No One Gives A Rat’s Ass About Your ‘Street Legal’ Ebike : Build Something Awesome

Whenever I surf the web to find out what is happening in the ebike industry I get pretty depressed. The US ebike market is a wasteland of cheap underpowered hub-powered ugly ebikes and overpriced underpowered torque sensing mid-drives. *facepalm* It’s no wonder that no one is buying this crap. The biggest problem I see facing the ebike industry is the way they desperately cling to the 750W power limit on all their ebikes. The industry will never mature as long as they continue to do this.

This is the best selling ebike in America. ~$2,900 , 57lbs, 500W, 10Ah, 20Mph. You can't make this shit up.

This is the best selling ebike in America. The Ped-e-slow at ~$2,900 , 57lbs, 500W, 10Ah, 20Mph. You can’t make this stuff up. *yawn*

Imagine if the federal government said that all cars sold in the US could go no faster than 65 miles per hour or were only allowed to have 35hp of power (that’s all you need to get up to 65mph on level ground). One of two things would happen, people would either riot in the streets or they would just stop buying new cars. A 750W ebike is only capable of about 1 hp which is just about enough to get a 170lb person slowly up to about 20mph on a flat and level surface. This article will shed some light on why I will never own a street legal ebike (nor would I ever steal one) and why I really don’t have a problem with that.

The entry to the Bill HR 727 that pertains to power ratings read as follows:

    ``(b) For the purpose of this section, the term `low-speed electric 
bicycle' means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable 
pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose 
maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a 
motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 
mph.

A decent lawyer could argue that while many motors are rated nominally for 750W (like the BBS02) since they have a throttle that will dump 1300W with a 52v battery then technically the BBS02 is not really ‘street-legal’. Bafang makes it a point of stamping a big 750W on the bottom of their BBS02 in case there is ever any controversy around their motors being sold as street legal in the US. Does selling a 1300W motor as a 750W motor count as false advertising? Several of my BBSHD’s are stamped with 750W on the bottom of them but I’m regularly running them with a 50 Amp controller which dumps 2500W into the drive unit. 2500W is 3 1/3 times the legal limit, but a 2500W mid drive has a lot of benefits over a 750W (or less) hub motor. The biggest benefit is that a high power mid-drive ebike can keep up with regular city traffic.

In the immortal words of NWA

… in the immortal words of NWA

On most freeway where people drive over 65mph it is illegal to go slower than about 40 or 45mph. The problem with slow traffic is that when everyone moves along at about the same rate, it’s much safer. Cars can easily maneuver around each other because the difference in their speeds is generally 5-10mph or so. For anyone who has tried to drive on the freeway at just 45mph in a car it is a harrowing experience. I drove the mother of my son over 500 miles down to Maryland to pick up a large box van (think Frito-Lay truck) she was buying for her new business. She drove it back on the freeway and I followed her about 100 feet behind her in my minivan with my hazards on. The box truck topped out at about 40-45 mph and 18 wheelers went flying by me at 75mph. For 8 hours I was white-knuckling it the whole way home.

Let’s think for a minute about highway speeds. Most roads have a speed limit of around 55mph, while in the cities it is about 30mph. Since only a crazy person would take an ebike on the freeway, and most people on normal highways where I live travel much closer to 60 or 65 we’ll use 60mph as a base point. What is safer, a bike moving at 10mph, 15mph, 20mph, 25mph or 30mph when cars are moving 60 mph? If you ask me this question I would say hands down the bikes are safer moving closer to 30 mph even in the shoulder, assuming they have decent brakes. In the city, for 2 years I commuted with a crappy 250W torque sensing Giant Twist that maxed out at 15mph. It was nice because the low-speed and power kept me out of trouble, but for all intents and purposes, it was the same experience as riding a bicycle in the city. If I hogged the lane cars would honk at me and the obscenities would fly.

Fast forward to last year where I spent the year testing the 50Amp BBSHD Ludicrous controller for Lunacycle on my Burning Chrome build. I rode that ebike like a motorcycle right in the middle of the lane all around the city. I accelerated much faster than the cars did and frankly I got pretty annoyed at how slow the cars really were. Cars clearly were annoyed with me when they saw me at a stop light taking up the whole lane, but once the light turned green I just left them in the dust. This is the way that ebikes were meant to be ridden.

You aren't getting up this mountain with a 500W hub motor

You aren’t getting up this mountain with a 500W hub motor, a real mid drive ebike will open up new horizons for you

I allowed about 20 people to test drive my street bike with the 50 Amp controller. Every single one of them who tried it absolutely loved it. They didn’t just love the looks (it does look awesome), they loved it because of how it felt when you torqued on the throttle. I geared the BBSHD pretty low so that in the lowest gear it was all wheelies all the time. The ebike topped out at around 35mph which was fine with me, as I don’t really feel that comfortable riding an ebike over 30mph anyway. The top speed of your car is way more than what you regularly drive it at. Would you be happy with a car that had just enough power to get up to that speed and nothing more? Probably not. America is obsessed with power and automakers clamber over each other to build cars & trucks that produce way more power than most people will ever use. Yet in the entire ebike industry has somehow decided that there is nothing wrong with a 350W ebike.

Nobody wants that crap, and they just can’t see it.

A bike I would never buy and I was rude enough to refuse to test, the Surface Boar 604

A bike I would never buy and I was even rude enough to refuse to test, the Boar Surface 604

Let’s take the Boar Surface 604 for example. These guys are really nice and it’s not fair of me to pick on them since they offered to ship me a demo bike to test (I refused because I knew it would be a bad review). Here is a nice fatbike with a frame battery that looks like it could actually be decent in the snow. Yet they chose to sell this $2500 efatbike with a crappy 350W nominal motor and a tiny 13.5 Ah 36v battery. So many online reviews hail this as such a great ebike like EBR says:

The Boar ranks among the most fun, sturdy and beautiful fat e-bikes I’ve tried in a long while.

Are you kidding me? I’ve never tried the Surface 604 but I find it hard to believe that I would give that much praise to a 36v 350W nominal fat bike no matter how awesome it looked. The entire industry is stuck pushing underpowered crap while the entire ebike reviewer world heralds each new ebike as the ‘next best thing’ while they are all just obscenely underpowered. The last 3 winters I’ve gone out and rode every single day in the winter regardless of the conditions. Last night it rained and this morning I went out with my 50Amp BBSHD Phat Phuk with 5.5″ Snowshoe 2XL tires. It was miserable slogging through almost a foot of heavy wet snow uphill. Without 2500W of power I could NEVER think of riding today at all. A ‘street-legal’ 750 Watt peak hub motor fat bike is only going to be useful on groomed trails or with less than an inch of fluffy snow on the ground. In a word, for my application these underpowered bikes are for all intensive purposes, completely and utterly useless.

img_20161224_095954343

This is what my bike looked like today after my ride. I added 15lbs to the weight of the bike just with heavy wet snow.

I like the Boar Surface 604, I like the design and execution and the tire options of the bike. It just needs a decent mid drive (even a BBS02 would be better, although a BBSHD would be best) and a real 52v battery. These ebike companies need to start building ebikes that have the power that people really want, instead of what these ebike companies think people want.

Direct Drive vs Hub motors

I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of hub motors (read this article here), I will say only this. I’ve never ridden a hub motor that I’ve liked. If you want a Direct Drive motor (DD) that doesn’t totally suck you’re looking at a 25lb rear hub motor with custom torque arms and over 3000W getting pumped through it. There are hordes of ES builders that follow this formula which works OK for build street bikes, but is completely useless for the trails. It should be obvious why having a 25lb hub motor spinning around on your rear wheel is not going to be any fun on singletrack trails. Am I alienating all the endless-sphere and other large DD fans out there? Probably. Do I care? Not really.

Think 'toaster oven' with cheap plastic gears just waiting to be melted

A toaster oven for cheap plastic gears, AKA your crappy geared hub motor

I’ve destroyed every geared hub motor I’ve ever touched. The clutches and gears just can’t deal with real power and the motor is trapped in it’s shell like toast in a toaster oven. In every way they are just a bad design when you’re talking about pumping out lotsa watts. When you are talking about plowing through deep, wet snow you need insane amounts of power and your motors geared very, very low. The BBSHD is geared down 15:1 and when I’m going through deep powder I have a 30T in the front and a 36T in the rear meaning the motor is geared down to a whopping 18:1. The pedals spin so fast there is no way I can pedal along (futile in the extreme) but man does that baby plow through deep snow. Basically, you need to get going fast enough (over 5mph) that the bike will actually rise up on top of the snow and float along, as soon as you lose you’re momentum the back wheel is digging itself back down into the snow and you’re stuck. Riding in crappy conditions like that is hard, but it’s more fun than you can possibly imagine.

