August, 2012

Electric bike home builder Nader Alizadeh lives in Hamburg Germany, where electric bikes are popular, but restricted to a maximum watt limit of 250 watts. Unlike most home builders these days who focus on speed, range and affordability, Nader decided to focus on stealth and minimal weight, so that his E-bikes look and ride like bikes. Climbing hills is not an important consideration for him because where he lives is not very hilly.

To achieve his goals Nader uses small geared 250 watt hub motors which are light weight and small. He uses one of three manufacturers, either Tongxin,  Bafang or Cute but he prefers Tongxin because he finds them to be the quietest of the 3, and he has a local E-bike dealer who stocks them, so they are easily available (read our article on these 3 mini hubs). He uses 250 watt hub motors  in multiple configurations: front wheel drives, rear wheel drives, all wheel drives (motors in both wheels)  and recently even began crafting the ultimate hub motor application….mid drives. (read our article on mid drives).

How is it that one  home builder is able to make multiple electric bikes out of his garage that look better and perform better than 90% of the commercially available e-bikes in the USA for a cheaper cost?

Well for one he is making some pretty big compromises, settling for relatively small (180 watt hour) battery packs and small 250 watt hub  motors. (read our story that asks: Is 250 watts enough?) Since his components are so small they are easy to hide. Check out the $3500 Faraday electric bike for a commercial comparison.  Also he is starting with decent  and affordable platforms which are commercially available mountain bikes.

Although not speed machines, the benefits of Nader’s super clean looking and light weight electric bikes are obvious to a bicycle purist. Looking at his bikes, you can barely tell that they are electric powered.

Notice a few key features of Nader’s Bikes:

  • All of his bikes are based on mid to high end  mountain bikes.
  • Most all of his bikes run on 36 volts, and stay close to the legal limit of 250 watts.
  • Most of his bikes utilize custom built 36V / 5-Ah 180-WH water bottle battery packs which is adequate for most of his rides
  • When he needs extra watt hours he carries extra “battery bottles”
  • None of his bikes weigh over 45 pounds even when using 2 motors.
  • Most of the controllers are built into the rear seat bags.
  • Most of the bikes are equipped with quality Schwalbe tires.

Nader is a collector at heart, and once he found the right combination of controller, motor and battery he repeated that winning combination, resulting in a garage full of very beautiful, yet similar E-bikes.

Lets do a photo tour of Nader’s stable of beautiful electric bikes:

 

This Bergamont bike has a Tongxin 250W hub motor in the rear. Notice how well the motor hides behind the rear disk and cassette.  Controller is in bag and battery is in water bottle.

This Marin bike has Cute hub motors in rear and front. Notice it has caliper brakes. Disc brakes are more popular /effective in high end E-bike conversions but are not always compatible with the hub motors. This bike has the controller built into the small frame bag, and the battery built into the water bottle.

 

This Fuji mountain bike is Nader’s first mid drive mountain bike utilizing a Tongxin motor built into the frame with a custom bracket to create a mid drive.

 

This Corracec Superbow has been converted with a Cute hub motor in the rear, a controller in the seat bag, and the battery in the  color coordinated water bottle.

 

This Koga Miyata has a front Tongxin motor, and a slick water bottle battery that matches the frame. As with most of these Nader bikes, the controller is hidden in the bag behind the seat.

 

This Heavy Tools electric bike is equipped with a 250 watt Tongxin hub motor in the rear, and a color coordinated black water bottle. Notice that most of Nader’s bike have quality Schwalbe tires.

This lucky Stork Rebel has been converted with dual 250W hub motors front and rear.

 

This Benotto has a 250W Tongxin hub motor mounted in the frame to create a mid drive.

 

 

This mountain bike, being one of Nader’s first builds,  is missing the slick battery bottle of most of Naders designs, and mounts the battery in a frame bag instead that is not as well color coordinated as his other builds. It has a rear Tongxin 250W hub motor.

 

Nader would later convert the earlier bike, ripping off its unsightly stickers and mounting the 250W Tongxin hub motor into the frame to make a mid drive. Now the E-bike has one of those slick 5-Ah water bottles. This is one of our favorite mild-assist builds of all time.

 

Bellacoda Dowhill bike with 750W Puma motor in the rear wheel. This bike utilizes LiPo battery and fits 5-Ah in its small water bottle and 10-Ah in the tiny rear pack.

This classic Fischer bike has a 250W Tongxin front hub motor.

 

My favorite of Nader’s builds is when he puts the hub motor in the frame, and turns it into a mid drive.  What this does is allow the motor to run through the pedal bikes gearing system, making the ultimate in efficiency and hill climbing ability. To give you an idea of the capability, watch this video of Nader showing off one of his mid drives:


To see more video illustrating the effectiveness of mid drives check out our mid drive performance video story here.