Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Daily Driver Bike One Year Review: Boring and Reliable

This is my commuter ebike.  I've had it for over a year now.

I've been riding it about 9-9.5 miles/day since I built it - pretty much every weekday, rain or shine.  This, plus weekend riding and store runs, works out to about 2500 miles.

In this year, I've replaced the following things:
- Chain (stretched beyond wear limits)
- Rear freewheel (torn up by the stretched chain, partly because I mostly use the small sprockets)
- Rear brake pads (worn, replaced with KoolStop Electric Bike Pads)
- Front brake pads (same as the rear)
- Rear tube (took a huge nail, but I was able to ride home due to the slime in the tube)
- Throttle lever (the thumb bit snapped off).

None of these left me stranded, and only the front brake pads required minor side-of-road tweaking (the pistons weren't retracting properly with the pads worn out and the brakes were dragging).

In terms of maintenance required for a daily driver, this has been insanely low.  I've spent around $100 on parts, total.  And about $7 on electricity to power me these 2500 miles.

The only major additions have been more light up front (powered by a DC-DC converter I built) and a set of bike balls.

At this point, I can confidently state that this bike is exceeding all my expectations!  It's somewhat overbuilt for my needs (which was half the point - pushing limits on a daily driver is a way to have an unreliable bike), but it chews up hills easily, is cruising well under rated power, runs cool, and generally is an incredibly boring ebike - which is exactly what I wanted.  It just works.

I've got a 15-20 mile range on my current battery pack (36v, 13.3AH LiFePO4), a top speed of around 23mph on flat pavement, and while I have to pedal some to get up hills, the motor covers the bulk of my power needs.

The fenders do a very good job of keeping the wet road grit off me, though I'll still take some splash on my shoes from the front wheel if there's standing water.  The rear fender works perfectly - my backpack has zero road grime on it.

The triple layer of armored tires, heavy duty thorn resistant tubes, and slime also works exactly as I'd hoped.  I've only had one tire problem in a year of commuting, and that was a rather large nail.  Even with that, I was able to make it home riding - I consider this a huge success of my tire system.

I'm incredibly happy with this build, and would absolutely encourage anyone considering a commuter to go for the "somewhat overbuilt" approach to reliability.


  1. Very nice! Reminds me of my build. I think I'm going to look for fenders like yours.

    1. Nice build! Your rear rack looks strong enough to hold everything, which is a problem I've had with weaker rear racks.

      I gather your pedals don't get used very often, though. ;)

  2. Glad it's working out for you! I'm probably a year or more from doing an ebike build but I'm definitely gonna try picking your brain for ideas when I do.

  3. This is the kind of bike I'm thinking about, except I might go with a mid drive. I like the general setup as far as wheel size, fenders, frame style and general ruggedness. I'd like to hear about what you wear in the rain in another post. Do you have a place to change clothes at work?

    1. I wear standard bicycle rain gear, or just get wet. I do have a place to change at work, but as I'm not sweaty when I arrive, I could just as easily swap clothes in a bathroom stall if I needed to (and I do this when I bike other places and feel like wearing bike clothes).


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