Reviving An Old Lime-E Beta Rideshare E-Bicycle

What do you do when you come across a cheap electric bicycle on Facebook Marketplace from a seller who has a few hundred of the same ones available? If you’re someone like [Max Helmetag], you figure that it’s probably legit since nobody would be reselling hundreds of Lime ridesharing e-bikes. Thus, it makes for an excellent project to see how usable an old ridesharing bicycle is. According to the information on the e-bike’s frame, it was manufactured in 2017, and based on the plastic still covering parts of the bike, it had barely been used, if at all.

The information listed on the cheap Lime-E Beta e-bike.

It would seem that this lot of e-bikes came from Lime’s initial foray into e-bike ridesharing in 2018, called Lime-E, hence the ‘Lime-E Beta’ on the e-bike’s frame. When looking at Lime’s current e-bike offering, it’s clear that the design is noticeably different. This likely explains this large number of e-bikes up for sale as the remnants of that initial test run in 2018, but it also means that these bikes have likely been sitting around idly for about half a decade now.

According to [Max], the seller got the bikes after the city of Los Angeles did not approve Lime’s proposal to start a ridesharing business there, leaving the bikes in LA in limbo until the seller got them for a ridesharing business undertaking that fell through, leaving them for sale on the internet.

When [Max] got his new prize for $100, it appeared to be well-constructed enough, with a Bafang motor, Bafang torque/cadence integrated bottom bracket and sensor, 14.5Ah 36V battery, Shimano nexus brakes, all aluminum construction, and solid tires. All that you’d expect to find on an e-bike that’s supposed to be robust and low-maintenance.

The main issues came in the form of the very flat battery and the proprietary remote control system that Lime would originally have used to keep tabs on the e-bike, or even allow it to move at all. After reviving the original battery (mainly to save some money), the motor controller with the Lime cellular module was swapped out with a cheap motor controller to restore at least basic functionality.

Unfortunately, this loses some of the original functionality, like the lights and the torque and cadence sensors. Despite this minor setback, it still got [Max] a very functional e-bike for less than $200 with a lot of reverse-engineering fun still to be had with the original controller board. Perhaps the only sad note in this story is that when [Max] later went out to get another one of these bikes, the property the bikes were stored on had gone into foreclosure, meaning the remaining unsold e-bikes are now the property of a bank somewhere and may not go on sale again.

28 thoughts on “Reviving An Old Lime-E Beta Rideshare E-Bicycle

    1. Big visible welds are typical for inexpensive aluminum frames. Originally it was done to keep costs down; finishing the welds to make them smoother takes extra time. But for some cyclists, especially on mountain bikes, those clunky looking welds became part of the aesthetic.

  1. The construction of this bike appears to be much more robust than what one would usually get from a typical, conventional ‘fat-tire-bike’, as well as costing a lot less.
    It appears–from the photo–that one could have, with a lot less effort, an amazingly sturdy and durable conventional bicycle simply by ditching all the “e-bike” stuff and replacement of the obvious–such as regular ‘fat’ tires, fenders, etc…as well as replacement of the drive gearing and chain-guard, if one really “…got into it…”.
    Oh: and your body will thank you. “e-bikes” are for people who really don’t want to ride a bicycle.

      1. Mostly it’s about time. You can get there easily – slowly – but then do you want to waste an hour just to go shopping downtown? An e-bike lets you maintain higher average speed without breaking a sweat.

        1. And without caring for braking altogether I fear.
          For some reason people on e-bikes don’t slow down where you should and think they are some sort of gods that can just continue at high speed at all times and in any traffic situation.
          Then after they ran into somebody they go ‘hmm’ … then buy head protection and then continue their behavior..

          I wonder what can be done about that, they should put a psychologist on that ASAP.

          1. In my experience, the e bike riders are much more willing to slow, probably because there’s no effort in getting going again. Fixie riders, on the other hand, are absolutely lethal and show zero concern for anyone.

          2. eFixie rider here. I added a back brake after I mototized the front wheel. Much safer now. All wheel drive and all wheel braking. I find a small subset of spandex commuters to be the most inconsiderate. They don’t want to slow down and hate being passed by an eBike. Some seem like they don’t want cars to pass them either.

          3. Here in Austria, especially in Vienna, things have gone out of bounds. Those e-two-wheels-whatever drivers think they own the sidewalks and zebra crossings and ignore about any road laws. Not long ago, food couriers started exploiting the 25 km/h legal loophole. At first, moped-style e-bikes appeared, soon to be followed by monstrous Vespa-style scooters. Driving with full speed on sidewalks that are less than 1m wide, even if there’s a bicycle lane next to it, pushing pedestrians aside and yelling at them if they don’t make way. In case of an accident they simply drive away and never get caught, because these vehicles need no license plate. Also no brain, no insurance, no nothing.

    1. You can make an e-bike into a much harder workout than a regular bike if you want to ride it that way, just with the assurance you can always make it back home mostly on the electric if you do run out of puff…

      All having the motor and battery does is allow an additional degree of choice in how much effort you want to put in, it could be used as nothing more than a hill booster so you can maintain a safer speed on that busy and steep road, or (local law allowing) let you get there faster as between your similar (or even slightly higher as the trip will take less time) sustained output and the motors you go faster, or you could coast and let the bike do most of the work – though even then you will still be getting a workout as just the balance part alone requires rather more work than driving (at least driving anything modern enough to have power steering etc).

      1. I recall years of biking to work, even in the subzero winter and often times dragging my brakes for the first few blocks just to get warmed up. It was always had to believe that you could be so damn cold when you left the house and so damn hot when you got to work. All but your fingers that it.

    2. ““e-bikes” are for people who really don’t want to ride a bicycle” is a very narrow-minded statement. I have a (self-converted) e-bike because I have artheritic knees and I cannot pedal even slightly up hill. It has provided countless hours of treasured memories and pleasure with my daughter as she has grown up, cycling on local traffic-free forest trails because she is too scared of cars.

    3. ” … “e-bikes” are for people who really don’t want to ride a bicycle ….”
      I completely disagree. I had a 14 mile commute go to 26 miles, and I “really wanted to ride a bicycle”. So I converted my bike to electric. I ride it a lot more in general as a result. I might even buy a real eBike ;-).

  2. Well, crud. I was hoping to snag one of these, see about getting it working again, and throw it in my van for when I’m on trips and just want to run a quick errand. Looks like it’d be great for that.

        1. Hey Max, I’m in LA and have 3 of these bikes. I’ll give you two of them if you can get one running for me. I was trying to keep em out of the landfill, and the auction house told me all I had to do was charge them. (not true!)

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