Saturday, August 11, 2018

GB-500 E-Bike Review

The pedal-assist folding fat-tire bike sold by Greenbike USA that I ordered while in Oregon now has around 150 miles on it. It may be time for a more extensive review. First of all, I really like the fat tires. They are 4" wide on 20" rims and run between 5-30psi. The lower pressure for really soft sand or snow and the higher pressure for pavement. The main road near our house is undergoing a lot of construction so there are a lot of unpaved patches. The bicycle feels really solid in these unpaved sections even if the motor breaks traction on the loose sand and gravel. On the left handgrip next to the LCD display, the red switch is for the headlight/taillight, right below that is the turn signal switch, and below that, the green button is for a pretty loud horn. The "+" and "-" buttons on the display are to change the pedal assist.

There are 9 levels of pedal assist but honestly, I regularly only use 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9. I do need to change the pedal assist level depending on where I’m riding or you could be launched faster than would be safe. For example, too much pedal assist on loose sand or pea gravel will break the rear wheel loose. Fun only if you are expecting it.

I found that I rarely use the thumb throttle when pulling away from a stop. 5th gear with a cadence of around 90-100 rpm gets me right around 20 mph. Maintaining that cadence seems to be pretty natural for me probably due to years of bicycling in the now distant past. Obviously, you slow down on hills. On our subdivision hill, I drop down to 2nd gear and the same cadence will get you around 11 mph. I've never been able to actually ride all of the way up our hill even when I was cycling on a regular basis. This would be back in the early 80s.

I'm still not really sure of the actual battery range under normal use. Last week, I rode to the shop where the truck was getting repaired. Including a detour to the bank, it was about 9 miles and the battery gauge didn't budge off of full. I pedaled all of the way including through some road construction sections where I was easily able to keep up with traffic. One of these days I’m going to test the range. The key on the battery turns the battery on/off and also locks the battery in place and it needs to be in place while riding. Only an issue if you have a lot of keys dangling against the paint.

The seating position is okay though the handlebars seem too high. I'm used to touring bikes where your weight is evenly distributed between the pedals, handlebars, and seat. The bars are at a comfortable height when standing on the pedals. Maybe that’s the intent. The front suspension gets a pretty good workout when riding through the road construction. I can’t really tell if there is much movement of the rear suspension.


The plastic fenders do a good job of containing the road spray. I ended up riding through rain showers last week and you could see water pouring off of the front fender. A mirror on the left side would be a great addition especially when riding in traffic and at intersections. I do ride on the shoulder if there is a lot of pedestrian traffic on the bike path. These days, there are quite a number of joggers, walkers, roller skiers, and slower bicycles on the Farmers Loop bike path. Fortunately, there is now a substantial shoulder due to the recent construction. Unfortunately, there are too many bicycles riding on the wrong side of the road.

Locking the bike when stopped is proving to be the biggest challenge. I picked up a large “U” lock and cable in Washington. The lock fits around the seat stays and through the rear tire. But not around anything else like a bike rack. Which just leaves the more easily cut cable for that task. If I want to lock the front wheel, I need to use another cable lock. Plus, there is a quick release on the seat post and handlebars. Maybe I just need to replace the quick releases with Allen or torx head bolts. Or maybe I’m just paranoid. In this picture, you can see the tail/brake light and the turn signals. The rack is incredibly sturdy and has smaller gauge aluminum where the panniers actually attach. 

11 comments:

redlegsrides said...

I liked riding your e-bike during our recent visit....it does do a great job on the rough bits currently infesting the bike path along Farmers Loop Road.....I think it'd be a fine "lifeboat" to a Ural sidecar rig.

Artie & Leinen's Grand Adventure said...

I'm thinking I may have to get one, too. RichardM, can you recommend one for a shorter person?

RichardM said...

I thought the GB-1 Fat Tire may be about the right size. Or the GB-1 with regular tires. Basically the same with a 10 AH battery (slightly shorter), the same motor, LCD display, front suspension but no rear suspension so the seat is lower.

RichardM said...

As if a Ural needs a lifeboat...

SonjaM said...

Nice review, Richard. We are also thinking of getting us e-bikes of the folding kind for the VW camper. However as I prefer walking over riding we might just get one for Roland (in case someone needs to do a grocery or baker run).

RichardM said...

I enjoy walking as well. I sort of envision the e-bike as being useful for longer trips such as a quick grocery run that may be 20 miles away. As you mention...

Lynne Goebeler said...

Wow, Richard, I knew you got an e-bike but I didn't realize it was the exact same one we got. This is a very accurate review from our experience as well. A couple comments: our handlebars are adjustable when in the upright postion (ie; not folded) so that may help. And we bought plastic coated steel cable locks by Masterlock that have customizable combination locks. They are probably 6 feet long and wrap around the seat stem and the battery when not in use. Lastly, we haven't been able to test the battery range either, the bikes just keep going and going! Really love them!

RichardM said...

I picked this one up based on your review. It seemed to have all of the features I had been looking for.

Lynne Goebeler said...

Well, I am so glad you are so happy with it too! I saw Bridget's question...they fat tire ones are tall, but I think you suggested great options. Also, I forgot to mention, we picked up tiny rear-view mirrors you attach to your glasses, and they work amazingly well. It was terrifying riding without being able to see who was coming to kill you. ;-) We bought them in a bike shop, but here is a link to Amazon for them.
https://smile.amazon.com/Bike-Peddler-Cycling-Eyeglass-Original/dp/B000C17M26/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_1405964225?_encoding=UTF8&SubscriptionId=AKIAJO7E5OLQ67NVPFZA&ascsubtag=279801323-2-555090283.1534471117&ie=UTF8&tag=shopperz_origin1-20

RichardM said...

I already have the small mirrors that attach to glasses. Actually, I’ve been using them since the late 70s (that’s a long time…) but was looking at other options such as the bar end models. Less hassle but a lot less visibility than the glasses mounted ones.

Lynne Goebeler said...

Well, we hadn't ridden bikes regularly since the early 80s probably, but the bike shop owner recommended the glasses ones over the bar end for better visibility. Probably wouldn't hurt to have both!