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Buy a new e bike or convert an old bike?

Old 04-04-19, 09:01 AM
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MRT2
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Buy a new e bike or convert an old bike?

Asking for a friend. I am a long time member of this forum but don't know much about e bikes. My friend's bike is an ancient Panasonic 10 speed from the 70s. He brought up e bikes to me due to his recent heart attack. I told him he should consider one of the new e bikes. but he balked at the cost, saying he could buy something called a Copenhagen wheel or do a conversion for less money than a new e bike.

To me, it seems crazy to spend big bucks to convert such an old bike, but I figured I would put the question to this forum.

Thanks.
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Old 04-04-19, 09:38 AM
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Cool Fwiw,

My local shop has done many Mid drive conversions to MTB for hunters

its woodlands / tree farm - timberlands around here.. Elk & Deer ...

motor assembly replaces crankset

cost is $1600.. for parts & labor ..


you may not have any significant elevation gain to cope with then a hub motor scheme may be adequate..


(71, I'm Still Pedaling on my own)


>> I'd warn the issue with an old bike conversion will be inadequate Brakes <<


Have not seen a 'Copenhagen Wheel' in person .. did see diagrams , the battery is small capacity
because it has to be inside the wheel..

& they seem to sell for $1750 ..





...

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-04-19 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 04-04-19, 10:58 AM
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It's all relative. A $1750 Copenhagen might be cheaper than a $2900 Trek. I don't care for the concept. Our first ebike was $1300 in 2015 and still runs well, and I think it's a better value. My first ebike conversion was also from 2015 and cost me under $500. It's been quite reliable, but I did have to draw on years of hands on tinkering and engineering knowledge to be comfortable with the project.

I think a Copenhagen is overly expensive and limited in range/speed/climbing compared to a less expensive conventional kit, but the latter requires expertise to install. A Panasonic 10 speed with dropped bars is not the ideal candidate for conversion. The controls, brake levers,and throttle used in most bike kits are intended for hybrids and mountain bikes. The road bike frame is probably overly narrow for a regular hub motor. The Copenhagen would drop into a road bike and there's no wiring,as I understand it. For someone w/o mechanical/electrical skills, that is huge, Nonetheless, you could buy a complete ebike for that kind of money (Juiced, Radbikes, etc) , and you also have to consider what he plans to do with it.

I figure your friend will ride with you. How far and how fast do you ride? I don't believe the Copenhagen will hold 18-20 mph under assist for too long. Lots of hills in Wisconsin too.,
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Old 04-04-19, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Doc_Wui View Post
It's all relative. A $1750 Copenhagen might be cheaper than a $2900 Trek. I don't care for the concept. Our first ebike was $1300 in 2015 and still runs well, and I think it's a better value. My first ebike conversion was also from 2015 and cost me under $500. It's been quite reliable, but I did have to draw on years of hands on tinkering and engineering knowledge to be comfortable with the project.

I think a Copenhagen is overly expensive and limited in range/speed/climbing compared to a less expensive conventional kit, but the latter requires expertise to install. A Panasonic 10 speed with dropped bars is not the ideal candidate for conversion. The controls, brake levers,and throttle used in most bike kits are intended for hybrids and mountain bikes. The road bike frame is probably overly narrow for a regular hub motor. The Copenhagen would drop into a road bike and there's no wiring,as I understand it. For someone w/o mechanical/electrical skills, that is huge, Nonetheless, you could buy a complete ebike for that kind of money (Juiced, Radbikes, etc) , and you also have to consider what he plans to do with it.

I figure your friend will ride with you. How far and how fast do you ride? I don't believe the Copenhagen will hold 18-20 mph under assist for too long. Lots of hills in Wisconsin too.,
I do ride with him sometimes, and not super fast, like 12 to 14 mph. He has trouble post heart attack sustaining that, which is why he wants an electric assist. Wisconsin has some hills, but my friend does not typically seek them out, and there are plenty of rides that are flat to at most, rolling hills.

My view is, he should not put any more money into his old bike. Not that there is anything wrong with riding old bikes, but in this case, there is really nothing special about it. He got his money out of it, even considering the work he had to put into it the last 5 years just to ride it, but the time has come to buy another bike.

That is my view, but I am open to hearing from those who have successfully converted 40 year old 10 speeds to electric.
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Old 04-04-19, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
>> I'd warn the issue with an old bike conversion will be inadequate Brakes <<.
This is a myth that I've heard over and over again about ebikes. They do not require enhanced brakes. I've crossed the country at least six times (if you include N & S crossings) carrying 30+ pounds of gear using conventional side pulls or cantilevers. Why does my retrofitted ebike now need special brakes because of its whopping 17 pound load of battery and motor for rides around town?
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Old 04-04-19, 01:18 PM
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I've converted several mountain bikes, one of them 40 years old, No road bikes. At my age, I don't need dropped bars.

