60mi Round Trip Commute - Advice?

far2canadian

New Member
After almost submitting to my crushing Los Angeles car-commute, I've realized that an eBike might be a solution to many woes. I've spent hours doing research, but with the breadth of options, I'm not sure I'm taking everything into consideration. Seeking help from those with more experience...here's where I'm at:

My current daily commute (3 days/wk in car) is 50 or so miles (roundtrip) from the San Fernando Valley to the LAX area (taking the 101 to the 405, for those who know). It's about 1.5 hours each way and I average 16-20mph in the car - which is abysmal. I spend about $290 a month on fuel and maintenance, averaged annually. The amount of money I could save by not driving is motivation enough, but I also want to stop pumping CO2 into the air, and more daily exercise is all the better.

If I begin commuting on a bike, my route would be challenging as there's a mountain range in the way (taking Topanga Canyon to PCH). It would look something like:

From home to office ---> 30 miles, with a 600ft elevation gain over first 2 miles (steep grade), then a drop of 1,200ft over 10 miles (easy downgrade - pretty as heck too) to the coast. The next 18 miles would be flat, trafficky, and with only a few stop lights.
From office to home ---> 30 miles return, flat for the first 18 miles, but with that 1,200ft elevation gain afterwards- easy grade, but sustained for 10 miles.

I'm not a cyclist, and so I expect the first weeks to be tough (or, utter agony!), but I am fairly upper-body fit from other activities. I'm 6'2" and about 135lbs. This potential bike commute would be 3 days a week.

I'm trying to keep my budget under $3K(ish), so I can recoup the investment within a year of not driving. My current, serious considerations are the:
- Juiced Cross Current X
- Yamaha Cross Connect

Juiced CCX thoughts:
- Good price, which would allow me to invest in other gear
- High capacity battery to easily make each trip with lots of power to spare
- Thumb throttle for when that mountain starts to beat me (maybe I'll only care in the early days)
- Nice 28mph top speed and lots of power to get me off the line at stop lights (I've ridden motorcycles all my life, and so I feel some safety in being ahead)
- Longer battery life, but also longer charge time while I'm at work.
- But, it's heavy(?) at 65 lbs (maybe that's a good thing for balance at speed?)
- I'm starting to understand that a hub motor might not be the best choice for hills?

Yamaha Cross Connect thoughts:
- Much lighter at 49 lbs
- Mid-drive is supposed to be better for those inclines?
- Peddle assist only (maybe just my anxiety for those first few weeks of riding)
- 3yr warranty can't hurt
- Slower (?) top speed of 20mph with assist -- but hey, still pretty quick and in line with my current speed in the car!

I'm sure there's other options, like the Haibike Trekking 2.0, but the Juiced and the Yamaha have been the ones that have turned my head so far. Am I missing any other bikes that would meet my needs?

I've been stalking posts here in the forum for days, specifically cases similar to mine (@Chris Hammond), so I'd love to get your advice on my best options. I'm interested in finding a good solution to my current life-sucking commute, and am willing to invest, but I want to make a good, long term choice.

Thanks in advance.

Lee
 
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DavidBer

Member
A couple of points to consider.

The throttle.

Much like you, I was adamant about having a throttle. I wanted to get my butt off the line and past the light or stop sign as fast as possible. This was before I had spent any time on an ebike. The reality is that you don't need it for that purpose. Most bikes will get you going fast quickly. Try an ebike before you rule that is a hard in the sand rule. As far as hills go, I can't think of using my throttle for it. The assist kicks in and while you may not go 28mph, you will go fast enough that you never have to stand on the pedals to get power to go up the hill. I have only used my throttle outside of light/stop sign scenario once. My chain came off. I was about 1/2 mile from home. I just hit the throttle and road it home to put the chain on then.


You are discussing putting on over 14k miles per year on this bike. Expect to go through brakes. Expect to go through tires. Expect to probably go through a battery.

Even though I do not own one, this is something I'd look at the EuroBikes for. This commute is right up their alley as a normal commute. Look at Reisse and Muller, Stromer, etc. See you left off what you will be carrying with you on the ride.

Good luck and I'm curious what others will say.
 

FreeWheelie

Active Member
For $2700 price range, i really like my Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0. Class 3 (28 mph)speed with pretty good range, can get 50 to 60 mi in eco-mode
 

Mtl_Biker

Active Member
First, welcome to the forum!

