A Detailed Purchasing Question

locksley

New Member
Hello!

I'm looking into purchasing my first e-bike. I've been researching my options and I've been coming to some conclusions, but there are so many angles to consider -- I'm hoping the community can help.

First: I'm looking for a potential car replacement and this creates certain bike requirements. I also deal with some chronic health issues, such as joint inflammation/pain. Some exercise is actually very good for me, but too much can cause damage -- hence the need for a bike that reduces strain. I live in a relatively urban area (a small town where most of my life takes place) but would like the option of commuting to the nearest larger city if needed. I am also a larger man -- 6'4'' and 290lbs.

Here's what I've been able to figure out that I need:
  • e-system:
    • Motor: a motor of at least 500 watts, since the bike will be hauling a lot of weight, even if I don't have a bunch of books or groceries with me.
      • The 500-watt motor is also necessary because I need some torque to take me up inclines -- especially if my feet/joints are hurting.
      • Something with greater than 360 watt hours -- I'm hoping to get at minimum 30 miles of range (with a heavy weight and the occasional small hill).
      • Should absolutely otherwise be a good, safe design (i.e. thermal rollback, etc.).
      • Batteries: These should not be proprietary. I don't want a closed "i-system" that only functions as long as the company stays afloat.
        • Physical placement: the aesthetic is less important to me than functionality, but I'd prefer that the battery isn't in a position to unduly unbalance the bike. Since I'm looking for non-propitiatory batters, too, they'll probably need to be more bulky. I've seen great designs that do things like hide the battery in the seat stem, but that increases replacement difficulty (to say nothing of simply wanting a comfier seat).
        • The battery should have a charge controller installed to ensure that the battery lasts as long as possible.
    • Assist: I'm mostly interested in advanced pedal-assist. The idea of having a throttle isn't especially appealing, though I won't say no to it.
      • I absolutely want a torque sensor instead of a cadence sensor -- it's important that the bike is not only as responsive as possible, but also allows me to work out. The more pedal-assist functionality, in terms of sensor technology, the better.
    • Water-resistant: I don't live in an intense climate, but we do get frequent rains in the winter/spring. Since this might well be a daily commuter replacement, it is absolutely vital that the system be usable in moderate to heavy downpours for rides of (at least) under an hour).
    • Ease-of-install: I'm not an engineer, but I'm not too incompetent when it comes to tech. As long as the system is, overall, "plug an play" I should be able to handle the installation. That said, I'd prefer to buy from a company with rigorous technical support offered to customers.
    • Ease-of-Maintenance: This is a bigger issue: Obviously, mechanical parts break down -- that said, if the system can be repaired rather than simply replaced, that's a huge bonus for me.
    • Warranty: A two-year minimum because this darn thing will end up being quite an investment. I'd prefer 3-5 years for the motor and 2 for the battery.
  • Bike
    • Folding: Here's where things get complicated... I live in a small apartment up a flight of stairs. I'm strong enough to lug 50lbs up those stairs, but then storing a full-size bike becomes a problem. I also might want to use public transportation, or throw the bike in the trunk of a rideshare or taxi.
      • Weight: Needs to have a factory weight allowance of at least 300lbs
      • Quick to fold: if I have to spend more than a minute folding the bike, or use specialized tools, that won't work for me.
      • 26''-700c tires: because I'm a large guy and because I want as stable a ride as possible -- especially during inclement weather.
        • This has been one of my biggest hurdles. Right now, I've only found one bike, the Montague, which manages to meet the full-size concept. But it's pricey. I was briefly and massively excited about the FUBi fixie until I realized that they're stuck in development and production hell and may or may not ever deliver even their original crowdfunding bikes. The problem? These bikes are non-electric. Also, the folding mechanism on the Montague models are seriously inferior -- I dislike that I have to remove the tire rather than simply flip and fold.
      • Brakes: Disc or hydraulic. Since it's an e-bike, I want solid stopping power. Also: how the heck do these work with a system like Falco?
      • Gears: I'd prefer a 7-speed rather than a single-speed.
      • Wide seat: I mean, I can just buy this aftermarket, but if the bike comes with a good seat, that's a nice bonus.
      • Extras: I'd love it to come pre-installed with front and rear lamps, fenders, basket area, kickstand, etc. None of this is a make it or break it deal, however.
Finally, my budget is between $2000-$2500 (including taxes/shipping). This is, obviously, the biggest hurdle.

Because of all these limiting factors, what I'm strongly considering is a Falco Motor. I love their design principles and they offer what I believe should be the industry standard warranty on their parts. I've been considering trying to pair this with one of the Montague models. Montague offers a Copenhagen wheel modification for one of their folding bikes, but the Copenhagen wheel annoys me because of how expensive it's become compared to how proprietary it is (and how limited it is).

