Commute bike 12 miles Marin to SF, hilly

Alex Smith

New Member
Hi,

I'm a newbie to this forum. I've read through so please forgive if this has been answered and I missed it.

I live in Marin CA and commute to SF, about 12-13 miles one way. I'm the sweatiest person I know. I'm tired of having to change (wake->home clothes->bike clothes->commute->shower->work clothes->bike clothes->commute->shower->home clothes->laundry). Repeat.

I'm a cyclist and bike centuries, top 10% Strava times, etc. Love biking. Hate the sweating and want to simplify my day to wake->shower->work clothes->commute->work->commute->home clothes.

I'm 180lb. Commute has about 1000 feet of climbing each way. Includes Golden Gate Bridge which has some speed restrictions. Includes Multiuse-path which has 15mph speed restrictions. Some stretches where can get going fast in Sausalito, but punctuated by stop lights so no long straightaway. Main slowdown is the climbing.

I tested the specialized turbo 2016 model yesterday on the big climb. I'd say it reduced sweating by 80% and increased max speed by 10%. Say average of 12mph uphill (which I can almost do on the bike, with HR near max). That bike is $3,000 at the local shop. I'm hoping for more reduction in sweat and higher speeds up the hills. For not much more money.

I'm wondering if the specialized turbo is the best fit in that price range. Would the Stromer ST1 Elite or Platinum be better? I read on one of these forums that the 2017 St1 will be a new model - should I wait given the rapidly changing tech? Should I try and really stretch my budget (really really really stretch) and try for an ST2 or Turbo S? I don't think the Turbo X gets me much. Not sure what the gain would be. I have a 29er mountain bike hard tail that I could convert, but not sure about safety and maintenance.

Thanks for your thoughts!
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
A bike with a mid drive is going to do significantly better in very hilly areas. If you aren't afraid of working on your bike (guessing no considering you are a regular rider already), you might already have a solid donor bike, pair it with a bbs02 from bafang and a decent battery and save yourself a good chunk of change over the box bikes in the process.
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
The only way to solve this issue for you is to take a Stromer (either ST1 or ST2) out for the same test ride and compare with the Turbo. Both companies have done an excellent job with design. I find the Specialized bikes to be harder edged (at least the models without any front suspension) and a slightly more aggressive riding position. If you go for the ST2 or the Turbo S you will notice an increase in power and speed and will probably move your 12mph uphill and move it up to the 15-17mph range. Visit New Wheel in the city and test ride a Stromer and also take a look at the new Kalkhoff mid-drives. The more test experience you have the larger your frame of reference. If you PM me I'll be happy to elaborate further.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Hi @Alex Smith

I ride every day in Miami and I'm in the 4000 mile club.. I also have owned eBikes since 2009... Great way to beat traffic around town on my Stromer Elite. In the summer I hardly sweat at all on my Stromer and it's the bike of choice during the day. Just use max assist.

My ride is nothing like yours, and if you're riding those famous hills in San Francisco a mid drive is really your only option.. A Bosch mid drive, unless you're willing to build your own ebike from a Bafang BBS mid drive kit.

However, if your ride is just hilly, a nice direct drive (DD) hub motor will be more than enough.

The most important aspect of a eBike is reliability, and I can vouch for the Stromer build, as can many others on this site. For the distances youre mentioning, the ST1 will be more than sufficient. If it isn't you can always buy another charger for work, or buy their larger battery (stock is 36v11Ah, upgrade is 36v14Ah).

You don't need to spend a lot to get what you need on an eBike and the Stromer Elite is a good looking very solid bike for commuting.. Not terribly exciting. The downside is weight, at 62 lbs.. The Turbo is around 10 lbs less I think.

