What Criteria Should I use for Selecting a Ebike?

locator 3

New Member
Hi I'm planing to purchase an e-bike. My problem is that I am trying to figure out which aspects or features of an e-bike are most important and how to prioritize them. I live in Salt Lake City Utah, which is in a valley with relatively flat terrain in the north-south direction and foothills and mountains in the east-west direction. I'm mostly going to be heading in the north south direction however once a month I'll be going to Utah University for a meeting and the campus is very hilly. Once a week on Tuesdays, I attend a writers meet up in the evening in Lehi UT, which is about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. I can take a train for most of the trip but want to use the bike to get to and from the train station. The problem is, to get to the meet, I must bike up a steep incline and use a pedestrian walkway to crosses over a freeway. Because of the train and walkway do I need folding capability? Also the meeting ends at about 9:00 at night and I am nervous about riding the bike after dark. There may be times that I need to take the bike along with me when I get a ride in someones car. Overall I'm not sure what the bike should and shouldn't do, specifically, what features I need on the e-bike. Here's a list of models I'm considering:

2019 Ariel Rider C-Class
2019 Rad Power RadCity Step-Thru
2019 Rad Power Rad Mini
Post June 2019 Voltbike Elegant
Magnum Metro
Magnum Ui6
Surface 604 Rook
Sondors Step
Ride Scoosy Veego Fat Tire
Various BagiBike

Do any of you have any comments, tips, or suggestion? Your input would be greatly appreciated.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
Hello, I own a few bikes but none of the ones you're interested in so I can't offer much help. The first thing I would consider is fit, test ride all the bikes you can, if the bike isn't comfortable you won't ride it. I would consider batteries and range, lots of first time purchasers don't consider range. Read all you can on this and other forums, there is a lot to learn about eBikes. Also lots on utube, you'll get a lot of help on here, good luck.
 

MesquiteTim

New Member
Pick a bike that fits your mission. I have hills to climb and wanted full suspension for comfort. I also wanted to pick a folded bike to take along in my RV once in awhile.

I chose the Fat Bear. I chose it over the Rad Mini and a couple of other folding bikes because I also like the stealth aspect of the battery inside the frame of the Fat Bear.
 

FlatSix911

Active Member
What Cirtera Should I use for Selecting a Ebike?
Do any of you have any comments, tips, or suggestion? Your input would be greatly appreciated.
You may want to edit your Subject line... ;)

 

locator 3

New Member
Hello, I own a few bikes but none of the ones you're interested in so I can't offer much help. The first thing I would consider is fit, test ride all the bikes you can, if the bike isn't comfortable you won't ride it. I would consider batteries and range, lots of first time purchasers don't consider range. Read all you can on this and other forums, there is a lot to learn about eBikes. Also lots on utube, you'll get a lot of help on here, good luck.
Well the only ones that I can try out are the Magnum's and the Bagibikes the rest are all online or in the case of Rad Power the model I'd prefer isn't available in Salt Lake. So Feliz what should I do for those models that I can't test ride?
 

locator 3

New Member
Pick a bike that fits your mission. I have hills to climb and wanted full suspension for comfort. I also wanted to pick a folded bike to take along in my RV once in awhile.

I chose the Fat Bear. I chose it over the Rad Mini and a couple of other folding bikes because I also like the stealth aspect of the battery inside the frame of the Fat Bear.
Perhaps, I excluded it because of a lack of fenders and a rack. Unless, do you have both of those on your bike if so what brands did you use?
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Some other thoughts to consider:

It's always best to deal with a LBS to handle parts & warranty work. Talk with as many employees as you can. They can offer a wealth of information.

Considering the investment you're considering, it would be worth driving, even to another state, to test ride a bike. If you find one you like, check with your LBS to see if they can order it for you.

If you are handy with tools and comfortable working on a bike, an online purchase shouldn't be ruled out. This is especially true if the manufacturer is willing to ship warranty repair parts directly to you.

From your description, it seems like a folding bike would be your best bet. Consider folded size, weight and range per charge to make sure these will fit your requirements. A folding bike won't do you much good if you can't carry it far enough, ride it far enough or fit it in the trunk of a friends car.

Can you store the bike securely at home and work? Can you charge your battery at work? Locks and extra batteries might also be considerations.

How long and steep are the hills you need to negotiate? Ebikes aren't serious mountain bikes, especially folding models. Steep hills consume a lot of battery and motors can overheat from prolonged stress.

How much weight do you need to carry? Will you need a bike bag or panniers? If so, will they mount on the bike. A backpack is always an option.

I have yet to see a bike with an OEM installed light that is bright enough or safe enough to use on city streets at night. Popper lighting can be addressed separately.

Good luck with your search. I know it can be a confusing & daunting task. You've come to the right place though and don't be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly they may seem.

BTW:

You might want to add the Pedego Latch to your list.


There is a Pedego dealer in Salt Lake at 1095 S. State St.
 
