Have you noticed that the vast majority of ebikes are "recreation-focused?"

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
The major road through the town has lights timed to 40 mph. There is no e-bike that can cope with that. Noisy gas scooters are required. Most of them don't handle cargo well.
Running the back roads, the legal way to ride involves a stop every 600 feet. So even in the flat part of town, what is the point of a DD hubmotor? I had one, but it was inefficient compared to the geared hub. So the geared hub will wear out? So what, it was $221. Even a premium one (MAC10) is $500, not really a problem expense every 10000 miles or so.
The radwagon configuration is the perfect errand bike IMHO, but the DD motor is wrong, the wheels fall apart, the 7 speed shimano shifter is kiddie grade. I have the same configuration in a yubabike costing twice as much, but with a watthour efficient geared hub and 24 speed SRAM shifters. Also the yuba wheels & chain are no problem. I'm out on mine 6 days a weeks shopping, attending concerts, going to volunteer job. Average speed about 8 mph, not for serious commuters. I'm also blessed I don't sweat much, not until temp is over 100, and even then not in my eyes.
Note lack of suspension on cargo bikes. Those suspension parts are not of the quality of a monroe air shock (leveler) for cars. Any bike with a suspension is IMHO a short life toy - until somebody produces a product that proves me wrong. Tires? yeah, about 2000 miles, but they weigh a lot less than the ones on cars. Cost less, too.
Joe, I love your stories and often wish there was someone with your creativity and EBike interest near buy!
Being a bit fanatical about bikes I’ve built to many. Sometimes scaring myself and resulting in selling the motor and slowing down. If you head over to a number of forums, not friendly like here, there are all sorts of 40-50MPH “bikes”. They are really more “dirt bike” with tires. Recently a Taiwan company came out with a Honda motorbike kit. I’ve seen one with a monster hub motor that was amazingly efficient and fast. So far the law hasn’t caught up, I imagine and eventual disaster will change that. My fastest was 36MPH. I gave up in a very few days and sold all 3 motors. About 1 mile per amp hour with 72V batteries. But those fellas are pushing 50, 60, 70A! Nuts to me. But I have to admit there’s a custom mid drive I’ve been drooling over for an off road electric. 50-60mph no sweat. Then I consider my age and luck living this long and plug in my new 36V battey for a happy 20mph putz.... all good. Let the youngsters have at it...
 

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Mass Deduction

Active Member
I do understand your points. I guess my position is based on the idea that it seems we need a truly viable human scale transportation solution to help with the urban congestion problem. I think 45kph/28mph ebikes are close having an assist speed "fast enough" but on most of those ebikes the human effort it takes to sustain that speed (especially against the wide or going up even a slight grade) is too much (ie commuters don't want to wear themselves out and get soaking wet with sweat). There is a chasm gap in performance between a 32kph / <750W ebike drive system ebikes and and most electric or combustion motorcycles so I think law makers really need to examine the technology spectrum again. I think more people would consider an ebike viable transportation if the assist was truly effective to as much as 55kph/35mph, while any faster does start to need more robust build that most ebikes (most bikers have hit 35mph on traditional road bikes so this is not crazy speed).

I gave up riding motorcycles because I just didn't want to be in the mix with cars because it became drivers not seeing riders became worse every year. I'm not suggesting that ebikers should be tolerated riding down sidewalks with pedestrians at 30mph (the vast majority of bikers regulate their speeds based on conditions because it's not like they are immune from injury if they cause an accident) but limiting the assist speed to 20mph is too slow for effective commuting in my opinion because time really is a cost factor.

