lion
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:44 am

LeftieBiker wrote:I ride the E-bike with the best 'enjoyment to cost' ratio: the Currie EZIP Trailz. The 10AH OEM lead-acid pack was adequate for my needs because I want to pedal all the time, but for various reasons I replaced it with a 10lb (the OEM weighs 18lbs) Ping lithium pack with BMS. The bike has been unused for the last two weeks because I have developed several strain type injuries, but I'm eager to get back on it and ride 15 miles at a time again. Or, if I want, 50. ;-) I also avoid storing the pack at 100% charge, and with 20AH available I don't even need to recharge after every ride.

One thing to consider when looking to buy a bike, especially an expensive one, is what your priorities are. Hubmotors are discreet and quiet, but tend to be lacking in torque. Geared motors (the EZIPs use a parallel chain drive) are noisier, but also less complex and can give you whatever combination of power and speed you want, according to the final drive ratio. The big advantage with the EZIP is that you can buy one for $400, learn to ride under assist on it (it has both pedal assist and throttle), and if you like it you can upgrade the battery pack and/or change the drive ratio. If you don't like the bike, you've only spent $400, not $1400...
Have you gotten noticed by the cops yet? New York State seems to hate E-bikes with a passion, and recently increased enforcement of existing laws. Would love to get one myself (heck they even sell them at BJs), but don't waste money.

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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:10 am

lion wrote:
LeftieBiker wrote:I ride the E-bike with the best 'enjoyment to cost' ratio: the Currie EZIP Trailz. The 10AH OEM lead-acid pack was adequate for my needs because I want to pedal all the time, but for various reasons I replaced it with a 10lb (the OEM weighs 18lbs) Ping lithium pack with BMS. The bike has been unused for the last two weeks because I have developed several strain type injuries, but I'm eager to get back on it and ride 15 miles at a time again. Or, if I want, 50. ;-) I also avoid storing the pack at 100% charge, and with 20AH available I don't even need to recharge after every ride.

One thing to consider when looking to buy a bike, especially an expensive one, is what your priorities are. Hubmotors are discreet and quiet, but tend to be lacking in torque. Geared motors (the EZIPs use a parallel chain drive) are noisier, but also less complex and can give you whatever combination of power and speed you want, according to the final drive ratio. The big advantage with the EZIP is that you can buy one for $400, learn to ride under assist on it (it has both pedal assist and throttle), and if you like it you can upgrade the battery pack and/or change the drive ratio. If you don't like the bike, you've only spent $400, not $1400...
Have you gotten noticed by the cops yet? New York State seems to hate E-bikes with a passion, and recently increased enforcement of existing laws. Would love to get one myself (heck they even sell them at BJs), but don't waste money.
I've ridden right by a couple, with power off, with no trouble. I have big panniers in the rear, and don't go out of my way to get noticed: no "scootering" with the throttle and no pedaling, no blasting up hills, etc. I also avoid riding in town, although I did that on my first E-bike, and was ignored. Where I live there is no hostility, just complete non-interest among the general public, and only positive or neutral responses from other bicyclists.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:46 pm

Thought I'd give a report after a full year of riding my Stromer electric bike.

The Stromer is a high powered (500 Watt plus) rear, un-geared direct drive hub motor mountain-style bike with an 11 Ah 36 V Li ion battery enclosed but removable in the slanted down tube. The pack can be charged on or off the bike using the included external charging brick. My particular Stromer has the 27 speed gear setup, front suspension fork and f/r hydraulic disk brakes. The rear hub setup also allows for regen, which is invoked by pulling either brake handle or by setting the central digital LCD control to "Recup". The bike uses a torque sensor located on the rear hub to sense the pedaling effort and it adds motor power appropriate to the rider's effort and the power setting that has been selected on the digital control panel. That control allows for one of 4 power settings, plus a zero power setting for unpowered riding, and Recup. There is also a half size throttle on the right handlebar for throttle-only riding, without the need to pedal. The bike is limited to an assisted 20 mph in the US in order to still qualify as a bicycle, but the bike can go faster, though usually downhill. In the low ECO assist mode, with pedaling, I can go about 45 miles on a charge, and I haven't seen any noticeable pack capacity drop.

In the first full year of ownership, I've ridden 2,500 miles on my e-bike and I've enjoyed it immensely. In fact, I'd say it changed my life to some degree.

I had gotten to the point that I was riding my conventional mountain bike rarely as my regular riding partner and I got busier with grand kids and I found it more difficult to keep up with other guys, especially on hills. And since my rides usually took 2 to 3 hours, I'd have to find half a day in order to ride, and I could count on being quite tired and dehydrated by the end of a ride, and ready for a nap. But with the e-bike, I find that I can include an 11 mile, hilly and scenic round trip through the local hills into most mornings (I'm retired), and come back relaxed, fresh, invigorated and upbeat. I do usually get a bit dehydrated, but a couple of glasses of water takes care of that. After a typical ride like that, I can get on with my day without missing a beat.

