Another Gain review

ZJarvis

New Member
I just posted an introduction to myself over in the Garage, but I also wanted to write a legit (if brief) review of the Orbea Gain M30 I just spent two days with.

Tl;dr -- I'll be buying one at the earliest available opportunity.

What I wanted out of an ebike, more than anything else, was to be able to use it as a regular bike most of the time and only turn on the boost when it was time to get back up the hill my out-of-shape butt lives on. I also didn't want to spend as much as it would take to get all the ones I knew about. So, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that Mike's Bikes carries the Gain, and I could justify the price of one. So, I arranged a demo.

The first thing I tried was to ride down the hill then back up it.

Honestly, it was harder than I wanted it to be. I would not complain about more power.

But it also got me back up. It also used only a tiny portion of the battery, which surprised me!

Today I did my regular cycling route from Pacifica to Redwood City (I'm a writer and I decided that if I'm going to do the stereotyped writing in a coffee shop thing, I should at least have to work at getting there). It's a bit over 25 miles, and the route I took today was essentially flat, but for a couple of small hills in San Bruno and some overpasses.

I set the boost to 50%/75%/100% and spent most of my time in level 1, only turning up the juice when I was irritated by a headwind (I'm looking at you, Bay Trail along the 101), or powering over a bridge with traffic. That ate 25% of the battery. So it's clear I can easily either ride down there without any assist (I tried that at the very start of the ride, and didn't have much trouble getting over small hills entirely under my own power), then ride all the way back home, or ride with assist, take the train back then ride up the hill.

That was pretty much my grail, and the demo bike handily accomplished it.

I'm still undecided whether I'll get the carbon or the alloy frame -- with the alloy frame, I could more easily stick panniers and fenders on, but I found the carbon M30 to be close to being too heavy for my riding style.

Things I didn't like:

I feel like the simplicity of the assist system is both an asset in that it's mostly set-and-forget, and also a pain. Checking to see what level you're in is ... annoying. Maybe in the future Wahoo will have more integration with the Ebikemotion gear, but I'm not holding my breath.

The app is too useful to not use and not well-made enough to be as useful as it could be. In an ideal world, the assist levels could be tied to torque or a power-meter, or even to a route (IE, switch to level 2 before going over this hill, then go back to 1).

That thing it does, when you're going uphill and you stop pedaling briefly to coast and the motor doesn't immediately shut off so it feels like you suddenly rode into sand.

That thing it does, when you're going uphill and your cadence is sloppy enough that the motor cuts out. Bleah.

Thankfully, the things I didn't like are massively outweighed by what I do like -- it's plenty light to hoist on my shoulder and get on the train, or to just ride like an un-powered bike. It looks good, and uses enough standard parts to upgrade it over time (because oof, having spent the last 4 years riding with DI2 on my road bike, I have become the princess and the shifter paddle when it comes to gruppos, but that's totally on me).

The last remaining question for me is: does this become a case of N+1 always finds a way, or do I do the unthinkable and trade in my gravel bike. Is N+1-1 even a thing?
 

Rincon

Active Member
That thing it does, when you're going uphill and your cadence is sloppy enough that the motor cuts out. Bleah.
Thanks for the review! The cadence issue turned me off to the Gain when I test rode it. I was struggling to find the right cadence to engage the assist while riding up a hill. Frustrating. With torque sensing you are in charge of power. With cadence, the bike is.

I ended up buying a light CF road bike, non electric. I love it. First road bike in decades. It handles like a Ferrari.

I will shop again when a torque sensing gravel bike is released. There’s always room for n+1.

or powering over a bridge with traffic. That ate 25% of the battery.
Did your 25 mile commute use 25% of the battery, or just the bridge?
 

ZJarvis

New Member
Thanks for the review! The cadence issue turned me off to the Gain when I test rode it. I was struggling to find the right cadence to engage the assist while riding up a hill. Frustrating. With torque sensing you are in charge of power. With cadence, the bike is.

I ended up buying a light CF road bike, non electric. I love it. First road bike in decades. It handles like a Ferrari.
Yeah, I'm not crazy about the cadence thing, but for everything else that I want which it's doing, I'll adapt.

When I first got my gravel bike (a Gestalt 3 from Marin), I was really surprised at how different it handled from my Time road bike -- which is the only road bike I'd owned to that point. Also the weight difference. Yeeesh.

I will shop again when a torque sensing gravel bike is released. There’s always room for n+1.
My other, weirder hobby is collecting antique straight razors. I have literally hundreds of them. Somehow, the urge to n+1 doesn't hit me very hard!

Did your 25 mile commute use 25% of the battery, or just the bridge?
Oops! Sorry for the lack of clarity there -- the entire 25 mile ride used only 25% of the battery, and I am the antithesis of a light rider.

