How Hard Can You Ride A DIY E Bike? | Homebuild In The Bike Park

How Hard Can You Ride A DIY E Bike? | Homebuild In The Bike Park


– Here on EMBN we’re lucky enough to ride some of the best ebikes out there. But those bikes come at quite a price for that performance. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got those ebike home-build kits. They got us thinking, “How capable are those
bikes out on the trail?” Especially with turning up that dial and pushing them to their limits. So, today, we’re hammering
the ebike home-build kit hard. (upbeat music) So, for today’s ride, we’re starting pretty simple. We’re hitting the roads first, then we’re going to the fire roads, then we’re going to do a
little bit of cross-country on some nice trails around here. Then, we’re heading to the bike park, turning that dial up to 11, and getting some air underneath
the wheels of this beast, to see how it handles it. But let’s take a quick look at the bike. This is a bike that I had kicking around in the back of my shed, and I thought it was about
time we electrify this thing. So, the main frame is
the aluminum hardtail. Now this is an aggressive hardtail. I mean, it’s equally at
home smashing it downhill as it is pumping out the miles. Upfront, we’ve got 160mm Rockshox Lyrik, rolling on 27.5 wheels,
with Maxxis Aggressor tires. It’s got hydraulic brakes to slow it down, and the rear hub motor is
a thousand watts power, and that’s coming from Cyclotricity. It’s got five different
power levels on there, from “Off” all the way up to “Level Five”, which is going to power this
bike at pretty good speed. It has both pedal assist
and throttle options, meaning that you can press the button, not pedal, and go along at quite a pace. And finally, powering it, it’s got a 48-volt 12-amp power battery. All the electrical items on this bike is roughly coming in at £750. Now, that includes the battery, the motor, the LCD unit and the speed controller. It’s pretty simple to convert any bike to an ebike these days. However, this kind of
kit is usually suited to more of that commuter style, fire roads and the basic kind of trails you’re going to find out on the hills. However, I’ve combined it
with a pretty capable frame, a big fork and a strong wheel set. Time to go and find out how
capable this bike really is. (upbeat music) So, first up, the road test on this bike. Now, this bike is absolutely flying along, and I’m not even in the
highest power mode settings. It simply made that big hill
climb an absolute breeze. Now, I’m finding the power delivery, it’s a bit more kind of surgy than the regular kind of e-mountain bike, meaning that it is taking
a few pedal revolutions to actually engage that drive. And once the power is there, it starts off on quite
a big hit initially. So, I think, when we’re
hitting the off-road stuff, could get a little interesting. Let’s take it to the fire road. (mellow music) Fire roads. Essentially the same as the roads. This bike is well within its limits here. We’ve had a load of fun, smashed out a load of miles. Every hill has been an absolute breeze. This bike is nowhere near it’s limits. So, time to take it to
some more serious off-road. I found this nice, steep,
smooth fire road climb. Now, on a standard mountain bike, this would be quite a slog, but this bike, got it in high power mode now, it’s absolutely flying up here. One thing I do know, it’s, you got to keep that cadence up, otherwise that motor assist
definitely drops off. So, a steep, smooth fire road climb is not a problem at all for this bike. However, I think if that climb gets a little bit more steeper and a little bit more technical, you might see this bike actually struggle. So, let’s go find out. Right, so we found this technical climb. It’s littered with logs. It’s got rocks on it. It’s looking pretty slippy and wet. Few loose bits on there. So it is pretty tech, and it’s pretty steep, too. Now, I want to hit this on a standard, mid-drive, e-mountain bike. It is quite a struggle. Let’s see how that home-build fares. Okay, so I’m in my easiest gear. I’ve got the highest power mode selected. We’re going to give this climb a go. Let’s get into it, then. All right, let’s go. (bike wheels whirring) – Whoo! Well, I’m pretty surprised
the hub drive bug made it up there quite as easy as that. Now, it’s pretty slippy,
it’s pretty steep, and there’s loads of
chances to break traction. What I found with the hub drive, you got a lot of weight in the back wheel, so you got your weight down low and you’re sat down on your seat, and the weight of that motor, combined, it gives a pretty good grip. As long as you keep that cadence up, the bike’s going to drive
to the top of the hill. I think, if it becomes
a little bit more tech, and a lot slower, and a bit more steppy, where you got to try and winch that weight off that back wheel up these steps, that’s when this bike is going to suffer. (upbeat music) – Whoo! Right, that’s the natural, single track trails out of the way, and that was a load of fun, definitely a lot more fun
than a standard mountain bike. But a couple of things
I did notice on that run was the weight of the back wheel, especially on this square edge hitch. Definitely feel that wheel doesn’t want to roll over quite as nice. And on those little drops, you also feel the weight
of the back wheel. And also, the mis-balance
of the weight on the bike. I found one of those,
