Electric Bike Review

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Delfin

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We resisted buying electric bikes thinking that getting exercise was one of the points of having a bike in the first place, and an electric would hamper that. Perhaps that is true for some designs I'm not familiar with, but turns out not to be a problem with the ones we purchased.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/turbo-como-sl-50/p/216527?color=348463-216527

This particular model is on sale, apparently everywhere, for $1995, which I'm told is because the company is upgrading the size of the batteries to increase range. Unless you're planning on 30+ mile runs, I'm not sure a larger battery is needed - certainly isn't for us. The reasons for selecting this one are:

1. Lightweight - 44#, so hefting on and off the boat isn't an issue.
2. Cost - you can spend a whole bunch of $ more, and maybe it's worth it if you're going to mountain bike or go very long distances, but for putting around, this is a reasonable price.
3. No derailer - this has an enclosed hub that contains the motor and what is effectively is a transmission, and it is sealed so salty air shouldn't be an issue. As an option, you can also get a belt drive rather than a chain, which pretty much eliminates nuisance rust.
4. Comes with fenders and a basket.
5. Smart charger that disconnects the load once charged.
6. Sufficient range - allegedly 40 miles, but this is going to depend on outside temperatures and what level of assist you're using. My guess is 25 miles is more like the real number.

This model has four levels of assist applied to five speeds - none, low, moderate and high. Not powered up, it rides like a regular bike with flat tires, in other words, you can feel the drag of the motor. In low, you can still feel a bit of drag. So far and 100 miles of use, I've never seen a use for low assist. In moderate assist the bike basically feels like a non electric model, except you end up going quite a bit faster. In high assist, you haul ass up to around 20 mph on flat surfaces. Climbing the mile long, quite steep hill to our home, in first gear and high assist you remain seated and pedal, but you still get a real workout.

I guess the bottom line is that this seems a very reasonably priced and fun mode of scooting around, that is very well protected from the corrosion issues of bikes on boats. And, an electric bike, at least this one, feels the same under assist as a purely mechanical bike, just much faster.
 
I have a specialized as well but perhaps not your model. A Hard seven. Love it but as said earlier more trouble than it’s worth on the boat. Does surprisingly well in mild off-road conditions as well. Enjoy.
 
I've had a tandem electric bike for the past 8 years for the boat. Tandem, because my GF doesn't ride solo. It's been absolutely great!

It does have a bit of maintenance and has a chain which needs cleaning. And metal parts that do rust so have to keep up on that. Overall, not bad for the benefit.

Solo, I can use it like a truck to get groceries and stuff. And even together, we can haul a lot of stuff with back packs and the back rack.

Have a hoist on the boat to load haul it onboard. On my smaller Mainship 400 I could hand carry it on the boat and store it on the flybridge, but can't do that on the current 430 boat.

I've rebuilt the electrical system once, and right now going thru a complete overhaul to bring it back up to par.

The electrical power is NOT "assist" which I prefer. It's on demand, when I want it, I turn the throttle. Great for hills, but on level ground we often use it without power. And, we can pedal independently, which is great.

I'm kinda shopping for an "old age" bike as we get older. Considering an electric tandem trike that hopefully will last us when we're 90.
 

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I too resisted an bike. Still ride my mountain bike (on easy bike trails) but picked up a great ebike locally for $700. Pricing is coming down so shop around.

It is great and yes you still get exercise. Have not taken it on the boat yet but perhaps soon.
 
Costco has a great foldable one for a very reasonable price ( can't remember but I think it is around $499) I purchased "BOB" which is out of production for around $1000 about 5+ years ago because it folds down enuff to fit in my plane. It easily does 20miles on a battery (I have 2 batteries) but is not really an offroad bike. I was able to come back from Santa Barbara airport when I returned the rental car back to the marina (12-15 miles), just threw the bike in the trunk and took it with me. The Admiral is now unable to use a bike so I bought a regular Bike trailer capable of 150lbs which is more than enuff for her. Distance is reduced but we go everywhere with that combo to restaurants or cruising new ports. Wouldn't leave home without it.
 
We resisted buying electric bikes thinking that getting exercise was one of the points of having a bike in the first place, and an electric would hamper that. Perhaps that is true for some designs I'm not familiar with, but turns out not to be a problem with the ones we purchased.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/turbo-como-sl-50/p/216527?color=348463-216527

Looks big. Where do you store it? If on deck, how do you charge it? Battery does not look to be removable.
 
I would argue that 44 pounds is an issue when trying to transition to and from a dock or dinghy. If you have a one armed hoist, never mind.
 