Edited to add:

There's no reason that you couldn't put a power meter -- either cranks or pedals -- on this style ebike... Then it's just a matter of software to get torque-driven assist. Probably a pipe-dream, but possibly hackable via a 3rd party (he says, knowing absolutely nothing about the software side of these things).
 

Rincon

Active Member
Oops! Sorry for the lack of clarity there -- the entire 25 mile ride used only 25% of the battery, and I am the antithesis of a light rider.
Then you are getting 1% per mile, or 100 miles on a charge. That is fantastic mileage.

Then it's just a matter of software to get torque-driven assist. Probably a pipe-dream, but possibly hackable via a 3rd
Do let me know if they open up the API. I’ll be the first to download the toolkit. 😃

Thanks again for the review.
 

jim6b

Active Member
Thanks for the review! The cadence issue turned me off to the Gain when I test rode it.

Do you think the cadence problem is endemic to lack of torque sensor or perhaps the hub motor itself (without a special power meter)?
 
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Jaxx

Well-Known Member
I ride a M20i. Over the months of ownership I've started to get my head around the Gain. Regularly I get 100+ miles to a charge, the most important understanding of the Gain I have learned? IT LIKES REVS when requiring assist. Ride steady (below cut off) in a largish gear it doesn't use the assist. Likewise climb a hill out of the saddle in a large gear, and no assist is offered up. Sweet spot appears for my UK model is around 75 rpm. Sit back spin the pedals on hills to get maximum benefit. It's a very comfortable ride, super sure when descending at very high speeds. I don't find changing assist levels anymore awkward than reaching down for a bottle, although there is room for improvement. Because of the lack of mudgaurd fittings I have a alloy Gain on order for winter riding (if you need to carry and want wet weather protection) then the alloy version is a must. Finally, both versions of the Gain ride like normal bikes without the assist been engaged.
 

ZJarvis

New Member
Then you are getting 1% per mile, or 100 miles on a charge. That is fantastic mileage.



Do let me know if they open up the API. I’ll be the first to download the toolkit. 😃


Thanks again for the review.
Yeah, I couldn't be happier about the mileage I got! And that was with backpack that had my laptop, a change of clothes and a jacket! Once I get one of my own, I'll try more challenging routes (IE, Skyline down to Woodside and into Redwood City, like this ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/1025361445

I expect that will use a bit more battery!

Do you think the cadence problem is endemic to lack of torque sensor or perhaps the hub motor itself (without a special power meter)?
I'm pretty sure, but is (I think) a thing that can be compensated for with technique. The sort of spinning that should at least strongly mitigate it might require clipless pedals though. It's been so long since I've ridden without them that I'm a poor judge.


I ride a M20i. Over the months of ownership I've started to get my head around the Gain. Regularly I get 100+ miles to a charge, the most important understanding of the Gain I have learned? IT LIKES REVS when requiring assist. Ride steady (below cut off) in a largish gear it doesn't use the assist. Likewise climb a hill out of the saddle in a large gear, and no assist is offered up. Sweet spot appears for my UK model is around 75 rpm. Sit back spin the pedals on hills to get maximum benefit. It's a very comfortable ride, super sure when descending at very high speeds. I don't find changing assist levels anymore awkward than reaching down for a bottle, although there is room for improvement. Because of the lack of mudgaurd fittings I have a alloy Gain on order for winter riding (if you need to carry and want wet weather protection) then the alloy version is a must. Finally, both versions of the Gain ride like normal bikes without the assist been engaged.
I'm not really one to get out of the saddle unless it's because my butt has started to hurt, but I did notice that it didn't really give me a lot to work with the few times I did.

As an aside, I was able to mount a Garmin cadence sensor near the base of the cranks, so I could see my real cadence, and I concur. 75 rpm looks like the sweet spot.

The mounts for mudguards is what I keep going back and forth with myself over. I've got a set of fenders designed for road bikes that need no hard mounts and they do fit. They aren't as good as full coverage guards, but it's what I'm used to and I've ridden in pretty hard rain with them. When I return the bike in a couple of hours, I'll try a quick spin around the block on one of the alloy frames to see how I feel about it. It's certainly what my wallet wants! But my brain keeps saying, "you can change all the components to lighter ones except the frame."
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I couldn't be happier about the mileage I got! And that was with backpack that had my laptop, a change of clothes and a jacket! Once I get one of my own, I'll try more challenging routes (IE, Skyline down to Woodside and into Redwood City, like this ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/1025361445

I expect that will use a bit more battery!



I'm pretty sure, but is (I think) a thing that can be compensated for with technique. The sort of spinning that should at least strongly mitigate it might require clipless pedals though. It's been so long since I've ridden without them that I'm a poor judge.




I'm not really one to get out of the saddle unless it's because my butt has started to hurt, but I did notice that it didn't really give me a lot to work with the few times I did.

