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we are getting a new electric bicycle! Help us pick out which one!

 
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A big thanks to Bill Crim!  He has put up $2000 for us to get a new electric bicycle!  I think the first thing we need to do when the bike arrives is put a label on the handlebars that says "this bike is a gift from Bill Crim to be used for world domination!"

I looked over some amazon pages with the boots ...  it is possible to get two, but I worry about a drop in quality.

Stuff I think is critically important:

    500 watts
    fenders
    a rack on the back

nice to have:

     two bicycles
     a basket in the front
     fat tires for better traction

This is the rocky mountains, so we do have some hill challenges.   And I really like the idea that we can hook up a small trailer to move tools and materials.  We also have ice, snow and mud challenges.  

It has been a very long time since I have shopped for this sort of thing.  

Advice?



 
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I think the ability to haul some tools to the job site would be worth considering.  Either on the bike or pulled with a trailer.  Many jobs up there just require a chainsaw, two batteries and 5 other tools.  Too big for a basket and too awkward to carry in one hand.
 
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I'd suggest not just getting any old rack for the back, but to look for a heavy duty rack that can hold some actual weight.  I can strap logs on mine and am guessing there will be times when some of the boots will want to haul heavier things as well.  I also find a nice set of panniers to be very useful, even more so than my front basket has been.  If your terrain is bumpy there may be an issue with things bouncing out of a basket.
 
paul wheaton
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Any pics of what you think is a sound rack and sound panniers?
 
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This might be a bit outside of your budget, but I've been looking at something like the Surly Big Fat Dummy for my own needs. The Big Easy is their electric equivalent: https://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_easy







I have a Surly Disc Trucker with their Bill long bed trailer and I love it. These are bikes designed by people who ride bikes. They seem like a cool company too, so you might be able to get a huge discount if you explain who you are and what you're doing. I bet they'd love to be branded the "unofficial bike" of permaculture.

I could throw in some coin to help make it happen.
 
David Huang
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paul wheaton wrote:Any pics of what you think is a sound rack and sound panniers?



Here's what I have.  It looks like the rack is a Bontrager brand.  I recall it wasn't cheap, but I've never regretted spending that money.  I don't know if it's a universal fit sort of thing or not though.

For panniers I have this which I got through Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3EiZgNN  (affiliate link, cause I'm an amazon affiliate.)  Unfortunately it looks like they no longer carry it.  What I like about them is that they go on and off the bike pretty easy, yet I've never had them fall off!  I also like that they don't have zippers to open and close the bags.  I wasn't sure if I'd like that initially but it seems like the zippers on my past panniers end up getting "sticky" and just not zipping easily.  Others may have different opinions on that matter, but I'm quite happy with this style bag and they can hold a lot.

Here's an example of what I can haul with it.  The pannier are filled with groceries too.  
back-rack.JPG
Heavy duty bike rack
Heavy duty bike rack
back-rack2.JPG
detail of rack to show brand name
detail of rack to show brand name
panniers-and-rack.JPG
The panniers and rack work together nicely.
The panniers and rack work together nicely.
panniers.JPG
Panniers on bike
Panniers on bike
panniers2.JPG
closer shot of panniers.
closer shot of panniers.
 
paul wheaton
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Kirk Patrick wrote:This might be a bit outside of your budget, but I've been looking at something like the Surly Big Fat Dummy for my own needs. The Big Easy is their electric equivalent: https://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_easy



Oh my.  Very cool looking.  And the price tag is out of my league.


I could throw in some coin to help make it happen.



Neat!  

You mentioned they might drop the price ...  I could trade some advertising on permies - not sure if that is of any interest to them.

 
paul wheaton
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David,

So that's the industrial rack?

Panniers: so they sorta fold and clip?

 
David Huang
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paul wheaton wrote:David,

So that's the industrial rack?

Panniers: so they sorta fold and clip?



Yup.  I've found this rack to be quite durable.  It's a heavier gauge metal than most racks I see.  I'm sure there are other quality racks too.

For the panniers, yes, they fold and clip.  Personally I've found this nicer than zippers that get crusted with dirt, rust, etc.
 
David Huang
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The Surly bike does look very cool!  Looks like a nice rack and bags too.  Also looks out of my league.  :(
 
Kirk Patrick
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Paul, I contacted Surly to ask about the possibility of trading one of their bikes for advertising. I'll let you know how they respond.
 
