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ericmark

Electric Bikes which one etc.

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Years ago tried an electric bike and it was in real terms fully electric rather than today's electric assist, and whole idea is to get exercise so full electric kind of defeats whole idea. So last week tried some electric bikes in shops.

1) Halfords, tried the Gtec and I was impressed, however very short test, on the ladies version the battery gets in the way of step through frame, but lightest of all tried and no gears to worry about, as to how steep of a hill don't know, and you do feel when pushing hard as the motor kicks out at 15 MPH.

2) Motor World, two bikes one folding and one ladies, wife fell off it trying to start off, I then tried it, found you need to be doing around 2 MPH before motor kicks in, tried on a road I could ride with my cheap mountain bike in second gear rear and lowest front so reasonable steep and electric bike in first gear easier and faster than my bike but again that 2 to 3 MPH means could not stop and restart, tried the folding one not quite as good power wise, but very little in it however a bit skittery with small wheels. However were the cheapest.

3) Local bike shop, they lent us two both Raleigh the folding took around the block only, it had walk assist although motor in the wheel it did not need the 2 - 3 MPH of the cheaper bike before it kicked in, but the bike still a bit skittery seems all bikes with small wheels are, but really nice to ride. Wife took the other one out, mid motor I rode with her or at least tried with mountain bike, she as expected left me behind, she says gear change was easy, and with only rear gears not as confusing as with standard bike,  it really did well, although the motor does not help after 16 MPH the drop out is gradual you don't notice it has stopped unlike that first Gtec bike, OK price has gone up to £1,500 approx and Motor World down to £800 with Gtec in the middle but could see worth the extra, bosch motors on Raleigh.

 

So we are to return to Halfords tomorrow to try a mid motor electric bike, however it is quickly apparent the bikes are very different, with the bosch mid motor it senses torque on pedals, so assist is immediate, with Raleigh hub motor the walk assist and design again made starting easier, also noted no delay with Gtec. Seems batteries some times show as Wh and some times Ah and Volts so 36 volt at 9Ah = 324 Wh which could last up to 80 miles, the Gtec 201. 6 Wh, they reckon 30 miles, some bikes do have 400 Wh and even 500 Wh batteries, but 300 Wh seems to be a standard size. All street legal bikes lose assist after 15. 5 MPH and have limited motor size think 300W, and only assist you do have to pedal but not hard or fast. There are bikes for use in private land with 1000W motors etc, however these are motor bikes really not ebikes.

 

So we are pleased and will buy one, it will not be the Motor World one because of that problem re-starting on hills, not selected which one yet, may even get a second one for me, looking for me at 26" wheel folding so I can in emergency carry on a bus. Weight is a major issue, the Gtek easy to lift onto bike rack, but at around 225 kg for most of the others, and Maypole rack good for 400 kg so two electric bikes are over the weight we can carry, plus not so easy to lift and put on the rack.

 

So has any one else tried them, and what have they found? Wife is looking at 400 Wh battery, I don't think we will need over 300 Wh just can't see us riding that far, I have a 20 Ah battery pack with inverter built in which is around  240 Wh so could top up battery even if no hook-up on caravan site. It also blows up tires so always take it.   Idea is to get my wife active which will also get me active, I need to loose weight.   Found I am too heavy for Gtec, 13 stone for rider and 17 stone rider plus luggage so wife could have one but not me.

Edited by ericmark
Found Gtek battery size

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To be honest for me I love the idea of an e-bike, but I hate the idea of that 15. 5mph and 250w limit. I can do near 15. 5mph on my road bike on the road, but I certainly don't think people should be doing that speed on shared use areas, which more people will be able to do with the assist of the motor.

 

I really struggle to recommend anything, because if I had one, it would be a custom built cyclocross bike with a 1000w mid-drive and a custom built lithium battery that I'd use instead of my motorbike for my 13mile commute. But the is absolutely no way I'd recommend that to someone who just rides around the streets or goes to the shops.

 

What are your budget and expected use case? 

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6 hours ago, ericmark said:

 Weight is a major issue, the Gtek easy to lift onto bike rack, but at around 225 kg for most of the others, and Maypole rack good for 400 kg so two electric bikes are over the weight we can carry, plus not so easy to lift and put on the rack.

I don't understand the weight that you are stating: - but round 225 kg for most of the others! Are you sure about that?

Maypole rack good for 400kg. I have a bike rack on the back of my caravan but there is NO WAY I would put 400 kg on it what ever the make.

Alan

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I also question the 225kg weight figure - it's nearly a quarter of a ton in old money, or about 8 car batteries. You would need to eat a lot of Weetabix before trying to lift it.

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1 minute ago, onewheelonmywagon said:

I also question the 225kg weight figure - it's nearly a quarter of a ton in old money, or about 8 car batteries. You would need to eat a lot of Weetabix before trying to lift it.

