what I've learned after 500 miles

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I just passed 500 miles on my e-bike. About 80 percent of the distance was going to town to hit the post office and grocery store. The rest has been a few tours of varying length.

(1) At the lowest levels of pedal assist you are barely compensating for a much heavier bike with higher rolling resistance as opposed to a decent road bike.

(2) At speeds over 20mph you are using your battery to push air around. At full power pedal assist and pedaling hard it is pretty easy to go 24-26mph on the flats.

(3) There is a sweet spot around 15mph where you can cruise along nicely and get great range.

(4) Elevation gain kills. I can barely make fifteen miles (48v 15ah battery) on a long 3800 foot climb. I suspect the bike could easily cover sixty or seventy miles on the flats.

(5) You want goggles. And gloves.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I just passed 500 miles on my e-bike. About 80 percent of the distance was going to town to hit the post office and grocery store. The rest has been a few tours of varying length.

(1) At the lowest levels of pedal assist you are barely compensating for a much heavier bike with higher rolling resistance as opposed to a decent road bike...

I had been giving #1 some thought lately since I have a couple of road bike commuters who pass me on my way to work. I'm usually around 17-20 mph in that particular stretch where I encounter them. So my initial thought when these guys were dusting me every morning was: "I should have just taken the time to get in better shape and commuted on my street bike (city commuter not really a road bike)". But then I watch them as they look like rodeo riders traveling over our really crappy, pothole infested roads (while I'm nice and comfy with my Super Moto-X tires) and it reminds me that there is a lot more to the equation than speed when the commute is around 35 miles over tough terrain. So I'd probably agree with #1 but depending on the bike, tires, suspension etc the heavier bike on the lowest level of assist can get you a long ways with much less pain and suffering.
 

JayVee

Well-Known Member
Yup, elevation gain does kill battery. I can confirm that. Doubt my 500Wh battery could climb more than 15 miles constantly going up hill. I have 2.5 miles to climb each morning (elevation gain ~ 500 feet) and it chews anywhere from 15 to 20% of the battery depending on wind, heat etc. After that I have rolling hills with turning winds, which is even trickier. Flags are your best friend... I feel I could get more out of the battery if there were more intermediate assist levels. There's a pretty sizable difference between ECO and Standard mode due to regional profiling, but that's a discussion for another thread.
 

Mr. B

New Member
I've been commuting daily for about a month and a half. At 670mi my chain failed the stretch test, so new chain. Battery (500) has worked out well for my 12 mi, approx 1000 ft of climb each way, leaving me about 1 and a half out of 5 bars left. Recharging shows anywhere from 370 to 430 w used. Wind definitly uses more battery due to the upright position of my bike. I find it less draining to take the hills than the headwind. I agree with the eco level barely getting rid of the bike weight, though I do use it during my rides. Gloves, yes. Goggles, glasses seem to do. But I'm really noticing the wind noise during my headwinds home.
 

emco5

Active Member
After 500 miles with power assist, what I learned is that self restraint is necessary. With un-assisted pedal bikes it took ‘x’ amount of applied effort to climb the hills on my route. When I started riding eBikes it was a nearly effortless joy ride. The downside to all that ‘easy’, though, is muscle atrophy. It didn’t take long before the effort to climb with an eBike began to feel like I was working, again. As well, the level of atrophy seems to be proportional to the watts/power of the system. So, to keep from back sliding too much I now ration the amount of power applied to keep my legs strong.

Battery drain on hills and when riding against the wind is increased because the motor draws more juice under load. It can be reduced a bit by downshifting and letting the motor spin easier. You’ll go slower and work more, but you can go farther.
 

RoadWrinkle

Active Member
I now ration the amount of power applied to keep my legs strong.
Perfect argument for throttled systems where you can control how much or how little your motor helps you. I pedal as much and as hard as I want by just modulating my use of the throttle to keep the level of human effort required right where I want it, with no PAS task master. If your legs atrophy your not modulating your use of e-power.
 

emco5

Active Member
Perfect argument for throttled systems where you can control how much or how little your motor helps you.

