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What shall I buy?

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    What shall I buy?

    I'm anxious to get in to Ebikes. I'm a long time casual bicyclist my bride of many decades and I ride casually and occasionally. We are getting old enough that those pesky hills take the fun out of it.
    We have a pair of good bikes Trek 730 hybrids, old but good. Made in USA Cro Moly tubing. Vintage 1997? 700c wheels. Nicely sized for us both not easy to do shes under 5 foot I'm over 6.
    Old but excellent shape and well maintained, we love our old Trek's. Down side is no lugs for disc brakes.
    I just put new Shimano pads on the cantilever brakes, I can easily lock em up....and i don't ride in the rain and wet.
    The smaller frame will likely need a rack battery. The larger frame can go on the downtube. Still looking hard at the smaller frame as I would rather center the battery weight.
    I'm thinking of the BBS03 with a big battery but heck I am open to buying new bikes too. I could spend up to 3K what would you do?
    To be clear, I'm an engineer gearhead type I love projects, but do have way too many. I'm also good with electronics pro level in fact. I would enjoy building up the old Trek's a lot. Constantly messing with would not like that much

    Realistic numbers I could sell the old Trek's for a couple hundred each. I figure around 800 each to motorize them.

    New bikes around the 1,500.00 dollar level appeal too. Help me decide, and thanks in advance.

    I did a 1990's Schwinn MTB recently and it actually came out to be a pretty decent bike. If you never had discs you would never miss them. Was a little spooky stopping at first especially since I was used to a disc bike but after getting new pads and cleaning and slightly scuffing up the rims it stops pretty good. I don't know that I would want to average 20 mph with it all the time and I for sure would not take it on hardcore trails but for just getting out it seems to do fine.

    Looking up those bikes looks like they got a 700x38c tire. That seems reasonable for this. I was worried that it came with 23's. Adding the extra weight of the motor and battery and a little more speed usually isn't a good combo for narrow tires on narrow rims. People that try it seem to get frustrated because of lots of flats.

    I see its a 3x7 with a 22-32-42 up front and 11-28 on the back. Smallest offset chain ring you can get for the BBSHD is a 40 and its not cheap because it includes a new cover for the gear case. 42 and up are a little cheaper. 46 is the stock one. You can go smaller but they end up further out than the typical chain line so things can be a little crooked especially if you are trying to do some hill climbing in the lowest gear. There is a 11-36 cassette that would help a little if you did the 42 up front. As long as you are still able to pedal you don't need as low of gears as you do without the motor so as long as there are not any or many real steep hills where you normally ride it may not be a big deal. The kits usually come with a cheapo 46t chain ring so you could start with one of those and see how it works and how the chain line comes out. From there you can use online calculators and figure out what may be a better combo.

    $800 for a whole setup? Being that the basic kits tend to be in the $600 range you must not be getting much of a battery or have found a sweet deal somewhere. My last kit was about $1,300 by the time it was shipped. A big part of that was I got a Luna Wolf battery. Sometimes I wonder if it was worth the money but then hear about minor to major issues including fires with some other packs and figure it was worth the extra money to get a really solid pack. I also really like the magnetic mount. They have a template you can download on their site and cut out to see how it fits. From what I have seen its a little more compact than other similar capacity packs so that may help with the smaller frame. I would get the biggest battery you can fit and afford. If you are like most of us you will have so much fun that you will just want to ride more and further so having the capacity to back you up will be a good thing.

    The other stuff just adds up. I really like having the brake cutouts. Since it doesn't look like your bikes have fancy brakes or integral shifters I think I would just get the bafang levers with the built in cutouts. Much cleaner than the 'hydraulic' option where you are basically gluing sensors and magnets to your existing levers. Price is similar between the options. I also really like having the gear sensor. It mounts inline with the cable and momentarily cuts the power during shifting. Not 100% needed but its nice to not have to worry or think about shifting and not doing it under load. If you skip the brake levers I would for sure get the gear sensor. If you skip the gear sensor then I would do the brakes because you can kinda use them like a clutch when you shift.