 

for comparison my Honda VFR800 motorbike is 218kg. That has a quite considerably heavier motor ;)

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I think it must 25 and 40kg, as 225 kg is heavy

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I saw a electric pedal scooter like one of these a few weeks ago on a site and was impressed as it does not require registration, insurance, tax.

 

http://www. ebikeclass. com/buying-guides/electric-mopeds/review-seasons-emoto-48v/

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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I bought my second electric bike from these people online.    Since it was more than two years ago that I got it, it came with the direct electric drive, so I can ride it without any pedalling.    It goes with me to Spain each winter where it's invaluable for riding the two miles down to the promenade and the shops.      

 

As I need to fold it and pack it in the car, it rides on 20" wheels.    Having ridden conventional bikes with 26" wheels, I find the 20"  wheels makes the electric bike less predictable steering wise.   As for coping with the additional weight - before carrying or loading into the car, it's best if the battery is removed first  

 

 

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I guess the OH meant  22. 5 Kg    ( Twenty two point Five Kg )

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I think the OP's approach of trying several to understand the differences in motor location, motor management wheel size etc is so important.

For someone "new" to riding an ebike I am convinced all will "impress" initially, but they actually vary greatly.

We need ours predominately to help on hills, so a mid drive that can itself exploit the bikes gears is best for this.

Then there is the way power delivery is managed, different makes use different techniques. Our Kalkhoff seems as "natural" as it comes and the Giant mid drive was also nice but their front hub version not to my liking.

Re battery size; as we go off grid a lot we went for a big battery [650Wh] because this can give 100 miles range, generally enough not to seek a recharge over a camping trip.

I think recharging off grid has more challenges than owning an inverter. Even a 300Wh battery recharge is going to take some 25>30 Ah from your leisure battery, not a readily recovered amount and that for a very modest ebike battery size. Then there is the question of the inverters wave form and quite high peak AC  current rating;  I have not had the bottle to try nor needed to so far, but am worried  doing so  I could do damage to an expensive charger or inverter or  even both.

Edited by JTQ

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I’ve had a FreeGo folder since Jan 2017 and can highly recommend it. I have the 10ah battery and my longest ride has been around 29 miles, with still some left in reserve. It’s well built and the aftersales service from the company is excellent. They have a Facebook Group just for Owners, as well as their normal business Facebook Page. You can do a test ride at local stockists. If you want to ask me any specific questions about the bike I’m happy for you to send me a message. The website link is here:

http://freegoelectricbikes. com/

 

Been out today and done 19. 9 miles - hands were freezing afterwards, time to get the gloves out!

 

E19DDB9D-A38B-4402-A15B-C4A8938C919F.jpeg

B4101EAB-6834-40F2-BCB6-7E38E8496FDC.jpeg

Edited by Glen and Les
Photo added
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Halfords would not allow us to test ebike yesterdays as it was raining and the bike would get dirty, and we were not keen to test in rain anyway, the Carrera Crosspath Electric Hybrid Bike was one my wife liked and they have got one in with 18" frame for her,  and the Raleigh Motus Low Step Electric Hybrid Bike, and tried the Raleigh Captus Electric Hybrid Bike 2018 model now discontinued but one left in stock at local shop.

 

Clearly we don't want to pay over the odds, however no point in cheap rubbish. The bike tested " Captus" does not have disc brakes, has no built in lights, step through part of frame is 17. 5 inches from ground, a 300 Wh battery large display for speedo etc. The Halfords Carrera has hydraulic disk brakes, 400 Wh battery, 18 inches step through to ground smaller display newer lighter Bosch drive motor, and is more comparable with Raleigh Motus but a lot cheaper.

 

My wife complained the 18" height was harder for her to get on, than the 17. 5" of Raleigh Captus tried but liked the idea of larger battery and hydraulic disc brakes, we hopefully will retest today.

 

But even the cheap Motorworld ebike was easy to ride, what is more important is my wife does not fall off when starting, which has happened with normal bike and ebike, I realised I have my seat set too low, I like to be able to put feet on the ground when stopped, my wife has had seat set higher, and stopped heals not on the ground which is correct but less stable.

 

So the torque sensor used with the mid motor bikes for her is important, she needs that initial start up push, clearly front wheel motors can't sense that torque on pedals so there is a delay starting, as to if rear hub motors have a torque sensor I don't know? However the Raleigh folding bike tried has a walk assist not sure if it sensed torque on pedals or  if it was the walk assist but much easier starting off to the Motor World model.

 

For me it is I want my wife to use the bike, we both need the exercise, and if she does not feel safe she will not use it, it will be like the exercise bike in hall, never used just gets in the way. So spending an extra £500 and then bike is used is worth it to my mind.

 

So all down to how easy to start off.      

