Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Electrically assisted bikes, trikes, etc.
DaveE128
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Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby DaveE128 » 26 Jun 2018, 5:11pm

Long story short - I have to move to a new area with a work relocation and it probably means a commute that's 19.5-23 miles (each way, depending on route) with 1000-1500ft of climbing, gradients mostly 3%-6% with the odd bit up to about 9%. This is considerably longer than my current 9-11 mile commute (again, each way, with some off road for the shortest route options), 300-400ft of climbing, takes me 37-48 minutes. I currently ride something roughly like a gravel bike with a pannier. I occasionally use a full suspension MTB on the shortest but roughest route options, and it takes about as long.

Currently I cycle 2-3 days a week as I find I get a little too tired to really enjoy cycling with friends and family at the weekend if I do more, despite having been doing this for 5 years. :(

I'm considering whether buying an e-bike would make the commute at the new location feasible or not, even just once or twice a week.

There are various options for the journey, but the ones that the most pleasant, the flattest, and almost shortest involve some byways and restricted byways. From Google street view looking at either end, they look to have relatively good compacted surfaces (could get a little muddy though). It would be 2-3 miles off road I think.

I am considering whether something like an electric hybrid or mtb would be the best option, and whether they would have sufficient range. I don't yet know whether I can recharge at the new work location, but I imagine if the battery is readily removable and the charger sufficiently portable, that I could probably get away with doing it at my desk.

I'm wondering about something like one of these:
https://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/bike ... e=greydark
https://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/bike ... Code=black
https://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/bike ... orCode=red
https://www.specialized.com/gb/en/mens- ... 902-129143

I'm looking to cover the ground as fast as possible without getting too tired, so I imagine I'd want to use the highest power setting that will get me there reliably.

So the main questions are:

  1. Has anyone any idea (based on their experiences) how fast I could cover this much ground and how tired I might get compared to a normal bike?
  2. How many miles do others get out of their e-bikes at which power settings in comparable terrain?
  3. Any recommendations for motor systems or bikes that would suit my application? On an unassisted bike I am most comfortable with a high cadence - around 100rpm; I think I heard that some motors are better at high cadences than others.

[*]Of course, wider tyres are more comfortable, would an MTB have too short a range and/or be significantly slower than a skinnier-tyred e-hybrid?

I really don't want to buy a second car! :cry:

hemo
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Location: West Sussex

Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby hemo » 26 Jun 2018, 9:41pm

20 miles each way commute is likely to be 1.5 - 2 hrs with a legal 27.5 km/h bike as you are allowed the 10% leeway as with other vehicles when it comes to speed.
I know some one who does 20 miles in to Surrey hills form W/Sx but he uses an s -pedelecs and does it in an hour.

DaveE128
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Joined: 26 Jun 2018, 4:09pm

Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby DaveE128 » 26 Jun 2018, 10:06pm

Thanks hemo. How does average speed tend to compare to the cut-off speed? Presumably this depends on how steep it is and how often you stop? I don't think there will be much stopping on the route at all.

hemo
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby hemo » 27 Jun 2018, 9:51am

With my heavy (25 - 28kg) ebike on a 50 -70 mile ride my average speed ranges from 12 - 14mph even with a higher speed cut off. I don't have strong legs for power riding and my cadence isn't high at best about 78rpm.
My hybrid town/commute bike I can ride above the 15.5mph cut off by upping the assist speed 27km/h and then find I can pedal quite easily to 30 or 32 kh/h with the China hub drive kit.

For a 20 mile commute with ebike you will need a proper s -pedelec or an e-bike that can be de-restricted for faster speed. In general one way battery range won't be an issue with a 14/15ah or 500wh battery at higher speed, the issue with higher speed is maintaining it above the cut off speed limit. An ebike if you push it will still give you a work out as you are always pedalling a heavier bike then normal, most ebikes aren't much less the 18 - 22kg.


