Add-e Electric Bike Conversion Kit—Lightweight Power

Add-e Electric Bike Conversion Kit—Lightweight Power.

Tucked way down out the way, the Add-e motor and controller are almost out of sight.

The very first E-bike I rode had friction drive. That was over 20 years ago and it was quite primitive, slow and heavy. The Add-e uses that old technology, yet brings it to date with a modern style battery and control system. Rather than the motor being part of the wheel, or transferring its power through a chain or belt, it sends the power right to the tire tread with a rough sandpaper like friction wheel (the outer casing of the out-runner motor). This has its benefits and drawbacks.

The benefits are many, one being the entire conversion kit weighs just over 5 lbs. The next useful feature is when the assist is not in use, it offers exactly zero drag to the bike it is converting. It is very easy to install, although depending on the bike and control method, it can be a touch more difficult. I opted for the easy route, which also allowed me what I felt was the better choice of motor control. And to be sure, this is a very powerful unit and drives the bike with decent assist. Before I go deeper into my findings and the whole story, let’s discuss the drawbacks.

Everything you need is all in this small box.

Each of the things I didn’t like about the Add-e might matter to you in varied levels of importance, so here they are in no particular order. This is a noisy little beast. The motor itself is as silent as can be, yet when it is in contact with the tire, it sounds off very noticeably. It isn’t too bad at the lower level settings. At full song, it is howling with gusto. I got used to it (mostly) but one the whole I didn’t like it that much. My first E-bike had noisy internal reduction gears, yet not at this decibel level.

It would have taken a lot more testing to see how much it was wearing out the tire tread, but it did have black rubber dust on the unit when I removed it when the test was over. I would have liked them to add some kind of battery charge level lights or gauge (it has neither), so I had a touch of warning when the power was ready to fade. I could feel the power weakening some before it just fully turned off, leaving me to pedal unassisted (not that bad though because the bike was still lightweight and not encumbered with extra drag).

Other than the hand throttle, the whole system is visible in this shot.

It does have a small capacity lithium battery (which weighs close to nothing), but the range is the loser here. Many will be happy with this, depending on their needs and travel distance. I got only 8 miles on one of my charge sessions, yet I was at full power the whole time, used it a lot and took on some steep local grades. On another charge cycle I did 16 miles and felt like the battery was only half discharged. That time I was using the power when needed and did your basic hill and dale riding without too much steepness.

One more thing here before I go on about how much I liked it, that tiny motor got pretty hot on the hill climbs. Not once did it seem to affect the performance, yet after a particularly long (not real steep, yet steep) run, my heat gun read out at 250 degrees (F) on the motor housing. That is getting up there. The motor hangs down in the breeze and has large vent holes so it cooled back down pretty quick, yet it getting that hot, and what that have been doing to my tire, did concern me some.

You can get a feel from this angle how the add-e friction wheel (motor) drives the back tire.

Past all that, the Add-e never skipped a beat and was able to power my hybrid bike to maybe 23 mph on level ground. For such a small system it was surprising to see it rated at 600 watts. It did get-up and go almost as good as some powerful 500 watt hub motor E-bikes I have ridden. Never once was I wanting more drive, as this featherweight itty bitty conversion kit packs a mean punch. The battery is rated at 24 volts and 7.2 Ah (this adds up to about 173 watt hours—not that much compared to all the other E-bikes out there). It must be pretty efficient to get the performance it does. BTW, the battery has a one hour recharge time.

The motor is attached to the small ECU (control unit) with a hinging mechanism. Gravity keeps the friction wheel away from the tire when not powered up. The force of the motor starting pulls it in contact with the tire when in use. Once engaged, it transfers the turning energy to the tire with friction (some of that heat is a result of this). There are adjustments on the unit to make it work just right. Very ingenious and consistent I must say.

This is everything I used to convert the bike—there were still a few pieces in the box I didn’t use.

It mounts to the bike either to the kickstand bracket (meaning no kickstand unless you have or purchase a rear mounted one), or under the bottom bracket bearing race and retaining nut (with included brackets). It should fit most modern bikes, yet I couldn’t get it to mount to my vintage bikes (but I bet I could with some fancy maneuvering). The sensor for the automatic pedelec function also mounts in this way (under the BB race and nut).

I decided to take the easy route and use the hand throttle it comes with, (actually 2, thumb or half-twist—I used the thumb). I felt I could control the power better this way—it made for an easier install—and felt like the best way to go. The knob on the top of the bottle battery (which mounts just like any bottle cage) is the power level control actuator. Off is fully counter-clockwise and each click the other way (6 in all I think) giving more power, with full available when turned all the way clockwise.

Looking much like any bike out there, most would be hard pressed to tell it has an electric-assist.

Unlike most E-bikes with a hand throttle, this one works more like an on-off switch, with your power level being chosen with the battery knob. This made sense to me as it is replacing the on-off function of the bottom bracket sensor. One thing to note, the battery knob does not shut down the system completely, so even turning it off leaves the basic system powered up. When not in use, I would just lift the bottle battery slightly out of its cage so the contacts in the bottom would be disconnected. Otherwise it will run the battery charge down while sitting idle. The battery has a fairly tight friction fit, that and gravity were all that holds it in, this was never an issue during the entire test.

With so much to like, I think many could easily overlook the few failings (maybe not the correct word). The Add-e conversion is very stealthy and light. It is powerful too. Being made in Austria you know the quality is strong (as is the price). When you compare it to complete E-bikes and other kits, the buy in is not too bad, and it does seem to be a one-of-a-kind unit, with very unique features some are looking for. Maybe the Add-e is that one you have been looking for,

E-biking can be so easy and fun, Turbo Bob.

