Serious commuter - time to go electric??

Tommy

New Member
Hi guys,
I'm new to the forum and have read a few threads, I'm hopeful you can help as I can tell this is a knowledgeable crew.

I'm 39 and a ride to work every day, I have done for 15 years. I have a few bikes but I commute on a Long Haul Trucker. I ride anywhere between 20 miles a day to 40 miles depending on the office I go to. I'm about to move company and my new commute will be about 54 miles round trip. I love riding and will also go out at the weekend and do 30-70 miles. But I've got kids and a busy job, so I also want to get home and to work in a timely manner.

So I'm thinking an ebike might help this 54 mile round trip feel like 40 miles (or less). I've read up on Stromer (great article Gus), specialized turbo, simbb, pioneer or adding a bionx. The simbb looks perfect, but doesn't appear to in market yet and is pretty expensive.

I want a bike that feels like a bike (I like the hard work) and that still allows me to feel like I am riding. I can currently hit about 18 mph average so a bike that has a limit of 20mph seems pointless (or maybe not) because of the small gain.

My budget is about $3k.

What do you advise?

Many thanks all.

Tommy
LHT
giant tcr
Rock hopper
& more
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Tommy, welcome to the forums. Great question, I can tell you've done your research and with a commute of 50+ miles and preference for pedaling and getting a workout I would not recommend a throttle only ebike like the SIMBB (although I do love the design and keep asking Optibike to consider adding assist).

With your budget of ~$3,000 I have a few recommendations. Each of these bikes offers pedal assist, commuting features to deal with rain, darkness and storage and they are all high quality builds. I think any one of these could satisfy your commuting needs and I'd be happy to expand further or answer any questions you've got as well as point out dealers who can get you the bikes. To really zoom in, it would be nice to know your height and weight range as well.
  • The Kalkhoff electric bikes are amazing, fully featured and refined with German engineering. The Pro Connect S27 and S10 would be awesome for you because they offer 350 watt mid-drive motors and 25+ miles per hour... but they are about $1K north of your budget. It is nice that these bikes come in multiple frame sizes, most of the bikes from here down do not.
  • Most of the Kalkhoff ebikes would be good for you given the mid-drive (easy to service wheels/tires, good balance, lights etc.) but the only one that is really in your range is the Pro Connect C8 and it has eight gears which I think is enough but it may depend on your riding style.
  • As Brambor suggested, the Motiv Shadow could be a good option (and is priced well for you at $2.5K) but may be shorter than you'd like depending on how tall you are. It has mounting points for fenders, racks etc. but those will cost extra.
  • The new IZIP E3 Dash has been popular with many members of the forum and offers both pedal assist and throttle mode with a powerful and smooth 500 watt motor with torque sensing. This bike has a shock and mounting points for fenders etc. but again, you'll need to buy them. The Dash retails for ~$2,600 and is just hitting stores now.
  • I'm a huge fan of the Easy Motion Neo series and they offer the Neo City and Neo Cross which could work for you and are under $3K. The City has all of the fenders, lights racks etc. including a suspension fork for comfort. They both offer pedal assist and throttle mode but won't go quite as far as the Kalkhoff ebikes. You'll just have to charge the battery in your office... The 2014 models offer a larger 12 amp hour battery so check on that if/when you buy this bike. The other cool thing about these two is that they're available in Medium and Large frame sizes!
  • Currie has one more budget commuter bike called the IZIP E3 Path that is affordable and good for pedaling. The high-mounted battery pack isn't my favorite but I do like the fenders etc. The 2014 model is out but I haven't reviewed it yet, just check their site.
  • One more option is the Pedego City Commuter which rides more like a cruiser with larger tires and a solid frame. It also has the rear mounted battery but offers assist, throttle and some nice lights, fenders, rack etc. and Pedego has a great network of dealers and support.
While the Specialized Turbo, Stromer and Optibikes are all cool, they are out of your price range (especially with city kits). The Optibikes are mostly all throttle and the mid-drive on the Pioneer Allroad takes some getting used to and is a bit louder (I prefer hub motors for commuting/touring). The Stromer and Specialized are heavy and stand out a lot (but are cool) and I like their thru axle design but they just seem sportier than you need. I would suggest buying a pre-built BionX bike if you go that route, there are some nice cargo models out there like the Xtracycle EdgeRunner but it's hard to find.

You can see all of the city and urban commuting style electric bikes I've reviewed in this section of the site. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on all of this and try to narrow down the list ;)
 

Dave

Active Member
Hi Tommy, welcome. All of the above bikes are great choices. I would also consider the Volton Alation 500. The 2014 models will be shipping any day and the review Court did is very positive. The Alation 500 can top 20 mph, and uses a powerful 500 watt geared hub motor for excellent hill climbing.
 
That Long Haul Trucker is fantastic. Are you thinking of converting it? Bionx conversions are great for maintaining the bike-like feel, but your speed isn't going to increase too much.

As a serious rider, you're going to want to stay away from throttles (like Court said about the SIMMB). Even a cadence sensor might feel too unnatural for someone with your kind of experience.

