Commuter / all around-er choice

jjoyce

New Member
Hi All -
thanks for all the advice posted previously - have learned a lot from this forum!

i am looking to get back into bike commuting after a few years off the bike. would ideally like to use the bike for some light off roading (gravel, fire roads, etc) at some point, but that's hypothetical. maybe even carry a kid on the back, but that's even more hypothetical (3yo is not the adventurous type and the 3 month old is not down for that either!)

anyway - when i started looking, i thought a budget of $2k was sufficient, but have been slowly convinced into looking for the best value and been willing to explore bikes up to $5k (bad idea, i know)

the commute is 7 miles each way, paved. a steep hill at the work end (choice between 7.5% hill for 0.5 miles or 6% hill for 1 mile) and a long, less steep hill to get home (3.5% for 1.5 miles). this is in seattle, and i would ride all year. i would probably ride in eco mode for the most part except if i was in a hurry or going up those hills

so far i have ridden several brands and models and all feel pretty good, but for $3-5k, i'm trying to make a good choice - any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Specialized Vado - liked the smoothness of the 1.2 and 1.3 brose motors. components on the 5.0 felt nicer than the 3.0 would probably change out the seat for something more comfortable. some slightly negative reviews around here re: broken spokes and the computer. already comes in at >$5k

Raleigh redux iE - most similar to my current (regular) bike, so felt easy to jump on. not sure i want a bike that is positioned quite so far forward. also whether a front shock would make the experience better

Riese & Muller - Nevo or Charger - clearly well made and solid bikes. i didnt really get into the way the Vario nor the Rohloff hubs shifted - just felt too unfamiliar, i guess. i do like the idea of less maintenance than a derailleur (& greater durability?), but not sure it's worth the price for me. also, wasnt sure how these 2 models differ and whether the Nevo could take any light duty off road action. also, obviously, the most expensive

Bulls urban Evo or cross mover - also very smooth riding and seems well built. some people on the form seem to have had issues getting Bulls issues resolved.

I intended to try out a Haibike but the local shop does not currently have any in the right size and they say Haibike is consolidating their lineup
i didnt like the Giant Quick E+ as much - the feel of the motor and bike as a whole wasnt quite as smooth as the specialized

thanks for any thoughts!
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
In Washington state you have a lot of selection available from local shops. I'm sure you can decide between these models. Off road on decent trails, a 1.75" or 2" diameter tire helps smooth out the gravel and ridges. 26" wheels or bigger with knobby tread also help with climbing over mud ridges etc. Fat tire (3" up) is a current fad but some report the tires are hard to get off to change the tube. I'd invest in fat tire only for sandy beaches or powder snow.
Off road is where a suspension starts to really help, but at a high purchase price. Also suspension parts may not be available after a few years on most models, requiring a new bike when they sag down. I don't see suspension cylinders or spring cylinders in the bike parts websites. So you are back to the OEM - will they still be in business? will they still support that model? Millions of bosch mid drive riders got *****ed when they obsoleted their first model motors with no conversion bracket available.
If carrying a kid or 30 lb of anything on the back, a stretch frame like I have (left) really helps with keeping weight on the front tire for steering capability. Yuba & maybe others have rear rack for dual child car seats , and for older kids a padded shelf, footsteps, and auxillary handlebars for them. Also the rear wheel is covered to prevent finger injury from the spokes. My $1900 aluminum bodaboda is lighter than the $100 Pacific MTB it replaced, and has better shifters & brakes. I've had MTB (Pacific & Diamondback) and cruiser (Huffy, AMF) throw me over the handlebars on my chin 5 times with cargo or even empty rear baskets with only tire tools. The front wheel whips sideways out of my hands on ridges, pavement separators, speed bumps, gravel, a branch. Your hands might be stronger, but I'm a wood piano player, not exactly a weakling in the hands. See the cargo bike category below, these are not usually stocked in bike shops.
Serious kid haulers have a bin low in front of the rider, but really cost a lot due to the chain driven steering, and have a bad disadvantage of drag in a high wind IMHO.
BTW I e-converted the bodaboda with a hub motor kit & battery, since I don't like mid drives for unpowered exercise. Now yuba only sells the electric 20" wheel mondo and the front bin electric.
Happy shopping.
 