Right now Crazy Lenny is selling a Stromer Elite Demo for $1800 with full warranty.. I'd jump on that and never look back.. And if a year or two you see a newer better design, you won't get burned on resale...

http://www.crazylennysebikes.com
 
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D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Gotta disagree with JoePah:

You have a great local dealer in New Wheel and they render fantastic service. On the mid-drive side, Bosch is not the only choice for mid-drives. If you want to test mid-drives you will find that Kalkhoff, Yamaha, and Shimano all make very good mid drives.

I'd personally avoid demo bikes especially from an online discounter. You have no way of knowing how the bike has been ridden or what maintenance has been performed. E-Bikes are more complex machines and hence do require some extra care. How many cycles are on the used battery. Is the chain worn? Are the wheels true? et. al.

And, if the online vendor does not palletize the bike (wrapping the bike box around a pallet), you run the risk of shipment damage.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
It's not clear what you want, exactly. Most people do a casual pace on ebikes, maybe a 100 watt (pedal effort) pace or less. But there are riders who look for a lot of speed and are willing to work hard with the motor. If you don't want to work at HR-Max, you use the motor and pedal some reasonable amount. The Mayo Clinic says a 30 minute ride most days, at 65 % of Max HR nets good cardiac fitness.

You ask about safety and maintenance with a DIY. The safety is entirely something you need to determine. If you take a bike to 30 mph, it's very different from 20 mph. Better brakes, strong rims, reasonable frame, things like that. You want ebike tires, rated for 30 mph.

The logic of a DIY is simple. Right now you can get the BBSHD for $700 or so, from Luna Cycle or EM3ev. The motor seems to be designed to climb real hills at 20 mph, even if you don't work very hard. You can add a battery for $500, a 650 watt hour battery. The less powerful version of the motor, the BBS02, is around $500, but for hills the HD is better engineered for the stresses and watt loads.

It's a more primitive system, cadence assist and throttle. It's a much more powerful motor, legal if somewhat de-tuned. Since a mid-drive uses the gears, and you can shift down for hills, a BBS will climb any hill, and the HD will climb with speed.

Don't know what the size is on that Stromer. Seems to be a step-through. Good deal. I'd want to know how it performs on the hills you actually ride. You get over a 12% grade, I'll take a mid-drive, but we don't have grades like that. I'd rent a bike, if possible, to test the hills and stuff. Test rides are short and it's tough to sort things out.
 

Alex Smith

New Member
Thanks Pxpaulx, 86 and kicking, JoePah, and George S for your replies!

I had not seriously considered the DIY route. Now that you mention it, I'm looking at Luna Cycle, at the Bafang BBS02 and BBSHD. The power, the power, the power! It certainly would help me accomplish my goal of getting to work faster without sweating. With teh BBSHD I'm not sure it would qualify as exercise, that thing is so powerful!

I do have 2 old bikes, either of which I could convert:

1. Marin Palisades hardtail 29er, disc brakes
2. Specialized Sirrus (base model) rigid fork, caliper brakes

(I also have an old Lemond Etape road bike, aluminum with carbon fork, but too light)

I'd probably convert the Marin hardtail 29er, as it's a more sturdy bike and I'd want the disc brakes given the speed/weight. Looks like I could DIY for $1000-$1,500. I'm a little uncomfortable with the thought of having an illegal bike on the road, so would shy away from the BBSHD and more toward the BBs02.

The mid-drive suggestion is excellent, DIY or on a purpose made bike. I've been eyeballing this Focus Aventura Speed at New Wheel (I have yet to visit as it's the opposite side of town from where I work): http://newwheel.net/products/focus-aventura-impulse-speed. That looks like everything I would need, in a high quality, low maintenance package. Pricy though, compared to DIY!

My concern with a mid-drive is noise. Technically, you're supposed to be on pedal power only on the Golden Gate Bridge. That's been the major impediment to going electric for years. The appeal of the Specialized Turbo and Stomer gearless hub bikes has been stealth and quite. I can have some minor amount of pedal assist, not so I blast over the bridge, but so I can lug my 50lb bike over the bridge without being drenched in sweat. Just how noisy are these mid-drives? Anyone tried a Focus Avenutra Speed? A BBS02 or BBSHD?

