An Ebike that is as easy to pedal (when power is off) as a regular bike

ebikebob

Member
Hello,

How can I tell from the specs if an ebike will be easy to pedal when used as an acoustic bike?

I gather: only consider mid drive motors?
Are different motor manufacturers known for having less gear resistance when turned off?

I'm particularly interested in a commuter mountain bike style, because I like wider tires and the ruggedness.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
It takes people sharing their experiences. Never listed in any specs. I'd venture to say that no eBike is as easy to pedal as an acoustic bike, because a 50+ pound acoustic bike is a rare bird. As far as resistance, a geared hub motor comes close, and only some mid drives but not all of them. Bosch had a fair amount of resistance, but I have no experience with the new generations. Tire choice is a consideration too. Lots of folks love fat tired eBikes. Those huge knobbies really add resistance.
 
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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Specialized SL (super-lightweight) e-bikes (Levo SL - which is a mountain e-bike, Creo SL and Vado SL) are marketed as such e-bikes as you're asking for. Several users here confirm such experience with SL e-bikes while some others deny it.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Pedaling an ebike unpowered feels like a boat-anchor.
Well, even a pedal-only one does compared to a powered ebike.
The whole entire reason for assist is to make riding easier, go up hills, and propel you further. You still get a workout, if that's what you'pre worried about. And you can dial in the amount of assistance, from a little to a lot.
 

CodyDog

Well-Known Member
Weight and tires play a big role in ease of peddling. I have a Specialized Levo Comp at 48 lbs and would want to pedal without power for any kind of a stretch. My wife does pedal her Specialized Como 3.0 without assist a lot. Also, My friend has a Turbo Levo SL at 38 lbs and you can easily pedal without power.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Pedaling an ebike unpowered feels like a boat-anchor.
Well, even a pedal-only one does compared to a powered ebike.
The whole entire reason for assist is to make riding easier, go up hills, and propel you further. You still get a workout, if that's what you'pre worried about. And you can dial in the amount of assistance, from a little to a lot.
Different people have different needs, Chris. I'm in the same boat as you but... A female friend of mine rides a Decathlon "Original 900 E Riverside" US$960 e-bike. (It even has a simple rear suspension!) When on recreation rides, Jola only turns the motor on while riding upwind or uphill. She's 50 and she thinks an unpowered e-bike gives her a better sense of workout (her typical recreational ride is 30 miles). She turns the motor on for the whole ride only when commuting to work, to get there with no sweat.

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Or, my brother. He is so physically strong he says he needs no motor. When he's riding with me on one of my e-bikes, he often rides unpowered. On his work commutes, he often turns the strongest PAS on to compete with cars in traffic :D Yet fancy how little assistance he needs if he made 60 miles on a single battery on a single day on 4 consecutive casual rides and only realised that when he looked at his sports tracker app?!

There are people like you and me who ride e-bike with the understanding we ride e-bikes faster, farther, and more often. However, there are many people who only need assistance against headwind or to clear serious hills...
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
At the same weight, a geared hub motor bike feels the same unpowered as an equivalent pedal bike. That is why I bought one, I am age 70 and need the exercise 4x a week. I do not need 6 hours of 140 bpm pulse into a 25 mph headwind, which occurs more frequently now with global warming. My distance and direction are fixed, the wind is not, so I bought a motor. I'm riding a Mac12 now, with 17 ah battery adds about 12 lb to the bike. The ebikeling hub motor was about a pound lighter. I installed the hub motor & battery on the front, which balance the bike better than having it on the rear with the tools, pannier bags, groceries & ag supplies I carry to my summer camp. Having the battery up high on a rear rack also makes annoying ride at low speeds or pushing the bike. I had a rear hub motor, it was incompatible with a 8 speed 11-32 sprocket cluster that came with my bike, and I was unable to find an 11-32 7 speed freewheel in stock anywhere in 6 months of searching. 11 allows me to assist the motor at 22+ mph, 32 allows me to push 80 lb of cargo up a 15% hill unpowered if heavy rain takes out the throttle (which it will).
Yamaha, brose, and shimano steps mid drives have a one way clutch in them so you don't drag it with your feet unpowered. They could be as easy to ride unpowered as my geared hub motor, but I've never ridden one. With the 2x to 5x as many times the chain needs to be replaced on mid drive, the increased cost, and the custom high priced batteries at 5 years life which might not be available, I didn't bother considering one. If you're a mountain biker riding trails, mid-drives may have an advantage. Geared hub motor can be bought with torque sense control instead of cadance, but only certain ones. I hated cadance sense even on road, ebikelings lowest speed was 11 mph and the lowest acceleration to that speed was 250 W, so cadance was unsuitable for riding the berm of Hwy 3 with a 6" deep trench just to the left of 11" to 3" of pavement. I deleted the cadance pickup when I moved to the cargo bike left, saved a $$ crank puller and a day or two of fooling around. I use throttle when I need a motor.
Magnum is a dealer supported geared hub bike without a lot of complaints on known problems thread. Go try one.
Happy shopping, and later riding.
 