Since Mid drives have the bike gears to gear the motor down a real 2500W mid drive is going to perform better in my opinion than a 5000W DD motor, a 1200W BBS02 will outperform a 2400W DD hub motor and so on. You get twice the torque for about 1/2 the power usage because the electric motors can spin the speed that they WANT to spin at (fast) instead of the speed the rear wheel is turning (very slow). It’s just physics, nothing more.

That's my kind of crazy

That’s my kind of crazy

Top Speed vs Power

A decent 750W nominal mid drive will go about 25mph when geared right, 1000W nominal will go over 30mph and a 1500W will hit 35mph. Anything over 30mph you start really having to contend with a lot of drag from the increased air friction so it takes a lot more power. I have no problem going 40mph with 2500W of power, but in all honesty, it’s pretty scary going 40mph on a bicycle. The statistics are clear, you are much safer going 30mph than you are going 40mph on a bicycle. If you do get in an accident your chances of not dying at 30mph are much higher than at 40mph. I also think it’s crazy to ride any ebike without a helmet on trails or on the street, but I’m not really that crazy about helmet laws.

Is the stock BBS02/BBSHD even really street legal?

This is an interesting discussion that I’m not going to really discuss at length. If you program your BBS02 for 25Amps (most are) then, no it’s not legal. If you program your BBSHD for 30 Amps then again, not legal. Ebike manufactures and kit dealers will sell this motor as a 750W nominal motor but since the throttle puts out well over 1200W it just doesn’t fit the legal definition laid out in HR 727. Do I care? Not really. If you want your BBSxx mid drive to be ‘legal’ you need to program it to run at only 15 Amps so that the peak power is 750W. In all honesty, I can say you’d be pretty stupid to do that. It’s better to have the power available in case you need it (high power saved this woman’s life) than to dumb down your drive system because you think anyone really cares that it’s street legal or not (they don’t). If I lived in some place like Europe or Australia with a 250W limit I’d be just as belligerent or more so than I am about the US wattage limits. Legally if an ebike in the US has more than 750W it must be registered and insured as a ‘motor vehicle’ and have turn signals, mirrors and lights. That’s just not gonna happen with any of my ebikes.

Bafang is a Chinese company so they don’t really have to worry about American lawsuits that happen with accidents from ebikes equipped with their drivetrains. This leaves the ebike dealers who sell ebikes with the Bafang motors on them to have to deal with the liability of selling a motor for ‘street legal’ use that is really not street legal. Why am I even talking about this at all? Because more power is the direction that all the other ebike manufacturers need to move in if they want to start actually selling any real number of ebikes in the US. The biggest threat that faces these dealers is accident liability. America arguably has the most laughable heath care system in the world and whenever anyone ends up at the hospital the first question they have to answer is who are they going to sue to pay their medical bills.

CA E-Bike Infographic

Maybe we’ll get lucky and some other states will come up with intelligent legislation for ebikes instead of just banning them like NYC does

Let’s look at current sales numbers. Pedego is the number one selling brand in the US and expects to sell a whopping (sarcasm here) 10,000 ebikes this year. Most of those will be sold in one of their 83 Pedego dealerships across the US. This breaks down to about 120 ebikes sold per store on average, or about 1 ebike every 3 days per store. While that might seem like a lot, just consider this, there are over 300 Million ebikes in China right now. Ebikes in China cost just over $300 on average and they are sold in every Grocery store I set foot in when I was there 10 years ago. They got so out of control that many large cities have banned ebikes (known as ‘silent killers’) from the major roads to cut down on the massive number of traffic fatalities that happen from people riding ebikes. Ebikes have the potential to solve most of the traffic problems in many of the major cities  (not to mention global warming), but instead of embracing them in the US lawmakers shun them entirely. The only state to enact reasonable ebike laws is the sunny state of California where e-bike sales are booming. The California law defines three different levels of ebikes of which Type-3 is the only one I’m going to discuss here. Type-3 ebikes are not allowed on bike paths, they do require helmets and they can go 28mph on all bike lanes. In my opinion 28mph on a pedalec is a reasonable speed limit, while 20mph is not. It’s just too slow, the reason people get ebikes to begin with is to go faster than they could on a bicycle. My non-ebike roadbike will easily get up to 15mph on the level and it takes very little effort to keep it at that speed (think no sweaty crotch). If people are going through the trouble and expense to buy\charge\ride an ebike they want it to be significantly faster than a comparable non-electric road bike (more than 5mph).

Driving around Ithaca last year I decided to blow by a cop sitting in traffic on my ebike in a bike lane doing over 30mph. Much to my chagrin, I was completely ignored. The reality in the US is that if your ebike looks like a bike you can probably go 30 mph where ever you want and get away with it. I understand why the sue-happy state of NY is hesitant to embrace ebikes, but I’m not going to wait around for the legislation to catch up with the technology. I’m just going to see what I can get away with and deal with the court systems if and when I have to. In the 40 years I have bicycled obsessively, I’ve been hit by cars 3 times (all on bikes not ebikes) and only once was it my fault, the other 2 were hit and runs (probably didn’t want to get sued and both times I ended up unconscious and in the hospital). The reality is that most accidents involving bikes are generally the automobiles fault, and I’m hesitant to even ride on the roads as most drivers are phone obsessed zombies propelling their 4000 lb rocket of steel down the road while trying to text their friends or update their facebook posts. No thanks, I’m much happier in the woods where the trees don’t move and all I have to worry about is getting shot by disgruntled hunters.

The $5800 Felt Lebowski, you're better off giving your money to strippers

The craptastic $5800 Felt Lebowski, you’re better off giving your money to strippers

Why am I writing this article other than to just rant? I really would like it if the ebike dealers in the US would wake up and start selling products that people actually wanted to buy at prices that they actually wanted to pay. If they insist on peddling underpowered 350W craptastic motors then they should be selling them dirt cheap like the $693 shipped Sondors e-bike that Ivars Sondors has sold 17,000 of. If they want to charge more, then the bikes should actually perform better. Why would anyone in their right mind spend $5800 on a Felt Lebowski with a 400W motor? The price/performance ratio on a bike like that is just not there. For less than half of that price I can build my own fatbike with a much better motor, battery and bike like the Phat Phuk for $1850. If you’re too lazy to build your own then for $2953 you can get the 4 Seasons 3000 KHS ebike with Snowshoe XL tires and a 50 Amp Ludicrous controller and a 20Ah battery that will put out 50 Amps cont from Lunacycle right here. I was so impressed with the 4 Seasons 3000 when I visited Lunacycle that I actually bought one from them to build up with a BBSHD Ludicrous controller (review here). For half the price you get an ebike that is 2500W instead of 400W and has a 52v 20Ah battery that will dump 50 amps rather than a 36v 11Ah battery. Court from EBR rated the Felt Lebowski a 10 out of 10, I’ve ridden that e-bike and I’d rank it a solid 3 out of 10 for the insane price and total lack of power. Ebike reviewers may have a heavy slant towards the bikes and brands that are advertising on their site, or maybe they just have low expectations (I find that having low expectations helps my wife get by in dealing with me).

Six times the power, twice the range, half the price (if you can live without torque sensing)

Six times the power, twice the range, half the price of the Lebowski (no torque sensing or warranty) This ebike is a much better investment than giving your money to strippers

The best ebike to electrify is one that you already have. If you have a fatbike, I’ll bet you my favorate hamster that once you electrify it, you’ll never go back to riding a non eFatty again. Right now you can get a 52v 13.5Ah shark pack and a 100mm BBSHD that will do 1500W all day long for $1099 right here. Think 2-3 hours to install on any 100mm fatbike and another $50 for a 30T Luna Mighty Mini ring and your winters will never be the same again. Be aware that at high power levels (over 1000W) on a mid-drive that is ridden hard, stuff on the bike is gonna break. Bicycles are designed for about 350W of power (all you can put out) not 1200W-2500W so breaking bike parts is the natural order of things. Suck it up and learn to fix stuff yourself, it’s worth the time and effort. Luna ebikes come without a warranty because at 2500W you’re pretty much guaranteed to trash stuff on the bike and not having a warranty keeps the prices insanely low. The important thing is that the battery and the motor hold up to the abuse, bike components are generally cheap to fix.

The time has come for an ebike revolution. Don’t waste your money on crappy, overpriced ebikes with tiny motors and tiny batteries. Build an ebike that have plenty of power and is still reliable enough to last (I’ve built 15 of them). When it comes to the many ebike review sites on the internet I’d take them all with a grain of salt, whenever I read them I have to wonder ‘what are these people on, and where can I get some’? Whatever you buy, make sure it’s got a big 52v battery and make sure that it doesn’t have a hub motor. For deep, wet powder and soft sand the 50Amp BBSHD Ludicrous is the king, tandem and cargo bikes BBSHD will do just fine and for singletrack dirt trail riding I still feel the BBS02 is the best weight/performance/value out there.

