Dirt-E 2

#1
I'm going to make a confession right off. I'm not a habitual or regular trail rider. The main reason I got the Dirt-e was because it was the most available ebike in my locality and it had the best aftersales support. I got the 2016 spec with the 400 Wh battery. It's the International version, too, so it tops out at 16 mph. After that, the engine cuts out. I could feel that it's got a fair bit of go left in it, though. It's the same engine as the one in the Quick-E so reflashing it to the US version will probably get me to 20 mph.

I live in Metro Manila in the Philippines. The asphalt is unreliable at best and trail-like at worst. There are many parts in the city where the asphalt simply gives way to fire roads, or is so badly maintained that it resembles a rock garden more than anything else. An XC mountain bike actually makes sense for regular commutes, so the Dirt-E is right up my alley, in retrospect.

The Dirt-E 2 spec is on the lower end so it's relatively cheap - I got it for a little over $2ooo. The fork is trail-ready, being a Suntour XCR. It's coil so it's heavy, but it's an ebike so that doesn't matter quite so much. In fact, most of the spec is geared towards durability rather than weight, which strangely matches the ebike platform. I could get more gears in the back, but I don't use most of it anyway, and I like to think that the thicker chain handles the motor strain better. At least, it hasn't shown any sign of wear over the 2ooo km I've put on the ebike.

I put Zefal fenders and a Giant rear rack on it. I don't feel the weight, of course, but it makes the bike into a natural commuter. You don't go as fast, of course, but going much faster than 17 or 18 mph would be dangerous on a trail or in Metro Manila anyway, so 16 mph turns out to just be a sensible limitation. Sometimes, I think I want to get to 20 or 28 mph. Then I hit a section that's suddenly gnarly and I'm grateful that the motor didn't allow me to go faster.

My daily commute distance is 16-17 miles. I make it in about 80 minutes, counting all the stops for traffic lights, pedestrians, motor traffic, and stray dogs.

The capable front fork makes the ride comfortable if you can stand on the pedals for the rougher sections of road. I switched the Giant Connect saddle for a Selle Royal Freeway. With padded cycling shorts underwear, I've been able to ride for 5+ hours without any discomfort. I've taken the bike on Green trails and a couple technical sections at night. It handled most things quite well. If anything, I'm the limiting factor. The weight is about 50 or 51 pounds without the rear rack (but with fenders). You're not going to want to take it on any trail that requires you to shoulder your bike for any length of time.

The 400 Wh battery sounds meager, but I get about 80 km (50 miles) usable range out of it on Normal. Terrain is rolling with some hills. 50 miles takes the battery from about 90% (Giant does not recommend 100% charging for Li ion batteries) to 30% (also doesn't recommend fully discharging the batter). I imagine you could squeeze another 10 miles out of the battery on Eco mode at 30% charge without completely flattening it. Charging is surprisingly fast. The manual says it takes about 3-4 hours, but I get something like 40% charge on it in about 90 minutes. Even at 25%, I got to 90+% in just under 3 hours.

Without integrated lights, I had to purchase separate lights for it which is a bit of a hassle. I'm currently using a pair of Cateye Volt 700s up front and a Cateye Rapid X2 out back.
 
#2
4800 km update

As planned, I've been using the bike as a commuter platform. This disclaimer is to contextualize Tom W's crankset failure in another thread. I do not know how the bike will perform on serious off road applications, and I don't know that I would try that with this bike. As he points out, despite the high price and the branding, Giant (and other manufacturers) often cut costs by using cheaper finishing kit or components, and some of those components are essential for off road use.

As a commuter, the bike has been handsome and hassle-free. I have not had a chance to test out Giant's post market support, but I suspect it's going to be to somewhat unenthusiastic, which makes it fortunate that the bike appears to be holding up well to my use requirements, and my dealer is reasonable.

It's international spec, so it only does 15.5 mph. At those speeds, being 200 pounds and carrying about 20 pounds in additional gear, I make about 50 miles on mostly flat terrain at normal assist levels with stop-and-go traffic. I suspect I can make 70 miles on the lowest assist level. Keeping it on the highest assist with minimal effort on my part gives me about 30 miles.

That's from about 90% charge to about 30% charge. I avoid fully charging and fully discharging the battery.
 
#3
7880 km update.

