Advice needed: Injured Athlete Looking for an Electric Road or Gravel Bike

RoJack

New Member
Region
USA
I'm a former college athlete who switched into triathlons, cycling, and running once I graduated. After years of injuries, my knee just can't handle long rides with a ton of hills anymore. I moved to the Bay Area and live by some of the country's best cycling, but it's super hilly (lots of 10%). I have't really gotten to explore and can't do something I love. I had recently learned about the existence of electric road bikes through a friend who got a specialized electric S-works and let me ride it. It was incredible. I really want to get an electric road or gravel bike to open up riding to me again. But I certainly can't afford an S-works, and even the cheapest of the specialized line is still pretty steep. I have been doing as much research as I can about options that might be a bit more affordable but still a solid, good road bike with a decent motor and staying power. I'm willing to shell out for the bottom of the line Specialized turbo Creo but would love to find something at a lower price point if the quality is still solid. I'd be super grateful for any guidance or advice as I figure this out. I'm so excited at the idea of getting back out there.
 
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mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
did you try the creo on a tough climb? I assume your cardiovascular health is excellent, but climbing (10% +) on an e-bike with a small motor like the creo still requires a lot of rider power. is the knee issue exacerbated by being out of the saddle, high cadence, high torque/power, or just time?

most of the bikes in the “well integrated fairly light road bike with drop bar” category are:

turbo creo sl
cannondale synapse
bulls grinder, alpine hawk, etc
giant road e+
niner RLT 9 e9
scott addict eRide
canondale topstone and synapse neo
orbea gain
trek domane+

the range of weight for these bikes is 24lb (scott) to over 40lb. I’m in a vaguely similar situation as you, a former athlete slowed down by health issues (in my case, heart) and I ride only in the Bay Area, up and down all her hills. I prioritized the most natural feel, flexible assist modes, and the lightest weight so that I could do as much of the riding myself and use the motor only when absolutely required.

you’ll find two big categories in the list above, mid-drive and rear hub. some of the lightest bikes uses the mahle x35 rear hub system (orbea, scott) with most of the “big bike“ names going with either custom, Bosch, or Yamaha mid drives. you can get a pretty nice bike for $4-5k if you’re willing to go for something less than top of the line in the components (but still excellent) and possibly an aluminum instead of carbon frame. I’m biased by my own very satisfying experience with the creo, but if you can swing it, go for the least expensive component group available with a carbon frame. you can always upgrade wheels and bars and cassettes and so on. creos are also fairly easy to find these days, which is rare!
 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
Since you mention affordability a DIY Tongsheng tsdz2 torque sensing mid drive is something to consider if you value a natural riding experience and already have a compatible bike. If you somewhat know your way around bicycles mechanically it isn't at all difficult to install for most bikes, with exceptions of course. Some very vocal people who post on this forum are one trick pony types that give strong dogmatic "advice" based on their limited range of experience, motivation and/or ability. I have a road/gravel bike with the Yamaha PW-SE mid drive, two bikes that I installed the Tongsheng mid drives (currently a 700c hybrid and a Dahon Jack 26" folding bike), a geared rear hub conversion bike and a front geared hub conversion bike (my wife's ride). I ride the Tongsheng bikes more than the Yamaha powered one and rarely (almost never) ride the rear hub bike - not because there is anything wrong with it but because I prefer the more natural torque sensing mid drive riding experience. A tongsheng conversion can cost ~$450 for the motor kit, plus battery - so easily far less than $1,000 if you have a compatible bike already. Most people with experience seem to indicate that the tongsheng performance compares favorably to the Yamaha, Bosch and other mid drive options on proprietary mid drive bikes. There are definitely compromises to be made with any ebike, most notable to me is the weight - my Yamaha powered bike weight is 41#, bikes I have installed Tongsheng mid drives have been from 40# to mid 40s. A sub 30# ebike would be awesome if it had adequate assist but, personally, I'm not going to spend car money on a bicycle.
FWIW I live on a mountain, ride frequently on very hilly routes and have ridden up Mt Lemon, around Zion NP including up to the tunnels, done few day tours on hilly routes on my ebikes so, while I don't have experience riding around SF I do ride on more than flat multi use pathways.
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Since you mention affordability a DIY Tongsheng tsdz2 torque sensing mid drive is something to consider if you value a natural riding experience and already have a compatible bike. If you somewhat know your way around bicycles mechanically it isn't at all difficult to install for most bikes, with exceptions of course. Some very vocal people who post on this forum are one trick pony types that give strong dogmatic "advice" based on their limited range of experience, motivation and/or ability. I have a road/gravel bike with the Yamaha PW-SE mid drive, two bikes that I installed the Tongsheng mid drives (currently a 700c hybrid and a Dahon Jack 26" folding bike), a geared rear hub conversion bike and a front geared hub conversion bike (my wife's ride). I ride the Tongsheng bikes more than the Yamaha powered one and rarely (almost never) ride the rear hub bike - not because there is anything wrong with it but because I prefer the more natural torque sensing mid drive riding experience. A tongsheng conversion can cost ~$450 for the motor kit, plus battery - so easily far less than $1,000 if you have a compatible bike already. Most people with experience seem to indicate that the tongsheng performance compares favorably to the Yamaha, Bosch and other mid drive options on proprietary mid drive bikes. There are definitely compromises to be made with any ebike, most notable to me is the weight - my Yamaha powered bike weight is 41#, bikes I have installed Tongsheng mid drives have been from 40# to mid 40s. A sub 30# ebike would be awesome if it had adequate assist but, personally, I'm not going to spend car money on a bicycle.
FWIW I live on a mountain, ride frequently on very hilly routes and have ridden up Mt Lemon, around Zion NP including up to the tunnels, done few day tours on hilly routes on my ebikes so, while I don't have experience riding around SF I do ride on more than flat multi use pathways.

