Average Cruising Speed on your e-bike

Coachman

New Member
Region
USA
Well, if you want to average > 20mph then your best choice is a class 3 ebike. With a class 1, you will not be using the motor much at all. Honestly, I believe you are probably fit enough to be able to average close to 20 mph on a non-electric road bike with dropbars if you can average 13 mph on a fat bike.

I am not sure what Stefan's point was and English is not his first language. However, Stefan has a lot of experience with very long distance rides on ebikes and can give good advice for extending the range of your battery.
Thanks for the reply. You also open up another question I had...
If I am able to sustain 20 mph at a lower assist level with a Class 1 bike, would that not give me a greater range than if I rode 22-24 mph while the motor works harder all the time on a Class 3? Put another way, if I "topped out" a Class 1 bike 20-30% of the ride, I should save range compared to riding with full-time assistance on a Class 3 bike? Does that make sense?
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Thanks for the reply. You also open up another question I had...
If I am able to sustain 20 mph at a lower assist level with a Class 1 bike, would that not give me a greater range than if I rode 22-24 mph while the motor works harder all the time on a Class 3? Put another way, if I "topped out" a Class 1 bike 20-30% of the ride, I should save range compared to riding with full-time assistance on a Class 3 bike? Does that make sense?
Riding slower makes a tremendous difference on the range. If you own a Class 3 e-bike, you don't need to ride as fast as a madman. You simply adjust the assistance and ride reasonably. After some time, you'll gain a lot of experience. The point is, Class 1 and Class 3 could be perceived (I apologize for a simplification) as a small vs. a big car. You never need to drive the big car at higher speed than the small one, aye?

The Class 3 e-bike makes you more secure as you can get to work on time disregarding what happens during your commute.

Your general line of thinking is correct. Riding past the speed limiter saves a lot of battery charge.
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Thanks for the reply. You also open up another question I had...
If I am able to sustain 20 mph at a lower assist level with a Class 1 bike, would that not give me a greater range than if I rode 22-24 mph while the motor works harder all the time on a Class 3? Put another way, if I "topped out" a Class 1 bike 20-30% of the ride, I should save range compared to riding with full-time assistance on a Class 3 bike? Does that make sense?
That does make sense and you certainly wouldn't be using any battery on a class 1 ebike after you exceeded 20 mph. The geometry of the bike makes a difference too. It is easier to sustain a faster speed on a dropbar road bike, not just because of aerodynamics but also because you have a more aggressive position on the bike and your weight is shifted forward over the pedals giving you more leverage.
 

Coachman

New Member
Region
USA
Just like you would not floor your brother-in-laws car and leave it floored for your entire commute, the same goes with a bike that you like. As has been said, going along at 22-24 is nice on a bike. Why not convert the Surley. These are great bikes. Just pull the bottom bracket and install the mid-drive. For a 200-pound rider on a 2% grade, traveling 24Mph it takes 500 Watts of continual power. Bottom line: Get a class three.
Thanks so much for your reply, and for the calculator you posted too.
I have considered converting the Surly with a BBSHD or the like. However, I have a few reservations about that:
  • Firstly, I really like the Surly as it is - I also use it for bikepacking and trail riding. Doing the conversion would seriously sacrifice on some of the things I love about my Pug.
  • Secondly, I assume that with the conversion done components will wear out more rapidly than they do now on the Surly. It is not the cheapest bike to maintain - I currently spend about $500-$750 on the maintenance per year, doing most of the work myself. I was thinking of going with an internally geared belt-drive bike as an e-bike, which would hopefully cut down on the upkeep.
I won't throw out the idea of converting the Surly, but I like the idea of having a "work" bike and a "fun" bike.
 