What a wonderful route you're going to have there. I think your biggest hurdle will be the fact that you're not a cyclist. There's lots to learn, which many of us have been doing for years (decades!). How to brake, how to corner, how to be defensive (because they're all out to get you!) and basic bike operation (how and when to shift gears, what cadence is most efficient for you, etc.). Basic maintenance too because it's not if but when, you'll have to deal with a flat tire on the road.

I'm not familiar with either of the two bikes you mention but I've heard very good things about the Yamaha (if it was available here in Canada I would have strongly considered one). I've been a cyclist for over 50 years now, and in some ways I consider myself a bit of a purist, but I didn't even consider a bike with throttle. I wanted a bike I could pedal which would give me some assist when/if I wanted or needed it.

Couple of things I think you should definitely get... a bike with fenders, rear luggage rack, front and rear lights, GOOD HELMET, and a basic tool kit. I'd also suggest buying a second charger because the hill climbing very likely will put quite a strain on your battery and you really don't want to be carrying a charger back and forth with you. Keep one at home and one at the office. My commute is less than yours... 35 km each way (about 22 miles) and while the battery on my bike would probably allow me to do the round trip (and I don't have such a hill climb to do) there isn't enough reserve battery for me to do some other errands during the day without risking that I run out of battery on the way home.

Best of luck to you!
 

ChezCheese:)

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Kitsap Co, WA
At 6'2" and 135lbs, which is what I was in my slender youth at only 5'7", I am not sure you have enough muscle to do a 60mi rt commute, even with electric assist. Is there another route you could take which would get you to a commuter train, to cut the distance?
 

Solom01

Well-Known Member
Just a few thoughts. Make sure you have some help fitting the bike correctly and selecting a saddle that works for you (which may very well not be the one that comes with the bike). Although what you're doing sounds super cool I hate to think of what your body is going to feel like for the first few weeks until you adapt - 30 miles twice a day is a heck of a way to break into biking! Will you have an alternate way of getting to work, like your car? There may be rainy days, foggy days (even in SoCa) or simply days were you're just not feeling well and not want to face such a long trip. I would also urge you to consider maintenance items; for example, a belt drive instead of a chain and maybe internal gearing instead of derailleurs? With the amount of miles you're talking about you don't want to be greasing a chain every week. Last but not least don't be too quick to rule out a hub drive. With your weight any decent hub drive will get you up the hills and unlike mid drives a hub drive doesn't put any strain on the chain/gearing so you should have fewer issues there. If you break a chain on a mid drive you're stuck until you fix it, on a hub drive you just throttle on. By the way, it would be neat to have a throttle with cruise control (there are a few). It's not something that you would use all the time but on days when you're tired or just not in the mood it would be great to have.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
After almost submitting to my crushing Los Angeles car-commute, I've realized that an eBike might be a solution to many woes. I've spent hours doing research, but with the breadth of options, I'm not sure I'm taking everything into consideration. Seeking help from those with more experience...here's where I'm at:

If I begin commuting on a bike, my route would be challenging as there's a mountain range in the way (taking Topanga Canyon to PCH). It would look something like:




I'm not a cyclist, and so I expect the first weeks to be tough (or, utter agony!), but I am fairly upper-body fit from other activities. I'm 6'2" and about 135lbs.

I'm trying to keep my budget under $3K(ish), so I can recoup the investment within a year of not driving. My current, serious considerations are the:
- Juiced Cross Current X
- Yamaha Cross Connect

Juiced CCX thoughts:
- Good price, which would allow me to invest in other gear
- High capacity battery to easily make each trip with lots of power to spare
- Thumb throttle for when that mountain starts to beat me (maybe I'll only care in the early days)
- Nice 28mph top speed and lots of power to get me off the line at stop lights (I've ridden motorcycles all my life, and so I feel some safety in being ahead)
- Longer battery life, but also longer charge time while I'm at work.
- But, it's heavy(?) at 65 lbs (maybe that's a good thing for balance at speed?)
- I'm starting to understand that a hub motor might not be the best choice for hills?

Yamaha Cross Connect thoughts:
- Much lighter at 49 lbs
- Mid-drive is supposed to be better for those inclines?
- Peddle assist only (maybe just my anxiety for those first few weeks of riding)
- 3yr warranty can't hurt
- Slower (?) top speed of 20mph with assist -- but hey, still pretty quick and in line with my current speed in the car!

I'm sure there's other options, like the Haibike Trekking 2.0, but the Juiced and the Yamaha have been the ones that have turned my head so far. Am I missing any other bikes that would meet my needs?

I've been stalking posts here in the forum for days, specifically cases similar to mine (@Chris Hammond), so I'd love to get your advice on my best options. I'm interested in finding a good solution to my current life-sucking commute, and am willing to invest, but I want to make a good, long term choice.

