Reliability - Are there numbers?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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Ford Prefect   1 W

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Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by Ford Prefect » Oct 18 2019 5:17am

Hello E-S,

I really like this forum and read a lot and answer when I think whatever I have to say is worthwhile.

I always read "reliability: you need a fat DD", or " Reliability? Don't go Mid-drive", and so on.

Are there actual numbers on these reliability issues?
How often do you service a geared hub, let's say the MAC? I think the smaller ones like the q100/q128 will need service more frequently?
How often do you service the BBS02 or BBSHD? NOT the drivetrain it runs through, but the actual motor unit.

I ride my bike at least 180km per week. Usually something like 250km per week. No chain survives longer than 6-10 weeks. Which is OK, chains are cheap. Redoing the gears of a motor every 6-10 weeks sounds rather expensive and annoying. Swapping the chain takes a maximum of 10min.

Are there actual numbers? Official recommendations by the manufacturers? Can you post your own experiences here and I try to compose a spreadsheet?

Thanks!
Ford
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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by MadRhino » Oct 18 2019 5:43am

This is about how and where you ride.

If you are commuting everyday, doing lots of mileage in all conditions, a big DD hub is a sure value.

I’ve had 2 Cromotors. One did 25000 miles before I shorted it because I postponed too long replacing the bearings. The other one had a bearing replacement at 20000 miles and still running past 35000 miles.

I have a Clyte X5404 that’s been riding for 8 years, had a bearing replacement 3 years ago, still going strong. I don’t know its mileage but it is a lot. Another one I don’t know its mileage is a QS 205 that I ride very fast for 5 years.

Most if all, they go for years without any maintenance, abusing then with big Amps and climbing everyday.

Even small DD hubs can last, if they are not beaten up big hills. Not for me (I have fried a dozen), but some friends are still riding their first small DD hub after 10 years.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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miro13car   1 MW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by miro13car » Oct 18 2019 11:12am

Are you kidding me?
You actuality replace chain every 2 MONTHS ??
What drive is it? Bafang?

That is unreal!
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NCC1941   10 mW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by NCC1941 » Oct 18 2019 11:34am

That chain replacement interval is pretty close to my experience with my BBS02. I typically got around 700mi / 1100km out of each chain (KMC 8-speed), which meant I was replacing my chain almost once per month for a couple of years.

Mid-drive / High-mileage / Low-maintenance - Pick any two.
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AZeBikeGuy   1 W

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by AZeBikeGuy » Oct 18 2019 11:51am

BBSHD on fat-bike at ~10,000km with plenty of off-road - only service to motor unit was teardown, inspect & grease at ~1000km

I get >3000km on 11sp chains, cassettes and chain rings

Sample size: 1

YMMV

flat tire   1 MW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by flat tire » Oct 18 2019 12:27pm

You won't be able to put anything meaningful together since motor reliability depends mostly on abuse (or level of use) and luck from the factory. And you don't need to. Ebike stuff is cheap.

Ford Prefect   1 W

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by Ford Prefect » Oct 18 2019 1:27pm

What drive? Just my muscles :lol:
This dude don't have no motor yet, Boy.

I just think the word reliable is used very unsustainable. Maybe even inflationary. Was just wondering what people perceive as reliable. Service every 1000km is absolutely undesirable if you do this in a maximum of five weeks. If you ride 1500km/year, and need to service your gears every 3000km, this is acceptable.

I was hoping there was some sort of rule of thump.

BTW: 10Mm on a BBSHD sounds promising. Is the HD built a lot more robust than the 02?

Concerning "Meaningful Data":
Scientifically speaking the more data you have, the easier it gets to recognize exceptions.

Sincerely,
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How would you react if I said that I'm not from Guildford after all, but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse?

