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    Newbie wants range not speed

    I have been obsessed with the idea of riding long distances into the forrest on dirt roads where motorized vehicles are not allowed. This ever since I met a guy on such a road behind Santa Barbara with some sort of homemade cargo bike with battery bags on panniers. This was maybe 3 years ago. I believe he had a BBS02 on the hub... not sure. He said he sometimes went 30 miles in and out of the National Forest, sometimes camped overnight and rode back out next day. Wonderful.

    Current test bike is my old circa 1990 (I think) Stumpjumper Sport with some antler-like old-guy-with-bad-back handlebars and cushy seat. Not the ideal set-up, I know, but it's what I had on hand. I added a kit from LunaCycle, BBSHD (68mm), the rest of the basic kit, upgrade to DPC14 color display, and 48V GA Shark. I realize now the 48V was probably a bad choice if I want range, but that fit the budget.

    What I would like to do it build a long-range bike that could handle the occasional single-track and occasional hard climb, but that was mostly designed to go long distances down hilly forrest roads. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Keep reading, learning from others is a lot quicker than making your own mistakes. Building your own trailer, with tent etc. The weight is not an important factor in electric usage until you start climbing hills. That exhilirating feel of wind in your face uses lots of electricity. So does that impressive wheelie. Watch and calculate your watt hours per mile under different conditions. Try to average better than 20 watt hours per mile. 15 is actually a good target. I enjoy using 30 wh per mile. But if i am going the distance... 18. Less use than that, why bother having batt and motor? Act accordingly. Carry pump and tire patches as well as an extra chain. Spokes. Tools. Snake bite kit.
    Look for posts on solar charging. Getting good quality solar cells and boost convertor could be less than more batteries... Weighless too.
    learning to drive at lower speeds and using efficient gearing, speed and pedaling is helpful.
    i have gone to a triangle 20ah 52v battery with 11.5 ah bottle battery for back up. Power lights etc. At night with electricity you have left.
    Seems everything is possible until you run out of money. Enjoy.


      On solar panels. To run 300 watts need A 7 x3 foot area. Using "good cells" weight about 60 pounds. Going with a 15 watt per square foot number, that would give you 1500 watts per day. Count on 3 to 500 watt losses. You get maybe 50 miles at 20 watts per mile. Per day.
      using light weight flexible panels under ten pounds maybe down to 6 or 7 watts per square foot. The bike transported panels would be good for powering campsite and eventually recharging battery. 50 square feet is large. Might be effective for a sail. Remote., off grid locations , this appears to be practical option.
      more efficient light weight panels are available. But probably run out of money before the fun starts.
      always travel with the wind....


        That answers one of my other questions: whether or not carrying solar panels of any kind is a viable option. I thought I had once seen a video of solar cells that could be rolled up like a sleeping pad that could charge a bike sized battery, but apparently it was a bogus video. And carrying large panels like the Yeti brand simply isn't feasible. I did see the thread with the guy who towed a bike trailer with solar panels, but I'm planning to go places where a trailer won't make it. It also seems that the weight of the trailer and panels would impact range quite a bit. I've heard that much higher density solar panels exist but aren't readily available at this time, so maybe someday. If anyone has actual remote solar charging experience let me know. My dream setup is a full suspension 29er with a rack and panniers carrying sleeping bag and pad, light tent, small stove and freeze fried food, and a lightweight solar charging system. Ride 30 miles into the wilderness on one large battery, recharge the next day, and ride back on the third day.


          There are lightweight chargers that will do what you want and has been done by others. There is one i have seen here. And a couple more on the luna facebook page. This week a good discussion on facebook. Suppliers and advice. I will see if i can get that page to you.


