My 4,000 Felt E-Bike Review

My Felt E-Bike Review

Felt Sporte 95 S

 




4,000 Mile Review 

  of Felt Sport E 95 

    Shimano Steps

         Sept. 2021

After 4,000 miles on the Felt Sport-E 95s, 

I am generally impressed with it.  But I am still not feeling good about Felt discontinuing the model.  I am still waiting for that "brake out company" to have the go-to Touring E-Bike.  I had hopes it would be Surly.  Things began to look that way with their E-Cargo Bike "the Big Easy" but so far, no touring option.  I contacted them and they responded asking questions about usage and desired frame... so maybe someday we might see a Surly E-Bike -- maybe the Surly E-Calypso or Surly E-Trucker.


Then Jones Bikes announced their Touring E-bike "Jones Plus LWB HD/e Ebike" and they look to be well build touring bikes. But I am not sold on the Bafang 500 BBS02 or 750 W BBSHD  Mid drive motors that are placed in the bottom bracket.  I will need to hear from those with experience with those units with touring miles. 


For now,  I feel more confident in the frames that are built to mount a Shimano Motor.  


The Shimano Components are Very High quality.  The pedal assist works perfectly for touring. It provides the needed and appreciated boost going up hills and overall it has increased my 'touring speed' in hilly areas by 2 mph. 


As an 'old guy' I really need and appreciate that boost.


There is one Shimano Hardware issue that has periodically come up while riding.  If a bump or rough terrain is encountered, the electronic control panel may stop working and the pedal assist stops.  A simple removal of the computer/display/control panel and reinstall fixes the situation.  I often wipe down the electric connections under the control panel to keep the connections clean.

With the Pedal assist, I have found it very important to anticipate gear changes and do the changes (especially change to lower gear) with very little pedal pressure.   If the pedal assist kicks in when the shifting and increased pedal pressure, the chain can break.   I have had that happen twice, fully loaded going up a hill and shifting gears a little too late.   When touring, carry an extra chain. 

Battery Life is always a concern.  
About 50 miles a day is what I plan for touring.  You have to plan around that.
One complaint that I have with Shimano is with Battery availability.  There is no place to purchase batteries for Shimano Steps... at least that I have been able to find. It would be very useful to have a second battery for touring.  A few businesses have services to rebuild batteries or buy second batteries, but they all say 'not for Shimano'. 

Another issue is with battery capacity/ size.      
Concerning Battery Size:
A recommendation for Shimano:  Have options of Battery capacities -sizes that would fit into the Bicycle Power unit connection. Being able get batteries that would provide power for say 10 miles, 20 miles, or 50 miles would make it easy to add a few more miles for touring bikes.  It would also make it easy to match the ride/distance to the battery for less weight during the ride. 

Another Recommendation would be for Shimano to have a Solar charging port on the Battery or Chargers.  That would be great for touring if the second battery could be charging from a solar panel draped over panniers while riding.



The Build on the Bike:
The modifications that were made:


Jones H-Bar -  

This was done to give an upright riding position with more hand position options

for long distance touring.

These Handlebars are awesome.

H-Bar


Stem -
This was done to give a more secure handlebar setting and also allow for the StemCaptain Thermometer
(gotta know the temperature and if you are looking for an easy addition/function to add to a bike this is perfect- great holiday gift! ).

Pedals -

Added RockBros pedals replacing the standard slippery pedals. This was a change from the clipless that I have been using on my other bicycles (LHT & Fargo) for years. But with this bike it is working out well.  After 4,000, I really like these pedals

Saddle -

The standard saddle was fine, but I added the Brooks Saddle that I am very
comfortable with.