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mbouck

New Member
If you're willing to look at Bafang mid-drives you have numerous options which are easy to setup in "commuter mode" with minor tweaks. Here's my setup:

 

jjoyce

New Member
If you're willing to look at Bafang mid-drives you have numerous options which are easy to setup in "commuter mode" with minor tweaks. Here's my setup:

Thanks - i got lost down the internet-rabbit-hole of ebikes for a while and decided that i had *too* many choices, but somehow i didnt dig into these guys (biktrix)

who else has a Bafang mid-drive? any better/different than a Bosch/Brose? i would probably not get a fat tire bike as i dont plan on using it on any soft surfaces
your setup is pretty cool - honestly, i dont think i have the bandwidth to do that much customization on my own rig - probably looking for something that I can just buy & ride. i used to be into modding stuff on my own, but job/kids/other made me recalculate at this point.

indianajo - thanks for the suggestions - i agree w/ you about the fat tire. previously, i poo pooed the extended rack bc i thought it would be a ways off before either of my kids would want to hop on the back, but maybe i'll go back and trial some of these (e.g. multicharger) that have one. carrying stuff/people certainly wont be its main purpose, though. usually if the whole family is all going somewhere together, there's 4 of us with some kind of toy/stroller/crap going along and i dont see us ready to convert to the all bike solution to that. toys being both my toys and the kids stuff :)
 

Dirkdaddy

New Member
Give a glance at Wing bikes and Rad Power. The Wing fatty would do pretty well on gravel and loose terrain, etc. After looking about some I read about the mid-drive systems putting stress on bicycle chains and gears that they were not really designed for, a guy with a Giant mtn bike was having to replace chains every few months and gears every other chain. The price of gear clusters and chain rings, chains can add up at that rate. I understand the advantages and I'd like to have a mid drive but the cost was 2x of the wing. Hub motors are pretty simple and don't stress chains or gears. The weight on back is offset by battery usually on downtube. You don't need to spend a fortune. The tech is also changing rapidly if you drop $4k may be obsolete pretty fast. Just my 2 cents.

Edit see you dont' want a fatty as you don't plan on going offroad. The regular Freedom in my user ID picture is a street bike and an option.
 

FreeWheelie

New Member
I think I'm looking for something all around similar to you OP but in Class 1 so I can go on trails. Narrowing it down to Haibike and Cube. I was looking at Specialized too but the Vado is Class 3, and the Como does not have suspension. Definitely interested in hearing of other options.
 

jjoyce

New Member
Give a glance at Wing bikes and Rad Power. The Wing fatty would do pretty well on gravel and loose terrain, etc. After looking about some I read about the mid-drive systems putting stress on bicycle chains and gears that they were not really designed for, a guy with a Giant mtn bike was having to replace chains every few months and gears every other chain. The price of gear clusters and chain rings, chains can add up at that rate. I understand the advantages and I'd like to have a mid drive but the cost was 2x of the wing. Hub motors are pretty simple and don't stress chains or gears. The weight on back is offset by battery usually on downtube. You don't need to spend a fortune. The tech is also changing rapidly if you drop $4k may be obsolete pretty fast. Just my 2 cents.

Edit see you dont' want a fatty as you don't plan on going offroad. The regular Freedom in my user ID picture is a street bike and an option.
interesting - i like the simplicity of that wing freedom - i will see if my local shop has one to try out

i hear you about the chain/components and longevity of the tech. my thought process was that a quality bike is probably going to cost more up front but last and manufacturers of crappy gear would get enough bad reviews over time. the upgrade and change in model names/numbers of some of the brands bugs me because it seems to unnecessarily (intentionally?) confuse the consumer (vado 6, 5, 4, BLOKS/Mission control; haibike's dozen models) ... it seems like there's a little less of that in some brands, however (R&M)

i only actually started looking at e bikes because i tested a rad rover at a local fair and it was fun- just wasnt sure that could be my daily commuter up a gnarly hill, but maybe i'm wrong about that. i also like to go fast on the flats, so the class 1 cutoff at 20mph annoys me because i'd probably ride at 22-24, so maybe that wing's the thing!
 