For the vast majority of us an ebike will not REPLACE a car, but only "supplement" owning a car. If owning a faster than 32kph ebike requires an additional registration and insurance cost I think it dramatically reduces the positive aspects of transitioning some transportation needs to an ebike. It just does and I questions the Class 1 assist speeds were established at 32kph for any other reason but to enable the big OEM motor and ebike manufacturers to sell the same models worldwide.
I agree with a lot of your points. One things I disagree with is the suggestion that class 3 bikes can't be ridden fast enough with minimal effort. I think if the bike is powerful enough it can. On a class 3 e-bike that is lightweight and has 90 Nm (mid-drive), I was able to ride at virtually no effort when fighting off a cold, easily going faster than a class 1 bike would have let me go despite the fact that I was barely turning over the pedals.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
I didn’t change my Haibike with Bosch chain until 2500 miles. At 3,000 miles I’m still on original cassettes and brakes. Wearing out chains in short order on mid drives is not universal.
Totally. Bikes with hardened chains can last crazily long on mid-drives. Yes, put on a cheap chain and you'll get poor longevity, but put on a hardened e-bike-rated chain and it's a totally different story. It's all about the right tool for the job, like so many things in life.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
I have a friend with a Haibike with a Yamaha mid drive who had to replace his chain and last few rear cogs are just 500 miles. I'm reading that that is actually not that uncommon and only gets worse with higher torque mid drives. I've seen street tires pretty much bald in under 2000 miles. I guess I just don't see those as transportation durability.
With a hardened e-bike chain, I've been able to thousands of kilometres while barely moving the chain on a high torque mid-drive from "New" to perhaps halfway to "Good" on our chainwear measuring tool (the increments on it are "New", "Good", "Fair", and "Replace"). There are a bunch of variables with chain wear; how many gears? An 8 speed chain will last longer than an 11 speed for example. How much torque in the motor? How high cadence is the rider? A rider who spins at high cadence will generally have chains that last longer than someone who mashes on the pedal at low cadence.

But in all cases, we've had people get a lot more than 800 km out of an e-bike hardened chain from KMC, and many e-bikes didn't come with those until recently. Some still don't.

If axle bearing on a car can easily go 100,000+ miles, why can't crank and axle bearing on ebikes easily last for 20,000 miles without needing replacement or servicing?
They could be designed that way. They aren't due to cost, weight, and the realities of miniaturizing them (I'm presuming here that car axle bearings have larger bearing surfaces than e-bikes).

I think a lot of bikes end up collecting dust in the garage because of issues that, while they may not be that technical or expensive to fix, just happen too frequently. I can't count how many front suspension bikes I have seen with front forks that are trashed / seized and few owners are going to pay $200+ for a fork rebuild on a bike that is likely not even worth that much.

I guess I'm thinking a "transportation-grade" ebike should be able to go 10,000 miles without any service requirement except for maybe chain lubrication (rather see belts or shaft drives on cummuting ebikes) and battery charging. That list is probably pretty short ... maybe none.
When we sell a "muscle bike", there's at least a 50/50 chance (maybe even higher than that) that it'll come back years later barely ridden, with the customer wanting us to pump up the tires for them as they've finally decided to start riding it. They bought it with good intentions that didn't pan out.

That almost never happens to us with e-bikes, almost every one we sell is ridden and ridden a lot.

I think your statement is ultimately correct. If someone buys a $200 bike, and ends up needing a $200 repair, there's a high degree that they'll abandon the bike. We don't find that with people buying $2K-$3K e-bikes though! :)
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
[…]I'm still a big fan of direct drive hub motors .... so few people understand that they really are very efficient when used correctly such as just cruising around over 25kph/15mph. They just are not so great for low speed climbing and accelerating from a stop which is the two areas where most riders "perceive" performance.
A question for you. If hub motors are so great, why doesn't Shimano make one?

Shimano makes pretty much everything bike related. Though they were suspicious of twist-shifters, they still went on to make them. Though they advocated for more front chainrings being better, they still went on to make 2x and 1x drivetrains for mountain and hybrid bikes. Shimano isn't only high-end focused, their parts also show up on the cheapest of the cheap department store bikes, with entire grades of component that you rarely see on a bike shop bike. Shimano will sell you a derailleur that costs $15, or one that costs you hundreds, and a dizzying array of steps in-between. Shimano appears to be investing far more R&D into the entry-level of the market than their mid-drive competitors, and with STePS 5000 showed a willingness to go to lower price points than Bosch, and lower spec than either Brose or Yamaha.

