Looking for a super light ebike for hilly commute

charly

New Member
Well JRA, that is one of the points of this post actually and I couldn't agree more. Although while the extra power will compensate the extra weight, in terms of overall output of rider+motor, and overall power2weight ratio, it might be more efficient to have a lighter bike and a smaller engine (my theory). Also, a lighter bike is more agile, will start faster, and be more "carryable"
I'm eager to try honestly and I'll make sure to report back ;-)
 

Bruce Arnold

Well-Known Member
I've seen a video in which they claim a bike weight of 13 or 14Kg, which seems ok but a bit on the heavy side for a full carbon frame. My gut feeling is it is lighter than that. I agree it's odd the weight it not really mentioned or put forward more.

I wouldn't worry about the carbon frame, pro cyclist push out way more power and can average 350W over longer periods of time (with peaks during sprints way over 800W) on even lighter pure carbon frames. I would say these guys and girls are pretty good at stressing bike frames and I haven't seen one break on a sprint or in a velodrome yet ;-) Actually, carbon is incredibly rigid, much more than aluminium, therefore in the end a much better choice.

The reason why carbon is not so popular with city bikes is the price, and fragility (can't really bend it back straight once broken lol)
Pro cyclists change frames like I change socks. A carbon fiber frame is unlikely to fail in that amount of time. Most of us plan for our bikes to last for several years at least. Repetitive stress and flexing, especially at ebike levels of power, will over time cause the flaws in any frame, regardless of material, to fail. But carbon fiber fails spectacularly when it goes.

But heck, I know they can sell 'em, and I'm not saying they shouldn't. I'm just saying that for the average Joe or Jane, it might not be the best choice for an ebike. For my money, an aluminum frame gives a good trade-off between cost, strength, and lightness.
 

charly

New Member
So there we go. In the end I purchased the Orbea Gain F40, the base model, for 2000$. While tempting the BMC was just too expensive for a commuter bike and I already had bikes stolen so did not want to run that risk.

I must say this is exactly what I was looking for. I must also say it is for a very specific crowd of people :) Clearly it is not an e-bike like the mid-drive and stromer powerhouses, but an electric assist. Thb it can feel a tad underpowered. You will break a sweat on steep climbs. You won't be powering down avenues at 45kmh. Overall you will have to pedal harder than on an e-bike.

Rather it feels like having a strong backwind, or a small helping hand climbing moderate hills. So for regular cyclist it's a breeze.

And to me that's the beauty of it. It feels and looks like a real bike. The lightweight (ok, not so light in comparison to real bikes at 14kg) makes it more agile, quicker to stop, and you can actually jump curbs.

Overall the construction is solid and very well thought through. With the Riese and Muller I had the impression some guys who never built a bike just trew a bunch of components on a weirdly shaped frame trying to look like an 80s racer. Orbea is a top brand with actual bike-building experience, and it shows. The geometry is perfect (to me). The carbon fork works much better than a suspension fork (which is utter stupid unless you're bombing downhill in the forest). The components, basic Shimano Altus, simply do their job. I felt immediately comfortable on the saddle, with the grips, and the pedals. The higher end model comes with brooks C17 saddle and grips, which I have in reserve and I honestly cannot recommend - they look nice but are ergonomically painful (the grips) and destroy your pants (the saddle). Only the handlebar seems too wide for me (640mm), so I might shorten it.

I have some quite steep hills to go gome. 250W is sufficient for even the 20% sections, but it remains quite an effort. This is because the base model is a single 42t chainring with a 9sp 11-36 cassette, so I always feel I'm in one gear to high. The great news is that because it is built like a regular bike, you can change anything to your liking! I mean Orbea sell 3 differents models in 3 componentry levels from the exact same frame! So I am going to change for a deore 10sp and Sunrace 11-42 cassette soon (which is the spec on the higher-end commuter model).

Brakes are good enough though on my steep descents, might need stronger ones, or more durable pads. Time will tell.

The operation of the electric engine is as simple as it gets: a button to turn it on, double click to select the assistance and that's it. No screen. Just ride. The engine is a million times more silent that a mid-drive, you hear a small hum when no cars are around. It cuts off at 25kmh but very smoothly. Smoothly because there is significant lag! Good to know when stopping hard. Being a rear-hub drive, there is no cutoff when shifting gears which is, to me, much better - with the mid-drive I had had the impression of driving an automatic car, with micro-stops whenever I was shifting (and I shift a lot to remain in a comfortable cadence).

Being limited to 25kmh is to me not really a problem. 30 kmh would be great, but the bike is light, and with minimal effort you can cruise at 27-28kmh. 25kmh also means I need no plate, no registration fee, no insurance...