High powered mid drives all the way. Nothing else compares.

Ride on.

 

 

79 thoughts on “No One Gives A Rat’s Ass About Your ‘Street Legal’ Ebike : Build Something Awesome

  1. Hello Karl.
    Problem is the law, if you hit someone with high power bike, you will get yourself into big trouble. And second thing, majority of people do not need more power, they are ok with 250W (or 600W with chip tunning).

    I am a speed and power hunter, so also riding illegal Bafang HD. ;)) Just have problem with motor, after 1000km it is not going so quiet and Luna told me to open it up to primary gear. What I am not sure if I want to do. So thinking of new bike from LMX.

    Ride on

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  2. AMEN!!! Another great article Karl. Agree with you 100% on all points. When I first started searching e-mountain bikes, I first found the Addmotor Motan – which IMO has great styling, but is powered by an anemic 500 watt hub motor. Glad I kept searching and found your blog, Luna, and Eric.

    After I am now educated in everything hi-perf ebike, I actually wrote to the owners of Addmotor in China, sent them links to some Luna stuff and the BBSHD, and recommended they upgrade their bikes to high-performance mid-drives and better battery packs (unlikely, of course, they’d ever include packs to the quality level/authenticity of Luna’s).

    BTW, you are a fantastic writer, and I really appreciate seeing others who still the value of being able to put their thoughts together using correct spelling and grammar. One tiny mistake I noticed in a phrase you mentioned a couple times – it should be written “for all intents and purposes”. Unless, man, of course, if your purposes are really that intense!!! 🙂

    BTW #2 – any updates or further info on the Tangent Ascent? You sent your review sample back, yes? Really debating between that and the 2500w Ludicrous for my future enduro full-suspension bike build.

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  3. > In a word, for my application these underpowered bikes are for all intensive purposes, completely and utterly useless.

    Slight typo here but you are of course right with just about anything you said here. Karl, you wouldn’t belive the horrors we europeans face with 250w 25kp/h PAS bikes. I’m heavy and not very sporty but on a decent Mountainbike with nobby tires on the road i can easily achieve 25kp/h withouth breaking a sweat. A semi-lightweight roadbike will propell me to 30 kp/h without much effort. I would kill for 750W 35kp/H laws e-bike laws…

    One thing you might be wrong about though i am not sure. Here in the EU the E-bike laws are defined by the motors continous output capability at a specific temperature with no wind moving. So a 250W contionus but 750W peak motor is acutally legal here. Maybe there are simliar definitons in the US

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  4. Karl…Thanks for the creds (I think). The reason we are #1 is that the market of electric bicycle buyers wants the bicycles we build, not the motorcycles like you suggest. What market research do you have to support your conclusions?

    Regulating the speed of an electric bicycle is necessary for something you did not mention, not once, in your article, which might be THE single most important factor that most consumers are concerned about, SAFETY!

    Surveys we have conducted support the products we offer. Scientific studies. It might be a contributing factor to why we are the top brand in the U.S.

    Marketing 101 – Let’s offer consumers what they want, not what we think they should have because we like it.

    We at Pedego could, but choose not to, make 28 mph bikes. Why? Few want them. I suggest you and your readers that support your ideas get scooters or motorcycles instead of electric bicycles. Safety is important and at faster speeds, things like horns, blinkers, better brakes becoming increasingly important.

    Just stay off the bike paths where lower speeds are critical for the safety of everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pedego is the #1 seller of ebikes in the US, no disputing that. The problem I see is that the US ebike market is totally anemic when you consider there are 300 MILLION ebikes in china.

      I’ve done no market research, honestly this whole article I’m pulling out of my ass. For me, safety means wearing a helmet and being able to keep up with 30mph traffic in the city so I can hog the whole lane. Sounds like maybe most ebike consumers might have a different idea of what safety is.

      What am I suggesting? I think that cheap hub motors should be completely abandoned and all ebikes in the US should be mid-drive 750W nominal but 1300+ Watt Peak motors. Grandma and grandpa can still ride these ebikes at power level 1, but when they need to escape trouble, the 1300W of power at the throttle should always be there.

      It blows me away that the vast majority of ebikes for sale in the US are still using underpowered tiny 5lb hub motors. Insane.

      Karl

      Liked by 2 people

    • wow Karl you got pedego to post on here…congrads and welcome pedego…. i would argue that 2 of the reasons that pedego is so popular is #1 they look pretty good … and #2 every pedego i have ridden put out a lot more than 750 watts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny that pedegoelectricbikes says “Let’s offer consumers what they want, not what we think they should have.” Steve Jobs once said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Sorry, pedegoelectricbikes, but most anyone can see that the BBSHD mid-drive is a better system.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ” THE single most important factor that most consumers are concerned about, SAFETY!”
      Really? Do motorcycle riders ride street bikes because they are safe? Do states like the one in Colorado not have helmet laws for safety reasons? Do the car manufacturers produce cars that produce over 600 hp do it because it is safe? Do you ride a mountain bike because it is safe? Do you ride road bikes on the road instead of the sidewalk because it is safe? If safety were the primary concern, you would walk, take a bus or plane. Most “sports” are not safe at all.

      Your post, pedegoelectricbikes throws all bicycles into one group which none fit. If I want an electric bike that would be ridden on sidwalks only, then 20mph limit might be too high. If it is a road bike ridden in traffic with cars 20mph might be too slow. Even road bikers that are in shape ride faster that 20mph without. I have a Yamaha R1 street bike that does 9 second quartermile time and almost 200mph. Do you restrict the speed on those bikes when you ride mostly in town or school zones? That would be stupid, you depend on the rider to use common sense to ride at a safe speed and use speed limit laws and signs in places that show higher than normal accident rates.

      I have never heard of Pedego and to avoid talking out of ignorance I went to your website. I see now why you think everyone concern is about safety, and I understand why because you were probably brought up in the nanny state of CA where most of your stores are located. The closest dealer for me would be over 60miles away in Denver which is why I have never seen one. I did go to your site. I have never seen the style of bikes you sell on your site electric or not anywhere in my city. (They must exist because some of the bicycle shops sell them) Single speed and cruiser bikes I assume don’t sell that well here because in my city the lowest elevation is 5706ft reaching 9212ft within city limits, with huge hills all over the place. As a heavier rider, I want more power to get up hills. If you take your bike offroad here, you need even more power to navigate even more radical elevation changes and extremes.. Your site has no bike I would even consider, Your mountain bike and fat bike weight more than the suspended fat bike I built and has less power and less amp hour.

      The reason I responded is because you used safety as your concern not to sell faster bikes and I wanted to laugh at you in a public forum. You are not using logic or reason, it is just your nanny state mentality shining through.

      “Surveys we have conducted support the products we offer”
      They must not have surveyed here.

      “Marketing 101 – Let’s offer consumers what they want, not what we think they should have because we like it. ”
      Burger King sells a lot more burgers than you sell bikes. They counter your statement with their own. “Have it your way at Burger King”

      ” I suggest you and your readers that support your ideas get scooters or motorcycles instead of electric bicycles.”

      I don’t know about your state, but in Colorado, motorcycles, scooters and cars/trucks must “share the road” with bicyclist, on roads with speed limits up to 65mph (non-highway) and the bicyclists have pushed hard for this and are happy with it regardless the danger. Do you really think you know what you are talking about when you think the buying public wants and values safety above all else? Perhaps you should rethink yourself.. while I again laugh at you openly.

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      • For some reason I cannot edit my reply to add this..
        If you would have said. We limit our speed because if we don’t, some liberal in our nanny state will create laws that are even more restrictive, or if you said we are afraid of getting sued by someone in our lawsuit happy country, I could sympathize with you but to say we restrict speed because “most important factor that most consumers are concerned about, SAFETY!” a laugh.

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    • In My Humble Opinion…..PEDEGO E-Bikes are among the best i have ever ridden. The speed in which my Classic City Commuter goes is Fantastic. It is after all a BIKE and NOT a motorcycle so it doesn’t need to be upgraded at all. What Karl is talking about is insane….if he wants a faster E-Bike then get a Motorcycle.. I know I personally will not ride my bike in the snow cause i don’t want Winter ravages destroying my bike with all the ice and salt and sand…… I don’t need to be going as fast as traffic is….cause i am a BIKE. PEDEGO will always be what consumers want…….after they do offer choices in Battery power.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad my first eBike is a “DYI” BBSHD ebike (although no so difficult to assemble). Here in Quebec city, they sell a 250Watt planetary gear hub with 11Ah @ 36Volt for 3000 to 3500 $ canadian. What a rip-off ! I just wish I could go higher than 58.8 volts on a BBSHD. Why didn’t Bafang make their controller able to take 72 Volts ? 72 volts on a BBSHD would kick ass ! As much as I guess that the 50A Ludacriss BBSHD controller made by Luna would give you more tork at low speeds, It’ll still need more volts to get to a higher top speed. RPM is proportional to volts, not amps.