“I am afraid it is a non-starter. I cannot even use a bicycle pump (let alone a computer).”—Judi Dench.

Look for Add-e on their site or Facebook.

Thanks to ELV Motors for letting me test an Add-e kit off the shelf.

I took some videos of the Add-e (of course), Here they are.


Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Ariel Rider N-Class Premium 500—Old Meets New

Ariel Rider N-Class Premium 500—Old Meets New,

Good performance and great looks—The Ariel Rider N-Class Premium 500.

Some might be looking for a basic cruiser E-bike, yet want a cool twist to add some flavor. That is just what Ariel Rider offers in this new electric-assist bike. It has all the modern E-bike features along with some pieces that take it back 70 years. In fact when I changed just a few items, it went all the back to the roaring 20’s when fearless motorcycle racers showed their stuff on the board tracks of old. Whether you desire this Ariel just the way it comes, or want your own special version, I think fun will be the result.

I was lucky to have Chris from Street Fair Electric Bikes lend me his demo bike for a couple days. It was a touch beat-up and didn’t have the back fender installed, yet that part ended-up working in my favor. As I hit the sack the first night I had it, I found myself envisioning the 500 with no fenders and the handlebars reversed for that old time racer look. When the sun rose the next morning, I put maybe 20 minutes into radically changing the look and riding feel of this custom looking E-bike. Check out the photos and videos for that blast of excitement.

With the bars turned over, and the fenders and the chain guard removed, this bike took on a whole new persona.

Ariel Rider has 5 different E-bike models on their site, with this bike, their flagship, having 2 motor / battery option and 3 colors to choose from. The colors are in the battery cover (tank), fenders and chain guard, with all the bikes having black frames. They can supply you with the pieces to change your color scheme quick and easy for a mix-up of pace when you ride. Or, of course, if you want to get real wild, you can get the most awesome custom paint job and modify the bike even further. Although it is fantastic the way it comes, it can be the canvas for something even more outrageous.

All housed in an aluminum frame, the front end is an old-school springer fork (yet it didn’t really ‘spring’ much). Most of your suspension comes from those oversized 26 X 2.35 CST tires and the 3 (shiny beyond belief) chrome springs on the custom saddle. It was a bit stiff, but these kind of saddles normally take a bit of riding until they form-fit to your bottom side, and then become very comfortable. The upright cockpit is quite nice, and even when I swapped the handlebars way down, I liked the ride. The fancy grips felt very good too.

500 watts—7 gears—big brakes.

For power you have a quality 500 watt geared brushless rear hub motor connected to a 48 volt 11 Ah lithium battery. That all hooks up to an LCD display where you can choose from 6 levels of pedelec assist. That display gives you the normal info and is right at hand for quick changes. A right hand half throttle works in any of the modes, allowing you instant access to all the power the motor can give (which is plenty).

Part of the interesting look of this E-bike comes from the way the battery and control unit are enclosed the faux gas tank. This adds to the styling and helps give it a stealthy appearance, although don’t think people aren’t going to notice you when you ride. The stealth factor is the fact that it isn’t easily recognized as an E-bike, not the stand-out overall feel. It may or not be your personal idea of perfect, yet I think we can all agree that this is one cool E-bike.

The fork does more for the looks than the ride—I didn’t mind.

As for most all hub-motored E-bikes, 7 speeds are plenty, and the lowest gear that can really help on those super steep climbs. The Ariel N-Class Premium 500 has plenty of power for the hills, but remember as with any E-bike you do need to pedal when pushing the assist hard, to keep from heating the motor and draining the battery range too quickly. That 528 watt-hour battery should give some long rides, yet with a 500 watt motor you can use it up quickly when riding fast and hard. That is one nice part about having the 48 volt system, you get plenty of pull at the lower throttle settings.

I am a big fan of the cable operated disc brakes used on this E-bike. They have plenty of power for fast stops, skidding easily if you want. Yet they aren’t so sensitive (like some hydraulic disc brakes), where you can get into quick trouble without even pulling too hard on the levers. They are easy to maintain and service, making for the best way to go in the disc brake world. The levers have motor safety cut-off switches in each one like all good E-bikes should.

Fancy appointments are part of the show.

The reason I mention this is to point out the only real failing I experienced on this bike. This particular bike was part of their first U.S. shipment so they may have reprogrammed the control system by now, yet there was a part about this one I didn’t like. On a pedelec there is a slight delay for the motor turning on when you start pedaling and stopping when you stop pedaling. The start delay is fine, yet the stop was too long (up to 2 seconds on occasion). Generally most are set to about  a ½ second. If it is ever an issue, those safety switches shut down the motor immediately when you use the brakes.

Also, the chain guard was a bit broken from previous abuse (demo bike). It and the fenders are some kind of plastic (which is normal). Like I said, the rear fender wasn’t installed as Chris said he hadn’t had the chance to do some minor mods to get it to fit without rubbing the tire. That was a shame as he told me the taillight was also a brake light, and I would have loved to see how that worked. I did enjoy the built-in lighting though, and it is controlled by a button on the display unit.

Some fancy photo work shows off the Ariel Rider tank emblem.

