Why not comfort bikes?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
transposon   100 W

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Why not comfort bikes?

Post by transposon » Oct 13 2019 10:47pm

I always see people doing conversions using mountain bikes. It seems to me, if we are employing the motor to do most of the work, why not go for a more comfortable riding position? Why don't more people opt for comfort bikes or cruisers? I assume the upright posture will increase drag a bit, but I feel like the ride would be more comfortable. Of course, I've never ridden a comfort bike, so this is just a guess.

Any thoughts on comfort bikes vs mountain bikes for electric conversions? I am contemplating between the two for a rear hub motor install.

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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Oct 13 2019 11:04pm

Comfort has many conditions, and the most important is suspension. It is much easier to adjust the geometry of a FS frame, than adding suspension to a frame with the geometry that you like.

That is a good reason already, to build a street bike on a downhill frame. But it is not the only one. DH bikes are safer at speed, because they are robust, with a slack steer angle, they usually have good brakes, and they are made for the ideal tire width for an ebike.
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by john61ct » Oct 13 2019 11:29pm

I think in the US it's just cultural / historical.

The overuse of fossil fuels and private cars drove the physical design of our settlement landscape design, zoning regs etc, any mode of transport other than private car was pretty much wiped out

to the point that for non-poor people, bikes were for kids and sports only.

Only a very tiny percentage of the non-poor US population since WWII have used bikes for practical transportation, commuting, shopping errands, visiting friends

compared to Europe, my god Amsterdam, or also in Asia.

So from the early 70's, the only bike industry left were the banana style, then 10-speed / BMX evolved to MTBs.

The "e" gets tacked onto the familiar styles already in use.

Outside the US completely different story. Fewer potholes too.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Oct 14 2019 1:37am

Comfort bikes usually have a very ineffectual riding position, not just one that sits you up straight. If you look at a very comfort-oriented but practical bike like those used by Dutch people, you'll see some key differences.

Comfort bikes almost always have a seat tube angle that's too steep to work well with the upright seating position. They customarily come with a lame pogo-stick fork and seatpost, both of which make the ride worse and less controllable while pretending to make it better. They almost always have jointed adjustable stems, which are weak and become loose and wobbly over time. They commonly pair V-brakes with short-pull brake levers (the wrong kind), perhaps because their manufacturers think comfort bike buyers are weaklings.

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A Dutch style bike will have slack frame angles and generous fork offset to go with its upright riding position. It will use the largest available wheel diameter and generously large tires, rather than hokey suspension components, for good ride quality. And it will come with relevant features like skirt guards, fenders, chain case, drum brakes, generator lighting, and provisions for luggage, all of which make the ride more comfortable and convenient in various ways.

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Neither one of these types of bike is intended for fast riding. But one of them is a much better choice for going fast. I think it comes down to Dutch bikes being made for people who actually ride for transportation every day, while comfort bikes are made for selling to people to think it would be a good idea to get more exercise, as long as it doesn't take much effort.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by flat tire » Oct 14 2019 2:04am

Big advantage of MTB is wide availability of good full suspension.

Very important for comfort and performance.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Oct 14 2019 2:59am

flat tire wrote:
Oct 14 2019 2:04am
Big advantage of MTB is wide availability of good full suspension.

Very important for comfort and performance.
At some relatively high speeds, what you say is true. At legal e-bike speeds, suspension isn't necessary or important, as long as you have full size wheels and adequate tires. Suspension comes with the downsides of added weight, added cost, added maintenance, and greatly reduced options for mounting the things that make a bicycle into an e-bike.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by spinningmagnets » Oct 14 2019 6:19am

Why not both? I have a Cruiser frame with a BBSHD. It's what I ride most often. It has fat tires and a Suntour NCX seat-post which works well. It runs very quietly. I normally cruise around at around 20-MPH, but I want a 30-MPH capability for when I want to get away from traffic.