if you like to tinker and have some mechanical experience, i think that's a pretty interesting idea. you could get a very nice and light used road bike (or maybe you have one) and add a motor like the above (which is torque sensing, so a similar "the more you put in the more you get out" kind of feeling) and a very small battery to keep weight down. would be a fun project and it should be possible to do a <30lb bike for well under the price you'd pay for a more fully integrated factory warranty bike.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I am in the North Bay and do these torque sensing conversions for people regularly. When done right they are wonderful to ride. Better than the high-end bikes some of my riding friends have. They are open source like Wiki, Linux, or Firefox, not Apple, and replacement parts are easy to find and not expensive. A part that is $250 and takes twelve weeks for a Specialized, takes four days and costs $17.50 on these bikes. Here are some recent builds. I am working on an old bike now that will blow away and out last the ones from stores. It is subversive fun. One of my buddies had to walk his high-end store bike up a section of Sonoma Mountain wile I rode ahead and waited.
 

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john peck

Well-Known Member
I'm a former college athlete who switched into triathlons, cycling, and running once I graduated. After years of injuries, my knee just can't handle long rides with a ton of hills anymore. I moved to the Bay Area and live by some of the country's best cycling, but it's super hilly (lots of 10%). I have't really gotten to explore and can't do something I love. I had recently learned about the existence of electric road bikes through a friend who got a specialized electric S-works and let me ride it. It was incredible. I really want to get an electric road or gravel bike to open up riding to me again. But I certainly can't afford an S-works, and even the cheapest of the specialized line is still pretty steep. I have been doing as much research as I can about options that might be a bit more affordable but still a solid, good road bike with a decent motor and staying power. I'm willing to shell out for the bottom of the line Specialized turbo Creo but would love to find something at a lower price point if the quality is still solid. I'd be super grateful for any guidance or advice as I figure this out. I'm so excited at the idea of getting back out there.
Got two steel rods in my shattered left leg & had two severed tendons, torn ACL & meniscus in the other.
I still at times ride an old ´Vega, but my ebike, atv daily driver, a cheap e-mtn with a triple chainring that
makes my pedals into rotary foot rests on even the steepest of hills. By using a lower gear with a higher
cadence I´ve built back my legs to a point where the power bar on the display shows i´ḿ using little or
no juice half the time on a 60 pd. bike. I´m 72. See: EBR review, NCM Moscow,( German Co. in spite of the
name, all bikes named for cities)
 

Esther

New Member
If you have a road bike that you love, think about pricing a Calfee conversion to e-bike. It's not for me, because I ride a frame small enough that I would lose access to water bottle cages. https://calfeedesign.com/calfee-ebike-retrofit-service/
The Yamaha Civante runs around $3400
This Ribble bike is one of the lowest prices I've seen for drop bar, but I don't know if there's a dealer in the U.S. https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-cgr-al-e/ Alas, you cannot get an e-bike battery onto a passenger airplane.
 