Riding the bike was like a dream on those big tires and with the smooth power delivery. Every time you look down at the bike, a world of old is at your fingertips. I had been wanting to try out this Ariel Rider since the first time I saw it online. Now I am satisfied that it was worth the wait. The bike is headed back to Chris tomorrow, yet he will be bringing it to my E-bike event on the 24th, so you can climb aboard and get the same thrills I did. Hope to see you there.

Wanna Race?   Turbo Bob.

“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”—Susan B. Anthony.

Look for Ariel Rider on their website and Facebook page.

Chris with Street Fair Electric Bikes can be reached at


I found this website for him online.

I posted 3 videos with this bike

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Introduction to Electric Bicycles—Spring 2016 Edition—May 24, 2016

E-bike Flyer 5-2016It is time again for my popular E-bike event here in San Diego, this will be the 8th edition. Happening the evening of May 24th, 2016, it all starts at 5 pm, yet arriving a bit early is a good idea. You’ll get a chance to meet all the local electric bike dealers and ride any or all of the 60+ E-bikes they will bring. Plus door prizes and a full dinner are part of the fun. I’ve been hosting this special happening every spring and fall for the last 5 years.
Thanks to our local power company and their awesome Energy Innovation Center, it is a free event for everyone involved. This makes it unlike any E-bike event in the entire world, even the Electric Bike Expo that is crisscrossing the country right now. Because the shops and companies can come at no cost, you will get to try out a wide cross-section of bikes, not just the big money ones. I don’t allow any sales at the event, so there is no pressure, just learning and fun.
Expect talks from Rhonda Martin on how E-bikes completely changed her life for the better. Marc Johnson will tell how electric bikes helped him recover from some serious health issues and regain a happy lifestyle once again. Some big news will be the announcement of how you can become part of a Guinness World Record attempt in the E-bike world. Don’t miss that.
Don’t forget to preregister at the link in the text below. I have restructured the evening some so there will be more time to try all the E-bikes, and the test course is bigger than ever. May 24, 2016 from 5 pm to 8 pm, yet if you come a bit before hand, you can extend the fun.
Check out this list of exhibitors and E-bikes that will be there. And, the list is still growing.
ABUS Security Systems——Company reps on hand.
Add-e E-bike Conversion.
Ariel Rider E-bikes.
Bulls E-Bikes—————Company reps on hand.
Dynamite Electric Bike———–Shop reps on hand.
EcoReco——————-Company reps on hand.
El Camino Bike Shop————Shop reps on hand.
E-Lux———————Company reps on hand.
Electra———————Company reps on hand.
Electric Bike Central————-Shop reps on hand.
Electric Car Insider.
Electron Wheel————–Company reps on hand.
ELV Motors———————Shop reps on hand.
Faraday———————Company reps on hand.
Fifield E-Bikes
Freway E-bikes—————Company reps on hand.
HPC. (Hi Power Cycles).
Juiced Bikes——————Company reps on hand.
Kayman Bikes—————-Company reps on hand.
Lectric Cycles———–=—–Company reps on hand.
LightMeUp Safety Lights———Company reps on hand.
Metro Cyclery———————Shop reps on hand.
Nori Lights——————–Company reps on hand.
North County Family Bicycles———Shop reps on hand.
Pedego Electric Bikes————Company reps on hand.
Phantom Bikes—————–Company reps on hand.
rEcycles Electric Bikes—————Shop reps on hand.
San Diego Electric Bike—————Shop reps on hand.
San Diego Fly Rides——————Shop reps on hand.
Street Fair Electric Bikes————–Shop reps on hand.
Stromer————————Company reps on hand.
Surface 604.
Surf Monkey————————Shop reps on hand.
Tern—————————Company reps on hand.
Here is the text I have added to many media sources that offers most the information you will need. See you there, Turbo Bob.
Please consider coming to this free public service event, “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”.
It will take place in the evening on Tuesday May 24th, 2016, here in San Diego, from 5 pm to 8 pm.
It is held at the SDG&E Energy Innovation Center in Clairemont, CA. (4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA–92117).
You will learn about E-bikes, and get a chance to try any of the 60+ E-bikes on hand.
This is a no-sales, no pressure event, with free door prizes and a full catered hot meal (make sure to pre-register so there is enough dinner for everyone) (even with 170 spots, the event was filled the last two times, with some not able to attend, so registration is important).
Electric bikes can be a great way for people to have fun, improve their health, save money, help the environment and relieve road congestion (among many other reasons).
Check the flyer—-hope to see you, family and friends there.
Please share this on your own pages and with email blasts if you can.
This is a direct link for registration
Thanks, Turbo Bob.
There are several videos on my site of previous events, Here are two from the last one.
Posted in Bike Shops, E-bike general interest, General bike stories | Leave a comment

LighTake—Bike Goodies for a Song

LighTake—Bike Goodies for a Song.

When I was a kid I rode my bike and surfed (other things too). Nowadays I still ride my bikes, yet my surfing is limited to the web. Not that long ago I dropped-in and came across the LighTake site. I found tons of stuff there, but it was the bike accessories that caught my eye. Unlike a bike shop, the selection is kind of limited, but the buy-in is low. I got in touch with them to see what they were all about.

I started out getting a cool multi-purpose headlamp that worked surprisingly well, with some neat features. From there I scouted their site for some pieces to fill in some empty spots on a few of my bikes. I noticed the scope of their products is pretty wide, but stayed focused on my bike. Although I am not much into bike clothes, they seemed to have a wide variety of those too. Last time I was there I noticed the available products seem to change, so keep that in mind. Let’s have a look at the items I did get and how they work.

LighTake Multi-functional Q8 LED Headlamp

Bright, and the beam is adjustable.

