General ebike question

Electrically assisted bikes, trikes, etc.
francovendee
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General ebike question

Postby francovendee » 30 Jul 2019, 10:22am

How long will these last?
I normally do around 5000 miles each year on a normal bike and wonder what sort of mileages people achieve on ebikes before they become uneconomic to repair.
I realise the battery is something that will need changing in time but how about the motors, in wheel and BB types.
I'd guess the 'cheepo' bikes are worse but at around £1000 to £2000 how well do they last?
I'm sure as my legs start to lose some strength I'll be getting one and wonder if they last as long as a normal bike.

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Cugel
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Re: General ebike question

Postby Cugel » 30 Jul 2019, 11:35am

francovendee wrote:How long will these last?
I normally do around 5000 miles each year on a normal bike and wonder what sort of mileages people achieve on ebikes before they become uneconomic to repair.
I realise the battery is something that will need changing in time but how about the motors, in wheel and BB types.
I'd guess the 'cheepo' bikes are worse but at around £1000 to £2000 how well do they last?
I'm sure as my legs start to lose some strength I'll be getting one and wonder if they last as long as a normal bike.


Like other technological constructs with moving parts that get used in a variety of ways by a variety of users, e-bikes will last for varying amounts of time. If you look after it and don't over-stress it, it'll likely last as long as your ordinary bikes. Batteries generally have a lifetime figure, which varies according to how well you look after them, charge them, etcetera.

In addition, some e-bike parts are easily renewable. For example, the ladywife's Focus Paralane2 has a motor and battery module that drops out of the frame. The battery and motor are also separable. Either or both may be easily replaced with new ones. The gearbox is in the BB but that too can be removed, although not with just one press of a big button, as with the motor-battery module. The bike is also rideable as an ordinary bike of just over 10kg with the motor-battery module left out.

Presumably you can easily change a rear or front hub motor with either a new wheel-motor or a wheel rebuild with a new motor. The associated wiring and electronics must also be easily replaceable, I would have thought. Batteries are generally easily replaceable, although not without a bit of tool-wielding, unlike the Focus Paralane and other Fazua motor e-bikles with their motor-battery module released from the down tube with one button-press.

Those bikes with motors built into the BB may be less easy to manage in terms of taking out and replacing motors. I don't know how "integrated" they are. I suspect they may be modular though.

Of course, at present the e-bits aren't cheap. If you do need a new battery or motor, it's going to be hundreds or even thousands with some. Perhaps costs will come down?

Cugel

stodd
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Re: General ebike question

Postby stodd » 30 Jul 2019, 12:22pm

There are good quality bikes that are (relatively) cheapo but carefully made and with good after sales service (eg from http://wooshbikes.co.uk/ and also several others). These tend to use fairly standard components which will be fairly easy for you to fix or replace yourself if you are that way inclined. Woosh (or whoever) will help with advice and can often provide the parts as well.

If you go for the more expensive bikes (eg Bosch based or similar) the reliability should be good, but not 100% ... for example lots of people have had bearing issues with the older Performance Line motors. Also any work required is likely to be specialist and expensive. Replacement batteries will be expensive too.

Look on the various pedlecs forums for comments and reviews and lots of detailed knowledge; but quite a few people with axes to grind.
https://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/

An e-bike probably won't last as long as a normal bike (our normal bikes are 25 and 35 years old approx, but much lower mileage and lots of new parts). One reason will be various technical advances that are bound to happen that will make a new electric bike much better than an old one. Despite lots of marketing hype (such as renaming wheel sizes to make a confused situation even worse) there haven't been any such advances in normal bikes.

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horizon
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Re: General ebike question

Postby horizon » 30 Jul 2019, 1:01pm

stodd wrote:
An e-bike probably won't last as long as a normal bike (our normal bikes are 25 and 35 years old approx, but much lower mileage and lots of new parts). One reason will be various technical advances that are bound to happen that will make a new electric bike much better than an old one. Despite lots of marketing hype (such as renaming wheel sizes to make a confused situation even worse) there haven't been any such advances in normal bikes.


I'm certainly no expert but I get the impression that electric motors are a developed, mature technology and even already used in small, lightweight applications. And of course the configuration, ease of use etc can always improve. What has set ebikes off however is the lithium-ion battery, a new technology. Lithium battery usage is expanding all over the world not only in cars but for example in battery parks in South Australia and home battery installations. But my impression is that things aren't moving that fast and they remain heavy and expensive. They have made ebikes possible but maybe not yet a throwaway item.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

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al_yrpal
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Re: General ebike question

Postby al_yrpal » 30 Jul 2019, 2:54pm

The bike part is easy, it will probably last as long as a normal bike with the odd chain and sprocket replacement at normal periods. I suspect the battery and something like the Bosch Performance drive and similar will have design life of 3 years ie 10% will fail within 3 years of what the designers gauged as normal usage. Perhaps manufacturers will offer a refurbishment service to replace internal gears and bearings as well as replacement thermistors. Thats bound to be expensive.