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  6. I agree 100%. Problem is that until the laws change, we will keep getting these wimpy ebikes from ebike companies. Also, I believe traditionally, ebike companies targeted the “older” crowd like my dad who could spend $3000 on an electric bike and be just fine with 350 watts. Best bet is to build your own monster and be a responsible ebiker.

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  7. Well said! I completely agree, Karl. I advocate safe riding, but what about the 3000-lb car that absentmindedly “bumps” me when I’m trying to escape on a 250W ebike? Does the car driver (who was probably texting) just say “oopsies!”, as I’m carried off to an emergency room? My four-cylinder car is capable of 100-MPH, but…if I obey the speed limit, I’m allowed to buy a V12? Having a “safe” level of power means being able to safely blend into traffic, since I am NOT legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk.

    Low-powered off-road ebikes are being marketed as a stealthy way to “blend in” with the bicycle riders who hate electrics. Not surprisingly, the companies who adopted that design strategy have been a little disappointed in sales. The pedal-only bicyclists still hate electrics, and ebikers with any experience find them to have uninspiring performance.

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  8. Agree and disagree. High speed electric bikes don’t belong on MUPS but that’s something the person at the controls should CONTROL, not some bureaucrat. I ride a TT Rover and mooch along with the pedestrians for the most part not running them off the paths, so if I put a BBXX on my trike I’m going to be quite happy with a 32kph top speed as long as it is reliable and will help me up the hills, and will allow me to comfortably mooch along on the MUPS at 10-20 KPH as conditions allow. Taking the odd hill at 30+ kph is fine but this trike really isn’t very safe at higher speeds on the roads I do travel.

    Yes Karl, I am a grandpa, and last I’ve checked we still don’t put seniors off onto ice flows… we just shift them off into heavy traffic and expect them to fend for themselves.

    Really appreciate all the work Karl has done “destroying” BBXXs. It has certainly provided a clear path for mid mounts that will stand the gaff. Please don’t kill yourself in the process though. Us old farts need your guidance

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  9. Personally I do not plan building BBSHD or similar DIY e-bike setups because:
    1) 99% of my rides are wood trails and I do not care about speed (its not a race)
    2) if I will go faster (with a help of electric motor or muscles) suspension and skill is what become a limiting factor (fully rigid and speed dont match on the trail/offroad) for fun rides
    3) I would like to learn jumps and do descents/downhill sections without thinking of destroying bottom-hanging engine (or bending BBSHD axle not intended for jumps)
    4) for snow low gearing is needed, like 26-42T, and wide tires (4.8), and this is something BBSHD was again not designed for

    It would be interesting to see someone to actually try to integrate BBSHD nicely into frame and then try to compete with “craptastic” 250W Bosch/Yamaha/Shimano on the modern mtb bicycle. Anyone want to risk? For revolution? Probably nobody. As mentioned in other replies “motorcycle/bicycle” hybrid is something that have no much demand, I guess.

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  10. Karl your on fire…. I think something in California made you a better writer or maybe getting back into the wood invigorated you and made you feel like a super star again…. but your last 2 articles have been my favorite every and super well written. Great Article.

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  11. I hate the ” why do you call it an ebike when its a motorycle argument” ….. if it looks like a bicycle and weighs 65 pounds its a bicycle….if you went around calling your proper fast ebike a motorcycle honestly you would be ridiculed.

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  12. Great article Karl!
    I think we are going to eventually get to the place you want Ebikes to be, it will just take a while to get there. You are years ahead of the regular public in your riding and testing. When everyone else gets a taste of the koolaid they will ramp up to where us early adopters are. Thanks for leading the way. It hurts to be the one is out front when everyone else is still way behind. Just ask Elon Musk.☺

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  13. 100% i agree with you Karl. I can’t believe people are buying 250w ebike for the big price…. I’m a road designer and i always saying the most dangerous thing on the road is the difference of speed between 2 objects, theses 2 objects can be a car and an ebike. I commute from april to november with my bbshd mountain bike and i feel more comfortable when i’m able to follow trafic speed (think about speed difference between 2 objects!).

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  14. Not long ago, I got a real itch to post in every “comments” section that Don DiCostanzo(“pedegoelectricbikes”) posted in. As I saw him pop up at the end of several ebike stories I was reading, I thought “He really gets around! There’s got to be someone fact checking his posts, or at least showing people another way”. I wanted to be sure people heard the DIY/Luna Cycle voice as well as the Pedego pitch. Then I decided my energy was better spent on my own light EV projects or helping Luna get their new, amazing WHATEVER to the masses.
    Don, you said that Karl completely omitted any reference to safety, when, in actuality, he mentioned it multiple times. While a 20mph Pedego may be suited to beach cruising(where at least here, speed is limited to 10mph) or to a retirement community, such a bike is NOT the safest on urban streets where traffic is traveling much faster. Maybe you’re assuming your riders are using sidewalks? Now THAT’S dangerous.

    I’m disappointed that you fell back on the “go buy a motorcycle” stance so easily. You’re right though. At higher speeds, things like horns, blinkers, and better brakes become increasingly important. But, guess what! Those can all be put ON a bicycle (mind blown, I know…).
    The fastest speed Karl recommended in this article was 30mph. California Class III (and a number of your competitors) allow 28mph. Why are you conflating these speeds with freeway capable scooters and motorcycles? Have some imagination. This false binary of “it’s 20mph or it’s a motorcycle” helps no one.

    Damn it. Now I’ve just spent ANOTHER hour not helping the revolution.
    No one to blame but myself…

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  15. Thank you Karl. You saved me from getting a hub motor, and being disappointed. I ride a 24″ Mongoose fat bike with a BBSHD and 52v shark pack shoehorned into the frame triangle. I got the package deal from Luna that you linked to above. I did have to trim 20mm from my BB to get it to fit though. It wouldn’t have fit at all without the new 100mm sized BB. I’m not riding in snow much, but I spend a lot of time in the mud. I’ve tried 20″, 24″, and the standard 26″ fat tires on the trails, but I like the 24″ the best for maneuverability. Too bad 24″ is the red-headed stepchild of the fat bike industry. Every time I ride I hear people say “Love your bike”, “Love the fat tires”, “Those tires are awesome”, and etc. Yeah, fat bikes are here to stay. They do have a lot more rolling resistance, so that’s why it’s electric. I disagree completely with your stand on fat bike suspension though, those tree roots beat the hell out of me. I want to get full suspension fat bike, but I can’t afford it, yet.

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  16. Court at EBR in an interview with Lectric-cycles revealed that he didn’t know how to take the crank arm off a normal bicycle. This guy has no idea what he is doing, but is recommending what e-bike to buy. He isn’t even smart enough to install a BBS02.

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  17. Nice discussion but a reality check is needed. At the risk of further criticism, here is my take:

    The hub motor is far from dead. Technologies have improved dramatically and they are lighter and more efficient than the bottom bracket motors plus the rider experience is much better according to the consumers we have surveyed.

    Additionally, it’s much more “work” to use a bottom bracket motor because to gain insufficiency, you must be constantly shifting gears. Speaking of gears, we here of countless stories of bottom bracket mid drives “ripping up the gears”. That doesn’t ever happen with hub motors.

    Most bottom bracket motors, do not offer a throttle option and only operate as pedal assist.

    Typically, they do not pedal well when the power is not engaged. Problem if you run out of battery energy.

    The bottom bracket motors cost a lot more money right now then comparable hub motors.

    For the recreational rider, the hub motor makes more sense.

    Did I mention that they are ugly?

    While I do believe there’s a place in the market for a bottom bracket motor, they are not going to displace hub motors. If I am wrong, we can easily transition into bottom motors but so far the market has not proven at all in the US that they will take much market share from our type of customer.

    “I am looking for an electric bike with a bottom bracket motor” said no Pedego customer NEVER.

    When the makers of bottom bracket motors try to get me to drink the kool-aid, I pass the glass to my competitors.

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    • What’s the median age of a Pedego customer? 75?

      I’m imagining they are very popular in the retirement area of SW Florida, where I resided for a number of years before FINALLY being able to live in Southern California, which I’d dreamed about for decades.

      There is certainly a market for reliable, practical, easy-to-use, low-performance e-bikes. Just like there’s a market for the Toyota Prius. However, ask any car enthusiast, anyone who loves performance driving and the passion that exotic and high-performance cars provide, what they think of the Prius and they’ll just laugh.