All the stuff above is great. One more option I would mention is the NEO Race. That bike is a cyclist's commuter and it's at the price point you want. You'll be cruising nicely between 20-24 mph. Just be sure to grab a second charger.

Oh, and you might want to add drop handlebars. :)
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
I agree with many of the suggestions above. We love Surly bikes too! We actually did a Disc Trucker conversion with a 500W falco motor and it's one of the fastest bikes in the shop. I can hit 35mph on it and easily maintain a speed of 30mph. I added a pic below.

surly-disc-trucker-falco-ebike-conversion.jpg

Given your riding style I feel like you might prefer a mid-drive, especially with the distance you are riding. I mean you could charge the battery at the office, which most bikes listed will require given the general range. I know some of the Kalkhoff and Focus bikes are a bit pricy, but I think they might be just what you're looking for. We might have some 2013 models available that we can work out a deal if you're interested.

Certainly whatever you get I think you'll want pedal assist as the throttle is nice for certain situations, but I feel an avid rider like yourself will appreciate the experience pedal assist has to offer especially on some of the more refined brands.
 

Tommy

New Member
Gents,
A big thanks for the replies.
Chris - that trucker looks awesome!! Wow. I think that is what I want and need. Is that for sale? It looks like a 54cm, perfect for me. I forgot to add I am 5'8" and 145lbs of sheer rib cage. How can I contact you about a possible deal?

Court - great write up, thanks for taking the time to summarise your thoughts. The Kalkhoff had not really been a consideration, but might be, although it is pricy! It does look solid.

I had not mentioned the Neo Race in my question, but I had given it a lot of thought already.

So based on this feedback I am looking at -

1. Chris's trucker disc (wow)
2. Neo race - but 20 mph top speed is poor, does it really cut out?
3. Kalkhoff - but very expensive
4. Stromer st1. But very expensive
5. Fitting my own LHT out with a bionx or falco (but it must be faster than 20mph to be viable)

I really liked the SIMBB but have been put off a little by how it's features don't marry well with my needs.

Still thinking, input warmly welcome....

Tommy
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
Tommy,

It's a 58, but we could build out a 56 in Maroon if you want. We could have it ready by the end of the week. Give me a call at 631-306-4542 and we can figure something out. You can really call me anytime as my shop phone rings on my cell.

Best,
Chris
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Tommy,
Chris is a great guy. You will be worry-free for most part.
I have been noticing his dedication for the last 4 months and he puts sincere effort into understanding the product, technology and helping out others with very good decisions (read all of his posts here and other forums like Endless Sphere).

Great modification Chris,
Keep us updated of the latest and best that you find in the market.
Just curious to know, how easy it is install a Falco motor onto a normal MTB? just like BionX?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Neo race - but 20 mph top speed is poor, does it really cut out?
Hey Tommy, to answer your question about the Neo Race (and all other Easy Motion Neo bikes)... NO, it does not cut out. They can go 25+ miles per hour in pedal assist mode as long as you contribute pedal power. The throttle mode does cut out at 20mph (federal law based on classification as a bike for no license or insurance requirement). Defined below, from Wikipedia but sourced from the law:

In conformance with legislation adopted by the U.S. Congress defining this category of electric-power bicycle (15 U.S.C. 2085(b)), CPSC rules stipulate that low speed electric bicycles (to include two- and three-wheel vehicles) are exempt from classification as motor vehicles providing they have fully operable pedals, an electric motor of less than 750W (1 hp), and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) when operated by a rider weighing 170 pounds. An electric bike remaining within these specifications will be regarded simply as a bicycle for purposes of federal law.
Easy Motion has been sort of delicate with presenting their higher speeds and I think it's based on the same power used to reach 20mph in throttle only mode but they unlock the speed limiter when you use pedal assist. It's not as strong as the IZIP E3 Dash or Specialized Turbo but I've gotten mine up to 28 miles per hour before on the flats and it feels great. I think they just want to be careful here and stay within the law.
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
Tommy,
Chris is a great guy. You will be worry-free for most part.
I have been noticing his dedication for the last 4 months and he puts sincere effort into understanding the product, technology and helping out others with very good decisions (read all of his posts here and other forums like Endless Sphere).

Great modification Chris,
Keep us updated of the latest and best that you find in the market.
Just curious to know, how easy it is install a Falco motor onto a normal MTB? just like BionX?
Thanks for your kind words Ravi, installing a Falco motor is pretty straight forward, pretty similar to Bionx. It uses a wireless console so it's actually a bit easier to install.

Below is a video by the UK distributors Team Hybrid showing all of the configuration parameters. This will all be configurable through an iPhone and Android app soon. Rakesh the founder of Falco is developing some really ground breaking technology.

 

Tommy

New Member
Chris called me last night and spent 30 mins taking me through things. So based on that we have three options we are exploring -

1. Getting a Trucker Disc with a falco motor.
2. Focus aventura bs10. I know less about this model, but I know the make and it looks awesome. Chris is doing some research for me.
3. Neo cross/xtreme/race. I have about 4 miles of Stoney trails (which a race bike could handle) but the cross or xtreme might be better on.

The neo's are much cheaper, and I may be forced to go with them, which is not a bad compromise.