As you suggest, I need to get out there and test ride some more. Need to store some credits with the good wife so I can get out there and try some of these!

With appreciation!
Alex
 

Reddy Kilowatt

Well-Known Member
I had heard that mid-drives are noisy and I've seen videos of (noisy) high-end models from Optibike.
But I gotta' say, the Optibike I bought—the Pioneer Allroad—is as quiet as a church mouse and would climb trees if I let it.
My commute to work includes a short stiff grade in the 18-20% range, and I don't even drop down to the granny chainring to get up that.
If you need a climbing fool, for my money, you need a mid-drive configuration.
Allen
 

Alex Smith

New Member
Thanks Allen, it's helpful to know that quiet mid-drive bikes exist, and can climb! I hadn't considered the Optibike, I'll look into it.
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
@Alex Smith , you're getting lots of good - if varying - advice so let me toss in an entertaining addition. You've mentioned 'budget', also 'hills', you desire an increase in commute time (aka: speed) if possible, you are going to be creating a significant amount of kinetic energy (180# @ perhaps 25 mph at times), I assume you'd like a safe arrival and you're willing to consider a DIY project. Given all that, I agree you should only consider the Marin if you convert as the disc brakes are IMO very important. Have you 'visited Lectric Cycles' yet? You'll find a variety of reviews from Court if you just type in 'erad' in the search box at the home page, and you can select whatever power option you feel comfortable with. An even better review IMO is when Court spent substantial time at Lectric Cycles, which he turned into a video you'll find on youtube. (Court is like a kid in a candy store in this video, which is why I mentioned the 'entertaining' addition...but I think there's a lot to learn from this video). I suggest you put this DIY option on your list because a) it is a low cost alternative vs. a box bike; b) it offers you speed (watt) choices, which sounds like it's important to you; c) it provides you with a mid-drive DIY choice that offers shift sensing (important if going mid-drive, given your commute description), and d) it's not exclusively DIY since I've read multiple reviews full of praise for the 'hand holding' the guys there provide when a customer has Q's and welcomes some coaching. You'll find LE's 'major doom', Chris Head, on this forum and can address him using the @ feature.

Good luck on the search, Alex. It's part of the experience!

Jack
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
@Alex Smith My friend Adam recently switched from Focus Aventura Speed to ST2.
He recently wrote a great article that has been shared over 1300 times.
He has been happy with ST2 so far and he is one the more knowledgeable guys I know.
http://electricbikereport.com/electric-bike-cheating/

He had troubles with the Focus and had to replace the motor two times. Because he is a very strong cyclist, the gears inside the drive were completely worn out.

Focus Aventura Speed gears.png

For a gentle rider, it may last a very long time. So, it depends. If you're someone who enjoys speed, try educating yourself about the bottom bracket drives. While they are great off-roading and center of gravity, the gears are prone to damage. Gearless drives like Stromer or Speacialized don't have this issue.

Same thing goes with BBS-02. BBHD is more robust than BBS02 but tboth them use white nylon gears as shown above. I would expect BBSHD to last longer. These drives have their quirks but mostly perform well.

I will let you do your homework...
 
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Alex Smith

New Member
@Jack Tyler - thanks for the suggestion! That is a nice youtube video. The addition of shift sensing does seem important on a mid-drive, and lack of such appears to be one of the drawbacks of the BBs02 and BBSHD. Cost is more, but you get what you pay for.

@Ravi Kempaiah - wow! That's disappointing about the Focus and the burned out motors. I had high hopes. I'm sure there are days where I'd want to go hard on the bike too - though I will generally swap to my road bike (non e-bike) for major exercise. So yes, the Stromer ST1/2 and Specialized Turbo series are superior in terms of maintenance to the DIY and perhaps mid-drives in general in terms of maintenance. Your friend Adam's times were noticeably better on the ST2 than the Focus. You get what you pay for.

