For those of you tuning in for the electric bit of this blog I guess this is feeling like an episode of “Lost” where all the twists and turns don’t give you the payoff you want.
Well I’m pretty close to finishing the Elation kit now. I just wanted to get the basic bike up and running before adding the motor. In the next few days hopefully. In the meantime I though I would like to review my experiences with electric bikes thus far. If you want more details on electric bikes in general check http://endless-sphere.com/forums/.
About 2 years ago I moved into inner west Sydney about 3-4ks from the city after 6 years living 20ks to the south west. Living out there I used the train as much as I could but the location of my boys school, near the city, made this option difficult so I ended but driving a lot, and sitting in heavy traffic on the M5 freeway a lot too, bikes were really not a good option for transport other than maybe the local shops. So the new house is about 2ks from my boys school which is a fine walk but that then leaves me at the mercy of public transport to carry on to my work in nearby suburbs. So even with only 2ks to school I again ended up driving a lot more than I wanted to.
I tried riding a skateboard for a while and combined with public transport this works pretty well. Also a normal bike without electric motors could work too. But I work in a medical office environment with no showers etc in my workplace and lets be honest once you have tasted the convenience of stepping out of you cool clean car into work, riding to work and needing a shower at the other end in order to function in polite company, leaves a bit to be desired.
I think climate change really is an inconvenient truth and that 80% of people will not sacrifice their own comfort even if they understand all the risks climate change poses. People need to be convinced on other grounds like their own hip pocket and their own convenience. I suppose, to be honest, I’m no different and need more motivation than moral superiority to do the right thing
So a couple of test rides to work on my old cheap Kmart style Malvern Star bike proved the principle (albeit with a few cans of deoderant!) and the search was on for an electric bike. I considered the Elation kit at the time but I didn’t have a suitable bike to put it on. So after a bit of research I decided to purchase a” Greenewheels” bike through ebay. Its hard to trace the origins of these bikes other than all coming from China however it is very similar to a Whisper brand bike with a Bafang geared hub motor. It has a 36volt system and is a neat and tidy looking ebike.
The purchase went smoothly and the bike arrived in good condition just needing pedals etc fitted. Charged it up and it was great! The motor on the flat with no pedaling would sit on a solid 28-29kph. It was a dream. My son would ride on the cross bar in front, which I padded, and we could chat and joke, and I was at work in no time after a not so sweat inducing ride.
No license no insurance no traffic jams plus I’m getting a little exercise everyday. I would have paid 3 times what I did for this thing….except then it began to break down and no one wanted to know.
First it was little things like quickly worn break pads, no problem I upgraded these. Then some broken spokes which were of a particular size, got em eventually from the original supplier and worn bottom bracket bearings, the originals were very poor quality. In the process I went to at least 6 different bike shops who varied in their reaction from just can’t help to almost open hostility when they found out the bike had an electric boost.
Business wise this just confused me. OK, I didn’t buy a bike from them but that’s not to say I wouldn’t at some future time if they tried to help me with this. Sometimes they did help, a bit, but the attitude was tough to take. The least attitude I got was from Cheeky Transport in Newtown, whom I have used for parts of the latest, many thanks to Nick.
Overall I think bike shops must have it too easy or something because they sure don’t seem to want my money.
OK so now the big problems began. The Hall effect sensor wiring on the motor melted and I needed a new motor (can be corrected with a sensorless controller too) and about 10 months later the battery needs replacing. To be honest I think I cooked the battery by running it too low for the first few charges, shortening it’s life. But for me this just shows that owning an ebike is not as straight forward as a car or motorbike. At the time I just didn’t realize this could be a problem.
Anyway these are all things that with help from the net (endlesssphere.com) I was capable of fixing myself but if I didn’t develop these skills then the bike would now be junk with no local repair option.
Why did I persevere at all? Ebikes are great to ride, simple as that. People who make negative comments most likely haven’t ridden one.
But unless like me you like staring into an electronic abyss of melted wiring, spending hours on the net sourcing obscure parts and repair information, then I can’t recommend them, at this point, to the average commuter. I hope this changes sometime soon with local shops embracing ebikes as a new sales stream rather than turning up their nose at them.
Its not all bad this bloke seems to have had much better luck with his almost identical bike. http://blog2.zog.net.au/category/electric-bikes/greenewheels/