Buying an Ebike

imdudesdad

New Member
Region
USA
Going through months of research, having purchased Biktrix, Juiced and other bikes, going through service requests, failed configurations, keeping performance and price points in mind, I would recommend 2 paths:

1. Build your own: you must be willing to wait for shipping, do your own build, have it painted in some cases and doing the leg work - you can directly order the frame, motor and components through China for about $2k. There are thousands of distributors there using Bafang and other standard products and some can be ordered in a more complete state than others. This is what Biktrix, M2S, Surface and the like do. However, many won't want to, or cannot do this...

2. I'd buy from a large vendor who has local USA support - Yamaha, Trek, Giant, etc.. - but you'll have to pay.

This is becasue as highlighted in many areas of the electricbikereview forums that many of the current vendors are merely ordering via Asia and putting their stamp on it. These also have poor or non existing quality business practices. Leaking brake cables, programming issues, undisclosed issues, stripped threads, a tire falling off, etc.., can lead to injury and/or death and should include litigation and a no hassle no fee return policy. But many of these small shops make it cost prohibitive to return or fix anything. So why not just make it better to begin? Not sure. I have personally wasted countless frustrating hours with support personnel whom a) cannot read questions, b) do not respond, c) do not understand what you're communicating, or d) do not know. From my experience I believe they do this 90% intentionally - probably because one expects more. But you may not be important anymore after the sale. Buyer beware. If you bought a motorcycle or car and the brakes failed, the tire fell off, the cables leaked, or were misprogrammed, etc.., there would be immediate support and probabaly litigation as a last step. I don't think these smaller companies care about it as some are nestled in another country and can quasi avoid litigation. With that there are probably others that do well. For example, I purchased a Juiced Ripcurrent S last year and found the product and support solid. Just didn't like advertised performance.

So pay more and if you can buy local - even if it's assembled in the USA. At least you'll know the people working on your issue know you live in the same country.

Example of china made

Hope this helps anyone.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
So spend money or spend time.
Well, not necessarily just spending time. I’ve seen some cases on this forum where folks have spent a lot of money and not received the ebikes they bought or had very short term success if they did. Or gotten ANY assistance even after numerous calls/emails.
That said, these days you can spend lots of money with a large vendor and wait a hell of a long time for accessories. Like the 6 months I’ve been waiting on a Bosch 625wh spare battery.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
you can spend lots of money with a large vendor and wait a hell of a long time for accessories. Like the 6 months I’ve been waiting on a Bosch 625wh spare battery.
And likely that battery has an enormous price tag. This my chief gripe against using proprietary hardware. You're locked into a single source, you're paying their price and waiting in their line, like it or not. Therein lies the benefit of knowing the market well enough to know which ebike motors and components are bulletproof. But you have to put the time in.

But the same goes for a built bike. There are good vendors out there that aren't the big LBS brands. If the internet was not a mostly-successful buying medium, it would not be thriving over a period of what are now several years with no sign of it going away, ever. Again, the prospective buyer has to put the time in to sit back, watch and learn.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I have over 10,000 of my 13,000 eBiking miles on Bosch powered eBikes. I left the dealer the day I bought them, and haven't been back since. Never have even called them with a service question. I ride for pleasure, they provide that in spades. And with the smooth cycling feel that is perfect for my style on pavement or climbing single tracks. I am definitely skilled enough to build one, but would rather ride.
 

retiredNH

Active Member
Region
USA
ebikes are much more complicated than regular bikes because of the electrical side. Anyone who reads these forums has seen the problems that can arise, whether software related, electrical glitches, or electro-mechanical. If you are mechanically and electrically inclined, such that you can do your own troubleshooting and repair, you could BYO or order one online. But don't count on your LBS to do more than simple maintenance.

If you're not comfortable with things electrical, electronic and mechanical, and how they integrate, consider buying a name brand locally, where the vendor has technical backup. It may cost more, but will be safer and ultimately less frustrating if you don't have the necessary knowledge.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
... But don't count on your LBS to do more than simple maintenance.

If you're not comfortable with things electrical, electronic and mechanical, and how they integrate, consider buying a name brand locally, where the vendor has technical backup. It may cost more, but will be safer and ultimately less frustrating if you don't have the necessary knowledge.
You may not be able to count on the LBS for *any* maintenance on a bike they did not sell to you. Thats part of what you need to scout out in advance. I went thru every bike shop in my metro area getting essentially thrown out of one shop after another before I found one who would even consider providing me with an expert backstop - before I bought my first ebike. And unlike their peers the shop who said yes was happy to do it. In the years since their service dept has thrived and they have gotten a LOT of business from me in other ways.

Nowadays the LBS who barely tolerates the existence of ebikes is no longer the rule as they once were. But they may still be what you are faced with in your area.

Beyond that, you need solid grounding in bike repair skills and the desire to use them. Already own and know how to use a crank puller. Have the tools to remove a bottom bracket. Know which pedal is reverse-threaded. If you are comfortable with that... the electronics can be learned after watching a couple of Youtube videos, and lurking for a couple weeks to find out who sells the best turnkey kits. You can buy a motor kit that is powerful ... and totally opaque to the uninitiated (a Cyclone) or one that is 30 minutes' work start to finish, and covered by zillions of Youtube how-to's with a gaggle of reliable, USA-based vendors selling parts and accessories (Bafang... anything).