I wonder about the "fun-to-bike" factor. My suspicion, untested, is that gearless may be more fun than mid-drive. Sportier, less "present," seamless. I'll have to test them and see!
 

Alex Smith

New Member
I test rode on part of my commute. Today I rode

1. Turbo S - fast! quick to 20mph, easily hit 27 and felt the motor cut as I pushed to 28. A little weird with motor cutting in and out there, but safe. Climbed very well, easy to maintain 15-20mph on a 400ft climb. Power 48% to 24%.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485398013

2. Turbo (base model) - rode this again immediately after for comparison. felt the difference in speed, had to work harder to hit 25mph. Less power most noticeable on the climb. More like 10-15mph on the climb. Sweating, so confirmed again that not enough bike for me on my commute. Power 52% to 30%.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485408652

3. Stromer ST2 - bike is just a thing of beauty. So pretty in white. Display looks so nice. Easy to see as it was getting dark by the time I rode this one. Only had 14% power when I started, so I couldn't go as long. But wow is it quick off the line! So lively and fast to 27mph on the flats. I wasn't able to ride the same hill, but on the hill I did ride I felt like it struggled a bit compared to the Turbo S. I don't know how to reconcile the sense that it was faster off the line but struggled more on the hill. Both should be related to torque I believe. This may also have been due to my lack of familiarity with the hill I chose, and poor choice of gears. The ST2 does have a double up front, whereas the Turbo's have a single front ring. Big smile.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485413404

Overall I love the look and feel of the ST2 the most. I'd need to ride it with a charge up my actual commute hill to get a better sense of performance on climbs. I noticed they tuned it to 35nm, in between the ST1 elite 40nm and ST1 platinum 30nm.

At the moment, however, I'm leaning toward converting my Marin Palisades hardtail using the BBs02. I'm not sure if the extra cost from lectric cycle is worthwhile over em3ev or luna- sounds like Bafang is upgrading their product based on feedback - major attraction of lectric is the shift sensor and rave review on this site.

I would like to ride some of these mid-drive bikes before buying to get a sense of the difference. Looking forward to the climbing power and efficiency. Would be great to go uphill at a steady 20mph. Downside is likely louder (I honestly couldn't hear the Turbos or ST2), not as smooth, perhaps more maintenance, and not as pretty.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
I test rode on part of my commute. Today I rode

1. Turbo S - fast! quick to 20mph, easily hit 27 and felt the motor cut as I pushed to 28. A little weird with motor cutting in and out there, but safe. Climbed very well, easy to maintain 15-20mph on a 400ft climb. Power 48% to 24%.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485398013

2. Turbo (base model) - rode this again immediately after for comparison. felt the difference in speed, had to work harder to hit 25mph. Less power most noticeable on the climb. More like 10-15mph on the climb. Sweating, so confirmed again that not enough bike for me on my commute. Power 52% to 30%.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485408652

3. Stromer ST2 - bike is just a thing of beauty. So pretty in white. Display looks so nice. Easy to see as it was getting dark by the time I rode this one. Only had 14% power when I started, so I couldn't go as long. But wow is it quick off the line! So lively and fast to 27mph on the flats. I wasn't able to ride the same hill, but on the hill I did ride I felt like it struggled a bit compared to the Turbo S. I don't know how to reconcile the sense that it was faster off the line but struggled more on the hill. Both should be related to torque I believe. This may also have been due to my lack of familiarity with the hill I chose, and poor choice of gears. The ST2 does have a double up front, whereas the Turbo's have a single front ring. Big smile.
Link to ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/485413404

Overall I love the look and feel of the ST2 the most. I'd need to ride it with a charge up my actual commute hill to get a better sense of performance on climbs. I noticed they tuned it to 35nm, in between the ST1 elite 40nm and ST1 platinum 30nm.

