Should e bikes have gearboxes?


Should E Bikes have gearboxes?

  • Yes

    Votes: 69 71.1%
  • No

    Votes: 19 19.6%
  • Undecided

    Votes: 9 9.3%

  • Total voters
    97

Sidepod

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I see 2 very different types of Emtb groups. Mountain bikers who ride mountain bike trails and motorcycle riders who want to ride Emtbs on motorcycle trails. The standard derailleur is fine for mountain bike trails but fails for the more varied motorcycle trails with lots of debris and mud. Personally I would like to see Emtbs designed differently for the two different markets. Motorcycle riders need a type I Emtb without a derailleur and sealed against water ingress. Design the motor/transmission like a motorcycle. It works.

Specialized has the right idea with the SL for mountain bikers (although these bikes should be less expensive than the Levo). They could totally redesign the Levo to be watertight with a mid-motor-transmission. There is a very lucrative market for an Emtb that can be ridden anywhere (and you can actually wash the mud off without worrying about destroying the electronics).
I agree entirely here. It all depends on what you get out of your eeb. Personally I love it because it’s the nearest thing I can get to a motorbike for ripping through the woods.
I loath the chain/derailleur system because it’s about as inappropriate as it’s possible to get for mountain bikes.
What I do worry about is eMtbs evolving into something the ramblers/governments go to war with. Again, I love my eeb in the woods because, due to legislation, I’m not allowed to use a motor cycle. If eebs evolve into motorcycle replacements then we’re in trouble. As long as they look and feel like the humble bicycle then we should be safe.

Am I correct in thinking Millyard used a Honda epicyclic gearbox in his DH bike?
 

OldBean

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vonte, Revonte ,Revonte ......where oh where is the teased system sort of Flappy Paddle system for Emtbs with toothed belt drive
Was supposed to be launched end 20 but now "possibly" mid 2021..... this is why I need one
 
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Sidepod

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Haven’t we been here before in the 70’s when mopeds we’re actually motorcycles with pedals you could lock in place and pedal the thing to prove to plod it was a moped?
For the youths here, Google Yamaha FS1E.
I suppose it’s similar in the car industry. The electrification of vehicles is just using existing platforms as a base for new tech. Eebs are the same. Hopefully they will become something exciting and hi-tech without causing too much annoyance.
 
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Slowroller

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What I do worry about is eMtbs evolving into something the ramblers/governments go to war with. Again, I love my eeb in the woods because, due to legislation, I’m not allowed to use a motor cycle. If eebs evolve into motorcycle replacements then we’re in trouble. As long as they look and feel like the humble bicycle then we should be safe.
Me too. I don't think adding a gearbox to an existing motor matters that much in appearance. I think we might start to see suspension kinematics start to mimic what we see on dirtbikes a little, but again, that won't matter to anyone.

Haven’t we been here before in the 70’s when mopeds we’re actually motorcycles with pedals you could lock in place and pedal the thing to prove to plod it was a moped?
We have been here before, for sure. I'm seeing more of these popping up, especially since Segway started selling them. Bolt pedals on and it's an ebike. Sort of.

 
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Gary

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Ebike motor reliability is bad enough without combining them with an internal gearing system.
Plus - The resultant motor would be a lot heavier than a 1x derailleur set up.

in the future, once reliability and reasonable weight Emtbs and reasonable weight internal gearing is figured out. Yes.
 

Pdoz

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Ebike motor reliability is bad enough without combining them with an internal gearing system.
Plus - The resultant motor would be a lot heavier than a 1x derailleur set up.

in the future, once reliability and reasonable weight Emtbs and reasonable weight internal gearing is figured out. Yes.
Have you seen many gearbox failures with, eg, pinion bikes? Or failures in the stealth gearbox?

Just thinking out loud, but existing ebike motors already have the complexity of ( fixed) reduction gears , and then we add the complexity of a derailleur system - with the mechanics sitting out in the elements. That's a lot of potential failure points.
 
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Gary

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Re-read the post of mine you quoted.
I didn't mention internal gearboxes failing.

I don't have any issues with derailleur system durability or failures at all on any of my bikes. That's a lot of derailleur systems ;)
 

Pdoz

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Re-read the post of mine you quoted.
I didn't mention internal gearboxes failing.

I don't have any issues with derailleur system durability or failures at all on any of my bikes. That's a lot of derailleur systems ;)
Gary, I know that you have had multiple failures with ebike motors. I was wondering if you had seen any internal gearbox failures on regular bikes to suggest that adding an internal gearbox to electric motors would increase failure rates? My reason for asking is your industry experience + higher level riding / increased exposure than most of us.

Have you really never wrecked a derailleur? I'm feeling guilty now.
 

