Looking for help choosing an electric bike

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by lookingelectric, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. Hi,

    I'm looking for help in choosing an electric bike. I work very close to where I live (roughly 2 miles), but its on top of a pretty significant hill. I'd really love to figure out how to go to and from work without burning gasoline. The hill is too steep for me to handle pedaling, so I've been looking for an electric bike or scooter that can help me do the job.

    First, the task:
    The horizontal distance is about 2.5 miles
    The vertical distance is about 190 meters (most of the hill takes place in the final 0.7-1.0 miles; that makes for a pretty steep grade)
    I weigh rougly 180 pounds with all of my stuff
    I have good weather all year round

    An electric bike or scooter than can reliably handle the hill with minimal pedaling
    A good braking system (I have to come down too)
    10 mile range
    15 mph uphill (so that I dont get run over by the car drivers)
    Good construction

    15-20 mile range so that I can take it other places
    25 mph on flat areas
    Ability to extend range by pedaling
    Not ugly
    Ability to take "the expensive part" inside when I lock it up (if it folds, I might take the entire thing inside)
    Lights and mirrors (or I have to add them myself)
    Good, no-nonsense warranty
    Purchase in northern california

    My absolute max is $2500, but for that I would expect something that goes 35 uphill, has a range of 30 miles and offers a 5 year warranty. My "real budget" is $1500 and I'd like to stay under $1000-1200, but how much I put out really depends on what I'm getting. I'd really like to get something very well built that I can use for the next 10 years, changing the batteries every 2 years or so. I hate to say it, but I've seen so much low-quality, disposable **** (thats a bad word? jeez) with "made in china" stamped on it in other areas that I'd have a hard time spending a lot of money on an electric bike that was made in china.

    From what I've seen so far, the more powerful vehicles blur the line with (or simply are) scooters/mopeds, so I'm willing to give up pedals and removability/make it a scooter or moped if I have to.

    The eGO looks nice, but a bit expensive at $1400, and I've heard that it can burn out on steep hills. There are lots of $300-$500 motorized bikes, but I tend to wonder how they do on hill climbing.

    Any suggestions?

  2. 5-7HEAVEN

    5-7HEAVEN Guest

    :cool:Looking, check out the MONTAGUE electric bike. years ago, they had a contract to build electric bikes for the USARMY paratroopers, so i imagine they should be dependable. the lower-end cost retails for$2275

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2007
  3. Butch

    Butch Guest

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  4. billvon

    billvon Guest

    >Any suggestions?

    Tidalforce Wavecrest. You can get one for about $1000 on Ebay. 30mph max speed (for the X version) and approx 20 mile range at lower speeds. I've had one for several years now.,
  5. vanilla ice

    vanilla ice Guest

    If you are mechanically inclined, as long as its not a hub motor, you can ventilate the motor and use a small electric blower to cool the motor for that hill. Otherwise just ignore this post...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2007
  6. Electric Bike Options (Batteries)

    Hi LookingElectric,
    Your terrain looks very similar to mine in the San Jose area. I really wanted to make an electric bike option work, but after doing some research I concluded that I had to go with the gas option. Here are some recommendations as you do your research -
    * Look at this website as one of your resources to learn about options - http://www.electric-bikes.com/levs/index.html
    * Visit a showroom to test ride an electric bike. From the website, see this http://www.electric-bikes.com/habitat.htm . I visited the Milpitas location which is really a home with the living room turned into an electric bike showroom :smile: I remember that he has several bikes in your price range.

    I cannot speak more highly of the owner, Rob Means. He is talkative, informative, knowledgable, and enthusiastic about the industry and where it is going. He has new bikes, consigned bikes, and less expensive bikes from failed E-bike companies. I test rode two of his bikes to the ***top*** of Calaveras Rd from the flatlands (3 miles, maximum 8% grade). I think I tried a 36V system and a 24V system. Both had ***no*** trouble making the ascent and descent, with only minimal pedalling near maximum grade areas.

    The big "however", though, is the battery weight/capacity, and cost. You just can't get away from batteries as the #1 concern for an electric commuter bike. Here are some numbers I calculated for readily available battery chemistries -
    * 25 miles is about 36V/14AH = 500 Watt-Hrs (this is all calculated...I have never ridden an E-bike this far). For 500 Watt-Hrs -
    ** SLA, $95, 30.6lbs
    ** NiMH, $500, 16.9lbs
    ** Li-Ion Polymer, $625, 6.5lbs (minimum 300 charge cycles, cost includes buying in a fire retardent enclosure)

    Don't forget to add $60 for chargers, and whatever cost to buy a bike to put this on ($100 on Craigslist). Then, add a hub motor which should be capable to handle your needs (a couple hundred dollars, depending on brand).

    If you want to increase your range, just multiply all the numbers by the same ratio since the energy capacity is just a function of chemistry.

    Then, derate your mileage by some factor to take into account the battery wearing out, and the desire not to run the battery completely out of charge (this will ruin the battery and then you have to buy the batteries again).

    Then, take into account such intangibles as -
    * Bike handling - SLAs make the bike top heavy and the bike tips rather easily if you make a sharp turn.
    * Batteries not quite having enough charge to take you all the way home. (On your test ride, try pedalling the Ebike uphill without battery assist...SLAs seem heavier than dead weight in a back pack, for some reason :shock: )

    In the end, I felt electric was a great option for commutes 10 miles or less between charges. You can also take electric on local rapid transit. But for my hilly 15 mile route each way, gas provided a safety blanket for range, was more cost effective (capital cost/replacement cost), and convenient (weight, recharge/refill time). The gas option reduces my carbon footprint by 150x, compared with my car. It is not as good as electric, but quite significant for reducing my contribution to CO2 in the environment which was one of my objectives.

    Sometimes, you can find someone selling an E-bike on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars. This might be a good way to get into the Technology at a low price. Most of them are bikes outfitted with a hub motor, and using SLA batteries.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2007
  7. vanilla ice

    vanilla ice Guest

    Well as long as we are ignoring the request for electric options and talking gas, you could always get a Kymco Agility... your post says you are open to mopeds/scooters and this one is $2000 brand new, with a good dealer network. If you want to talk used scooters, theres a lot of good old Yamahas and Hondas you can score for cheap. Another option.
  8. joebesse

    joebesse Guest

    I have been reading about Synergy Electric Bicycles on the web, but I don't know anything about the bike or the compazny. Does anyone have any comments or experience with Synergy and can give a review, criticism, etc. Thanks.