Coachman

New Member
Region
USA
That does make sense and you certainly wouldn't be using any battery on a class 1 ebike after you exceeded 20 mph. The geometry of the bike makes a difference too. It is easier to sustain a faster speed on a dropbar road bike, not just because of aerodynamics but also because you have a more aggressive position on the bike and your weight is shifted forward over the pedals giving you more leverage.
Fully agreed! For that little theory to work, it would have to be a bike that lends itself to being ridden fast normally.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I average about 9 mph on my ebike, 30 miles 3.1 to 3.5 hours. Route has >80 hills. I sit upright. No limiter on my bike, throttle only control. Lots of wind this summer, mostly in my face.
Electricity failed in rain last week, took 4.3 hours. 7 mph.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
average speed depends on so much. stopping for lights and such is the biggest killer. I don't really use it much anymore Now I use average watts that tells you more about what your doing and does not suffer when you start and stop. it does suffer if you peddle while going downhill though. on my 9 mile commute about the best I can do is 19mph average. thats with one 3 mile bike path where I can keep it around 22 to 24 the whole distance. our tandem its tough to average 15mph but the motor tops out at about 18.7 mph and we cruise on the flats around 18.5 using about 3 watts per miles. for the first time ever Saturday we did a 20 mile ride with some climbing and averaged 102 watts. thats the highest average we ever got on the tandem. om my commuter the highest wattage average was 202 watts but usually its between 150 and 180 we get around 40 miles on a 500 watt battery.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Well, since I am a utility rider not a recreational rider, and I have about a 15.5 mile ride each way into the office, I'm at least in the ballpark of @Coachman 's use case. I'm also a lifelong commuter cyclist who had to switch to ebikes after cardiac problems forced the change on me (more accurately: ebikes gave cycling back to me after knocking me off the bike for what would have been a permanent loss).

I built my bikes then and after buying a manufactured ebike to start with, I went to learning the 'e' portion of 'ebike' and building them from the ground up again. As such, my answer is entirely "it depends" as you'll see. If you know enough to build your own and stock it with quality components, you can write your own script.

As a cyclist I approached an ebike not as a bicycle but as an entirely new system, with entirely new rules to learn. You already are going in the direction of this mindset acknowledging the difference between a 'work' and 'fun' bike. So try throwing out the rulebook and look at everything with fresh eyes. Some of the worst ebike advice you can get comes from cyclists who are stuck on being an expert cyclist and haven't realized an ebike is a new animal entirely.

So, my take on this says a utility-oriented ebike (versus a recreational ebike) is not a bicycle, but rather is a bicycle-shaped-object whose existence is fixed on a set goal: Transportation at speed while delivering exercise. You want to haul ass. But you don't want to ghost pedal (unless circumstances of the moment dictate you do want that, in which case the 'e' in 'ebike' lets that happen).

Here's my solution to flat, urban USA riding where the roads are flat, and on-street bike lanes are well-available:

img_20190405_181939[1].jpg

That is one weird-looking fat bike. But it has several thousand street miles on it, pretty much 100% of it commuting. Don't focus on the 5" tires that are on it in that picture (an experiment in going tubeless at the time). When the weather is dry (I am in California so that always right now) I run 4" smooth semi slicks on it. But do note a few details:

1. Front chainring is BIG for an ebike. 50T. Likewise the smallest rear cog that I stay in is 11T. Small. And that rear cluster is not very tall at IIRC 30T. So mid-length cage on the SRAM derailleur. Doesn't matter cuz I use the 11T almost exclusively. You do this to be able to pedal the bike with effort at high speed. No ghost pedaling is even possible as that gearing exceeds the bike's max powered speed.

2. Battery is big as well. This is an XL-sized frame (a chromoly Chumba Ursa Major) but the battery fills that triangle bag and weighs in at 30ah (52v). Because of the big gears, I can work hard at this bike's max powered speed, which depending on wind is 28-34 mph. So I work on my ride, and I run at typically 28-30 mph. Riding like that, the big battery lets me ignore range anxiety and just ride like I feel like.