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PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
If you have a road bike that you love, think about pricing a Calfee conversion to e-bike. It's not for me, because I ride a frame small enough that I would lose access to water bottle cages. https://calfeedesign.com/calfee-ebike-retrofit-service/
The Yamaha Civante runs around $3400
This Ribble bike is one of the lowesst prices I've seen for drop bar, but I don't know if there's a dealer in the U.S. https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-cgr-al-e/ Alas, you cannot get an e-bike battery onto a passenger airplane.
Good thinking but those Calfee conversions are hub-drives. Once someone tries a mid-drive they will turn up their nose at a hub-drive. You can put a water bottle cage on a seat post or handlebar or stem.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Regarding the mid drive vs. hub drive decision, you need to realize that even if the hub drive will "make it" to the top of a hill, there's a good chance it may be badly overheated if the climb took more than a minute or so. The mid drive let's you gear down for that same climb, allowing it to climb much longer without over heating.
 

john peck

Well-Known Member
Regarding the mid drive vs. hub drive decision, you need to realize that even if the hub drive will "make it" to the top of a hill, there's a good chance it may be badly overheated if the climb took more than a minute or so. The mid drive let's you gear down for that same climb, allowing it to climb much longer without over heating.
Excuse me, Are you saying you can´t gear down A hub drive? That´s rubbish. If I put my hub in the lowest
gear it will climb the steepest hills around here with pedals being little more than rotary foot rests, & without the
motor even getting warm. I´ve only used that gear once; the bike climbs anything well without getting close
to my lowest gear.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Are we splitting hairs here somehow, or are you trying to tell us you can change the gear reduction ratio in a geared hub motor from 5:1 (or so) to something else?

If this is about my failing to mention I was speaking of geared hub vs. mid drive in my original note, guilty as charged. I SHOULD have said "geared hub" (not just "hub") in my original note. Shame on me. I KNOW that can cause confusion....

If you are talking about your geared hub motor not having any trouble with the hills in YOUR immediate area, without considering the fact there are very likely areas with MUCH bigger/longer hills, shame on you....
 

john peck

Well-Known Member
Are we splitting hairs here somehow, or are you trying to tell us you can change the gear reduction ratio in a geared hub motor from 5:1 (or so) to something else?

If this is about my failing to mention I was speaking of geared hub vs. mid drive in my original note, guilty as charged. I SHOULD have said "geared hub" (not just "hub") in my original note. Shame on me. I KNOW that can cause confusion....

If you are talking about your geared hub motor not having any trouble with the hills in YOUR immediate area, without considering the fact there are very likely areas with MUCH bigger/longer hills, shame on you....
Not really, There are nearby climbs of 5000 vertical feet, shame on you.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Not really, There are nearby climbs of 5000 vertical feet, shame on you.
Not buying it, sorry. This is stretching the truth to the breaking point. Not if we are talking about production bike with a geared hub motor making a climb like that without a terrific amount of (super human) assistance.

If that is what you had in mind, I would ask you keep the topic of this conversation in mind (injured athlete).
 

john peck

Well-Known Member
Not buying it, sorry. This is stretching the truth to the breaking point. Not if we are talking about production bike with a geared hub motor making a climb like that without a terrific amount of (super human) assistance.

If that is what you had in mind, I would ask you keep the topic of this conversation in mind (injured athlete).
Injured Athlete? Tell me all about it. Ya wanna compare scars? C´mon let´s see ´em.😍
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
It could depend on the Athlete's injuries. If it is the lower back, then stooping over a bike is out. I just made this electric recumbent bike. It could be okay for some injured athletes. One guy who saw it today said that it is perfect for Boomers and that it is a flash back to the Sting-Ray. The saddle is about 17 inches wide. It is a big Azz saddle.
1635641739576.jpeg
 

ruffruff

Well-Known Member
Check out the Gazelle lineup of bikes. Gazelle is a solid dutch bike maker and there bike builds are outstanding.