Author Topic: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting  (Read 3403 times)

E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« on: 15 August, 2023, 05:20:37 pm »
Ok some background, up to ~2017 I didn't own a car and cycled for almost every journey, commuting, shopping etc. If that wasn't practical then I turned multi modal with the bike on the train or at least to the station. Then I went on secondment and my place of work changed from 6 miles from home to 3 days per week ~65 miles from home and I ended up getting a car. Then Covid and working from home, but I am now back to the 6 mile commute. The issue is that in that 6 year period I have gained ~30kg of waistline ballast and the level crossing on my route has been closed. So getting back on the bike, whilst necessary isn't going to be a simple option. Historically I commuted on a fixie for simplicity of drive train, however I don't know that I could jump straight back to that.

Therefore I want to investigate the possibility of an Ebike to smooth the way back to commuting. As an out line of what I think I want:

  • Drop handle bars are a requirement, I have used these for >35 years and I like the many hand positions offered.
  • Comparatively light weight will be a major benefit, with the closure of the level crossing my alternatives until the new road is built by the housing developer is either; a dual carriage way that is about to become or just stopped being a motorway, or over a pedestrian footbridge which will mean picking up and carrying the bike and luggage.
  • I think I want hub gears for the reduced maintenance on a commuting bike.
  • Luggage racks for two panniers (laptop one side and office clothes the other
  • full mud guards, lights etc. as the aim will be back to full time cycle commuting
  • The ability to remove the battery for charging would help, the bike will be stored in my garage but there is no power supply there and it is separate from the house.

So over to you, which manufactures should I consider? Are there any particular benefits to hub or bottom bracket motors? Are there any brands of motors to prefer or avoid? Am I mad to look for hub gears and drop bars?

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #1 on: 15 August, 2023, 08:16:56 pm »
OK, I think some of your requirements contradict each other.

Plenty of drop bar e-bikes from all leading manufacturers. Batteries are usually removable these days. Some older e-road bikes had batteries that couldn't be removed but that didn't prove popular. You can fit mudguards and racks to most, BUT, they all come with derailleurs.

Hub motors are on cheaper bikes. Bottom bracket motors are the way forward and even mid-priced bikes have them now

Main problem for you is going to find a OTP drop bar e-bike with hub gears. Obviously, that going to need a bottom bracket motor.
Thorn and Shand make drop bar bikes (not e-) with Rohloff hub gears but most hub gear e-bikes tend to be hybrid/touring types with flat bars.

You don't mention a budget.

Another option is a Swytch which is a front wheel motor system you can fit to most bikes. The battery is quite small so the range is limited but if your commuting is not too long then that may not be an issue. It's also much cheater than a new e-bike.
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #2 on: 16 August, 2023, 08:22:53 am »
I very much prefer drop bars on recreation bikes but my e-commuter has flat bars because the aero thing makes no odds when the effort is coming from a motor, and multi hand positions aren't something I think about in a 40 minute ride.

I have an ebike because work is 11-14km away but 280m up (& some down).

I wanted a bike that looked like a bike and we have power in our garage so battery removability isn't an issue.

My bike is lovely and I can't recommend it highly enough- but it doesn't meet your requirements. It's a Specialized and the after care has also been excellent.

Kim

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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #3 on: 16 August, 2023, 01:02:07 pm »
Would a chinesium front hub motor fitted to some suitable bike you already have work?  If it's a stopgap measure while you build fitness, you presumably won't need it long term...

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #4 on: 17 August, 2023, 10:03:23 am »
Thank you for your replies,
I very much prefer drop bars on recreation bikes but my e-commuter has flat bars because the aero thing makes no odds when the effort is coming from a motor, and multi hand positions aren't something I think about in a 40 minute ride.

This is a very good point and possibly exposes a prejudice in my thinking, I guess I will have to consider flat bars as an appropriate option and think about if drops are required. Also I suspect that the market for a more relaxed geometry (touring / hybrid) is probably going to be mainly equipped with flat bars.

OK, I think some of your requirements contradict each other.

This is what I feared and why I asked if I was mad to look for a combination of drops and hub gears.

Plenty of drop bar e-bikes from all leading manufacturers. ...  You can fit mudguards and racks to most, BUT, they all come with derailleurs.

This is what my initial searching online showed and why I came to ask the wider knowledge of this community, it may be I have to compromise.

Hub motors are on cheaper bikes. Bottom bracket motors are the way forward and even mid-priced bikes have them now

That's what I thought, and a bottom bracket motor and a hub gear should be a good combination.

You don't mention a budget.