      My previous impression of e-bikes (up until a year ago or so) was EXACTLY what the Pedego embodies – both in looks and in performance. Since I enjoy leading an active lifestyle – hiking, mountain biking, high-performance driving, etc., and I’m not yet of retirement age, I subconsciously had zero interest in e-bikes due to this. It wasn’t until I found people like Karl and Eric, and the forums that are populated by enthusiasts of high-performance e-vehicles, that I realized there are people with similar interests as me and were into making fun, cool-looking, high-performance e-bikes.

      I also didn’t realize the disadvantages of hub motors at first – but after becoming educated in this field, it was pretty obvious to me that ANY motor will be happier and operate better in its ideal RPM range, and mid-drives have the advantage of being able to use the bike’s rear gearing. Of course gears, chain, etc. need to be beefed up if you’re pumping 2000w or more through something designed for 350w. Low center of gravity, and not having many kg of spinning wheel mass, are additional benefits to mid-drives.

      Not sure how many Pedego riders can recount moments of ‘pure joy’ provided by their bikes. Practical transport, yes, but not the feeling that makes you laugh involuntarily.

      The Prius will always outsell the Lamborghini Huracan by a huge margin. But thank God they still make the Huracan, and that for those who appreciate its performance and style, it can provide moments of pure joy, as Karl so perfectly described.

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    • For what it’s worth, a colleague of mine just bought an ebike for his commute and specifically decided that mid drive was a priority. After trying his out, I’m now in the market, and so far I’ve come to the same conclusions that mid drive is the way to go.

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    • To say that a bottom bracket motor typically does not pedal well when unpowered really indicates your ignorance on this subject. I guess you will keep arguing against reason to protect your product but that stance really doesn’t give your views much credit on here. I have owned over a dozen ebikes and kits ranging from low powered DD and geared hubs through to powerful versions of both hub types. I currently ride both a BBS02 and BBSHD powered bikes and i can catergorically tell you no DD hub rides as well un powered as my mid drives. My geared MAC rides pretty close to an un-powered bike but still no where near the mid drive. When i feel like riding my bike unpowered for exercise – which bike do i choose? The mid drive every time of course!
      This is before we even consider the weight balance and the unsprung weight of a hub motor.
      And as far as mid drives been ugly?? Really mate? Having a big hub in the rear wheel is far more astechically unpleasing than the the tiny bafang motor not to mention the external controller. The Bosch drives are even more stealthy than the bafang both of which have very nice integrated contollers
      Sure – mid drives are not for everyone and for every riding situation but in the context of your arguements you are mistaken. Suggest you conduct some wider ranging market research because getting market research from existing Pedego customers you will surley get a very skewed result!!
      I looked at your products when iwas buying a turn key bike and dismissed them as boring looking and ugly.
      The industry needs innovation not boring dull ugly bikes with rack mounted batteries!
      Sure you will probably sell plenty but no serious ebiker will consider your product

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      • The Mid-Drive and Hub motor’s just do not compare. It’s Apples and Oranges folks. Let me put it in a way most people can understand. A hub-motor has only one speed, while a mid-drive has multiple speeds. I like multi-speeds. Some people like single-speeds so much they don’t even use brakes or freewheels, they like riding primitive things called “Fixies”. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Multiple speeds aren’t just some kind of fashion statement. They exist because human legs develop more power at certain rpm’s. Electric motors also have more power at certain rpm’s. Multiple speeds help keep both electric motors and human legs in the best rpm range for the most efficiency.
        I like riding off-road on twisty single-tracks, and hill-climbing in the mud. I ride a home-built BBSHD-powered, 7-speed, fat tire’d e-bike I built myself. While a Pedego e-bike would easily beat mine in a race, I personally wouldn’t have nearly as much fun riding one. This is because I feel that riding on the streets, or road-biking, is boring, and just not worth the risk of being hit by a car. Instead, I’ve even bought a hitch-mount bike rack, so I can haul my bike to and from the trails, and to avoid riding on the street. I’m fortunate enough to have some of the best trails I’ve ever seen, only 6 miles from my house.
        For those who like road-biking however, nearly everyone have streets nearby. Not everyone, however, have level streets nearby. So, for those road-bikers with hilly streets nearby, you just might want to consider an e-bike with a mid-drive, so you can use those multiple speeds to keep the motor in the most efficient range, and take those hills in style. For those road-bikers who live on flat land, a hub-motor e-bike might work for you just fine.

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      • Electricbikerider – i probably shoudn’t respond as you must clearly be affiliated with Pedego but my main point was to refute Pedego’s claim that DD hub powered bikes typically pedal better un-powered than mid drives. You must have skipped that assertion in my statements as we all know that is not true. I own lots of ebikes and products that i love but i wouldn’t irrationally defend any of the companies that supply them! So you must clearly be a Pedego affiliate. With regards to their offerings without ugly looking rear rack-mounted batteries – i just looked at their website and 16 of the 19 models offered still have the ugly rack mounted batteries! Only 2 offerings out of 19 with frame mounted batteries!! Hardly a ringing endorsement for your statement!
        Your other statement “their motors are now small and lightweight and barely discernible in the rear wheel” – spoken like a true salesman!!!
        Your assertion of “how many people buys cars with manual transmissions?’ Well in Ireland where i come from and in Europe over 65% of cars sold are manual so that kinda shoots down that statement comparing to a mid-drive.
        Like i mentioned before – mid drives are not for everyone or every situation but your irrational arguments reek like a sales pitch!! And Pedego shouldn’t post information on a public forum if they don’t like scrutiny. Even JOHNT (the Pedego dealer) had more balanced comments than yours!

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    • Have to agree with Pedego on this one. Bottom bracket (mid drive) motors have too many issues to begin to even list, but one of the few that people really think about, is not just the cost of building such a complex motor/drive/gearing assembly that can handle both the torque created by the need to transfer power through the chain, and cassette, but also the torque that the rider places via the crank, which by the way creates significant leverage as that was the design for regular bikes from long ago. The mid-drive requires a significant frame re-design with different, sometimes in-congruent physical forces, and nearly every OEM instance, the configuration is going to be proprietary because of the significant development dollars to invest in a compact design that will prove reliable,adequately dissipate heat, and the gamble that someone makes that they can sell enough of their own proprietary mid drive, that is also priced way above the market average, and not lose their shirt and become irrelevant in less than a few years. To even survive then its up to just one such as a Bosch, to ‘sell’ a multitude of ebike OEM’s on their design, which then makes every ebike OEM a ‘me too.’ In any event, aside from motor design, hub or mid-drive, safety is by far the biggest consideration of ANY bicycle design, and its intended use on a multitude of riding surfaces and environments, and an OEM cannot help but to protect itself from users (or potential ‘abusers’ like you, Karl) who have no problem defying laws, squirting recklessly in and out of traffic, and becoming a nightmare for the majority of people who drive cars on roads that were designed for cars, and not really for cyclists. (that’s a topic for another day, but its reality that those of us in the business have to deal with.) Another over-sight by Karl, is that not all hub motors are created equal, and you can design for higher torque, or other variables such as less maintenance, more reliability, and accomplish the speed you supposedly think you ‘need’ or want via the gears and the chain. Example: Karl’s assumption where he defiantly (to support his hypothesis and ego-centric position) chose to not even try the Boar, completely ignoring it’s 80 NM torque rating, which is higher than the typical hub motor. Clearly and unfortunately Karl, you don’t know much about design of motors, mechanics, or the realities of most applications of power and power transfer technology. If the goal then,(or premise of this article, if it wasn’t merely a thinly veiled bashing of the industry in general) is massive sales like China, then our country would need to add another 700 million people to the US fairly quickly (not likely gonna happen), and sell e-bikes at a crappy price of $300 to $400 each like they sell for in China. But we are not China, and doubt many wish to have such an over-crowded populace, heavily polluted cities, or be in anyway like China culturally, so despite your attempt at satire and crass commentary that might tickle a few of your radical MTB off road readers, its been my observation from many of my clients, that most of your commentary about being ‘under-powered’, and what prospective e-bike users ‘want’, or might be ‘attracted to’ is a bit off base. Over-priced for a lot of the potential e-bike buyers though, I would highly agree with you on that point. The introduction of mid-drives to many e-Bike OEM’s models has made the price points even worse, and less available to the vast majority of the population (and no ‘Boomers with money’ won’t ‘save’ them from their own ignorance, despite the rhetoric spewed at the shows or in on-line articles), and makes it even less likely that any OEM will exceed Pedego’s sales numbers anytime soon. Maybe mid drives create higher margins for the OEM’s, but again, certainly will not drive anywhere near the sales growth they will need to survive in the longer run. Just my debatably humble two cents.

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      • “Owner” assumes that all e-bikes will be ridden on the street. Hub drives “might” be OK for that use, but as soon as you take to the trails, you then realize that the bad reputation of hub drives is well deserved. The handling and performance with a mid-drive are at a whole different level than the hub drive.