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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Regarding priorities, I think the first call needs to be who is the one that's going to be getting their hands dirty when the bike needs maintenance or attention (for whatever reason). If this person isn't you, then your available choices has just been cut significantly as you are now able to consider only bikes available locally - UNLESS - you do your homework and find a local shop willing to work on an e-bike they didn't sell.

From there, I can only add that when you said "hills" my experience would say you can eliminate direct drive hubs. Pretty sure there's a gear drive of some sort in your future.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I think that all the bikes you listed are bikes with rear hubs. Most people consider mid drive bikes to be better suited to riding in hilly areas. They have better climbing ability as they use the bikes drive train to leverage their power along with the rider's efforts. In July on an 80 degree day, I rode up a 4,000 climb on Mt. Baker in 12 miles with a Bosch mid drive bike. The motor never got even warm to the touch. I think you would be wise to broaden your list to include mid drive bikes without a throttle. They will be more dependable hill climbers.

I concur with the other posters that an honest self assessment as to your ability, time and willingness to be your own mechanic is the first priority. I am a good mechanic and like to tinker with my bikes. I still take them into the shop to do higher level repairs and jobs I just don't want to tackle. Buying a bike from a local shop will cost more than buying one on line or from Costco or Walmart. Having someone in who's interest it is to keep your bike running and you on the road is worth quite a bit. Also they will give you advice and the opportunity to test ride before you buy. How much will you be saving if you buy a bike on line without riding it first, only to learn that you don't really like the way it rides or it is a poor fit?

Review sites can provide a wealth of good data, but they are no substitute for hands on, test riding and should only be regarded as a valuable source of info supplemental to test riding.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Since you will be riding at night get an ebike with lights that run off the ebike battery, as you will be carrying it on a train and in someone else's car you need it to fold, @6zfshdb makes a good point about buying from a local bike shop to have continued support, and @Alaskan mentioned the benefit of a mid-drive for hill climbing, I suggest you test ride a Tern folding ebike from Bingham Cyclery in Salt Lake City.
 
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locator 3

New Member
Some other thoughts to consider:

It's always best to deal with a LBS to handle parts & warranty work. Talk with as many employees as you can. They can offer a wealth of information.

Considering the investment you're considering, it would be worth driving, even to another state, to test ride a bike. If you find one you like, check with your LBS to see if they can order it for you.

If you are handy with tools and comfortable working on a bike, an online purchase shouldn't be ruled out. This is especially true if the manufacturer is willing to ship warranty repair parts directly to you.

From your description, it seems like a folding bike would be your best bet. Consider folded size, weight and range per charge to make sure these will fit your requirements. A folding bike won't do you much good if you can't carry it far enough, ride it far enough or fit it in the trunk of a friends car.

Can you store the bike securely at home and work? Can you charge your battery at work? Locks and extra batteries might also be considerations.

How long and steep are the hills you need to negotiate? Ebikes aren't serious mountain bikes, especially folding models. Steep hills consume a lot of battery and motors can overheat from prolonged stress.

How much weight do you need to carry? Will you need a bike bag or panniers? If so, will they mount on the bike. A backpack is always an option.

I have yet to see a bike with an OEM installed light that is bright enough or safe enough to use on city streets at night. Popper lighting can be addressed separately.

Good luck with your search. I know it can be a confusing & daunting task. You've come to the right place though and don't be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly they may seem.
Thank you for your advice 6zfshdb, locally I can find Magnum and Bagibike brands in Salt Lake. Tool wise I don't have any specific to bikes in general yet but I do plan on getting a multi-tool, portable pump and patch kit. Which should be enough for adjusting handle bar angle and mechanical disc brakes. For other tools like a stand I probably don't need one as I plan on using year round, also I just checked the Lehi route and the elevation change is 253 ft over 1.9 miles how step is that admittedly it isn't a straight line that just following the roads and does have flat sections which has a average grade of 2.5% ,if i did my math correctly, over paved road. Panniers wises I'd like to carry my locks on one side and my bag on the other side to balance out the weight. Work wise there ok with me bring it in side and charging the battery. light wise I'll have to look into it
 
I think that all the bikes you listed are bikes with rear hubs. Most people consider mid drive bikes to be better suited to riding in hilly areas.
I am pretty sure hub motors should be able to handle the hills near the University of Utah. Taking the bike into the mountains and canyons surrounding Salt Lake City, if desired, might be another story.

As many have already said, try before you buy. I tried a number of bikes before I bought mine, and even rented my top two contenders for 3 days each to test them out in my commute and general riding. Both bike stores I rented from would apply the rent towards a purchace. It is possible that stores in SLC may do likewise.
 

locator 3

New Member
Regarding priorities, I think the first call needs to be who is the one that's going to be getting their hands dirty when the bike needs maintenance or attention (for whatever reason). If this person isn't you, then your available choices has just been cut significantly as you are now able to consider only bikes available locally - UNLESS - you do your homework and find a local shop willing to work on an e-bike they didn't sell.