AZeBikeGuy   1 W

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by AZeBikeGuy » Oct 18 2019 2:19pm

9-10months of the year I ride about 500km/month - in ~2.5yrs I've got ~10,000km on the one bike and ~3000km on the other

The only frequent maintenance I do is chain lube and checking fasteners to ensure they are tight - easy peasy

Much less often replace tires (2000-2500km), chain, cassette and chain ring (>3000km) and brake pads (so far only once in the 10,000km on the bike although they are getting close)

There's not much else to do

All bikes need this and if that's too much effort don't ride one

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by miro13car » Oct 18 2019 4:39pm

chain on my DD motor edrive EPLUS has very easy life,
Due to excellent design FOC 3-phase controller EPLUS has more than enough torque even for the steepest hills.
I use only 2 gears out on seven speed cassette ,
Never have a slightest problem to climb the steepest hills in my my area with just fake easy pedalling.
My chain still original has at least 30,000 kilometers on it .
Last edited by miro13car on Oct 19 2019 11:26am, edited 1 time in total.
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markz   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by markz » Oct 18 2019 6:54pm

We all feel so so so so sorry for you Ford Perfect :lol:
Ford Prefect wrote:
Oct 18 2019 1:27pm
What drive? Just my muscles :lol:
This dude don't have no motor yet, Boy.

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wturber   10 MW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by wturber » Oct 19 2019 12:27am

About 9500 mile on a cheap ebay DD motor. Only major maintenance issue was the need to have the wheel rebuilt after 5000 miles. The cheap ebay wheels are OK at best.

Living in the U.S. southwest, I don't see much mud and slush. I have three chains that I rotate. I lube with a hot paraffin wax soak. Those chains still haven't stretched much after about 9000 miles between the three of them. The paraffin lasts about 1500 miles.

I wore out one rear tire at around the 5000 mile mark.
I've lost count of the brake pads. Brake pad replacement and brake adjustments are my biggest maintenance chores. With an 80 lb bike, 170 lb rider, typical speeds of around 25 mph, and plenty of downhill sections, brakes just don't last.

To answer your question, I'm not aware of any real numbers. What you have is piles of anecdotal evidence.
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Ford Prefect   1 W

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by Ford Prefect » Oct 19 2019 4:41am

Yeah, I expected as much. "Everyone knows they break frequently…"

I do not mind bike maintenance. Brake pads, chains, cassettes, (non-motorized) hubs, headsets, …. You name it, I'll do it. If I cannot do it my bike shop can. Hasn't been happening for about five years by now.

Motor maintenance? Do I even get the parts in Europe? In less than a week? Are there quality tools to do the job? Do I have to do this after 1000km? 5000km? 10,000km? I am searching through the forums for a ballpark figure but everyone just says they are "unreliable". That's why I asked.

Thanks, AZeBikeGuy, 10,000km with barely bike maintenance sounds good. :D

so long, and thanks for all the fish…
The fundamental laws of thermodynamics will place fixed limits on technological innovation and human advancement.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by dogman dan » Oct 19 2019 10:48am

Sometimes controllers can just quit on you, particularly the very very cheap ones. But the motors themselves are extremely reliable. You might keep a spare controller around, but unlikely you need a spare motor.

IMO, you should look at direct drives, when you ride that much. Just the fewest possible moving parts, one, plus two bearings. Not counting the freewheel.

Yes, they are heavy, yes, you have to give them a little bit of throttle all the time as you ride, or they resist. But when you ask about maximum reliability over long miles, it just always comes up direct drive. I can melt one, I can burn one up overloading it, I can taco a rim on a curb, but I can't wear one out, ever. I do go through a controller from time to time, since I run the cheapest I can find.

However,, internal geared hub motors are not crap, they don't break down constantly, nor do the gears need frequent replacements. Yes, there was a time, but that was a decade ago. Since you are a chain killer pedaler, perhaps you will not want to run the motor all that much, or even seldom. If that is what you'd like, then go with the 500w rated planetary gear hub motor. Its not really going to need any more maintenance than a DD, or wear out fast. What the geared motors can do is overheat easier, fat chance of that the way you pedal. Guys that kill hub motors weigh 250 or even 350 pounds, and don't pedal enough up the hills. Or you can kill one jumping it, huge hucks.

You'll be fine. sure,, you might get a bad bearing or a defective side cover by bad luck, but even if you do good bearings are cheap, easy to get, and easy to install. no worries bro.

markz   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by markz » Oct 19 2019 1:39pm

Direct Drive is the way for reliability.

What would be a cool ebike, is one with a dd motor setup like a mid drive! Silence, power, freewheeling capability because you'd need a freewheeling crank.