Another option is a Swytch which is a front wheel motor system you can fit to most bikes. The battery is quite small so the range is limited but if your commuting is not too long then that may not be an issue. It's also much cheater than a new e-bike.

I am in the fortunate position where, whilst I would like to keep costs down, then within reason the right bike will cost what it costs and I can afford that, though hopefully less than my Van Nic was.

With regards to swytch and similar adaptations, putting it in either of my current commuting options will involve removing the hub dynamo wheel. Whilst the battery can power the lights finding myself on a dark commute without lights or e assist because I forgot to charge the battery feels inevitable and I would rather avoid that if I can.

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #5 on: 17 August, 2023, 10:18:17 am »
With regards to swytch and similar adaptations, putting it in either of my current commuting options will involve removing the hub dynamo wheel. Whilst the battery can power the lights finding myself on a dark commute without lights or e assist because I forgot to charge the battery feels inevitable and I would rather avoid that if I can.
The proportion of the battery required for the lights is tiny. You'd have to work really hard to exhaust the battery enough to have no lights.
I've had my bike for a year and only once got down to less than 20%- that was the first ride post surgery and I went to the pool-work-home with full assist the whole time. It's hilly round here.
One of the reasons I chose my bike over others is that it's only 14kg. At a pinch I can ride it without power. I wouldn't want it loaded as well, mind, which is ironic as I always have a load when I'm commuting.
I suppose I wouldn't set off to work on an empty battery but I would set off home. Home is down a big hill then along the flat.

I have loads of bikes so it's easy for me to have bike-for-a-specific-task. This bike is only ever used for commuting. If space /funds /placating partners are factors then more compromises may be required.

Kim

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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #6 on: 17 August, 2023, 01:53:06 pm »
With regards to swytch and similar adaptations, putting it in either of my current commuting options will involve removing the hub dynamo wheel. Whilst the battery can power the lights finding myself on a dark commute without lights or e assist because I forgot to charge the battery feels inevitable and I would rather avoid that if I can.
The proportion of the battery required for the lights is tiny. You'd have to work really hard to exhaust the battery enough to have no lights.

Indeed.  More's the point, as the internal resistance ('battery sag' in e-bike speak) reaches the point where it can't supply enough voles to the motor under load - at which point the e-bike controller will likely switch itself off it disgust - there's still plenty of charge for a lighting load.

At my suggestion, a friend did the real-world test with their then-new STEPS system: At the point where the system would conk out as soon as the motor kicked in, when switched back on it would happily run the electronics, shift gears (integrated Di2 Alfine hub) and powered the lights for another 2 hours with the assistance level at zero.  Which ought to be enough for any sane amount of limping home.

In practice, you're about as likely to run out of fuel on an e-bike as you are in a car.  You pretty much have to have circumstances conspire against you (no charging opportunity, unexpected journey), some sort of fault (instrumentation that lies, degraded battery), or be the sort of fundamentally chaotic person who doesn't reliably do the basic tasks required to operate a vehicle (thinking of my MIL here).

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #7 on: 17 August, 2023, 02:04:08 pm »
Electric Brompton.

I will not elaborate.

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #8 on: 17 August, 2023, 05:17:56 pm »
For a combination of bottom bracket motor and hub gears look no further than Riese and Muller. But none are drop bar bikes and they are expensive, though not as expensive as the latest Pinarello Dogma which isn't even electric 😉
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo

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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #9 on: 17 August, 2023, 11:24:04 pm »
Tern also have some hub geared models and tend to be a bit cheaper. Enviolo is quite common on some makes. I went for full Rohloff/Gates belt drive on my R & M. But it was alarmingly expensive.
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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #10 on: 17 August, 2023, 11:35:41 pm »
Enviolo is quite common on some makes.

This is certainly worth test-riding, if only for the sheer novelty value.  The experience is uncanny:  Unlike the discrete clunky steps of Di2 automatic shifting, it actually manages to (within the limits of the transmission and motor output) maintain a constant cadence[1], with the bike's speed determined by how hard you pedal.  Obviouisly as Cyclists we're at liberty to consider such things to be a work of Stan, but in as much as this sort of thing has its use (which in my mind is mostly people who don't grok the use of gears, or those with impairments that make gears awkward) I think this is an automatic-shifting solution that actually does what it's supposed to do.

If barakta were buying a new trike tomorrow, with budget no option, this would probably be the way to do it, simply because it solves the starting-off-in-the-wrong-gear problem, while neatly eliminating a several of hand controls.

AIUI, these CVTs actually prefer to shift under load, which makes them a much better match for mid-drive e-assist than the usual transmissions, especially for cargo bikes.


