Electric Bicycles, my Experiences
In this post I would like to share some of my experiences related to electric bicycles. I’m not a “cyclist” myself, I prefer electric cars and motorcycles. But since all my relatives started using electric bicycles, this theme is very familiar to me. I think that my opinion will be quite objective, because I am not a fanboy of the e-bicycles and can look at the subject from a bit different angle.
Let’s start with some history
The first e-bicycle that I assembled belonged to my father-in-law. It was made in China, had a rear gearless motor-wheel and lead rechargeable batteries. What I can say, in general, it turned out to be a quite reliable vehicle. The bicycle itself survived replacement of two lead batteries. One of them lasted for about a year, the second one after some time started to lose mileage on a single charge.
As a result, when the second battery started dying, I decided to switch to lithium batteries (LiFePO4), and I have absolutely no regrets about doing it. It’s now the fifth year of operation, no lost capacity observed.
What I don’t like in this bicycle: Over the years of usage all plastic parts just literally fell off. It seems like all these embellishments are just too fragile. Rear wheel drive and external brake drum greatly complicate the removal and installation of the rear wheel. Flat or punctured tyres are never planned, often occurring at the most inconvenient of times, a harsh reality. As it comes to the rear wheel service, it’s just a pain in the ass.
My second experiment
The second e-bicycle belonged to my mother-in-law. It was decided to upgrade the existing bicycle. Here, I took into account previous experience and installed the lithium batteries. Also, in order to avoid difficulties with the rear wheel, I installed geared motor-wheel MW 250W on the front wheel. The brake system is conventional, ie using pedals. This time I was really satisfied with the end result.
My third project
The third project was for my father. It was decided to repeat the previous variant, with the slight difference that the motor-wheel will be at least 500W (more powerful), and the frame will be bigger. And then things started to go south. At first, the magnet came off. In the gear wheels the magnets are glued to an outer surface and fall off more easily than direct-drive wheels. Then, in about a year, the teeth of the pinion gear were cut. But overall, it was another successful project.
E-bike motor position (rear / front) – for elderly people it’s better to use front wheel drive because it’s a pretty simple and familiar thing.
The front-wheel usually is less loaded, and there’s a chance that it might slip. The rear wheel is usually more heavily loaded. This gives us better pulling power.
Since elderly people have a calm riding style in general and don’t need to develop high speeds, the front-hub motor position is more beneficial here. It’s much easier in maintenance and gets the job done.
For young people front wheel may not be the best variant, because it can sometimes slip and reduce power characteristics of the electric bike. The complexity of maintenance for young people is not so critical.