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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
The latest Orbea Rise is a 16kg full suspension mountain bike, very impressive..

might not be quite the commuting tool you need though unless you have some nice direct track short cuts
3 kg lighter than Levo SL!
Oh, percymon, nobody expect a true e-MTB to ride on-road. I'm serious.
 

BigNerd

Well-Known Member
You just need to find a lighter weight ebike with gears like the Vado SL.

Most are over 50lbs but I think the ones under 50lbs may work (and these are rear hubs):

Biktrix Swift Light
Charge City

Even lighter:

Cannondale Quick Neo SL
Cannondale Treadwell Neo
Propella 7-speed
 

minigrrl

Member
I ride my NCM Milano+ un-powered all the time. It's definitely heavy, but once I'm moving I don't really notice it. When I'm riding for exercise I only use the motor on hills. Mostly I set it at PAS level 3 which shuts off after around 16km/h, and unless I'm going up a hill I'm always moving faster than that, so the motor isn't usually on and I'm riding un-powered. Or I just ride with the motor off until I need it. I do use the motor more when I'm going shopping or out and don't want to sweat.
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
Weight and tires play a big role in ease of peddling. I have a Specialized Levo Comp at 48 lbs and would want to pedal without power for any kind of a stretch. My wife does pedal her Specialized Como 3.0 without assist a lot. Also, My friend has a Turbo Levo SL at 38 lbs and you can easily pedal without power.
So you do pedal the Levo Comp 48 quite a bit unpowered or was that a typo?
 

Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
I have a Creo and I would say when the motor is off that there is no resistance and pedaling is the same. But it's not exactly like a regular bike. I've forgotten to turn the motor on at times when we've had an extended stop. It has taken a while to notice, but I eventually notice because simply put the bike is about 10-13 lbs. heavier than my carbon road bike and you notice the additional weight.
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
Hello,

How can I tell from the specs if an ebike will be easy to pedal when used as an acoustic bike?

I gather: only consider mid drive motors?
Are different motor manufacturers known for having less gear resistance when turned off?

I'm particularly interested in a commuter mountain bike style, because I like wider tires and the ruggedness.

Short answer - avoid the old bosch.

Long answer:

You can get a feel for the resistance from the motor by turning the cranks by hand - ideally with chain removed , but if that's not possible have someone lift the rear wheel. It's probably my imagination, but the old bosch and shimano motors felt like about as much resistance as a rusty chain, the yamaha feels like cheap pedals, and the brose ( specialized) felt like good pedals which need lubrucating. Unless you're the type of owner who carefully applies ceramic chain lube every Morning and upgrades the bearings in pedals, you are unlikely to notice motor drag on anything except the old bosch.

IMHO , the real difference comes from the inefficiencies we accept in our e bikes but would NOT accept if we didn't have a motor.

Those fat and grippy tyres suck energy - plus I run lower pressures for comfort / grip because, well, I can just wind up the assistance.

