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I have a friend who is a life-long bicycle rider, and recently he bought himself an electric mountain bike. He’s been enjoying it and telling me about some of the rides he’s been on. The other day he called me and asked if there’s any sort of bearing-replacement kit for his motor, because it’s been making some strange and loud noises. His bike is from Giant with a Yamaha PW-X motor that’s been rebranded as a Giant SyncDrive. 

I didn’t have an answer, but I suggested that he check his warranty status at his bike shop, since the bike was less than a year old. If that didn’t work, I’d reach out to friends at Yamaha to see what I could find out. Luckily, before it got that far he, called me one more time with some surprising news. It turns out that he had run over a 3-inch nail, and since the nail had no head, it went completely inside the tire. Of course, since he runs tubeless, the sealant had fully sealed the puncture but left the nail rattling around inside tire, creating a crazy racket when the wheel was rolling. 

Sometimes you think you know the cause of the problem, but you’re missing a detail. I’m happy it was
that simple!


Recently, I’ve had the good fortune to spend some seat time on a couple of electric motorcycles on which I had a great time throttling through town with. Both the Zero SR/S and the Harley-Davidson Livewire are good at what they were designed to do. Both are extremely capable and comfortable to ride. But, compared to an ICE bike, their range is always a consideration on rides, and you have to plan longer rides accordingly. 

The same can be said of electric bicycles. We have been riding a couple of bikes with the Bosch dual-battery system, a truly elegant way of using two batteries at the same time for those who are in search of longer-range bikes. Sure, the added battery adds a bit of weight (around 6 pounds), but I have a group of friends I sometimes ride with who have been carrying an extra battery in their hydration packs to extend range with no problem. Me? Not so much! I remember when I crashed once with a backpack battery, and the extra poundage slammed my face into the dirt with that much more force. Not so fun. 


“This is a way to get more traditional riders onto e-bikes, a sort of gateway drug.”


Interestingly, there seems to be two divergent trends happening at once. One is that some manufacturers are introducing superlight models with smaller motors and smaller batteries to make for a lighter, more nimble rid. This is a way to get more traditional riders onto e-bikes, a sort of
gateway drug.

On the other end of the spectrum are the multi-battery systems that provide longer range. Bosch developed this technology a couple of years ago, and Riese & Müller were the first to use it in their Supercharger bikes, originally with two 500-Wh external PowerPack batteries, more recently with internal 625-Wh PowerTube batteries. 

Either way, it’s an exciting time right now for e-bikes. And from everything I can see, it’s only going to get better. General Motors is working on a long-range battery that cuts most of the cobalt out of the cells. The implications are huge, as cobalt is one of the most expensive elements in the battery (and we’re not even talking about the human cost of mining the stuff). With this, we’re going to see a precipitous drop in prices and an increase in range within a few years. 

With all of the progress I’ve seen in 20 years of working with e-bikes, the last few have seen more innovation and improvement than the previous 16 combined. The new motors in the past year or so from Yamaha, Bosch and Shimano are smaller and lighter, with the same or more power, and just as efficient. I predict that costs will come down even as range goes up, and unprecedented sales of e-bikes during the pandemic will not taper off when it subsides. It makes me happy to see more people on two wheels!


I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how you decided to buy an e-bike, what you love about them, an adventure you’ve had or about some amazing custom build. E-mail me stories and pictures at tonyd@hi-torque.com if you have them, or send them in via fax or telegram.

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