Range is too variable to offer specific mileage, tyre choice, riding fitness, wind and terrain are but a few in the equation.
My hybrid bike I have uses a 3yr old slightly tired battery with Samsung 29E cells it is 14.5ah/520wh, If I use assist level 3 on flatish terrain I get about 22 - 24 miles range, by using assist level 2 range is much better I get 37 miles range with still some left in the tank. Top speed is the same and up to 20mph, acceleration is a bit slower as less amps drawn means less watts to the hub.

The best advice is not to but blind but test ride a few bikes or even try and hire/loan one for a day or weekend to test for suitability. Ride it with out power and also ride it on your route with full power and lower power to see if gearing and drive unit is suitable for your needs.

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robgul
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby robgul » 27 Jun 2018, 6:44pm

Have a look at the Orbea e-bikes - they are much, much lighter than many other e-bikes - and ride like a non-e-bike. I have an Orbea Gain bike, riding it without the power and just using the motor for hills or of I'm flagging. Gain is a road bike but they have flat-bar machines too. Range I have found is at least 60+ miles with my use of power.

Rob

Mountgrove
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby Mountgrove » 30 Jul 2018, 5:54pm

Hi DaveE128,
The important thing about your situation is you WANT to avoid purchasing a 2nd car. So well done to you for not polluting the enviroment!
So the thing to remember is how much would a second car cost and how much do you think you would save by using an ebike ?
In terms of effort an ebike is definitely a lot easier, but in terms of speed it is always going to be limited to approx 15.5 mph. So you will be frequently passed by fitter roadies.
I used an ebike for many years for a 6 to 12 mile commute and it was thoroughly enjoyable. It saved me a lot of time and I of course it meant I could shower before leaving for work. However there is a hidden cost in ebikes and that is the high price of battery replacement.
If you sit down and do the maths for the cost of an ebike battery (and stick to better manufacturers such as Bosch) you will soon realise that they are VERY expensive compared to any other type Electric Vehicle.
Compare the prices of an Ebike battery with that of an electric car battery (Nissan Leaf). You will soon see how the ebike manufacturers make huge profits. Of course it is possible to repair batteries (known as "re-celling" but they do not assist 3rd parties in this respect. For example they do not supply circuit diagrams to the repairers). They claim re-celling is unsafe . But they also claim their batteries are perfectly safe for usage !
Typical Ebike (Panasonic) battery (1 x 36.0V x 12.0Ah) = 0.432 KWh price is £ 700 or 0.6 Wh/£.
Nissan leaf battery (192 x 3.65V x 56.3Ah) = 39.46 kWh price is £4000 or 9.9 Wh/£.
As you can see the price of the ebike battery in Wh is about tenfold compared to a typical battery for an EV. Hence the massive profit margins.

Always bear in mind the cost of a replacement battery when calculating the cost of your ebike.

Having said all of the above - there are 3rd parties who can recell and repair your ebike battery and huge amount of guidance and help is available from the nice people on the pedelec forum (They are a helpful bunch and I can vouch for that!).

So in all honesty an ebike has a very high cost of initial outlay (£2k plus) and possible additional cost for replacement battery. You may even discover that it is NOT cheaper than using a second car.
But if you enjoy cycling and beating the traffic - perhaps the higher cost of an ebike versus a regular bike is worth it?

I have an ebike and a normal bike but I prefer using the normal bike overall. But my commute is about 2/3 rds your distance.
I like having the ebike to fall back on.
My advice would be YES buy an ebike but make sure you ask about replacement battery costs and factor this into your spend.
Mid-drive motors are better for hill climbs.
Also choose a bike with a good track record in the ebike industry (Such as Bosch motor and battery).
Make sure you have a warranty for your battery (Minimum 2 years).
It is an interesting fact to note that ebike batteries almost NEVER come with a warranty of greater than 2 years , so the manufacturers obviously know something that they do not like to admit !
Also enquire about insuring your ebike with your home insurance - you may find that they refuse to insure you.