mbouck

New Member
interesting - i like the simplicity of that wing freedom - i will see if my local shop has one to try out

i hear you about the chain/components and longevity of the tech. my thought process was that a quality bike is probably going to cost more up front but last and manufacturers of crappy gear would get enough bad reviews over time. the upgrade and change in model names/numbers of some of the brands bugs me because it seems to unnecessarily (intentionally?) confuse the consumer (vado 6, 5, 4, BLOKS/Mission control; haibike's dozen models) ... it seems like there's a little less of that in some brands, however (R&M)

i only actually started looking at e bikes because i tested a rad rover at a local fair and it was fun- just wasnt sure that could be my daily commuter up a gnarly hill, but maybe i'm wrong about that. i also like to go fast on the flats, so the class 1 cutoff at 20mph annoys me because i'd probably ride at 22-24, so maybe that wing's the thing!
A quality mid-drive system doesn't break chains if properly setup and properly used. For mid-drives, make sure there are motor inhibitors on the brakes and, ideally, the gear shifter when purchasing. Upon delivery, ensure the bike is setup correctly (i.e. derailleur alignment, lubed chain, accurate shifting operation, etc.). Apart from that it's about not doing stupid things like laying on the throttle going up-hill in high gear.
 

Toomanycats

Active Member
A quality mid-drive system doesn't break chains if properly setup and properly used. For mid-drives, make sure there are motor inhibitors on the brakes and, ideally, the gear shifter when purchasing. Upon delivery, ensure the bike is setup correctly (i.e. derailleur alignment, lubed chain, accurate shifting operation, etc.). Apart from that it's about not doing stupid things like laying on the throttle going up-hill in high gear.
It’s also about good maintenance and intelligent shifting.i did replace the chain on my mid drive after 6 mos- 1000 miles, but I’m an older lady who rides alone a lot and was just super cautious about not getting stranded.
 

Dirkdaddy

New Member
interesting - i like the simplicity of that wing freedom - i will see if my local shop has one to try out

i hear you about the chain/components and longevity of the tech. my thought process was that a quality bike is probably going to cost more up front but last and manufacturers of crappy gear would get enough bad reviews over time. the upgrade and change in model names/numbers of some of the brands bugs me because it seems to unnecessarily (intentionally?) confuse the consumer (vado 6, 5, 4, BLOKS/Mission control; haibike's dozen models) ... it seems like there's a little less of that in some brands, however (R&M)

i only actually started looking at e bikes because i tested a rad rover at a local fair and it was fun- just wasnt sure that could be my daily commuter up a gnarly hill, but maybe i'm wrong about that. i also like to go fast on the flats, so the class 1 cutoff at 20mph annoys me because i'd probably ride at 22-24, so maybe that wing's the thing!
Probably not unique to Wing, but they give a option for "off road" setting where you can up the top assist speed to the range you're looking for. What are the specs on the gnarly hill? On most ebikes I read about you still have to pedal, and the wing is a fast but you'd still get a workout (just not the type you'd get on a regular bike) going up the major hill you mention. Do you know the specs? I have one right next to my house that's 14% for about .4 miles. I don't actually need to go that way very often but its there if I want a good workout. Wing manual says to keep power at 2 level going up steep hills which is a good bit of assist but not going to be enough if you don't pedal to give your own power. Since we wanted a bike to get exercise not a motorcycle sort of thing its perfect for us. Does it go up hills? Yea, I was on Strava and set a #2 time for a section with a hill climb w/o even trying (just noticed when I got home). I should go back and choose the Ebike setting LOL so I don't piss off some people.
 

Dirkdaddy

New Member
It’s also about good maintenance and intelligent shifting.i did replace the chain on my mid drive after 6 mos- 1000 miles, but I’m an older lady who rides alone a lot and was just super cautious about not getting stranded.
I don't personally know the guy, but it was a mountain bike designed for serious off road and sounded like he was doing a lot of climbing in those lower gears grunting it out. I have a full suspension $3k mountain bike just not the legs I used to, but I can tell y'all dirt trails can have a lot steeper stuff than 99% of roads and the strain on the drivetrain was probably much greater than spinning on a commute. The mid-drive belt drive package appeals to me but its not widely used combination ...yet. Hub motors are simplest solution and that's why the Wing (and Rad to name another) is < $1500 pretty well equipped. I just don't like the cable pull disk brakes and want to upgrade to hydraulic.
 