Accessories -

all of the touring items that I have used before, work fine with the Felt.
Acorn handlebar and saddle bags, Garmin, Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers


The Felt has worked out well as a Touring Bike.
It handles the load well but does lack the front fork braze-ons, and other braze-ons like rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders that I really use on my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Spoke issues:

Within the 1st 250 miles, a rear wheel spoke broke.
I was able to tape it up, and ride home. I got a replacement spoke, and replaced it.
At about 350 miles, another spoke broke, I bought a few replacements, replaced the spoke, taped the others to the rack just in case. At about 750 miles, another spoke broke, I replaced it, and knew the next spoke break would indicate the need for a wheel rebuild.
at 1,250 miles, another spoke broke.   I had the LBS rebuild the wheel.  They indicated that factory wheel builds are not always the best.  I the replaced all the rear wheel spokes and spoke nipples with quality replacements. 
at 1,700 miles I have had no additional spoke issues ... yet.

No additional spoke issues at 4,000 miles



Brakes
The Hydraulic Brakes I am not a fan of.   
I have had to have them bleed 3 times.   I still prefer the standard disc brakes for the Touring bike

Shimano Steps System
The Steps Electric assist is simply great.  You have the fingertip option of how much assist is needed.

OFF -  ECO - NORMAL - HIGH

For flat riding, riding with no assist just feels like a normal touring bike. Fully loaded, it just
goes down the road.  On a recent Katy Trail ride (mostly flat- crushed limestone surface)
riding in the OFF position was done at about 11-12 mph.
Selecting ECO mode increased the mph to 14.
Selecting NORMAL mode increased it to 16.
Selecting HIGH mode increased it to 19

In a fairly flat area, fully loaded, averaging about 14 mph, I'm able to complete a 65 mile stretch with the battery indicator showing I had 5 miles of assist in ECO mode.

For my touring, this is a reasonably day, then I would need to charge up the battery.

The battery has held up pretty well even after having been charged up many times over the 4,000 miles of riding.  The range is still an issue for touring and you have to carry the charger with you.
It is heavy and a large item to have to pack away (see this).

I also use a Jackery Solar Generator 300 to charge the Shimano Steps battery when I am camping.  
It is able to charge the Shimano Battery to about 30% in a couple of hours.  
A solar panel is used to charge the Jackery 300. 

This is a good option to be able to add power to the e-Bike when your are away from the grid... or just use to have a "solar powered" e-bike.


The E-Bike Advantage:

For me, the advantage of an e-bike is the options that it opens up for more advanced age riders.

Noise Level- You can hear the motor and each level of assist is a bit louder...  but not really too loud, as other riders say they are not hearing it when I ride with them.

With the Shimano Steps system, the assist stops at 20 mph. For me that is plenty fast for touring and running errands.  It helps letting
me keep up with younger riders where before I would not, or they would need to slow down me - not good.  Basically, it keeps you out there riding more, enjoying the outdoors, biking for errands, staying active and off the couch and out of the car.

It is the hills that the Shimano Steps system really helps.
The hills that often are a challenge, and get the heart rate too high are now manageable with an e-bike.  It is okay to taking routes that over time were often avoided.  You do not get the same "workout", you are not covered with sweat, and too tired to move at the end of the ride, but you do indeed get a workout. And you control the assist level.  Bottom line,
the terrain is no longer the major factor in planning rides. It is like going back a few years in time...


Now the major factor is "where can I plug this in to recharge the battery" after about 60 miles. If only we didn't have to take the Battery Charger with us on the tours.  Longer battery life and an easier way to charge will be the future improvements.


Things that have Broken or issues:

- Front Fender has broken at the fork.  It appears that the small vibration over time had weaken the connection area to the point where is snapped.  
- Break lever snapped off when bike fell.
- I had to bleed the brakes 3 times.
- you go through a few brake pads with the disc brakes. 
- there are no mounts for bags on the front fork... that is an issue for touring.
- Chain Break - twice

The Future

There are many more options now for e-bikes for touring then there was a few years ago.  But the big issue still remains Range and battery.  
It is hard to find replacement batteries or an additional battery that can be packed easily for range issues.  



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