Pursuing EV Mobility for my Cargo Bike

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Enter a NEW SOLUTION...


At the last minute my attention was drawn toward another mid-drive solution from engineers in Italy. Using their own words:


"Performance – Mid-Drive Motors are known for higher performance and torque when compared to a similar-powered traditional Hub Motor. One of the key reasons for that is because the mid-drive motor drives the crank, instead of the wheel itself, which multiplies its power and allows it to better take advantage of the bike’s existing gears. The best way to visualize this is to imagine a scenario where you are pedaling and approaching a steep hill. As you would change the gears to make it easier for yourself to pedal and maintain the same cadence, a mid-drive motor would also benefit from that and enable it to deliver more power and more range as a result. (What you do for yourself you now can do for the motor, lessening the load)


Maintenance – the bike’s Mid-Drive is designed in such a way that makes maintenance and service extremely easy. You can remove and replace the entire motor assembly by simply taking out two special bolts – without affecting any other aspect of the bike. This means that virtually any regular bike shop can easily perform the troubleshooting and repairs. If you have a hub motor in the rear wheel, on the other hand, even basic maintenance tasks such as taking off the wheel to change a flat tire become a very complicated endeavor.


Handling –A Mid-Drive motor is positioned close to the center of gravity and low to the ground. This helps improve the overall handling of your electric bike, as the weight is distributed better throughout the bike."

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There were other considerations behind my shift of attention.


My recent experience and further research convince me that mid-drive has the best chance of being my solution from an engineering point of view. Finding the correct motor and the appropriate supplier are just a important. I was in the midst of placing my order for the mid-motor kit as I've describe when negotiations ended right after I requested a detailed list of "whats in the box," so to speak. This vendor's photo of his kit on Amazon had pieces missing causing me some concern. There is no photo nor even a reference to the his motor on his web site, adding to my concern. When I requested some details return email just stopped.


Adding to my thought process were these realities:

     1. I still had to assemble the whole project and I lack the tools and the experience with today's bicycles. Labor is an issue. Needing factory help is an issue.

     2. I'm still stuck with a "department store" bicycle. Portions of this bike are poorly constructed regarding the addition of electric power. Energy going through the drive train that comes with this bike will probably be a bad idea in the long run. I still don't know if the chain that I have matches the sprocket that comes with the kit.

     3. I'm building something made out of incoherent parts. The EV bike I'm considering is an engineered whole. Things are solved. The brakes, the gears, etc., all work together already.

    4. And finally, the BLOG opportunity is 100% compatible with the goals of this web site. I will be offering my experience and free test drives to prospects who want to know what it is like to ride an electrically driven bicycle of calibre. My order is in the works!

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Bicycle Pastel...


While we're waiting for the details of my order for a mid-drive bicycle motor to come together, let me share this digital oil painting that I created, inspired by local mobile photography, using various artistic APP filters on my Galaxy Note digital tablet. I was inspired by the unusual color combination, the flare for simplicity!


Reproductions are available. 

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Its been six weeks since my experience with the 600w front wheel hub motor and lead acid batteries. Within a week of that failure I removed all of the EV parts and I've been riding the bike for exercise using human power. Even though this is classified as a "cheap and inferior" department store bicycle, I like it. All of the modifications I made still please me.


During this window of opportunity I have continued to do research, interviewing suppliers, reading reviews and watching videos of other's experiences. I continue to be impressed. I also continue to realize that my project is going to change financially. So far I've kept this in a low budget mode with the help of a hub motor benefactor. This mid-drive motor and lithium battery is going to cost some money, I estimate about $3000.


Here is a graphic for visualization, my method of planning. It shows the silhouette of the motor superimposed over a photo of the bike I am building. I am presently interviewing suppliers and confirming prices, etc.

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My smartest friends tell me that bike riding is good for me.

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Proof that our romance with bicycles has been around for many years! 


Rubber tires and seat have rotted away. Only metal remains, like bike archaeology. We find whats left.

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mid drive sends energy through your drive train

THE MID DRIVE OPTION:


This seems to be my natural evolution in my research. Its early yet but I'll post some info I've found so far:


Benefits of a mid drive over a hub motor...


1. Climbs steep hills MUCH better than a hub motor. There are videos of mid drives climbing stairs…(a feat nearly impossible to do on a hub motor electric bike).
2. Places the weight of the motor low and centralized in the frame (instead of a heavy hub in the rear wheel) which means a better balanced feel.
3. The motor can use the bikes gears, so the RPMs stay up in it’s efficient range = More range per battery-Ah.
4. Keeping the motor in it’s best RPM range means lower peak-amps drawn from the battery.
5. Giving the motor some gears to use, also means you can get a broader range of performance from a smaller and lighter motor.
6. Easy to change a flat tire with no hub motor.
7. No more broken spokes from hitting a pothole with a heavy hub motor in the wheel.


Drawbacks of a mid drive:


1. Often more expensive than a simple hub-motor.
2. Some mid-drives are noisier than a hub, a direct-drive hub with a sinewave controller is especially quiet.
3. Mid-drive kits are more complex to install than a simple hub.
4. Shifting a mid drive electric bike can be a real pain. With a hub motor bike, the only reason to use gears is to get the right pedal cadence which usually means just staying in high gear.
5. Mid drives are generally not as well suited for flat land street commuting as hub motor bikes.
6. Mid drives are not as stealthy as most hub motor bikes.
7. If you want a super powerful electric bike (over 2000 watts) you have better and more reliable options from hub motor kits.
8. Mid drives have more moving parts and therefore tend to be less reliable than most hub motor kits.

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Two steps forward, one back. This is the philosophical conclusion. My goal remains to acquire, build or buy, a motor assisted cargo bike that allows a person of my age and weight to overcome local hills that stand between me and local grocery stores.

So, the search for an answer goes on.

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FALLEN FROM GRACE...

In spite of my valiant hopes and efforts to defy gravity I've ended up in the regrettable position of having to accept the pragmatic fact that... this wonderful hub motor works where I don't need it and fails rapidly where I do.

All of the advertising about climbing hills or 20 miles range on one charge is for naught. Mine will not do it and it apparently never did do it.

To have the help of the motor on local streets only where the grade is essentially flat is not good enough for me. When the batteries drain I am left with over 30 pounds of dead weight to push which adds more weight to the groceries I am carrying.

This morning I removed all of the parts that comprised the motor, controller, throttle and batteries that comprise this hub motor...  I am a wiser man, and lighter.

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