The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

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The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

The second part of my article, A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles:  Recapturing a Role as Utilitarian People-Movers (Part II) is now available.

The first part of the article can be found here:  A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles:  Recapturing a Role as Utilitarian People-Movers (Part I), and if you missed it the first time around, you can also visit the original Definitive Bicycle Thread.

I am looking forward to reading your comments and questions!

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Thanks for the detailed info on electric bike setups.  My first thought was, I can just a pedal without a motor to work, etc.  The reality is, I tend to do huge long bike or running workouts then jump in my gas hogging truck for the short 7 mile ride to work, hauling my laptop, lunch, and a bunch of other junk etc.  The commute could be done more conveniently and with less energy on an E bike.

Tom

 

   

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Well here comes the down side -

After getting a power bike and putting 100s of miles on it over the 2007 summer - my butt still hurts! And this is not an unusual occurance - many people experience pain and cancer long after bike riding because of the shape of the bike seat so remember these small tips when riding-

  1. Get the softest seat you can afford. If you have a recumbent, trike or 4 wheel bike (ricsycle is my dream-machine) - then you're good to go. If you are on a 2 wheel- look for seats that are spring loaded, cushioned and big enough to sit without resting on your privates.
  2. If you are older - pedalling itself causes friction so take it easy and work up to a long ride before going 100s of miles.
  3. If you are powered up on a 2 wheeler - stand frequently to get the blood flow going.

I might have ridden my bike 1,000s of miles when I was 20 years younger - but adding power to a two-wheel bike can take a lot of years off the ole' tush when getting places fast and "green".   EGP

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

 

Thanks for the detailed info on electric bike setups.  My first thought was, I can just a pedal without a motor to work, etc.  The reality is, I tend to do huge long bike or running workouts then jump in my gas hogging truck for the short 7 mile ride to work, hauling my laptop, lunch, and a bunch of other junk etc.  The commute could be done more conveniently and with less energy on an E bike.

Tom

 

 

 

 

 Hi Tom,

Yes, you hit the nail on the head.  It always seems like I have lots of stuff to move around - everything from my computer to a change of clothes, to martial arts gear etc.  When folks first see my bike they often say "that looks heavy".  And it is.  But since I'm nearly always carrying lots of stuff, plus kids, why worry about weight?  So instead I focus on making the bike as pleasant to ride as possible, so that I'll ride it instead of driving.  I didn't mention it in the article, but I even have a cupholder and a little stereo on my handlebars.  Frivolous?  Yes they are.  But they are things that make riding the bike more enjoyable, so I ride more often.  And the same thing is true in a much bigger way for the electric assist.  It helps me wake up in the morning and see myself hopping on the bike and having a fun time riding to work - even when I feel lousy.

Having the e-bike motivates me to ride every day.  It may not do that for everyone, but it does seem to help for a lot of people.

Morgan

 

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Yes, that's why I mentioned recumbents and the Day 6 in the article.  They solve the problems you mention.  They are designed for people with back/wrist/fanny issues.  The Day 6 seat is more comfortable than the office chair I sit on all day long.  I could see myself doing a few hundred miles on that seat without any discomfort whatsoever.  The only downside of that bike is that it can't readily be converted to an Xtracycle.  But they can and often are converted to have electric assist.  The Day 6 is by far the most popular bike we have for the retiree crowd.  

Even if you stick with a regular bike, finding a good seat is very important, as I mentioned in the article.  I don't agree that everyone needs the softest seat possible.  Some people prefer a seat that is a bit more sporty. Personally, I find some seats too "squishy". That is a matter of personal preference. 

I would change this to say "find the seat that is most comfortable to you".

 

 

EndGamePlayer wrote:

Well here comes the down side -

After getting a power bike and putting 100s of miles on it over the 2007 summer - my butt still hurts! And this is not an unusual occurance - many people experience pain and cancer long after bike riding because of the shape of the bike seat so remember these small tips when riding-

  1. Get the softest seat you can afford. If you have a recumbent, trike or 4 wheel bike (ricsycle is my dream-machine) - then you're good to go. If you are on a 2 wheel- look for seats that are spring loaded, cushioned and big enough to sit without resting on your privates.
  2. If you are older - pedalling itself causes friction so take it easy and work up to a long ride before going 100s of miles.
  3. If you are powered up on a 2 wheeler - stand frequently to get the blood flow going.

