bicycle parts Archives

GEARS & SPROCKET SIZES & OTHER PRACTICAL MATTERS

What is Cadence and what role does it play with my E- bike?

Cluster & Crank

Speed or Power?
It’s all in the gears.

Park Tool FR-1

The proper tools makes changing gears easy.

It’s how fast you spin your legs & it effects comfort, range, speed, fun, exercise & endurance. It also keeps  those in uniform from thinking too hard about how you manage to go 25 mph without moving your legs.

With all of the information available on E bikes and e- bike conversions I find it puzzling that the topic of selecting gear ratios for our e-bikes is so seldom discussed. Part of this, I’m sure stems from the fact that the majority of today’s E bike conversions are front or rear wheel hub motors and run completely independent of the bikes original drive-train. In addition to a lack of a physical attachment, the subject of cadence, gear ratios, crank sets, freewheels and the 100 year history of everything just mentioned would be large enough to dictate a forum dedicated to that alone. However, whether it’s independent or just to complicated, people, pedals & gears must remain an integrate part of the bicycle’s drive-train. Check out any road bike or mountain bike forum or website and pedal RPM, (cadence) gearing and shifting will be discussed in great detail, yet most electric bike forums rarely discuss the subjects at all. This is, in my opinion an oversight that needs addressed. Regardless of which E-Bike Kit you choose for your conversion project, in order to get the best range and most performance from your newly converted bike, your legs must remain a part of the equation. Since every rider has a certain speed at which they like to spin their legs and we don’t ride in a vacuum we need gears in order to maintain that speed. At this point you might be tempted to say that the hub motor is now doing what the legs and gears were doing before and you would be right. Except that this is not a motorcycle. It’s an electrically assisted bicycle.

That said, I did not pay too much attention to the gearing on my 1st e-bike conversion either. It was on an 1990 Mongoose with a 500 watt Crystalyte hub motor on the front. My gears actually quit working properly after about 6 months from lack of use. I mean aside from needing a place to rest my feet, I’m only going to peddle when I’m climbing a grade or my battery dies. I was far more focused on things like the battery voltage, amps, motor controllers, etc. Perhaps it was the “motor head” in me but It was only after the novelty of the electric motor had worn off and I got into the routine of using my bike for practical transportation that I began to pay attention to practical items like range, cargo capacity, comfort, etc. Let’s face it, in retrospect, the primary reason for electrifying my bike was to increase it’s practicality. NOT taking pedal power into consideration was ,…….. well, very unpractical. Read the rest of this entry

NightRider – Part 2 E-Bike Building or Buying

 

4 comprable bikes


(1) Night-Rider (Dealer Installed Kit w/Marin & E-BikeKit) (2) eFlow Nitro (by CURRIE) (3) A2B Metro bike (by Ultra Motor) (4) Stromer ST1 Elite

OK,from part 1 the TOTAL COST OF HARDWARE came to $1.674. In order to build Night-Rider I had to write $1,674.00 worth of checks. Keep in mind; these are the prices I paid delivered to my shop in Carlisle, PA. I spend a lot of time shopping for the best deals, I buy in small quantities & combine orders to reduce or eliminate freight & as a dealer I often get additional discounts off the prices that you would pay buying one or two things at a time.

Marrin E-Bike


Fenders, headlights, running lights, gauges, H2O bottle, kickstand, bags, etc. Inexpensive accessories that make your bike easier & safer to use.

Now, in addition to the time spent procuring those parts, there is the time spent making these little pieces and parts come together to form a big electric bike. How much time is that? From start to finish, from receiving everything in & un-packing it, to modifying the parts & installing them, to rolling it out the door and taking it for a test ride, it took about a week. I did do other things during that week, but it’s safe to say that it took at least 25 hours. At a discounted shop rate of $20 an hour that’s $500. So now the cost of our electric bicycle is up to $2,174. If I were to be satisfied with making only a 10% margin on everything then the selling price of this bike should be $2,391.40. Let’s round that up to a proper sounding retail price of $2,399.99. That’s it $2,399.99 is the price I’ll have to ask for Night-Rider in order to turn a profit. The question now is, Can I get it?

Wow, you say, I was thinking it would be just a few hundred bucks more than the base bike. I mean, I’ve seen e-bike bikes advertised at Wal-Mart for under $600 & there’s all kinds of e-bike kits on Ebay for $250. Hell I could buy a used car for $2,400.