As an aside, I was able to mount a Garmin cadence sensor near the base of the cranks, so I could see my real cadence, and I concur. 75 rpm looks like the sweet spot.

The mounts for mudguards is what I keep going back and forth with myself over. I've got a set of fenders designed for road bikes that need no hard mounts and they do fit. They aren't as good as full coverage guards, but it's what I'm used to and I've ridden in pretty hard rain with them. When I return the bike in a couple of hours, I'll try a quick spin around the block on one of the alloy frames to see how I feel about it. It's certainly what my wallet wants! But my brain keeps saying, "you can change all the components to lighter ones except the frame."

If ya gonna be riding with a laptop? I would want it on the bike, not carrying it for 20 odd miles. Alloy Gain is slightly more relaxed, very comfortable. The hydraulic brake version is the one to go for. Let's know what you decide. Ps. I got £400 discount of my M Gain. The alloy one was a demo model (great saving)..
 

ZJarvis

New Member
If ya gonna be riding with a laptop? I would want it on the bike, not carrying it for 20 odd miles. Alloy Gain is slightly more relaxed, very comfortable. The hydraulic brake version is the one to go for. Let's know what you decide. Ps. I got £400 discount of my M Gain. The alloy one was a demo model (great saving)..
At this point, I've ridden a couple thousand miles with the backpack full of stuff and I'm really used to it. Tried it with a pannier, but I didn't like the way it made the bike handle -- though I might feel differently about the Gain, since it's intrinsically more nimble than my Gestalt (which, to be fair, was designed for stability over uncertain terrain). Also, when I say laptop, I mean 'iPad with keyboard cover'. :) Thankfully, for writing, that's all I need. The clothes & jacket weigh far more.

The shop I got the demo through has deals on a couple of the models, and happily they're all hydro disc brake versions. I'll ask them about the possibility of buying a demo bike, which would probably be the one I'm about to return.

My largest concern with going full n+1 is where does +1 go? I've got a small garage that has to be a laundry, storage, my metal working shop, and where I store and work on the bikes (currently 2, stored flat one over the other against the wall on a dedicated stand). I have medium-term plans to replace our water heater with a tankless model and hang the bikes from the wall, which might actually fit three.

I'll spare y'all the mental dithering I'm doing on this. :p
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
At this point, I've ridden a couple thousand miles with the backpack full of stuff and I'm really used to it. Tried it with a pannier, but I didn't like the way it made the bike handle -- though I might feel differently about the Gain, since it's intrinsically more nimble than my Gestalt (which, to be fair, was designed for stability over uncertain terrain). Also, when I say laptop, I mean 'iPad with keyboard cover'. :) Thankfully, for writing, that's all I need. The clothes & jacket weigh far more.

The shop I got the demo through has deals on a couple of the models, and happily they're all hydro disc brake versions. I'll ask them about the possibility of buying a demo bike, which would probably be the one I'm about to return.

My largest concern with going full n+1 is where does +1 go? I've got a small garage that has to be a laundry, storage, my metal working shop, and where I store and work on the bikes (currently 2, stored flat one over the other against the wall on a dedicated stand). I have medium-term plans to replace our water heater with a tankless model and hang the bikes from the wall, which might actually fit three.

I'll spare y'all the mental dithering I'm doing on this. :p
if your dealers bikes are 2019 models? Then maybe an opportunity for a deal. 2020 versions in UK shortly, then I can have my D Gain. If anyone is going to ride here in the UK specially "Uuup North" over winter, mudguards are a must have.
-
 

ZJarvis

New Member
if your dealers bikes are 2019 models? Then maybe an opportunity for a deal. 2020 versions in UK shortly, then I can have my D Gain. If anyone is going to ride here in the UK specially "Uuup North" over winter, mudguards are a must have.
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Indeed Mikes Bikes has closeouts on 2019 models.

I carried them both around a bit in the store and the weight difference was ... well, much less significant than the price difference.

So I’ve got a medium D40 on its way to me and should take possession either Wednesday or Thursday.

Almost all the parts are standard kit, and Mikes Bikes can even build custom wheels should I feel the need for it.

I suspect I’ll probably upgrade the groupset to either DI2 or eTap down the line at a minimum, and it’ll definitely be nice to have hard mounts for racks & guards.

Thankfully, where I’m at the worst weather I have to deal with is rain.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Indeed Mikes Bikes has closeouts on 2019 models.

I carried them both around a bit in the store and the weight difference was ... well, much less significant than the price difference.

So I’ve got a medium D40 on its way to me and should take possession either Wednesday or Thursday.

Almost all the parts are standard kit, and Mikes Bikes can even build custom wheels should I feel the need for it.

I suspect I’ll probably upgrade the groupset to either DI2 or eTap down the line at a minimum, and it’ll definitely be nice to have hard mounts for racks & guards.

