direct. Got mine from a small dealer.

Bafang is HUGE, and been around a LONG, long time.

For purely bicycle stuff, if your not aware of Sheldon Brown's website, find it and go there. He is THE MAN. Sadly, was THE MAN.
 

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
While searching for MXUS dealers, Google let me know that ebikeling is located in Chicago; only an hour or so away from me.

Nelson, if you have a link with MXUS dealers you could post, I'd appreciate it.

I may order from them, since they're (kind of) local. My local bike shops here in Kenosha only sell the mid drive ebikes from Giant, Electra and Trek. I don't think they will order kits or anything.
 

Smaug

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
57
Points
8
I'm waivering here. The Lectric XP Lite costs only $800. Installing my own will approach that and will require a bunch of work and sacrifice of my mechanical bike in the process...
 

Hoggdoc

Active member
Joined
Mar 5, 2021
Messages
461
Points
43
Location
Longview, WA.
Website
activityphoto.com
I'm waivering here. The Lectric XP Lite costs only $800. Installing my own will approach that and will require a bunch of work and sacrifice of my mechanical bike in the process...
I had the same thing happened when I first bought a new bike. I have a perfectly good bike here that I was going to convert it by the time I got all the bits and pieces together the cost was pretty high.

I ended buying a pre-built bike and I'm pretty happy with it.
 
Top Bottom