Lost trying to get into E-Bikes, so many options, looking for guidance

Cmid02

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Hello everyone,

I have been doing several days of research here, but seem to be going in circles trying to narrow down a first E-Bike. Thought I would just create an account and hope you experienced riders might be gracious enough to recommend some bikes for further research based on my criteria.

The main wishes: a bike that feels like a bike instead of a scooter, when the assist is not being used, to feel like a proper bike. Capable of assisting up a decent grade incline but we only really ride on bike paths and casual road rides. Price ideally would be around $2,000 or less.

I have read many comments and complaints that say stay away from the online shops such as lectric, Aventon etc. and go with a brick and mortar Trek, Specialized for the customer service. Which I definitely see the value but the trade off is around $1,000 more. I do tend to subscribe to the buy once and save in the long run instead of now. I’ve read that some companies also might quickly abandon a model and the e parts that go with it. But are the others that bad at customer service?

I have also come to believe that a torque sensor is what I would like. But is that only for high end bikes? I can’t really find any info on that type of sensor.

I guess I am kind of lost. Anyone have any bike suggestions or critiques?I have one possible bike on my list but I don’t want to influence anyone’s thoughts. I would be greatly appreciative of any experienced commentary.

Thanks for taking the time to read!
 
Hi & Welcome to the forums :cool:


I'd suggest riding a few different brands such as the Specialized, the Aventon Level2 and quite possibly Rad power bikes....
and more if you get the chance.

Others should chime in with some other options for ya :)
 
I don't agree with the online shop comments.......I have a Lectic......great service......great bike.....great price.......they sell more bikes in the country then anyone else.......people love their products. Don't limit your options......do more homework. Good luck,
Thank you. I am trying to narrow down the options. Did you have a part of your lectric fail or have to replace a part?

Spec wise, it looks very unappealing to ride without the assistance and more of a low powered scooter than an actual bike. I’m sure people love these bikes, it definitely seems like the best bang for the dollar. However, I am looking for the best option for my interests.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond
 
I'm going to give some unwelcome advice and say that based on your criteria, you can't get there from here. You'll have to adjust your wants if you want an ebike.

What do I mean by that? You said

"... bike that feels like a bike instead of a scooter, when the assist is not being used, to feel like a proper bike."

And that is a really tough one. Ebikes are heavy by necessity. You have to add in a motor, and batteries are quite heavy. To keep the weight down, you have to go small, which limits usefulness. When you are done putting everything on a diet, you are looking at a 40 lb bike that can't do much because you prioritized weight, and gave up capability to get that prioity. And even though you shorted yourself on the electrical assist side, you still bottomed out at 40 lbs, which is about double the weight of a decent road bike.

I owned one of these kinds of bikes myself, which is exactly what it is you are asking for I think:


I added a custom wheelset to mine and did a few other things to spiff it up. Saddle. Stem. Bars.

IMG_20200604_155933 (1).jpg



Price is smack in your wheelhouse. But to get down to that 39 lb weight they had to put in what amounts to a tiny battery. And the motor is a mid drive, which is a good thing, but its still going to peak in the 400w range and with the 3-speed setup, despite its mid drive credentials its only good for mild hills. Range was truthfully described by the seller (for once) at around 25 miles... which is the very outside of its envelope.

I sold it on because it was a bike, but precious little ebike. It DID feel like riding one of my old road bikes which was neat, but the joy of that wore off when I realized how limited it was in its utility.

Another option in this same vein (35 lbs) is the unfortunately-named FLX Babymaker.


A little more (claimed) battery, a little less money, a whole lot of baloney on the range estimation in that advertisement and a small hub drive with no derailleur so its really a single-speed electro-fixie kinda thing.

My personal feeling is you are going to have to adjust your perception of what an ebike is. They're bigger. An ebike is a bicycle-shaped-object. It will never be a bicycle and it needs to be treated as an entirely different animal.

(p.s. if you do that, $2000 is near the bottom in terms of price point. You won't be choosing between excellent options, but rather most-livable given the budget limitation).
 
I agree with everything Evil Spock said, @Cmid02 . I also agree with Jerry’s sentiment about not closing yourself out from ebikes available through online distributors. I do recommend, however, that if you go that route, make sure there is a Local Bike Shop which will service the brand you choose.