Very hard to guess and manufacturers will keep this information close to their chests for obvious reasons. Batteries are expensive I believe the 500W/hr one on my bike costs £400-£500 to replace.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

PH
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Re: General ebike question

Postby PH » 30 Jul 2019, 3:21pm

As ebikes become increasingly popular, so will the businesses that support them. However unique your battery pack, it'll probably contain pretty standard cells and there's already a choice of companies that'll re-cell it. I don't know much about electric motors, though as horizon says they're an established technology, I can't see them being any more complex than a washing machine. Which only leaves the controls, again I expect many of them are using standard components, even if not, I'd expect there to be options to run the same motor and battery with a different set of controls.
I know a few delivery riders who run fairly basic ebikes, the Halfords Carreras seem popular and are under £1,000, these seem to stand up to several hundred miles a week of stop/start urban riding and I don't know anyone who's had a major failure yet, other than someone who has had the battery replaced after 18 months (Around 15,000 miles).
IMO more likely than a complete failure is that the technology or the regulation will change in some way that tempts you into an upgrade.

Oldjohnw
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Re: General ebike question

Postby Oldjohnw » 30 Jul 2019, 3:28pm

My motor was retrofitted to s 17 year old bike. If the motor dies it is still a bike.
John

Cycling and recycling

hemo
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Re: General ebike question

Postby hemo » 30 Jul 2019, 6:57pm

My Bafang CST rear hub is 4.5 years old done about 6.5k miles just recently opened it for a service and it looks as good as new inside.
Nylon planet gears unworn to the eye no detritus inside, grease looks good though dobbing in a bit more will do no harm. Bearings checked and running nice and smooth.

Generally good branded 250w hubs don't suffer unless to much power is put through them by over volting or applying to much current. The worse case scenario's is a sealed bearing going bad in which case they can easily be sourced and replaced, the motor is installed incorrectly with the motor wire exiting upwards where water can track down through the slotted axle via said cable or the cable is damaged at the axle entry point.

Crank/mid drives are more technical, the likes of Bosch,Yamaha, Steps etc,etc aren't user freindly to repair and can only be done so by manufacturer if in warranty, out of warranty 'The Bearing Man' a UK business has back engineered nearly all the mid drives and can repair them for 2/3's of the manufacturer's price.


Kit crank/midrives are a bit hit and miss my one has done about 3.5k miles and 2 internal controllers have blown, parts for Bafang and Tonsheng are easily available.

kwackers
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Re: General ebike question

Postby kwackers » 30 Jul 2019, 9:22pm

Mines done coming up to 20k miles. IIRC I started using it two years ago in October.

It's a Bafang mid drive conversion to a tourer. Easy enough to turn back into a tourer should I need to.
Most likely thing to go is the battery, £200 for a new battery (and getting cheaper / higher capacity) although I'd check the cells and just replace any dodgy ones as a first pass repair.
If the motor dies then £300 for a new motor - although they're repairable usually for a lot less so as long as spares are available then there's no real issue.

Might be a different story if you bought an off the shelf ebike. Depends on how many custom parts there are and availability. But then the ticket price is a lot higher so worth spending a bit more to get it repaired.

Main thing I'd do differently is spend a bit more on a battery and charger, also I'd over rate the battery by a bit more.
Mainly because a good charger will prolong the life of the battery significantly especially if combined with a battery with decent BMS built in. Over rating it will cause it to be less stressed and run cooler which can only be a good thing.
I'd still expect my battery to see 30k though before it's looking a bit knackered and even then it's probably still manage the journeys I make if I drop the amount of assist.

francovendee
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Re: General ebike question

Postby francovendee » 30 Jul 2019, 10:10pm

Do I understand it correctly that batteries are make specific?
Secondly, the motor/gearbox on the crank based systems are only serviceable by the manufacturer i.e. you can't buy spares?
Is a wheel mounted motor a better option? I can rebuild a wheel or get one done at a reasonable cost.
I've always done my own repairs and just a little concerned I'd have to rely on a shop for any repairs.

The ebike has really taken off here and lots of outlets are selling them, not just bike shops.
I'm sure many that get sold are like the BSO's that were offered as MTB's some years ago. They will disappoint the buyer and get very little use before being put into a shed and forgotten.

stodd
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Re: General ebike question

Postby stodd » 31 Jul 2019, 8:06am

Many bikes (especially higher end) have specific batteries (in particular Bosch); and those are often very expensive for their capacity.
Many others can take generic batteries, though there are still issues about connections, whether the BMS (battery management system) is built in, and so on.
Batteries can be recelled, but again this can be more challenging on some of the higher end ones.

If you do a conversion it is more likely to have fairly generic parts. I hope I don't have to get inside the front hub motor on our tandem conversion; but that is partly unfamiliarity rather than necessarily being a difficult task.

They will disappoint the buyer and get very little use before being put into a shed and forgotten.
Sadly, probably true for many of the cheaper options.

hemo
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Re: General ebike question

Postby hemo » 31 Jul 2019, 8:47am

All the time a Bosch type drive is in warranty then servicing can only be done (free )via the dealer you bought the bike from. If you take your bike to a dealer where you hadn't got the bike from they will likely charge for their time in fitting and refitting etc, but the parts should be nil cost as under warranty. Usually if a motor is replaced under warranty within the 2 year time scale then the time clock for the warranty starts all over again.
If you have a bike where the bike is out of warranty and needs an engine rebuild/repair then either you may be able to source a replacement or manufacturer via a dealer will charge you for a replacement. Upside now is that nearly all these types of drive can be repaired by ' The Bearing Man' who's company has back engineered the drives to produce/engineer the component parts as a cheaper alterantive to the manufaturer route.