The bike is a blast to ride. With the weight well balanced by the placement of the battery in the center of the frame, the bike feels like a regular mountain bike. If I want to have a little fun, I'll set the assist level to one of the mid positions, "City" or "Tour" and the bike fairly flies as I pedal. But I'm usually out to get some exercise and to ride safely, so I force myself to keep it in ECO. Riding up steep hills in "Tour" or the top "PWR" mode is still surreal, because you're pedaling along, rising steadily up a steep hill, yet it feels like you're loafing along on a flat trail. Great fun, and you feel like a superhero because it still feels line you are pedaling a normal bike, but conquering steel hills with ease.

I calculate that I'm doing about 60% to 70% of the work that others are doing on skinny tire racing bikes and maybe 50% of the work that I'd be doing on a mountain bike. So that accounts for why I find the e-bike easier to ride. But what's really great is that I can choose to explore really hilly routes or steeper dirt trails than I would otherwise consider, and so I can vary my routes and have more fun on my rides.

Here are a few observations on the differences between e-biking and regular cycling.
- It is fun and relaxing to use Regen on downhills to help control my speed without having to hold the brakes on. I'm particularly careful to keep my speeds within reason for my own safety and the safety of others on mixed-use trails. Using Regen, I can control speed more easily on downhills and actually regain a bit of battery charge (though it's only a little, perhaps 2% SOC on a long moderate downhill).
- I don't feel as compelled to carry a lot of speed on a downhill so that I can maximize my momentum for the coming uphill. Having the motor power always available makes you a safer and calmer rider, since you're much less worried about maintaining momentum.
- I almost always keep the assist in ECO so that I get the most exercise. If I used the next level of assist, "City", I'd really get very little real exercise. But having the higher power levels available is a real psychological boost for those long uphills that are still rather taxing in ECO mode. So I'm never tempted to feel defeated by a hill, even though I almost never use those higher power levels.
- The postings on our local trails state "No Motorized Bicycles" as part of their signage, but I've never had a problem with anyone on the trails. If I get any reaction, it us usually mild interest and a few questions about range and speed.

The bike was an expensive indulgence, but well worth it to me, as you can tell. The good news is that the number of e-bike companies is growing rapidly, and there are styles and features that will satisfy many more potential riders, and some of them at more attractive price points.

If I had it to do over again, I would consider a bike without a hand throttle, because I've barely used it on my bike, though it is nice to know it's there in case I have a broken chain or a leg or foot injury on a ride. I would consider a lower power motor at a lower price point, but not lower than 350 Watts, since I don't use nearly all of the power that my bike has. And I'd look for a lighter overall package. At 62 lbs, my bike is quite heavy. It doesn't feel heavy when I ride it, but I'd like a lighter bike for quicker acceleration and more reponsive handling, as well as ease of moving the bike for storage and transport.
Last edited by Boomer23 on Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:27 pm

Boomer, thanks for the summary. Are you using your bike for shopping errands and such, or just for recreation?
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:33 pm

Great review. One question, though: I always carry water with me (in the panniers, plus an open "sport cap" bottle in the frame holder to repel dogs), and stop at least once on longer rides to rehydrate a bit. Can't you do that? If you're concerned about not getting enough exercise, as seems to be implied, I'd like to note that while I use a lot of assist with my EZIP, I still lost about 10lbs with it, and use it to help keep my blood glucose down. You can enjoy the assist and still get lots of aerobic exercise! I envy you having Regen to use on downhills: my brake pads are pretty much shot, and I'll need better ones than those that came with the bike. I use the throttle a lot, although my hands hurt enough to limit it.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:39 pm

GRA wrote:Boomer, thanks for the summary. Are you using your bike for shopping errands and such, or just for recreation?
Strictly recreation. And hey, I have a solar powered EV for shopping and errands, right? :D

I don't tend to even consider the bike for shopping trips. It isn't equipped with a basket. I do have a rear rack on it, but I use that to carry a wrench and other tools for that inevitable rear tire puncture that hasn't happened yet. One disadvantage to hub motors us that tire repair is a much bigger deal than on a standard bike. My rear hub is held by a bolted on rear axle and electrical connections to the hub motor. A mid-drive setup with the motor in the crank area would be much easier to work on as far as tires are concerned.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:51 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:Great review. One question, though: I always carry water with me (in the panniers, plus an open "sport cap" bottle in the frame holder to repel dogs), and stop at least once on longer rides to rehydrate a bit. Can't you do that? If you're concerned about not getting enough exercise, as seems to be implied, I'd like to note that while I use a lot of assist with my EZIP, I still lost about 10lbs with it, and use it to help keep my blood glucose down. You can enjoy the assist and still get lots of aerobic exercise! I envy you having Regen to use on downhills: my brake pads are pretty much shot, and I'll need better ones than those that came with the bike. I use the throttle a lot, although my hands hurt enough to limit it.
Yes, I wear a Camelback for hydration and I sometimes drain it on a hot day. Still, I usually need a couple glasses of water when I get home, or I'll get a headache and "head rushes" when I stand up too fast. Just my physiology, I guess. I used to get headaches all the time until I realized it was mild dehydration and I started paying attention to it.