This lightweight headlamp has an unusual shape compared to most bike lights I use. Still, it mounted easily and was way brighter than I expected, bright enough in fact for it to be a main headlamp for all but the fastest of rides. I particularly like the ability to focus the beam to let it match the type of riding you are doing (like a Maglite). It seems the battery drain is very low (LED), as even though I have used it many times, the initial batteries I installed in it are still running strong.

It came with 4 colored clip on filters for different uses (use the red for a tail light). This light isn’t just for bikes, but a handlebar mount is part of the package. That mount is good, but the headband part not so much. The plastic clip that holds the light in place on the headband broke the first time I tried it. Not to worry as I never intended to use it that way, and the all the other plastic seems to be strong.

LighTake Rack Bag

My bike and I are both liking this new bag.

This nice bag is my favorite item I got from them. It is name-branded as being made by Roswheel. The quality level is high and the price was low. The zippers work well and appear to be able to last a long time. I needed a rack bag on one of our two matching Schwinn 5-speeds (to match the other bike of course), and this one did it just right. The color isn’t a perfect match, but no matter.

It has 3 large side pockets and an even larger main compartment. There is a place for your water bottle in the back with a spot to clip a rear light on that extension . It has reflective striping too. The Velcro straps underneath hold it to the rack very solidly. I was glad to add this accessory to that bike, and it keeps me smiling every time I load my gear into it. I keep the essentials in the side pockets (tube, pump, and tools). Great score on a needed item.

LighTake Lock-on Ergo Grips

These offer a modern feel for any bike.

I didn’t really need these, yet the red color on the aluminum clamps convinced to to move on them. The red bike they landed on had some decent grips already, yet I couldn’t help myself. This style of grips that go on the bike easily are getting more popular. Using just a small Allen wrench for the install is great. The grip material is pretty firm, but just soft enough for comfort.

Some don’t like ergo grips and I have had mixed feelings for different ones I have used. These have a decent contour and I couldn’t fault them on even one ride. They matched the bike, made the ride pleasant, and didn’t set me back much. Can’t ask for more than that.

LighTake Cycle Computer

Want to how fast and how far? You need a cycle computer.

Way back when they first came out I had no need for a cycle computer. Then one day someone mentioned they have a clock built-in. That sold me big time and just about every bike we have has a computer on it  This one even tells the temperature, very handy. Like all computers it tells you present speed, miles traveled, trip distance and time, and total miles traveled. This is a wired computer, the only kind I have used. I heard way back that wireless ones can be troublesome, yet I guess not as much anymore.

The instructions are designed for every language, more with a chart and illustrations. They claim it is very intuitive to use, and after pushing the buttons for a while it was all set-up. I admit to some initial frustration in the process, but before long I was over it and riding. It works fine and does everything they claim it will.

LighTake Chain Pliers

These will make chain installs much easier.

I got these as an afterthought. I used to have a small tool that holds the two chain ends together while you use the breaking tool for reassembly, but haven’t seen it for years. It is designed to be used with master links, yet one you buy a tool you can use it anyway you want. None of my bikes use master links, yet I feel this new tool will come in handy.


I am sure all this pieces are made in China, yet they all shipped from a U.S. address. They showed up quickly after the order and all arrived in good shape. I got what I needed and kept the costs down. Ordering online is kind of hard on the local bikes shops, but I hadn’t seen these exact items at any of them, so what the heck? Shop local first, and if you come up empty, hit the internet. That’s how I do it and I hope you will too.

Just ride, Turbo Bob.

You can find them here, and it seems they even have a Facebook page.

Here are short videos I posted on each item.

Posted in Bike accessories | Leave a comment


ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part # 8—Wrap-up and Costs.

I do hope you have followed along with this project. If you are just getting started, links to the first 7 articles are at the bottom of this post. I suggest you read (or re-read) them all to get up to speed on all the info I have offered. I won’t go over it all again now, yet I do want to re-establish that I found it a great bike to ride, it met all my goals, and you can create your own perfect bike like this for your commuting or everyday rides. This post will show every part used, your personal options and the costs involved.

Of course there are unlimited options, from what bike you use, to what E-conversion kit you take advantage of, to all the accessories that you think are important. I used the word “ULTIMATE” to lend towards having the best, yet better could have been accomplished. And even more important, having the best isn’t necessary, yet having ‘good enough’ isn’t necessarily the best idea. It is up to you to decide what it will take to make your “ULTIMATE”.

Prices and Options—-What I spent—what was donated—what you might spend

The Bike

I used a second hand bike. You might make yours from a bike you already have, or a brand new quality machine. I fully reworked mine, something that could be needed for yours, yet with a newer or new bike you can most likely bypass this step. Some of these items you might need (or want). Pay particular attention to the ‘items carried’ list for things you should take with you on every bike ride, not just for commuting.

$25—-my initial outlay for the bike———————$0 to 1500 might be your price here.

$0–new donated pair of Serfas tires—list price $85—$0 to 100 depending on your needs.

$20-new purchased thorn-resistant tubes————$0 to 20 depending on your needs.

$5–new purchased bottle of Slime tube sealant———-$0 to 5 depending on your needs.

$10—-grease, polish, cleaners, misc—————————————$0 to 10 if needed.

$12—-purchased brake & shifter inner cables————————–$0 to 12 if needed.

$0—–brake cable noodles donated by North Park Bikes————-$0 to 5 if needed.

$18—purchased Serfas brake pads—————————————$0 to 18 if needed.