Three of my previous eBikes had throttles. They allowed me to pedal manually and just use boost on hills or whenever I felt the need. The throttle gave me variable power feed in any gear. My present bike has a torque-sensing PAS system. With the press of a button on the bars I can turn the motor Off and ride manually, and then back On whenever there is a climb. Although the motor has three button-activated preset levels of boost [70%, 150% or 230%], the intensity of assist [or work] at any level is regulated by the amount of physical force I apply to the pedals, and my gear selection. A rider can be just as fit or lazy with either PAS or throttle.
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
I've been commuting the 13 miles round-trip to work since Sept/2016 and have around 2000 miles on my Radrover fat tire bike. Things I've learned are:

- head wind can be as bad and most of the time worst than inclines on speed and battery power. I will sometimes skip e-biking if winds are +20 mph with gusts +25 mph.

- rest days at 51 yrs old, I need to rest my muscles (and right knee) at least one day during the week. Usually try and ebike commute at least 3 days; but, no-more than 4 per week.

- take detours to explore and wave or nod to other bike commuters. Bikers in the open air don't have the same isolation of driving in a shell or the 0-100 mph instant road rage like people in vehicle seem to get. Never encountered an biker that was upset for any reason (even after a wreck or flat tire).

- you can never have too much storage. I have rear rack bag with fold out panniers and Osprey commuter back pack that can be lifesaver for a comfortable commute (30s/40s temps in morning and 60s/70s by afternoon, have to pack cold/warm/rain weather gear, work cloths, lunch, tools to fix a flat, etc...).

- anti fog ski googles, gloves, wool socks, wearing layers of riding gears, Bar Mitts and having no exposed skin are a must in below freezing at +20 mph. Wind chill at those speed and really make an easy commute difficult.

- check the weather forecasts the night before, in the morning, and before heading home. Left work early because of potential bad weather the other day and ended up getting hit with a mild hail storm and heavy rain about a mile from home. Hail can really sting at 20 mph on an ebike.

- have a plan for when things go wrong like unexpected changes in the weather, mechanical issues, feeling sick, etc... Had to call the wife on a few occasions to come save me.

- you can never have too many lights for night and day commuting. I have two front lights, helmet light, rear rack taillight, helmet rear red light, and a green frame light under my seat for side traffic. Better seen than dead at 5:30am.

- Use brightly colored clothing when riding, neon yellow reflective tops seems to stand out from the corner of most driver's eyes.

- Listen to your body, take an additional day off to drive or use public transportation if you are just not into ebiking on that day. I never want ebike work commuting to stop being 100% fun unlike driving to work; which, feels like a boring chore 99.99% of the time.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Lots of great advice @mrgold35! You encounter weather that we rarely see in Central Texas; wish it was still so cool here :).
Your detours advice is right on - keeps cycling interesting; you never know who you will meet or what you will see. Even if it's a funky yard display or a curvy set of roads to break the monotony of all straight lanes.

Question: what's the issue with your right knee? Both of my feet pronate, the right one a bit more to the point that cycling was painful after a 30 mile ride. Inexpensive soft orthotics that slip inside my shoes made a big difference. Also, using shoes with a more rigid sole helped. They cause less over flexing of knee ligaments, a common problem!
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
Lots of great advice @mrgold35! You encounter weather that we rarely see in Central Texas; wish it was still so cool here :).
Your detours advice is right on - keeps cycling interesting; you never know who you will meet or what you will see. Even if it's a funky yard display or a curvy set of roads to break the monotony of all straight lanes.

Question: what's the issue with your right knee? Both of my feet pronate, the right one a bit more to the point that cycling was painful after a 30 mile ride. Inexpensive soft orthotics that slip inside my shoes made a big difference. Also, using shoes with a more rigid sole helped. They cause less over flexing of knee ligaments, a common problem!


I'm thinking it is just being +51 years old, I was 357 lbs a few years ago (down to 260lbs), college basketball athlete, and +5 years as an Army Officer with a lot of +15 miles with +50 lbs ruck sack marches I care to remember in the woods of Washington State. I usually feel it after a +20 mile ride right on top of my knee cap only. No issues if I just do my regular 13 mile work commute. A rest day gets me back to normal if it starts to ache.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Thanks, @mrgold35, that right knee must be more vulnerable. I applaud you focus on improving your health. Think about using a slightly smaller gear, especially on hills and spin a bit more. With the help of a friend check the alignment of your knee & leg/foot over the pedal. If your right knee is susceptible to stress, make sure that your leg & knee position is at 90 degrees when the right pedal is parallel to the ground when your leg is bent. Easy to check using a weight on the bottom of a string that you hang from the knobby spot on the outside of the right knee. If the string and weight are in front of the middle of your leg, then your saddle is set too far back. If the string and weight are behind the middle of the leg then the opposite, the saddle is set too far forward. Either can cause stress to the patella, your knee cap. Also, a seat that is set too low also puts more stress on the kneecap and lower leg instead of using the large upper leg muscles to pedal.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
People pay a lot of bucks to shops with those Fit Kit systems and most of it can be done without fancy stuff and still end up with a more efficient and comfortable riding position. It's worth it to keep from further injury.