If you just want to write a check and be done with it, there's only one smart choice: The LBS and floor stock. Absolutely nothing in the world wrong with that. I've done it myself for a stealthy e-road bike.
 

imdudesdad

New Member
Region
USA
And likely that battery has an enormous price tag. This my chief gripe against using proprietary hardware. You're locked into a single source, you're paying their price and waiting in their line, like it or not. Therein lies the benefit of knowing the market well enough to know which ebike motors and components are bulletproof. But you have to put the time in.

But the same goes for a built bike. There are good vendors out there that aren't the big LBS brands. If the internet was not a mostly-successful buying medium, it would not be thriving over a period of what are now several years with no sign of it going away, ever. Again, the prospective buyer has to put the time in to sit back, watch and learn.
This is a very good point Robertson. If Ebikereview or someone put together a database of "accredited" vendors which meet certain criteria it could be a win win. Businesses would need to up their game in quality during and after sales and consumers would have a certain confidence in knowing they participate in the program.
 

John from Connecticut

Well-Known Member
I have over 10,000 of my 13,000 eBiking miles on Bosch powered eBikes. I left the dealer the day I bought them, and haven't been back since. Never have even called them with a service question. I ride for pleasure, they provide that in spades. And with the smooth cycling feel that is perfect for my style on pavement or climbing single tracks. I am definitely skilled enough to build one, but would rather ride.

Rich C ,
I agree with your line of thinking. I have two Bosch Powered eBikes ( Trek ) and couldn't be happier ! I've had one minor
sprocket / chain issue that my LBS took care of, but that's it with 7500 miles. Prior to buying my first e-bike I didn't
know e-bikes from a pound of cheese.

Three years ago while at my LBS I decided to take a e-bike out for a test ride. 15 Minutes into the ride I knew the bike was
for me, returned to the shop and bought it. Three years later every time I ride it's like Christmas morning : )

John
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I did the opposite of either option 1 or 2. I bought a bike domestically stocked to fit me, without power. I'm short, & shop off the bike, so no local options were stocked. It was middle priced: $1900 delivered from California, with accessory panniers, double leg stand, front basket. The quality was superb. The shifters & cables don't need adjustment, the spokes don't stretch, the wheels don't crack, the cranks lasted more than the 2 years of a kiddie MTB I owned previously. Plus it doesn't dump me on my chin the way 3 previous bikes have done.
Then after a 5.7 hour 27 mile ordeal into an unseasonable headwind, I added electricity for $840. There were battery experiments for $300 that did not work, so I threw them away & tried again. Got the money back for one. The $620 17.5 AH battery has lasted 3 1/3 years so far. The first $221 power wheel lasted 4500 miles, so I threw it away and installed a $740 power wheel with a better reputation. Geared hub motors are not difficult to change out, and do not drag unpowered. I pedaled unpowered for my heart/lung maintenance, unless the wind blows > 12mph in my face. The main skill necessary for the electricity is securely crimping on industrial quality terminals. I use Dorman, Panduit, Ideal, TE Conn. or 3M terminals with a klein tool, not the ****ese garbage. My battery is generic, mounted in a cage I built, and after 1000 charges a new one may cost less, not more.
Read the known problems threads of any brand you buy. There are a lot of great looking bikes being sold built of kiddie quality parts. Some can't even ride 100 miles without wheel service. I've got 6500 miles with normal wear of tires & brake pads, a chain @ 5000, plus one fender I broke with my foot.
Happy shopping, or building, & riding.
 
Last edited:

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
ebikes are much more complicated than regular bikes because of the electrical side. Anyone who reads these forums has seen the problems that can arise, whether software related, electrical glitches, or electro-mechanical. If you are mechanically and electrically inclined, such that you can do your own troubleshooting and repair, you could BYO or order one online. But don't count on your LBS to do more than simple maintenance.

If you're not comfortable with things electrical, electronic and mechanical, and how they integrate, consider buying a name brand locally, where the vendor has technical backup. It may cost more, but will be safer and ultimately less frustrating if you don't have the necessary knowledge.
Agree with this. Plus as a cyclist all my life if a derailleur, BB or other mechanical issue crops up I can probably fix myself or it's a straightforward fix at a bike shop. And replacement parts are relatively inexpensive - unless, I guess it's a top of range carbon bike or a FS mtb. But with electrics I'm all at sea and if I tinker I blow any warranty and if I have to replace motor or battery out of warranty it's going to cost hundreds if not over a grand to replace electrical part. This was brought home to me 6 weeks ago when the TCU (onboard computer I guess) on my Vado SL broke/stopped working and so the bike didn't work. Specialized immediately replaced the part under warranty with no questions asked once I dropped bike back to LBS. If I'd bought online from somewhere with no dealer network or even just a small retailer with uncertain warranty/no history at the least it would have lead to complications probably including me having to package & send the bike overseas and all that hassle, or no warranty at all to cover it etc etc. With any bike I bought before this I was not worried where I got it as I was confident I could diagnose if not fix a mechanical problem and frame warranty's are pretty straight forward. With e bikes be very careful Id say as a motor/wiring/battery issue could cause serious headaches & $$$.