Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Do I LOVE Tidalforce Bikes!

I had a thought when I picked up the Tidalforce S-750X bike from a local Craigslist seller.

"Why do I LOVE Tidalforce bikes?"

This is an obvious question now that I have 6 of them!

Let me try to itemize why they are so addictive and I'll also list some things I don't like about them just to show that I'm not completely obsessed with them.

  1. They are completely silent in operation. I know that they sound like they make quite a bit of noise when I video them in my basement rec room, however, when you're outside, it is in essence, completely silent. This is very different from every other electric bike I've ever tried.
  2. They have a very smooth ride. The mass of the battery and motor being located low on the bike makes for a very smooth and elegant ride. This is hard to describe since it's more of a sensation than something easily described.
  3. The power curve is very smooth and highly predictable. I love the thumb throttle as well since all that is required is a slight press in order to make it go.
  4. They are built as elegantly and as beautifully as any machine I've ever used. Each piece of the system is beautifully rugged and built to last a long time. The motor and battery housings are extremely rugged and not built to last a few weeks but for many, many years of service.
  5. The bikes (M-750, S-750 and iO) are beautifully made. Each weld and component of the bike is high quality. I've never had one suffer any component breakdowns or any part go bad. Tires and brake pads excepted.
  1. They are very heavy. Both the motor and the hub battery are very heavy which contributes to giving the bikes a solid feel. They are hard to move without power!
  2. The front hub batteries sag significantly and don't provide top speed in the X version of the bikes.
  3. The front hub batteries are not easily fixable with new cells. In fact, I would say that they are not replaceable unless you have very specialized equipment and the necessary skills. You'll need a battery capacity checker such as a West Mountain CBA or equivalent and also a tab welder to reweld replacement cells or build a new pack. Those are two pieces of equipment that come to mind immediately.
  4. They have caliper brakes and not disc brakes. The front hub battery is 100mm wide with no room to mount a disc brake and the rear motor hub is 135mm wide with no room to mount a disc brake either. All three bikes (M-750, S-750 and iO) come with suspension front forks which have disc brake mounts!
  5. The "Turbo" button needs to have one more setting for X versions of the bike. On an X bike, when you're in normal mode, the top speed is 19.5mph. When in Turbo mode the top speed is essentially unlimited up to the max that the battery/controller can provide. However, I could use a non-X bike's normal mode which limits speed to 12.5mph. A 12.5mph speed would hopfully maximize range too.
  6. A Cycle Analyst (which I consider an essential piece of equipment for any electric bike) from Grin Technology isn't included with the bike as standard equipment.
This kind of sums up the pros and cons of the bike. As you can tell, I believe the strengths far outweight the weaknesses of the Tidalforce line of electric bikes.

As you can also see, many of the Tidalforce bike's shortcomings can be overcome.

  • #1, 2, and 3 can be overcome with a 3rd party battery that is lighter, higher capacity and lower sag. The external battery should be mounted on the front of the bike to maintain the wonderful balance of the Tidalforce.
  • #4 can be overcome by replacing the front hub battery with a regular wheel and installing disc brakes on the front of the bike.
  • #5 can be overcome by feathering the throttle and/or using the cruise control function.
  • #6 can be easily overcome by buying a Cycle Analyst and installing it using instructions I've posted here.
The Tidalforce, even with all of these shortcomings is a magnificent bicycle. It's not the fastest, lightest, longest range electric bike out there, but it is a classic and deserves to be test ridden at least once and once you've done that, you will be enamored of the bike as much as I am! You will also love the fact that you can buy it on your local Craigslist for a song even though it's barely used! :)

More later,

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