$12—purchased Greenfield kickstand———————————–$0 to 25 if needed.

$12—-bell, Crane, already had——————————————–$0 to 12 if needed.

$3—–shifter, NOS, already had——————————————$0 to 20 if needed.

$0—–donated Serfas grips—list price $24—————————–$0 to 30 if needed.

$0—–donated Serfas RX saddle—list price $56———————$0 to 150 if needed.

Electric Conversion Kit

Here is another area of many options. I used the eRAD mid-drive from Lectric Cycles. For many I would recommend a hub motor conversion, yet all in one E-conversion wheels and electric (push) trailers are also good ways to go. No matter what you decide, get a kit from a reputable maker (supplier). And without a doubt, get with a quality lithium battery for it. The capacity of the battery will help decide its range, so make sure to get one that will handle your needs.

I used the 500 watt, 36 volt kit that included the shift detector (throttle interrupt). They now only offer 48 volt kits, that list for about $995 for a comparable unit to the one I used. Your battery options from them range from $695 to $1095. Figure on spending from $800 to $2200 for a decent electric conversion kit no matter which one you choose.

$0—eRAD mid-drive motor (on loan from Lectric Cycles) (500 watt)—–list $895

$0—Lectric Cycles Slimline 36 v-13.8 Ah battery (on loan)—————–list $1095

Bike Accessories

$0—–donated BikeSmart saddle bag—list $50————–$0 to 100 if wanted.

$0—–donated BodyFloat seatpost——-list $300————$0 to 300 if wanted.

$0—donated Moto Reflex Pedals———-list $60————-$0 to 60 if wanted.

$0—donated Torch T2 lighted helmet—–list $140———–$0 to 140 if wanted.

$0—donated Serfas super HD chain lock—list price $90—$0 to 150–recommended.

$0—donated Serfas cable lock—for secured areas————list $26—needed.

$0—donated Serfas light duty cable lock for saddle———–list $22—optional.


$0—-Serfas 2500 lumen headlamp—won in Facebook contest—–list price $425

$0—-donated Serfas taillight————————————————–list price $50

$0—-donated Serfas frame bag to hold battery & store headlamp–list price $33

$0—-donated LightMeUp Safety Lights—LED Wheel Lights———list price $30

$0—-donated ORP Smart Horn & Light w/remote switch————–list price $70

$19—Minoura handlebar accessory mount————————————————

Items Carried

$0—donated Serfas backup headlamp– charges from USB———–list $100

$0—donated Serfas backup taillight——-charges from USB———-list $75

$0—½ roll toilet paper in baggie——————————————————–

$0—local bike paths map—————————————————————–

$0—local road maps———————————————————————–

$0—donated Serfas tire pump—part of combo pack———————list $40

$0—tube repair kit——————–part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—multi-tool—pretty nice———part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—pair of tire levers—————-part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—donated Serfas high-end multi-tool————————————–list $ 23

$4—first-aid kit—————————————————————————-

$3—2 bungee cords—-already had—————————————————-

$3—Park Tool glueless tube patches————————————————–

$1—poncho—light-duty, disposable—————————————————

$20–paper money and pocket change for emergencies——————————

$0—spare tube in baggie——came with bike—————————————

$8—2 ID dog tags w/medical info—1 to wear & 1 attached to seat rails———

$0—15mm combo wrench for wheel nuts—-already had————————–

$0—donated Serfas saddle bag to carry much of above——————-list $24


Once I started using my trailer it was hard to quit. Having it was so convenient, it just made continual sense. I have had it for years, yet without the E-assist, I didn’t use it that often. I got it for free, yet for this project I gave it a full one-over and face-lift. That included greasing the bearings, fresh tires, tubes and Slime, plus a new antenna and lighting. I nicknamed this whole project my “rig” once the riding started.

$0—-bike trailer—-already had———————————list $ 90 to 300?

$0—-tires———— already had———————————–list $40 to 80

$18–thorn-resistant tubes———————————————————–

$5—-Slime tube sealant————————————————————–

$?—-grease and cleaners———————————————————–

$10—antenna w/flag——————————————————————

$0—-donated LightMeUp Safety Lights for wheels and antenna–list $45

$10—basic flashing taillight———————————————————-

$0—–bag to carry misc extras—-already had————————————–

$0—-spare tube—-came with trailer————————————————-

$0—-tire pump——-already had—————————————————–

$0—-½ roll toilet paper—————————————————————-

$10—paper money and spare change————————————————

$0—–misc tools and maps———————————————————–


I think you can see from the above figures your basic minimum here for an E-converted bike is around $800, if you already have the bike to convert and get an OK conversion kit. This figures into not getting any of the extras (some I strongly recommend and others are just cool to have). Spending more to have a better E-conversion kit makes big sense when you are counting on this bike to get you to work on time with no hiccups, one reason I went with the eRAD from Lectric Cycles.

If I had purchased all of the items I used, the grand total would be a whopping $3900, really not that much if you consider the gas-powered 4 wheel alternative (and all that goes with that undesirable way to commute). That doesn’t include the trailer, something I loved, yet not needed for many. I think you can see that several of the items I didn’t fully need, yet they were great to have, and really helped make this project bike the “ULTIMATE” for me. And, as you look at that $3900, how does that compare with many high-end ready-to-ride E-bikes? And when you buy one of those, all you get is the bike, none of the extras or carried items I had with me all the time.