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by John in CR » Oct 19 2019 7:16pm

Ford Prefect wrote:
Oct 19 2019 4:41am

I do not mind bike maintenance. Brake pads, chains, cassettes, (non-motorized) hubs, headsets, …. You name it, I'll do it. If I cannot do it my bike shop can. Hasn't been happening for about five years by now.
I stopped using bicycle parts years ago due to their high maintenance requirements. Even the high frequency of needing air bothered me, so it's moto tires only now. Since going to larger than typical DD motors 7 years, which have larger bearings, I've yet to need to change motor bearings, which are the only maintenance item in a DD hubmotor. With regen braking the brake pad change interval is at least 5X longer. I demand absolute reliability and minimum fuss, so it's pretty much just air in the tires, new tires about as frequent as brake pads, and spray a bit of lube on suspension items a few times a year, when I think about it.

Triketech   1 kW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by Triketech » Oct 19 2019 11:16pm

3500 miles on a MAC 10T. No problems.

AngryBob   100 W

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by AngryBob » Oct 22 2019 8:35am

Fascinating that the OP starts off by wanting numbers and not anecdotal evidence, and then appears to accept just one, single, anecdotal piece of evidence!

It's all about choosing the right tool for the job, and keeping the unit within it's designed operating parameters.

He apparently wanted to hear that a mid-drive can last a long time. They can, just like any decently-specced motor will. The way the OP is eating chains with leg power alone, maybe not.

DD motors ARE the most reliable, the numbers are there but scattered over many hundreds of separate threads. To suggest getting sufficient data points in one single thread is, just, amazingly absurd.

If he did get a DD, considering shipping costs and probability I would recommend getting an extra right-side cover. Maybe two.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by dogman dan » Oct 22 2019 11:02am

Sorry I have no numbers. I stopped logging shit after the first 10,000 ebike miles. Most of my reviews of motor kits ended after a year, about 3000 miles of commuting. So all I can say is 3000 miles plus, on all my brushless hub motors, when run " normally" Never smoked a motor running it normally, on pavement, on grades under 7%. Only wore out one bearing, and that was on an off road bike.

Other tests designed to smoke a motor were not about getting a reliability number, they were about getting an unreliability number. Here is those numbers. 300 pounds total load on 500w rated hubmotors, geared or dd, up huge mountains is reliable. at 400 pounds load, they either get scary hot, or actually melt at least the halls. Melt for sure on the geared hub motors. All this in 26" wheel. In 20" wheel, DD motors easily take 400 pounds. Geared we did not test in 20". There was a limit how many motors EBK would give me to melt.

Also, those smaller 350w motors,, don't run em on 48v, at 1000w. Unless its very flat where you live.

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by Tommm » Oct 22 2019 11:20am

I have a cyclone 4kw single stage reduction, I run it 5.5kw peak, in daily use as commuter. 9 speed kmc chain ($18) is over 2000km with stretching below 0.5, so non measurable with my tool. expecting to double it with ease.
The enonomic argument isn't there, unless you obessively care about saving $40 a year. It pulls wheelies on hills for breakfast.
The reliability argument isn't there either as 3/3 of my friends who went hub either burned it uphill, had their dropouts mangled or their wires cut in the brake disk. Me, I've only had to push it once when I didn't top off my slime after 6 months and got a flat, even then just to the nearby subway station where they didn't bat an eye, unlike they would if they saw an eeb. I carry a mini chain tool and spare link, size of a lighter.
It takes a comparable amount of time to do a good hub build as a good mid drive build, but I know which one I do every time. :lol:

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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by MadRhino » Oct 22 2019 7:51pm

Well, 5 weeks is not a proof of reliability (that is the avg 2000 km riding for me). When you’ve done 20000 km of daily commute, come back talking reliability.

As for frying hubs and stripping dropouts: beginners stupid mistakes. Climbing does require big hubs, and lots of power. Trying to climb with a slow, lame hub build, one can fill a garbage can with fried motors in a year.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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miro13car   1 MW

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Re: Reliability - Are there numbers?

Post by miro13car » Oct 25 2019 9:41am

Tomm
Your friends cut the corner on installation.
Not installing any overtemp protection.
Opening China brand DD can be arduous task with risk of damage of motor covers made of cheap aluminium cast.
Touching motor after any climb might sound ridiculous but it the only way to know if motor overheat.
On normal DD motor drives like BIONX, STROMER, EPLUS , etc. with built in thermal protection which should be obvious.
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