Thanks in advance.

Lee

Hi there. Not from your area, but I did make excursions on canyon roads off of PCH this summer. Pretty sure I’ve been on Topanga Canyon Blvd. I don’t think the physical aspect will be your challenge but rather the stress of disappearing shoulders, parked cars, and traffic in general. I don’t know that I could manage the stress as a daily commute. You say you’ve been on motorcycles all of your life. Have you tried this route on a bike during your commuting hours? Might be a good idea to see what it’s like from a bike or ebike perspective.
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
I know this is probably double your budget but What about the wattwagon commuter bike, it’s built to do exactly what you are going to do , and do that many miles with lower maintenance

I think it’s great you are considering this, sounds like you’ve done some good research

I’m sure some of these other guys that commute long distances will chime in
 

DavidBer

Member
Just to comment on some things after I read what others wrote.

Comfort is going to be key. You are going to have to choose if you want more of the weight of the ride on your butt or your arms. That riding position will make a big difference. Also, the faster you go, the more the battery will be used. So keep that in mind.

I am curious though the route that you are looking at. I am in Santa Barbara and I know your area relatively well. I am curious as to the route that you are looking at. To go from the Nordstrom Rack in Topanga to LAX is about 30 miles. Are you looking at taking Sepulvada to get over the hill or are you thinking of going down to PCH. I bring this up because you did mention taking Topanga Canyon. While that seems nice, there are no true bike lanes there iirc. You are doing a lot of twisting and turning on that road with lots of blind curves. A bike is not going to gain you time and it will not gain you stress relief on that. Sepulvada at least has lest twist and blind turns than Topanga Canyon and it drops you into Beverly Hills. There you at least have sidewalks if you get afraid of getting run over.

The more I think about this, the more I think that your route, regardless of a bike or not just plain sucks. It's just a weird place to get to as there is massive traffic issues on the highway and streets and until you hit Santa Monica, you are fighting with cars for space on the road.

My 2 cent recommendation, and this is not intended to talk you out of the bike, but intended to save you from wasting money, is RENT a bike for a few days or week. Try the ride. See if it works for you the way you want it to.

I sincerely wish you the best, and you have my sympathy for that commute.
 

sl_duck

Member
Some great advice already given! Mtl_biker is spot-on about learning the cycling ropes. Your motorcycling experience will be helpful for defensive driving though.

Some things that might influence your choices:
-The second charger at work is a great idea. Some are outrageously priced though. Check before deciding on the bike, and also get an idea what a new battery might cost. Proprietary ones from Bosch or Yamaha can be triple the price of generic types. Not a deal-breaker, but hard to swallow when the time comes in a few years.
-are you mechanically adept at bike maintenance or would you rely on a shop for everything? You'll be putting some serious mileage on the bike, so account for that.
-100km/day is totally doable. Getting the right fit on the bike and saddle will be important. Expect a bit of trial and error for saddle fit, stem length, grips etc. Get a good pair of bike shorts. Mountain bike style with liner if you're not into the spando look.
-a hub motor is less efficient than a mid-drive, but it'll be less wear and tear on the drivetrain.

DavidBer makes some good points on the suitability of the Haibikes or Reisse and Muller, belt drives and internal geared hubs. They are expensive, but really your savings are probably going to cover their depreciation almost immediately. After a short time you could give up, sell it, and still be ahead financially vs having driven during that time. On the other hand, after a few months on anything you'll develop your own strong opinions on what bothers you and what doesn't, so don't obsess too much about finding the perfect first bike. Maybe find a shop you like with friendly and trustworthy people (if they still exist) in a good location for your commute, and see what they can set you up with. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to sell a top-to-bottom package to a new cyclist. It definitely won't be the cheapest option, but considering your inexperience in the bike world it might be the best one.

Of the two options you mention, I would go with the Yamaha. Mostly for the weight savings and more refined assist. The triple front chainring is pretty dated though.

If you can get a "free tuneups for a year" deal at a shop near your work, you could really benefit from that.

And finally, there's some trip simulators online that'll give you an idea how much energy you'll need for your specific route.
for example http://www.electricbikerange.info/Electric_bike_range.html
Grin Tech also has a very detailed one, but only for hub motors. https://www.ebikes.ca/tools/trip-si...1&rg=false&t=21&ct=21&st=21&i=evd&s=st&p=16A0
 

Mike TowpathTraveler

Well-Known Member
Having put in close to 9000 miles on my fat tired Haibike, I can speak of runs of 20 miles being the norm, with the occasional 36 miler and above thrown in every now and then.

