eBike choices and Local Bike Shops

CloneWerks

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When I started getting into eBikes one of the first things I did was a tour of all of my "local" bike shops. FIVE different places within a reasonable driving distance and the results just couldn't be more different yet with frustrating similarities.

Shop #1: (Very old, hole-in-the-wall place), "eBikes? EWWWWW! I wouldn't have that crap in my shop on a bet, I only sell/work on REAL bicycles".

Shop #2: (Very old business, but nice clean modern layout) Sells Specialized and Cannondale brand eBikes with a price range of $3,200 to $13,000 USD. Willing and happy to work on any eBike but will only do "electrical" work on brands that they sell.

Shop #3: (Ancient hole-in-the-wall with equally ancient staff) "What's an eBike"?

Shop #4: Relatively new business, physically the largest with a clean, modern, "showroom" style front and a large repair area to the rear. Sells Giant and Trek brand eBikes with a price range of $2,900 to $15,000. Willing and happy to do any non-electrical work on any bike. After a conversation with the owner found out they would also be willing to do "very-limited" electrical work on brands they don't sell as long as the battery is easily removable and (some blunt honesty here) the owner of the bike doesn't seem like a jerk.

Shop #5: New business. Literally still setting up the store and the staff doesn't have a freakin' clue what they are doing, I wouldn't send an enemy to this shop at this time but we'll see once they get their act together. Sells only high end road-bikes for rich yuppies and currently only carries "Bulls" eBikes. Nice bikes but the price range of what they have is around $5,000 period.

Dis-honorable Mention: Dicks Sporting Goods. The one near me "pretends" to have a cycling section. It's an absolute joke.

Believe me I understand the philosophy that causes a bike shop to focus on eBikes that are $3k and up, especially a wish to avoid clunkers that need constant repair with limited parts supply from someplace overseas, but I feel like people need to realize that there are some really excellent Sub-$2k range bikes out there (FLX Babymaker II, I'm looking at YOU) that would get a lot more people started into the eBike arena. I mean I would have absolutely LOVED to get a Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0, but $3,500 was just plainly too much to invest in something I was uncertain about so I took a risk and ordered a $1500 bike online.

I'll be blunt, I got lucky. My bike came quickly, was in perfect condition (though the box looked like it had gone through a war zone) and so far everything has functioned exactly as it should. I also have the advantage of being a long time cyclist and an electronics hobbyist to the point that I'm considering building my own home brew control computer for the bike. In other words I'm very well positioned to handle just about any issue with my bike up to, and including, rebuilding the battery pack or in fact the entire electrical system. Unlike most I am in no-way limited by relying on the actual manufacturer.

A significant percentage of people here and in other forums have absolute horror stories about the condition their bikes arrived in, or issues shortly after taking ownership that have taken extended (or infinite) periods of time to resolve. Therein lies the significant value of buying from a local bike shop... but is it $2,000+ in added value vs the cost of the Amazon Order bikes? In summary, I feel like my local bike shops are coming along fast in the eBike arena, but that they also need to get a little more brave and offer some cheaper options.
 

JerryB

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My $1K Lectric arrived in a box.....I added air to the tires.....adjusted the seat and handbars and went to a ride. Just hit 300 miles......no significant problems. Very happy.
 

ronniebellie

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Your write up is very interesting. Thank you. Are you in a larger urban area? My experience is a little different. In the Spokane, WA area (about 400,000 people, there are a number of bike shops. So far, I've visited 2 of them looking at ebikes and both had a fair number of options. The first was Wheel Sport. They let me test drive one for about 10-15 minutes on neighborhood roads. Yes, the price seemed high (about $3,000 if I recall). The second was REI which had 4-5 options and the one I liked the most was priced at about $1,800. What impressed me the most about my local REI store is that as I was looking at the ebikes, a staff member came up to me and asked if I had questions. He himself had a fair amount of experience with ebikes which helped. I then went to the restroom and returned to that area and then another staff came up to me and he also was experienced and answered lots of questions. Both were very helpful and not pushy.