From there, I can only add that when you said "hills" my experience would say you can eliminate direct drive hubs. Pretty sure there's a gear drive of some sort in your future.
Good points, the sort of hills I need to work with are 3.2% average over 0.4 miles and 1.5% over 1.9 miles and the hills you worked with are longer than what I have to work with so should I still rule out the Rad?
 

locator 3

New Member
I am pretty sure hub motors should be able to handle the hills near the University of Utah. Taking the bike into the mountains and canyons surrounding Salt Lake City, if desired, might be another story.

As many have already said, try before you buy. I tried a number of bikes before I bought mine, and even rented my top two contenders for 3 days each to test them out in my commute and general riding. Both bike stores I rented from would apply the rent towards a purchace. It is possible that stores in SLC may do likewise.
Ok, so would that tax a Direct Drive motor? Like those found on the Rad City Step Thru
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Good points, the sort of hills I need to work with are 3.2% average over 0.4 miles and 1.5% over 1.9 miles and the hills you worked with are longer than what I have to work with so should I still rule out the Rad?
The slopes you mention are not extreme. A hub or mid drive would work fine. Not many mid drives have a throttle though so keep that in mind.
 

locator 3

New Member
The slopes you mention are not extreme. A hub or mid drive would work fine. Not many mid drives have a throttle though so keep that in mind.
True, I think the Ariel Rider C-Class is one of the few that do have a throttle. What I'm concerned about is theRad Power Rad City Step Thru direct drive motor wold those inclines be too step for it?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
As one that currently owns an '18 Rad City (with custom modifications), I can say first hand that for ME, the direct drive hub did not work out well. The direct drive supplied by the factory, and the one I replaced it with that was twice that size (1500w), were both replaced by a gear driven hub. That move just transformed the bike for my purposes, AND, I'm getting better battery life as a bonus. A good 25% better! The gear drive doesn't need/use near the power the direct drive did to get the bike moving, or to handle small rises.

It's not just the hills, especially when talking shallow ones. It's about stop and go traffic, crossing busy streets in a hurry, etc. Gear drives flat work better in that environment.

Ideal direct drive environment is more as a commuter, where higher speeds w/less stop and go traffic and level roads are the norm.
 

locator 3

New Member
As one that currently owns an '18 Rad City (with custom modifications), I can say first hand that for ME, the direct drive hub did not work out well. The direct drive supplied by the factory, and the one I replaced it with that was twice that size (1500w), were both replaced by a gear driven hub. That move just transformed the bike for my purposes, AND, I'm getting better battery life as a bonus. A good 25% better! The gear drive doesn't need/use near the power the direct drive did to get the bike moving, or to handle small rises.

It's not just the hills, especially when talking shallow ones. It's about stop and go traffic, crossing busy streets in a hurry, etc. Gear drives flat work better in that environment.

Ideal direct drive environment is more as a commuter, where higher speeds w/less stop and go traffic and level roads are the norm.
I see, that was one of my concerns with the Rad City Step Thru is it's motor ,that it will only be efficient at speed, with minimal stops. The thing is I'm not sure how often traffic is stop and go in the valley. So how often is to often?
 
Ok, so would that tax a Direct Drive motor? Like those found on the Rad City Step Thru
The RadCity motor has 40Nm of torque. You can calculate the slope it could drive by itself:
Force = Torque / tire_diameter / pi = 40Nm / 0.7m = 57N
Slope = Force / mass / g * 100% = 57N / 100kg / 9.8m/s^2 * 100% = 5.8%
Speed = Power / Force = 400W / 57N = 7.0m/s = 25km/hr = 16mph

I chose 100kg weight somewhat arbitrarily. Add up your and the bike's weight. With that weight, the motor should be able to drive up a 5.8% slope, or steeper if you are pedaling.

I chose 400W of power because RAD doesn't recommend using more than 500W of power for a long time and the motor won't be more than 80% efficient. It will be less efficient at lower speeds. (I might be a little bit optimistic with the speed. Even so, it should still do a decent clip at that slope.

The OP reported 1.5-3.2% hills, so the Rad City should be able to handle them.

Finally, Rad City's range should be decent due to the large battery. Electricbikereport.com does a standardized range test. You can see the Rad City's result at https://electricbikereport.com/rad-power-bikes-radcity-electric-bike-review-part-2-ride-range-test-video/. Its 40 mile range (at max assist) is longer than any of the other 14 bikes I looked at in that web site.

So, I expect the Rad city to do fine for the OP's hills, although it won't fold and is rather heavy (so I am not sure it meets all of his requirements). Also, it probably wouldn't be a the best bike to take into the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City due to the greater slopes and longer distances.

Edit: BTW - These calculations are probably optimistic as the motor torque would only be 40mn at zero speed (although it should be near it at low speeds) and maximum assist levels. The speed calculation would be especially optimistic. On the other hand, I tested out the Rad City in Seattle and rode up a slope near their shop that appears to be about a 5% slope in PAS 3 (out of 5) without too much effort and at a good (>10mph) speed. So I still believe the bike would work well for SLC's hills, but not the mountains.
 
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