Two months of Ancheer.

Hey folks.

It’s now been a couple of months since I’ve purchased the ANCHEER folding mountain e-bike.

It has been my daily rider, to and from work, the mall, grocery shopping, and so on.

Right now, I think it is safe to say that this is actually a pretty good beginner’s e-bike, a solid place to get your feet wet and experience the concept of getting around with a battery assist.

I realized, after running Strava for a week or so, that I actually ride my bike a LOT MORE than I thought I did: I was estimating that I ride about 13-15 miles a week. I’m riding about 30 miles a week. The estimate I had made prior would be accurate for my old bike, which is in a storage closet right now.

This bike does give me more freedom than I had on the previous one, knowing that I can toss it onto the bike rack of the buses here if I’m not able to ride back under my own power, while still being able to get somewhere faster than taking the bus. As an example, I wanted to treat myself to Chipotle one Saturday. The closest one is about three miles away by car or bicycle, but well over 30 minutes away by bus, as it requires two buses to get there.
A short, twelve minute bike ride later, I’m pulling up in the Chipotle parking lot, only slightly winded because I decided I was going to race a ghost in Strava for part of the trip (and be soundly whipped by it, of course, because we’ve got guys and gals here who can do 20-40 miles per hour on pure leg power, no augments).

The important thing is, I now have more freedom to go places, limited only by bicycle parking options when I arrive, and overall battery capacity.

Here’s another example: If I had to go to the bowling event work was having by bus a month ago, I’d not have gone, because getting there by bus is extremely tedious. It takes upwards of 70 minutes to get there: the layout of our bus system necessitates me taking a bus to downtown, to catch a connecting bus that comes back out and over to the bowling alley. By e-bike, it was a twelve minute journey which didn’t leave me winded and pained at the end. On a regular bike, I’d need to add several minutes to this, as part of the trip requires a bridge climb.

All things said before, there are things that I would change overall about this bike:

  • There’s this nub of a center stand underneath the center bracket. It is USELESS when you have the bike folded, as it doesn’t sit high enough — the chainring barely clears the ground, and the bicycle tries to tip over. A folding center kickstand would have worked far better for what Ancheer was attempting to do: Keep your chainring off the ground while the bicycle is folded for transport.
  • The screws that were used for the chainring guard (to keep your pants leg clean, of course) were made out of really soft metal. When my chain jumped on an uphill climb, the chain sheared through two of the screws holding the guard on. That was a pain to rectify.
  • The gearing ratio is a little low. I figure the bike could use a forward ring that’s got another dozen teeth on that top gear to give me a little more legpower space to work with…
  • But the bike oscillates precariously at 31 miles per hour, which I can hit on the downhill leg of my trip to work daily. Therefore, finding a happy midpoint of about 24 miles per hour would also be necessary with said change. This would get me 6 mph more speed on top of what I was getting with the pedal assist system.
  • The lack of an easily detachable cable for the hub motor makes replacing the tubes difficult++. Easiest way to do it is to turn the bike upside down, unbolt the tire, lift it up to unseat it, then lay the tire onto the upturned frame.
  • The overall lack of documentation on how to effect repairs and troubleshoot issues needs a change.
  • Puncture resistant tires would be wonderful. The lack of them on a mountain bike is interesting.

Would I buy this bike now with what I know about it, and the work I have put into the existing hardware?

The answer is Probably. It lands mainly on budget as a deciding factor. I would certainly prefer a bike with a 48 volt, 500 watt system, because while this bike does flatten the one hill I encounter daily, it’s not something I would use for trying to ride up the local buttes with the pedal assist or throttle systems active. The sound the hub motor makes when strained is concerning enough that I know I don’t want to try it for more than 20-30 seconds at a time since it’s an air cooled system.

If I could cool the hub motor in some fashion (oil bath? ferrofluid/Statorade? spoke radiators (heatsinks)? something?), then trips like that would be less worrisome, but the current hub motor designs seem to be compact. While it’s good, because super short spokes are bad, I feel that the center space between the long spokes could have been put to better use, like what BionX did with their BionX D hub: Large housing in the center, with spoke lacings close to the center of the wheel to allow for longer, stronger spokes.

Housing something to dump extra heat would be good, especially as we start to get into the hot part of the year with three digit temps.

If I didn’t go with the Ancheer, I’d consider building my own e-bike, simply because it has the potential to save me money compared to buying something already mass produced and on the market. Buying a pre-built regular bike and upgrading with e-bike components would be the way to go, whether I go for a front-mounted hub motor and a push-button throttle, or something more robust and positioned toward the rear.

I’ll also not make this one mistake again: No more folding bikes, and no rear suspension.