Rusty

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I voted no for a couple reasons.
Firstly, I don't want any more damned weight on my bike.
Next, I don't want more unecessary combined technical wizardry pushing the price up.

If I am dissatisfied with the derailleur system or start braking them often I will have an internal geared hub laced to one of my favorite rims.
Oh, and and internal geared hub is not really a gearbox in my opinion.
 

Olof Bike Adventures

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The Rohloff and Pinion are known for their low maintenance and long term reliability, so I don't think internal gearboxes would be any worse from that perspective.

To keep the weight down with internal gearboxes I would prefer fewer gears. I don't think that eBikes that cut off at 25 km/h need 12 gears. It's better to go for reliability and/or low weight in my opinion.
 

Sidepod

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Ebike motor reliability is bad enough without combining them with an internal gearing system.
Plus - The resultant motor would be a lot heavier than a 1x derailleur set up.

in the future, once reliability and reasonable weight Emtbs and reasonable weight internal gearing is figured out. Yes.
That sounds like a classic internet based rant suggesting all motors are bad when in fact it’s only a small batch. The problem being you only ever read about fails online. These rants are rarely backed up with any hard numerical evidence from manufacturers.
 
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Rusty

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That sounds like a classic internet based rant suggesting all motors are bad when in fact it’s only a small batch. The problem being you only ever read about fails online. These rants are rarely backed up with any hard numerical evidence from manufacturers.
I know several guys that have gone through more than 2 motors. All Levos to be factual. Me, I ditched mine after the first failure at about 400km and went elsewhere. Had a couple thousand km or so on the Scott with an e8000 motor with no issues, but I do know of 3 failures locally.
 

Sidepod

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I know several guys that have gone through more than 2 motors. All Levos to be factual. Me, I ditched mine after the first failure at about 400km and went elsewhere. Had a couple thousand km or so on the Scott with an e8000 motor with no issues, but I do know of 3 failures locally.
Fine but that’s still a long way off a blanket statement like “ebike motors are unreliable”
 

Olof Bike Adventures

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While on the subject of reliability. I spoke to a dealer who had worked on Brose, Shimano, Bosch and Yamaha. According to him, all motors suffered from problems but the Yamaha. I don't know how many problems there were with the other motors, but the takeaway here is that it is possible to manufacture reliable motors. It is still a relatively immature market/technology, but hopefully the reliability will be improved.
 

Pdoz

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While on the subject of reliability. I spoke to a dealer who had worked on Brose, Shimano, Bosch and Yamaha. According to him, all motors suffered from problems but the Yamaha. I don't know how many problems there were with the other motors, but the takeaway here is that it is possible to manufacture reliable motors. It is still a relatively immature market/technology, but hopefully the reliability will be improved.
there are other threads on motor reliability, including posts with yamaha failures. I'm on my second .
 

Gary

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Gary, I know that you have had multiple failures with ebike motors. I was wondering if you had seen any internal gearbox failures on regular bikes to suggest that adding an internal gearbox to electric motors would increase failure rates? My reason for asking is your industry experience + higher level riding / increased exposure than most of us.

Have you really never wrecked a derailleur? I'm feeling guilty now.
I haven't wrecked a derailleur in 15+ years. And that was due to riding a flexy hardtail frame with a soft hanger way above its capabilities.
Internal gearing (even hub gearing) is way more reliable than current motors are. What I'm saying is don't add gearing to a flawed motor that's not going to last a year. (a matter of months for me)
 
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Gary

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Yamaha failure rate is low due to two considerations.
Firstly there's barely a decent bike using their motors.
Secondly the sort of rider who buys a bike with a yam motor
 
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Sidepod

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Yamaha failure rate is low due to two considerations.
Firstly there's barely a decent bike using their motors.
Secondly the sort of rider who buys a bike with a yam motor
Care to expand on that statement.
 

Gary

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Who's being an Internet dobber now?
No motor is genuinely durable. Few are even serviceable.
These two things need to change
 

Zimmerframe

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That sounds like a classic internet based rant suggesting all motors are bad when in fact it’s only a small batch.
I suggest you look further and learn more.

The problem being you only ever read about fails online.
Is this some view point where you cannot possibly be wrong ? Where else do you imagine you will READ about motor failures ? Does a copy of Motor fails monthly pop through your letterbox ?

These rants are rarely backed up with any hard numerical evidence from manufacturers.
So you're expecting to tune into Channel 4 one evening and see Yann, from Yamaha in a paid 30 second public announcement saying "Hey everyone, we'd just like to say that 8% of our motors fail on average ... just thought you'd like to know, happy cycling". Believe it or not, motor manufacturers and bike manufacturers don't go out of their way to reveal failure rates.

