So far, I started to tell you how we got our E-bikes and decided which bikes to get. There is a lot more to this story and what I did to get them to the point we could use them. But right now, I want to tell you about the bikes.
These bikes are very normal bikes that have been upgraded with an electric power system. Currie offers these systems, so you can convert your own bike. Unlike many E-bikes that are built specifically as E-bikes, these could easily be the bikes you see at the big box stores (without the power system). They do have a few added items that you would not find on those bikes. Things like tabs to hold the wiring and the such. Judging by the time I have spent with the bikes and the price of the conversion kit, the bike itself is a low-priced item. It is a very heavy bike with the least expensive parts package (drive train and forks). It is also a very heavy-duty bike as far as the frame and other pieces.
Motor and drive system
This bike uses an externally mounted motor. It is a brushed motor with an internal set of reduction gears. It sends the power to the rear wheel through a standard bike chain (very short). The rear rim has a second free wheel on it that drives the wheel. That free wheel does not cause any drag on the bike when the motor is not being used or you are going faster than the motor will drive it. It has enough power to drive the bike at 15-16 mph on level ground. The motor and gears do make some noise. It is not that loud, but quite noticeable. Over all, it is a fairly efficient and clever system. It can make getting the back wheel off the bike more difficult, but it is not bad once you have done it once or twice. Currie calls this a Currie Electro drive. You can see it on their website.
The battery slides and locks into the included rear rack. The electrical connections are made automatically as the battery tucks into place. Although the bike includes only one battery, you have the option of purchasing a second to double your amount of ride time. The listed ride time is completely dependant on how much you pedal versus how much you use the motor’s power. Using both batteries will take you a lot farther at the penalty of the extra weight. The batteries weigh about 16 lbs each. Added to the 59 lbs of the bike, you are looking at over 80 lbs with both batteries on the bike. On my commute of about 10 miles, I always use both batteries to make sure the hills and wind don’t use up all the juice.
The battery pack has two 12 volt SLA (sealed lead acid) batteries in it. This is a battery type that has been around since the invention of batteries. They can have reduced power in extreme temperatures and can leak. I have had two leaking batteries that I have had to replace. Keep an eye out for any moisture coming out of the packs. If they leak, it will corrode the bike and anything else the acid comes in contact with. Most people would just purchase a new pack if that were to happen. The packs cost about $120 each and with shipping it adds up to about $150 plus tax.
Currie has just come out with their New Life battery that is a slide in option. It uses the newer lithium battery, is lighter, and will charge quicker. We are considering getting a couple to upgrade and lighten our bikes. It is still a 24 volt battery, where most lithium E-bikes have 36 volt systems. The lower voltage means no modifications are needed to the rest of the electrical system. Also, the slide in feature means no modifications to the rack that holds the battery. I will let you know how we like the new battery when we get them and have had a chance to try them out. I would imagine that Currie will start supplying their bikes with this new battery ( at an increased price of course). Right now, they are offering this battery to us at $299 with free shipping (that includes the new charger as well).
Speaking of charging, the bike comes with a smart charger that has indicator lights to tell you when the charging is complete. Depending on how much of the charge you use, it will take a maximum of 6-8 hours. I usually charge 1 hour after the light comes on ( at that point you can feel the charge unit cool off as the unit is not putting out as much power to charge the battery). It is important with an SLA battery to recharge immediately after each use, as the battery will start to internally deteriorate if it sits without a full charge.
To round out the electrics are the controller, the PAS/TAG system, the safety brake switch, the throttle, and the power switch. The controller receives a signal from the throttle, and gives the motor the correct amount of power you have asked for. It is mounted in a box in the middle of the frame on my bike, and inside the rear rack on my wife’s bike. The throttle is a twist grip like that of a motorcycle. The front brake lever has a built-in switch to disable the motor if the brake is applied. The power switch has three positions. Off in the middle, and a selection of the left or right battery. I marked my switch left and right so I know which battery is being used. The PAS mode (Pedal Activated System) will allow power to the motor only when you are pedaling. The TAG mode (Twist and Go) will allow the motor to run without pedaling. This is controlled by an unmarked switch near the throttle. If the motor won’t go, try pushing the switch before you get worried there is a problem.
The Rest of the Bike
I am running out of space for this article, so I will try to wrap it up. You will learn more about the bikes in the upcoming segments. Let me say that my bike came with a low-end front suspension fork, a suspension seat post, very good brakes, and 26 inch mountain bike tires. It also came with a very nice and complete manual. The frame is very heavy, with the fork and the rack, it weighs about 20 Lbs. That is almost heavier than an entire bike. The frame is solid, but I do have concerns about the strength of the fork. I have read of people with this bike upgrading to a decent fork. That will increase the strength, comfort, and safety. It will also cost $250 and up, plus the install if you can’t do it yourself. That is one of many reasons that spending the big bucks on an E-bike is probably worth while. There are other reasons that I will address as the story continues. So hold off your E-bike purchase, as you and I find out more about these E-Zips. Just to tell you the end result, if I were you and could afford it, I would buy a $1800-$2500 E-bike than is top-notch. That is the best way to go.
More coming up, Turbo Bob.
“I thought of that while riding my bike”.–Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity.
E-bikes? http://www.nycewheels.com or