I might have ridden my bike 1,000s of miles when I was 20 years younger - but adding power to a two-wheel bike can take a lot of years off the ole' tush when getting places fast and "green".   EGP

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Thanks for another fantastic article.  I'm fortunate to live in a place where it is very easy to commute by bicycle (Berkeley, CA).  I've been able to reduce my car use by 90+% over the past two years.  Sometimes two weeks will pass without a single car trip.  In addition to the environmental benefits, it feels so much better to be getting regular exercise in the context of my normal life (without having to carve out "extra" time for it).  It's not a hardship at all.  In fact, even if I had a "zero emissions" car (as if such a car existed!), I would still ride my bike whenever it was possible to do so.  I prefer it.

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Thanks so much Dr. Giddings!

This is EXACTLY the information I needed. Putting it all in one place makes it sooooo much easier to start a project/transition like this.  As with anything, there will be no substitute for experience, but having a solid foundation of knowledge not only speeds things up and helps make more effective decisions, but also helps motivate.

Thanks again for taking the time to compile this information.  It will be invaluable.

-Brandon

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Thanks for Part II Dr. Giddings!

If I can add a couple of things. For preventing your pants from getting caught, I use an elastic band. Very simple and easy and cheap solution.

For sore butt syndrome - I use a Gellissimo seat for my road bike for my longer rides(50-70 miles). It's a combination of gel and padding. I use the seat in combination with padded bike pants. I have had the seat for a couple of years and it has served me, and my tush, well!

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Part II is another great installment. Thanks, Dr. Giddings!

I followed the link you provided for the continuously-variable NuVinci rear hub. This is a subject that interested me in engineering school, several decades ago. The NuVinci site says that a new generation of lubricants offers 3 to 5 times more fluid shear resistance than ordinary oil in order to transit force between the toroids, while still providing the lubrication which is essential to prevent the unit from grinding itself into metallic dust. On the other hand, the NuVinci unit is quite heavy; more than 11 pounds.

You also mentioned 8-speed hubs. I Googled that, and learned that several manufacturers including Shimano now make internally-geared hubs, like the old Sturmey-Archer English 3-speeds that we all remember from our youth. This is FANTASTIC news. While I wasn't paying attention, all my technological bicycle dreams have come true. There's even a German-made, ultra-high-end, 14-speed internally greared hub, I learned.

I DEPLORE derailleurs, DEPLORE greasy, gritty chains and rollers; DEPLORE the inconvenience of shifting from high to low gear while pedaling during a sudden stop on an upgrade. Derailleurs, in my mind, are one step above the Flintstones technology of hand-hewn lumber frames with stone millwheels serving as 'tires.' My next bike, for sure, is gonna have an internally geared hub. Now if we could just adapt an e-drive to go through the gears, while isolating the pedals from the e-drive via a freewheel clutch ... call me when it's ready.

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)
machinehead wrote:

Part II is another great installment. Thanks, Dr. Giddings!

I followed the link you provided for the continuously-variable NuVinci rear hub. This is a subject that interested me in engineering school, several decades ago. The NuVinci site says that a new generation of lubricants offers 3 to 5 times more fluid shear resistance than ordinary oil in order to transit force between the toroids, while still providing the lubrication which is essential to prevent the unit from grinding itself into metallic dust. On the other hand, the NuVinci unit is quite heavy; more than 11 pounds.

You also mentioned 8-speed hubs. I Googled that, and learned that several manufacturers including Shimano now make internally-geared hubs, like the old Sturmey-Archer English 3-speeds that we all remember from our youth. This is FANTASTIC news. While I wasn't paying attention, all my technological bicycle dreams have come true. There's even a German-made, ultra-high-end, 14-speed internally greared hub, I learned.

I DEPLORE derailleurs, DEPLORE greasy, gritty chains and rollers; DEPLORE the inconvenience of shifting from high to low gear while pedaling during a sudden stop on an upgrade. Derailleurs, in my mind, are one step above the Flintstones technology of hand-hewn lumber frames with stone millwheels serving as 'tires.' My next bike, for sure, is gonna have an internally geared hub. Now if we could just adapt an e-drive to go through the gears, while isolating the pedals from the e-drive via a freewheel clutch ... call me when it's ready.

 

Hi, I'm glad the article was useful to you.

The Nuvinci is a bit on the heavy side.  It adds about 7-8 lbs to the bike, when compared to a standard rear sprocket setup.  On the other hand, it is extremely low maintenance, which has the benefits that you point out.