Bottom line - ebikes are great, nice bikes and many have reliable motors (Bosch, Yamaha, Panasonic and many more). They offer good VFM.
BUT ebike batteries are a ripoff. They offer very poor VFM.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

hemo
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby hemo » 30 Jul 2018, 7:33pm

Putting and legalities aside an e- bike for any sizeable commute is only worth it if you are going to derestrict it for the commute to shorten the commute time, other wise your average is most likely to better on light road bike.

DaveE128
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Joined: 26 Jun 2018, 4:09pm

Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby DaveE128 » 30 Jul 2018, 9:12pm

Thanks for the thoughts and the heads up on the replacement battery cost - £700 is obscene for such a battery. I'd definitely go down the re-celling route for that kind of money. I'm ok with a soldering iron so with sufficient info I'd definitely consider doing it myself. That is a real scam isn't it? :(

I've enquired of Specialized and Trek for the current battery replacement costs for the models I'm looking at, how long they expect them to last, and how long they will make replacement batteries available for.

Even if the cost of running a second car is the same as running an e-bike, I would prefer to cycle, due to the health benefits and the environmental aspects.

I'm not that fast on my commute at the moment - average speed is usually 12-14 mph depending on how much effort/sweat I put in, so I'm not too worried about being passed by faster roadies. I don't know how close my average would be to 15.5mph (depends on hills, and number of junctions etc right?) but if it's close, it would be faster for me, and I am now thinking that I need to cycle more times a week than currently as the appallingly hostile walking and cycling conditions in the rural-ish area we're looking at mean that my wife will certainly need the car for getting the kids anywhere out of the village. :(

Bonefishblues
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby Bonefishblues » 30 Jul 2018, 9:21pm

Serious Q. Have you considered an electric car for a second car?

DaveE128
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Joined: 26 Jun 2018, 4:09pm

Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby DaveE128 » 30 Jul 2018, 11:35pm

Yes, but it'd make me just as fat as petrol and I don't think I can afford it either. :( If I had to have a 2nd car that'd be my preferred option. Hate the way car sales work - can't just go on a dealer website and get a simple answer to how much it would cost. :(

Bonefishblues
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby Bonefishblues » 31 Jul 2018, 8:43am

But a Renault Twizy would at least be fun!

DaveE128
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby DaveE128 » 31 Jul 2018, 8:51am

Indeed. I tried to look up the cost of one a while back and couldn't find a straight answer.

brynpoeth
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby brynpoeth » 31 Jul 2018, 8:54am

DaveE128 wrote:Long story short - I have to move to a new area with a work relocation and it probably means a commute that's 19.5-23 miles
..
..
I really don't want to buy a second car! :cry:


Living 20 miles from work is much too far, think of the cost and time and exposure to danger and winter snow and dark over the years

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brynpoeth
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby brynpoeth » 31 Jul 2018, 8:55am

Bonefishblues wrote:But a Renault Twizy would at least be fun!

Minus One
CYCLING is such fun!
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reohn2
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Re: Would an e-bike work for this commute? (Please help avoid 2nd car!)

Postby reohn2 » 31 Jul 2018, 9:26am

We fitted an e-kit to our tandem a while back,with a front hub motor(but rear wheel and BB motor kits are available which whould be better for a solo bike)with a 17ah battery it cost £800 and extra batteries costs £250(unknown make),so with two batteries total cost is a lot less than a dedicated e-bike.
We get 30miles out the battery mostly using level 2 of 5 and use level 4 or 5 for the hills,I reckon on a solo bike you'd get a lot more miles out of such a kit or even if you only get 30miles using it on level 5 all or most of the time it's still within range for you commute,two batteries gets you twice the mileage for £1050 outlay,they also sell 500 watt conversion and the new Pendix BB kit.
Here's the thread about our tandem :- viewtopic.php?f=55&t=117719
Here's where we bought it from :- http://www.electric-bike-conversions.co.uk
Last edited by reohn2 on 31 Jul 2018, 3:57pm, edited 2 times in total.
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