Tommy
 

Tommy

New Member
Hey Tommy, to answer your question about the Neo Race (and all other Easy Motion Neo bikes)... NO, it does not cut out. They can go 25+ miles per hour in pedal assist mode as long as you contribute pedal power. The throttle mode does cut out at 20mph (federal law based on classification as a bike for no license or insurance requirement). Defined below, from Wikipedia but sourced from the law:



Easy Motion has been sort of delicate with presenting their higher speeds and I think it's based on the same power used to reach 20mph in throttle only mode but they unlock the speed limiter when you use pedal assist. It's not as strong as the IZIP E3 Dash or Specialized Turbo but I've gotten mine up to 28 miles per hour before on the flats and it feels great. I think they just want to be careful here and stay within the law.
28 mph - that's what I need! Thanks Court
 

Dave

Active Member
Tommy, you have several Neo owners in the forum, myself & Magmir with the Neo Carbon, Ravi with the Neo Jumper, Eddie with the Neo Extreme, just to name a few. Any of us would be glad to share both good and not so good points about the Neo series, feel free to ask away.
 

Tommy

New Member
Thanks Dave,
This is great.
Each of you Neo owners, can you tell me please -
  1. How tall are you (I'm 5'8" and was a little concerned with the stock 19" frame, I normally ride a 17")
  2. How you find the frame, both fit and aggressiveness?
  3. How fast can you comfortability pedal at?
  4. What range have you managed to achieve?
Thanks
Tommy
 

Dave

Active Member
Tommy,
I am just under 6'.0 ft. and find the Carbon a good fit. I think Court is around your height, and he seemed O.K. in the Carbon review. The frame rides really nice, of course it is carbon, very maneuverable and lightweight feeling. It is not as stiff a ride as I had thought, I think the front suspension fork does help quite a bit in that regard. Also, the tires are thin, ( 700x32c ) but not as thin as the Neo Race I would call the ride semi-agressive. It is a forward leaning frame, but not near as much as a true, full blown road bike.

The bike has 4 levels of pedal assist. So far I have spent most of my time in the first level, Eco mode. It has so much torque off the line that I rarely use levels 2-4. In Eco I normally cruise along at 15-18mph. The few times I have kicked it up to boost mode, the highest level, I was in the upper 20's in no time. If I were going to do commuting on the Carbon I think I could use Standard mode, (2and level ) for best speed/range, and probably be doing 20mph plus easily with good battery range. The weather here in upstate NY has been too cold to do much riding but I have gone about 20 miles on a little over half charge.

The one thing I wish Easy Motion would have done is make the battery re-chargable on the bike. It's a little tricky at first, to take it on and off each time. Hopefully other Neo owners will chime in with their thoughts.
 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Tommy,

I owned the Neo Jumper for a year and used it primarily for commuting to and from work each day and some mid-level off road riding in Austin, TX around the Greenbelt. Here's a video showing my daily ride. Note that I chose this model because I have some back and neck issues that flare up with bumps jolts associated with road biking etc.


To answer the questions you've set out:
  1. I'm 5'9" and chose the Medium sized frame... because that's the only size it comes in. And it worked great :)
  2. It seems like all of these bikes (cross, carbon, jumper) use the same stem and have a more aggressive reach which feels good for pedaling, with the suspension my shoulders and neck felt better going over bumps.
  3. I usually pedaled around 25 miles per hour when the street or trail was open, I chose to go slower many times due to traffic or trail conditions so I wouldn't hit anyone or slide out when it rained.
  4. I never completely ran my battery down, actually rarely got to half full. My commute was ~6 miles round trip and I did not charge at the office. Oftentimes after work I would cruise downtown or visit friends. I'm only ~140lbs so that plays a role and I almost always used assist in eco or standard but I'm sure I could have gotten 25+ even on boost mode.
 

Tommy

New Member
Court, Dave,

Thanks for the specifics. I'm working with Chris offline to get a deal, I can't help think the easy motion road/carbon/cross is/are the answer.

Again - huge thanks gents

Tommy
 

FitzChivalry

Active Member
I'm a little late to the conversation, but I'd like to point out that I'm doing a 42-mile round trip commute with my Pedego City Commuter, and am loving it. I'm 5'7" but a bit stockier at 172. I've noticed a definite increase in muscle mass in the short few weeks I've been riding, plus an increased appetite, and a continued decline in total weight. So, I know I'm still getting a workout with the bike. On top of that, the Pedego offers an override to the 20MPH limit; engaging the override will continue to assist up to 25MPH. Keep in mind this may violate state/local ordinances, so you do so at your own risk. I haven't chosen to use that feature, as the time my trip takes is short enough for me. I spend 90 minutes each way, but it seriously feels like about 30 minutes! I'm having a blast.
 

Tommy

New Member
OK Team,
thanks for all the guidance, I've sucked it all in, completed my research and chosen a bike ( from http://longislandelectricbikes.com/ ). I have choosen a Trucker Disc with a Falco 500w motor. Very similar to the picture above. I'll receive the bike in about 2 weeks and promise to provide a full report to the group.

Thank guys

Tommy