Some of the other hubs that you mention are great.  The Rohloff is fantastic (that's the 15 speed one), but it is also quite pricey.  The ones from Shimano, Sram, and Sturmey Archer all seem to work quite well at a lower price range.  There are several brands of bikes that now include these gearhubs from the factory, including Breezer and Civia.  It is nice to see these coming to the mass market in the USA, it is about time.  

Regarding your request where you say "call me when it is ready"... ask and you shall receive!  Check out the EcoSpeed Electric Mountain Drive.  I don't have your phone number, but, we are now becoming a dealer for the Ecospeeds, because we're enthused about them.  I'm going to be trying one soon on my own bike.

Have fun!

Morgan

 

 

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

First, I apologize in advance for all the newbie questions I am about to post over the coming weeks.  I'm really interested in this stuff but have no prior knowledge, other than the 2 months I've had my Giant Mt. Bike out on a few trails...still learning! I'll try to limit it to a single post a day...

Question 1) I noticed that in many of the videos I look at, the bikes only have one gear in the front (where you pedal) as opposed to my mt. bike which has 3.  Are certain types of electric assist motors only compatible with a 1-front gear system?

I can't see how the cyclone would work with 3 differently sized gears in the front:

Question 2) Why, when you leave the world of Mt. bikes, are people talking about so many fewer gears than I'm used to dealing with (3x9=27 on my mt. bike).  Is it the obvious answer that you just don't NEED as many typically?  If so, am I to assume that you're giving up the very low-end, high-torque gears (1 and 2) on the front sprockets?

Thanks...and feel free to correct me on the words/terminology for the parts I'm describing!

-Brandon

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)
machinehead wrote:

I DEPLORE the inconvenience of shifting from high to low gear while pedaling during a sudden stop on an upgrade.

 

I see that there is no shifting "jerks" with the continuously variable Nuvinci hub.  Looking at how it works, that makes sense.  But wouldn't "non-continuously" internally geared hubs have a shifting feeling to them, similar to a derailer/rear-sprocket setup?

Can you shift an internally geared hub when NOT moving?

I've never used one...just trying to make sense of it all.

-Brandon

 

(Last post for the day...promise...but more tomorrow for sure!)

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Hi

No apologies needed - asking questions is usually the fastest way to learn.

Bike gearing could merit a very long essay, and I'm a bit time limited today.  I'll just say that the choice of gears and gear ranges is about style, tastes, and personal preference than anything else.

The reason a mountain bike typically has more gears is to provide climbing gears for short steep climbs.  However, many endurance racers now race on single speed bikes.  Seriously.  For example, the recent "Tour Divide" race, a 20+ day race from Canada to Mexico along the continental divide, has many single speed entrants who do quite well.  I personally know of quite a few people who only ride single speeds now (it is sort of a trend).

One reason many electric bikes only have a single sprocket in front is that the motor makes up for the lack of gears.  I find that when I have the assist and use it on hills, I almost never use the climbing gears that I would use without it.

The only real deficiency can be on the other end - some electric bikes don't allow you to pedal out to a very fast speed (e.g. on downhills), they don't have high enough gears.  That's where having a double or triple chainring in front can still be helpful, if you like pedaling for higher speed instead of coasting downhill.  Or, alternatively, a gear hub like the Nuvinci has a sufficient range that it can be used with a single front ring.  My setup is single front ring with Nuvinci in back, and this allows me to pedal the bike up to about 26 miles per hour before I spin out.

If you're considering the Cyclone, be aware that the installation is potentially quite a challenge.  Typical hub motor installations are a lot easier.  And the Cyclone makes a bunch of noise... just things to be aware of.

 

Brandon wrote:

First, I apologize in advance for all the newbie questions I am about to post over the coming weeks.  I'm really interested in this stuff but have no prior knowledge, other than the 2 months I've had my Giant Mt. Bike out on a few trails...still learning! I'll try to limit it to a single post a day...

Question 1) I noticed that in many of the videos I look at, the bikes only have one gear in the front (where you pedal) as opposed to my mt. bike which has 3.  Are certain types of electric assist motors only compatible with a 1-front gear system?

I can't see how the cyclone would work with 3 differently sized gears in the front:

Question 2) Why, when you leave the world of Mt. bikes, are people talking about so many fewer gears than I'm used to dealing with (3x9=27 on my mt. bike).  Is it the obvious answer that you just don't NEED as many typically?  If so, am I to assume that you're giving up the very low-end, high-torque gears (1 and 2) on the front sprockets?

Thanks...and feel free to correct me on the words/terminology for the parts I'm describing!