        He also has the misconception that a mid-drive will pass more torque through the driveline, therefore overstressing the frame. Let’s take the example of a standard bicycle; When a 200lb rider stands on the pedals and pulls on the handlebar at the same time to apply more torque to the crank, the pull force on the chain reaches very high levels, especially if he’s got a 20t chainring on his crank. Yet, bike frames are designed to withstand those forces. Adding a motor to the crank doesn’t increase the forces because the bike was moving already well enough with the rider only. The power added by the motor only allows the rider to relax his efforts, which anyway were not going to last very long at that rate. The point to understand is that once the torque generated by either the rider only, the motor only, or a combination of both, is sufficient to make the bike accelerate and go forward, the stress on the frame is not going to be any higher.
        Of course, if somebody decides to make a drag bike with a 50KW motor, things get different.

        The weight of those big hub motors in the rear wheel is really a detriment to a fun ride when away from the pavement. Mid-drives will are really the best.

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      • Rubbish mid drives are going great guns without any re-design of the bottom bracket, bafang are not the only ones who are using a design that just slots into the standard bottom brackets on normal frames, your showing industry ignorance if you think bottom brackets need redesigning, if e-bikes that go faster they are safer in traffic, don’t support a nanny state because it will not support you.

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  18. One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post, and this completely supports Karl’s ideas in this article.

    I first got into personal e-transport in 2009. I was looking for portable electric vehicles to use while in Europe – was not interested in an e-bike, and at the time the most popular thing was Segways, which I hated (perfect for retirees, I though, not for me). After searching, I found the eZip scooters. Purchased a few of the eZip 750s and shipped them to Europe. To my surprise, I found they were VERY fun to putt around on, and I ended up using them much more than I had expected. But with a 36v SLA battery pack and 750w peak motor, they were really short on power or performance. I wished for the same type of vehicle but with MORE POWER.

    About 1.5 years later, Super Scooter Sales came out with their Super Lithium 1000 scooter, with a 1000w motor and a 48v LiFeP04 battery pack. Got one and immediately fell in love. This was the level of performance I had been looking for, with brisk acceleration and a 30mph top speed. Then, about a year later, they announced the granddaddy to the Ludicrous – a 1500w scooter with a 48v 20Ah LifeP04, with a 50A controller. This thing, I thought, was amazing. Wheelies from a standing start, donuts on cement, screaming up to a 35mph top speed. This scooter’s fun level was off the chart.

    I realized then that there was a direct, and proportionate, correlation between the power & performance of the vehicle, and the amount of fun you had with it. My first, slow, scooters were somewhat fun but always left me wanting more. My 1500w monster made me laugh out loud every time I used it – giving moments of pure joy, as Karl has so wonderfully described about his rides.

    The bottom line is, that more power simply equals more fun. It also equals more responsibility – riders must be in control of the power under their feet and not ride with wanton disregard for pedestrians, other cyclists, etc. It seems like common sense to slow down when you are coming up to a crowd of people walking in front of you. And to realize that the person walking their dog ahead of you can’t hear you until you are right next to them, so it’s your responsibility to ride by them at a safe speed, not to scare the crap out of them.

    But this has always been the case – we are trusted to drive responsibly with our cars, with our motorcycles, with our powerboats, with all our vehicles. For the government to act as Big Brother over e-bikes, and limit everyone to 750w (or 250w), is just plain dumb. And as Karl nailed it, this regulation makes something that can be ridiculously fun (a high-powered, high-performance e-bike) into something quite bland.

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  19. “The hub motor is far from dead.”
    “Additionally, it’s much more “work” to use a bottom bracket motor ”
    “mid drives “ripping up the gears”. That doesn’t ever happen with hub motors.”
    “The bottom bracket motors cost a lot more money right now then comparable hub motors. ”
    I have to agree, you also failed to mention, you lose the front derailleur for less gear options.

    “For the recreational rider, the hub motor makes more sense.”

    Possibly. I would say that there are less drivetrain issues and probably less maintenance But there are downsides to hub as well.

    ““I am looking for an electric bike with a bottom bracket motor” said no Pedego customer NEVER.”
    No car customer ever said I am looking for a flying car. That is because they either don’t exist or the customer does not know about them. I am sure you don’t explain any of the advantages of a mid drive so of course they will never ask for something that they are unaware exists.

    “When the makers of bottom bracket motors try to get me to drink the kool-aid, I pass the glass to my competitors.”

    I can see how hub powered bikes sell well for you and I think you are smart to sell them.

    Karl’s post was complaining about under-powered ebikes. it is really not a debate about which is better, mid drive or hub. Your previous argument was that people wanted safety first and wanted underpowered bikes. This new argument is a bit different.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think author and supporters of DIY mid drive motors overgeneralize on the whole bicycle market not realizing that there is alot of different bicycles available for different customers, already, not even considering on how e-bike market is split.

    Someone who commutes in the city on relatively cheap bike, have no need for mid-motor, and will be perfectly fine with hub motor – its much cheaper and works. On the other hand folks who ride agressively on the trail need mid-motor, but they also need integrated solution and possibly full suspension bicycle. DIY mid motors dont address these specific cases IMO.

    I think people behind bosch/yamaha and similar bikes realized that they can make most money on premium bikes, thus pricing is as mentioned in the article. For premium markets $ for horse power is not what makes the sell. Compare power/performance to dollar ratio of Harley vs Japan sport bike (or even cruisers), but still Harleys sell more in USA. The same is here. Major bicycle brands target premium market and go with Bosch, and do things like nice frame integration etc, and customers do not care that their “craptastic” bike cannot ride at 32mph, the same way as Harley drivers do no care about riding 200mph. Speed is not equal to fun, and if you need speed – just buy the motorcycle. I am sorry if this argument is getting old, but realistically if you are riding nice and expensive bicycle, pedal assist that makes you twice as stronger – is alot already. Make it smooth and premium feel – done.

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    • Your right at least on this point… Speed is not equal to fun. Absolotely agree. But torque and power is equal to fun. What’s more fun ? Driving a prius or driving a BMW ? You get way more torque with a mid drive, being able to take advantage of your gears to use your motor in a more efficient way, in the most efficient range of RPM, Hub motor are just plain boring to drive and are a pain in the ass when you gest a rear flat tire.

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  21. My Bafang BBSHD cost half that amount of a factory e-bike. It will climb almost anything and still go 35 mph on level ground. That being said: I would buy an e-bike from a quality manufacturer like Felt, Trek and Specialized before I would buy some cheesy “house brand” of unknown quality and components. Pedego is a franchised business you buy when you don’t know anything about e-bikes and want to purchase a turn-key e-bike store. It is the worst of both worlds: a “house brand” bike of unknown quality and consistency with extra mark ups to pay the franchise fees and mandatory advertising. Also, about 90% of all new franchises fail in the first few years. (All types of franchises in general, not necessarily Pedego)

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    • Amen ! In real, the motor kit installed on pedego (motor, controller, PAS) is worth about 300 bucks if you buy it and mount it on a normal bike. Buy a 300 bucks 36V 10Ah battery made of quality panasocin GA cells and you’re all set. Why buy Pedego ? Clearely it’s for people who have no clue of the real value of eBikes. Would you buy a new Toyota Yaris for 50000 USD ?

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    • Dale – Please allow me to clarify some of what you said that is incorrect. Pedego stores are NOT franchises and we do not charge any franchise fees or any marketing costs. Pedego store owners are licensees but pay zero license fees. We exchange the use of our trademarked name for exclusive representation of our brand name bikes in their stores. The only revenue we get from our branded stores and dealers is for Pedego bikes and bike accessories they purchase from us. Both types of retailers pay the same price.

      Calling it a house brand is also not accurate. We sell Pedegos at many other types of locations other than Pedego Branded stores. In most of the locations that sell other brands, Pedego sells best. We offer the best value compared to the other brands you mentioned with most of our bikes selling in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.

      While it’s true that most Pedego store owners do not have bicycle experience, they do hire professional experience mechanics. We also have best in class support staff at our headquarters to assist both customers and dealer with technical expertise. No phone tree. Call us and we answer. Voicemail is only on when we are not there.

      Virtually all our store owners start out as customers. With 92 stores opened worldwide in the last 5 years, we have had exactly 1 that failed because of reasons nothing to do with us.

      To suggest Pedego uses unknown quality components is also untrue. All Pedegos uses either SRAM Magura brake components, Shimano gearsets, SCHWALBE tires, Velo seats, Massload kickstands and most importantly, battery packs with Panasonic cells. Almost all of our components come from brand name, quality suppliers. By all accounts, the Pedego brand is the #1 selling brand in the U.S. and dealers will tell you we are the ONLY brand the customers ask for by name.