As I understand it, the differences between the two systems are:
  • Copenhagen Wheel:
    • Pros?: big brand name; numerous internal sensors to increase the functionality of the assist.
    • Cons: teensy proprietary battery tucked away inside the hub; absolutely pathetic warranty (seriously, it's disgraceful), low power means less useful for a large person and not as helpful with hills; no possibility of upgrading and probably quite difficult to repair.
  • Falco Motor system:
    • Pros: Respected brand; torque ?and? cadence sensor; external battery system; usable with any battery; opensource software; excellent warranty; has 500w options.
    • Cons: wheel-replacement systems seem to not be a favorite among pros?; expensive; confusing website; unsure of waterproofing/weather resistance?
For the Falco Motor system, I'm utterly unclear on which model to buy. I am planning on contacting them, but if anyone can explain the difference between the e/f/c models, that would be cool.

And, while I am leaning toward the Falco Motor system, I'm by no means settled on it. Early in my search I was excited about Sondors and quickly realized they lack most of the qualities I'm looking for -- the lack of a torque sensor is a biggie, for instance, and I'm not a fan of fat tires.

What I'm most hoping for from the community is:

  • Suggestions on which Falco system is better, or if Falco is useful at all for what I want.
  • Types of folding bike/e-bike that might meet my needs -- have I missed a cool design from a small company? Can Falco even be installed on a montague folding bike?

Thanks so much for reading this horrendously long message!
 
Last edited:

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Hello!

I'm looking into purchasing my first e-bike. I've been researching my options and I've been coming to some conclusions, but there are so many angles to consider -- I'm hoping the community can help.
What I'm most hoping for from the community is:

  • Suggestions on which Falco system is better, or if Falco is useful at all for what I want.
  • Types of folding bike/e-bike that might meet my needs -- have I missed a cool design from a small company? Can Falco even be installed on a montague folding bike?
Thanks so much for reading this horrendously long message!
Welcome to EBR! Have you looked at the EBR list of Best Folding Electric Bikes of 2020?
Best Electric Bikes of 2020 | ElectricBikeReview.com

Here are our top picks for the best folding electric bikes of 2020. These top five ebikes represent the best combination of features and value right now, but you can see all 120 of our detailed folding ebike reviews listed by date here. Reviewing electric bikes is our primary focus, EBR has the industry’s most complete and objective reviews. Since 2012, we’ve helped millions of people find and choose the best ebike for their needs and budget.
Table of Contents:
 

nate_lynch

New Member
Seems like OP has probably made up their mind - personally I’m looking for a full-size folder with a belt drive, which has been leading me to look at converting a Montague Allston. Am unsure what the best kit is though. Looking for something intuitive and, if possible, easy to remove.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
I'm curious what the OP found for a "non proprietary" battery. Is there such a thing? There are generic batteries available but all are proprietary and availability is completely dependent on their manufacturers. A battery that is easily rebuild-able without a sealed case would be the next best thing.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I'm curious what the OP found for a "non proprietary" battery. Is there such a thing? There are generic batteries available but all are proprietary and availability is completely dependent on their manufacturers
Leaving battery out in the rain a lot, a sealed case is necessary. I consider my battery generic, since it has 4 wires I can cut any weird connector off and install crimped on insulated .250" flag terminals. Batteries with a push to connect terminals as the battery is wedged in a compartment, are truly limited to the bike they are sold with. The size and shape of battery doesn't matter, I can capture any case in an aluminum angle shell and screw to the bike somewhere. The battery is wrapped a second time in foam inside the case, and has been totally reliable over 3 years. Any other battery with wires for output can replace it in a couple of years. Mine is 840 wh, and with 77 hills & 330 lb load got 30 miles range with ebikeling hub motor. Controller would red light on the last couple of hills. A replacement Mac12 motor only uses 53 to 47 volts over the same distance, so range may be 50 miles.
I'm concerned a grocery hauling capacity OP required on a conventional MTB or cruiser frame will dump the rider on his chin. My 2 MTBs and a cruiser did, 5 times in 12 years. I had steel baskets on the back. Not enough weight on the front tire caused the bars to snap out of my hands sideways when a hitting speed bump, a high pavement separator,a ridge of gravel, a stick. Perhaps the OP at >200 lb won't have this problem, but I finally broke my chin. A stretch cargo frame that transfers my weight on the front tire solved the problem. This will not fold, and will not fit on a bus rack. Putting up to 60 lb load in a basket over the front tire would also work, but steering just 18 lb was a real nuisance when I had a 18 lb battery hung off the handlebars. Only stretch frame cargo bikes have front rack mounts welded in the frame to hang supplies up front that don't steer, to my knowledge.
Sounds as if OP intends to buy a non-powered bike & electrify. I did, to get 24 speeds 1:1 to 4.6:1 with an 8 speed long life chain. I live in a hilly area and ride unpowered when the headwind is not excessive. Mid drives limit the front chain ring to one, except Yamaha that allows 2. More speeds than 8 on the back lead to chains that will not last 5000 miles. Then I put a hub motor on the front wheel. I hated PAS, and am studying a way to supplement the throttle I have with a torque pickup.
 
Last edited:

vincent

Well-Known Member
Dont know about the Allston but i have a Swiss bike x70 with bbs02 and the previous owner said the build was easy.. hope that helps