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The "walk assist" feature on ours is exactly that, it should only be used when walking with the bike not riding the bike; the handbook specifically makes that point, that so I have not tried using it as a start aid. Not technically aware why or thought in depth about it as the algorithm of the system using the torque and motion sensors really makes doing that unnecessary. These torque and motion sensors are employed to give that very useful and helpful "push" away from stopped.

It is these features as you are discovering that are amongst those, that make testing various bikes with differing technology  pre buying so wise; hope it is a dry day and the end result is a bike your wife is and remains eager to be getting you both out cycling.

Edited by JTQ

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5 hours ago, ericmark said:

. .......So all down to how easy to start off.      

 Start off being a most important feature for many of us.

 

I have two eBikes, a Volt Alpine X and and an AS Bikes Electrobike Elite Plus folder which has two batteries! one on the seat tube and one on the rear pannier but selling that.

 

I was fortunate enough to buy both before the law changed on Jan 1st 2016 so both of mine have the capability to run on throttle only and remain street legal as the change is not retrospective.

 

A powered start off is most important to me as supporting my bike, start off and pedaling is required to be done with the same leg then getting underway requires me to engage the pedaling foot into a toe clip for a push pull action before I can begin to rotate the crank.

 

Without the throttle only function, I would not be able to cycle at all.

 

Both have walk modes but at 4mph, that's a bit too fast for me to keep up with continually and as JTQ has mentioned with his, it should not be used for starting off with mine.

 

 

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7 hours ago, ericmark said:

So the torque sensor used with the mid motor bikes for her is important, she needs that initial start up push, clearly front wheel motors can't sense that torque on pedals so there is a delay starting, as to if rear hub motors have a torque sensor I don't know? However the Raleigh folding bike tried has a walk assist not sure if it sensed torque on pedals or  if it was the walk assist but much easier starting off to the Motor World model.

So all down to how easy to start off.  

You have highlighted the very reason that my wife wanted an electric bike in the first place. She also had difficulty in starting off but thankfully we purchased our bikes before the rules changed over having a thumb throttle. She is therefore able to use that throttle to initiate her journey until she can get her balance. As soon as the pedals are turned that movement is detected by the crank sensor ring and the motor is triggered, so allowing the throttle to be released. Continued pedalling ensures motor assistance up to 15mph as a pre-determined power level. By not pedalling or applying either brake automatically disconnects the power to the motor.

 

In her teens she was able to ride from John O'Groats to Lands End with her father but these days a little help is needed on a bike, and the change in the law regarding a hand or thumb throttle has now taken away that help if she were to buy a new bike. This is the main reason why we will keep her present bike maintained and running as long as possible.

 

1 hour ago, Griff said:

 Start off being a most important feature for many of us.

Without the throttle only function, I would not be able to cycle at all.

Pretty much the same for my wife.

 

1 hour ago, Griff said:

Both have walk modes but at 4mph, that's a bit too fast for me to keep up with continually and as JTQ has mentioned with his, it should not be used for starting off with mine.

Because you have to keep your finger or thumb on a button to use the fixed speed 'walk assist' it is a feature that is somewhat less than useless in my opinion, and something that neither of us use.

 

As an aside, I often ride along tracks in the country that can become very muddy. As the front wheel is powered by the motor, and obviously the rear wheel is chain driven,  I have the advantage that effectively my bike has two wheel drive so on slippery or rough surfaces and this can at times be a real bonus.

 

Gordon

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I am toying with electrifying my self built trike- tadpole configuration suspension all round SRAM 7x3 rear hub x triple ring front=63 ratios glassfibre steel&fabric construction.

Folds for flights to foreign parts.

16000 plus miles in 12 countries so far.

250 watts legally is no good to me so I would be upping the power and probably using LiPo batteries.

Is there a state of the art hub motor out there? Does it matter? Eg brushless vs brushed.

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12 minutes ago, ancell said:

250 watts legally is no good to me so I would be upping the power and probably using LiPo batteries.

Is there a state of the art hub motor out there?

There are plenty of higher powered motors out there, unfortunately the UK law states a max of 250W before the vehicle has to be road registered, insured, and the driver licensed. 

16,000 miles and 12 countries - that's impressive.

I could match the miles but not the countries!

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I thought the current regulations allow a throttle limited to 4 kph, it is the throttle  for use above that value that it is now illegal on a new bike.

So, the move off throttle feature can be found on so offereings though was not on ours where to an extent the torque sensor coupled to initial push off achieves the same. However, not quite for those not able to initiate any movement. at all

 

As I stressed before, IMO trying several here is so important to formulate your ideas on what is right for you.

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9 minutes ago, Gordon said:

There are plenty of higher powered motors out there, unfortunately the UK law states a max of 250W before the vehicle has to be road registered, insured, and the driver licensed.  

16,000 miles and 12 countries - that's impressive.