The total would have been higher if I had started with a more expensive bike, yet many of the repair items wouldn’t have been needed. If you go into a project like this and all you have in mind is the bottom line, you may not end up with the bike you want and need. It is fully up to you to decide your directions and desires when it comes to your ultimate commuting E-bike.

I personally spent $172 for this project, yet in the end, after returning the E-conversion kit that Lectric Cycles loaned me, I just had a great non-powered hybrid bike, something I am still using for other E-bike conversion kit tests (I have another cool one on it right now). I had my regrets about returning the eRAD motor kit and battery, yet I was over it pretty quickly. I have other bikes to ride and the nice E-bikes for test reviews are coming and going all the time. Still, I really loved the way this whole project E-bike came together.

The last thing I didn’t cover is the time and labor put into this project. For me it was fun and exciting. For some it could be a pain and a headache. Many will have to lay over a pile of cash to their mechanic for all this. I can’t say for sure just how many hours I spent building this “ULTIMATE”, yet I can assure you it didn’t happen overnight. Most E-bike conversions take 2-4 hours for the basic install. You can see I did way more than that before the riding started.

In reality, I spent more time writing and composing these 8 posts, and preparing the photos and videos, than I did building the bike. And I spent even more time riding it, to get the full feel for everything it has to offer. It has been great getting to do this project, and the end result has been so satisfying.

And I can’t wrap this up without giving big thanks to all the companies and shops that helped out with the pieces I needed to make it all happen. I put in the thought and sweat on my end, yet support is important. Below are links to each of their websites and Facebook pages. Once again, thank you.

Convert your bike and ride it,   Turbo Bob.

“Every time you miss your childhood, ride on a bicycle.”—Mehmet Murat ildan.#273   Ultimate   teardown#248   eRAD   Kit laid out#252   ULTIMATE   motor#254   BodyFloat   side#273   Ultimate   side#272   Moto Reflex   cover#273   Ultimate   T2#273   Ultimate   lights

Articles 1 though 7 links

Some of the many videos I posted on this project bike.

Lectric Cycles—E-bike conversion kits & complete E-bikes

Serfas—Bike accessories of all kinds

Cirrus Cycles—BodyFloat isolation seat post

LightMeUp Safety Lights—Bike lights of all kinds

Moto Cycles—Moto Reflex Pedals

Torch Apparel—T2 lighted helmet





Posted in E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, My Bikes, Opinion | 1 Comment

Electric Bikes in Northern California—What I Found

Electric Bikes in Northern California—What I Found.

I have been trying to plan this exploratory trip for a while, and this month it all came together. I had been seeing online and hearing about some of these cool E-bikes shops for some time. I even visited a couple that I found out about while we were on the road. My wife showed a desire to compete in a Dragon Boat race in Oakland, and the excitement started from there. We packed a pair of folding bikes (one E-assist) in our econo car and we were off for a 9 day whirlwind trip that took us almost to the Oregon border.

One thing we both noticed everyday was just how many people we saw riding bikes. California is a bike mecca, with E-bikes figuring in bigger all the time. I posted a bunch of videos on my You-Tube from the trip, yet not all were about the bikes. We visited family and friends, rode the Skunk Train and generally did all the fun vacation stuff we could. This post is about the E-bike shops (folding too) and I will add a couple paragraphs on each one (in the order of our stops). Make sure to watch the videos linked below—and maybe some of the other ones from our trip.

Pedego Danville

Sharp as a tack and colorful as can be, Pedego Danville is set to please.

This well stocked Pedego shop just opened 3 weeks ago. They are already showing the passion and style you will find at Pedego shops across the country (the whole world actually). We stopped in for a quick visit on our second day after spending the night in Santa Cruz, on the way to Fortuna. We wanted to get north before too late, so no riding happened then, yet we stopped in again on our way home to ride a couple of their bikes.

Like many Pedego shops they are in a great area. The Iron Horse Regional Trail is just across the street from them. It goes for 25 miles on a wide paved path that used to be a railway throughway. With safe crossings at each street you come to, we ran across many riders and walkers during our ride. The team treated us well and many rental E-bikes are waiting for you there. Like most good E-bike shops, they excel at sales, service and accessory selections.

Dylan’s Tours

This busy San Francisco shop has a lot going on. The do bus tours, yet with the bikes they do rentals. They have a large fleet of all types of bikes, including a stout one of Pedego E-bikes. They are near Fisherman’s Wharf, yet we ended up riding our own bikes around town and the Wharf instead. During our stay in San Francisco we saw a lot of people riding bikes they rented from Dylan’s Tours.

Electric Bike Super Store

This is just a section of the Electric Bike Super Store in San Francisco.

The name of this store is telling it like it is. Len has E-bikes even I didn’t recognize. He has most of the big hitters too. His shop is a bit deeper in the heart of San Francisco then I expected, yet I was happy to finally get a look for myself. I kept thinking the whole time I was there that I wanted to get on many of the bikes and ride. It would have taken a couple days to try them all so I just concentrated on my camera and let Len give me the details.

I had met Len before so it was fun to see all his hard work and spent some time talking E-bikes. In the back he had an ELF, something I often consider getting myself since I first rode (drove?) a couple last year. If you are in his part of town, you owe it to yourself to stop in and soak up the E-bike vibes they offer.

The New Wheel

With two floors of E-bike excitement, The New Wheel is one impressive E-bike shop.

