Commuter questions!

Boo_Arnz

New Member
Region
Canada
Howdy all,

Relatively new to the ebike scene, but have been doing lots of research. Trying to narrow down my options, but would appreciate some real world experience and input.

I've bike commuted to my job sporadically over the years fairly comfortably on hardtail MTB commuters and currently a Devinci Hybrid. Looking to commit to doing it more, but I'm a wuss.

My commute is ~15km each way. It's mostly flat on-road or bike path but on my way into work, the last 1.5km is up a winding 7% hill. Just knowing I have to face that hill, and get my sweat on before work is enough for me to often just hop in the truck instead.

So, question is. What type of bike am I looking for? I think I want something fast for the 13+km of flats, but need something to make that hill not in such a psych-out.

Would a big comfortable Hub-drive be fine enough, or would that hill be more of a job for a mid-drive? Speaking of mid drive, I've seen the bbs02 Bafang kit on Amazon, do I just convert my Devinci or old Giant Iguana (best bike name ever)?

I'm 43, in decent shape, 6' 200lbs, so I don't mind some pedalling. Budget is flexible, but for a first go round was hoping for <2k$ CAD. Curious as to people's thoughts.

Some used bikes I've looked at: Cube Touring hybrid, Rize MD, Biktrix Stunner x. These can seemingly be had for around $1500 in decent shape on Craigslist or FB marketplace.

Also considering the Niu Bqi-c3 pro new for $1800, but not sure if the single speed hub drive would cut it on the hill for me.

Thanks in advance for your time and info.
 
I've climbed short 15% grades with a geared hub motor, one 1300 W ebikeling, and one 1000 w Mac12t. Both would start me (160 lb) + 60 lb groceries + 15 lb tools supplies water clothing, on that grade and accelerate to 6 mph without pedaling. My `15% grades are about 100' each, 3 in a row. A geared hub will NOT climb from Newport Beach to Lake Arrowhead in one trip, it will overheat. 1.5 km of 7% grade at 270 lb gross should be fine.
Unfortunately the 3 class laws being passed at the instigation of an industry trade group has outlawed such motors. As a result, you won't find any of those on packaged bikes. 750 watts max. The industry is deathly afraid of men with groceries climbing steep grades at 6 mph. On packaged e-bikes you will find 750 w mid-drives, that will get you up the grade, but probably not at the 15 mph I was averaging by conserving momentum from the downhill to the next 15% hill. Mid-drives chew up chains, typically 1500 to 2000 miles. Less for 9 speed or higher rear sprocket clusters, that use the tiniest chain. Bosch SHimano Yamaha mid-drives cannot be bought with a throttle, since that is illegal in Europe. I found throttle highly useful getting out of a stop sign on a brief 22% grade onto 55 mph Hwy 3. No, I can't make the first half turn from my legs only on that grade with gross weight 330 lb. No throttle, I would have to push the bike across the highway at that intersection.
There are a couple of diy options with high wattage. I put my hub motor on the front, for better balance between the tires, and for preserving the 8 speed rear sprocket cluster my bike came with. After a rain takes out my throttle, I'm on my own to destination and a hair dryer. 7 speed clusters on a rear hub motor, 28 tooth max, wouldn't allow me to pedal myself up 15% hils after failure.
I've been riding a 350 w bafang geared hub motor and discovered last year that it would burn the winding on the 60th hill of my 77 hill commute. Too slow at less watts heats up worse than a speedy trip up the steep hills with 1000 w.
So I found last week you can buy a Mac12t (high torque, low speed) 48 v 1000 w hub motor from alibaba direct. Use the search term cutler mac. I won't because alibaba requires my birthdate, and I only give that away to the drivers license bureau & health providers.
I found another option in hubmotors today, electroride that bought the website of electric-bikes.com. https://electric-bikes.com/betterbikes/enduro.html They are now listing a 2000 watt 48 v geared hub motor with 24 windings the enduro motor. electric-bikes.com canclled my order for a cutler mac12t in May 2018, because we have hills in Indiana. Perhaps since they have sold the new owner is not such a pantywaste. In June 2018 I managed to buy the last Mac12t Lunabikes sold. Unfortunately Luna was selling with an ASI controller, which had tiny pins that shorted together in the rain and burned the wiring harness & controller connector. Cutler mac shanghai is now showing a controller that has a Juli connector, that is probably much safer in the rain. I've done fine in the rain. with the 6 pin rectangular white hall effect connector, and separated bullet connectors for the 3 phases wires. That came on the ebikeling motor. The juli connector on my 350 w bafang hub motor is fine in the rain, but pins are too small for 1000 watts.
Conversions aren't for everyone, but the only way now to buy a 1000 w or 2000 w motor legally. BTW those DD motors at 2000 w are totally inadequate for hill climbing. They will, but use vast quantities of watt hours doing it. My 840 wh battery was not adequate for 30 miles & 66 hills with the DD motor. The 1300 w ebikeling motor was great until it wore out the gears. The Mac12t was great until rain shorted out the wire harness & controller. Mac is not selling the ASI controller. You will want a 20 amp controller for the cutler mac and maybe 25 A for the 2000 w enduro. Be sure with either hub motor, use a very strong torque arm on a steel fork. There were a spate of used cutler macs on ebay with the wires twisted off at one time. That means, no wimpy steel hose clamps to resist the torque. Use a 1" wide steel clamp with 5mm or 10-32 screws, around the fork. One video of a mac motor was on U-tube that showed a worm hose clamp stretched out to scrap, with the motor wire twisted off.
BTW the Mac12t was the high torque low speed version. Mine would top out at ~26 mph on the flat. The 10 winding ebikeling motor would top out about 30 mph. 12t will get you across a 6 lane highway at a light that won't turn green for bicycles, faster than 10t.
Happy shopping and later commuting electrically.
 