At the moment, however, I'm leaning toward converting my Marin Palisades hardtail using the BBs02. I'm not sure if the extra cost from lectric cycle is worthwhile over em3ev or luna- sounds like Bafang is upgrading their product based on feedback - major attraction of lectric is the shift sensor and rave review on this site.

I would like to ride some of these mid-drive bikes before buying to get a sense of the difference. Looking forward to the climbing power and efficiency. Would be great to go uphill at a steady 20mph. Downside is likely louder (I honestly couldn't hear the Turbos or ST2), not as smooth, perhaps more maintenance, and not as pretty.

BBS02 mated to 50v, 20ah pack from em3ev should be more than enough.

Having owned an ST2, I can say that power output decreases once you're below 15%, that's just not to strain the battery too much. Also, you can make it very torquey by tuning it via the app. So, I don't know what setting they had it on.
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
These side-by-side comparisons, from an experienced rider, are rare here. Thanks for sharing them, Alex.
 

RoyL

Active Member
on the question of noise, i can say on the BBS02 all you`ll get is a low `whirrrr`, not in any way annoying.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
According to the Strava plot of the first ride, the grades you were hitting were only around 6-7%. I'm not sure if this is the steepest hill you have to climb. The second bike was having some problems. Anything over 10% is a more serious test. I have a Mac motor which will draw 800 watts and it definitely is bogging down at 10%, but moving right along at 7-8% grades. The Strava links say it all!

The problem with a battery at 14% is that the voltage will be way down, and it will sag even worse if you try to draw a lot of power. Have to get a full battery.

There are ways to make the BBS02 very quiet.

http://electric-fatbike.com/2015/12...-good-mid-drive-is-better-seen-and-not-heard/

Your experiences are great. Even without riding a DIY it should be clear what the trade-offs are. A BBS02 can be made quiet, it can be configured to be completely legal, and the installation is neat as you can get if you put the battery just above the motor. But, it will never be an ST2 as a work of art. But the BBS02 is capable of climbing any grade with gearing.

You might try a Haibike, even the Yamaha versions, or @roshan and his MonteCapro for $1600 (June delivery).

http://stunner.biktrix.com/monte/

Nice of them to let you do real test rides.
 

Douglas Ruby

Well-Known Member
A fairly important difference between the Turbo S and the Turbo is low gearing. Both have the same 48T front ring. The Turbo S has an 11-40 11-speed rear and the Turbo has an 11-32 10-speed rear. The base Turbo is really overgeared for its power and weight. I re-geared my base Turbo to 44T front and 11-36 rear to get a 20% lower 1st gear. This obviously helps climbing and makes the 200W motor more effective.
 

flymeaway

Well-Known Member
I had not seriously considered the DIY route

Here are pictures of my grubby BBS02 750W 48V Bikes Direct Elite Trail. My commute is 14 miles each way over the bumpiest lousy NH back roads you'll find. It also includes about 2 miles of gravel road (see the grubby picture). The grade differential from start to finish is over 1660 feet. I've pounded the life out of this bike and the BBS02 is whisper quiet. I've ridden it in 26 degree weather, through pouring rain (all 14 miles) and I pedal hard pushing the bike to it's limits. I've ridden it 40+ miles and the battery indicator only drops off full when the temp drops below 30. I have a BHEmotion Neo Carbon that's basically a "Hangar Queen". I'm pretty certain that if I rode it like I ride the Elite Trail it would have failed by now. I also have a 36V 500W BBS02 that's 2 years old and it has just shy of 4,000 miles. I gave it to my wife to ride after I finished the Elite Trail this July. Her Neo Cross is also now a Hangar Queen, just like my Carbon. Bottom line for me; I wouldn't be concerned about a BBS02 DIY at all.

Court J.

P1000181 (Large).JPG P1000182 (Large).JPG