    Other extras are things like the charger. Basic ones may not have a speed or % selector. The % is nice because it allows you to manage the battery better by not always fully charging it. The speed is also nice because slow is easier on things but its nice to kick em up to high on those days where you go for 2 rides or forgot to charge early. The good quality and other than 46 size chain rings start at about $50 so there is some more money. Companies like Luna offer extras like a install kit that includes commonly needed hardware like various spacers and longer screws. Its not very expensive and may get you on the road sooner. Can be pretty frustrating being held up because of a washer you need. If you live near a stocking dealer maybe not a big deal but since there are not many stocking dealers in the USA most of us have to wait a week for parts.

    Last common extra is the display. I really like the 500c because its small and self contained. Many of the displays are fairly large and mount in the center then have a remote mounted buttons. There is a newer unit called the EggRider that looks interesting too because its small and there are advanced functions you can do via bluetooth on your phone. May be really handy if you have a phone mount.

    As long as you get the whole kit from a good vendor its just plug an play with some basic settings like tire size. No soldering required and no computer. Sometimes if you are mixing and matching parts and batteries you will have to get or make custom cables and adapters which can be annoying if you didn't know in advance and got everything ordered.


      Thank you so much, your reply is helpful. I will at least stop worrying about brakes. I was surprised just how much better the brakes are, tho I suppose that's more a well duh given they were twenty years old.
      I'm thinkin the Luna BBS02 kit, tho that leaves just 350 for a battery. I do like the thought of the fat bikes, we are not too far from and enjoy the beach. I also like the Rad Power fat bike at 1500, the step through would work well for my vertically challenged bride. Luna looks like a great company as does Radpower. I reckon Radpower gets an extra point since they are in Seattle area and I'm in Wa. The difference is shrinking between new and building. It looks like I need to spend around 1K on my old bikes. Good point on the tires, I run skinny road tires on mine currently. So there's another 50 or so.


        I do hear decent things about Radpower. They seem to be a good value, decent bike with decent electronics. Nothing super special about either part but good enough to do the job and last. That seems to be an issue with many of the lower priced E bikes, they are either crap bikes or crap electronics. Pretty rare to get that balance in the lower price ranges.

        I live near a river valley that has flooded the last few years and has lots of sand. 5 mile trail I rode yesterday had to have been at least 2 miles of loose sand and even on the fat E bike took quite a bit of effort so unless beach sand is a lot different than river silt its a lot harder than it looks. No idea how some of the people with fairly narrow tires did it. Parts of the trail had maybe 30' sections of sand but there were places where there were 100's of feet all single track.

        If you can spend the extra $200 I would just go with the HD over the 02. You may not need the extra power or strength which should mean it will last forever because its only working at a fraction of its capacity. The other thing that could happen is you will love it and want to go more places faster and harder at which point you will be glad you have the extra power.

        I don't know how it is for others but I hate the feeling of riding fat tires on pavement. I hate the growling and vibration and how squishy the handling is. Just doesn't feel right for being on pavement. One thing I did notice since we have some cooler days recently is for some reason it feels more appropriate wearing more clothing. I had pants on with gloves and a jacket and it didn't feel as wrong as it did in shorts. Now get off road... its great especially in the sand. I expect its going to be fun in the snow too.

        I bought my fat bike used with the kit already on it. It came with the original fat tires and wheels that had been converted to a 3 speed as well as 29's with the original 10 speed. When I got it both wheels had knobby tires. I fairly quickly swapped the 29's over to Schwalbe Big Apple 2.35 which are basically slicks and those are awesome for pavement which has been 3/4 of my riding this summer. I bought a 2nd kit and threw it on an MTB we had to try and get others in the house out but that didn't work out so now I'm planning my winter builds which include a 3rd kit I picked up used. Swapping wheels is a pain especially when I want to go offroad and street riding in the same day. Thinking I could run into the same issues in the winter especially because I apparently live near several places with offroad winter trails. Thinking I'm gonna leave the fat bike fat for snow, not sure if its going to get studs or not. The antique Schwinn I think is going to get studs to start with and we will see how that goes. I may end up using the 3rd kit to do a non studded pavement winter bike. We will see.

        So the point of that story was more than one bike may be in your future especially since this seems to be an addiction for many people. Maybe see if you can test drive one of the Rad's if you like it go ahead and get em. Once you get some e experience you will be in a better position to decide what your next one will be. Maybe at that point you convert yours or maybe you will have other ideas and want to got a lot more hardcore than you can do with a BBSHD and an old bike.

        It looks like the Rad's may use standard batteries so if you got those plus did a conversion you could maybe set them up to use the same batteries? Save some money and not have 4 batteries just sitting around.