Thankfully, where I’m at the worst weather I have to deal with is rain.
Usually just rain here too. We have very mild winters (courtesy of the Gulf Stream) hardly any snow, but we can suffer days of continuous grey clouds. Yes the weight difference is not all that great. However my M20i is now under 25lbs. Changes I've made. Cosmic Carbons, Conti 5000 Tyres, Time Carbon Stem, FSA Nano Carbon Bars, Fizik Aliante Carbon Seat, Time Titan Carbon Pedals, Dura Ace Cassette 12-28 finally ROTOR ULD Chainset (Oval Rings)

Now weighs about the same as my 60's Bob Jackson's 531c road racing bikes.
 

ZJarvis

New Member
Usually just rain here too. We have very mild winters (courtesy of the Gulf Stream) hardly any snow, but we can suffer days of continuous grey clouds. Yes the weight difference is not all that great. However my M20i is now under 25lbs. Changes I've made. Cosmic Carbons, Conti 5000 Tyres, Time Carbon Stem, FSA Nano Carbon Bars, Fizik Aliante Carbon Seat, Time Titan Carbon Pedals, Dura Ace Cassette 12-28 finally ROTOR ULD Chainset (Oval Rings)

Now weighs about the same as my 60's Bob Jackson's 531c road racing bikes.
This has me pondering getting eTap on my Time Instinct bike and moving the wired DI2 over to the Gain (later on though), since my Time is a 2013 model with external cable routing. When they built it, my LBS did a great job doing an elegant DI2 install, but eTap would be even cleaner... And, of course, the Gain has internal routing for the wired setup.

The downside would be new brakes on both bikes and a new DI2 battery, since I had to use an external pack instead of the seatpost variety.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
This has me pondering getting eTap on my Time Instinct bike and moving the wired DI2 over to the Gain (later on though), since my Time is a 2013 model with external cable routing. When they built it, my LBS did a great job doing an elegant DI2 install, but eTap would be even cleaner... And, of course, the Gain has internal routing for the wired setup.

The downside would be new brakes on both bikes and a new DI2 battery, since I had to use an external pack instead of the seatpost variety.
I love Di2, have it on my Domane also. Having said that the Hydro Ultegra Levers are wonderfully massive. You can rest on them all day. I find the latest Di2 lever too small including the Hydro version. Have never used SRAM, but I can confirm Di2 is done very neatly on the M. One thing to check out? Does the D verion have internal fitting for Di2? I don't know if Orbea sell a alloy verion equipped with Di2 as standard?
 

ZJarvis

New Member
I love Di2, have it on my Domane also. Having said that the Hydro Ultegra Levers are wonderfully massive. You can rest on them all day. I find the latest Di2 lever too small including the Hydro version. Have never used SRAM, but I can confirm Di2 is done very neatly on the M. One thing to check out? Does the D verion have internal fitting for Di2? I don't know if Orbea sell a alloy verion equipped with Di2 as standard?
Looks like the alloy frame does not have specific routing for DI2. I think it’s mainly the seat post that needs special consideration there?

I was told by the shop that the 2020 models all come with a new ebike control mechanism, and it’s likely to be retrofittable.

So I guess, when I feel the need to upgrade, the Gain will be the one to the the Sram wireless setup. The annoying bit is that the hydro brakes aren’t compatible — Shimano uses different fluid than Sram does.

Well, this is all for the future. Now I get to anticipate actually getting the bike!
 

Rincon

Active Member
Do you think the cadence problem is endemic to lack of torque sensor or perhaps the hub motor itself (without a special power meter)?
It isn’t a problem. It is a feature. There is no torque sensor. The Gain works with a cadence sensor. It is what it is.
 
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Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Yes, the 2020 Gains have a ANT+ battery, believe they have some kind of built in head unit for certain output readings? Also have seen somewhere? Picture of the top tube controller replicated as an extension on the handlebars.
 

ZJarvis

New Member
You ride 25 miles to sit in a coffee shop?
It seriously beats just walking into my office in terms of staying active!

The exact number is just a side effect of the year I did Team Bike Challenge with my cycling group.

It is/was a team-based, month-long ‘race’.

The year I participated it was for points, and the maximum points you could get was from riding 25+ miles.

My group was short 1 person to fill out the five-person team, so I joined essentially as a domestique to make sure we had maximum possible points every day — which meant I found a coffee shop 25 miles away and used it as an excuse to work on my novel. I varied routes a bit because doing the same ride every single day does get a bit old, and some days I got in more miles.

We had 2 folks doing 100 miles a day for the entire month.

The contest tracked miles too, but didn’t record anything over a hundred and only scored up to 25.

At the end of the month, we won by a margin of double over our nearest competitor, and the next year they changed all the rules.

I liked the coffee shop enough to just keep riding there!