3. Yes those are twin hub motors. 2wd. Done properly, a 2wd bike accelerates effortlessly to your desired cruise, and since both motors are connected to a common PAS sensor and dual controllers, you effectively have 10 levels of assist (5 per axle). But since this bike's job is to go places efficiently, I almost always just run it at full blast and pedal along with it using pedal assist (not throttle).

4. Not visible but a huge deal for a utility rider, for a bike whose job is to transport first and foremost: cadence-based assist is a huge benefit once you make the mental leap on how to implement it as part of a total system involving gears, battery capacity etc. With 10 levels of assist and gearing you add yourself that exceeds the bike's ability to motor itself, you are in control of precisely how much effort you put into your chosen cadence. It is not a 'bicycle experience' that torque sensor sellers claim (I'm looking at this as a bicycle-shaped-object and my take is you are selling yourself short if you think of this tool as a bicycle and try to emulate one). What this is, is an exercise machine that moves down the road. A spinner I guess they call them. But it goes places. You increment your assist up and down in bits as your needs of the moment dictate. Or do like I do and run it full blast always. If I hit a headwind that kills my preferred cadence, I upshift one gear, maybe even two so effort remains at my chosen level, cadence stays optimized, the motors work a little harder ... and I slow down some. Hit yourself with a 20 mph steady Central Valley headwind and then all that happens to you is you decelerate to 15 mph. But no change in effort or cadence.

5. No suspension. Thats a big part of why the tires are fat-ish. Also fatties are plenty maneuverable on city streets where you are moving at speed and potholes exist aplenty. There is a very good reason for no suspension which you can read about in the build article I wrote on this bike.
5. And yes I have throttles. If I am late for work and I have a conference call scheduled in X minutes, and I need to get there fast. I can cheat and hammer down on the electrics. Throttle speed is a couple mph faster than pedal cruise so I am at the top end of the range vs. the bottom. Or I have a date that night after work and I am wanting to haul ass home and be ready for it sooner not later. Same deal... throttles are your friend on occasion.

The bike above has dual racks and a lot of space for panniers but that was back when I was using the bike for shopping/cargo duties. Since then I have built dedicated cargo bikes for that separate purpose.

So... obviously this is not a commercially-sold bike, and if you dig around in that series of AWD articles, you'll find I don't have a high opinion of the 2wd commercial bikes out there (except for Christini, they're still stuck at Version 1.0 and have all the mistakes I've already made and worked around still in play).

If I had to buy a bike off the shelf, I would buy a Sondors MXS, then replace its controller, display and battery with 60v upgrades that are readily available in kit form. At that point I'd have a bike with a motor that can handle that sort of power coming out of the gate, that can reportedly reach 40 mph no problem. I'd for sure set the controller to slow-start at the least and maybe limit it via the display to about 35. Past that point your hydraulic brakes and suspension will be outmatched.
 
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m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I have considered converting the Surly with a BBSHD or the like. However, I have a few reservations about that:
  • Firstly, I really like the Surly as it is - I also use it for bikepacking and trail riding. Doing the conversion would seriously sacrifice on some of the things I love about my Pug.
  • Secondly, I assume that with the conversion done components will wear out more rapidly than they do now on the Surly. It is not the cheapest bike to maintain - I currently spend about $500-$750 on the maintenance per year, doing most of the work myself. I was thinking of going with an internally geared belt-drive bike as an e-bike, which would hopefully cut down on the upkeep.
I won't throw out the idea of converting the Surly, but I like the idea of having a "work" bike and a "fun" bike.
On relatively flat ground, in a dedicated commuting scenario, a BBSHD or similar is going to be vastly inferior to a powerful hub, and especially a hub+hub where neither motor is working hard and traction is distributed. I *love* mid drives and most of my bikes are built with them, but a hub bike delivers power independent of the drivetrain, and there is no need for you to play the upshift/downshift game necessary with a mid conversion. Also when accelerating from a stop you will have to row thru the gears which is unnecessary on a hub drive for the same reasons. For a utility-oriented bike, You want to be able to stop and then *go* and get right back up to cruise. A powerful geared hub (or an even more powerful direct drive hub, which I am not a fan of) is the tool of choice for this on relatively flat pavement. Throw hills into the mix and my feelings change completely, but without them, its hub all the way.