If it helps you, after a year of tracking motor failures they fell between 2% (Mahle) and 15% (e7000). Whilst that's not a huge number and generally means your motor won't fail, it's still not in the window of what you'd call "reliable" <1%

There are exceptions to the rule. Some people's riding styles seem genuinely incompatible with certain motor brands and those people suffer from repeated failures.

To get back on topic, @Gary merely was pointing out - and then continued to explain (in a less grumpy fashion than normal) that he felt that with motor reliability not being acceptably high yet, in his opinion - AT THE MOMENT - he didn't think it was an especially good idea.
 
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Zimmerframe

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It's peeing down so I'll be boring ..

Personally, I'd love the gearbox to be incorporated into the motor.

But only if the motor and gearbox were developed hand in hand AND the whole thing was reliable - the more things you put in one sealed box which you can't do anything with, the more chance of problems, you have an exponential chance of failure !

At the moment, all the solutions combine an existing motor - designed to turn a standard chainring or similar, with an existing gear system, be it a nuvinci, an effigear - whatever. So you'll never have the most efficient solution.

I guess for many, the humble chain and derailleur with it's open cogs and chains wizzing around don't really fit with our more modern day view of all that stuff being hidden away - for reliability, durability, clean lines ..

Who wants to see all the inner workings ! :) However, the chain and derailleur is light and extremely efficient - unlike gearboxes.

chain guard.jpeg


Generally, the chainring is designed to turn at the same rate as the cranks. There are exceptions, like the Bosch Gen 2, where the tiny ring is geared to turn at a different rate. This could possibly have been done differently and used with a custom cassette to remove the leser toothed gears - but then as the tiny ring is a high wear item due to - having only a few teeth - all it would have done is move the point of failure.

If you had the chainring normal sized, but geared to turn faster, you could remove the smaller toothed gears - but then you'd have a chainsaw and sprocket right next to your foot which is moving at a different rate.

Something like the effigear deals with this by moving the chainring,

Inside an effigear :

effigear inside.jpg


And mounted in a bike frame :

effigear outside.jpg


Mixed with a belt drive rather than a chainsaw !!

If the motor/transmission was all built and designed as one from the ground up, the motor size, speed, internal gearing could all be configured to take full advantage of the gearing speeds which would be available from having it's own gearbox. Done properly, there would be a reduction in duplication of gears and overall weight shouldn't be much more than an existing motor and traditional configuration and built with the whole thing drive line in mind, you should have good wheel torque without compromises.

The next step would be to get creative on the gear side. At the moment, nearly everything is built just because of how we're used to doing it, however, you could reduce the number of cogs for instance if you took inspiration from the Koenigsegg Lightspeed Transmission .. For a quick overview on how that works (you only need to watch about 2 minutes) :

Koenigsegg Lightspeed

None of this is impossible. Motor technology in an MTB is still relatively new though. Lessons are still being learnt. Reliability improved. Likewise. Gearboxes can be made to work, chains can be hidden from the elements.

As already mentioned Allen Millyards work on the MR001 and MR002 gives a few ideas and possibilities.


 

Olof Bike Adventures

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Or idiot proof.

Gary is probably right when he said
There must be plenty of idiots out there then considering that for example Giant, one of the world's largest manufacturers, uses Yamaha motors. :unsure:

I'd rather have a trouble free motor than the strongest motor that sits in the bike shop waiting for repair, that is why I am interested in Yamaha.

With that said, I have never tested a Yamaha motor so I will keep quiet until I have. Besides, this is a gearbox thread... :p
 

GrandPaBrogan

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There must be plenty of idiots out there then considering that for example Giant, one of the world's largest manufacturers, uses Yamaha motors. :unsure:

I'd rather have a trouble free motor than the strongest motor that sits in the bike shop waiting for repair, that is why I am interested in Yamaha.

With that said, I have never tested a Yamaha motor so I will keep quiet until I have. Besides, this is a gearbox thread... :p
I’m one of ‘those people’ who’s headspace is enhanced by a Yamaha motor (worts and all). My life-coach said it’s OK. ?
 

FlowDough

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Not sure if this crash was caused by the derailleur, chain, or chainguide, but this type of crash would be much less likely to happen on a gearbox bike.

The single speed chains on a gearbox are more reliable than geared chains designed to flex and shift, there is no exposed derailleur to blow up, and you would also likely have more clearance on the front sprocket to minimize damage to it. Very unfortunate crash and doesn't look like the rider did anything wrong to cause it. But maybe his mechanic missed something. Regardless, another reason I'm all for gearboxes.

 

Funky Bolly

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Checkout Allen Millyard legend motorbike builder BUT youve gotta see the downhill pedal bike he built ,single sided swing arm ( rear triangle ) enclosed chain gearbox that can be switched to 1st by one button if you fall off .