I have an Aventon Pace 500 and I love everything about it. By adding on fenders and a rear rack, it fits my needs like a glove. But that’s based on what I like to use my ebike for. It really depends on what kind of riding you plan to be doing.

It appears, from your OP, that your riding is similar to mine. I have intermittently pedaled my bike with no power on a few very long distant trips in the past in order to stretch battery life. But fair warning….you’ll want to be in a low gear, and I wouldn’t want to go far like that. If you pedal on PAS 1 or 2, then it will probably have a closer feel for what you’re looking for. I’m a PAS 4 kinda guy .:)
 
The main wishes: a bike that feels like a bike instead of a scooter, when the assist is not being used, to feel like a proper bike. Capable of assisting up a decent grade incline but we only really ride on bike paths and casual road rides. Price ideally would be around $2,000 or less.

My Norco Scene VLT is very close to a 'proper' bike when run in 'eco mode'. That is just enough torque being applied to balance out the added weight of this, by e-bike standards, light bike. BUT, I think you may find they are above your $2000 price limit.

My wife who is small and light finds it has more than adequate power from this mid-drive bike. Being heavier I find it a bit under powered on steep climbs, but still get up them ok.

We use them when travelling around with the caravan as they are light, and easy to lift single handed into the back of an SUV.
 
I'm going to give some unwelcome advice and say that based on your criteria, you can't get there from here. You'll have to adjust your wants if you want an ebike.

What do I mean by that? You said

"... bike that feels like a bike instead of a scooter, when the assist is not being used, to feel like a proper bike."

And that is a really tough one. Ebikes are heavy by necessity. You have to add in a motor, and batteries are quite heavy. To keep the weight down, you have to go small, which limits usefulness. When you are done putting everything on a diet, you are looking at a 40 lb bike that can't do much because you prioritized weight, and gave up capability to get that prioity. And even though you shorted yourself on the electrical assist side, you still bottomed out at 40 lbs, which is about double the weight of a decent road bike.

I owned one of these kinds of bikes myself, which is exactly what it is you are asking for I think:


I added a custom wheelset to mine and did a few other things to spiff it up. Saddle. Stem. Bars.

View attachment 8361


Price is smack in your wheelhouse. But to get down to that 39 lb weight they had to put in what amounts to a tiny battery. And the motor is a mid drive, which is a good thing, but its still going to peak in the 400w range and with the 3-speed setup, despite its mid drive credentials its only good for mild hills. Range was truthfully described by the seller (for once) at around 25 miles... which is the very outside of its envelope.

I sold it on because it was a bike, but precious little ebike. It DID feel like riding one of my old road bikes which was neat, but the joy of that wore off when I realized how limited it was in its utility.

Another option in this same vein (35 lbs) is the unfortunately-named FLX Babymaker.


A little more (claimed) battery, a little less money, a whole lot of baloney on the range estimation in that advertisement and a small hub drive with no derailleur so its really a single-speed electro-fixie kinda thing.

My personal feeling is you are going to have to adjust your perception of what an ebike is. They're bigger. An ebike is a bicycle-shaped-object. It will never be a bicycle and it needs to be treated as an entirely different animal.

(p.s. if you do that, $2000 is near the bottom in terms of price point. You won't be choosing between excellent options, but rather most-livable given the budget limitation).
This is excellent, thank you for the explanation. I guess that is why I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I don’t really grasp the e-bike concept yet. Great point and well taken. Any criticism is well welcomed. That is how I learn.

I deleted an entire paragraph explaining what I was going to use it for because I already rambled on for far too long. But this is actually a present for my spouse. I wanted to get one for her so she could "keep up" (I don’t leave her!) on our casual bike rides and not get tired and or ride for longer as we advance in age.

The bike on my "list" is a Trek Cruiser Go. Many local service shops, good price, not too fancy. But I don’t know the electric part is even worth the added cost. Meaning will that small battery even make a difference on small hills etc. We only really ride bike paths, so not a lot of big hills.