If I had a friend who was adamant about a road bike, I would install a TSDZ2 mid drive. It fits into where you have your cranks and you lose the front derailleur. However, you just pedal it and the motor will spin at a rate proportional to your effort, It comes with a throttle which doesn't have to be used and the motor stops when pedal force halts, About $400-500 for motor. Battery will be $500 and up.

If you're not far from Northern Illinois, talk to this man, I've never met him, but his shop sound very reputable.
https://electricbikereview.com/forum...-on-ebr.26707/

Electric Bikes, Sales And Service - Mike's Electric Bikes
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Old 04-04-19, 02:04 PM
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Bob G, agree about brakes; I have a 30+ mph flat bar commuter with a "V" brake in front and cantilever in the rear and have no difficulty stopping. If the individual the OP references likes drop bar orientation, the primary challenge is that it's difficult to mount a throttle, which might be paramount if he gets tired during a ride (Chas58 has done this). Most reviews for the Copenhagen Wheel have been positive, but there are less expensive options. If he could supply his budget, intended speed and range, we could be more helpful.
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Old 04-04-19, 04:52 PM
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"Panasonic 10 speed from the 70s." thats 5 by 2.. 120 rear width

this is about his bike not yours ..
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Old 04-04-19, 10:47 PM
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My point was about brakes not my bike. Discs aren't necessary if you have a brain.
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Old 04-05-19, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Doc_Wui View Post
I've converted several mountain bikes, one of them 40 years old, No road bikes. At my age, I don't need dropped bars.

If I had a friend who was adamant about a road bike, I would install a TSDZ2 mid drive. It fits into where you have your cranks and you lose the front derailleur. However, you just pedal it and the motor will spin at a rate proportional to your effort, It comes with a throttle which doesn't have to be used and the motor stops when pedal force halts, About $400-500 for motor. Battery will be $500 and up.

If you're not far from Northern Illinois, talk to this man, I've never met him, but his shop sound very reputable.
https://electricbikereview.com/forum...-on-ebr.26707/

Electric Bikes, Sales And Service - Mike's Electric Bikes
I have just installed a TSDZ2 mid-drive on a bike intended, and used, for commuting and errands. It is great. Much more than the Bafang, with rotation sensors, it feels like a normal bike, just a bit more responsive. I am definitely getting my heart rate up, but it is easier to ride.
As far as the install, It was pretty easy. I did install it on a bike with cheap Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and they are more than adequate.
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Old 04-10-19, 12:08 PM
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I just saw Calfee does conversions:

https://calfeedesign.com/calfee-ebike-retrofit-service/

Anyone have any experience?
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Old 04-10-19, 12:37 PM
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Thanks for sharing wgs; looks impressive, and I'm surprised they don't offer the Vivax (seat tube) system too.
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Old 04-13-19, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
My point was about brakes not my bike. Discs aren't necessary if you have a brain.

I feel like this is sorta true, sorta not. I think it depends on how/where you ride? If you ride mostly in open places/low traffic it should be fine with rim breaks, however if you are an aggressive urban rider, plan on going over 30 Miles Per hour I would recommend discs. I have rim brakes on both my bikes but I am old and slow and ride mostly on rural bike paths. YMMV

I would also recommend at least a front shock over 30 MPH. And a motorcycle helmet.

Actually after dropping down a 10% grade on my pedal bike this morning and hitting bad pavement at 35MPH, front shock is a must. I didn't bail but I was all over the road for about 50 yards. It coulda been a mess.

Last edited by starkmojo; 04-13-19 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 04-14-19, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by starkmojo View Post
I feel like this is sorta true, sorta not. I think it depends on how/where you ride? If you ride mostly in open places/low traffic it should be fine with rim breaks, however if you are an aggressive urban rider, plan on going over 30 Miles Per hour I would recommend discs. I have rim brakes on both my bikes but I am old and slow and ride mostly on rural bike paths. YMMV

I would also recommend at least a front shock over 30 MPH. And a motorcycle helmet.