Looks big. Where do you store it? If on deck, how do you charge it? Battery does not look to be removable.
Correct, the battery is not removable. We store them on the top deck, hoisting them with a line off the mizzen, and the top deck is where they charge.

Each vessel is going to have its own challenges to carrying bikes. I've had Montague folding bikes and lightweight road bikes and frankly, these are no more trouble than they were except being 10# heavier, and less trouble in that they are much better protected from corrosion.
 
I would argue that 44 pounds is an issue when trying to transition to and from a dock or dinghy. If you have a one armed hoist, never mind.

Yes on the hoist, and I didn't like trying to take my 20# Gitane ashore in the dinghy, and won't with this one either, except in rare circumstances. The Montague folding bikes we cruised with weighed 10# less than these, which isn't much difference. So, dock offloading is pretty much the gig for us with these, mostly because of convenience plus laziness.
 
Electric scooters are excellent too, and are lighter and more compact. We have a Segway Ninebot scooter, and an electric bike. I use the scooter more, because of the convenience dragging it on and off the boat. They're very easy to use, although certainly not as well-equipped for carrying things around like groceries or other shopping.

Also: Check your insurance. My insurance explicitly forbids charging lithium bikes and scooters "unattended".
 
Thank you for the "real world review"!
 
There can be a lot of confusion with respect to e-bikes, as the term is used for almost anything with two wheels and an electric motor.


Electric motorcycles, such as Surron, shouldn't be refereed to as e-bikes IMO. They are motorcycles that are powered by an electric motor and don't even have pedals, yet it is common to see them called an e-bike.


Then there are what are essentially mopeds. They have pedals, but you don't have to use the pedals to move. Again, I don't believe these should be called e-bikes.


Finally, you have what I feel are true e-bikes, the Specialized like the OP has or the Trek that I rode last summer. The electric assist does not work unless you are pedaling and applying some force to propel the bike. You will still get a workout with this type bike. I also feel that these bikes shouldn't be excluded from bike trails, but they get lumped in with the e-motorcycle I mentioned before.


Glad you like your bike. Also, 44 pounds isn't that much considering a mid-level MTB is right around 30-32 lbs.
 
Then there are what are essentially mopeds. They have pedals, but you don't have to use the pedals to move. Again, I don't believe these should be called e-bikes.


Finally, you have what I feel are true e-bikes, the Specialized like the OP has or the Trek that I rode last summer. The electric assist does not work unless you are pedaling and applying some force to propel the bike. You will still get a workout with this type bike. I also feel that these bikes shouldn't be excluded from bike trails, but they get lumped in with the e-motorcycle I mentioned before.

There is already a distinction between these as Class 1 (and 3) vs Class 2 e-bikes. Class 1 and 3 e-bikes require you to pedal and only provide assist, while Class 2 can work in that mode or with a throttle (the type you compared to mopeds). The difference between Class 1 and 3 is the top speed for assist (20 vs 28 mph). Assist on Class 2 is limited to 20 mph whether you're using pedal assist or the throttle.

There are some places that only allow Class 1 e-bikes and don't allow Class 2. And for that reason, some Class 2 e-bikes allow you to disconnect and dis-mount the throttle from the handlebars and use it as a Class 1 (pedal assist only).
 
Have successfully retrofitted my 24" lightweight Dahon folding bike with a Swytch electric conversion; this will be easily luggable into and out of the dinghy and stow away handily onboard. However due to delay in the build of our boat, practical experience is very limited to date.
 
Have successfully retrofitted my 24" lightweight Dahon folding bike with a Swytch electric conversion; this will be easily luggable into and out of the dinghy and stow away handily onboard. However due to delay in the build of our boat, practical experience is very limited to date.

I did this same thing, 2 years ago, best thing I did.
 
Have successfully retrofitted my 24" lightweight Dahon folding bike with a Swytch electric conversion; this will be easily luggable into and out of the dinghy and stow away handily onboard. However due to delay in the build of our boat, practical experience is very limited to date.
Hi, I have a Swytch conversion sitting in my closet. Need to install it on my Dahon. Mind if I ask what kind of boat you are building. I’m waiting on my Nordhavn 475, which is very close to completion.
Best Regards.
Tushar
 
Dangerous on a Boat

Check out the YouTube videos from CellBlockFCS.com for EB charging solutions. Li-ion have no place on a vessel without being able to charge and store safely.
 
Check out the YouTube videos from CellBlockFCS.com for EB charging solutions. Li-ion have no place on a vessel without being able to charge and store safely.

Now you’ve got me worried. I’ve got an e-bike, a one wheel, an electric scooter, and a Porsche Taycan all charging in my garage. Are they any more safe there or any less safe on a boat?
 
