Trace EXC First 300 miles - initial thoughts

raj

New Member
I got my Trace EXC about three weeks ago. I've been riding it all over Pasadena and neighboring towns here in SoCal. I LOVE my bike. It's made me realize what a revolution electric bikes represent for daily commuting and activities. I can do a 6-10 mile ride to work at at least twice the speed of manual biking, and I don't need a shower when I arrive. This is especially exciting in a city like LA where the subway is just too far away to walk or bus (driving to the subway defeats the purpose for me).

Initial thoughts, in no particular order:

- Was initially concerned about the knobby mountain bike tires on the Trace. A bike store sales person commented that it's more of a hybrid mountain bike vs. a hybrid road bike. But it works really well for riding over rough roads and sidewalk.

- Really like having throttle mode. Had a little accident last week and broke my chain and rear derailleur . I was able to use throttle mode to get to a bike shop.

- Bike is well balanced. Battery is in a good position.

- Bike is heavy but not too bad. I can comfortably ride it manually when I want a little workout.

- I don't mind having to turn on the switch on the battery and then on the control pad.

- It goes FAST, at least on flat terrain. I can easily get up to 20+ mph on pedal assist level 1.

- The disk brakes are a little weak. For how fast this bike goes, would really like more stopping power. A bike shop mechanic suggested that hydraulic brakes may give more stopping power.

- The rear tire hub motor is NOT made for hills. I know this has been noted on this site before, but it's worth repeating. If you live in SF and are climbing hills all the time, maybe go for a bike that has a pedal motor.

- I wish there was more of a differentiation between the different pedal assist settings. There's definitely a difference between levels 1 and 4, but not very much from 1-3 or 1-2. I wish level 1 was just enough power to offset the incremental weight of the bike.

- Range estimator is generally pretty good but as one would expect, quickly becomes inaccurate on1 hills.

Raj
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Good info, Raj! Got a picture to go with it? Cool thing with an ebike is that the bike parts are easy to change or upgrade. You can talk to your local bike shop about changing out the tires if you get tired of the knobbies or want a more durable tread and ask them about a different type of disk brake compound; that might help you stop better. Also, learn how to do a simple adjustment on the brakes; cables stretch when they're new so the brakes can feel mushy.
 

raj

New Member
Thanks for the kind words. I'll take a pic when I have a chance. It is nice that ebikes use standard components. I've taken my bike to the same local bike shops that I take my regular bike. I'm still new to disc brakes so I had the bike shop adjust the brakes for me.
 

CJDub

New Member
Nice review Raj. I've had my Trace EXC for 3 weeks now. Its really fun to ride. I concur with several of the points you made. Knobby tires aren't bad. And yes, it does go fast! Very happy with it so far.

I bought the Topeak bike rack which works well. Ordered the trunk bag for it today.

REI now has the bike on sale for $2123. Seems like a very good deal. Plus you get the members 10% dividend.
 

BillTex

New Member
Yeah Performance had this on sale for 1499. I ordered it, cancelled it, ordered a Hub/Battery conversion, cancelled that, then re-ordered the Trace EXC. Buyer's remorse, redoux.

Now I have 400+ miles on this bike. I ride to work, 15 miles round-trip. That's about the limit at power level 3 (plus 1 mile sprint power level 4). I am in Plano, TX and it's pretty flat.

It is just ... fun. I like the way it makes me feel like I am Steve Austin ($6m dollar man for $1.5k; a good deal! Showing my age). Pedal assist is the key -- it is very fluid assist to your normal cycling effort. I am sure I would be disappointed with at throttle-only solution -- I never use the throttle.

The Plus - I was able to put a a rack and a front fender on, no problem. This is key for me commuting -- not that I want to ride in the rain, but there's irrigation that wets the road. Also I carry my gear.

Can't say it's sweat free when it's 80 degrees in the morning, but approaching it this fall.

The minus -- the rear hub died after the first week. I mightily resisted the urge to punt (since this makes no sense economically) but held on for the ... fun.