I've been looking online at several different options the last couple of months including the Priority Current sold through Costco Next for a 20% discount and the Aventon Pace 500 and the Velotric Discover 1. HOWEVER, I am very leery of buying online without a test ride. I have to get the feel of the bike before I buy it. Purchasing online, assembling it at home, then riding it and not liking it and then returning it would be a major hassle and a big expense. I contacted the Priority Current folks and it would cost me shipping both ways, $100 + $100 just to try it out. - Correction on October 31, 2022 - The folks at Priority were incorrect on this. Through Costco Next, there is no shipping fee. It's included in the 20% discount. And apparently, if you don't like the bike, then return shipping is covered for Costco members. At least one Costco rep told me that.
 

Django

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I am often leery of “not sold in stores” brands, but these days, even the very established companies are not coming through for their customers. Trek has a high end gravel ebike that seems sketchy and from what I have heard, Trek isn’t making things right, or at least not yet. Specialized and Cannondale have in the past let bikes with proprietary parts become obsolete, making the bike useless in some cases. I wouldn’t trust them do treat the ebikes differently

I went with Yamaha partly because they have been around for so long and will probably be around long after I am gone. That said, I damaged my rear rim in early July and my dealer told me that they weren’t likely to get a replacement this year. I spoke with Yamaha and they told me that I had to go through my dealer and that they were currently back ordered until September, but that was likely to move further out. We have a very good, local wheel builder, but he wouldn’t be able to do anything for at least a few weeks.

The real issue came down to the Yamaha hub. The flange has a groove that locates the Yamaha specific speed sensor. Fortunately a DT Swiss CR1600 is a good, heavy duty gravel wheel that has a flange with no features, so I was able to machine the proper groove and get back on the bike. The moral of the story is that you can’t count on an established company to provide you with an needed part.

There was a person on another forum that had a broken Yamaha speed sensor and had been waiting for a replacement for more than a year. He finally got one through a Yamaha outboard motor dealer. Go figure.
 

socialfilter

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There are eight shops within 5 miles of me and I went to every one of them before buying my bike. I had a similar experience as OP. The first 7 had no Ebikes for less than $4k and the 8th just bought Ebikes from Amazon and resold them. I'm a dumbass and poor so that's where I got my Rattan. I didn't realize that Rattan wouldn't honor the warranty even though my bike was delivered to me still in the box and now the shop and owner have disappeared so I'm just screwed
 

th 'fern

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I searched online the type of ebike I wanted.
There were a few options that ticked all the boxes, all from established bicycle companies.
Prices are listed at their websites and (of course) the local dealers.

a gain2.jpg

For features and value, Orbea Gain was the choice.
The only really 'local' dealer carried the brand's e-mtn bikes in stock, but not e-road.
6 week delivery time, best estimate. So I found an online deal on a 2020 model closeout, and got it in 8 days.

The LBS will be able to service this brand I bought (tho maybe road specific bits may not be in stock). There may be upgrades to software, etc - as well as the bicycle aspects.

I will use them for work on my other bikes to build a level of confidence.
So far it has been good - nice guys.
Support your LBS, when they are good.
 

mrzippy

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Here in my neck of the woods (northern Indiana), we have a couple of shops that had ebikes on the floor. Like others here, they were trek and giant and the started at $3300. I very much understand the buying from a local dealer issue. But for in some cases 2X the cost?
My wife and I ended up buying online and have three different brands of ebikes now (aventon, bee cool, and RAD). All so far have been great, and we have had no issues to date. We both have road type bikes, and now recently have gotten fat tire versions too. I never even thought about bike riding again, until my wife test road a ebike. But the ebikes have suddenly re-ignited a life long passion that we thought had passed due to our age.
 

procreator

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I am very fortunate in northeast Wisconsin to have at least five LSBs within a 30 minute drive. Among the five, you can test ride Aventon and Buzz on the low end and Reise and Muller on the high end. You will find Giant, Trek, Path, Townie, and others on the floor. However, I didn't care for the Aventon and there were no other ebikes in my price range that I could try. Therefore I bought online.

I also found out that at least two of the smaller shops will work on almost any brand of ebike. I talked with one guy about getting more adjustability for my wife's Velotric. He took the time to go to their website to find the handlebar diameter and such, then equipped me with the right parts to make the adjustment we discussed. He also took the time to determine that the cables, wires, and brake lines could be lengthened, and gave me an estimate if we needed more adjustability. Note: The Discovery 1 has a fixed stem and the cables leave no extra slack.