Also if you love the Surly as it is... leave it alone. Get yourself a frame and build something dedicated to the task. Its a fun project and your level of satisfaction with the result will be exponentially greater.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I have no meaningful statistics to throw into the mix, because I'm a fitness rider, but I'm just enjoying witnessing the evolution of the OP's thinking. I can only say this: For me, the average speed is always 13 MPH.

When I switched from an underpowered front-hub Class 1.6 😜 kit bike to an underpowered full suspension Class 1 mid-drive, at first I thought, why did I spend two grand on this thing?

Then I started adjusting my riding technique, discovered the joys of riding on trails with lots of bumps and rocks, 30 mile rides and 4,000 foot climbs, and I wondered how I'd gotten by on the first bike. They are so completely different.

The crazy part is, my average speeds are very similar-- about 12.5 MPH on the hub drive and 13.5 MPH on the mid drive. A lot of this has to do with all the hills and tight curves where I live-- a Class III would be senseless here. I can't corner faster than about 15 MPH anyway, sometimes much slower than that. No meaningful straightaways.

The kit bike is a little faster on flat ground, maybe a tiny bit faster on slight inclines, about the same as the mid drive going up steep hills, and the mid drive is much, much faster going downhill.

I can complete any number of 8 to 15 mile loops near my house on either bike, and the riding experience is totally different, though the level of exertion-- judged only subjectively, of course-- seems very similar, and the average speed always seems to hover around the number that's very common in this thread: 13 MPH.
maybe limit it via the display to about 35. Past that point your hydraulic brakes and suspension will be outmatched.

That is an interesting point. Whatever bike I'm riding, powered or unpowered, suspension or no suspension, things always feel a little dodgy north of 35 MPH.

If someone put a gun to my head and demanded that I name an average and maximum speed for all bikes and all conditions, it would probably be 13 MPH and 38 MPH respectively.

Even thinking back to when I was a teenager and we were touring with fully loaded bikes, a good day was averaging 10 MPH. So with no cargo on a road bike?

There it is again: 13 MPH.
 

theemartymac

Well-Known Member
Here are three variations on my work commute (Fast/Slow/Hilly). ~20kms each way give or take the route that day. The fast run is on highway shoulder. The slow run is mixed-use city trails. The third option is my "Workout" route with lots of undulating hills and a couple of good climbs. Al three are very fast by acoustic standards, and unsustainable unless you are very fit. I find I mix in well with the serious road riders on the flats, but I leave them behind on any sort of incline or hill. But around town for shorter recreational rides, I seldom exceed 25km/h (15mph). Just my own experience...

IMG_6173.PNG
IMG_6174.PNG
IMG_6175.PNG
 

Sparky731

Member
Region
USA
City
Madison, WI
Consider your total distance (42 mi?) at high speed. I rode 2,200 mi on my 20 mph and often tried to keep it at maximum assist (19+mph) And always wanted more. I have ridden 1,200 mi on my Cl 3 and target 25-27mph as a comfortable speed for me. However, as this morning, at that speed I often burn through my Bosch 500 PowerTube electrons in 30 miles. That said, my Cl 3 is much more power efficient at lower speeds (<16mph) than my (and others’) Cl 1 motors. You can easily squeeze out 42+ mi with decent speed.
Bottom line for the rides you describe: you may regret getting a Cl 1 if you can get a Cl 3 instead. Just so much more fun!
 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
On relatively flat ground, in a dedicated commuting scenario, a BBSHD or similar is going to be vastly inferior to a powerful hub, and especially a hub+hub where neither motor is working hard and traction is distributed. I *love* mid drives and most of my bikes are built with them, but a hub bike delivers power independent of the drivetrain, and there is no need for you to play the upshift/downshift game necessary with a mid conversion. Also when accelerating from a stop you will have to row thru the gears which is unnecessary on a hub drive for the same reasons. For a utility-oriented bike, You want to be able to stop and then *go* and get right back up to cruise. A powerful geared hub (or an even more powerful direct drive hub, which I am not a fan of) is the tool of choice for this on relatively flat pavement. Throw hills into the mix and my feelings change completely, but without them, its hub all the way.