I was hoping to lose weight but I haven't yet. That's probably down to bad snacking habits, though. And they say that muscle weighs more than fat, so there's that. I do feel fitter, though, and I'm faster and less tired going up the same hills at the same assist level compared with when I started riding these routes on my e-bike, so there's progress.

When you look at bike energy calculators online, it's discouraging how few calories you really burn compared with the miles and effort you think you're putting in. My one hour rides would consume about 600 calories on an unassisted road bike, so I'm only consuming 300 cal or so. A couple of cookies, really. Bummer.
Last edited by Boomer23 on Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:53 pm

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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:38 pm

Boomer23 wrote:
GRA wrote:Boomer, thanks for the summary. Are you using your bike for shopping errands and such, or just for recreation?
Strictly recreation. And hey, I have a solar powered EV for shopping and errands, right? :D

I don't tend to even consider the bike for shopping trips. It isn't equipped with a basket. I do have a rear rack on it, but I use that to carry a wrench and other tools for that inevitable rear tire puncture that hasn't happened yet. One disadvantage to hub motors us that tire repair is a much bigger deal than on a standard bike. My rear hub is held by a bolted on rear axle and electrical connections to the hub motor. A mid-drive setup with the motor in the crank area would be much easier to work on as far as tires are concerned.
I guess I'm used to wearing at least a day pack for shopping, if I don't have baskets/panniers. Pretty much the same as the hydration pack, just a bit heavier if you aren't shopping for a big family. For that matter you can stick the hydration pack inside a larger pack or mount it on the rear rack and wear a day pack, but it's better to let the bike carry heavier loads, and a couple of folding baskets or a set of panniers for the rear rack can handle most shopping for a couple.

Although it's certainly possible to carry a moderately heavy pack while riding; it's been decades but I used to do the house shopping a couple of times a week, riding while wearing a full (ca. 35-45 lb.) external frame pack; a modern internal frame pack would be far better for riding. Nowadays my local grocery and farmer's market are both within easy walking distance (ca. 5 blocks), so no need to ride; just a nice 8-10 minute walk each way with a couple of cloth grocery bags. My other normal errands are even closer.

I guess my mindset is to use the least energy-intensive form of transport I can manage for a given trip, so my trips tend to work out as follows (one-way distance):

<=.5 mile: Walk
.5-1 mile: Walk/Bike (if in a hurry)
1-2 Miles: Bike/Walk (if I want to get more sun)
2-5 miles: Bike (Drive in really inclement weather)
5-10 miles: Bike/Transit/Drive (depends on destination/mood/weather)
10-15 miles: Transit with or without Bike/Bike/Drive
15-30 miles: Transit (w/wo bike)/Drive/rarely Bike
30-50 miles: Transit /Drive/very rarely Bike
50+ miles: Drive

I'm lucky that BART provides a good, reasonably fast regional transit network and allows bikes on board, as otherwise I'd need to use my car a lot more. As it is the car sits in my driveway all week long and only gets used when I go out of the region, or some direction where BART doesn't go that's beyond my desired cycling range for the day. The past couple of years I've only been putting a couple thousand miles/yr on the car, although that's unusually low. It's partly because I've been more strict with myself about not using the car for trips I can do with the bike, and partly health and other issues have restricted the number of my out of town trips. But the latter are mostly past now, so the car mileage will go up.
Last edited by GRA on Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone into electric cycling?

Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:25 pm

abasile wrote:The ultimate for me would be a road bicycle that performs well without electric assist, allowing it to be ridden as a traditional bicycle for the majority of its miles, including on a 45 mph mountain descent. It would need to have a large enough battery pack to assist me in doing a 5000' mountain climb in much less time than the ~ 2 hours it currently takes me on my non-assisted bicycle. As that climb takes place over about 16 miles, an e-bike should legally (at least in theory) be able to do it in well under an hour. An electric motorcycle would not be an acceptable alternative, as I do want to get significant exercise.

I'm afraid, however, that the energy density of current lithium ion batteries is not great enough to support what I'm asking for, at least at a semi-affordable price point. So my solution on many days is to ride my bicycle partway up the mountain, and have my wife pick me up in the LEAF. That way I don't take forever to get home at the end of the workday, and my wife gets to use the LEAF during the day, in the cool mountain air. :-)
You can do that any day with an Optibike,

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Nothing compares to it.

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