Satan Is My Motor
"My intentions are good and earnest and true
But under my hood is internal combustion power
...And Satan is my motor" -Cake
What type of motor does your bicycle have? Class 1? Class 2? Class 3? Pedal Assist?, or do you have a throttle? How fast does the whirring assist take you?
Mine is "Class Nil"... I have no motor to speak of installed in my bicycle. The principle reason is this -- Because batteries shoved into my frame are stupid. This will always be stupid. It was stupid, and remains ...well, Stupid! I'm a fan of getting everyone on bikes; even motorized bikes. I love e-bike riding? I've rented and long considered purchase. I have helped with E-bike companys & retail start-ups, and I've helped other's purchase, and rent E-Bikes.
So you would think that I would know exactly why most bike makers build a battery pack deep within the frames of their E-Bikes. It's almost like their are smuggling a shit-ton of button cells through customs. The question is a bit like asking why a Twinkie has cream filling rather than frosting. What is the technical benefit of concealing the battery cells deep within the frame? I have some theories, and they may not sit too well with you, nor their manufacturers.
An "E-bike" is initially a "bike" correct? Meaning that the bike is the place where the motor and batteries get attached, No? Yes... This is true, but what is an e-bike when the battery is detachable? It's still an e-bike. What is it then when the motor AND the Battery come off? It's a huge competitor to the fashion of selling
e-bikes for stratospheric prices. THIS is why e-bike makers shoe-horn li-poly cells into the frame.
You see, that a Fazua Motor is a self contained concept where the motor-battery assembly can be detached. This clever invention clicks into the downtube, connecting to the bottom bracket and cranks -- viola!, you have an e-bike. Take it out and what do you have?, well... It's still an e-bike, if a bit lighter. This design gets startlingly close to an acceptable form, but not quite. The concave downtube which houses the motor/battery looks a bit like a cargo helicopter, sans container. The bike comes quite close to riding like a normal bicycle would, but without attachments -- So with the motor detached is it still an e-bike?
I would prefer to believe in the magic of this Helicopter being powered by four VW beetles, but that is not the case here, however this illustrates how a cargo copter looks without it's payload. Yep..., basically like the Fazua Bike does without it's tiny genius motor and battery payload. It rides well either way, but I'm still wondering why the battery for most if all popular brand e-bikes is crammed in their belly. Why could these bikes not just have an attached battery-pack below the downtube, or even a bottle-style battery in a standard bottle-cage, to power a hub motor?
Because Satan is my Motor, I don't much care how you get your e-bike fix, but if left up to the marketing team -- one can draw some quick lines between Dolby Labs, and enumerable down-tube laden battery packs. Dolby created 90 different surround sound modes, to help sell a gazillion speakers over time. There was AC-3, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2. 9.2, Atomos, and any manner of excessive speaker combinations -- then the world said, "Fuck It" I'll just buy a pissy little sound-bar. It was a great ride for retail while it lasted, but they spoiled it for everyone, by jumping a shark with a fuck-ton of speakers on their back. People now stream their music and movies through a speaker the size of their palm, and they want their bike to charge their speakers, and pedal for them as well.
Today nearly all my friends have shitty sound-bars for their party tunes. Casting aside any complexity, in favor of a single cylinder. These sound like shit, but I don't mention it. So E-Bikes play this game of slow evolution selling a different form factor every single year, expiring last years design without support for last year. Sure the Bosch motors are generally BB loaded, and yes the battery being held down low will best center the COG (center of gravity), but engineering a frame with a shitload of tiny Li-Poly cells in it like a pregnant fish, is merely done to maintain propriety over a "System". For Trek it seems to preclude compatibility with another brand, and for Giant and Specialized the same seems true, but the core design of the Bosch and or any system is an architecture where the motor maker gets paid and hands you a set of specs, and even some skeletal carcass, like a rib-cage and you slap carbon plies around it like papier mache'. "Here, Build your bike around this thing".