I'm still riding the bike as my daily commuter. About 13 miles one way. Some errands are sometimes done in between the morning and evening commuting. There are times I do 50 miles in a day. I've bought a spare 500 Wh battery. Works flawlessly. I've had to replace the tires, of course. Chain still strong and rust-free. The bike is consistent and reliable. No issues with the motor or the battery. No maintenance, either. It just works.
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
#4
Thank you for the report and updates.

I often hear it repeated here on the forums that mid-drives wear out drivetrains faster than hub drives. Yet here you are at 7880 km on the same chain? I've heard others getting great mileage as well. I would really like to see a test showing how much more wear a mid-drive induces relative to a hub drive; is it as great a difference as some make it out to be, or is it only supposition?
 
#5
It might be an issue of using the bike. I know competitive sprinters can break a bike chain no problem. So if you output a lot of strain on the chain habitually, you're going to break it.

In my case, I use the motor assist very mindfully. I don't accelerate at maximum from a stop. I use the bike motor to ease the strain on my knees so I can start normally without that added damage to my joints. I also don't stomp on the pedals at maximum power. I add leg power gradually, and the motor power comes on equally gradually. I'm not racing, so acceleration isn't a big deal for me. I use the bike to ease my commute and so I can carry a bunch of stuff and still feel like I'm riding a normal bicycle. This is a very specific use-case for an ebike that appears to be very forgiving on the chain. Even now my LBS mechanic insists that the chain is in no danger of breaking.
 

Gator

Well-Known Member
#6
It might be an issue of using the bike. I know competitive sprinters can break a bike chain no problem. So if you output a lot of strain on the chain habitually, you're going to break it.

In my case, I use the motor assist very mindfully. I don't accelerate at maximum from a stop. I use the bike motor to ease the strain on my knees so I can start normally without that added damage to my joints. I also don't stomp on the pedals at maximum power. I add leg power gradually, and the motor power comes on equally gradually. I'm not racing, so acceleration isn't a big deal for me. I use the bike to ease my commute and so I can carry a bunch of stuff and still feel like I'm riding a normal bicycle. This is a very specific use-case for an ebike that appears to be very forgiving on the chain. Even now my LBS mechanic insists that the chain is in no danger of breaking.
Great report and updates: I am hoping to get my Quick E + this weekend. Enjoy your ride =D
 
#7
Quick update:

Well past 8000 km now. My LBS has finally advised me to replace my chain within the week. I'll have it done Wednesday. The stock KMC e-bike chain has proven quite durable. I'm curious to see if the non-e-specific KMC replacement will last as long.

I've tested the 500 Wh battery on range today. For the first 20 km, I did mostly Eco mode, using Normal only to accelerate from traffic stops and to climb bridges. Speed capped at 15.5mph, of course (Euro spec), but I did most of the Eco mode ride at about 12-14 mph. Nothing too dramatic. From 20 km to about 55 km, I used Normal to navigate mildly rolling terrain. No tough hills, just a lot of ups and downs. On the final 15 km home on flat coastal terrain, Sport at full 15.5 mph. I was tired and wanted to get home.

70 km on 52% of the battery - from 100 to 48. I've noticed that the last time I tried running the 400 Wh battery thin, the indicators below 20% were very imprecise. For most intents and purposes, the battery flats out at 15%, IMX. The manufacturer and most battery experts advise not to run the batteries dry anyway, so 90 km is a reasonable range estimate for my use purposes on the 500 Wh battery. I did the test with the 400 Wh battery in the left pannier, so I know how the battery behaves when I'm geared for range. 150 km for both batteries within normal tolerances and for normal usage is reasonable. I have yet to try climbing the nearby volcano ridge. That's the next step.
 
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#8
Going on two and a half years of commuting on the ebike. Over 12000 km on the odo now. I'm not sure exactly what because the odometer stopped at 9999 km and I don't know how many km I logged before I noticed. The news on the bike is that there is no news. I brought it into the shop for servicing because the BB was getting gritty. Normally, I'd have the BB on my service bike looked at at least once a year, but on this one, there was no mechanic at the LBS who was willing to touch the motor, so I let it drag on. I bought a new Giant (Trance E+1 pro) and I now use that for commuting. From what I hear in the shop and around the 'net, the problem is likely just a bearing on the motor - a normal BB replacement part, nothing more serious. If anything, the more serious issue is that the crank teeth are starting to get worn down and I still haven't found a replacement yet. I may have to go a bit over or a bit under. The current crankset is a 44.