As a new comer cyclist, I think you are really underestimating what that 30 mile run, day in and day out, is going to do to you. With my Full FatSix, 19 mph on the flats can be realistic, but anything over the 20 mph cut out and you are now pedaling a heavy bike underneath you.

Elevation. Headwinds. Traffic sometimes scaring the beejesus out of you on that one close call. The occasional flat tire that comes with road riding. And the consistent day after day after day of doing this with no letup. I just have my doubts as to the long term viability of this commute by ebike. In the end, the bike is willing, but the flesh is weak!

The Yamaha has several tuning kits available to take you above the 20 mph assist cutout. But then you get into warranty issues should a problem crop up.

Keep everyone informed as to what you do; looking forward to seeing how this works out.
 

Lucky

New Member
If I begin commuting on a bike, my route would be challenging as there's a mountain range in the way (taking Topanga Canyon to PCH). It would look something like:

From home to office ---> 30 miles, with a 600ft elevation gain over first 2 miles (steep grade), then a drop of 1,200ft over 10 miles (easy downgrade - pretty as heck too) to the coast. The next 18 miles would be flat, trafficky, and with only a few stop lights.
From office to home ---> 30 miles return, flat for the first 18 miles, but with that 1,200ft elevation gain afterwards- easy grade, but sustained for 10 miles.

I used to live in your area for many years -

So are you are considering
1) riding over Topanga Canyon and
2) riding on PCH - from Topanga Canyon To Temescal Canyon Road - there isn't a bike lane on PCH, but I guess you could ride in the parking lane, watching out for people pulling out and doors opening in your path...

Are you then considering taking the bike path which starts at Temescal Canyon Road, along the beach (out of traffic) from Santa Monica to LAX?

That bike path would be a really nice, and very safe part of your ride, but the ride over Topanga would be SCARY (!!), and the ride on PCH from Topanga to Temescal is also pretty scary.

There are a LOT of driver distractions along that coastal route.

Would you consider taking the Topanga Canyon Bus ($1 each way) with your bike, over the hill to the beginning of the beach bike path in Santa Monica and then riding the rest of the way?

 

Amazer98

Member
If I were undertaking a commute of this length and were new to cycling (ie, preferred a flat handlebar to a dropbar), I would check out Trek’s new ebike, the Allant+8S. Due to be released in November, it features Bosch’s new Generation 4 Speed motor, which is smaller, lighter and more powerful than the current one. It delivers power assist up to 28 mph which, believe me, you will be grateful for, given the length of your commute.

Also, it comes with a 625wh integrated battery... 25% more life per charge than the current Powertube batteries. And Trek is known for being excellent about standing behind its products, which should be a huge factor for someone like you who will put significant miles per year on the bike. Yes, the bike will cost $4,300, but given all these benefits, the extra grand is money well spent.
 
At 6'2" and 135lbs, which is what I was in my slender youth at only 5'7", I am not sure you have enough muscle to do a 60mi rt commute, even with electric assist.

That was my height and weight in college and I could bike just fine, although I am slower than most bicyclists.

I 2nd the notion of renting for a trial commute. Before I bought my e-bike I rented the two top contenders to try them out for a few days each. The bike stores I rented from both would apply the rental cost to a purchase within 30 days. (Obviously, I only got to apply one of those.)
 

far2canadian

New Member
Hey Folks,

Thanks so much for all this insightful feedback. Lots of great things to think about here - enough that I needed to take some notes to reply. Sorry for the length of this.

Upfront, I definitely know how nuts I obviously am for making this my initial jump into cycling - on a traditional bike, I would never consider this. Since calculating the cost of owning a car during this research, I gotta say I'm probably going to give it a shot. As someone said, even a short period of not driving would recoup depreciation if I resold the bike!

I should say also that - I have a unique work schedule, with every other Friday off (9/80 schedule) and every Wednesday from home. So it would be 3 or 4 days a week, with no more than two days in a row. Chopping that 15,000 mile/yr potential commute right on down to around 9,000 miles/yr! (haha...ha..sigh.) I'm still keeping the car in case of bad days, rain, or whatever. I need the car regardless.

Interesting thoughts on never really *needing* a throttle, unless a chain breaks. By complete chance, I happened across a local ebike shop this morning, and took two of them out - they were cheap brands, but no matter - I did prefer the pedal assist to the throttle, which didn't seem to provide any additional acceleration...Do you guys carry extra chains, or is that just too heavy?

