Yes, I have experience working on ebikes, including conversions and stock systems (Trek, Torker, Kona). You are right, the technology is still in the "sorting it out" phase. Kind of like early index shifting where each of the major brands had different cable and housing diameters, nothing was cross compatible. With some creativity and research, some things can be modded and cross compatible.

As I mentioned before, "with some caveats to safety and capacity." I believe that your shop should do what it does best to add value. If working on the electrical components is not within your capacity to add value or poses safety risks (like a moped), don't do it. However, almost everything else on the ebike is common and complies to bicycle industry standards (unlike a moped). So go ahead and replace brake pads tires, grips; get them a comfortable saddle and a good kickstand; whatever.

Maybe your shop operates a little different than most community shops that I am familiar with. The ones I know, for the most part, do not fix bikes. They help people fix their own bikes. Our community shop recently held a frame building class, because it was in our capacity. Stay within your capacity. Most of the negative response to ebikes seems to come from folks who feel it is outside of their capacity/feel like they are responsible for everything coming through the door. Your problems are not their problems, they are your opportunities, which you can choose to take, or not. "That cracked carbon frame, well, I suppose you could fix it, just not here. Call Craig Calfee"

The market will shake out with ebike components, but it will take a few years. If you decide to work on the e-components, you will need a multimeter.

In the meantime, get know those ebike folks you may be one of them one day. Thanks for the thoughts.

The Bicycle Collective
Salt Lake City, UT
On Sat, Jan 5, 2013 at 8:09 AM, Wendy Monroe <> wrote:
Hello Think Tankers.. 

I got so caught thinking about the 'bike is infected forever…' meme that I forgot to mention :  E-bikes are problematic to work on.

Every off-the-shelf complete E-bike that I have seen so far ( in Amsterdam) , has a proprietary electrical system that only the authorized dealer can get parts for.  
The Dutch brands Sparta and Batavus require a confidential computer code to be entered into the bike's charge controller by an authorized retailer, to even replace a battery.

 (Customers are typically not informed of this at point of purchase.. they find out a couple of years later that a battery replacement will cost them €500 )

It gets worse with conversion kits.  Each kit  has a proprietary motor controller, battery and charge control circuit, and each of these components are incompatible with those of other manufacturers.  I have seen a few quality control problems on cheaper kits, that 
( I've read that the Stoke Monkey kit has parts that can be bought off the shelf at an electrical supplier, but I have not seen one in person )

My partner is an electrical engineer who has built up ( and attempted to repair ) hub motors and several electrification kits on his own bikes, 
It appears that mixing and matching a working system from parts of E-bike kits, from different manufacturers, simply can't be done, at least in our experience.

I agree that E-bike riders are cyclists too … but procuring parts for an e-bike is a very different experience than with a mechanical bike, and if you don't have parts from the original manufacturer, you might be avoiding some grief to have a policy against working on them in your shop.

Does anyone out there have any experience with working on E-bikes they would like to share?

Wendy Monroe

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