The other minus, the rear wheel spokes are creaking (becoming loose). Performance Bike adjusted once, but after 2 weeks it's back. It's like this thing is assembled from bike components, but they really need to reinforce the back wheel. If it's promoted as a commuter bike, it should be able to handle the pounding. I stick to the pavement. The odd thing is if you read the manual, it says it's only good for total user/cargo/bike weight up to bike + 170 lbs. Well I weigh 210, and I usually have 5lb of laptop and lunch. But who weights 160?

One more minus -- the strain relief on the charger has "let go" exposing the green/black/white wires. Just kind of cheap. An if you want another charger from Currie, it's $150.

OK this review is long. Thanks for hanging on. I really like riding this bike. I can go on power level 3 and go about 25 mph, which is about the limit at which the bike starts to feel kind of squirrelly and frankly it feels like I am overrunning the brakes. I ride it on store errands on the weekends (Home Depot, etc) and it just about eliminates the need for an extra car (we have 5 cars since I have 3 kids that drive!)

That was my real goal, to displace 1 auto. I have to continue this experiment. But it hasn't rained since I got the bike, and that's the real litmus test. And let's wait for winter!

At 1499 it is a great value, but if I had it to do over again, I would look for a bike purpose-built to be electric, rather than a bike retrofitted to be electric.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
The one part they definitely were building for an electric bike is the wheel with the motor. And that is what is failing. What you want is to make sure they give you a sound wheel, not a wheel that is likely to start breaking spokes.

I don't understand this bike. The specs show it with Shimano hydraulics (in a lot of places), but I don't see them. It is a basic Diamondback hybrid with a motor, I guess. Many of us build low cost Bikes Direct bikes into ebikes with very few problems, though the wheels are a weak point.

I just think you need a new wheel. You are locked into a giant corporate bike company. The price of the charger, and the goofball marketing, seems to be a part of that. You might find a charger on Ebay, but it would depend on matching plugs. These are all basically cheapo Chinese chargers.

You can probably make the bike work. Be careful with the wires and try to reinforce them. If you can get them all separate and secure, and then maybe run loops of electrical tape around the charger to hold the wires securely, something like that.

Ebikes are basically great, so do what you have to do.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Bill Tex, that charger should still be under warranty. You do have to be careful about not pulling the charger out of the port by the wire, use the reinforced part. Without seeing the lacing on that motor, it should've been built with a 13 gauge spoke, plenty heavy duty for an ebike; however, the rims can be an issue. We use a little thread locker (not permanent) when hub motors come in to our shop for work, it helps to keep the spokes from unthreading from the nipples. If the spokes are good quality they should hold.

Wheels that are built too tight are more likely to break spokes and bigger riders or someone carrying a lot of stuff on a rack put more stress on a rear hub motor wheel. It helps to sit up off the seat with potholes and going over curbs; no bike is built to be constantly slammed. Maybe the info in the owner's manual is a typo; having sold a lot of ebikes I've generally seen ratings for total weight capacity in the 220 to 250 range. What you mention sounds a little more like the way that most manufacturers rate average range and speed, using flat ground and a 160 or 170lb rider just for standardized description, but not the carrying capacity.

Don't give up! It's a real bummer that the motor died right away but Currie Tech is pretty good at handling warranty issues and you have the right idea for what an ebike can be good for :)
 

Jaime B

New Member
I hope many other Trace EXC owners can share their experiences so we can all learn from each other. I've owned the Trace EXC now for 3 months; I've put 800 miles on it. Unfortunately I'm having a lot of trouble with the pedal assist going out, throttle works just fine, but pedal assist is where you can get the speeds of 20+. I've tried Currie's trouble shooting guide and sent it to a service provider on their website; unfortunately that process took 2 weeks and didn't seem to fix it. I've spent the last 2 weeks riding in diagnostic mode to get more data for Performance and Currie; and there are some interesting observations. I can usually get the pedal assist to work again if I do a quick crank rotation backwards. It still kicks off about 2 times every 5 miles so I'm still working with Performance and Currie on a long term solution- stay tuned.

Otherwise the bike is very zippy as others have mentioned. My range isn't has far as I had hoped but I live in San Francisco and hills likely eat into the range.I bought a second battery to improve the distance/speed. I have a 21 mile commute and I can do it on one battery at the lowest setting; with 2 batteries I can power up for 75% of the ride. This bike was a proof of principle bike for me to see if I could commute regularly with it and it has almost proven it. It isn't a bad deal at $1199, $1499 or even $2499; but I may go to a more reliable eBike (or upgrade my electronics) for the future.
 

raj

New Member
I can see the point that retrofitting a standard bike platform with e-bike components may not get you the best ebike. If I were paying full price, maybe I'd have just bit the bullet and spent the extra money for a specialized.