On maintenance and repairs - I'm pretty mechanically savvy and reckon with YouTube and the correct ball-peen hammer, I can fix nearly anything :p

I'd definitely be getting a bike with at least a cargo rack, and probably fenders. Those Topeak MTX Trunk Bags look pretty cool and I would need to carry some gear, including a repair kit, as you've all rightly mentioned.

You'll all spot on too that I have a lot to learn...having plenty of experience on motorcycles, I know all about defensive space, car doors opening up at the curb, and cars zooming about. That said, on a motorcycle, I was part of the road, not sharing the shoulder of it. So that's a universe you know and I don't yet. BUT - I do need to learn about:
- Riding position and bike style
- I am concerned about saddle comfort....road bike seats are pretty small!
- Handlebar height, and all the sizing issues - I'm hoping I can find a good shop to help me on that stuff.

Regarding the other bikes you all mentioned, many of which are admittedly out of my budget.....I thought it might be reasonable to buy something "good but within budget" and then upgrade in a year or so, if I'm actually still doing this?

For the locals - all great comments. Topanga Canyon is devoid of bike lanes, and PCH isn't much better. I was considering taking the bike path through Santa Monica Beach in the morning at least, when it's more clear. And, for at least the first few weeks, I was planning on driving down to the coast (Topanga and PCH), then parking on the curb for the day and riding the remaining 18 miles on flat sea level. Then, once I was comfortable, taking on the mountain/Topanga Canyon. I could definitely take Sepulveda - that would also cut 7mi rountrip off the journey. I was just turned off by that route, given it's through the heart of LA with no relief. Maybe I'm being idealistic with preferring the coast....There is no more direct route than the Sepulveda Pass, sadly. I drove Topanga for about 2years, and know that route intimately by car, including where the cars start to jostle and overtake, and where they start to back up - I share the concern. I may be overzealous in thinking I could handle it. Driving the bike down to the coast and riding from there might solve that...

Taking the Topanga Cyn Bus to the coast is a FANTASTIC idea!! Hadn't even crossed my mind!! Definitely going to look into that. Also, there's a place that does rent bikes for $115/day. I had the same thought - to rent, and spend some extended time riding a similar route. They don't have the bikes on my list, but it'll give me a sense. Also, I had no idea Trip Simulators were a thing!!! I'll be checking those out!

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to think through this with me. Great to see so much support in this community!

Lee
 
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Johnny

Well-Known Member
My input will be as follows.

Imo 60 miles everyday is a bit too much. Please make sure that you are
1. Safe , keep bicycle paths as much as pissible be very careful when you are sharing the road with the cars.
2. Have a comfortable riding position, try to be upright, invest in a good saddle and adjust it properly.

Unless you are going rohloff I think a hub motor bike like Juiced will be far more practical/reliable/cheaper to maintain when you are putting that many miles. I wouldn't touch any mid drive (Bosch,Yamaha etc) with a derailleur with that kind of mileage.

Also maybe you can make that 30 mile trip as biking 15-20 miles + public transportation for 5-10.

Good luck in your search.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I'd say you are really naive about going from no cycling, to 60 miles a day. These are called electric ASSIST bicycles. You are going to have one sore backside if not sore all over. You'll need cycling shorts with padding for sure. Also don't confuse a fat padded seat with comfort. You need a custom fitted seat from a bike shop that sells road bikes. You want a seat that fits your bones, not the entire width of your butt. But even with the perfect seat, you'll be in pain for weeks since you are jumping off the cliff, so to speak. Since starting eBiking in 2016, I've ridden 8,700 miles on 5 different bikes(I buy eBikes for different purposes, still have them all). No chain breakage. Just carry a safety link, a couple extra links, and a chain breaking tool if you have to for peace of mind. Speaking of maintenance, you better learn fast. Chains last about 2,000 miles. If braking at a lot of speed, you'll change brake pads when you change chains, or sooner. You'll check all the fasteners every week, along with cleaning and lubing the chain every other week. At 9,000 miles a year, the bike might last 2 years, probably not.
 

Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
+1 for the Trek Allante but get the extra battery and xtra charger. Or the Juiced ccx the very fast one , but that ebike is not very reliable.
Or a Bh easy motion Nitro city - again this ebikes are all very capable of 28mph.
20mph day in and out is way too slow and very tiring.

You want to be cruising with minimal effort @25-27mph , maxium energy to be attentive to the road and ready for your job...

30miles /60 total/day 300/week is a looooong ride even with an ebike , unless is a28mph one and VERY RELIABLE.

Try fixing a flat tire a few times before starting to ride , it is a rarity if you have good tires but it can happen.