Another big E-bike shop in San Francisco is The New Wheel. They concentrate on the hill-eating E-bikes the locals need, yet service all makes (regular bikes too). Like every shop I visited, the time went too quickly to see and experience all they have going on. Each member of the crew I spoke with (and there are many of them) knew their stuff and reeked of E-bike passion. I had heard this was a great shop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Make sure to watch the video below to see all the bikes and the shop (in fact watching all the videos will let you know about each shop and the bike brands they carry). This shop has a great and long history of E-bikes in town, something you can feel and see as you check out both floors of inventory. Plus they are opening a sister shop in Marin County very soon. Bigger is better.

Bay Area Bikes

E-bikes, folders and cargo bikes can be found here.

The Bay Area Bikes shop I visited is just one of their 3 shops (the most northward one), all on the same street. I guess each one has a different theme (?) and this one is E-bikes, folding bikes and cargo bikes. Once again I was thrilled to feel just how committed the crew is to their bikes and customers. I think I spent close to the most time at this shop in Oakland, more than most of the others I stopped at. I suspect they were jazzed I rode in on a E-Brompton, because they are the only Brompton shop in town (I could be wrong here).

They have an ok selection of E-bikes, but if you add the folders and cargo bikes it makes for a full house. We talked many things while I was there and I never lost interest in the topics. I came in while my wife was at the lake doing the Dragon Boat Races, so eventually I had to drag myself out the front door and get going back. It wasn’t easy to leave the shop behind. I hope I can visit there again soon.

Pacific E-bike

Nearby in Berkeley we found Pacific E-bike. They are housed in a big shop that also does custom cars, vintage cars, and motorcycles (repairs and the such). This stop was a major hit and run so I may not have gotten all the info in the video correct. They are a Motiv Electric Bike dealer among others (BESV). They also have the eMazing E-bike, a bike I need to find out more about (we saw them at a couple of the shops). Pacific has been doing E=bikes for many years.

Hank & Frank Bicycles

I found this Berkeley bike shop online and decide to stop in before lunch. They really are more of a regular bike shop that carries a few E-bikes. As far as bike shops go they have it covered very well, yet E-bikes are something they have to stay well-rounded for their customer base. Still it was nice to say hi and check out the local bike shop flavor.

Honor Roll Scooters

Here is a machine I should have ridden, but at the time I was glad to get a video of Erik at the bars of his creation. Not really an E-bike, he claims it might as well be, as it fits into the category fine. His Meerkat is now in its 3rd version as he makes it better and stronger. The locals seem to be embracing it and it’s available online as well.

I ran into Erik by coincidence as he works sometimes with Tyson of Vessel Custom E-bike. I had contacted Tyson that morning about checking out his shop, and he made sure that Erik came by to get in on the action. And it seems there is lots of E-bike action in this part of the state. This was a fun afternoon.

Vessel Custom Electric Bike

Looking for a fast custom E-bike? Check out Vessel Custom Electric Bike.

Out of all the E-bikers I met on this trip, Tyson was my favorite. In fact I would love to have him as a neighbor. He works his magic out of his home shop. His yard and shop speak the languages that my wife and I like. He is big into sustainability along with E-bikes. Like me he spent most of his youth with petrol powered machines (motorcycles for Tyson) but one day found that electric-powered transportation and fun is much better. Three cheers for that.

Vessel offers a custom framed E-bike of Tyson’s own making. It has plenty of excess power and range, looks and rides cool, and gets lots of attention wherever he rides it. He is doing well with it locally, yet I envision his E-bike as an online sensation. I know of a few other people making custom E-bikes that are vaguely like Tyson’s and they seem to sell briskly world-wide. I think he has a great thing going.

Ken’s Bike-Ski-Board

When we stopped into Davis (the bike capital of the state?—-the country?), I found Ken’s online as a BionX shop. It is a long time regular bike shop and even though they have their own crew doing the BionX stuff now, it was John Swann that helped them get it started. Right as we walked in they gave John a call for me, so I could meet him and see what he’s up to. I liked the shop and posted a video of it, yet it was Swann Electric Bicycles that was the gem of this stop.

Swann Electric Bicycles

John and his wife really rack up the miles on their BionX converted E-bikes.

With over 100 BionX E-conversions under his belt, John Swann keeps Davis on E-bikes. He and his wife do the long rides and seemed to be tuned into the Davis bike culture well. When I first contacted him he had just minutes before returned from a bike tour, yet a quick shower later and he was riding up on his personal BionX-equipped bike for the meet. The three of us rode to a nice lunch spot and we sat, ate, and talked E-bikes. During the lunch his wife arrived to say hi on her BionX road bike.

As a long time BionX dealer, John informed me into much of this high-end E-bike conversion kit. A lot of it I was familiar with and I think I added some insight that was new to him. It was an well conversed lunch and I was glad to meet him. Afterwards we found a place where I could film their bikes, and then it was time for all of us to keep moving—busy times.

B & L Bike Shop

John suggested we stop by this Davis bike shop as he thought they did mid-drive conversions. Turns out they don’t, yet they did have E-bikes and Tern folding bikes. Davis is bike shop heavy for a small town, and that is what you get when so many there ride bikes. Part of that is the fact it is a college town, yet much is just the way the people there live. B & L is an ok bike shop with lots of cool bike stuff.

Practical Cycle

All you need and more can be found at this premier E-bike shop in Old Town Sacramento.

As we hit Sacramento, Practical Cycle was first on my list. I have met Tim before and his son (still a partner in the shop) now works at Pedego corporate in Orange County. This E-bike shop is one of Pedego’s most active, and they also have Brompton folding bikes and cargo bikes. The shop is right in Old Town where the State train museum is located (another important stop for my trip). When I use the word also for this shop, that is a big also. They really have it together there.