If I was frequently going faster, I'd want to use the downhill frame more. It has a faster top-speed, a large rear hubmotor and suspension. It's not very stealthy. By comparison, the cruiser barely gets a second glance from bystanders.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by bhtooefr » Oct 14 2019 6:53am

FWIW, the Dutch manufacturers are doing suspension seat posts and forks too, now, on their newer designs. And, roadsters - including the depicted opafiets - tend to have sprung saddles, which do count as suspension.

(However, even the newer Dutch designs do use slacker angles than most comfort bikes. Then again, the Gazelle I just bought isn't quite as slack as an older roadster design - 68.5° head tube, 69.5° seat tube, as opposed to the 65° typical of old roadsters.)
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by john61ct » Oct 14 2019 7:39am

Are these Dutch designs available in the States?

Especially need heavy weight bearing?

Would also like to look at cargo / delivery type.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by AHicks » Oct 14 2019 8:39am

Mountain bikes make good conversions not only due to their suspensions, but also because they are much more likely to have disc brakes. For myself, I would not give any donor bike that did not have disc brakes a second glance.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by ZeroEm » Oct 14 2019 9:02am

What is comfortable for one person is not for others look at the Back Pain and Bikes. My trike is comfy and will do 30 mph but limit it to 43 km. Not every one uses mostly motor my watts/km varies from .9w-15w. Bet it all mostly depends on the roads and speed on what you ride. my mother of 79yrs rides an E-Trike Schwinn Meridian 5-15 mph on 3-15 mile trips.
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E-HP   100 kW

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by E-HP » Oct 14 2019 10:29am

Looks like, based on the sticky (before and after pics) on the build forum, there’s a decent representation of “comfort bikes”, maybe 20% or a bit less. Probably more than road bikes, but close to that level.


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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by elmo78 » Oct 14 2019 11:46am

When you have 20lbs of batteries and 25lbs of additional weight (motor, controller etc) you need good, long travel suspension to protect your rims. This is why mountain bikes are the number one solution. I have a 200mm travel bomber fork in the front and 1800mm travel in the back. Sometimes when I hit a pothole while doing 40-50mph I still feel like it's not enough damping. If it were a comfort bike I would be flying high after hitting a pothole.

Mountain bikes do not need to be uncomfortable either. I have a geometry similar to motocross bikes, so it's a nice, upright position with good visibility.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by neptronix » Oct 14 2019 1:46pm

I ride semi recumbents these days after starting out on MTB frames. I can't go back. They're both more efficient because of the aerodynamic advantage, and dramatically more comfortable. Add a motor on, and you've negated the disadvantage in riding one uphill.

I don't understand why uprights are still popular. A full suspension lawnchair on wheels is where it's at :mrgreen:

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Oct 14 2019 2:56pm

Small diameter wheels have serious trade-offs in ride quality, traction, and safety that mechanical suspension can't compensate for. Being able to stand up on the pedals is one of the characteristics that makes a bicycle feasible on real world surfaces.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by flat tire » Oct 14 2019 3:10pm

Balmorhea wrote:
Oct 14 2019 2:59am
At some relatively high speeds, what you say is true. At legal e-bike speeds, suspension isn't necessary or important, as long as you have full size wheels and adequate tires
Such bullshit from someone who clearly has zero experience. Maybe if you only ride on glass smooth surfaces. For the rest of us who live in the real world, and enjoy taking our ebikes into parks, over trails, and on real streets, suspension is very desirable even if you only ride 10 mph.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Oct 14 2019 3:36pm

flat tire wrote:
Oct 14 2019 3:10pm
Balmorhea wrote:
Oct 14 2019 2:59am
At some relatively high speeds, what you say is true. At legal e-bike speeds, suspension isn't necessary or important, as long as you have full size wheels and adequate tires
Such bullshit from someone who clearly has zero experience. Maybe if you only ride on glass smooth surfaces. For the rest of us who live in the real world, and enjoy taking our ebikes into parks, over trails, and on real streets, suspension is very desirable even if you only ride 10 mph.
Well, I have only been riding for transportation since my college days in the 1980s, with a bicycle being my only vehicle for the majority of the time since then. In my youth, I could go ten miles across town in 30 minutes, including stops and traffic. I guess for some people, that's not real-world enough to count. To each his own.