The set up is different - over the 3 years I've owned my emtb, the ride position has crept more upright for comfort and I'm running the suspension softer . Every time I jump from my emtb to the kids regular bikes I'm reminded of how aggressive their riding position is and how light they are ( 45% extra weight for my ebike - sounds a lot more than 8 kg, doesn't it?) .

So I have customised the power levels on my bike to compensate - eco is set to 50% assist, it feels almost as difficult to pedal as the most efficient kids bike I own ( a VERY nice bike set up so she can keep up with me uphill) .

For perspective, riding at 50% assist with the tyres firmly inflated, I can easy get 80 km range on rail trail type rides - for an estimate of how much energy I am losing to the motor drag / tyre choice ergos.
 

Bigal1463

Well-Known Member
Hi ebikebob, and welcome to EBR. I have an Aventon Pace 500 which is a rear hub motor and has 27.5 x 2.2 tires
and pedaling this bike is incredibly easy. Not even a little bit. I cannot vouch for any other bike. Good luck.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
You can get a feel for the resistance from the motor by turning the cranks by hand - ideally with chain removed , but if that's not possible have someone lift the rear wheel. It's probably my imagination, but the old bosch and shimano motors felt like about as much resistance as a rusty chain, the yamaha feels like cheap pedals, and the brose ( specialized) felt like good pedals which need lubrucating. Unless you're the type of owner who carefully applies ceramic chain lube every Morning and upgrades the bearings in pedals, you are unlikely to notice motor drag on anything except the old bosch.
PDoz, I did it during chain replacement in my Specialized (Brose TF) and Giant (SyncDrive Pro) e-bikes. No resistance felt whatsoever when pedalling the cranks forward with my hand with the chain removed...
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Short answer - avoid the old bosch. Long answer:

You can get a feel for the resistance from the motor by turning the cranks by hand - ideally with chain removed , but if that's not possible have someone lift the rear wheel.
It's probably my imagination, but the old bosch and shimano motors felt like about as much resistance as a rusty chain, the yamaha feels like cheap pedals, and the brose ( specialized) felt like good pedals which need lubrucating.
Unless you're the type of owner who carefully applies ceramic chain lube every Morning and upgrades the bearings in pedals, you are unlikely to notice motor drag on anything except the old bosch.

IMHO , the real difference comes from the inefficiencies we accept in our e bikes but would NOT accept if we didn't have a motor.
Those fat and grippy tyres suck energy - plus I run lower pressures for comfort / grip because, well, I can just wind up the assistance.

The set up is different - over the 3 years I've owned my emtb, the ride position has crept more upright for comfort and I'm running the suspension softer . Every time I jump from my emtb to the kids regular bikes I'm reminded of how aggressive their riding position is and how light they are ( 45% extra weight for my ebike - sounds a lot more than 8 kg, doesn't it?) .

So I have customised the power levels on my bike to compensate - eco is set to 50% assist, it feels almost as difficult to pedal as the most efficient kids bike I own ( a VERY nice bike set up so she can keep up with me uphill) .
For perspective, riding at 50% assist with the tyres firmly inflated, I can easy get 80 km range on rail trail type rides - for an estimate of how much energy I am losing to the motor drag / tyre choice ergos.
A great analogy for motor resistance. ;)
 

ebikebob

Member
Thanks everyone. Question about which motor kit is known to be easy to pedal. Is it the bbs02 and bbshd easy to pedal. I see these motors mentioned all the time but am unsure if they are easy to pedal. I had a used old Giant that was essentially not pedal-able without battery. It was horribly underpowered which means I had to pedal a lot and it was just impossible (rear hub) motor. So I want to make sure that the next bike or bikes will work fine if the battery runs out. I am leaning towards mid drives for this reason but it sounds like geared hub motors are possibly ok.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Here's my BBS02 with the chain off the crank. I thought this spins easy, but a regular BBS/crank will spin for a lot longer. Maybe 60 seconds compared to 10 seconds.


Then again, all of my geared hub drives spin freely too.