So if you cannot travel on the airlines with your e-bike it is because of two things which could have been different: One is that the battery cannot be removed for travel, preventing air travel adventures, and also preventing Fedex and other Express curriers from moving it around for you. Two is that the Bike is not modular and hence it weighs a Metric Ton, and none of that weight can be removed and divided for travel.
OK, so I know what you are thinking..., you say, "well on many the battery is removable from the downtube"; Which is true. But you cannot get around the fact that the bike was shaped around the battery pack, and THAT is the issue, My issue with e-bikes.
The only good reason to shape the battery du jour within a sculpted frame is to make it proprietary, and hence you see a "System" because as soon as the Mahle Motor and a Bottle battery are sold separately, why in the fuck would you buy an $8500.-$12,000. e-bike from Specialized, Trek, Giant etc...? You wouldn't. Those who wanted an e-bike would simply buy a 'Class X' kit, (Likely from Mahle) and drop a battery or two in their bottle cage, and off they roll.
Here is another con against the con for integrated Batteries in your downtube; When Trek stopped asking their Taiwanese OEM to build you a Domane-E, and the following year they pencil a new plan, that is the very moment that the Battery and parts for your precious e-bike become obsolete. Add to that the Charger, with proprietary connector, and the silly glowing buttons on the top-tube. If you trash a battery with the wrong charger, get it wet, or short it out, then you now have a pedal bike like mine, with 30 spare pounds to lug about, that nobody wants to buy from you.
Why do e-bikes have a large doorbell button glowing on their top-tube? This is a throwback to electric skateboards from 1997. Can't the "controls" be a wireless button, or wired mount for the stem or handlebar? Yes..., yes they could, but they have to integrate these things to keep you aligned with the cult of integration. This makes it look like they are delivering to you (a system) something other than a bike with someone else's motor and battery attached. This is not intended to bash a brand, but for crissakes, let's move this slow evolution forward a bit faster.
I'd like an e-bike which has a bottle battery, and a rear wheel motor, and nothing more. Heck, I may even want a two wheel drive e-bike with two wheel motors, which can pull me through the snow or sloppy mud, but that would ONLY require a new set of wheels, and a battery. A' la-fucking-carte is my future e-bike. It's OK to sell me a proprietary system, but I really don't need to encase my nuts and such in carbonite to make it go. You could say that my e-bike wouldn't be much of an e-bike at all... Mine would only be my bike, but faster (bought and paid for with a few grand into the conversion). I'd have a modular and versatile, shippable airline-ready e-bike for those days that I feel flu-like symptoms, or feign an injury. If I were to feel lazy and wish to, "roll like me, only faster", I could slap that kit on any one of my bikes, and have a go.
So the "e-bike thing" today, is betwixt between a beguiling bafoonery of glacial evol., and poncy proprietary piss-me-off integration. Your e-bike will sport a bewitching button beset upon the top-tube -- This glowing cyclops door-bell, is wired into 'Brand-X' motor but this will be obsolete next season, along with it's custom painted battery. We've all been taught that our "ON Button" is somewhere near our crotch, but for a bike the position of that bionic button is bunk. I want to look down and scratch whilst charging forward at 22mph?
You can see the evolution happen so fast that last years e-bikes are being sold beside this year's models for different prices, with essentially the same feature set, only today's are smarter. You can also see the evolution toward any relevant standard of retrofit, as glacial. Today, if they cannot find owners to adopt last years tech, these surplus e-bikes will soon dwell in a land of misfit toys. This is obvious when visiting any brand retailer, who is completely out of regular bikes but is sitting on a half dozen of last year's over-thought pregnant down-tubes.
When you say, "...just maybe, he is getting carried away with his rant" -- I have no reasonable retort, except to say that, "it's MY rant". Today when i wish to be wisked away with a whoosh, I will likely do so under my own power, thank you... Because well, "Satan is My Motor".
Hear my motor purr
Satan is my motor
Hear my motor purr
Satan is the only one who seems to understand
Satan is my motor -Cake
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.