Also if you love the Surly as it is... leave it alone. Get yourself a frame and build something dedicated to the task. Its a fun project and your level of satisfaction with the result will be exponentially greater.
Good words and advice spoken by m@Robertson.

I have built three surly bikes/framesets and converted two to ebikes. One (Bridge Club) is a 52V 1500W Grin 10t GMAC with Cycle Analyst 3 and torque sensor. The other is a Troll with 52V 1500W BBSHD. Both top out about 35mph although I rarely use that power as it kills range too much. I alternate rides between them every day. While I dont commute, about 1/3 of my ride is on a dedicated bike commuter path that I would be commuting on if I wasnt working from home these days.

For commuting/higher speeds, IMHO, the Hub motor is a much better bike although the BBSHD would work as well.

If your into surlys and can DIY, the ogre would make a great commuter bike with the GMAC hub motor. I just built up an ogre this weekend (acoustic for now) and its a great ride.

Surlys are hard to find but if your persistant you can find them. There is a surly marketplace on facebook and you can just search google everyday, and snag one as they pop up.

I wanted a Bridge Club a few months ago and couldnt find one anywhere. One day I found one at performancebike and snagged it up. SInce then I wanted an Ogre and spent the last month searching google everyday and keeping records and calling all leads. Finally found one about 2 weeks ago and built it up this weekend.

I have a GMAC and BBSHD thread in the DIY area documenting two surly builds.

Here is a comparison of a BBSHD vs GMAC10t at 28mph with cadence around 90rpm (which is not ideal for the BBSHD)
GMACvsBBSHD.PNG
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
A thread where people usually pedal fast and long is here,
Worth a read for the possibilities
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Triad
I'm a slower recreational rider so have just been reading this thread out of general interest.

Just want to toss in here that if you choose a class 3 bike, you're going to be limited (in legal terms) to riding only on streets. If you want a bike that you can (legally) ride on bike trails and MUPs you need to buy a class 1. A class 2 with the throttle disconnected can also work, though in some locations that's iffy. But a class 3 - again - you're (legally) limited to streets and bike lanes on streets.
 

billmeek

Member
Region
USA
City
Summertown, TN
Just want to toss in here that if you choose a class 3 bike, you're going to be limited (in legal terms) to riding only on streets.

That depends on your local laws. Some locations allow you to change the class of your bike through the display settings (and a class sticker) while others use a database of bike classifications of how it's setup from the factory. It's always a good idea to check the laws in your area.
 

Widgets

Member
Region
USA
City
Tampa, FL
That depends on your local laws. Some locations allow you to change the class of your bike through the display settings (and a class sticker) while others use a database of bike classifications of how it's setup from the factory. It's always a good idea to check the laws in your area.

In Florida, class 1/2/3 ebikes are classified as bikes with no distinction.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Thanks for the reply. You also open up another question I had...
If I am able to sustain 20 mph at a lower assist level with a Class 1 bike, would that not give me a greater range than if I rode 22-24 mph while the motor works harder all the time on a Class 3? Put another way, if I "topped out" a Class 1 bike 20-30% of the ride, I should save range compared to riding with full-time assistance on a Class 3 bike? Does that make sense?
That is exactly what the superlight riders do to get their very long ranges on tiny batteries. Creo riders claim 100+ miles.