            Had my e-bikes over a year now and board of local rides so i too have the idea of long distance rides I plan on touring and looking for range not speed. This is where i`m at atm I am planning a 300 mile coast to coast ride over 2000 feet elevation i intend on doing it in 4 days 3 nights of camping will also be arranging charging access from the campsites i will stay at in advance . I started the bike build with a Boardman hybrid comp 2014 (my commuter ebike) upgraded to a new stronger rear wheel and to hydraulic brakes, tires, grips, bars, stem. spd pedals, seat etc. The motor is a bbshd (i have the option of using a bbs02) the battery's are a whale frame pack 17ah@48v, a lithium lipo 25ah@ 52v pack and a home made 20ah@52v pack total of 62ah, All the battery's will go in a Bike original mono wheel trailer with a shock absorber, load limit of 60kg all my camping equipment food clothes and other items will also to be stored on the trailer (not sure of the total weight as its work in progress the trailer arrives in a weeks time so that`s when i will get a total end weight) I am working out the last bit of the puzzle which is the gearing as when you have a load and hill climb you soon realise its not like normal riding so i have a luna eclipse chain ring 42 teeth and rear and 9 speed cassette 11-32 this a mile away from what i need and will not work so i intend on the luna mighty mini chain ring 30 teeth and a rear cassette of 12-36 this is the maximum for a 9 speed cassette to my understanding. If the 9 speed cassette is to little then i will have to upgrade to 11 speed gearing very expensive though and a last resort other than a Rohloff speedhub £1500! this can get very expensive very fast. i will update this post next week with further results and testing.


              Rick S Greetings and salutations
              I feel ya dawg like you I also seek great distance so to be able to explore the great unknown
              I did a mileage run yesterday traveled 30.4 miles and used 4.3 volts
              When you find distance you will have speed they go in hand and hand
              the key to distance is don't use the speed monitor the system with a CA and keep a lid on everything
              while trying to maintain the speed you want to cover ground at.

              get the biggest ah GA cell battery you can get 52v is cool the 52v24ah luna is totally awesome go crazy and get two of them
              get a motor that is efficient and will produce at least 3000w A good sine wave programmable controller turn it down a little
              Get a CA so you can watch everything I think that would get you 100 miles + a day with no problem and minimal weight
              Cheers Dude


                Hey Rick S. I got the same exact obsession about a year ago. I've explored quite a bit of the Los Padres on foot but I don't have as much time (or stamina) as I used to so a few years ago I got a dual sport motorcycle to get me as far into the back country as possible in the shortest amount of time. But the restrictions on motor vehicles is really limiting. (For good reason. Pretty much all the places where motor vehicles are allowed show at least some signs of idiot-behavior)

                About a year ago a friend turned me on to BBS02 conversions. I've done 40+ mile loops (Matilija to Monte Arrido to Pendola to Juncal and back) and excellent shuttles (Potrero Seco road back to Matilija) on USFS roads. For now at least, the Forest Service seems to be okay with it. I do worry about the future. Their tendency is just to ban anything that takes actual regulation. (In their defense, they really don't have any money budgeted for anything but fire fighting anymore.)

                I'd say you have a perfectly good setup to cover some real distance. Can't speak to the 48V vs 52V difference as I only have 52V, but I doubt it is that big a difference. Biggest issue I've found for range though is gearing. If you put a really small chainring on it (like 30T), you can leave it in very low PAS levels even on the longest, steepest climbs. Keep the motor (and your legs) spinning as fast as possible and the Bafang will make very little heat. If anything is getting hot, that's where you are wasting energy--and range. Big climbs while lugging the motor is what really eats up watt-hours. (By the way, make sure you are prepared for mechanical issues including electrical. You can get pretty solitary pretty fast. Twenty miles is a long walk.)

                I started off with a simple low-end hard tail mountain bike with a BBS02 and a Shark Pack. I found that a Mini Cube in a tail bag was a great "reserve tank" for a little more sense of security. Next I realized that I could easily overwork the low-end mechanical disc brakes that it had on long descents. (Luna has great prices on hydraulic upgrades.) Then I realized that a full suspension was really a lot more controlled on descents as well. But the brakes and suspension don't get me more range.