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I have owned the original Rad Runner for 18 months. It is a beast, a work horse, reliable and going strong. It was my 'car' for over a year, used on over three hundred local trips. The only maintenance I've carried out has been routine stuff like breaks and chain.

I frequently tow a trailer - see picture below.


Rad are an American company, with an awesome reputation. They've won lots of awards and are well funded. The man behind the company built custom bikes in high school because his farm was at the end of a very long track. Think he'd have picked up a few oddball badges!

Rad Runner 2 / Rad Runner Plus with extras between $1700 and $1900.

Stuff I think is critically important:

   500 watts - 750w and will carry 300lbs
   fenders - Extra for the Rad Runner, included in the plus - super easy to install, speaking from personal experience.
   a rack on the back - built in, built like a tank,I bought a bigger platform to mount a large wooden box.

nice to have:

    two bicycles - Optional passenger seat
    a basket in the front - optional add on, but worth it.
    fat tires for better traction - yup, 3 1/2 inch

Plus model has gears. I bought the Rad Runner, one gear, so I used a lot more assist and throttle.
IMG_0949.jpeg
Towing
Towing
 
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You may want to look in to the federal rebate on ebikes that may be coming soon. A 30% rebate is quite a chunk of change for something that expensive.
 
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I had an idea this morning. This is Wheatons Labs. Let's make this an experiment! What if we roll the e-bike thing into the Million calorie challenge kickstarter idea? If there are say, 5 participants, each participant is given a different brand e-bike, and over the course of the challenge they are able to assess the pros and cons of each bike. By the end we'd be able to have the best e-bike guide around. Maybe the participants would swap bikes every month or so, so that they all get to try each bike? The winning/best bike voted by all becomes the "Unofficial Bike of Permaculture", or something like that.

It's good branding for all the bike companies involved, and with the %30 (up to $1500) tax rebate on e-bikes that's set to role out, this is a great time to get their names out there.  Heck, we could even contact heavy hitters like Shimano and Park Tool to see if they'd like to donate parts or tools, either for the challenge itself or for kickstarter "goodies."

Thoughts?

Here's a link with information about the e-bike rebate: https://www.theverge.com/2021/10/28/22751273/ebike-tax-credit-build-back-better-biden
 
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You don’t mention it in the original post, but battery life is a critical factor. What is the longest routine journey you consider to be likely?

I went for 750W with 10.5Ah battery. I get 15mile high power on my daily commute. If I need to go further I have to dial down the assist level and pedal more myself. Battery capacity is a considerable expense in its own right.

One way to get two good bikes is to convert standard bikes. In your circumstances you would want a mid-drive rather than hub drive, to take advantage of the bikes gears with the motor.

I expect you would get two excellent bafang BBS02 motors and basic bikes to convert for the price you are looking for.
 
Mike Haasl
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I think the standard commute would be 3 miles up to a lab site and then 3 miles back down to basecamp.  Gravel and asphalt but nothing a Honda civic can't handle in normal conditions.  It does get icy and slippery but I'm guessing that's a tire consideration.  No boulders is what I'm trying to say...
Staff note (paul wheaton) :

2 miles, exactly, from basecamp to the main gate at the lab.  But you do need to go up a bit of a hill.

 
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I'm a bit of a bike nerd (very involved with my local bike community), and I'll throw my vote behind something with a Bosch motor. Every bike mechanic I know says go with Bosch or don't bother (or, I suppose, get very, very good at fixing things... which I guess is a permie trait, but these motors can be pretty complicated, and often need serious specialized tools!).
Personally, I'm saving up for a Gazelle, but they're pricey and also not necessarily what you're looking for.
Have you thought about a bakfiets (box bike)? They're becoming more popular in North America now (originally used in Denmark and the Netherlands), and are great at hauling all sorts of things. They can be expensive though (if you want to see some beautiful bicycles, take a look at the Riese & Müller Packsters... so much money, but so spectacular). Consider this 2020 list of top cargo bikes, and see how many have Bosch mid drive motors: https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/a25054215/best-cargo-bikes/ .
Shimano has also been having some issues lately with their motor, and their customer service options can be more difficult to access (most modern bike shops, at least here in Canada, are certified to support bosch motors).
I promise, I have no affiliation whatsoever with Bosch, other than loving good, reliable bikes!