None of which is much help for the OP, I know.



[1] Configured with the setup software, not something you can jibble while riding, unfortunately.

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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #11 on: 18 August, 2023, 11:30:33 am »
Tern also have some hub geared models and tend to be a bit cheaper. Enviolo is quite common on some makes. I went for full Rohloff/Gates belt drive on my R & M. But it was alarmingly expensive.

Gazelle likes the Enviolo system.  I was going to get one through Cycle to work (the Bloom C380HMS) but the lead time is at least four months (possibly longer), so I've ended up going for something a little less exotic (the Genesis Columbia Road).
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Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #12 on: 18 August, 2023, 02:00:01 pm »
There's a choice to be made, at one end a bike that rides like a bike and offers a bit of assistance on the difficult bits, at the other end a bike that powers you everywhere with only as much input as you feel like contributing. It isn't entirely polarised, though you can look at most bikes and see which end they lean towards and there isn't a lot of middle ground. At least, I've never tried a bike that was good for both. 
I'd recommend the Trek Allent, particularly the Bosch CX motor, as a utility and transport bike, it has exceeded my expectations. Yet, if I was looking for a fun bike to ride like my non assisted bikes, it would be a disappointment.

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #13 on: 14 September, 2023, 03:22:33 pm »
I have a Gazelle Grenoble C380 (or whatever it's called)- with the Enviolo hub gears. I've only used the car to get to work once since I got it this year. The Enviolo system is pretty nifty and the e-assist means I don't get sweaty enough to get changed. Battery does me a week on a 15mile round trip easily.

It's very sit up and beg, which I absolutely love; the Ultimate model from Gazelle has a more assertive set up. It was quite expensive but it has saved me around 60 miles petrol a week.

However, it's built like an absolute tank and I wouldn't fancy having to hoof it up a bridge and back down the other side; it does have walk assist so if there's a channel for bike wheels on the bridge you might be ok.

Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #14 on: 25 September, 2023, 12:06:56 pm »
Drop bars means an element of speed and aerodynamics, this goes against most e bikes.

The easiest way to get more speed on my sit up and beg ebike (for the same power assist) is to get my head down, tuck my elbows in etc, and I get a bit more speed, but I look like a dick.  My bike is ludicrously heavy, but it's got a 6 year on the back for a lot of the time, and I'd rather have an integrated rack rated for a child seat.

The power assist should cut off over a certain speed, and those speeds are very easy to attain on a road bike.

I've commuted by ebike for just over a year, and am now at 2600 miles. There was a month where I went back to my normal bike, as I had a rear puncture,  and the slime didn't fix it instantly, but it was easier just to swap bikes for a bit, rather than watch several instructional youtube vids and getting the toolbox out.

I charge every couple of days, but some days I do 17 hilly miles, some days just 8 as a normal commute, working from home 0.   My range varies depending on level of power assist.  The only time I use gears is when I've accidentally out of battery (happened once or twice in a year after unexpected long journeys, and I'd forgotten to charge) otherwise I just use 1 or 2 gears.


If you can commute fixie, single speed with power assist should be easily doable.

I'd look at the single speeds with gates drives

https://www.tenways.com/pages/cgo600-pro

Shove a light rack on the back and throw on luggage. Also not too heavy bike wise.

Gates drives have also revolutionised carrying your bike, you no longer get covered in oil and it's fantastic. My e bike has a chain, but my daughter's bike is gates drive, and they are so clean.


Re: E-Bike recommendations - getting back to commuting
« Reply #15 on: 11 January, 2024, 11:08:23 pm »
I'm a bit late to this party, and you may have got something already, but I got a Vitus E-Substance Carbon Rival Gravel Bike from Wiggle, at 40% off. It fulfils many of your requirements, although it is not a hub-geared bike, it's got a 1×11 derailleur set-up.

it does have some mounting points, so I've got mudguards and a rack fitted to mine, although how much weight you'd want to put on those is open to debate. You'd have to fit those yourself, as well as lights (or get a shop to do it). The battery is easily removed (with the motor, but the entire drivepack unit is not very heavy).

Currently they're out of stock of all of the Vitus e-bikes, but they do say "Stock expected soon". They are replenishing some out of stock items, but the heavy discounts don't seem to appear against these bikes now. If they do get stock in, it's possible that they may discount again, but I suspect you'll just have to keep your eyes on the website and see what happens. There's obviously also a risk with purchasing something from a company In Administration, but should the worst happen, you'd probably get Debit/Credit card charges back (or from the Administrator).
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