If this sounds like you, then I’ll assume you’re the average consumer. Or in my case the average customer. And that’s kind of what I’m up against. Other than having seen them advertised on the Internet & knowing you’d like to have one, you don’t really know too much else about them. Nor had you really planned on spending a bunch of time researching them. You just wanted to find a decent bike, for a decent price, pay for it, then take it home & go for a ride.

Well, since it’s my job to educate my readers about e-bikes & I have to determine the “asking price” for Night-Rider anyway let’s check out some comparable e-bikes together.

First I’ll try to determine how much it would cost a medium sized company in the USA to build “GOOD” entry level e-bikes. This will be EZgo-Now’s “Virtual Factory Bike” . I’ll start by purchasing the cheapest, components that still offer the necessary performance & reliability required to build a good bike. I’ll order in 100 plus quantities to get the best wholesale pricing FOB freight prepaid to my shop door. In order to stay competitive with all of the other great sounding poorly built e-bikes I’ll advertise the basic bike price (a stripper) & then offer a full list of options. To keep things simple I’ll use a 30% mark-up on parts & labor in hopes of making a profit.

  • $150 for a Drive Motor laced to wheelWe work with tools
  • $11 for a Wiring Harness
  • $12 Throttle
  • $25 Motor Controller
  • $7 battery bags
  • $11 racks
  • $4 misc. hardware & fasteners
  • $200 for LiFeP04 36V 10 amp battery packs
  • $180 for a pre-built to my spec. MTB bike
  • $150 labor 2 hrs. @ $75 per hr.

_____________________

  • Sub Total for basic bike $743.00
  • Average Total spent on options $150.00
  • $22 S&H cost
  • Total bike & options $893 x 1.30 = $1,160.09

In my case the customer will pay a flat $50 for S&H, making the grand total for my “Virtual Factory Bike”  $1,210.09.

Read the rest of this entry

The Tale of (2) Conversions

Marin Pioneer Trail

Marin Factory Photo

In Corner # One we have: The MARIN Pioneer Trail ALLOY HT Series with 20.5″ frame & 26″ wheels: The Alloy HT series combines off-road durability with performance components for active riders. Lightweight, double-butted 6000 series Edge 3 tubing is mated to comfortable Marin Sport geometry, placing riders in an upright riding position.  For more read the nitty-gritty from marinbikes.com

And Corner # Two is: The Mongoose Maxim with 18″ frame & 26″ wheels: Designed for peak performance under rugged conditions, the 26″, 21-speed Mongoose MGX Maxim will tackle all your off-road and in-city journeys with ease. It offers an alloy frame with both FRONT & REAR SUSPENSION.  See Mongoose MAXIM for more details on this guy.

Mongoose Maxim

Mongoose Factory Photo

 The Tale of  (2) Conversions

One of biggest challenges I face with converting brand new bicycles into  brand new electrically assisted vehicles is probably not what you’d expect. I have a tough time letting go of them after the sale. I become attached to them and want to continue tweaking them in until their perfect. This is of course contrary to the reason I’m building these bikes in the first place, which is to make a living from selling them. The problem is I believe, that each conversion, when finished becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Ultimately, I’m left with a bicycle that has a unique personality that is often quite different from the stock bike I started with. In short, it is now the bike that Matt built.

Take for instance two recent MTB Conversions, one of which left for a new home yesterday. The first one is a $199.00 Mongoose Maxim dual suspension MTB with an 18 frame.  The 2nd one is a $499.00 MARIN Pioneer Trail front suspension hardtail MTB with an 20.5″ frame. They are both built for mountain biking 1st & anything else 2nd. They are also  both sold to the same basic target market. That said, the Mongoose is very much aimed at the lower end of this market & can be purchased from places like Wal-Mart, Cosco & Toys R Us. While the MARIN is competing more in the middle of the market & will be purchased by people looking for a high quality bike under $800.00.

 

My over all impressions after assembling, testing, adjusting & riding both bikes where quite similar (see Carlisle Sales for reviews) so I’ll focus on the differences. The Mongoose’s additional rear suspension is the most notable difference. At high speeds it really smooths out the teeth jarring bumps. The Marin’s hardtail, on the other hand communicate’s those bump’s with great accuracy. Although neither of these bikes would be considered to be light weight, the MARIN’s weight contributes to its overall rock solid feel while the Mongoose’s weight is just,… well heavy. It is a lot of bike for a little bit of money however & does everything it’s supposed to do reasonably well. For me, the MARIN is the better bargain of the two. Yes, it’s twice the price but it does everything it’s supposed to do nearly perfectly and it has a quality feel to it that is tough to describe other than saying that it feels like a high quality piece of equipment. Both of these bikes are worth every penny of their asking price but if I could scratch together the additional money I would buy the MARIN. (See -marin-pioneer-trail-hardtail for details) Read the rest of this entry