Also, Bikes at Work makes the kind of trailer you'd likely want to haul permie things: https://www.bikesatwork.com/
 . Our local bike valet hauls bike racks on them, and they are seriously heavy duty trailers with one of the best hitch attachments I've ever seen. They can hold far more weight than you're likely willing to pull.
 
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Paul,

I'm willing to match Bill Crim's $2000. My vote is for the Surly Big Easy (although having looked into the Rad Power bikes, getting two of those for the price of one Surly might be the better "value"). This is one of those things where you get what you pay for. It even has a Bosch motor that Julia mentioned is essential. It's listed as $5249 on their website. With the $1500 tax credit it brings the price down to $3749, which would leave you just enough to get a good set of pedals and some fenders.

This is what the Surly FAQ says about fenders for the bike: "If you're looking for full coverage fenders, the SKS P65 is about the closest you're going to find to covering the 2.5" ET. SKS calls out up to 2.35" tire so its just a little narrow (P65 = 65mm OR 2.55" width) but will work pretty well. Aside from that, you could look into clip on style fenders that will more adequately cover the width, but of course will not be 'full coverage'." https://www.jensonusa.com/SKS-P65-Chromoplastic-Longboard-Fenders

One thing that makes the Big Easy stand out is that it was designed to accommodate riders of difference sizes. From their website: "When it comes to geometry, Big Easy rides and feels like a normal-length bike. We also increased stand-over height clearance and threw in dropper post routing to promote bike sharing across different-sized riders."

If there's a sympathetic bike shop located in Missoula who's willing to order it for you, you might be able to convince them to give it to you at their dealership rate. I haven't heard back from Surly yet. I'm guessing my message got eaten by their spam filter, or it sounded to spammy to take seriously. They could also be slow to reply due to the holidays. I'll send a briefer and less spammy message in the new year just in case. Is there a timeline for when you'd like to make the purchase?

I will also contact Rad Power and Riese & Muller to see if they could offer any discounts. The Riese & Muller Multicharger looks pretty neat:
https://www.r-m.de/en-us/bikes/multicharger/

Re: Park Tool, Shimano
Park Tool has dedicated online forms for those looking for grants and sponsorship:
https://www.parktool.com/form/sponsorship-request
https://www.parktool.com/form/community-tool-grant-request

What you're doing at the Labs isn't a typical "organization" that they sponsor, but it never hurts to try. Maybe someone with more knowledge about Paul's Empire can fill out and submit the forms?

I spent twenty minutes trying to find a way to contact Shimano, but all I got were phone numbers for their recruitment departments. Maybe that's for the better, as apparently their electric motors aren't that great to begin with :P

p.s. I'm not a big fan of public recognition. If I could figure out how to do this sort of thing anonymously I would. Please don't carve my name into anything. However, if you wanted to plant a special tree and give it a funny name to honour the Bicycle Gods, that might be fun.
 
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 I second the RAD bike suggestion.  And they have an award winning cargo bike in the line up.  Heavy duty with gears I have seen the hills at Wheaton lab.  You need gears.

Rad bikes power assist is amazing.  It just helps, no delay on or off.  If you have never ridden an e-bike you will be surprised how frustrating the common 2-3 second delay of the assist can be.

Winner, Best Electric Cargo Bike of 2021

https://www.radpowerbikes.com/products/radwagon-electric-cargo-bike

Tom.
 
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I don't have time to read the fine details today, but I'll like to back what Kirk Patrick wrote here (my bold):

which would leave you just enough to get a good set of pedals and some fenders.


The "mud" part mentioned early in the thread is the clue. The desire not to create extra muddy laundry makes fenders, in my mind, a worthwhile investment. This bike is transportation - not just for enjoying the scenery on a sunny, dry day.
 
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Daniel Schmidt wrote:You may want to look in to the federal rebate on ebikes that may be coming soon. A 30% rebate is quite a chunk of change for something that expensive.