BillTex - sorry to hear about your charger and wheel issues. Those have got to be covered by warranty. I haven't had either issue in 300 miles yet.

The only problem I'm having is that the mechanical disc brakes (definitely not hydraulic) keep coming loose. I've had them adjusted twice in two weeks. The rear brakes in particular seem to come loose within 50 miles of adjustment. That's definitely going to be my first upgrade.

Raj
 

raj

New Member
I decided to replace the brakes on the Trace EXC. I went to two bike shops and got quotes to install Shimano Deore XT hydraulic brakes. Both quoted $450-500 ($350 for parts, $150 for installation).
 

BillTex

New Member
Update - I have 1600 miles and it is still fun to ride. Most weeks I ride 4 days to work. I did break some spokes and had to get the rear wheel trued. I also replaced the front and rear brake pads. Makes sense, this bike taxes the brakes stopping from 20 + MPH.

I have shifted riding style to less assist except for windy days. So I stay in L2 most times and go about 20-23 MPH. What's the rush? I'm more content with extra range. But in a 20 MPH headwind, it's bliss to add more assist!

The rear tire is also worn. I haven't ridden a bike this much before, so didn't know what to expect in terms of brakes/tires wearing out. It makes one appreciate how maintenance free, relatively speaking, cars are. Of course bike parts are pretty cheap :)
 

LarryT

New Member
I hope many other Trace EXC owners can share their experiences so we can all learn from each other. I've owned the Trace EXC now for 3 months; I've put 800 miles on it. Unfortunately I'm having a lot of trouble with the pedal assist going out, throttle works just fine, but pedal assist is where you can get the speeds of 20+. I've tried Currie's trouble shooting guide and sent it to a service provider on their website; unfortunately that process took 2 weeks and didn't seem to fix it. I've spent the last 2 weeks riding in diagnostic mode to get more data for Performance and Currie; and there are some interesting observations. I can usually get the pedal assist to work again if I do a quick crank rotation backwards. It still kicks off about 2 times every 5 miles so I'm still working with Performance and Currie on a long term solution- stay tuned.

Otherwise the bike is very zippy as others have mentioned. My range isn't has far as I had hoped but I live in San Francisco and hills likely eat into the range.I bought a second battery to improve the distance/speed. I have a 21 mile commute and I can do it on one battery at the lowest setting; with 2 batteries I can power up for 75% of the ride. This bike was a proof of principle bike for me to see if I could commute regularly with it and it has almost proven it. It isn't a bad deal at $1199, $1499 or even $2499; but I may go to a more reliable eBike (or upgrade my electronics) for the future.
 

LarryT

New Member
I have a Trace Exc that I have owned for 8 months. I have similar problems with pedal assist. At times the pedal assist works fine
in all four levels of pedal assist. Other times the pedal assist goes out at 20 mph in level 1, 2, 3. In level 4, the assist will push me up to
nearly 30 mph on flat ground. I contacted Curie customer service about this problem. They told me to have the bike checked by a
dealer to be sure the bike actually has a problem. I have not done this yet. I am satisfied with the bike when it is working right, but
it is frustrating when the assist cuts off at 20 mph.
 

Bill R

New Member
I have a Trace Exc that I have owned for 8 months. I have similar problems with pedal assist. At times the pedal assist works fine
in all four levels of pedal assist. Other times the pedal assist goes out at 20 mph in level 1, 2, 3. In level 4, the assist will push me up to
nearly 30 mph on flat ground. I contacted Curie customer service about this problem. They told me to have the bike checked by a
dealer to be sure the bike actually has a problem. I have not done this yet. I am satisfied with the bike when it is working right, but
it is frustrating when the assist cuts off at 20 mph.
I had this on both Trace Exc and E3 Dash it was BB sensor ( bottom bracket torque sensor) on both. The tech said on the Trace Exc wires were shorting as reason why it worked OK sometimes but not other times
you can self diagnose with Onboard Diagnostic
https://sites.google.com/a/currietech.com/help/home
 

Jan

Member
I have a Diamondback Overdrive Exec. Got the Performance deal. Unfortunately, the "Spin Doctors" at Performance won't work on it, as they "don't fix electric bikes." I also noticed that they parted ways with all but one Ebike company. Too bad. I really liked going to Performance Bikes, but I especially love my Overdrive Exec. It just had it's one-year birthday, so I took it to the shop for a well overdue bath.