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It is a job for a mid-drive. I have owned Bafang BBSxx bikes and an HD. I by far prefer the TSDZ2'B'. It is a cargo duty motor with a built in torque sensor. I like the 'six-pin' for the under 4mm wire to the display with no ugly connectors at the handlebar. Here is one example bike.
 

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Roam,
I am a great big fat cheater and you know it.
On one bike today I matched the display wire to the cable housings. Then I chopped the connectors and drilled the front of the motor and covered the display wire in black to make it vanish against the motor. The bike just looks like a regular bike from the side but has a stealth super powerful cargo grade motor.
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I went over the top on my commuter ebikes.
The bike path I ride is currently under construction some parts are unpaved.
So I went and bought a couple emtb to use for my commuters. Full Suspension Emtbs Bulls is 28 mph capable and Biktrix Monte Capro. I ordered it for off road use and it can do 35mph easily on my route.
What you want for a commuter ebike is up to you.
I stopped recommending commuter ebikes because everyone has different reasons and types of commute.
Around here bike lanes are unswept along side the roadway. There are no street sweeping trucks. Basically you will be riding on road debris.
Thanks Rome.

Yea, it's a commute that I'm really familiar with, and does include some shoulder riding in debris. My 700c hybrid has been totally capable. Before that my Giant Iguana hardtail with road tires. The Giant has been relegated to a camping/campground/bombing around town with the kids bike.

I really just need something for the A-B commute, and specifically the lung/leg busting hill at the end. For sure fenders, rear rack...beyond that I just want something fast and capable up the hill. Probably won't use it for anything else but the odd grocery run.
 
My advice is buy a purpose built E-bike, i dont recommend building your first E-Bike.
I would also make sure it is a middrive this way your bike can do it all and you dont have to worry about whether or not your hub drive is getting too hot from climbing or whatever.
I have owned a Biktrix and a Rize for the past three years both great bikes.
 
If your in Canada you might look at the Zen Saral, a little above your goal, well equipped 29er 500w hub
 
Also these are available in all sizes
Specialized turbo Vado 3.0. 2500usd
 

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My advice is buy a purpose built E-bike, i dont recommend building your first E-Bike.
I would also make sure it is a middrive this way your bike can do it all and you dont have to worry about whether or not your hub drive is getting too hot from climbing or whatever.
Why spend $1000 converting a bike you already own when you can buy a new mid drive bike for only $2500? https://electricbikereview.com/cube/supreme-sport-hybrid-one-400/
When my hub drive does fail (excess miles, rain on a desert racer controller) I have the $100-$500 spare in the garage waiting to go. One or two days down. No carrying the bike to the authorized shop in my car (I don't own one) for days or weeks wait.
And instead of a generic battery you bought for $500 (renitron, em3ev,california ebike, mac), you can own a patented bosch or shimano battery which is only $1100-$1300 if stolen.
 