Part of the lure of Pedego Electric Bike shops is the rental option. Most are in wonderfully scenic and fun areas, so a E-bike rental from them can be the best part of a vacation. And to set it solidly for us, that is just what my wife and I did. Tim set us up on a pair of his Pedego E-bikes and we toured the town and some beautiful bike trails for over 5 hours. When we got back we talked for better than an hour. Tim made sure to rub it in that my battery was lower than my wife’s, as she is much more of a pedaller than I.

My wife and I are on a slow speed search for a new area to retire to. She worked up a deal with Tim that if we did move there, Tim would hire me on at the shop. I do know a thing or two about E-bikes to be sure. Who knows, maybe someday I will be the newest staff member there. In the meantime, if you come by Practical Cycle, Tim and his crew will treat you right.

City Bicycle Works

I’m not sure that Tim knew part of the things we were going to do on his bikes was to check out a couple more shops, yet that was on my agenda. This shop had one E-bike (the new Bosch-powered Electra Townie GO) and one folding bike, yet the personnel were friendly and they had a well stocked bike shop. Nothing too special in my eyes, yet I included a video for good measure.

The Electric Bike Shop

Our final shop to check out was in Sacramento too. Mike had just moved into a new location and was apologetic about the shop’s appearance. I could see just how nice it will be once he finishes the renovations and gets things organized, so I told him not to worry. He is an E-bike repair specialist (all kinds of electric powered vehicles too). His new place is right at the entrance of the trail system and on one of the biggest bike traveled intersections.

Like all the stops it all went too quickly, yet we did talk about the bikes and the town quite a bit. Mike knows his stuff and has a great following, so I see many more years of success in the future for The Electric Bike Shop. I hope I get to see it all once he is back up and running at full speed like before the move.

The overall findings

We went to every E-bike shop I could find online that was in the towns we had planned to visit. Each one seems to be doing well and getting enough locals at the doors to keep moving smoothly. I am sure there were shops we missed, yet as you can see we found plenty. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we saw so many riding bikes during our entire trip. Most weren’t on E-bikes, but we did see our share of those too. Northern California proved to be beautiful and bike active at every turn.

I have visited well over 70 E-bike shops. That doesn’t count the regular bike shops that have an E-bike or two. Most all of them can be seen on my video site, yet many more were before I started doing the videos. It is always great fun to meet the people and see the selection of bikes they offer. Many set us up for a ride in their town and that always makes for a more exciting visit. I guess there are dozens (hundreds?) more to visit, so I will my best to make it all happen.

Below I will link all the shop videos, yet if you look at my video site closer you can see some of the rides we did, some of the train museums and depots we visited, and my wife racing the Dragon Boats in Oakland. I have done this type of investigative trip in other areas, and I hope to do many more. People have told me I should get a grant so I can do this full time and in every corner of the country (globe?). Wouldn’t that be fun?

Thanks for following along,   Turbo Bob.

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”—Peter Golkin.

You can find all these shop’s websites and FB pages with a simple Google search.

Here are videos of all the shops we visited. There are more of the other fun we had on this trip if you search my video site for a bit.

Posted in E-bike general interest, General bike stories, Opinion | Leave a comment

Index of Articles—September 2015 to March 2016

Index of Articles—September 2015 to March 2016.

September 2015

  1.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #3—Prepping the Bike.
  2.   Invite to “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”—Fall 2015

October 2015

  1.   Interbike 2015—A Video Diary
  2.   Bafang BBSHD (1000 Watt Mid-drive Electric Bike Conversion)—First Impressions
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #4—The E-conversion
  4.   EcoSpeed Mid-drive Conversion by Nomad—Power You Want (Need?)
  5.   SportRX—A Fresh Perspective

November 2015

  1.   Torch T2 Lighted Bicycle Helmet—Safety X 2
  2.   Index of Articles—March 2015 to September 2015
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #5—The eRAD Drive System
  4.   Kalkhoff Agattu E-bike—European Flair

December 2015

  1.   BodyFloat by Cirrus Cycles—Pleasure On Two Wheels
  2.   ELF Bikes E-velomobile—Mixing it Up
  3.   Tannus Tire Test Session—What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been
  4.   Momas E-scooter by e-Joe—Smooth and Sassy
  5.   Pedego Latch Folding Electric Bike—Early Insight
  6.   E-LUX Fat Tire Electric Cruiser—Cloud Surfer

January 2016

  1.   Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield—Book Review
  2.   NiteRider Sentinel 40 & Sabre 35—Rear Bike Lights with Benefits
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #6—The Serfas Touch
  4.   Pedego Ridge Rider E-bike—Fun Just Got Dirty

February 2016

  1.   Omni Wheel E-bike Conversion—Easy Wheeling
  2.   Freway VR-01 E-bike—A Lot For a Little
  3.   Stash E-folding Bike from Motiv Electric Bikes—Where Will You Take Your Stash?
  4.   San Diego Electric Bike Expo—Next Weekend
  5.   A2B Entz E-bike—Mid-drive Magic
  6.   Electron Wheel vs Omni Wheel—The Full Inside Scoop

March 2016

  1.   San Diego Electric Bike Expo—The Experience & the Trends
  2.   Ride Scoozy 350—An E-bike That Makes Sense
  3.   Moto Reflex Pedals—Comfort King
  4.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #7—How I Met My Goals




Posted in Indexes of articles | 3 Comments