Actually after dropping down a 10% grade on my pedal bike this morning and hitting bad pavement at 35MPH, front shock is a must. I didn't bail but I was all over the road for about 50 yards. It coulda been a mess.
As a newbe to e-biking I have to agree with most of your comments. I shutter to think what can happen going down a steep hill at 25-30 mph only to realize that your rims are wet or moist and your rim brakes are going to have a hard time slowing you down. I came close to having this happen before and almost ran off the road while going around a sharp turn ( on my normal road setup ).

For heavier e-bikes I also recommend a front shock. Mine doesn't have one and I've already noticed that some bumps or cracks in the road can deliver quite a shock to your hands. Hit something really hard at speed and you may even loose your grip on the bars especially if your hands are tired. ( I'll also note here that I would consider front wheel drive on a road bike to be really dangerous, especially on wet roads and sharp turns. )

Now as to retro-fitting the old 70's ten speed....I'd think you'd fair better with a newer but used aluminum frame bike. Doesn't have to be new. Find a nice used hybrid or older hard tail MTB with front shock and then have someone install a retro e-bike kit. That said I've seen complete cheap MTB style e-bikes ( front shock and disc brakes ) on Amazon for close to $800. You'd have to pay someone to put it together more than likely and pay shipping but hell of lot of LBS's that sell new e-bikes do the same thing.
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Old 04-14-19, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
As a newbe to e-biking I have to agree with most of your comments. I shutter to think what can happen going down a steep hill at 25-30 mph only to realize that your rims are wet or moist and your rim brakes are going to have a hard time slowing you down. I came close to having this happen before and almost ran off the road while going around a sharp turn ( on my normal road setup ).

For heavier e-bikes I also recommend a front shock. Mine doesn't have one and I've already noticed that some bumps or cracks in the road can deliver quite a shock to your hands. Hit something really hard at speed and you may even loose your grip on the bars especially if your hands are tired. ( I'll also note here that I would consider front wheel drive on a road bike to be really dangerous, especially on wet roads and sharp turns. )

Now as to retro-fitting the old 70's ten speed....I'd think you'd fair better with a newer but used aluminum frame bike. Doesn't have to be new. Find a nice used hybrid or older hard tail MTB with front shock and then have someone install a retro e-bike kit. That said I've seen complete cheap MTB style e-bikes ( front shock and disc brakes ) on Amazon for close to $800. You'd have to pay someone to put it together more than likely and pay shipping but hell of lot of LBS's that sell new e-bikes do the same thing.
My concept right now is to start with a KONA Jake (steel) upgrade to a shocked/disc ready fork, add and extracycle leap (rear discs) and get some really bomber wheels (tandems are usually really strong) this will also lengthen the wheelbase which will make handling better at higher speeds (and harder at slower, ask and moto-biker). at this point its probably the same cost as a new bike but it will have the money where I need it (brakes and shocks) and still have the drop-bar cyclecross cockpit I prefer. I think steel is probably a better choice than aluminum as aluminum is impossible to fix. steel can (within reason) be welded.

Power that with a bafang HHSD and two battery packs because my employer is afraid of batteries, so I cannot charge them at work. hell I might even add a brake light off the motor cutoff sensor...

EDIT: Although i just came across this poking around online: https://ninerbikes.com/pages/the-mcr-9-rdo I think that might be the perfect starting point for a long distance ebike.

Last edited by starkmojo; 04-15-19 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:37 PM
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those TSDZ2 and other mid-drives are setup for the bottom bracket size and chain line of a newish 26" or 700" basic comfort/hybrid bike, with a 68mm bottom bracket, 135mm dropout width... a 70s panasonic probably has 27" wheels, 120mm rear dropout width, and an entirely different bottom bracket size.

also I'm not even sure I'd want to ride a ebike with skinny road bike wheels... I'm contemplating a 700c build on a bike with 32mm tires, but that old panasonic probably has tires equivalent to 25 or 27mm.
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Old 05-21-19, 06:47 AM
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Couldn't convert a bike cheaper than these two on sale from Walmart. It might not be the bike that a road rider wants, but should be fine for neighborhood riding,

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hyper-E-r...9f&athena=true
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hyper-E-R...7c&athena=true
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Old 05-21-19, 09:38 AM
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Three year protection plan on the Walmart bikes for $58; wonder what it covers; could be the deal of the century if the bike is used for commuting.
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Old 05-21-19, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc_Wui View Post
Couldn't convert a bike cheaper than these two on sale from Walmart. It might not be the bike that a road rider wants, but should be fine for neighborhood riding,

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hyper-E-r...9f&athena=true
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hyper-E-R...7c&athena=true
250W 36V, with 280 watt-hour batteries, looks to be a rear hub motor. thats pretty minimal.
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