jjoyce

New Member
Probably not unique to Wing, but they give a option for "off road" setting where you can up the top assist speed to the range you're looking for. What are the specs on the gnarly hill? On most ebikes I read about you still have to pedal, and the wing is a fast but you'd still get a workout (just not the type you'd get on a regular bike) going up the major hill you mention. Do you know the specs? I have one right next to my house that's 14% for about .4 miles. I don't actually need to go that way very often but its there if I want a good workout. Wing manual says to keep power at 2 level going up steep hills which is a good bit of assist but not going to be enough if you don't pedal to give your own power. Since we wanted a bike to get exercise not a motorcycle sort of thing its perfect for us. Does it go up hills? Yea, I was on Strava and set a #2 time for a section with a hill climb w/o even trying (just noticed when I got home). I should go back and choose the Ebike setting LOL so I don't piss off some people.
ha - i'm sure you set a new bar for the strava competitive type!

yea, i was intrigued by the wing's ability to turn off the assist limitation speed (or at least boost it a little).
i fully intend to use it as a powered bicycle, rather than an occasionally-pedeled motorcycle - i'm just acknowledging my physical limitations that i can't ride 7 miles each way and still do a job where i spent 75% of the time on my feet for 12 hours / day. of course i'd get in shape eventually, but i dont want to burn myself out - i'd rather enjoy the ride, get more outside time and exercise and get one more car off the road. i should also mention that i'd probably be carrying a backpack with laptop, change of clothes and other odds n ends in it. sadly i used to be able to do this 5 years ago before a knee injury and 2 kids, but life happens

anyway - specs for the hills are: on the way there: 6% grade up a busy road for 1 mile or 5% grade x1.5 miles. the way home is way more reasonable (3.5% x2 miles). when i was on a regular bike, i used to do the steeper one just because it was shorter, i liked the workout and i would hit a red light every 2-3 blocks so i got a little rest built in :)
[ Edit - i just looked up the route on a biking blog - apparently there's a stretch of that street that is 10% grade, so 6% is the average]
 

Dirkdaddy

New Member
While the hills you mention are not insignificant, that's what makes these Ebikes so nice you can breeze up them. I doubt you have any battery limitations on this short of a ride even with hills. Even on the smaller battery I am guessing, but doesn't hurt to have a bit extra amps/hr.

We have put a rear rack on (wing specific but average price) and wife bought pannier bag so she didn't have to ride with her laptop and clothes etc on her back.

These are "one size fits all" sort of M/L kind of frame FYI.

I"m over 50 and like to drink IPA, cook good food and like to eat...used to stay thin but now have a little gut I'm trying to work off and need to get muscles back in shape. I was getting winded easily, then doc said I have HBP -- so fitness goes away fast at my age you don't have to tell me about it LOL. Wife has similar issues but I'm being supportive, I bought her the bike! She's trying to make it regular thing.
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
The mid drive and short chain life has to be directly related to how you ride and how you maintain. In my opinion, it's a myth most often passed on by those who don't ride a mid drive. Same folks like to insist on having a throttle because chains snap. I've ridden 8,000 miles in 3 1/2 years, have yet to have a chain snap. I have two 2016 speed version Haibikes with Bosch. One Mtb, one Trekking. I replaced my chains at 2,500 miles. The chain gage just started dropping in. Still on original cassettes and brake pads.
 

jjoyce

New Member
The mid drive and short chain life has to be directly related to how you ride and how you maintain. In my opinion, it's a myth most often passed on by those who don't ride a mid drive. Same folks like to insist on having a throttle because chains snap. I've ridden 8,000 miles in 3 1/2 years, have yet to have a chain snap. I have two 2016 speed version Haibikes with Bosch. One Mtb, one Trekking. I replaced my chains at 2,500 miles. The chain gage just started dropping in. Still on original cassettes and brake pads.
Thanks rich - that's reassuring to hear ...
i only ever broke on MTB chain in my 30 years of riding bikes and that was on a bike that i did not maintain well (and was probably cheap!)
 

Svaldes

New Member
I recently had the same decision to make and did not want to spend more than $1,500 because the technology is changing rapidly - I figured in three years it might be time for a new bike. After much review I went with Juiced Bike rip current ($1,700 got me 750W motor, 52V battery, hydraulic brakes) and so far I love the bike. No quality issues, have been riding it daily.

Good luck on your hunt,