E-Bike Components Archives

E Bikes, Coming of Age?

For starters, E bikes are moving. They’re moving off of the factory floor of the E-bike builders and into the showrooms and sales areas of the new E-bike Retailers springing up across the nation. From there the’re moving into the homes and garages of US consumers. These are often people who had previously never thought much about bicycling let alone purchasing an electrically assisted bike. They’re easy to spot by the big smile on their faces. More importantly however, E bikes are moving forward with their design, functionality and technology with a speed comparable to the PC’s of yesteryear and the Smart Phones of today. This is tremendously exciting for me and should be for anyone else that enjoys bicycling or just thinks there must be a better way to make those short commutes.

Neat E-bike

Better built, better looking, far more practical and a whole lot of fun. This is how I describe the new E-bike’s and E-bike kits coming on line todayClick here for ElectricBikes Top 10 Picks for 2014. 

 

The electric bike is a revolutionary form of transportation. Finally, after years of false starts quality electric bikes and E-bike kits are here, and they have become reliable, powerful, extremely useful, and a joy to use. All in all, these can be the catalyst for possible life changing events when used to change or supplement your traditional means of transportation. That said, there are many new and improved electric bikes and electric bike kits now available and just as many new components and accessories to make your old E-bike even better. Your really missing the boat if you don’t take a look at what’s available in the E-bike market place today & consider adding an E-bike to your transportation pool.

For more about what’s new with E bikes and to read about some of things that I’ve been doing to get the shop “up -to-speed” with the new wave of E-bikes as well as making my commute and those of my customers easier and a lot more fun click here for ” More is Better “  my E-bike upgrades for 2014.

ELECT. Bike Pusher TrailerTRAILER

Need a Push? Click for my RIDEKICK Review

 

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

Night-Ride

“Night-Rider” Ready to Rock & Roll

A few weeks ago I did an e- bike conversion for a customer on a 2012 Marrin Pioneer Trail mountain bike. He was a big guy and saw the Marrin on the Carlisle Sales Page of the EZgo-Now Web-Site. The Marrin was an exceptionally nice bike and with a frame size of 21 inch it was the largest & best built bike I had in stock. He was going to use the bike hard, for both work as well as recreation. He specified the direct drive E bike kit mounted on the rear wheel along with a 48 V lithium battery pack. After completing the bike for him I thoroughly road tested it as I do all of my conversions. He picked up & paid for the bike the next day. His price was $1,200 which was also real close to my cost for building it. Needless to say he was a very happy camper. To make a long story short this was by far was the fastest, best handling, best looking and quickest stopping e-bike conversion I had done to date. To learn more about his e-bike conversion read “Tale of(2) Two Conversions”.  I was so impressed with it I began searching for another one or two of them. In addition I was anxious to try one of the NEW 2013 E-BikeKits with the electronic dash & LCD display. This time around I would build it to my specifications & attempt to re-sell it for a profit.

In about a week I had found two of them. Neither one was close to the rock bottom price I had paid for the first one but now that I knew the quality of this bike I didn’t mind paying a little more. (My 1st customer really did a good deal) I purchased a black 2011 with a 22 inch frame and a blue 2012 with a 19 inch frame. I decided to start with the 2011. The 2012 I did a few weeks ago was a blue and white color combination & looked great. This 2011 was a solid jet black & is absolutely gorgeous. The quality of the paint job is among the best I have ever seen on a bicycle, including some custom painted bikes that I have done myself.

 

When I start a project like this It’s usually for a customer or to replace one of my stock bikes that had been sold.

electrically covered Marin Bicycle

Night Rider testing (5) 12V LiFeP04′s. Meter indicates 68.8 volts.

This project was going to be a little different. This bike would be for my use and it was going to be an EZgo-Now show piece. Additionally, it would be a test platform for the components I use & review. I would spend what ever additional time was required to make this project look as if had been done at the factory. It would not only be sleek, fast & beautiful, it would be fully functional, safe and practical as an everyday commuter as well. This bike dubbed the Night Rider”, would be my every day ride.

OK,… So the donor bike is this jet black 2011 Marrin Pioneer Trail mountain bike. Since this is going to be a fast commuter e-bike I would first replace the stock 26 x 2.00 MTB tires with a pair of 26 x 2.00 Kenda Kwick Roller Sports lined with Anti-Flat Slime Tube Protectors.(flats are no fun. Especially when the rear wheel has a 14lb. hub motor attached to it.) The E bike kit used would be a 1000 W direct drive unit from E-BikeKit. Since this bike would also be used for testing & gathering performance data I did not use the new 2013 E-BikeKit with LCD display as I had first intended. Instead I used an 2012 kit with a 2013 hub motor & installed a Watts-Up Meter for analyzing power use and a Bell 12 function cycling computer for gathering performance data. The power (for now) would come from (4) 12V 10Ah Bamboo Cased LiFePO4 batteries built & sold by Clean Republic. (the Hill Topper guys) 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

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