So if hub motors are so great, why won't Shimano release a hub motor option for those situations where it's technically superior and/or for those price-points that even STePS 5000 won't hit? Companies known for hub motor, like Bafang, are pushing aggressively into mid-drives. Yet the companies known for mid-drive aren't releasing hub motor product, and a company like Shimano that likes to cover the entire market not doing so feels telling to me. Perhaps their road map shows mid-drives getting cheap enough, and any case-specific advantage to hub motor niche enough, that it doesn't make sense.

Engineering bias seems to rarely stop Shimano. They have released a lot of product that they weren't excited about after accepting that the market was demanding it from them, such as the examples I offered above. And yet, not even a whisper of a hub motor product from Shimano.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
A question for you. If hub motors are so great, why doesn't Shimano make one?
And yet, not even a whisper of a hub motor product from Shimano.
I think the mid-drive dominates for 3 reasons.
1. Shops make more money on mid drives. So they are obviously better. Hub drive riders convert the bikes themselves for <$1000.
2. The electric bicycle industry US is dominated by California. Calfornia has long long steep grades to parks on top of the mountains. A geared hub will burn up on one of those long uphill runs. California bike shops won't sell geared hub because the warrenty covers whatever abuse the owner put on it. electric-bikes.com refused to sell me a enduro12 geared hub because we have 15% grades. He told me to buy a crystal DD. He's out $600 because Luna finally got some mac12s and sold me one for $520. Plus my $221 cheapo ebikeling geared hub has 3000 miles on it and 160 15% grades of 100' each. My DD hub chewed up the watt hours on 77 grades. A bike with DD on 13 AH won't make it to the top of a California park. The rest of the country except CO, ID, Montana where the roads are too narrow to ride bicycles, is fine for geared hubs. DD hubs are fine for long rails to trails bike paths like PN, not for urban stop go riding where they waste watthours at low speed.
3. Customers are too cheap to buy thick tires so your mechanics have to change them, and they hate fiddling with the wires and torque arms while doing that. You mass destruction said your mechanics hate them. With knobbies I ride on pavement I get 18 months out of the rear, 24 out of the front, and my motor is on the front. Nobody but me rides kenda knobbies on the pavement. "Road tires" are thin, the OEM on my yuba lasted 700 miles before the first flat. Plus nobody in the universe but me has double nutted the hub motor. Without a locknut they come loose all the time and shift around. No, blue loktite doesn't work. Red loktite takes a torch to remove properly, and the wires won't stand the heat. So the followup mechanic has to fight red loktite with brute force. 14x1.75 nuts on cheap hubmotors are so rare I had to make them with a tap.
 
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6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
To address the original point of this post, yes, I think most ebikes today are designed for recreational use. There are quite a few models available though that are designed for commuters. IMO, none are safe on busy roads or highways with a class 3 top speed of only 28 mph. They are meant for commuting on sidewalks, low speed city streets or dedicated urban pathways.

Unlike smaller European nations, we live in a big wide open country here in the US. Almost everyone can ride a bike for recreation but only a comparative few live in areas where bicycle commuting is safe and practical. Like so many other products, ebike makers use the "Form follows Function" approach. If most people ride for recreation, then design the bike that way. There is no "one size fits all" .

For serious commuters, there are electric scooters and motorcycles out there and even a few ebikes (outside the 3 class system), that are capable of maintaining safe traffic speeds. Yes, they require insurance and have license & registration fees. If I were a commuter, I would want insurance anyway in case I injured someone or was injured myself by an uninsured driver. The L&R fees for these bikes is a fraction of that for a full size vehicle. Considering the overall savings, are these expenses all that much?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
A question for you. If hub motors are so great, why doesn't Shimano make one?

Shimano makes pretty much everything bike related. Though they were suspicious of twist-shifters, they still went on to make them. Though they advocated for more front chainrings being better, they still went on to make 2x and 1x drivetrains for mountain and hybrid bikes. Shimano isn't only high-end focused, their parts also show up on the cheapest of the cheap department store bikes, with entire grades of component that you rarely see on a bike shop bike. Shimano will sell you a derailleur that costs $15, or one that costs you hundreds, and a dizzying array of steps in-between. Shimano appears to be investing far more R&D into the entry-level of the market than their mid-drive competitors, and with STePS 5000 showed a willingness to go to lower price points than Bosch, and lower spec than either Brose or Yamaha.