I could match the miles but not the countries!

 

Hardest experience was Florida where I intended to fly into Orlando and cycle round the coast for 3 weeks camping in my Spacepacker lll tent cooking on my MSR stove burns anything from avgas  to vodka.

After 400 miles gave up got a hire car and camped right round the coast.

American version of cycling is to put their $1500 bike in their 5 litre petrol pick up truck wobble( they are almost all obese in my experience) around a track and go home.

Best experience my flat in Berlin trike is chained up outside 3/8th hardened steel with Abus round lock go everywhere in Berlin on the trike including winter-gets down to -20C with snow.

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I thought that a bike that was type approved before the law changed can still be sold, I have seen a few online from supposed ebike specialists.  

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https://www. cyclinguk. org/cyclists-library/regulations/eapc-regulations

 

Some manufacturers provide a 'jumper' which can be repositioned for 'off road' ;) use where

throttle only becomes active but still otherwise conforming to power limits etc.

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There is a “walk assist” feature on my FreeGo, which has proved very useful when pushing the bike up a steep hill. It can also be used to start off, although I don’t need to use it for this purpose. You don’t need to keep your thumb on the button - you press the button in then just turn the throttle towards you. Depress the button when you’ve finished to ensure it doesn’t kick in if you accidentally twist the throttle. Incidental, although my bike is governed by the new rules, I can engage the throttle whilst pedalling to give a small boost, which saves me changing power levels for a small incline.

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I think what electric bike you choose depends on many factors. If you are already a cyclist on a full size peddle bike I would reckon you want to replicate that in the electric bike you purchase and I would pay particular attention to the number of gears the electric bike has, many only have seven gears. If you are not a serious cyclist already you have to look carefully at the how you will use the bike for. Personally I can't see someone who currently does not ride a bike beyond going a mile or two requiring a bike with a 30 mile range?  As far as folding bikes are concerned my advice would be not to bother unless you will actually fold them to store. If you are never going to fold them why bother? It worries me when I read that people have difficulty getting started on a bike, electric or otherwise. An electric bike is no more difficult to get started on than a push bike. If that is difficult I do wonder if an electric bike is really the best option? I appreciate the OP is looking into this very comprehensively but think of the real use and then decide on the bike.

 

David

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On ‎25‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 17:13, Glen and Les said:

I’ve had a FreeGo folder since Jan 2017 and can highly recommend it. I have the 10ah battery and my longest ride has been around 29 miles, with still some left in reserve. It’s well built and the aftersales service from the company is excellent. They have a Facebook Group just for Owners, as well as their normal business Facebook Page. You can do a test ride at local stockists. If you want to ask me any specific questions about the bike I’m happy for you to send me a message. The website link is here:

http://freegoelectricbikes. com/

 

Another vote for the FreeGo folder - I have the identical green one! The starting power comes in as soon as the pedal is moved and the power comes in very smoothly, which was a major consideration in purchasing. So many of the cheaper bikes lurched when starting off or changing gear/speed level & felt quite disconcerting. It weighs 25kg and although probably too heavy to take on a bus, it folds up to go in the car very nicely. As Glen & Les said, the battery life is excellent, plus its position behind the saddle post leaves room for a step through and enables the use of a carrier rack on the back.  

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Well bought, Halfords one, so that stage is over, I know mobility scooters under 4 MPH are allowed on the pavement so it would seem to also allow a bike to do 4 MPH without peddling makes sense. On the road mobility scooters limited to 8 MPH some have switches 4 to 8 MPH, however those designed for 4 MPH are much lighter to those designed to do 8 MPH so when my mother on a 4 MPH model ran into me, I was not injured, but that was due to lower power not speed.

 

The test my wife had at first not pressed the button to engage motor, and on her old bike we were around equal however I was carrying the back pack, then she found button, and as we hit an incline she left me, however on the return I left her going down incline as she could not turn the pedals that fast. Not having any gears on the crank to change reduces the top speed as you don't have a high enough gear.

 

I noted following she seemed to leave it in top gear, even (on the flat) starts were OK with motor assist in top, where I have to remember to change down before stopping. The torque sense means no real need for a thumb throttle, at last she can enjoy cycling without worrying about hills.

 

On buying and returning home we put battery on charge, only one light still lit, I did however first plug in energy monitor, so on plug in drawing 80W as the charge has gone on, this has risen to 90W at 39 minutes past the hour it shows the average so now been on charge around 4 hours and last light flashing, it should take 5 hours to charge from flat at 80W so interesting to see exactly how long.

 

Instructions say it stops giving assistance gradually as the battery become near to fully discharged, and stops before fully discharged so lights will continue to work one hour after motor has stopped. I hope it never gets that flat, I would say I can ride at an average of 8 MPH, so if range is 60 miles, that is 7. 5 hours, I don't want to ride for that long.

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