Finally the battery has, for now, the exact same range as on my previous bike. It goes to 50% after 2 days with 30km including 15km of hard hill climb.

Oh and it has great minimalistic looks... of course with the battery in the downtube, internal cable-routing, and discrete colour scheme in the grey/black version (the one I have).

The downside is Orbea is a victim of its success. The bikes are impossible to get! Which is understandable given the incredible value for money of these bikes, in any model of the range. They must have realised this as the 2019 models are all 200$ more expensive. I was extremely lucky as my dealer sold me the bike he had ordered for himself... People are buying them off without even trying them (well, like me almost), and Orbea, or rather their engine manufacturer (Ebikemotion) can't keep up. One must say also there is a lot of expectation-building on their side: an additional battery pack is shown as an option but not available, and my dealer had no idea nor instructions on how to change the battery, add a battery-powered light (all of which is 'mentioned' in the online instructions). I also think it is weak to charge for the maps in the app which connects to the bike (as a result I don't use it). Oh and the app is still a work in development. The additional battery though seems an interesting option - according to my dealer it adds 250W power for a total of 500W... interesting if it were available for sale!

Unfortunately this unavailability also means there is no way to properly try out this bike before you buy it (unless you're lucky). And as mentioned it is for a specific group of persons. I would not recommend it to people who look for a powerful assist to ride without sweat. But I would definitely recommend it if you cycle to work regularly and want to make it a little easier, or if you have like me some steep hills to pass but do not want to pass on the exercise too much. And at 14kg it is actually usable without the assist. For pure sports cyclists I do not see the point, as the bike is too heavy for that purpose. Unless you are totally out of shape, or losing shape due to advanced age (in which case, it's a great option!).

In a nutshell: great bike for enthusiast cyclists who wish a helping hand on hills. It is an electric-assist rather than an e-bike, certainly less powerful, but looks like a real bike and for its intended use it is _sufficiently_ powered. The killer points are its low weight of 14kg and *wow* low price, especially on the base model. For now, I'm really happy.
 

Mtbross

New Member
So there we go. In the end I purchased the Orbea Gain F40, the base model, for 2000$. While tempting the BMC was just too expensive for a commuter bike and I already had bikes stolen so did not want to run that risk.

I must say this is exactly what I was looking for. I must also say it is for a very specific crowd of people :) Clearly it is not an e-bike like the mid-drive and stromer powerhouses, but an electric assist. Thb it can feel a tad underpowered. You will break a sweat on steep climbs. You won't be powering down avenues at 45kmh. Overall you will have to pedal harder than on an e-bike.

Rather it feels like having a strong backwind, or a small helping hand climbing moderate hills. So for regular cyclist it's a breeze.

And to me that's the beauty of it. It feels and looks like a real bike. The lightweight (ok, not so light in comparison to real bikes at 14kg) makes it more agile, quicker to stop, and you can actually jump curbs.

Overall the construction is solid and very well thought through. With the Riese and Muller I had the impression some guys who never built a bike just trew a bunch of components on a weirdly shaped frame trying to look like an 80s racer. Orbea is a top brand with actual bike-building experience, and it shows. The geometry is perfect (to me). The carbon fork works much better than a suspension fork (which is utter stupid unless you're bombing downhill in the forest). The components, basic Shimano Altus, simply do their job. I felt immediately comfortable on the saddle, with the grips, and the pedals. The higher end model comes with brooks C17 saddle and grips, which I have in reserve and I honestly cannot recommend - they look nice but are ergonomically painful (the grips) and destroy your pants (the saddle). Only the handlebar seems too wide for me (640mm), so I might shorten it.

I have some quite steep hills to go gome. 250W is sufficient for even the 20% sections, but it remains quite an effort. This is because the base model is a single 42t chainring with a 9sp 11-36 cassette, so I always feel I'm in one gear to high. The great news is that because it is built like a regular bike, you can change anything to your liking! I mean Orbea sell 3 differents models in 3 componentry levels from the exact same frame! So I am going to change for a deore 10sp and Sunrace 11-42 cassette soon (which is the spec on the higher-end commuter model).

Brakes are good enough though on my steep descents, might need stronger ones, or more durable pads. Time will tell.

The operation of the electric engine is as simple as it gets: a button to turn it on, double click to select the assistance and that's it. No screen. Just ride. The engine is a million times more silent that a mid-drive, you hear a small hum when no cars are around. It cuts off at 25kmh but very smoothly. Smoothly because there is significant lag! Good to know when stopping hard. Being a rear-hub drive, there is no cutoff when shifting gears which is, to me, much better - with the mid-drive I had had the impression of driving an automatic car, with micro-stops whenever I was shifting (and I shift a lot to remain in a comfortable cadence).