                I hardly ever use my XR400 anymore. Nobody else really likes that brap brap stuff around while they're out in the back country anyway. E-bikes have really hooked me. Cheers.Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_3239.JPG Views:	1 Size:	403.4 KB ID:	33069

                edit: Gr8 fun is correct, 20 watt-hours/ mile is a pretty good rate to shoot for. You can probably use that to estimate what size battery you'll need for a given ride.

                and just in case you're interested, the photo is from Old Man Mtn looking over toward the Santa Ynez ridge on other side of Jameson Lake
                Last edited by skymon; 04-16-2017, 07:46 AM.


                  Under general in this forum solar charging is one proven system. Also a. Boost convertor ming he (mpt 7210a) being used with a single 100 watt panel. Gives him 80 watt charging at 56 volts. Using more panels is better. The choice of panels is tremendous. But can weigh as little as 4 lbs per 100 watt. But buying bewares are same as for batteries. Defective cheap chinese stuff. Buy from known quality sources. Some cheap obsolete low production per sq. Foot panels too.
                  the biggest battery you can afford is best beginning, a second battery is good idea.

                  but for cool factor many believe solar is best.i am in that group. Less expensive than a battery. Slow charging is best for battery. When you have the time.

                  as far as gearing, i use a sturmey archer csrk3 hub, also a 130 front ring adaptor with 52. And 38 rings. More range than a rohloff without the cost.


                    Originally posted by Rick S. View Post
                    I have been obsessed with the idea of riding long distances into the forrest on dirt roads where motorized vehicles are not allowed. This ever since I met a guy on such a road behind Santa Barbara with some sort of homemade cargo bike with battery bags on panniers. This was maybe 3 years ago. I believe he had a BBS02 on the hub... not sure. He said he sometimes went 30 miles in and out of the National Forest, sometimes camped overnight and rode back out next day. Wonderful.

                    Current test bike is my old circa 1990 (I think) Stumpjumper Sport with some antler-like old-guy-with-bad-back handlebars and cushy seat. Not the ideal set-up, I know, but it's what I had on hand. I added a kit from LunaCycle, BBSHD (68mm), the rest of the basic kit, upgrade to DPC14 color display, and 48V GA Shark. I realize now the 48V was probably a bad choice if I want range, but that fit the budget.

                    What I would like to do it build a long-range bike that could handle the occasional single-track and occasional hard climb, but that was mostly designed to go long distances down hilly forrest roads. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
                    Welcome to the addiction! Been hooked on Ebikes about 10 yrs now .... there is no going back for me! :D

                    Your post is sounding like me about 10yrs ago, my original goal was to keep an Ebike as light and efficient as possible, and still overcome my body's physical limitations. What I have learned over the last many years both building my own, & Ebikes for others, is that you have two major things to realize with an Ebike.

                    1) It's no longer just a bicycle once you have added 20 - 40lbs of stuff (or more, my very first Ebike built to help my father recover after a crippling bicycle accident had 3 car batteries in a old kid hauling trailer! LOL!! I remember thinking wow, this thing will only go 15 mph!?!??!?? not thinking about the 110lbs of lead in the trailer I was pulling :D )

                    2) It's got to have enough power to make up for the extra weight, or you're really just riding a very light motorcycle with crappy range. ; )

                    In my experience, you are lightyears ahead of the game by using a good mid-drive such as the BBS02. The single most important component of any Ebike is the battery, and you've got a fine one, 48V is no slouch, and since you have the GA cells, you have another few amp hours to play with!

                    There is no free lunch, there is a cycle of designing a bicycle for your use, where you are the only one who will know "what works" and goes something like this:

                    To go faster or further you need a larger battery, but larger batteries weight more, etc.

                    IF you like to pedal a lot, and will be helping the motor with 50%+ of the power needed, you might just get a second battery like the one you have to swap in and be just fine.