      Over 300 people showed up at our new 39,000 sq ft headquarters and rode their Pedegos on our 12 mile ride to the beach and back. All fans of Pedego and the quality bikes we offer.

      I’m about done commenting on this blog because of the tasteless and unnecessary insults about Pedego. You don’t like them, that’s fine but calling them “shitty” is way out of line. If anyone wants to fact check our quality and customer satisfaction, simply do a search on “Pedego Reviews”. Our customer experience is the best in the entire bicycle industry. Fact check that! Industry stats just released state that sales of electric bikes were up 32% this year in the U.S. Pedego sales were up by much more than that. Consumers get to decide what they want to purchase and many choose Pedego.

      As far as the age of our customers, our last survey found them, on average, to be 59 year old males and 58 year old females. Few, if any, would be reading a blog site like this.

      Love us, hate us but insulting us is uncalled for. If the moderator would delete the insulting comments, I might be inclined to stay engaged. Otherwise, signing off. I will post where common courtesy is respected.

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      • I’ve never ridden a Pedego, I’ll never buy one, I’m just not the target market. I agree that there are few Pedego customers that would ever read this blog.

        The point of this article was not to insult or harass anyone but rather to point out that if the ebike industry built cheaper, higher power, more reliable ebikes then the market could really explode.

        I don’t hate Pedego, in fact I’m impressed by what they have accomplished. I see the ebike market as similar to snowboarding or kiteboarding before they went ‘mainstream’. I really believe that ebikes are going to be ‘the next big thing’, but there are some serious hurdles to get over before that happens. Will Pedego lead the way or will they lose their crown to someone else? Hard to say, Ivars sold 17,000 ebikes in less than 2 years, but made a very slim margin off them. Pedego did a huge recall on their batteries that cost them tons of money just because the range dropped off faster than it should have over time. I was pretty shocked to hear about that and I have a lot of respect for a company that would step up and do that. There are plenty of ebike companies that would not do that.

        I don’t care if you read or post to the blog Don, but my hat is off to you and Pedego for what you’ve accomplished, to say that there isn’t room for improvement would be pretty short sighted on your part.

        Cheaper, faster, better. Repeat.

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      • If it walks like a franchise, talks like a franchise, then its a franchise no matter how you market it ‘Mr Pedego.’ You require that 80% of the bikes sold in the named stores be Pedego’s, so no matter how you label it, or get your fees, its still a franchise. If you want to argue that that is not restraint of trade (80% requirement), then the only way you truly get around that is by it being a Franchise. I’m not a lawyer, but anyone good one could have a field day with your agreements. To get around that 80% provision, I know specifically one of your sellers, opened a shop next door to his Pedego labeled shop (basically a wall in between) to be able to sell other brands of ebikes. They are using your marketing materials, pre-planned and pre-designed store fixtures, your web-site (can’t have their own) and a multitude of other aspects that make it clearly a franchise.

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  22. A couple of things that I see as unfortunate for the e-bike consumer at this point and time is the difficulty for the general public to accept the fact that a decent e-bike may cost $3ooo-$4ooo US dollars(as of 2016 this is possible from Luna but only a few years ago there was no place to go with $4,000 and get a decent off the shelf e-bike). Also unfortunate is the inability for folks to take the steps to learn and complete a decent home build. I think the home build is the way to go because at this point and time if you go electric you will need to be able to fix it and understand it or you will be frustrated so you might as well roll up your sleeves right at the get go.

    It is a difficulty to find a qualified person to work on ones e-bike that needs repair or maintenance if your not mechanically inclined I realize. I think of all the neighbours and friends that I have helped over the years with simple adjustments on regular non electrified bikes, it can be a real challenge for people to get the basics of fixing and maintaining things, now put this person on a mid drive electric bike and if they are not mechanical, they will frustrated in short order.

    So what is really unfortunate is these people that dont believe a decent bike is worth a certain amount of money buy junk. They are usually the very folks that are short on mechanical abilities, abuse the uncared for junky bike and have no one to fix it for them. No wonder most bike shops want nothing to do with some of these store bought junkers when it comes to repair time.

    My neighbour had an e-bike (thousand bucker), that was neglected in his shed and sitting there for a couple of years after its initial dissappointment and malfunction . Now its in the Landfill. So much for being Green.

    I agree with Karl 100% with all points, it’s just unfortunate that most people fall for buying junk and I think it’s mostly because they just don’t appreciate what quality costs or they don’t have the time or ability to research and do a decent home build. I dont see an easy way for the masses to get into e-biking with our goofy power laws and the overall ignorance that is out there for pairing up ones needs with the right product.

    Thats the unfortunate part as far as I see it, but the crime is the manufactures that are still selling crap e-bikes. Shame on them………wayne

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  24. I really enjoyed that, and many of your other articles. I prefer magic grits, the laws of physics cease to exist on my street legal mountain bike. Thank you for your good advice, I’ll save up my pennies for magic grits.

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  25. As a longtime mountain biker who’s broken way too many chains and rear derailleurs, I’ll wait patiently to buy an electric bike until someone develops a 30-50 amp BB motor/transmission combo. Get rid of the damn cassette & derailleur, reduce unsprung weight, and beef up the chain or go with a light, quiet belt. Is that too much to ask?

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    • Yes. It takes a one-time payment of $20 in California, and you get a small, motorcycle size license plate in the mail. You are required to have an M1 or M2 motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license, and working lights and horn on the bike. And you have to wear a DOT rated helmet. That’s about it… it allows 4hp (3,000W) and 30mph.

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  26. Karl, thanks for another great article. It started a great discussion and some interesting claims and opinions. My takeaway from all this is that we are very fortunate to be able to choose what kind of bike we want to build/buy. If I want a Maxxis shedding gravel spitting BBSHD conversion, I can have it. If I want a Pedego that looks nice but is anemic and “safe”, that’s also my choice. I choose the former, ebike laws and “safety” be damned…

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  27. Great article, Karl! Thanks for bringing a breath of fresh air to ebikes. I’ve been following ebikes for a few years now and you hit the nail on the head. I’ll need to check out the Lunacycle. Does anyone else know of any mid-drive electric bike companies? I like the style of Monday Motorbikes and Vintage Electric (though they have a hub motor too).

    Like

  28. Pingback: 15 Tips To Having More Fun Than Everyone Else Electric Fatbiking In Snow | ElectricBike-Blog.com

  29. Hey Karl,

    I’m a Pedego store owner, but I was an Endless Sphere member for years before riding my first Pedego, and I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since you first started it, so I can see both sides here. The main point I’d like to make is that there *are* two sides. High power is great, but not absolutely necessary in an electric bicycle.

    Most of the people I come across find that 48V Pedegos have plenty of power. I haven’t found a hill steep enough that I can’t climb on most of our bikes with moderate pedaling. Granted, it might be slow, but that’s all most people need from a bicycle.

    Riding in traffic, I find 20 mph adequate for most roads. On some roads, I might feel safer going faster, but feeling safe and being safe aren’t the same thing. Being rear-ended is far from the most common type of bicycle accident. Having someone turn in front of you is much more common, and going faster is likely to make that worse, not better. As Don said, a big part of the current e-bike market are older people, and for them (us?), slower works just fine. Also, remember, if these high power e-bikes don’t require licenses, maybe kids can ride them. I know many 12 year-olds I wouldn’t trust in traffic with a 1000W BBSHD.

    Personally, I’m comfortable doing 30 mph on an e-bike, and I think it would be a reasonable legal limit, but I don’t think there’s much chance of convincing the bulk of our population that anything faster than that should legally be a bicycle, and I agree with them. If you’re going that fast, you should need a license. Then again, I have a motorcycle license, so I might be biased.

    Someday, I plan on building something electric that’ll do 40 or 50 mph on two or three wheels, but I’ll use DOT parts and get it registered and insured. If someone produced one, I might buy it, but only if it were street legal.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a market for illegally fast ebikes, but I think that market is small and is far from what would bring e-bikes into the mainstream. My two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I personally don’t care about going fast. I almost never go over 30mph on any build. For me, it’s about the acceleration and feeling of power. People love low speed/higher power ebikes because they just feel awesome to ride. With a hub motor running under 750W you just don’t get that feeling.

      When my BBS02 is geared way down it’s a wheelie machine from a standstill. I find that I really like that in the woods and that is only 1200W peak.

      Karl

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    • I fully understand your points John, but power is an option (usually an expensive one) so it’s odd to pay such premiums for bikes that lack it. My first trip to an ebike store was really underwhelming – every model was some mix of heavy, slow and expensive. I remember being bummed out about it because all that hype about ebikes saving humanity was not going to happen with those models and prices.

      The power of DIY ebikes is fantastic. You don’t have to use it all the time but it’s great when you need it, and the stuff keeps getting better and cheaper.

      Great article with an award-winning title!