So if hub motors are so great, why won't Shimano release a hub motor option for those situations where it's technically superior and/or for those price-points that even STePS 5000 won't hit? Companies known for hub motor, like Bafang, are pushing aggressively into mid-drives. Yet the companies known for mid-drive aren't releasing hub motor product, and a company like Shimano that likes to cover the entire market not doing so feels telling to me. Perhaps their road map shows mid-drives getting cheap enough, and any case-specific advantage to hub motor niche enough, that it doesn't make sense.

Engineering bias seems to rarely stop Shimano. They have released a lot of product that they weren't excited about after accepting that the market was demanding it from them, such as the examples I offered above. And yet, not even a whisper of a hub motor product from Shimano.

Let me answer your question with another one (why doesn't Shimano make one?). Why don't all hobby shops work on e-bikes?

Because you do a respectable job in one arena, does not make you an expert in all others. Sometimes you are way further ahead keeping a focus on what you know/do best.... I think Shimano has learned that lesson rather well myself.
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
Have you noticed that the vast majority of ebikes are "recreation-focused?"
I haven't. Not in <=1.5K price range that I'm interested in :).
Also, I strongly suspect that globally, including domestic Asian markets, majority of ebikes are commuters and have hub drives well under 2000W (the latter factor could be explained by rules in many countries). I'm not talking about e-motorcycles or scooter-looking devices with unusable pedals added only to bypass the rules, they are not ebikes.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Let me answer your question with another one (why doesn't Shimano make one?). Why don't all hobby shops work on e-bikes?

Because you do a respectable job in one arena, does not make you an expert in all others. Sometimes you are way further ahead keeping a focus on what you know/do best.... I think Shimano has learned that lesson rather well myself.
Spot on!
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
A question for you. If hub motors are so great, why doesn't Shimano make one?
If SUVs are so great why doesn't Lamborgini make one? Pretty silly huh?

How in the world is Shimano making a hub motor a measure of reliability or good performance? Really? That's rhetorical...

It's pure silliness. Perhaps coming from the world of DIY, custom, and performance eBikes I see it differently.
There's a HUGE market out there that wouldn't give 2 cents for the "innovations" from the makers locking them into an LBS.

Now before we get all twisted, I like ALL eBikes style motors. EACH has a firm place in the market in performance and usefulness. But I'm completely unwilling to make a single manufacturer a deity.

This smacks of making all sorts of divisions and judgements among eBike riders. But, I guess, these days creating divisions and divisiveness are OK.

Come on, do we really need all the complexity of mid drives to have fun and a good riding bike?
(I do customer support for mid-drive kits for a USA reseller of BBSxx series motors)
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Thomas, we are on the same page regarding SO many different issues. Not a "fan boy" here either. I prefer to find out what works and go with that.... -Al
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Thomas, we are on the same page regarding SO many different issues. Not a "fan boy" here either. I prefer to find out what works and go with that.... -Al
I had the opportunity, with two 10T MAC motors, to try a 2WD for a few days. WAY more bike than I ever needed, but it was a beast of a climber and so much torque!! Programming the controller to maximums with just the rear GD made it a wheely monster. (52V 20Ah) Once finished I would class it as an incredible build. I used the wiring scheme I suggested in other threads. Several threads on ES follow builders that used little Aikema 250W-350W GD Hub motors and made for great rides too. All with accessible parts and repairs any moderately capable home mechanic can make. In the end, I have a great MAC rear GD step through. With a 36V 17Ah battery, it's good for nearly 50 miles. It's a flat street bike and one speed. The front will replace a 1000W front DD MXUS. Mxus with Lyen controller and CA3 was simply the most reliable bike of the dozen or more I've kitted. My biggest problem is liking them all...
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
If SUVs are so great why doesn't Lamborgini make one? Pretty silly huh?

