What are ebikes actually good for?


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1:23 AM
Jul 13, 2020
While I am no pro level rider I have had a few basehits in the bike industry over the years. I have been putting small motors on bicycles since 2001 and have followed their development here and across the pond ever since. Not to exclusivity but at this time it is my main form of riding due to lack of single track out the front door and a plethora of roads....

So between road riding, commuting and cargo duty ebikes can be useful which, hopefully in time folks will come to realize and utilize. Keep bashing away at emtb's if you must but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So in the spirit of the forum as described, I am proposing a post about what ebikes can actually be good for?
Good report on real world experiences, now if only we could get the MTB crowd to realize that "not every ride is a race". Maybe then they could get over the whole "you cheated" thing.......
I picked up a Litespeed Unicoi soft tail earlier this year and converted it using the BBSHD kit and a might mini battery. I use it as an alternative for my road bike when it's really windy or just want a casual ride. Also nice to have the option to go on gravel and trails.
Great post, thank you. How much range can you get from your setup if you average 25-30mph? Once a new BIke Path is finished between near where I live and near my work I have thought about using a Roadie eBike for commuting on occasion. I live 34 miles from my work, If I can average 30mph, I can commute in just over an hour each way. Once the bike path is in place that is actually an option to sustain higher speeds without having to stop for Traffic Signals.
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I spent years on the road before getting back into MTB. I still ride on the road and may begin commuting on a drop-bar e-bike.

I think roadies poke fun at e-bikes much in the same way MTBers do, but roadies don't see them as a threat. Instead, the threat is motorists. Cyclists get run off the road all the time, and all the ghost bikes are a constant reminder.

I like ebikes for three reasons in particular:

1. They're a blast to ride

2. A person on an ebike is not behind the wheel

3. Ebikes can potentially draw more people into the general sport of cycling. Anyone who rides "should" be just a bit more courteous to cyclists on the road than someone who doesn't ride. This is irrespective of whether this person is riding fat or skinny tires.
The big thing is that e bikes only put out about 1 h.p. or so which when you start moving through air at over 20 mph will help do the job with active pedaling in put to get you up to the mid to high 20's but it will take all it's "energy" known as watts to do so which will sap a battery fast.

I find that to average speeds above 25mph you will be using the corresponding wh/mi as evidenced here:
ebike speedo average speed over 25mph.jpg

I routinely do a 20 mile commute that is 1/3 2 lane country road, 1/3 wide shoulder 4 lane highway and 1/3 city surface streets and because I know I will be able to recharge the battery during the day I mostly go as fast as conditions allow which takes me an average of 45 minutes @ 20wh/mi. The beauty of it is that sometimes it takes me longer to do this in my car and I get a 40 mile bike ride in instead of sitting in a cage.

So my suggestion would be that you could probably do your commute but it would take you at least a 17ah battery with an average speed of more like 25mph. As you say you would like to do it on occasion so on those occasional days you could plan on leaving a little earlier and getting home a little later. But I think that you would like the feeling you get when you get to work energized by the ride and how much better that beer tastes when you get home.
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I'm about to convert my Bakfiets into a hub-motor e-bike. Riding with the rest of the family on the Radwagon is just not fun for anyone if I can only go half their speed. Hoping that a 13.5 aH battery will give me a decent (ie 20 miles) range even with my very non-aero/heavy rig.

Agreed that e-bikes on the road/commuter paths are basically 100% a good thing. There are a TON popping up around here - mostly Pedego. I'm going to have to get used to sharing the bike path! Horrors!

I haven't seen any e-road bikes but road riding isn't a big thing around here, and I don't even own a road bike, so if there were a bunch, I'd probably be unaware of it.

They're not standoffish...you're just not really a cyclist when you're on a powered bike so you're not in their club or sport or whatever you want to call it. I pass guys who are fishing on the local bridges and they're kind of standoffish, too.

It's like whooping it up and bragging about how you tore up a trail on your eBike to a bunch of mountain bikers. We're glad you had fun but you're not exactly doing the same activity.
They are being stand-offish. It is just the nature of road bikers and has nothing to do with being on an ebike. They were just like that when I pedaled a recumbent: it was the Wrong Kind of Bike: if you don't ride an expensive diamond frame with skinny tires and wear gaudy costumes with advertising plastered all over, you dont exist as far as they are concerned. Try showing up with a cheapo off brand bike and denim shorts and a tee shirt: they are just as snobby then too.......