      Like

  30. @Karl et al: Whilst I mostly agree with what Karl is saying. What do you do with regards to insurance? If you’re riding a high powered ebike on public roads, you’re essentially riding illegally on public roads. Which means no insurance, should something bad happens.

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  31. I agree with both sides, in my own way. I used to ride 6 miles to the trails, then 6 miles back. I realized riskiest part of my ride wasn’t taking a header over a protruding root on the trail, but the street ride to and from the trails. Unlike Karl, I can’t just head straight to the woods from my wife’s acreage. I don’t want to give up the trail riding because my bike is illegal, or because some car fails to see me crossing the road, so, I bought a bike rack for my car. Now I can not only ride the usual trails without riding on the streets, but I can also ride on trails that are way too far away for me to ride to. I’m just making the same choice I’d make as a motorcycles rider, I ride it off-road only. The “Ludicrous” versions of Luna Cycles are marketed “for off-road use only”. I for one, intend to take that literally.

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  32. Very interesting discussion.

    Firstly you guys don’t know how lucky you are to have 750W and a decent speed. Come down to the real nanny state / country down under and deal with 250W and 15.5 mph limit. Bunch of sheep following Europe standards.

    Ironic that the highest power ebike commercially available comes from Australia (Go Stealth).

    So as a long time ebike enthusiast here is my take.

    First l was all about high powered ebikes. A 10kW Bomber was my main ride way before it became common place like it is now. Then I regressed. Power got lower and lower until I was back to not much more then 250W. Why? Because i became a bike rider as opposed to an ebike rider. You know, those lycra wearing try hards. I learnt to appreciate the efficiency of 7kg road-bike and the health benefits that come with actually putting some effort in when pedaling a bike.

    I honestly need to thank ebikes in general for getting back on the bike (so to speak) however i understand that a 7kg road bike is not for everyone. I believe it is important to do what you enjoy. This provokes consistency and keeps you interested. If this means a low powered friction drive, a mid drive or a hub motor, I say what ever keeps you on the bike and out of your gas guzzling car.

    Admittedly i am in a good financial position which allows me to own and build a variety of bikes. Commuting to work (20 miles each way), my BBS 750W mid drive gets the most work. On a good quality dual bouncer, its a combination very hard to beat. However my 250W friction drive carbon road-bike gets a commuting workout a couple of times a week which is a completely different experience. It is a joy to ride combining the efficiency of a light weight road-bike and the boost of 250W making me appear to be a total athlete (which i’m not). Weekends are typically pedal only unless running an errand for the missus.

    However, this discussion is mainly about the argument for high powered ebikes. I thought I was over high powered ebike but then decided I needed at least one high powered bike in the stable. Subsequently I built up a Beta frame (made by Stealth) with a 6 kW hub. Oh my god, I forgot how much fun this type of bike was. As much as i love it, I don’t think it is plays nicely with the general bike community and as such I am reluctant to use it for commuting duties. This is where my middrive and friction drive still shine. If however I chose to commute to work on the main roads, the Beta is no doubt the perfect weapon.

    With all due respect to the originator of this discussion, big power through a mid drive is a combination definitely for the ebike enthusiast. Mid drives by design are hard on gear trains. I run around 800W though mine and get a maximum of 1000 miles out of chain and cassette. This means I have been through 12 chains and cassettes over the past 2 years of riding this bike. I shudder to think what 2500W would do to a bike chain and standard bike cassette. No doubt 2500W from a midrive through low gearing would be a blast to ride, I just aren’t sure if it is a practical for the average punter.

    Kepler out.

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  33. Karl, I finally get first-hand what you’ve been talking about. I live in Vancouver, WA. and we just got hit by the snow-pocalipse. In Portland it’s the end of civilization as we know it, but in Vancouver people are driving around without chains or studs on. I went for a ride yesterday in 5″ of powdery snow, and found it sort of floats above the snow at about 10 MPH. As I wove in and around the trees I tried to keep my speed up so it would continue to float above the bumps. I slid-out several times, but always landed on my feet. It definitely took more power, Karl’s special sauce was the only tune set strong enough for churning through snow. A 250 watt e-bike just wouldn’t cut it through this stuff. I totally agree with you as far as off-road biking is concerned, but on-road I just avoid, so I have no opinion on that.

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  34. Pingback: The First ‘Factory’ Electric Fatbike I’ve Ever Ridden That Didn’t Totally Suck : KHS 3000 4 Seasons 60Amp BBSHD Ludacris Controller | ElectricBike-Blog.com

  35. I think that the whole problem of e-bike laws started when the governments decided to limit the POWER of the bikes, instead of limiting the SPEED. For all motor vehicles on the road, it is the SPEED that is limited, and this has always worked well. This responsibilizes the DRIVER, and this is the way it should be applied to e-bikes. They are just a different means of transportation when used on the streets and they should not be regulated in a manner that renders them a nuisance to other vehicles. Being able to FOLLOW the traffic is the second safest feature of an e-bike. The first safest feature being: a responsible driver.
    Which brings us to the dreaded topic of “licensing”. Although I do not want e-bikes to ever have license plates, I want to mention that I would gladly accept having to follow a short “safety” course given by the DMV, in order to obtain a free or very low cost permit that would allow me to ride ANY e-bike on a public road, and not being constantly stressed by that stupid low-speed law.

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  36. A little late to the comment party, but I had a couple thoughts that may add to the conversation but probably not..

    I am a motorcycle rider in my late 40’s getting back into bicycles because of the health benefits and they are not as boring as jogging. But pedaling under the power of my middle age skinny legs is still boring compared to motorbikes so I am jumping into the e-bike world wholeheartedly.

    I understand the OEM’s building “street legal” e-bikes as the bulk of current riders might be commuters or retirees, I just don’t get why they haven’t taken a page out of the OHV market example and tapped into the off-road market as well. Sell to both. Why the fixation on street legal?

    Polaris, Arctic cat, Yamaha, KTM, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Husqvara all have major product groups and product lines that are sold as off-road vehicles. People buy them in droves. I loved my dirtbikes and enjoyed them immensely off-road. I knew If I rode my YZ on the street very far I would get a friendly visit from the local constable. Yamaha didn’t care if it was street legal, they made it anyway, trusting me to do whatever.

    I think Luna Cycle is going after this niche and I think it is genius! Make the high power reasonably priced e-bikes and trust people to do what they will do. If society has survived high-powered non-street legal dirtbikes all these years I am pretty sure they can survive high powered e-bikes. I am mostly interested in getting farther into the mountains anyway, riding around town on a bicycle is not my intended use. May happen, sure, but mostly I like extending my human power range.

    If there was an off-road only Tangent Ascent powered full suspension full-fattie (5″ tires) with IGH for $6k I would sign right up. (the Luna Ludicrous is tempting, but not sure where that frame and fork came from and want the motor mounted in the triangle)

    I’m not going to commute around town on a $6k bike that can be thrown in the back of pickup and disappear anyway..

    By the way I am lurker and your blog has been a great influence! 2 thumbs up!

    Like

    • And to Pedegogo if you’re still there.. selling bikes to the off-road crowd does not mean you can’t still sell the current bikes to the current customers.

      At your own admission you could sell higher power and mid drive bikes if you wanted and here you have a potential market telling you that is what they want. If I was in sales (which I am) I would look at that as a potential market diversification and a new product line. I probably wouldn’t come in here telling them that they shouldn’t want what they want, they should just go buy motorcycles because other people want something different.

      Many of the companies listed above also sell street legal boring bikes (and street legal exciting bikes) as well, but they realize that there is more than just one market segment.

      Seems you’ve made the decision that you will serve one market and that is good enough. Short-sighted in my opinion.

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  37. Liability Insurance can be be a big issue if you need it. My home owners offers NO coverage and ebike specific coverage is hard to find and expensive. That the bike was not street legal is a point that any competent injury attorney would go for very quickly and may be a reason for the insurance not to cover an incident.
    The laws governing electric bikes are admittedly poorly implemented at this point but the pushback from the people with whom we share the road in trails is getting to be quite pointed and is aggravated by folks using over powered bikes in an unresponsible fashion. Simply ebike owners often act like jerks, and when that happens the pushback is against the entire community.
    Motorcycles are motorcycles for a reason.
    What a lot of people are trying to do is put unlicensed motorcycles on the street.
    The result is we get laws put forth by the communities in which they are used like we are seeing on the trails in Colorado and on the streets of New York City, resulting from the numerous occasions of inappropriate use.

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  38. Disk breaks are a must on all 500 watt plus E-bikes, hydraulic disk breaks are a must on 750+ watt E-bikes, fast heavy bikes need great breaks. That being said, your article seems spot on.

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    • I suppose you meant “brakes”. But yes, I agree completely. I hope we will soon see dual disc forks and hubs for our bikes, We don’t want to break them, do we?

      Like

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