So as I said, I feel very fortunate to have resources like this available.
 

socialfilter

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May I ask what the prices run for tune ups and such. I called every bike shop in the metro area and the only one that would even touch my Rattan charged me $150 for voltometer readings but he lost my keys so took off $50! Yay!
 

dukeloo

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Why do you need a bicycle shop for service. Use a Mobile Bicycle repair service. They can assemble and service your ebike no attitude. I have purchased several ebikes throught direct to consumer companies. I have lived in Denver and Albuquerque and have found that using a Mobile Bicycle Repair Service is a 21st century solution. If bicycle shops want to go broke by not supporting a 300% growth in ebike sales. Let them.

I would also say that Legacy bicycle companies are not fully sold on ebikes and you get better capability on direct to consumer brands.
 

socialfilter

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I'm going to try him as my last resort, prob Monday. I received a broken Rattan & tried to exchange 3 days after getting it but they just ignored me until the 14 day period was over so now I've just got a heavy ass bike to pedal
o
 

Heavyload

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When I started getting into eBikes one of the first things I did was a tour of all of my "local" bike shops. FIVE different places within a reasonable driving distance and the results just couldn't be more different yet with frustrating similarities.

Shop #1: (Very old, hole-in-the-wall place), "eBikes? EWWWWW! I wouldn't have that crap in my shop on a bet, I only sell/work on REAL bicycles".

Shop #2: (Very old business, but nice clean modern layout) Sells Specialized and Cannondale brand eBikes with a price range of $3,200 to $13,000 USD. Willing and happy to work on any eBike but will only do "electrical" work on brands that they sell.

Shop #3: (Ancient hole-in-the-wall with equally ancient staff) "What's an eBike"?

Shop #4: Relatively new business, physically the largest with a clean, modern, "showroom" style front and a large repair area to the rear. Sells Giant and Trek brand eBikes with a price range of $2,900 to $15,000. Willing and happy to do any non-electrical work on any bike. After a conversation with the owner found out they would also be willing to do "very-limited" electrical work on brands they don't sell as long as the battery is easily removable and (some blunt honesty here) the owner of the bike doesn't seem like a jerk.

Shop #5: New business. Literally still setting up the store and the staff doesn't have a freakin' clue what they are doing, I wouldn't send an enemy to this shop at this time but we'll see once they get their act together. Sells only high end road-bikes for rich yuppies and currently only carries "Bulls" eBikes. Nice bikes but the price range of what they have is around $5,000 period.

Dis-honorable Mention: Dicks Sporting Goods. The one near me "pretends" to have a cycling section. It's an absolute joke.

Believe me I understand the philosophy that causes a bike shop to focus on eBikes that are $3k and up, especially a wish to avoid clunkers that need constant repair with limited parts supply from someplace overseas, but I feel like people need to realize that there are some really excellent Sub-$2k range bikes out there (FLX Babymaker II, I'm looking at YOU) that would get a lot more people started into the eBike arena. I mean I would have absolutely LOVED to get a Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0, but $3,500 was just plainly too much to invest in something I was uncertain about so I took a risk and ordered a $1500 bike online.

I'll be blunt, I got lucky. My bike came quickly, was in perfect condition (though the box looked like it had gone through a war zone) and so far everything has functioned exactly as it should. I also have the advantage of being a long time cyclist and an electronics hobbyist to the point that I'm considering building my own home brew control computer for the bike. In other words I'm very well positioned to handle just about any issue with my bike up to, and including, rebuilding the battery pack or in fact the entire electrical system. Unlike most I am in no-way limited by relying on the actual manufacturer.

A significant percentage of people here and in other forums have absolute horror stories about the condition their bikes arrived in, or issues shortly after taking ownership that have taken extended (or infinite) periods of time to resolve. Therein lies the significant value of buying from a local bike shop... but is it $2,000+ in added value vs the cost of the Amazon Order bikes? In summary, I feel like my local bike shops are coming along fast in the eBike arena, but that they also need to get a little more brave and offer some cheaper options.
I also spent 1500 on a T-1. I know there will be battery/motor replacement in future.I have heard that cheaper and better battery options are out there. I have a good idea on where and how I want do that. No ideas yet about battery products availible. Have you done any battery research along these lines? Any help would be appreated.
 

socialfilter

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Thought this was interesting. I like that they offer ebike repairs and train people from marginalized communities. Just wish they worked on and sold bikes that actual "low income" people could afford but that seems to be the nature of the ebike landscape atm.
 
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