This is prob on the opposite of do it yourself but he gets pretty impressive range in the mountains.
It has more to do with the paceline than anything else. Can a guy hold a wheel and will he take his turn pulling at the front?

No point in chatting with someone at a stoplight only to tell them, "sorry, please stay off my wheel. Your US Postal jersey and hairy legs don't inspire confidence."

I haven't seen too many drop bar e-bikes yet, but roadies LOVE wheel-sucking my tandem. I'd imagine they'd love wheel-sucking a class 3 pedelec as well.
After the last few weeks of i'm glad I have mudguards weather a big high pressure has hit the PDX and although known as a bicycle city it is not a mtb city so that is why I have adopted the county roads, gravé and pavé, and the various firelanes in the city park for my cycling jollies.

ebike GPS track.jpeg

One thing is that for me my e bikes take the place of my ex motorcycle habit. Recently I had a nice KTM dual sport but just going for "a ride" was boring, but it did work well for commuting. Now I can still do the commute and my rides are anything but boring as I am combining two well liked activities, getting some exercise and seeing the country and city side at a tempo that allows me to take it all in. A lot easier to travel with too.

Also I did in fact just the other day give a guy a tow and he thanked me for it when we parted. I'm not under any delusions that I am being a "roadie" and don't post my stats on the UA site. I just use it to track myself.
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BW, great information. My first foray into "e" was a front hubster and was excellent for errands (and not bad for off road) for the reasons you state, although I ride upright since (I guess my fat head weighs too much) drop bar is uncomfortable. Try to avoid the roads in OC as much as possible for safety reasons, and wish there were more "countrified" areas without needing to take a long drive to get there. Would relocate except for the kids and granddaughter.
Bigwheel, you've inspired me to try the front hub motor on our road tandem.

I really like the idea of being able to swap out the front wheel and dump the battery in a pinch. The tandem is already setup for a trunk bag and also has four bottle cage mounts.

The bike has been collecting dust for the last few years. Would be nice to take it out again on some mountain roads without turning it into a hammer/suffer fest.

Where did you buy your setup from?

I get my stuff from Grin Tech (ebikes.ca) in Vancouver, BC. It helps that I am up there some as I have a son that lives there and am able to go by their facility. They are really all about kit bikes and have taken the time to document tons of info about e systems in general. Justin Lemire-Elmore is a nice guy and this, caution long, interview highlights his knowledge:
Since this interview they have moved to a larger facility which they seem to do every few years as they are expanding at a consistent rate.

Their All Axle motor is what I have on the silver bike and it is about 4 lbs. lighter than the 9c on the black bike. I like the built in torque arm on the AA but haven't been able to take advantage of the thru axle compatibility yet due to lack of fork selection in my price range, as in cheapish. Many are put off by front hub motors because they think they will tear apart the fork and this if they are setup up properly with a torque arm is not at all true. The black bike has about 2k on it and has a BD CF fork with CF dropouts and there is no discernible wear on them at all. It is kind of a pain to have a nutted hub and bolt on torque arm though and the way I have the AA setup it is tool less in and out. Just have to let the QR go, give it a few spins to get past the lawyer lips and undo a few wire connections.

I use their 35A controller set at 25A as that is all the power I need (52V x 25A = 1300w) but truth be told I torched a 25A controller doing some serious hill climbing in hot weather last summer and this one has never even gotten warm.

I have one of their 11Ah (10.5 actual) HL shark batteries that I can get 18 miles full gas or in the 30's mostly. Really dependent on my mood, time and terrain. I like the looks of their 16.5Ah battery of the same design which would extend my range by 60% but I am waiting for a 21700 cell battery to show up here hopefully early next year. Most rides and time to ride the battery I have does the job. Rarely do I get done with a ride on one bike and then come home and head out on the other. Much like the way the manufacturers are specing two battery systems for shorter tripping it doesn't make sense to carry the extra weight of too much battery. But I can think of some rides that it would be nice.

Their Cycle Analyst III is a must have tool IMNSHO. It is kind of clunky looking but the control it allows you over the bikes controller and the super accurate readout in watts and Ah's while on the go makes it head and shoulders over most displays simple Voltage readouts which it also has but I don't use as it fluctuates too much.

As I liken riding my e bikes to riding a tandem with a really fit stoker I would imagine that on a true tandem with a front hub motor it would be more like a really fit captain with two stokers :). I wouldn't mount anything heavy in that trunk bag though, i'd go with your lowest bottle bosses for good handlings sake. Tandems can be whippy enough without having that amount of weight up there.