New Post – New 2013 E-BikeKit Model

E-BikeKit Inventory

E-BikeKits waiting for installation

Work In Progress

A Schwinn about to be “Converted”

 

The last two months have been real busy with buying, stocking  and converting new bicycles into e-bikes.  In addition to building them, testing them, reviewing & writing about them. I also advertise, sell and even deliver them. This has allowed me little time for writing much of anything let alone writing these posts which I enjoy. My writing has been focused on the sales oriented interior pages of this blog. I know that’s not acceptable for a blog that’s supposed to be “Posting” Fresh Content” daily. Fortunately there is  fresh content in EZgo-Now  it’s just NOT found on this front page that displays posts NOT pages. A shortcoming of the template I’m using for sure & one that must be fixed soon.  Until then I’ll work harder at keeping both of these sections current.

So, anyway the other week I decided to place a text ad with Google that would appear along side of the search results when somebody did a search for e-bike kits. The whole purpose of which is to increase my on-line sales of the e-bike kits I use and sell from E-BikeKit. Naturally this got me reviewing E-BikeKit.com web-site for up-dated information & prices. This is what I learned.

Jason at E-BikeKit.com has just “Officially Announced” his NEW 2013 E-BikeKit.  Now the E-BikeKit.com e bike kits have often been considered by many to be one of the best kits you can buy.  My Take?…. After using and selling them for a number of years I  believe, that for the money, they are the best. End of Story.

Starting the 3rd week of June 2013 all E-BikeKit Models will include among other things, an LCD display that eliminates the need for optional equipment like an speedometer/odometer, battery fuel gauge, volt/amp meter or power on indicator light. It also has a 5 position level assist which can greatly increase your battery range. The display is also back-lit which allows for easy viewing night or day & includes 5 trouble indicator lights at the top of the screen for pin pointing problems. The unit is user programmable allowing you to set it up the way you want it. E-BikeKit has even upgraded their controller and improved their already almost perfect electrical connectors. It’s this constant attention to detail that really sets E-BikeKit.com apart from their competition. Please watch the following video for complete details on the 2013 upgrades.

 

Although I have not seen the new 2013 Model I do have had a lot of experience with the 2012 Model. See below for my recent E-BikeKit conversions. You’ll notice that two of them are using  an electronic meter on the handlebar. So far this season I have wired up 2 battery fuel gauges, 1 Watts-Up Meter & 1  electronic speedometer. None of these will be needed any longer with the New 2013 Model.

Read the rest of this entry

Good Kickstand at a Great Price.

Five years ago putting a kickstand on my road bike or mountain bike would have been sacrilegious.

Five years ago I also rode my bikes for fun or exercise when I had the time, which is to say, not very often. For the sake of conveyance I also carried an 8″ Velcro strap which I used as a parking brake in the rare event that I actually had to park my bike during a ride.

A few years ago I had a huge re-awaking and discovered that even as an adult a bicycle could be used for transportation much like when I was 14 and used it to go everywhere. E-bikes played a big role in this re-awaking but whether its electric power or pedal power a bicycle is fantastic way to get around at least 50% of the time for 80% of my trips.

This new adult and socially responsible approach to bicycling however did require a slight change to my old world philosophy of “If it doesn’t make it go faster it’s not needed”. Kickstands where right up there with saddle bags when it came to the things “that weren’t needed”. Nowadays, I wouldn’t want to be without either one of them. At the same time, however, lighter is still better, the ability to quickly install & remove something is quite important and a quality look & feel are paramount.

That said, let me tell you about this little gem of a kickstand I found on Amazon.com. It meets all three of those requirements and it will arrive in your mailbox for under ten bucks. There are a ton of kickstands available and many of them are very good. Most good kick stands are going to cost at least $20 delivered. If your LOADED bike weighs more than 70Lbs. (the majority of e-bikes) however you really shouldn’t even consider anything other than a proper center stand. Most rear kickstands are just not up to the task. A decent center stand will cost between $30 & $60 delivered. They are however worth their weight in gold when you’re trying to load your bike up with grocery bags & other items after a shopping trip. Sadly they are not something you take on & off in a matter of minutes and they can be pretty clunky looking. Read the rest of this entry

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