How in the world is Shimano making a hub motor a measure of reliability or good performance? Really? That's rhetorical...

It's pure silliness. Perhaps coming from the world of DIY, custom, and performance eBikes I see it differently.
There's a HUGE market out there that wouldn't give 2 cents for the "innovations" from the makers locking them into an LBS.

Now before we get all twisted, I like ALL eBikes style motors. EACH has a firm place in the market in performance and usefulness. But I'm completely unwilling to make a single manufacturer a deity.

This smacks of making all sorts of divisions and judgements among eBike riders. But, I guess, these days creating divisions and divisiveness are OK.

Come on, do we really need all the complexity of mid drives to have fun and a good riding bike?
(I do customer support for mid-drive kits for a USA reseller of BBSxx series motors)
Your comparison suggests that you may have missed my point. Lambo only makes sports cars, so I don't expect them to make an SUV. They're hyper focused, and happy in their niche.

Shimano is the opposite of that, they're a generalist. Your comparison would be apt if Shimano only made, say, road components. But they make road, mountain, touring, kids, BMX, you name it. So that invalidates the comparison to Lambroghini, IMO.

Also different is that Lambo only makes parts for the ultra high end of the market. Shimano in contrast makes components for every price point, from bikes that cost $100 (and even less) to bikes that cost $10,000 (and even more). Shimano even make things they're not stoked on, so long as there's a market demanding it, and I provided examples of that in my previous post. The Canadian MSRPs of Shimano rear derailleurs range from $19 for a basic Tourney, to $850 for a Dura-Ace Di2, for example. And, believe it or not, Shimano makes even lower end rear derailleurs that than that $19 Tourney that are specific to department store bikes! :)

I'm no expert in Shimano's finances, but I'm told that they make more money on the entry-level stuff. So their engineers probably prefer the high-end stuff, but Shimano nonetheless continues to invest in a dizzying array of entry-level product.

If DD hubs are as good a solution as some argue they are, then I'm genuinely surprised that Shimano doesn't appear to be investing in them as a low price-point option to lead into their entry-level mid-drives. That makes me wonder if Shimano knows something that we don't know about their mid-drive road map. Does Shimano anticipate price drops for STePS 5000 that will put pressure on inexpensive hub motors, or even the introduction of a STePS 4000 grade? We've found the entry-level Shimano mid-drive product to be extremely reliable, so perhaps Shimano believes that if they can get the price of quality entry-level mid-drives low enough that the market for entry-level hub motors will be significantly curtailed, and that they intend to do just that? I'm just spit-balling here.

With STePS 5000 and 6100, Shimano has product that goes much lower-spec than either Yamaha or Brose do, and their entry-level options are much more compelling in price-performance than Bosch Active Line. So of the big four, Shimano's shown the keenest interest in investing in the entry-level of the market, yet they're still doing so just with mid-drives. For a company that makes twist shifters despite preferring trigger shifters (as just one example), it's genuinely fascinating and thought-provoking for me that they don't appear to be investing in hub motors if they anticipate hub motors remaining either a better or cheaper solution for a significant portion of the market. That makes me question whether Shimano believes hub motors will retain either advantage.

Mind you, Shimano may announce a bunch of hub motor product tomorrow. So like I say, I find this thought provoking. I feel like some people read more into my comment than was there, and got a bit triggered by it. Maybe I reopened some old wounds. If so, sorry about that! :)

And despite assertions to the contrary, this isn't Shimano fanboyism on my part. My go-to e-bikes for my personal use up until now have had Bosch and Brose motors, and Shimano's done some things that I strongly disagreed with with in the past (don't get me started on Shimano and Chain Reaction!) that have had significant negative effects on my business. But I am open to their product when it's good. So a Shimano fanboy I am *not*. I mention Shimano only because they're clearly the ones interested in the entry level, by doing a wider range of spec than either Yamaha or Brose, and pushing to lower price points than Bosch. So of the big four, Shimano is the only one I expect might be willing to look at hub motors. That's the reason for me calling out Shimano, not fanboyism.