Now you’ve got me worried. I’ve got an e-bike, a one wheel, an electric scooter, and a Porsche Taycan all charging in my garage. Are they any more safe there or any less safe on a boat?
For several reasons the Taycan won`t be safe on the boat :).
 
There is already a distinction between these as Class 1 (and 3) vs Class 2 e-bikes. Class 1 and 3 e-bikes require you to pedal and only provide assist, while Class 2 can work in that mode or with a throttle (the type you compared to mopeds). The difference between Class 1 and 3 is the top speed for assist (20 vs 28 mph). Assist on Class 2 is limited to 20 mph whether you're using pedal assist or the throttle.

There are some places that only allow Class 1 e-bikes and don't allow Class 2. And for that reason, some Class 2 e-bikes allow you to disconnect and dis-mount the throttle from the handlebars and use it as a Class 1 (pedal assist only).


I know, but first, most people don't know what the confusing Class numbers mean and land managers too often just lump everything together. To me, there isn't a good reason to shun a Class 1 or even a 3, but I see so many trails with a blanket, "no e-bike" allowed sign. Also, as I mentioned, almost everyone that has a Surron type motorcycle, calls it an "e-bike."
 
Big difference between a EV and a e bike. Fire risk with a EV is negligible . In fact in spite of all the hype gasoline ICE vehicles catch fire with the same frequency as compared to EVs of recent vintage. I leave my Rivian R1T on a level 2 charger in the garage for long periods of time when we’re off cruising on the boat.
However I leave no batteries for power tools nor the batteries for our e-bikes on chargers unless actively monitored. Once charged they are taken out of the chargers. The monitoring tech in an EV is several orders of magnitude more reliable and safer than that seen for e-bikes and power tools. We intentionally bought non Chinese bikes which are said to have better quality monitoring but still don’t trust it so never leave a charged battery in a charger. Unlike running a lithium battery to 0% soc doesn’t kill it so there’s no reason to leave them on a charger. Most EVs have standard 12v AGM in them to run some of the electronics and have some phantom draw so do benefit from being left on a charger if you’re going to let them sit for a long time.
 
We have BOTH relatively light folding ebikes and folding Tern peddle bikes. I regret buying the e-bikes. Your use may be different than ours. We cruise full time and can be away from support for months. E-bikes break down more, rust more, and can't be fixed without support or parts. I LOATH placing the ebikes on the dinghy and slepping them to shore. The peddle bikes are way lighter and easier to get into the dinghy. Changing the rear tube on an ebike is a pita. Consider how and where you will store them, and how you will get them from storage to the dock or dinghy, and keep them secure and out of the weather.

If you're going to be at a dock and can store them in the cockpit, the ebikes may make sense. Otherwise spend the same amount and get a WAY better quality folding bike.
 
I've been looking at eBike's for a while and 1 hurdle is all of the brands out there. Which is better?
Well, that could depend on what you want and what you want it for. We all are generally looking for a bike for the boat.
We carry 2 folding bikes in a box on the bridge. I think it is safe to say we've probably ridden them about a half a dozen times and that was on an 8year Loop. Hard to say why.
Could be that they are a hassle to get them out of the box and on a dock or dinghy.
Could be that in a new place you aren't sure what kind of traffic you might run into.
We were at a marina which offered bikes to borrow and instead of breaking ours out we used 2 of theirs. The basket on the front was overloaded and on a turn the bike took a dive with me on it. Not badly hurt but still had to deal with it.
Now I'm thinking that an eBike might be a better choice, but making the choice is humbling.
$2,800 for a bike would make me take an Uber.
Go Power bike (Folding) has some more reasonable alternatives.
First, I wouldn't get a bike that can't fold. I don't like the looks of bikes on the bow, plus that's a good place to get spray on the bike so even more maintenance that otherwise needed.
Most of the eBike have strong enough motors, like 750W.
Speed is limited to 20mph, I believe, to stay in a bike category so you don't need to license the bike or yourself. I also like the wider tires.
Range is generally based on a lower speed but 50miles seems to be a sweet spot.
IF you go to the site above they have some refurbished bikes. I think if I pull the trigger that will be the way I go so if I find that I'm not happy with my choice, I can probably sell them and get some of my money back.
I think that their Go Cruiser is probably the model I'd go for. Here (
) is a YouTube on it.
Last email I got from them had some refurbished for $799 and you can get accessories including fenders, racks & baskets. BTW, a step through bike is probably the best for those of us who are a little older.
While I might sound like a salesman for them, I have no $$ interest in the company.
 
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