-Brandon

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)
Brandon wrote:

I see that there is no shifting "jerks" with the continuously variable Nuvinci hub.  Looking at how it works, that makes sense.  But wouldn't "non-continuously" internally geared hubs have a shifting feeling to them, similar to a derailer/rear-sprocket setup?

Yes, other internally geared hubs do have "jerks" associated.  Most can be shifted when you're not pedaling or lightly pedaling.  It is nice to be able to pull up to a stop, then shift gears after stopped.  Can't do that with a normal derailleur setup...

Regards,

Morgan

 

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Higher speed electric bikes

OK,

So here are the facts:

  1. Electric assist bikes are not legal in my state (NY).
  2. This is not enforced based on numerous discussions I've had
  3. I need and electric bike that can go 30 MPH to make my 18 mile commute reasonable.

Is there a legal risk to trying this due to the ease of spotting a high speed electric bike?  How much?

What do I need to do to make a 30 mph bike safer (fatter tires, better brakes, etc)?

What about winter?  Could I ride most days when there might be an occasional slick spot by using studded tires and then just work from home on the few really snowy days?

Anyone with experience in these areas?

Steve

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Hub/gear longevity and ease-of-maintenance

Thanks for those answers...exactly what I was looking for.

I have some background in automotive repair.  Often there was a price to paid (in the form of either poorer longevity, ease-of-maintenance/repair, parts availability, or durability) for having more advanced/complex or more convenient technology.

Could the case be made that the Nuvinci hub suffers from any of these drawbacks?

Something tells me that, being that it's full of fluid, I won't be opening up my Nuvinci hub to repair it if it starts squeaking, or whatever...probably voids the warranty?

Thanks again.

-Brandon

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

What is the best way to get a 'good steal-framed mountain bike'? 

What sort of things should I look for to see if a bike is good or not? 

I've got an old mountain bike that I've had since I was 12 (I'm now 27).  My wife's bike is in very poor condition.  What sorts of things should I look at or for to tell if it would be better to repair or replace it?

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Re: Hub/gear longevity and ease-of-maintenance

Hi

It is true that the Nuvinci is not as serviceable as a standard derailleur.  On the other hand, it doesn't need service nearly as often... Mine has about 3,000 miles on it, and I haven't done a thing to it.  I hope that continues for many years and many miles.  But I can't say what the long-term tradeoffs will be until riding it for several more years.

Morgan

Brandon wrote:

Thanks for those answers...exactly what I was looking for.

I have some background in automotive repair.  Often there was a price to paid (in the form of either poorer longevity, ease-of-maintenance/repair, parts availability, or durability) for having more advanced/complex or more convenient technology.

Could the case be made that the Nuvinci hub suffers from any of these drawbacks?

Something tells me that, being that it's full of fluid, I won't be opening up my Nuvinci hub to repair it if it starts squeaking, or whatever...probably voids the warranty?

Thanks again.

-Brandon

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

If you want a new bike, you can check brands like Surly and Soma, which focus on making the best steel frames out there.

For used bikes,  late-80's to mid-90's mountain bikes are often good choices.  Trek, Fisher, Specialized, Marin... etc.

The choice between buying new or using an old bike is really a personal one.  An older bike might require a bit more maintenance, and some components on newer bikes are better.  But you can always start with an older bike then upgrade as you go.

What kind of bike do you have? 

 

affert wrote:

What is the best way to get a 'good steal-framed mountain bike'? 

What sort of things should I look for to see if a bike is good or not? 

I've got an old mountain bike that I've had since I was 12 (I'm now 27).  My wife's bike is in very poor condition.  What sorts of things should I look at or for to tell if it would be better to repair or replace it?

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Affert:  Your best option right now is take your bike to a good bike shop for an evaluation.  Look at and research new bikes while you are there.  Buying a new bike may be cheaper than replacing all your components on your current bike, which may no longer be standard.  For example,  you may have a 1" threaded headset vs the current 11/4" threadless standard.  PM me with the make and model, I might be able give you more guidance. 

I've self taught myself basic bike mechanics over the past few years and found it both valuable and fun and not hard to learn either.  I learned a lot by stripping down an old Klein mtn bike to the frame and replacing all the components, and have built up a lot of couple different bikes since then custom to my preferences.  I researched a lot on www.mtbr.com where there are product reviews and help forums. www.parktool.com has a lot of free info on how to make repairs to different parts of your bike.

What to look for in a bike depends a lot on understanding what your needs and prefences are.  The options out there can be bewildering.  If you post on mtbr.com what your budget is and your intended uses, you might get some good suggestions ont he best fit for you.