If Shimano came out with a hub motor that was very high quality, had broad parts availability (and a promise that we could service those motors for years into the future), and let us hit attractive price points or bring in consumers who were better served by that product than a mid-drive product, I'd be very excited about that. But thus far Shimano's made no such announcement, despite a history of that kind of behaviour in their other bicycle categories. That's interesting and worthy of further discussion, IMO.
 
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Mass Deduction

Active Member
Let me answer your question with another one (why doesn't Shimano make one?). Why don't all hobby shops work on e-bikes?

Because you do a respectable job in one arena, does not make you an expert in all others. Sometimes you are way further ahead keeping a focus on what you know/do best.... I think Shimano has learned that lesson rather well myself.
Quick question, what bicycle category does Shimano do a narrow focus on? They do the low end and the high end. They do road, mountain, touring, gravel, crosstrail, kids, BMX. Once they enter a market segment they typically work towards dominating every end of it. They may start at just the low-end, or just the mid-range, or just the high-end, but they almost always expand beyond that and try to cover the whole range top to bottom. Shimano parts show up on some of the very cheapest and some of the most expensive bikes in the market.

I think you make a point in that Shimano isn't always first to market. But I think you're mistaken to suggest that Shimano likes to maintain a razor-sharp focus. I think Shimano likes to be a generalist that covers the whole of a market segment top to bottom. They're investing hugely in e-bike components. They started with a mid-range system, then introduced a high-end system, then introduced a refresh to the mid-range system, then introduced an entry-level system, then a cost-reduced version of the high-end system to sit between the mid-range and the high-end. I'd say Shimano is operating from their typical playbook of trying to cover every single possible price point.

And yet no hub motor options to act as an entry level to their mid-drive components. To me this is similar to how Shimano prefers trigger shifters, yet still has both twist shifters and thumb shifters as entry level options to lead into their trigger shifters. Shimano's engineers may prefer mid-drives, but I don't see that stopping Shimano from also investing in hub motors to cover the ultra low end of the market if they see hub motors being the only way (or the best way) to do that. And Shimano almost always wants to cover the entry level of any market segment they enter. Shimano makes 7-speed ultra-low end modern road bike integrated brake/shift levers for drop-bars for goodness sake! No road enthusiast would be seen dead with those shifters on their bike, but that doesn't stop Shimano from also making super high-end road components that show up on Tour de France bikes.

So no, I don't see Shimano as being a company that is happy staying in a niche they know well, not at all. To suggest otherwise is categorically and demonstrably incorrect, IMO. They do sometimes ignore an entire market segment (they don't choose to make bicycle seats for example), but once they embrace a market segment they typically try to cover *every* price point in that segment, even if that means releasing products that they have no passion for.
 
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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Mass,

Re:"But I am open to their product when it's good. "

We all are.

I have to say though, when/if a new well made Shimano hub drive becomes available, I'm surely going to want to know more about it. The fact it's made by somebody with a great reputation will be worth some points, but the drive will have to stand up favorably against known suppliers to be of much more interest than that. "Show me the beef"! -Al
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Mass,

Re:"But I am open to their product when it's good. "

We all are.

I have to say though, when/if a new well made Shimano hub drive becomes available, I'm surely going to want to know more about it. The fact it's made by somebody with a great reputation will be worth some points, but the drive will have to stand up favorably against known suppliers to be of much more interest than that. "Show me the beef"! -Al
For sure! And thank you for a reply that addresses the substance of my comment.

I'd be excited to offer quality hub drive e-bikes if they were offered by a company that had a history of supporting what they sell, and hit price points that our mid-drives weren't (or otherwise had some kind of advantage over what we're currently offering).

Of the big four, Shimano is the only one who I think might consider a hub motor product. Shimano clearly has a keener interest in the entry level than the other three, and a history of trying to dominate every facet of a product segment they enter. Those factors would suggest that they would also be looking at hub motors if they felt hub motors were going to retain a pricing advantage on the low end.

And maybe they are! That's my point, maybe they're going to announce something tomorrow! I don't know! And if they're not, given their typical modus operandi, why not? Let's discuss and speculate rationally, rather than call each other fanboys.