like, off-camber section that I went into. Got my weight back slightly. Me, with my weight back, and the motor weight down low, kind of caused that front
end to go super light, especially at some of those
faster corners, as well. I do notice that light
for an uncompetitive, standard e-mountain bike. And also, sometimes, doesn’t quite deliver the same, instantaneous power, is what I’m used to, too. So, it did catch me out on
some of that technical stuff. The drive wasn’t there where I needed. But, having said that, absolute blast. And I think we’re still
well within it’s limits. I think we turn up that dial, get some air under it’s wheels, hit the bike park. One thing I think we might struggle with with this bike, is all that fun we can have, you know, out on the
trails or the car parks, jibbing around, doing
the wheelies, manuals and bunny-hops. I think it’s going to be
quite an effort on this. So let’s give them a go in this car park. See how we get on. (mellow music) – Ooh, my god! (chuckling) So, looks like this bike
can wheelie, it can manual. But one thing it definitely
is struggling with is the bunny-hop. You got a lot of weight
in that back wheel, meaning the front just
keeps up nice and light, but bringing that back
wheel up to the same height simply isn’t possible because of all that weight
and the motor of the hub. This is Wind Hill Bike Park, home to some of the biggest
drops and jumps in the UK. It’s got trails from blue to red to black. It literally has it hall. Now, usually, I’ll be at this
spot on a mid-drive bike, something like my specialized Kenevo, a big bike that can
handle the biggest hits. Now, today I’m obviously on something a little bit different,
the home-build bike. We’re going to see how hard we can do it. We’re going to start on the blue. We’re going to turn it up to the red, and maybe the black. So this is Blutopia. It’s a blue run here
at Wind Hill Bike Park. (upbeat music) Wow! All right, so that’s the
blue run all dialed in. I’ve done a few laps of it, actually. Been breezing back up this
climb back to the top. Load of laps. It has been a load of fun. I still don’t think we’re
quite on the limits yet. But a couple of things I
have noticed about the bike is how heavy that back wheel
is when you’re in the air. Now, I’ve jumped a few of
the smaller table tops, and I can actually feel the
back of the bike dropping away, so there’s a lot of
weight in that back wheel. I think you could adjust to this, but me, coming from a
mid-drive e-mountain bike, it is quite hard at the minute. So, I think we’re heading
toward the limits, but not quite there yet. We’re going to turn that dial up one more, and start to hit the red run. Now this is a more progressive run. It’s got some bigger jumps. It’s a lot of high speed. Are we going to find the
limits of the hub drive? I think this could be the one. (mellow music) Well, that’s the red run complete, and I feel that this bike is
properly on it’s limits now. I mean, some of those jumps,
I’m quite back wheel down, with the front wheel quite high. It’s not giving me a lot of confidence. Definitely not looking
too stylish, either. So, I’m going to leave it there. I was hoping to go to the black run, but I think if you’re
going to be attempting the black run stuff, then I think that’s when
those mid-drive bikes are going to come into their own. They’re not only going to ride better and give you a more
balanced feeling in the air, they’re obviously going to
inspire your confidence, as well. Big part of riding this bike today, here, is obviously skill level, as well. I think if you are a lesser skilled rider, you will actually improve your
skills on a mid-drive bike, rather than a hub-drive bike. (mellow music) So, who are these home build kits for? They’re a great way to convert
a standard mountain bike into an ebike. It’s also a fairly cheap way of dipping your toes into the ebike world. However, you need to think about how capable the kit is going to be. Some of the cheaper kits will have low-grade
batteries, weak motors, and reliability could become an issue, especially in bad weather. It’s definitely the case of you get what you pay for when it comes to these kits. Something to think about is what bike you’re going
to put the kit on initially, and think about the components
that are already on it. We found components that were fine for
standard mountain bike use, simply couldn’t hack it when it comes to added weight
of the e-mountain bike. Such things as brakes, tires and cranks, you really need to make sure
the bike and the components can take the extra load of the kit. However, the home-build
was great fun on the roads, fire roads and cross-country style trails. Definitely put a smile on my face and injected pace into some
otherwise boring trails. It also took the sting out
of the nastiest of climbs. Perfect for the commute or
the average weekend blast. But, it was when we rode bigger
features, techier climbs, and upped the pace and
started pushing hard, we started to find the
limits of this bike. Whilst the home build kits
are a great, cheap option, they’ll never give you the performance, confidence and reliability as an off-the-shelf
manufactured e-mountain bike. But it’s been a good day out. Let us know if you’ve enjoyed this video. Drop some comments in the box below about all your hub-drive exploits. Give us a thumbs-up. If you want to stick around
and check out another video, check out “Hammering Hardtails”, that one’s playing down here. Click the globe in the
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