                    IF you need to use the motor more, then your range is going to be ALOT more limited, and honestly, having a second battery rather than having a complicated and heavy solar array is much MUCH more efficient.

                    Big batteries take longer to charge!

                    The best thing is to have one battery that full-fills your needs, however, until you do some test rides, you don't know where that battery capacity (need) is exactly, and all the factors of your weight, how much you pedal, how much you carry and what conditions you ride in (cold weather around 40F and lower or above 90F will limit your battery capacity somewhat, the more over these limits, the more dramatic the effect.)

                    Load up your bike, go on a short trip that will be close to the conditions that you expect on your trip, and when you have gotten to approximately 50% of battery (you can calculate this off the voltage chart Luna has for your battery, not super accurate, but close enough unless you really want to "geek-out" with a fancy meter such as the Cycle Analyst or CA) and then return.

                    I LOVE to pedal as much as I can, and I use my BBS02 to simply extend my range. However, I have it to get me where I need to go if/when my Chronic Fatigue saps my strength to the point that I wouldn't be able to pedal my way home, and will need the motor to do 90% of the work if not more.

                    Someone else might need to lean on that assist a lot harder, and will never get the same kind of range such as myself (I have a lightweight aluminum road hybrid, a Muddy Fox Xernt with 23 x 700c wheels that I have ridden 40 miles on paved bike paths, and never used more than approximately 10% of the battery, I also don't use above assist level 3, and I NEVER use the throttle when trying to hyper mile.)

                    Don't let ANYONE fool you into thinking you MUST have full suspension, hydraulic disc break, 29er, 650b or the latest greatest marking gimmick 27.5 wheels. ; )

                    Bicycle companies just like any, need to come up with new things to get you to buy a new product, unless you are a very tall person, you might actually be making life harder on yourself with a 29er set of wheels.

                    Unless you are racing cyclist, none of the tiny advantages this different sized wheels CAN bring IF you have a professional bike fit done, and they will actually compliment you, all you are doing is spending unnecessary extra money on the latest craze.

                    This goes double for the fat bikes, unless you are really needing a huge contact patch for your tire to get traction in sand, mud or snow, all you are doing is riding a cool looking bike that has heavier tires, and MUCH greater resistance with the surface you are riding on, there are a few members on facebook that use their fatbikes primarily on the road and are now wanting to downsize because they realizing how much of a penalty those tires cause with their size, weight, and increased resistance because most use off-road tires.

                    Same goes for hydraulic disc. Disc breaks are by far one of the best recent developments for bicycles, however, there are a lot of bikes being sold by Walmart, or low end cheap Ebikes that feature hydos.

                    If you're buying a Ebike for $1500 and it has hydro disc brakes, all you're doing is being fooled by their marketing, and now your less than stellar bottom shelf braking performance from these cheap hydros, is often rivaled by even decent RIM brakes! :D

                    You also need to consider the fact that those hydro brakes need to be bled every year to remove air and water that will infiltrate the system, and unlike cable actuated disc brakes, if you snag and break a line, you're done, where as a cable brake system you can easily bring a second cable & housing and be back on the trail in 10 - 15m.

                    Don't let anyone fool you into thinking you "old" specialized bike is obsolete just because it lacks some of the latest greatest gimmicks being sold, first off, you're not just pedaling, your tire size is much less important, 26" wheels come in a variety of sizes and styles and will be much more affordable than 29er, 27.5, etc.

                    The gearing choices you can make are much more numerous with 26" tires because you haven't jump to the very large 29er tires, that is why you see so many using the smallest chain rings they can find, especially when paired with 29er wheels. ; )

                    The perfect bike (tool) for the job is the one you are comfortable riding, gets you where you need to be, and does it putting a smile on your face. Unless you're doing serious fast trail riding, down hill, etc. you DO NOT NEED SUSPENSION of any kind! It adds more weight and complexity to your bike, while then requires more power to lug around the extra weight, and the cycle continues.