 Steveyoung:  studded bike ties can be obtained for riding in icy conditions.  I've built up my own before, using short sheet metal screws stuck through old tires from the inside, and using thick tube liner strips to protect the inner tubes, and they worked well.

To add to the discussion above on gearing, I find my fancy geared full suspension mtn bike justs sits gathering dust and I use my single speed almost all the time, on and off trails; much lighter, easy to maintain, less things to go wrong, lets you concentrate on riding and makes you a better rider.  If you're pulling a heavy load or in a very hilly area, gears might be helpful though.

On bicycle seats and fit, I struggled for a few years trying to find the perfect seat and position.  I finally found the best thing for me is a seat neither too hard or too soft, and lots of time in the saddle to adapt being the most important factor, and shorts with some but not too thick padding.  On bike fit (frame size, seat position, handlbar height) these can make a big difference in your comfort and enjoyability once you get these dialed in.  There are general guidelines out there, then you have to spend time tweeking it to your preference.  A good bike shop can help.  I've found one you have a much wider range of fit adjustment that will work the more that one stretches to improve their flexibility and keeps fit to maintain their core strength. 

Tom

 

 

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Re: Higher speed electric bikes

Steve,

Have you looked at http://www.optibike.com/ ?

helia225.jpg 

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

My bike is a Schwin.  My wife's is made by Manga. 

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Re: Higher speed electric bikes

Have you looked at http://www.optibike.com/ ?

Looks great, but way out of my price range.

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Re: Higher speed electric bikes
steveyoung wrote:

Have you looked at http://www.optibike.com/ ?

Looks great, but way out of my price range.

Mine too, but it would do 30+mph.  I added a 2-cycle engine to my mountain bike to get around town.  Easily does 20-25mph.  I don't know if the reliability is there to commute to work (also 17-18 miles).  The kits are all over the internet.  Search on motorized bike engines.  Good luck.

Gary

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Re: Higher speed electric bikes

I looked into the legal aspects of e-bikes in New York and it looks like you are presently correct.. however, there is a bill winding its way through the NY government to legalize e-bikes.  Hopefully that will pass.  I can't give specific legal advice beyond that.  I know what I'd do, but that doesn't mean you should do it.

As for an e-bike that goes 30 mph, that is easy to achieve.  There are motors from BMC (V2-S), Crystalyte (Phoenix/5300), Nine Continent, and more that can do it.

The main issue with going that fast is that you suck down battery power much more quickly.  The power needed goes up with cube of velocity.  So if you need a 400W motor to maintain speed at 25 mph, you might need 800W to maintain speed at 30 mph.

That said, we've helped folks solve problems like this.  There is one person I know whose only way to ride to work is to get on a 1-mile stretch of busy 55 mph highway, so he wants to go really, really fast on that stretch, then the rest of the time he can slow down and relax.  His bike uses a BMC V2-S (the S is for speed) motor, running at 72 volts.  Its top speed is faster than he cares to ride the bike (he's hit 40 mph on the flats with it).  He got dual custom-built LiFePO4 batteries from us, which he can connect in parallel to get longer range (running at 36 volts), and in series to get higher speed (running at 72 volts).

As another person suggested, you could also consider a gas motor.  The problems with that are:

1) The electric motor would be far more stealthy, if you're worried about the law.  The gas motor would make noise and look like a motor.

2) The gas motor requires gas, which may or may not be readily available if you subscribe to the peak oil scenario.  Whereas electricity for an e-bike can come from solar panels (mine does).

On the other hand, electric bike setups tend to have more upfront cost.

There are several brands of studded tires available, they work well.  I've tried the screws through the tire option that someone else suggested, it didn't work so well for me.  I kept getting flats, and eventually I bought studded tires.  But I like the idea of the poor man's bicycle chains (zip ties), because you can take them off easily if the weather improves.

If you want to explore options, feel free to give us a call (the phone number is at the top of our website, www.cycle9.com).

 

steveyoung wrote:

OK,

So here are the facts:

  1. Electric assist bikes are not legal in my state (NY).
  2. This is not enforced based on numerous discussions I've had
  3. I need and electric bike that can go 30 MPH to make my 18 mile commute reasonable.

Is there a legal risk to trying this due to the ease of spotting a high speed electric bike?  How much?

What do I need to do to make a 30 mph bike safer (fatter tires, better brakes, etc)?

What about winter?  Could I ride most days when there might be an occasional slick spot by using studded tires and then just work from home on the few really snowy days?

Anyone with experience in these areas?

