Archive for '17013'

Will 2014 be the year of the E-bike?

Green bikesI’d like to answer that with a resounding yes but sadly I’ve been predicting that for the last three years and I haven’t been right yet. The reality is, most major changes don’t explode onto the scene overnight. They creep into our collective consciousness. They happen here and there, slowly and quietly in the background until that change has reached far enough and deep enough into the market place that some critical mass has been achieved. Then seemingly almost overnight everyone is suddenly aware of this new thing. Remember vinyl records? You gave them to friends and family every Christmas for almost as long as you could remember. Then one Christmas you went to your favorite record shop and found nothing but CDs.

Knowing that e-bikes will never explode onto the scene like CDs or iPods or even push the regular bicycle into second place I should have said something more conservative like; “this year will be the year that E bikes will become a legitimate choice for many people wanting inexpensive and environmentally safe transportation”. Perhaps the following year I could’ve followed up with; “this year more people than ever will be able to choose an E-bike as their choice for their short distance transportation needs”.  What should I say for 2014? Well, I won’t say that 2014 will be the year of the E-bike but I will say that we are closer than ever to reaching that magic number of sales needed for E-bikes to reach some level of nation wide acceptance.

This winter I spent a great deal of time developing a business plan for expanding my electric bike shop. In the process I got to read and interpret a lot of statistical information that will directly influence how quickly people in the US will accept the E bike as “useful” transportation. Although nothing I read could be considered monumental news it was nonetheless encouraging.  It provided proof positive that the E-bike has arrived in the US market and its here to stay. I thought I’d share some of that information here. So, If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing one, your unsure about spending so much money on something you know so little about, or you just want to know more about the state of transportation in the world then please read on. Read the rest of this entry

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

This is a link to an article by Electric Bike.com. It’s a great website & a very timely article. Two weeks ago I was looking for just this type of product. After about an hour of searching I decided I would just have to make one of these things myself. Have a look. Electric Bike.com is not a retail site so you won’t get bogged down with a bunch of stuff you’re not interested in.

 

electrifying a cannondale bad boy 700

This example is from ES member e-cannon. Click for thread.

For me the Electric Bike.com. is a little bit like the car magazines I used to read 20 years ago. I’d read “Motor Trend”, “Car & Driver”,  ”Automobile”, etc.  for information as well as entertainment. Well here is an informational article about triangle frame cases. Anybody that has ever converted or built from scratch an E-Bike has longed for the perfect battery case. Well here is quite a few of them. There is simply no better place to put this much weight on a bicycle than between the handle bars & the seat. There are some Triangle bags available on the market. The Falcon EV is one that come to mind. But even the best of them still look like a battery bag.

 

Frame style battery case

How’s that for a load of batteries?

Go ahead & get your self a dose of inspiration. Take a look at Electric Bike.com & then save them in your “Favorites”. . It’s a great site with great information & it has inspired me many times over the short two years they’ve been around.

Matt Waters

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

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