I have experimented with suspension but I find that, for me, the benefits don't make up for the trade-offs (weight, cost, maintenance, frame and fork flex, imprecise handling, noise, ground clearance, etc.) I can afford suspension, and I can repair and maintain it myself. I simply don't find it to be worth it, on an e-bike or a pedal bike.

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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Oct 14 2019 5:16pm

Yep. Comfort has many conditions. Speed and terrain of course, does affect the need for suspension. Yet, I believe most of us are riding faster average with an ebike than a bicycle.

When it comes to choose what to ride, some have a cyclist view, some others a motorcyclist view. All of those who are seeing ebikes with a motorcyclist view, are more concerned about suspension, brakes, lateral stiffness... because they ride a motor bike after all, and usually much faster than a bicycle.

Cyclists are more concerned about the bicycle feel, and they are willing to compromise a lot of performance in order to retain the characteristics of a bicycle. Commercial ebikes are made to target this type of riders, most of them that are offered in bike shops lately.

I have built ebikes to commute, and some for sport. They had not been planned to ease the bicycle experience. Their purpose is to improve the motorcycle experience.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by markz » Oct 14 2019 5:43pm

I have built a few cruiser style bicycles and love them!
The regular style mtb's have a too upright riding position for my liking, but I do not ride technical at all as I just cruise around getting from A to B. I do like single track trails through the tree's every now and then.

You can convert mtb's to comfort or cruiser style, simply by adding a layback seat post and some 5.25" riser handle bars.

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by neptronix » Oct 14 2019 7:06pm

Balmorhea wrote:
Oct 14 2019 2:56pm
Small diameter wheels have serious trade-offs in ride quality, traction, and safety that mechanical suspension can't compensate for. Being able to stand up on the pedals is one of the characteristics that makes a bicycle feasible on real world surfaces.
Engineers at almost every major motorcycle company would disagree with you on that :wink:

Dual 20's on a bike can feel fantastic with high quality shocks.
Even better when you have something other than flimsy bike tires, IE a moped or scooter tire.. all the extra rubber will provide some suspension feel in itself.
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama

My first major build: 1.6kW 8T MAC motor on a Trek 4500.
The new all-arounder: Leafmotor 1500w @ 4kW on a Turner O2 full suspension.
The monster scooter: 20" eZee on a Cannondale Semi Recumbent.
Whipper-snapper: ? on a lightweight BikeE Semi Recumbent

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by flat tire » Oct 14 2019 8:03pm

Well the reason motorcycles use small diameter wheels is gyro effects that make turning at speed a pain in the ass become significant with respect to human strength at motorcycle speeds with the relatively heavy wheels required. In other words smaller wheeled bikes are easier to turn at speed, with large wheels becoming disproportionately more unwilling to turn as you go faster.

At bicycle speeds (even fast ebikes) and wheel weights this isn't really a concern. At the same time you still stand to gain much ease in rolling obstacles with the bigger wheel.

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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Oct 14 2019 8:45pm

With speed the aero drag curve steepens, forcing lower design. Speed tracks are also very smooth.

Rough riding a bike, it is better on large wheels and long suspension travel.

That is why dirt bikes are so different from road bikes. Road bikes are all about performance and stability. Yet, race them together on crowded city streets and the dirt bike has a neat advantage.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Dirt:
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by niwrad » Oct 14 2019 8:52pm

I would go with suspension is not as needed depending on the rider and ability to navigate around potholes and ability to stand and flex both knees and elbows over potholes.

That said, I am looking to get more suspension by modifying what I can
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by 999zip999 » Oct 14 2019 9:25pm

Went up in cowboy country 3 miles away better diches and bumps and horseshoe tracks so I have to use it my bike like a roller-coaster and swing it back and forth and right on the sides of my tires. Sometimes you just don't go straight. Swingers.
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Re: Why not comfort bikes?

Post by Wolfeman » Oct 14 2019 9:25pm

I'm all for comfort. Schwalbe Fat Franks at lower pressure for a smooth ride, BMX bars for a very upright position, and a cruiser frame with the pedals slightly forward. I think it's comfortable and cool looking.
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