When I ride this bike, I have a tendency to uncontrollably yell out things, like "I LOVE YOU BIKE". Does anyone else do this? If not, just lie to me so I don't feel so self conscious. I now have 2500 miles on the bike and it's not my only E-bike. Recently the pedal assist button went out. If I put it in level 1, it sometimes does not go to higher levels. So I've been leaving it in level 2 and it goes higher. Currier has sent the part to the bike shop and it's just a matter of me taking it in. The battery life has gone down significantly and the plug end (metal part) on the charger is missing one screw. But other than that it is going strong. I recently bought a Haibike. It is a speed pedalec so it does go the 28mph. When I compare it to the Diamondback, I must say the torque is better on the Diamondback and it's nice to have the throttle when you go from a stop in high gear. The Haibike is way more solid, in terms of shifting. That was another drawback with the Diamondback: When you shift it, you sort of have to be gentle and pray the chain finds it's way. When I'm in level 4 and I'm in the highest gear, the chain always throws off the front ring. I believe a chain stay will solve the problem, but I haven't got around to putting one on. . . I just carry a rag. When the chain throws, I put it back on and wipe my hands. . . . am I lazy or what?
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
@Jan, naw you're not lazy; that gear configuration of smallest cog + large front chain ring can be more vulnerable to a chain jumping. Think all you need to solve that is a good adjustment of the limiter screws for the derailleur. It's not hard to do and not an uncommon problem on a new bike where all of the cables are stretching a bit with the first miles. A bash guard or chain guard will help prevent the thrown chain too.

A little secret between the two of us...I like to name my bikes. Each time my road racing bike was rebuilt and the frame painted it just seemed that the bike's personality was a little different, so time for a new name :rolleyes:
 
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Jan

Member
Thanks so much. Great advice. Thanks for sharing on the name thing. I thought I was the only one that did that. I feel so much better.
 

Roseville

New Member
I purchased my 2016 Trace EXC from REI for $1800 and it looks like Diamondback is out of the ebike business. I went back and forth and several models and went with REI because of their return policy.

I have concerns about REI's commitment to ebikes because to get support has not been 100 percent smooth. I can read manuals and don't like manuals read to me.

This is what I found: I can get up to 20mph in level 1 on the flats of Roseville, CA, then, as I go over a bit over 2o, it feels like the brakes are being applied or some governor is being operated. When, I moved to level 4, the pulling action went away. The fastest I've been is about 22mph.

Disappointed there is no easy place for a bottle cage - a design hiccup.

In early October I plan to test the bike on some fire roads in the Eastern Sierras.

Question for the group: what is the farthest you've traveled on battery?

Good riding.

Dave
 

Bill R

New Member
I purchased my 2016 Trace EXC from REI for $1800 and it looks like Diamondback is out of the ebike business. I went back and forth and several models and went with REI because of their return policy.

I have concerns about REI's commitment to ebikes because to get support has not been 100 percent smooth. I can read manuals and don't like manuals read to me.

This is what I found: I can get up to 20mph in level 1 on the flats of Roseville, CA, then, as I go over a bit over 2o, it feels like the brakes are being applied or some governor is being operated. When, I moved to level 4, the pulling action went away. The fastest I've been is about 22mph.

Disappointed there is no easy place for a bottle cage - a design hiccup.

In early October I plan to test the bike on some fire roads in the Eastern Sierras.

Question for the group: what is the farthest you've traveled on battery?

Good riding.

Dave
I have traveled about 30 miles never tried to push the battery to max as most of my trips are 15 miles or less. Got it going 30+mph today on way home from work on a flat road. I now have 1800 miles on the Trace Exec. let us know how it goes in the Sierras