          I really appreciate the input on the fat bikes. Great idea. I'm up in Seattle every couple weeks, I'll pop by radpower and do a test ride. If I go BBSHD I'll be over 1000 per bike to convert. Given I can get a couple hundred each for the old Treks the numbers get closer and closer.
          Your screen name is intriguing....are you in to MC's as well? I kinda regret selling my old Eldorado, they are worth a bloody fortune nowadays. I had a disc braked Eldo cop bike for years. Was into Moto Guzzi's for about ten years. Great machines.


            One thing to keep in mind is that since you mention hills, a ≤750W hub (like rad) will completely choke on slopes at some point of steepness - if any steep is on your menu at all you will be much better served by a mid-drive


              Ya AZ makes a good point I forgot about, many of the under $2k e bikes have 250w and 500w hub motors where you got to do a lot of the pedaling on hills and with hub drives you can't downshift to help the motor. Hopefully they have some hills you can hit on your test ride. With the mid drives and power like a BBSHD if you get the gearing right you can do just like pedaling where you get a low enough gear that you can keep the cadence/torque up and make it up the hills. With a 7 speed you don't get as many options as you can on the 8-10/11's but there are possible hacks to fit those onto the 7s hubs if it comes to that.

              My Eldorado's are Cadillac's. Had the 73 for 26 years now. Been a few others that have come and gone too.


                Should not be too hard to find a hill in Seattle. I think Radpower is in Ballard, I will go and do a test ride. I have a feeling it will be similar to crack. I've always loved two wheels.


                  For pre built E bikes have you looked at Bolton? They seem to have a pretty full range of options and styles. For sure would be one place I would be considering for a built e bike.



                    I keep struggling with build or buy. I'm leaning to build with a BBS02 from Luna with their controller. I'm chewing on building up my own batteries too. I do like the lightweight aspect, my Trek is pretty light for a steel bike and I have always liked a lightweight bike. I'm thinkin my first will not be my only.


                      I li

                      I have a BBSO2 and love it. I just got done putting it on a new bike today. If your brakes are V brakes then you'll be fine. Side pull caliper brakes can be sketchy. You can expect the brakes to work just the same with a motor.
                      Your bikes will be easy to convert. As far as batteries go if you think you may want a rear rack battery then get a cheap seat post mount rack and put 10 pounds on it and see what you think. I have a large 16 pound 20ah 48v battery on my rack with 29" wheels and I don't notice the weight. It just doesn't bother me. Some people are really bothered by the weight and it makes them uncomfortable.


                        Having the motor easily makes up for the extra weight of motor and batteries. Only issue I have had is where that weight is. I did a ride a couple weeks ago where I carried a spare battery in my trunk pack on the rear rack and I really noticed that if I was doing anything that made the bike lean. Straight line not pedaling hard even up hill no problem.

                        Here is another question do you and your wife always ride together and same distances and such? If one of you doesn't usually ride as far then a smaller battery would also save some money on the first build. Second one can have the bigger battery.

                        Building a pack is an option just do your research. The little I have done leads me to believe that if you are doing 18650 cells you want to do welded packs on something that is going to rattle around a lot like a bike. Also want lots of other means of holding things tight. There are quite a few options for no weld or solder but are better suited to non mobile applications. You will also likely want to invest in charging and testing equipment for matching up cells. I think someone here recently mentioned finding some pouch type cells. I was thinking that could be nice because you could set them up on either a front and or rack like panniers. Spread out the weight a bit.


                          Great minds work alike. I enjoy projects like batteries. I was an engineer for about 6-7 years, before I learned that sales pays better...and it works with my gregarious personality too. I'm thinkin rack or pannier style using pouch cells. The big pouch cells look pretty good and are available from several sources. I'm a terrible pack rat esp. power supplies and general electronics so I likely have most of what I need, other than the cells. I've been messing with smaller Li-Ion batteries for years. I can build a decent pack for half what I can buy one for. I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger, but may build the batteries first.

                          Thanks for the shoutout about V brakes. I was concerned. I did replace the pads with new OEM Shimano, they are excellent now with good feel. I can lock wheels even from high speed. I will keep a close eye on them.
                          I will build the batteries first. I've got some ideas now.
                          Last edited by Rick Lindquist; 10-10-2020, 07:19 AM.