Bike that can be ridden without pedal assist

Koriemo

New Member
Do front, rear, or mid-drive motors provide for a better ride with the assist turned off?
I've had three e-bikes, and none of them is comfortable to ride unless I have the assist turned on. I'd love to ride on my own in the morning on the way to work to get some exercise, but I want to have the battery to help get me home since it's usually really hot (Florida...) and I'm ready to just be home.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
They can all be ridden without assist ,but they still are 50-65 lb bikes and it's a chore without the boost.
 

DaveMatthews

Well-Known Member
Do front, rear, or mid-drive motors provide for a better ride with the assist turned off?
I've had three e-bikes, and none of them is comfortable to ride unless I have the assist turned on. I'd love to ride on my own in the morning on the way to work to get some exercise, but I want to have the battery to help get me home since it's usually really hot (Florida...) and I'm ready to just be home.
What 3 bikes have you tried?
My Giant Fathom E+2 is "fairly" regular feeling as it's much like a normal 10 speed without power, but as @TForan says, it's still way heavier than a regular bike.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Hard to lump all motors into one answer. Direct drive hub motors have a ratcheting feel as the magnets pass each other and will not freewheel as long as a standard bike, Bosch mid drives have a gear ratio that takes more effort to overcome, and gear hub motors have a freewheel inside so the pedal effort is low with no power.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
I'd be looking for a bike with 700c tires for low rolling resistance, and probably a gear drive rear hub as they offer little or no resistance when coasting.
 

Solom01

Active Member
If you're in decent shape try one of the new road ebikes like the Orbea Gain. They're not cheap, but some of their models are in the 20 ish pound range and they ride like real bikes, not electric scooters. In Florida it's flat so unless you're out of shape or have a 60 pound bike you should do fine and still have a bike that looks and rides like a real road bike.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I ride my cargo bike with the power off at least half the distance. It feels like it did before the conversion, since I have a geared hub motor. It is on the front, as is the battery, so the tail wagging weight of most e-bikes is not present. It is not lightweight, weighing about 75 lb with my tubes, tool kit, pump, and jacket. But it weighed about 68 before the motor & battery went on.
Getting enough exercise with my bike is a key goal. Not doubling my exercise if a 25 mph headwind blows up, is my goal with the electricity. 3.5 hours exercise wind or not.
BTW geared hub motors are hard to get, lots of vendors have dropped the 48 v models. My 2017 ebikeling 1200 W model is coping fine with the 77 hills I cross, and the 50 lb supplies I carry outbound in the panniers.
 

jim6b

Active Member
Do front, rear, or mid-drive motors provide for a better ride with the assist turned off?
I've had three e-bikes, and none of them is comfortable to ride unless I have the assist turned on. I'd love to ride on my own in the morning on the way to work to get some exercise, but I want to have the battery to help get me home since it's usually really hot (Florida...) and I'm ready to just be home.
There are some bikes being designed to be ridden without assist. They have low weight and low wind resistance, i.e. low riding position and the drop bars that come with it. The low position lets the entire body participate with about a 15% power gain. The Orbea Gain has set the pace here and is most affordable, has the widest price range and around 30 lbs. This would be a good place to start.

gl
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Something else, when it comes to riding with no assist, is your speed. If you're out for an easy relaxing ride, speeds below about 10mph on a smooth level surface are pretty easy on about any e-bike with the assist turned off. An exception being the fat tire bikes run at lower air pressures. Above 10mph, things get more difficult quickly.
 
@Koriemo, you said you have had three ebikes, what kind were they and what kind of motors/batteries?

A lot of what is comfortable is specific to each rider. I have a Giant Explore, which is a city/hybrid style bike with a mid-drive motor and I love turning off the motor and ride around without any power. It's heavy, but there is no drag with my mid-drive and the geometry fits me. However, my wife has an Aventon 350, which is a cruiser style bike where the rider is more upright, and I can't ride the bike half as far without any power. I don't feel any drag from the hub motor, but it's just that the upright position doesn't feel comfortable to me.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
See the threads going on the Fazua system and on the Budnitz Model E. The Fazua advertises drag-free pedaling when assist is turned off or you can remove the motor and battery all-together and ride as a regular bike. I believe the Budnitz will be one of the first in the US with this system. There are some in Europe already and Fazua has the full list at their website.
 

GrandPaBrogan

New Member
Interesting topic.

I only have experience with two mid-drive motors. The Bafang BBS01 is noticeably harder to pedal with the power shut off completely. It's not just pushing against the extra weight of the bike, but it feels that there's residue resistance coming from somewhere... as if I'm fighting against an armature that is being kept from moving by the stator. The Yamaha SyncDrive Pro motor on the other hand, feels free-ier and pedals easy but I do feel the extra weight of motor and battery compared to my manual bikes. This is purely subjective feedback and I have no science to back this up.

Now I'm curious how hub motors compare in this regard.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Depends on the hub motor. There are direct drives, which do have residual (armature) drag, and there are gear drives, which are clutched. These motors are not turning unless they are under power. Either, obviously, will not pedal as easily as a regular bike due to the fact they are very noticeably heavier.
 
A lot of what is comfortable is specific to each rider. I have a Giant Explore, which is a city/hybrid style bike with a mid-drive motor and I love turning off the motor and ride around without any power. It's heavy, but there is no drag with my mid-drive and the geometry fits me. However, my wife has an Aventon 350, which is a cruiser style bike where the rider is more upright, and I can't ride the bike half as far without any power. I don't feel any drag from the hub motor, but it's just that the upright position doesn't feel comfortable to me.
I have to agree with this being rider specific. The road bike position is supposed to be better aerodynamically, but you pay for that as a rider by being in a position to naturally look at the ground rather than around. You have to crane your neck to look forward which can be tiring.

Also, the aerodynamics matter more if you are going really fast. I am a rather slow rider, averaging about 10mph. I once timed my occasional commute home (about 8 miles from Hilllsboro to Forest Grove, Oregon) at 48 minutes on my road bike when I owned it. I had occasion to borrow my daughter's very upright bike a couple of weeks ago and got 45 minutes. I was surprised. (I take 40 minutes on my e-bike at low power settings.)
 
Something else, when it comes to riding with no assist, is your speed. If you're out for an easy relaxing ride, speeds below about 10mph on a smooth level surface are pretty easy on about any e-bike with the assist turned off. An exception being the fat tire bikes run at lower air pressures. Above 10mph, things get more difficult quickly.
I have the opposite experience with my Trek Domane + (Bosch mid-drive). Starting out from a stop and through about 10 mph the drag is terrible, but once up to about 15 mph the drag is not noticeable and I regularly ride with the motor off. For that reason I have custom assist curves using the Bosch Nyon that give me 200% assist to start and rapidly decrease to 15% at 15 mph at which point I turn the motor off if on a flat road. The bike is 38-40 lbs and once up to speed the weight actually helps due to momentum; I have no problem riding on the flats in the low 20s mph with no assist and regularly stay on the wheel of regular road bikers without assist. This is also great for battery range—on my ride yesterday I did 20 miles and 1100 feet of climbing using only 13% of the 500 Wh battery. I live in hilly California and can only imagine how far I could go in flat Florida!