Enhancing E-Mobility

I bought an e-bike for my daily commute to work roughly four months ago. This blog entry is an update on the topic and a little rant on product quality and tubeless wheels on bicycles.

First impression

I love the bike! It works like a charm, and it keeps my armpits dry, which is exactly what I had in mind when I got it. The bike has seen almost 1,600 kilometres during the first 2 months and I enjoyed all of it. The aluminium frame creaks a little on rougher terrain and on bumps, but that was expected. It’s not exactly a top quality bike, but it’s not bad either. The tires are a different story. It feels as if they slammed the cheapest and crappiest rubbers in the whole of Vietnam on my bike. The material is insanely soft and those 2 months of daily rides have reduced the rear tread almost entirely. Even with the pressure pushed to maximum, the tire is fulling so much that it’s a pain to ride with the motor switched off. Also, the bike came with Presta valves which are horrible to use. This always forces me to bring my own bicycle pump, because everyone else in the world seems to use Schrader valves.

Fixing the issues

The biggest issue were the factory tires, so I ordered new ones that are more suited to metalled surfaces and tarmac. I decided to get a wide street tire with slim grooves and a high maximum pressure to reduce rolling resistance. Replacing the valves required replacing the tubes as well, but that isn’t too bad, since manufacturers tend to cheap out on them anyway. I had already planned to get some high quality replacements.

The tubeless ready wheels sounded pretty cool at first but as it turns out, separating a tubeless ready tire from its rim can get really dramatic. Both parts were glued together using superglue, so I had to use my knife, pincers and a ton of rage to get them apart. The rims needed some modification of their own for the hole to take the new Schrader valve. A task that any eight millimetre drill bit and a power drill is more than happy to complete. I have sanded down the edges of the widened valve hole and then vacuumed the entire rim to remove swarf and metallic dust. The rim was then taped using a length of gorilla tape.

Final result

I did expect a noticeable decrease in rolling resistance and the first tour was quite the revelation. The ride with a tire pressure of 4 bar was a lot smoother than I had imagined. There is almost no need for the electric motor on straights and speeds beyond 25 kph are no big deal. Even with the kids’ trailer attached I can happily cruise along at around 20 kph without any assist at all. I can now use the air compressor at any gas station to refill my tires if I have to, so replacing the valves was definitely worth it. A little drawback is the massively reduced grip on forest tracks and dirt roads. Steering may not change the direction of travel at all, which can be very frightening.

Update (11.11.2020)

The bike has seen another 800 kilometres since I have replaced the tires. The speed on my daily commute has increased by about 3 kph on average but overall travel time has remained the same. I just spend more time waiting for green lights. The range using Tour mode has grown from just over 100 to about 130 kilometres. It isn’t quite enough for four days on one charge, but it’s a lot better than the previous three days with the last bit being on fumes and in Eco mode.

Update (12.02.2021)

I’ve upgraded the bike some more for winter conditions. The battery pack has received a cosy neoprene sleeve to protect it from the cold and to extend the range. A wide mud guard was added to the lower tube to protect the entire lower frame, motor and battery from the shower that it receives while driving. The factory saddle was beginning to degrade into a butt cheek splitting thorn of agony, so that was replaced as well. Over all, I’ve spent roughly three grand on the bike, the trailer and some weather clothes. One of my co-workers always liked to make fun of my low budget equipment, since his bike alone is worth more than my total, and he’s spent a four digit sum on clothes. That being said, I’m using the bike every day of the week in all weather conditions including rain, wind, snow and ice. I’ve used the car four times to get to work since I bought the bike in April 2020, in contrast to my co-worker who is using the car whenever the weather is a little rough. I think this proves that you don’t have to buy the best to get proper results. Good enough works for me and saves on costs big time. I love riding my bike in any weather condition despite my cheap outfit.

  • Bike: €2.070
    • Bulls E Limited Edition 5 E-Bike: €1.760
    • Abus CityChain X-Plus 110 cm: €130
    • SKS Germany Shockblade, X-Blade & X-Guard: €50
    • Brooks Cambium C17 carved: €65
    • M-Wave Bosch Powerpack sleeve: €13
    • 2x Schwalbe Big Apple 62-622 & Schwalbe Tube: €52
  • Trailer: €802
    • Croozer Kid Plus for 1: €650
    • 20 x 3000 mm steel cable & Abus Granit 37/55HB50: €110
    • 2x Schwalbe Super Moto-X 62-406 & Schwalbe Tube: €42
  • Clothing: €257
    • Vaude Luminum Performance Jacket: €120
    • Vaude Luminum Performance Pants: €84
    • CoD 10 Ghost Skull Balaclava: €9
    • 100% Hydromatic Gloves: €44

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