I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then...

Positive discussion on ebikes and pedal assist bicycles

I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then...

Postby silentbutdeadly » Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:52 am

I've been toying with an e-bike conversion to the commuter for a while. No good reason other than curiosity and the potential for tinkering. Then yesterdays 32km commute in the morning in the cold had me down to a 21km/h average and the idea formed up again at a point further up the list.

The new mid drive kits look great and far more integrated than the frame mount units I have considered in the past. Never been a fan of hub motors for some reason.

The wrinkle for a conversion for me is that the commuter is and probably always will be fitted with drop bars which seems to discount virtually every kit out there. Though (as a result of Aushiker) I now know there are cable mounted brake switches that will work for a drop bar setup.

I can find a spot on the bars for a thumb throttle but since I really only need (or actually want) pedal assist...then I'd prefer not to have one.

The other significant wrinkle is my typical average speed and the typical maximum speed of a pedelec in this country. Yesterdays commute home I averaged 28 km/h over the 26 km journey so if my reading is interpreted correctly, if I converted the commuter to a pedelec, then I will never see this average speed again because the bike won't help me above 25 km/h. In fact it may actively hinder me (depending on the kit) and regardless the extra 8 to 12 kgs of motor and battery (almost as much as the bike again) certainly won't be something I can pedal past!!

I normally manage around 23 to 25 km/h average on my commute but swing between 21 and 28 depending on feel good factors and wind strength/direction.

So I might be spending $2000 to actually go slower...is this a correct read of the situation? If this is the case then why would I bother?
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by BNA » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:15 pm

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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Aushiker » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:15 pm

If you believe Pedal Power ACT you can average 25 km/h with your legal e-bike ...

E-bikes are speed limited by law to 25kms an hour. Now as a cyclist you might think, “ha! I can do that speed on my road bike”, but the difference is that with an e-bike you can do that speed going up hills, as well as down, and for most people it raises their average speed to 25kms an hour.


Source: Pedal Power ACT

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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Mububban » Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:57 pm

Exactly Aushiker, I've got skinny pigeon legs that die as soon as they hit any sort of incline, but since getting the mountain bike converted with a front wheel 200W assist, I can pedal and motor my way up any incline at around 23-28kph. On my own, I'd be struggling up some hills on my commute at 10-15kph, and suffering while doing so.
I sit on the flats doing about 32kph without motor assist, and downhill my cruddy hubs don't like going over 50kph, so I really do average about 28kph. I just don't slow down except for traffic/conditions or lights/stop signs.

I'm always pedalling so I still get exercise, but the boost up the hills is, for me, a game changer. However if you have awesome cycling legs and not too much climbing on your route, it's quite possibly of little benefit to you.

Some retailers let you test drive, if you can arrange a test ride in a hilly area you can get a feel for the uphill benefits.
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby lobstermash » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:11 pm

silentbutdeadly wrote: The wrinkle for a conversion for me is that the commuter is and probably always will be fitted with drop bars which seems to discount virtually every kit out there.


You might want to check out something like a Keydee(?) system. It's a small and relatively light hub motor system that's more supplement power than anything else, and has a freehub that you can stick a standard 10-speed cassette onto. I don't have any first hand experience with them, but have heard they're more suited to regular riders (as opposed to cyclists who need more intrusive assistance).
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby AUbicycles » Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:44 am

The amount of stopping and starting (traffic lights) could factor in and inclines. The ebike will get you up to speed quicker but you are right, at a weight penalty. It is the reason why most ebikes are upright and suited for lower speeds.

In your situation I would actually be considering a hub motor and investigating compact battery options as you may be able to find weight saving options.
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Hamster » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:38 pm

It depends upon what you're trying to achieve. My objective is not to increase my speed but rather to increase the distance I can travel each day. With the electric assist I can do a 39 km (one-way) commute on a 5-day a week basis, this means that I don't need to use public transport. Without the electric assist I simply wouldn't make it through the week. As regards speed, I only average around 22kph.
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Mububban » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:00 pm

Hamster wrote:It depends upon what you're trying to achieve. My objective is not to increase my speed but rather to increase the distance I can travel each day. With the electric assist I can do a 39 km (one-way) commute on a 5-day a week basis, this means that I don't need to use public transport. Without the electric assist I simply wouldn't make it through the week. As regards speed, I only average around 22kph.


Range extending whilst still pedalling and getting exercise is what e-assist is perfect for. But for those distances, you'll need to take your charger with you and charge your bike up during the day for the ride home. Or buy a second charger for about $90 and have one at work and one at home.

Will you have easy access to a power point where you'll be parking your bike? If not you can disconnect the battery and charge it at your desk, but that might be fiddly twice a day every day.
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Hamster » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:28 pm

For me the second battery charger was free and there's a powerpoint inside the bike cage.
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby silentbutdeadly » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:05 am

lobstermash wrote:
silentbutdeadly wrote: The wrinkle for a conversion for me is that the commuter is and probably always will be fitted with drop bars which seems to discount virtually every kit out there.


You might want to check out something like a Keydee(?) system. It's a small and relatively light hub motor system that's more supplement power than anything else, and has a freehub that you can stick a standard 10-speed cassette onto. I don't have any first hand experience with them, but have heard they're more suited to regular riders (as opposed to cyclists who need more intrusive assistance).

Had a squiz at the Keyde motors and their ilk. Seems a possibility I suppose. Truth be told I'm still not convinced that the spend is warranted. My commute is rural and basically flat so the stop/start and hills of most Oz cities just aren't an issue. Add to that the capacity to knock 9 km off the one way commute by a change of route to something less attractive.

Given the basic nature of the commuter bike it is on the weighty side so it could lose a bit of pork with some intelligent choices.

The game is sorting out an appropriate spec for a drop bar commuter but the question is still there...is an e-bike always a practical and economic alternative if you are already bike fit?
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby Aushiker » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:25 am

silentbutdeadly wrote:The game is sorting out an appropriate spec for a drop bar commuter but the question is still there...is an e-bike always a practical and economic alternative if you are already bike fit?


What do you see as the impediments to converting a drop-bar bike?

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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby silentbutdeadly » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:28 am

None technically. Apart from sourcing the parts. Basically there's no one stop shop for the bits so I have to figure out the spec instead. Which tends to slow the impetus and enthusiasm!
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Re: I thought an e-bike conversion would be ideal but then..

Postby lobstermash » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:56 am

silentbutdeadly wrote: is an e-bike always a practical and economic alternative if you are already bike fit?


It's unlikely to be 'always' a practical option. I guess it depends on whether your cycle commute impedes other aspects of your life. But also I guess there are other options that are cheaper that could be explored too, such taking that shorter route, lowering the intensity of your commute or making your commuter bike more efficient (panniers are horribly draggy). If those options don't work (because the shorter route's unpleasant, or because lowering intensity takes too much longer, or you have to carry the extra gear), then a conversion might be practical and economic.
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