Bikes

Goodbye Bike Day and some thoughts on longevity of electric bikes

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Goodbye Bike Day, the opposite of New Bike Day

We sold our Load 60 this week. With the third kid joining our family earlier this year it wasn’t quite the right bike for us anymore, even though we did still use it a fair bit. We aren’t buying another cargo bike to replace it right away. It’s not in the cards right now financially and we can get by with the GSD and Packster for our cargo needs. I’m sure we’ll be dreaming of other bikes before too long but for now we’re going to have to be happy at N-1 bikes. The Load has gone to live with a new family and I’m sure they’ll have many new adventures with it. That’s comforting but it won’t stop us from missing it just a bit every time we get ready to go for a ride.

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One last trip on the ferry when I took it into Seattle for someone to test ride

In the process of selling the Load I got a lot of questions about how long these bikes will last. In two years of ownership we put ~5500 miles on our Load (and we purchased it as a demo bike with ~700 miles). In 2.5 years the Packster has been put through ~6700 miles and in 1.5 years the Tinker and GSD have ~5000 miles on each of their odometers. We ride our bikes a LOT. In that time we’ve experienced one electrical issue requiring a replacement motor (on the Packster, for a burnt out headlight port, detailed in a previous post) and a couple of one off error codes on the Tinker and GSD. The Tinker recently experienced a recurring error code that the shop hasn’t been able to replicate, so we’re still waiting to see what comes of that. It may have been resolved by some maintenance on the connections or we might be facing some additional work if the error comes back. Other than these things our bikes have only needed the maintenance that is typical of any bike ridden many miles in all sorts of weather. New chains, new cassettes, new brake pads, new rotors. The Load front shock got an overhaul shortly before we sold it. We’ve spent <$50 charging our bike batteries in all that time, based on my calculations using our electrical rates. The most used battery, on the Packster, has ~225 charge cycles used out of the 1000 lifespan Bosch expects for their batteries and still gets 20+ miles per charge in our heavy use.

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Our last family adventure with the Load. Pit stop at Yesler Terrace with some of our Vashon family biking friends on our way to see Motherload together!

Electric bikes won’t last forever and the lifespan of the motors and batteries is still something of an unknown. So far though, I’m impressed. We’ve had an almost entirely trouble free experience with the electrical systems on our bikes, with a total of ~2 weeks of shop time related to electrical problems across all the bikes and maybe 5% of the money we’ve spent on maintenance and repair being related to the electrical system. Our bikes are coming out of warranty now for the Bosch system and I used to be concerned about that but at this point I’m fairly confident that they’ll be fine for a while yet. An out of warranty motor replacement, when we get to the point that it’s needed for one of our bikes, will be about the same cost as putting new tires on our Outback was the last time we did it, or similar in cost to a moderate car repair. That is significant and worth planning for, but it’s nothing compared to a motor replacement on a car (which I’ve dealt with before). Potentially a larger concern is that eventually Bosch will stop supporting the current gen of motors, theoretically leaving us with a bike that is completely useless when the motor dies since the motor is built into the frame. We’re still years out from that though, and by that point I’m expecting third party companies to have come up with aftermarket solutions that work with the mounting plates used for the Bosch motors so that the frames can live on with new electrical systems. Or to have come up with ways to convert those frames to non-electric if desired. Maybe I’m being optimistic on that point but I don’t think so.

We don’t own a shop, so I don’t see all the possible issues that could occur, and this is not meant to be a broad statement about the reliability of all ebikes (which does vary quite a bit and we specifically picked Bosch in part because they are supposed to be very reliable). It’s just a statement about what it’s been like for a family relying on ebikes as their primary transportation, and I’ve gotta say it’s been pretty great. The utility gained from the assist systems has so far outweighed any problems we’ve run into with those systems that there has never been a single second we’ve regretted going electric.

8 thoughts on “Goodbye Bike Day and some thoughts on longevity of electric bikes

  1. “The most used battery, on the Packster, has ~225 charge cycles used out of the 1000 lifespan Bosch expects for their batteries and still gets 20+ miles per charge in our heavy use.”

    How do you know this? Is it something you kept track of, or does the battery somehow keep track and let you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shops that service Bosch bikes can plug in the battery and check. The Load battery was at 150 cycles when we sold it (we had it checked pre sale). 225 is an educated guess for the Packster based on that and the higher mileage of the Packster. We haven’t had that battery checked for a while but it should be in that range.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As G says, your bike shop can provide a diagnostic report on your bike. (They may or may not charge for this.) Our shop provided us reports as part of service, and the reports offer a treasure trove of data.

      The report provides data for the “Cycle Computer” (display), “Drive Unit” (motor) and “Power Tube” (battery). Info. available in the reports varies from: the date of manufacture, settings on operation of bike lights, odometer reading, percentage of time in each assist mode (which allowed my wife to tease me about using less assist), lifetime high and low temperatures for the battery, and number of full battery cycles. The report indicates if you ever tried to “tamper” with the unit (I imagine some people try to hack in to override maximum speed, etc.).

      Anyone buying a high end e-bike should ask to see a recent diagnostics report.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing I like about my system from GRIN (ebikes.ca) is that every component (motor, battery, controller) is individually upgradable and swappable with components made by other manufacturers. After having been burned by Bion-X in the past, I don’t like the idea of being beholden to one company.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just curious – did you and your husband have electric bikes with PAS (pedal assist system)? I know the newer models have it so you can pedal alongside the battery to increase distance (per charge). I heard it’s useful for ebike commuters; is it a popular feature for long distances?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Bosch system our bikes have is only pedal assist. There is no throttle option, you have to be pedaling to get any help from the assist. But I’ve heard from folks with bikes that have both options that the range is dramatically higher when used on pedal assist mode than with the throttle alone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Interesting – When I read your article I thought it was a Bosch electric bike. Looking online I see the Load 60 is a R&M bike w/ a Bosch eBike conversion kit. Was the Bosch system as expensive as the bike itself?

        Liked by 1 person

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