Could you post more about this. Thanks

I have been looking at getting a ebike for about three months now. For a time I was thinking getting about an Super 73 S2. After riding one I changed my mind due to the pedals on the bike. My friend who owns the bike and I were talking about the pedal placement. He grew up on BMX bikes and I grew up on mountain bikes. So for me it was odd to ride but it was a fast bike! My thoughts right now is to take my mountain bike  and make it into an ebike. I agree with Paul Wheaton on having a rack on the bike and fat tires. I would think about a motor in the 750 watt to 1000 watt range.  I feel having more watts would help in moving tools and people a little bit faster.

paul wheaton wrote:
Stuff I think is critically important:
    500 watts
    fenders
    a rack on the back
nice to have:
     two bicycles
     a basket in the front
     fat tires for better traction

 
paul wheaton
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Kirk,

Spiffy!  Here is a link for your gift via paypal.  Or if bitcoin is your thing, my bitcoin thing-a-ma-bob is 177pNU2a9iCpUXQwXX9EbtA2UwZpgeqcMT


My vote is for the Surly Big Easy (although having looked into the Rad Power bikes, getting two of those for the price of one Surly might be the better "value"). This is one of those things where you get what you pay for. It even has a Bosch motor that Julia mentioned is essential. It's listed as $5249 on their website.



I am very keen on learning which to choose.  

It does seem like both are built extremely well.  So it comes down to two rad bikes for less than the price of one surly.  So there must be some stuff with the surly that makes it worth two rad bikes, right?  


p.s. I'm not a big fan of public recognition. If I could figure out how to do this sort of thing anonymously I would. Please don't carve my name into anything. However, if you wanted to plant a special tree and give it a funny name to honour the Bicycle Gods, that might be fun.



I think I am very good at respecting wishes like this.  

At the same time, I thoroughly enjoy expressing gratitude to generous folks (allerton abbey, cooper cabin, bartell's bunkhouse ...)  - so there are ways.  

I heard a rumor that a few gentlemen in ireland named "patrick" go by "paddy".   Something could end up named "paddy wagon" ....


 
paul wheaton
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Thomas Michael wrote:  I second the RAD bike suggestion.  And they have an award winning cargo bike in the line up.  Heavy duty with gears I have seen the hills at Wheaton lab.  You need gears.

Rad bikes power assist is amazing.  It just helps, no delay on or off.  If you have never ridden an e-bike you will be surprised how frustrating the common 2-3 second delay of the assist can be.

Winner, Best Electric Cargo Bike of 2021

https://www.radpowerbikes.com/products/radwagon-electric-cargo-bike



It does seem like it would be able to haul a lot.  And add some jumbo bags to the back.
 
paul wheaton
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Jay Angler wrote:I don't have time to read the fine details today, but I'll like to back what Kirk Patrick wrote here (my bold):

which would leave you just enough to get a good set of pedals and some fenders.


The "mud" part mentioned early in the thread is the clue. The desire not to create extra muddy laundry makes fenders, in my mind, a worthwhile investment. This bike is transportation - not just for enjoying the scenery on a sunny, dry day.



I'm feeling that fenders are absolutely required.  My only concern about buying a bike that does not come with fenders, is if the fenders for that bike might end up being hard to find, or difficult to install.

 
Kirk Patrick
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Hi Paul,

Would you accept another form of payment? The credit limit on my credit card is too low to make a single payment that large, and I'm sure as heck not linking paypal to my bank account. Plus I get hit with a $50CAD+ "foreign transaction fee", in addition to whatever slice paypal takes out at your end.

I can send a bank draft (cheapest option for me, but slow, and you'd most likely have to physically go to the bank to cash it. I know some banks allow you to "cash" stuff by taking a picture of it using their smart phone app)

Or I could send a wire transfer to your account through my credit union (is safe, instant, and only costs me $25CAD).

Is this still the address to send you stuff?

paul wheaton
2120 s reserve #351
missoula, mt 59801

I found that address in a post that was 10 years old. Wanted to make sure it's still relevant.
 
paul wheaton
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Kirk Patrick wrote:Hi Paul,

Would you accept another form of payment? The credit limit on my credit card is too low to make a single payment that large, and I'm sure as heck not linking paypal to my bank account. Plus I get hit with a $50CAD+ "foreign transaction fee", in addition to whatever slice paypal takes out at your end.

I can send a bank draft (cheapest option for me, but slow, and you'd most likely have to physically go to the bank to cash it. I know some banks allow you to "cash" stuff by taking a picture of it using their smart phone app)

Or I could send a wire transfer to your account through my credit union (is safe, instant, and only costs me $25CAD).