                    Get some nice balloon tires as your first up-grade, something like a good 26 x 2.35 with more of a slick track in the middle and knobbies on the sides, otherwise unless you're in the most difficult terrain around, you're loosing power bumping along on those knobbies. ; ) Many people ride off-road with what are considered "road tires" because they aren't needed, and actually work better on something like a typical trail, 26 x 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apples or the more affordable CST Cyclops.

                    I hit a "curb" that was 4" high at 25 MPH+ with good handbuilt quality wheels, and 26 x 2.35 Big Apples on a 150lb (I had camping gear, toold & food for a week long 220 mile trip, no motor) rigid frame Vision R40 recumbent, and other than scaring the crap out of me riding the Vernona - Banks trail, I never had any trouble, rim didn't even go out of true! :D

                    Use the bike you have, get a good firm saddle, avoid the super squishy gel types, they will kill you after a few miles and all the soft stuff starts putting pressure on your soft tissues (Brooks are the best! get a good used one cheap that is broken in if you can, I just bought one recently for $29 off craigs list) and if you feel the need for extra cushion, there are suspension seat posts, reasonable suspension forks (you don't need a $500 pair of forks for going on camping trips! Fox 40's are used by world cup DH racers, and unless your Ebike goes motorcycle speeds, a decent set of Suntour or Rockshocks will probably do just fine for ya, just remember these are designed more for performance than comfort! Having the right saddle fit to you will do worlds more of difference than adding suspension of any kind.)

                    Just my $0.02 ... YMMV, but honestly, there are few bicycles that are better than a good solid 26" mountain bike to convert to electric, ESPECIALLY if they are steel!


                    • funwithbikes
                      funwithbikes commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Allot of excellent points in there. Much of the bike industry is driven by "gram -ophiles" looking to squeeze the most performance they can out the the 50-150 Watts per hour that a reasonably fit human can produce. At 750W a bbs02 is has 5 times the power output. It is often better to give up a few pounds for the reliability of steel.

                    Agree with this. good poits. good practical experience very functional advice.
                    solar is basically impractical. Geeky. But doable if that is what gives u enjoyment.


                      Thanks guys (assume it's guys). Especially Li-ghtcycle, but all info from everyone was really helpful. Getting clearer on the details. I had perused the info on Lunacycle and here and had gotten a basic understanding, but this clears a few things up. Bottom line is usage... watt-hours... which is impacted by essentially everything... pedal vs. throttle, pedal-assist setting, gearing, and of course the weight being dragged along. One conclusion is that one of the best things I could do to increase range is lose 20 lbs. Ha. The main issue with my current trusty Stumpjumper Sport is that its components are ancient, not sure I can trust the old ca. 1990s Shimano derailleur, and the stem is 1" so I can't add a good front shock. Otherwise the CroMo frame is strong and, as was pointed out, the 26" wheels lend themselves to cheaper tires.

                      One note about the solar discussion. I looked into the solution that was listed under Discussions, and it's not as far out and geeky as it may sound. The panels are about $100 each, hooked up in series they would produce 56.4 volts, the li-ion charger/converter is about $100. The panels are about 2' x 2' so they could be transported folded together and attached as a pannier (let's say in a protective enclosure of plastic or fabric). So given my scenario of riding 1 day into the forest, camping for a day or two, and 1 day out, this could easily recharge the battery(s) I've used to get there. I realize carrying extra batteries accomplishes the same thing, but having a realistic solar recharging option for the cost of a good battery is intriguing.

                      Thanks again.


                        With regard to the solar issue. check out the thread at There is a really clever solar trailer which would work incely for an extended camping trip.