Happy Trails, @mrgold35 !
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I've been commuting the 13 miles round-trip to work since Sept/2016 and have around 2000 miles on my Radrover fat tire bike. Things I've learned are:

- head wind can be as bad and most of the time worst than inclines on speed and battery power. I will sometimes skip e-biking if winds are +20 mph with gusts +25 mph.
....
I've obviously only been doing this e-bike commute thing for a short time but despite that lack of experience I'll throw out a couple of other things that have helped me (grain of salt warning):
- keep a bike check list (fork pressure, tire pressure etc) inclusive of cargo items (clothes for office, toiletry bag, extra shirt, water etc) and go through it the night before (particularly if you are an early morning commuter like I am)
- check tires upon completion of commute for sharp objects/glass that might have embedded but not yet punctured (I've pulled a few small shards from between my treads)
- have the bike loaded, battery charged, any battery operated lights charged and mounted - bike ready and pointed towards the door the night before
- have ride clothes set out, clean and ready for the morning ride
- shower or splash water in face to wake up in morning, eat something light and drink a small juice prior to departure

Regarding wind - any thoughts on panniers vs backpack? I posted about the 20 mph headwind that really killed me and my battery on one of my return trips. It was 20 mph but gusting stronger. Anyway, I felt like maybe the panniers acted as sails (bad with a headwind, good with a tailwind) so I was wondering if a backpack might be more aerodynamic for headwinds? At the moment I don't have a pack big enough to carry all my stuff so I haven't tested it out on a work commute yet.
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
I have his and her Osprey daypacks and two Topeak MTX Trunk Bags with fold out panniers. The wife and I also use the daypacks when we hike in the southwest. We can add our 70oz camelbak bladders and run the drinking tubes out the top of the daypacks for easy access hiking or biking. I even use my daypack as my carry-on luggage when flying because it can hold so much stuff in a compact size. Can't really do that with rack bag or panniers.

Osprey Radial 34: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AVSEVG0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Osprey Comet Daypack: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P5P1A8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Topeak MTX Trunk Bag DXP: https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-Trunk...r=8-1-fkmr2&keywords=topeak+fat+tire+rack+bag

I use both for work commuting because I need to carry more stuff. I end up having to pack cold weather gear in the mornings (temps can range 20s-40s in winter months) and warm to hot gear in the afternoon (40s-70s temp range). I keep bike stuff in the rack bag like tire repair kit, locks, extra ebike battery, spare headlight battery, tools, rain gear, gloves, and eye protection. I have my work cloths, hygiene stuff, lunch, and cold/warm/hot riding gear in my daypack. It is easier to just take my daypack into the office with everything I need instead of removing the needed contents in the rack bag or having to remove/replace the entire rack bag everyday. I only use one of the panniers at 1/3 to 1/2 full when work commuting.

I like my Radial 34 daypack better because of the extra room for storage, very comfortable to wear loaded down, and it has a rigid back to help improve air flow to cool down back side a bit more. I haven't notice any issue with wind with the daypack. The upright Radrover riding position seems to be more of an issue and it doesn't help being 6'3", 260lbs, and sitting a little under 7 foot in the saddle with my bike helmet with light. I've done the road bike crouching thing when riding in a stiff headwind with my daypack and that made it easier to peddle at a faster speed and it didn't feel like the daypack was slowing me down. I love a stiff tailwind and crosswinds don't seem to an issue with me with the daypack and panniers.

The only issue I have with the daypack is it still gets a little warm to hot on my back as the temps get +70s. I might have to skip the daypack or really lighten the daypack load and stuff both panniers when we hit +90 degrees in a few weeks.
 
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Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I just passed 700 miles this afternoon. As the weather has stabilized I seem to be riding around 75 miles per week.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
That's why I usually do part of the ride with the power off to keep myself aware of how hard you have to work "the old way". :)