Is this still the address to send you stuff?

paul wheaton
2120 s reserve #351
missoula, mt 59801

I found that address in a post that was 10 years old. Wanted to make sure it's still relevant.



That address is mine - still good.

I see you do not like paypal.  I know that you can move funds to and from banks and paypal for free.  And i know that i send paypal funds to people all the time where i select "friends and family" where there is no charge (other than, once in a while, for people outside the us to convert the fund to another currency).

I have been fiddling with wise.com recently.  Not sure if that is something that helps.  But that seems to be mostly designed to move funds between countries.

Several people have sent me crypto, so I have become pretty good at it.  There are fees, but I tend to leave the crypto there and in time the value of the crypto is far more than the fees stuff.  

I can say that bank draft stuff and wire transfer stuff is expensive, difficult, and a huge security risk here.  A couple of years ago somebody in australia sent me a large sum - and it cost $50 for me to receive it.  

Some people have sent me amazon gift cards.  That has worked very well.  I cannot turn around and get a bicycle with it, but i can jiggle our spending habits so that other stuff is bought through amazon and that frees up normal funds for bicycle purchases.

A possible option:  we pick a bicycle and you pay for it according to what makes the bicycle people happy and have it shipped here.  

I know that about two years ago I got a check that was in british pounds.  My bank wanted to charge me a $50 fee plus "conversion" fees.   But ...   the guy at the bank was clever.   The check was for something like 555 british pounds.  So what we did was, we deposited it for 555 US dollars.  And then a week later I got a letter from my bank explaining how I am stupid and they fixed my deposit to be the correct amount - please be less stupid in the future.  No fees.  

 
Kirk Patrick
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Just took a look at the spec differences between the Big Easy and the Rad Wagon.

This link has a pretty good breakdown of some good bikes and what to look for: https://bikerumor.com/best-cargo-e-bikes/

From the article:

What are the MSRP ranges for cargo e-bikes?
"Expect to pay anywhere from $3,500 to $5,500 for a decent cargo ebike that has a brand-name battery and motor as well as brand-name components. This typically gets you good quality components and brand name parts.

Some models, like our budget option above, use lower-end components and mechanical disc brakes versus hydraulic disc brakes. They usually use hub motors cheaper batteries to bring the price down, too. While those options may be fine for most riders, if you plan to use the cargo ebike in lieu of a car, remember that an ebike is similar to a car – you get what you pay for."

So from what I understand, the Surly has better, higher quality parts (battery/motor), hydraulic brakes and larger 26" wheels (good for riding over sticks and rocks, etc, but have less strength than the the Radwagon's 22" wheels). The pannier bags are also included in the price. The Radwagon comes with fenders and lights, but not pannier bags, and is considered a "budget" bike with a poorer quality motor/battery and mechanic break instead of hydraulic. The surly has a 200lb rear capacity, the Radwagon 120lb.
 
Kirk Patrick
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Re: Money Transfers

Interesting! I suppose I had the wrong assumptions about money orders, wire transfers and paypal. I will look into wise.com and also ask my credit union about potential options. I don't think having me purchase the bike would work because my credit card limit is very low, unless the store also accepts bank drafts or wire transfers, etc. themselves.
 
paul wheaton
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Kirk Patrick wrote:So from what I understand, the Surly has better, higher quality parts (battery/motor), hydraulic brakes and larger 26" wheels (good for riding over sticks and rocks, etc, but have less strength than the the Radwagon's 22" wheels). The pannier bags are also included in the price. The Radwagon comes with fenders and lights, but not pannier bags, and is considered a "budget" bike with a poorer quality motor/battery and mechanic break instead of hydraulic. The surly has a 200lb rear capacity, the Radwagon 120lb.



So the rad bike might last fine for three years, and the surly might last twelve?
 
paul wheaton
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Julia Megan wrote:Also, Bikes at Work makes the kind of trailer you'd likely want to haul permie things: https://www.bikesatwork.com/
 . Our local bike valet hauls bike racks on them, and they are seriously heavy duty trailers with one of the best hitch attachments I've ever seen. They can hold far more weight than you're likely willing to pull.



I think that once we get our act together on the electric bicycle front ...   the 64AW looks like a good fit for us ...
 