Sorry for the confusion on the "bike feeling" comment. I’ve read reviews where when you hit the throttle and the bike jumps, or when you aren’t using the assist the bike is just a slog to pedal. Later is probably my misinterpretation of what an e-bike should be. Looks like e-bikes are meant to always be engaged with pedal assist otherwise the added weight makes them all considerably harder to pedal. Great point, thank you for explaining to me. I wanted to avoid both these if possible, but it looks as though I need to reconstruct my expectations. By more like a bike I also meant: lectric seems more like a scooter with small wheels and stout frame.

What are your thoughts on something like the Trek cruiser, townie, or loft?
 
I agree with everything Evil Spock said, @Cmid02 . I also agree with Jerry’s sentiment about not closing yourself out from ebikes available through online distributors. I do recommend, however, that if you go that route, make sure there is a Local Bike Shop which will service the brand you choose.

I have an Aventon Pace 500 and I love everything about it. By adding on fenders and a rear rack, it fits my needs like a glove. But that’s based on what I like to use my ebike for. It really depends on what kind of riding you plan to be doing.

It appears, from your OP, that your riding is similar to mine. I have intermittently pedaled my bike with no power on a few very long distant trips in the past in order to stretch battery life. But fair warning….you’ll want to be in a low gear, and I wouldn’t want to go far like that. If you pedal on PAS 1 or 2, then it will probably have a closer feel for what you’re looking for. I’m a PAS 4 kinda guy .:)
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond @Snoop . Great advice. I will look around local to see what brands get support.

Ah, it seems I have misinterpreted what e-bikes are mainly created for. (See my previous response to m@robertson) I thought there were e-bikes that basically rode like a regular bike (same ease etc) then when you need an extra help, you could engage the assist. But from context it sounds like most e-bikes don’t work like that due to weight and are meant to always have assist on at some level. Would you say that is correct?
 
A "geared" rear hub motor will freewheel, and hence ride like a normal bike when e-assist not in use. But the battery will always be as heavy as it is, and you can't argue with newtonian physics.

If you're looking for inexpensive, buy a used mountain bike on craigslist for $200 and get a basic 500-amp Bafang rear hub motor kit with all the doo-dads. Batteries often sold separately from kits, and you can get a big one for long range and / or swap it for a small one for light-weight and shorter range. This will require a bit of installation tinkering but will perform well on a budget.

My experience however is that most folks just entering into the e-bike world start out thinking they just want a bike with a bit of "extra help" from electric, but eventually move more in the direction of wanting more power and more range. You can always keep an acoustic bike for short trips around town or weekend exercise, and use your high-powered ling-range ebike for business.
 
My opinion on the Trek Cruiser Go, don't touch it. No gears, a 5.7Ah battery (if diving 250 Watt Hours by the 46V battery charger spec is correct), and I'll assume the hub motor is quite tiny.

I have both a mid drive and a hub drive bike and both need to ridden always with some assist. The Shimano mid drive (no throttle) is by far the most natural and easy for an older person to master as you just pedal like a regular bike, and the amount of boost just smoothly comes in without notice, the amount determined by whatever mode you have selected. ZERO thinking is required.

Regarding your earlier comment "when you hit the throttle and the bike jumps".... my 750W rear hub doesn't do that if properly programmed. It will do it if you put the PAS in "5" (max power) on the display and slam the throttle. It's programmed so the throttle response is the same as the PAS setting. On "1" its a very tame take off on throttle only. I generally use "2" for flat surfaces. You can even program it if you want so the throttle doesn't even work till the bike attains some forward movement.

From what you are saying I'd strongly recommend a brand name (Bosch or Shimano) entry level mid drive, no throttle, 7 or so gears, decent battery e.g at least 13 Ah. Yes, you are going to pay a little more for the brand name components.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond @Snoop . Great advice. I will look around local to see what brands get support.

Ah, it seems I have misinterpreted what e-bikes are mainly created for. (See my previous response to m@robertson) I thought there were e-bikes that basically rode like a regular bike (same ease etc) then when you need an extra help, you could engage the assist. But from context it sounds like most e-bikes don’t work like that due to weight and are meant to always have assist on at some level. Would you say that is correct?

I think it depends on the individual and how hard they want to work, but due to the weight of an average ebike, if used mostly without power, it would require significantly more effort to pedal.