Steve

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

 I think the best suggestion is to take the bikes to a local bike shop that you trust for assessment.  The Magna is unlikely to be worth fixing.  There have been some well made Schwinn bikes, and a lot of not so well made ones.  So that is harder to judge.  But you can get a decent commuter-style bike for ~$400-600 these days, so spending a lot of money on the old bike may not make sense in the long run, unless it is a good one to start with.

Another source of information that I forgot to mention is http://www.bikeforums.net/ - they have active discussions on almost every possible aspect of biking.  It is often a good place to ask questions ranging from mechanical to philosophical.

 

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Re: The Definitive Bicycle Thread (Part II)

Any ideas or resources on how to find a trustworthy bike shop?  The last several repairs I've done on the bike, I did myself, with the help of a friend of mine who owns a bunch of bike-repair tools (and that was at the last place we lived).  I probably won't get around to doing anything with our bikes until we settle into MN (we're moving there next wee), but i'm definatly going to bookmark this thread for ideas later :)

Are there things I can look for to tell how well made it is?  Also, I know my parents only paid a couple hundred bucks for it back when they got it for me.  Can I assume from that fact that the bike is not great?

Brandon's picture
Brandon
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 143
Assist motors and voltage
Cycle9 wrote:

He got dual custom-built LiFePO4 batteries from us, which he can connect in parallel to get longer range (running at 36 volts), and in series to get higher speed (running at 72 volts).

I don't want to waste anybody's time with a long lesson in electricity, but...

...I understand how series and parralell affect voltage.  Can most electric motors for bikes handle variations in voltage?  Can you just decide what voltage to throw at it and expect it to function just fine?  If no, why does it work for the one mentioned?  Is it simply a halving/doubling thing that makes it okay?

-Brandon

EDIT: Changed subject line for appropriateness

 

Cycle9's picture
Cycle9
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 10 2009
Posts: 31
Re: Assist motors and voltage
Brandon wrote:
Cycle9 wrote:

He got dual custom-built LiFePO4 batteries from us, which he can connect in parallel to get longer range (running at 36 volts), and in series to get higher speed (running at 72 volts).

I don't want to waste anybody's time with a long lesson in electricity, but...

...I understand how series and parralell affect voltage.  Can most electric motors for bikes handle variations in voltage?  Can you just decide what voltage to throw at it and expect it to function just fine?  If no, why does it work for the one mentioned?  Is it simply a halving/doubling thing that makes it okay?

-Brandon

EDIT: Changed subject line for appropriateness

 

Brandon, this is a great question.

The key thing to realize is that the voltage and current coming from your battery does not equal the actual current and voltage flowing through the motor.  This is because of the weirdness of electromagnetism - essentially, the motor coils act as part of a big voltage converter circuit, which is pulse modulated by the controller.  You may be putting 48V and 20A into your controller, but what might be going through your motor is something completely different, like 20V and 50A (as long as the total power is the same, minus any heat losses).

Because of that, the voltage doesn't matter so much to the motor.  Most motors will accept a fairly broad range of voltages and still function fine.  The two issues that do matter are:

1. Many controllers operate only in a narrow range of voltages.  However, some designs can accommodate wider ranges.  The one I mentioned works on a range from 36V-72V (actually, the peak is 90V, since a 72V pack will hit ~90V when charged).

2. You do have to pay attention to total power flowing through the motor.  If you double the voltage and keep the current the same, you are doubling the power to the motor.  If you put too much power through a motor, it can cause overheating and melting of the windings, or mechanical breakage of internal parts.  So generally, if someone is going to run a system at higher voltage, they will reduce the corresponding current.  

We did some tests of a bike at 72V and 35A, and at one point I measured 2500 Watts going through the motor as I climbed a steep hill.  While that was fun, a 600W rated motor is not going to last a long time with such usage.  And since 600 watts continuous (peaking at 1200 watts) is more power than any human puts out, it doesn't need to have 1000's of watts to be zippy.

I hope that helps answer the question.

Ruhh's picture
Ruhh
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 259
Powering up on the go in Kenya

Cool article about Kenyans powering their cellphones while they ride :)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8166196.stm

Brandon's picture
Brandon
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 143
Winter Biking

Hi all.  I just came across this site and it seemed to have some solid info on winter-tested gear.

http://icebike.com/Equipment/CustomEquipment.htm

I'm still trying to evaluate what's out there and what my needs will be regarding utilitarian biking...one of them is winter riding, as I see it is for others here.  I appreciate all the helpful info so far.

-Brandon

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