                        • Rick S.
                          Rick S. commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yes, that's the equipment I was referring to. It looks more cumbersome due to the trailer, but the actual solar panels and controller are relatively compact. Panels are about 22" square, 0.1" thick, 33.5 oz ea. Controller is 5.5" x 3.2" x 2.2" and 10.2 oz. So 7 or 8 pounds all in with wiring and some sort of lightweight carrying pouch. No need for a trailer if you could fix it to the bike like a pannier. Panels have grommets in the corners for suspending them with cord or tying them together and securing them to a surface when charging. This is sounding more and more feasible.

                        What if it's not sunny? Point being, your projected charge rate will sharply decline with less then full sun, not to mention higher temps , PV output declines with higher temps. One plus, the panels are sea level rated, so produce more the higher you go due to thinner air, it's a measurable effect. Packing extra power in a aux battery is a for sure way to get back, solar may not be, but you'd still be dealing with the extra hassle and weight. Long time real solar user here, on a daily basis (it's powering my computer right now) but not packing it around on my bike, sure as hell it will be cloudy! Half the weight of the lightest panel currently available, and twice the output, is what we need, then I'll be first in line.

                        I have however, packed along a spare 11.5 ah battery and then stashed it trail side, figuring as I'd be coming back the same way, why pack it there and back? I always carry several feet of the bright orange survey tape for flagging my return route (and I take them with me on the way back) plus I have a GPS, so finding the battery again is no problem. If I've had one experience stand out in the close to two years I've been an ebiker, it's the many times I've packed a spare battery, and found I didn't need it! All in all, I always go further, not less, then I think I can, these batteries are pretty amazing and it's hard to comprehend the energy they can store until you experience it. Keep it simple for starters anyway, and remember additional batteries for long trips are also real handy in your local riding, I always have one ready to go, so I'm not waiting on a charge.


                        • Rick S.
                          Rick S. commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Point taken. The geek/tinkerer allure of solar sometimes clouds the reality. Speaking of clouds.

                        Just went 11.3 miles, some miles with fairly steep grade, and (according to LunaCycle battery chart, 48v 13.5a Shark) used just a hair over 40% of my battery. So that's 11.3 / 40 = 0.28 X 100 = 28 mile range (given the same conditions)... have I got this right? That's pretty good range I'm thinking.


                        • commuter ebikes
                          commuter ebikes commented
                          Editing a comment
                          The "(Volts * AmpHours) / 20" rule of thumb projects 71 miles range on my bike, but I only have 20 miles range. Probably because I weigh 270 pounds and ride a 90 pound bike with fat tires crammed full of tire liners and 24 ounces of slime. Also, I ride at full speed 95% of the time.

                        • Rick S.
                          Rick S. commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm 225 right now so I guess that's where the other 5 miles went lol.

                        • Rider
                          Rider commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yes, it is just a simple Rule-Of-Thumb quick calculation that works pretty good for combined surface and power riding. I'm 230lbs. and ride a 50lb. eMTB with a BBS02 750W/48V mid-drive powered by a Luna 21Ah Panasonic GA battery pack. My goal was a solid useable 50 mile range. The simple calculation is (48V * 21Ah) / 20 = 50.4 estimated reliable mixed use range. This battery pack blew my expectations out of the water. On my second full charge I went over 100 miles on level 6 of 9 WITH pedaling on mostly flat ground, just over and under pass climbs.

                          Range is very subjective and most retailers over state realistic range of their E-bikes. This frustrates buyers that expected much more than they get. Using this simple Rule-Of-Thumb calculation allows you to compare apples to apples based on the E-bikes voltage and battery amphours. It's not prefect for true range, but at least it looks at each bike the same way so you can see the BIG RED FLAG when someone claims their E-bike of the same V & Ah gets double or triple the range of their competitor.

                          True E-bike range is a "range" itself (IE: My build above could have a stated realistic range of ~50-100 miles. I've never tested a throttle only real world range, but may do it in the future just to see what it gets.
                          Last edited by Rider; 05-05-2017, 06:58 AM.