Being limited to 25kmh is to me not really a problem. 30 kmh would be great, but the bike is light, and with minimal effort you can cruise at 27-28kmh. 25kmh also means I need no plate, no registration fee, no insurance...

Finally the battery has, for now, the exact same range as on my previous bike. It goes to 50% after 2 days with 30km including 15km of hard hill climb.

Oh and it has great minimalistic looks... of course with the battery in the downtube, internal cable-routing, and discrete colour scheme in the grey/black version (the one I have).

The downside is Orbea is a victim of its success. The bikes are impossible to get! Which is understandable given the incredible value for money of these bikes, in any model of the range. They must have realised this as the 2019 models are all 200$ more expensive. I was extremely lucky as my dealer sold me the bike he had ordered for himself... People are buying them off without even trying them (well, like me almost), and Orbea, or rather their engine manufacturer (Ebikemotion) can't keep up. One must say also there is a lot of expectation-building on their side: an additional battery pack is shown as an option but not available, and my dealer had no idea nor instructions on how to change the battery, add a battery-powered light (all of which is 'mentioned' in the online instructions). I also think it is weak to charge for the maps in the app which connects to the bike (as a result I don't use it). Oh and the app is still a work in development. The additional battery though seems an interesting option - according to my dealer it adds 250W power for a total of 500W... interesting if it were available for sale!

Unfortunately this unavailability also means there is no way to properly try out this bike before you buy it (unless you're lucky). And as mentioned it is for a specific group of persons. I would not recommend it to people who look for a powerful assist to ride without sweat. But I would definitely recommend it if you cycle to work regularly and want to make it a little easier, or if you have like me some steep hills to pass but do not want to pass on the exercise too much. And at 14kg it is actually usable without the assist. For pure sports cyclists I do not see the point, as the bike is too heavy for that purpose. Unless you are totally out of shape, or losing shape due to advanced age (in which case, it's a great option!).

In a nutshell: great bike for enthusiast cyclists who wish a helping hand on hills. It is an electric-assist rather than an e-bike, certainly less powerful, but looks like a real bike and for its intended use it is _sufficiently_ powered. The killer points are its low weight of 14kg and *wow* low price, especially on the base model. For now, I'm really happy.
Thanks for this review. I have the 2018 Giant Road-E+ and in the US get that max assist of 28mph which is helpful in strong winds, but for climbing, I don't use that because I ride for exercise. I definitely have my eye on the new 2019 Gain models, and may be selling the Giant to get one at some point. Soon as I read your first post I was thinking Orbea all the way. Glad you made a good choice for yourself. Happy commuting.
 

Bruce Arnold

Well-Known Member
I don't get the distinction between "electric assist" and "ebike." All ebikes are electric assist. Do you mean "no throttle?" Not trying to be picky, just really not sure what you mean.
 

larry-new

Active Member
The Rad Power City,while not being light, has a "walk" mode of power assist, to be used while pushing the bike. Might be helpful for stairs.
 

larry-new

Active Member
I have a cube touring hybrid Exc 500 with a Bosch Cx 500 watt battery Diore xt plus 11 speed. I changed out the front 15 tooth sprocket for a 17 tooth, and changed out the original 11-42 cassette for a 11-46 . Out of the box weight is 23.6kg, made heavier by locks, tire kits, water bottle, etc. It is speed limited at 32 kmph but climbs up the hill to our house like a mountain goat and only goes into the 11 tooth gear at 42 kmph going down hill.

I think your lightweight requirement is in conflict with an ebike that has enough torque to climb steep hill and is built strongly enough to support and stand up to both the speed and torque over the long term and give the knid of stable , safe ride you want at those speeds.

Speed - Strength - Light-Weight...you can have any two but not all three.
Yes, light weight is counterproductive to strength...think of a tandem, with two inputs into only two wheels!

I find myself in Pas1 constantly, upping it in response to grades, wind or fatigue. I consider Pas 1 the equalizer for the extra weight.
 

Frasee

New Member
I don't get the distinction between "electric assist" and "ebike." All ebikes are electric assist. Do you mean "no throttle?" Not trying to be picky, just really not sure what you mean.
He means that its designed to assist a cyclist not replace a cyclist. With the gain you still have to peddle but with heavier more powerful hub based ebikes i presume peddling is optional.

To give you an analogy riding the gain is like having a strong tail wind it takes the hard work oit of cycling.