That’s the nice thing about an eBike with multiple PAS levels, however. You can dial up as much added assist as you want, whenever you want.
 
From what you are saying I'd strongly recommend a brand name (Bosch or Shimano) entry level mid drive, no throttle, 7 or so gears, decent battery e.g at least 13 Ah. Yes, you are going to pay a little more for the brand name components.
Thank you for all the information. It is greatly appreciated. I don’t mind spending more to get something she would be happy with, especially if it is a quality bike that we will have for years and years. I will look for those components in a bike. Thank you so much for considering my desires in an e-bike, I really can’t thank you enough.

Based on your suggestions: is there any specific bikes that you would recommend I further research?
 
My wife, not a confident rider, loves her Norco Scene VLT. Light, simple, and for someone not heavy enough power for road and sealed tracks. No suspension so not suitable for the dirt. They are just like riding a 'normal' bike. Battery lasts for ages, have never run it even close to flat.
These aren't in the cheap category, but you are getting a mid drive Shimano (so bike shops will support you), through axles, hydraulic brakes, etc.
 
I'll propose a different (riskier) route to 'happiness' as I recently rolled the dice on my online purchased yet to be delivered Addmotor trike from (I'm guessing) China.
My strategy was this:
Go after something that has a decent frame design which can easily be modified if need be and which has a decent GVWR.
Spec. a decent sized motor and battery which can easily be replaced.
Accept the fact that you're not getting all the name brand system component bells and whistles, that things are likely to fail and that you at least have a skeleton of some sorts to work from in later years.
Probably not fool proof yet where I was at for just under $3k delivered (trike).
 
Thank you. I am trying to narrow down the options. Did you have a part of your lectric fail or have to replace a part?

Spec wise, it looks very unappealing to ride without the assistance and more of a low powered scooter than an actual bike. I’m sure people love these bikes, it definitely seems like the best bang for the dollar. However, I am looking for the best option for my interests.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond
I am not pushing Lectric.....just was saying not to eliminate good options in your search. As for my bike.....I had a minor issue with the screen throwing out some error codes only on occasion. I contacted Lectric......spoke to a rep.....he listened......said it might be a loose connection on controller.....sent me a video on accessing the controller......I checked all connections.....made sure everything was tight......put it back together and have not had the problem since.......that was hundreds of miles ago......it was an easy fix.......Lectric was very helpful.
 
I think it depends on the individual and how hard they want to work, but due to the weight of an average ebike, if used mostly without power, it would require significantly more effort to pedal.

That’s the nice thing about an eBike with multiple PAS levels, however. You can dial up as much added assist as you want, whenever you want.
I agree.......I ride for exercise in PA 1 most of the time......if a little extra boost is needed on a hill....I move to PA 2.....I move to PA 3 to come up my steep driveway......I never use PA 4 or 5.
 
I agree.......I ride for exercise in PA 1 most of the time......if a little extra boost is needed on a hill....I move to PA 2.....I move to PA 3 to come up my steep driveway......I never use PA 4 or 5.
Thank you for your responses! Well I’ve embarrassingly and stupidly overlooked that all e-bikes will be harder to peddle without any resistance due to the weight. So I should scrap everything I had written down and start from square one. This is mostly what it will probably be used for.

How far do you normally ride and do you feel the lectric bike provides you with the advertised range? How do you feel it handles hills?

I guess a negative is that you can’t test it out prior to purchase?
 
My wife, not a confident rider, loves her Norco Scene VLT. Light, simple, and for someone not heavy enough power for road and sealed tracks. No suspension so not suitable for the dirt. They are just like riding a 'normal' bike. Battery lasts for ages, have never run it even close to flat.
These aren't in the cheap category, but you are getting a mid drive Shimano (so bike shops will support you), through axles, hydraulic brakes, etc.
I will definitely try to find bikes that have the components you recommend.

I have had several people say to look for a torque sensor instead of cadence. Would you agree and does the Norco have this? I rarely can find mention of the type of sensor.

You mentioned that bike shops will provide support. Obviously it would depend on the specific shop, but don’t most bike shops only work on their licensed bikes ie only brands they sell?
 
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