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i see you’ve been introduced to the rad wagon. you might like to watch our tiny film about bicycle life — the rad wagon is featured as it allowed us to get rid of our car three years ago. we pick up a friend at the ferry on it, and we use a wike trailer with it (though my dad engineered a hitch especially for it…not difficult). i hope they've improved the controls on it but that’s only a problem on a dark and rainy night. the ability to just operate the electric assist by twisting the handle is great when we are moving firewood or hay bales up a hill. i’m sure there are stronger bikes out there but this one is great for the money. the running boards alone carry a lot.

how the electric bicycle is transforming our lives


elisa
 
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I have about 200 miles on this Co-Op Cycles (REI brand) e-bike which I purchased a few weeks ago, and have found it more than adequate for ALL of my uses (including hauling my 40 lb herding dog in her 30 lb bike trailer)—especially at this price point I don't think there's a better value out there. Definitely one to consider! The rack is integral to the frame, and total capacity/limit is 300 lbs (including rider, all gear, etc.)

I do not know what the cost of spare battery packs are, but they are easy to swap in and out. I get about 30 miles per charge on high-assist mode, have actually never run out of charge on lower modes so not sure how long it takes, as I generally top it up at some point.

EDIT: That 30 mile range includes dog-in-tow!

EDIT 2: Ah wow, I wish I'd known about the RadPower bikes, they look like amazing machines and I probably would have gone that way, judging from the specs on some. Shucks.
 
pollinator
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This pic is for the tires.  Son lives in Minnesota and these are what he uses half the year.
Attach0.jpg
[Thumbnail for Attach0.jpg]
 
master pollinator
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Just wanted to mention that I have been riding and repairing bicycles for well over 10 years now. I will be at Wheaton Labs for a month in May. I'll happily be a mechanic for this effort. I'll read-up and practice repairs and maintenance prior to arrival this coming Spring, provided a bike is purchased and I don't step on anyone's toes by mentioning this.
 
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Hey have you looked at any trikes. The ICE Full Fat is made in England and has big 26" wheels for rolling-over rocks and ground clearance, and Shimano e-assist https://www.icetrikes.co/products/full-fat


Failing that look at some of the Dutch cargo trikes like Radkutsche Musketeir cargo trike. The Dutch are way ahead of the game on cargo trikes
fullfat-9-88f2a348.jpeg
ICE Full Fat Trike
ICE Full Fat Trike
010_elefant_hu08e0ae5b0f83bc9bca311a86b391bd70_5610255_1200x1200_fit_q75_box.jpg
Radkutsche Musketier Cargo Tractor Bike
Radkutsche Musketier Cargo Tractor Bike
 
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I have 3 different ebikes at my off grid cabin and homestead and used for resupply runs and adventuring. I tow a trailer and sled behind the ebikes for work.

If you are trying to get 2 ebikes for under $2K I would go with the Lectric 2.0.

I have a Rattan 750 that is a step up from that ebike.







 
pollinator
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I prefer removable batteries and make sure you are not charging below zero. Some of the DIY ebike builders are charging in fire proof boxes, they must not trust their work. There is a lot of opinions on middrive and hub motors. The new hub motors are much better, that being said I picked up a middrive for a new build. Do not get a folding ebike for your terrain, they are less expensive and good on flat roads. The Rad bikes are really nice I don't think you would go wrong buying that.

Staff note (Jay Angler) :

Clarified on pg 2 to be "zero centigrade" (32 F)

 
Daniel Schmidt
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T Blankinship wrote:
Could you post more about this. Thanks



Supposedly the ebike rebate is wrapped up in a bill that is currently being modified in the Senate. I first heard of it from the Bolton ebike podcast, and there is some information out there. Since it could be changed or entirely removed from the bill, I can't really say anything else about it with certainty. A google search would yield up to date information. I haven't kept up with the politics, so I don't know exactly how likely or unlikely it is to pass,  how long it could be hung up, or how long it would take to go in to effect. I just know that ebike sellers are backed up because of supply shortages, and that ebike sales are likely to continue to outpace expectations if the bill is passed with any form of an ebike rebate in place. I'd imagine the first weeks of the new year will bring new information about how that is going to pan out.
 
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https://www.amazon.com/s?k=electric+mountain+bike+conversion+kit
 
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