By Gabe Dominguez
The popularity of cargo bikes and electric bikes continues to climb and I, the cargo-bike-loving author of this article, live at the top of a steep San Francisco hill called Conrad Street. So, I wanted to figure out how my seven housemates and I could replace the use of the ìhouse carî with the use of electrified cargo bikes to haul our weekly 150-pound grocery run, which none of us can do under human power alone. Thus, I created The San Francisco Slappity Slapdown.
I created The Slapdown to answer the question: Which electric hub motor conversion kit is best-suited for cargo bikes? Specifically: Which kit has the most chutzpah, the most power to haul insane loads up insanely steep hills ñ fast ñ and so help us make our car obsolete the quickest?
I put out the call to the e-bike industry: ìThe Slappity Slapdown is going to compare your motor on a national stage! Enter your best conversion kit, weíll test it and weíll all find out together who gets slappity-slapped down and who will wear The Slapdown Crown!î
Three brave companies responded, entering a total of four strong contestants:
9 Continents 2807, entered by Rock the Bike (rockthebike.com);
BMC V2-S, entered by EbikesSF.com (ebikessf.com);
Golden Motorís rear wheel Magic Pie, entered by Golden Motor (Goldenmotor.com) ;
Golden Motorís Dual Drive Magic Pie, entered by Golden Motor.
In May 2010, I rallied four fellow roadies at the Bicycle Music Festival who were willing to take their lives into their hands and help me compare the performance of these high-power conversion kits when installed on the industryís most popular cargo bike: Xtracycleís FreeRadical. We loaded it with 150 pounds of gear and tested it on our cityís legendarily steep and sometimes treacherous terrain ñ including 22nd Street, a 31.5-percent-grade incline that is ìone of the steepest navigable streets in the Western Hemisphere;î this hill is so steep, the sidewalk is a staircase.
We drag raced the motors so fast our bikes fishtailed; we gunned them up hills so steep our bikes flipped over; and we rode them up and down and up and down through the city, until three out of the four contestants were no longer working, and the last one running rode away with The Slapdown Crown.
We rated the kits for their performance in nine categories and individual awards were given to the kit that performed the best in each. Check out the awards on our website, SlappitySlapdown.com, to see more detailed reviews of each motorís performance:
* Best hill-climber (torque): Dual Magic Pie
* Best hauler on the flats (speed): BMC V2-S (32 plus miles per hour)
* Still working by the end: Magic Pie
* Best value: Magic Pie ($290)
* Lightest kit: BMC V2-S (16.4 pounds)
* Easiest installation: BMC V2-S (almost as easy as installing a normal rear wheel)
* Best user experience: 9 Continents (best all-around performance until it fried)
* Best looks: Magic Pie (chopper style)
* Most quiet: 9 Continents (a nice subtle whirr)
The Slapdown Crown was awarded to the only hub motor left standing; the only motor that was still alive at the end of the testing: Golden Motorís Magic Pie.
Coincidentally, it also rhymes with ìkiss your car goodbye.î There was never a better reason to ditch your car and haul that un-haulable load on your bike with style. See you at the grocery store! i
Gabe Dominguez is the co-director and co-founder of the Bicycle Music Festival.