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Hey @Rome I was goofing off this afternoon. I rode a stealthy commuter bike to drink some fresh local IPA and listen to a sublime, ska/reggae band. It is called Bands on the Basin, Petaluma. For about $760 a person can get a custom made super premium battery, and an open source high-end cargo motor delivered that will out perform bikes costing $7500. It will not look clunky/chunky like the ones in stores. It is so fun to blow past people on heavy, expensive bikes on a climb. They have no clue that yours is electric. It is subversive to ride these bikes. So much fun, I love it.

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Why spend $1000 converting a bike you already own when you can buy a new mid drive bike for only $2500? https://electricbikereview.com/cube/supreme-sport-hybrid-one-400/
When my hub drive does fail (excess miles, rain on a desert racer controller) I have the $100-$500 spare in the garage waiting to go. One or two days down. No carrying the bike to the authorized shop in my car (I don't own one) for days or weeks wait.
And instead of a generic battery you bought for $500 (renitron, em3ev,california ebike, mac), you can own a patented bosch or shimano battery which is only $1100-$1300 if stolen.
I dont doubt there are cost savings benefits to building your own bike its just not something i would recommend to someone who is new to E-Bikes, especially someone that i dont know personally, i have no knowledge of OP's tech or electrical prowess so im not about to recommend they do anything involving wiring and Lithium ion battery packs.
 
I dont doubt there are cost savings benefits to building your own bike its just not something i would recommend to someone who is new to E-Bikes, especially someone that i dont know personally, i have no knowledge of OP's tech or electrical prowess so im not about to recommend they do anything involving wiring and Lithium ion battery packs.
Lithium batteries are scary. It is a bit like dealing with gasoline. Take precautions. There are a huge spectrum of quality differences among batteries. The best go through extensive testing protocols, quality control, and have super premium battery management chips. They also come in aluminum housings, not plastic, and they can be dropped 1 meter in any orientation onto concrete without damaging the cells or causing a run away thermal event. With this one the locking battery holder is installed with the battery in a different room. The positive and negative wires run from inside the motor to inside the bottom of the holder and are sealed inside marine grade crimp connectors that are heat shrunk to seal the connections. There are no external connections of any sort. After the holder is installed the battery can go in it, get locked down with the key, and then safely powered up by the On/Off switch on top of the battery. All good batteries have an On/Off switch and a USB port for safely discharging slowly over many hours of running a USB fan. The best batteries allow you the option to charge to 90% for more years of service life.

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Boo. Here is my two cents worth.
I have been doing a 41 mile round trip commute to work for the past six years. I try to fire my bike at least three days each week. This has been on a juiced CCS. It Is a rear hub. I have put over 15,000 miles on it. I live in the Appalachian mountains and have over 5000 foot of gain on my commute. Don't worry about using a rear hub. It will get the job done. The more you ride, the easier it will become. I am 52.

Here are a few insights. It is still hard to get motivated some mornings. A car is easier than a bike, even an ebike. Personally, I am thankful that I have the option to drive my car to work on bad days but it is easy to start making excuses for driving instead of riding. You have to have a bit of determination to make the ebike commute work. This is regardless of what bike you choose. I have owned five ebikes. Three factory and two recumbent DIYs. Of the five, the juiced has proven to be the best fit for me. It is a class 3. The extra speed has proven to be a big deal for me. It gets me there quicker. I also feel it is a safer speed in traffic. You will have to have storage. I settled on a motorcycle trunk on my rear rack. It works well for me. Be sure to get a couple of mirrors. I have tried several but the mirrcycle (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong) proved to be the best fit for me. The cold is a big deal to me. When it gets below 40f, the ride becomes uncomfortable. You can go below this if you want but that is where my determination starts to wane. I hope this helps. Oh yeah, enjoy the ride!
 

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Thanks so much for the input Highpockets! I really was just curious as to if people think a rear hub would do the trick. But I mean I've done the commute without power so i guess I know what the worse case is...just don't want to be pushing a 50lb+ bike up that hill.

And I hear you on the speed with traffic. I've rode motorcycles for many years, so I do like having the power and speed on tap to manoeuvre when needed. I really am looking forward to shaving some minutes of the pedaled commute and tackling that hill without showing up at work a sweaty mess...though the pump/endorphins are a nice way to start the day.

Thanks again.
 
I put a 500w direct-drive rear hub motor on the bike below. It will pull almost 1500w, and do 30 plus mph on the throttle. It's torque sensing so pedaling as an ebike feels like riding a regular bike. On steep hills you do need some leg power to keep speed. I bought the wheel, controller, and display from Grin. Grin cost extra but they do make great hub motor builds.
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