My First E-Bike Experience
The biking past . . . .
Like many people, my first bicycle came when I was a young boy. When I went off to college in 1971, the "cool" campus bike that everybody was riding was a Schwinn continental 10 speed. They were so popular I had to be on a 3-month waiting list to get one. I rode that bike for probably 10 years.
Bicycling faded from my regular activity list until my wife and I were enjoying a summer vacation in Frisco, Colorado several years later. We discovered that the entire Dillon valley of Colorado is laced with paved bike trails and the ski resorts were selling lift tickets to allow you to take your bike to the top of the mountain and ride the service roads and single tracks back to the bottom. Our interest in biking was sparked. We went to a local bicycle shop to rent bikes but ended up buying two Diamondback mountain bike. We took off riding the trails and did some downhill routes on the local ski slopes.
We took the bikes back home to Nebraska (flat land) where we rode them on the local streets and paved trails. I rode mine to work occasionally. In 2007 we moved to central Arkansas in the foothills of the Ozark mountains. The community where we moved was very scenic, but very hilly. I tried riding the bike a few times but quickly discovered it was a lot of work and not much fun. Even "granny gear" could not get me up some hills and I would have to get off an walk. The bike was hung up on the garage ceiling and there it stayed for eight years.
Biking possibilities renewed . . . .
A couple month ago I was surfing my Facebook pages when I saw a post from a friend who had recently opened an outdoor outfitting store. He had just returned from a trade show and said he was going to get some E-bikes into his store. He reported that these new E-bikes were serious fun and addictive. I'd never heard about E-bikes so naturally, my curiosity was tweaked.
A few days later I stopped by his store and asked him to show me the E-bikes. The bikes he had in stock where factory built bikes from a major manufacture (who also makes snowmobiles and ATV's). He showed me the features of the bikes and explained that they had a 750 watt rear hub motor and a controller with three (3) assist levels. The 36 volt battery was integrated into the frame. I asked if I could take a test ride.
I took off across the parking lot and down a street. I could immediately tell this was a whole new way to bike! I traversed a couple small hills with ease and clicked through the 8 gears and different levels of assist. It wasn't long before I begin to realize that with this "new kind of bike", I could traverse my "hilly" community with ease. I knew right away I wanted to get one.
DIY mentality . . . .
The E-bike my friend was selling was certainly a nice bike and would be a great bike for touring around my community, but the retail price of $2500 was a little more than I thought I wanted to spend on a bicycle. Then I remembered my old Diamondback mountain bike hanging in the garage for the last eight years. It was a good bike. I thought to myself, surely there is an aftermarket "kit" out there that I could adapt to my old bike and turn it into a new E-bike? I begin searching the internet and quickly found several DIY kits of all types. I read reviews and other people's comments trying to decide which direction to go. One thing I wanted, was a kit from a reputable manufacture that was a complete solution with a battery, controller, pedal assist sensor, digital display and electric brakes.
Dillinger met my E-bike criteria . . . .
I discovered the Dillinger 350 watt front hub kit with the frame-mounted 36v 10ah battery. I really liked the fact that the controller was integrated into the battery and that the battery mounted on the bike frame using the bottle carrier supports. I liked the fact that the controller had five (5) levels of assist and the capacity of the battery was rated at a range of 25-50 miles and had an adjustable top speed of 25 mph. The geared front hub motor would be easier to install than a rear hub and power output of 350-500 watts would be adequate for my riding location. The fact that the kit was on sale for $799 was a bonus feature that sealed the deal. I placed my order.
While I waited for the kit to arrive, which took less than 5 days from their California warehouse, I considered the other items I would need to complete the conversion of my 30+ year old Diamondback response sport mountain bike into an updated 2015 E-bike.
Stay tuned . . .
In my next post to the Dillinger blog I will detail my experience with the conversion process and my impressions of the finished result. Stayed tuned!