Buying from local store vs ordering online

lenajc

New Member
I think I'm coming close to purchasing an ebike. I've visited a local bike store and have test ridden the Specialized Como 3.0 and the Specialized Vado 3.0 (2019 model). I have also ridden a Radpower Rad City Step-through bike. I'm having a bit of a hard time deciding whether to spend more and purchase one of the Specialized models mentioned (leaning towards the Como 3.0 or even 4.0) or even purchasing a Townie Go 8i with a Bosche motor, which I would need to order from REI without test riding. OR if I should order online and spend maybe $1000 to $1500 less. Any thoughts? Are the more expensive brand bikes more quality and longer lasting? Doesn't the RadPower and Blix bikes work just fine and reliably? Is there a benefit in and of itself from purchasing from a local store or REI If something goes wrong with the bike (than say with purchasing a RadPower or Blix bike)?

I just need some help in wrapping my head around spending either around $1700 or $3800 for what would be my first ebike. Some information about me and what I would be using the bike for - primarily for commuting within the city (about 7 miles each way), to get exercise while I'm doing that, but to also be able to tackle hills around Austin, Texas and dealing with wind. I should mention that I am female and overweight since I know that excess weight slows down a bike and makes an ebike less efficient. I think a step-through and upright bike might be better for me since I'm short, it's more comfortable, and no wrist issues from leaning forward. I do like more commuter ready models with fenders and rack.

Advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
there is a large quality diffidence between them. Plus you have a lot more power with the mid drive and more gears so you can keep a good cadence. a lot more battery range and a lot better battery so you will have a lot longer life. thinner tires so less effort to peddle. rad bikes are known for loose spokes on the rear wheel and if you cant work on them you need to find a shop thats willing to do it. if you like the feel of the specialized its worth it you will ride more. plus they are made to ride for long periods of time.
 

Tomp

New Member
there is a large quality diffidence between them. Plus you have a lot more power with the mid drive and more gears so you can keep a good cadence. a lot more battery range and a lot better battery so you will have a lot longer life. thinner tires so less effort to peddle. rad bikes are known for loose spokes on the rear wheel and if you cant work on them you need to find a shop thats willing to do it. if you like the feel of the specialized its worth it you will ride more. plus they are made to ride for long periods of time.
Seems like a lot of generalizations without any real information. I'm in a similar situation to the OP, deciding on an online bike to a store bought. The difference in my area is about $1,000-1500 dollar difference. By the components, many of the online bike have equal or better components and features but they do not have the name brand. I'm comparing M2S bikes to Trek, Giant, and Raleigh bikes.

Is the store service and name brand really worth the added cost for a first bike?
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
Seems like a lot of generalizations without any real information. I'm in a similar situation to the OP, deciding on an online bike to a store bought. The difference in my area is about $1,000-1500 dollar difference. By the components, many of the online bike have equal or better components and features but they do not have the name brand. I'm comparing M2S bikes to Trek, Giant, and Raleigh bikes.

Is the store service and name brand really worth the added cost for a first bike?
comparing a good mid drive to a entry level rad does not take a lot. the mid drive has a lot more torque then a small rear drive. especially when your talking 36v batteries. the mid drive will climb hills far better. the specialized has a lot small tire so a lot less rolling resistance. specialized stands behind their product with a good warranty. the specialized has a much larger gear range then the rad does. just a few of the many things.
a local dealer can help with problems and fit and maintain the bike. rad has none of that. you haves to assemble it yourself.
looking at the m2 they all have bafang motors and who knows what batteries. I don't see any special components on them either. they are lower level components. so its hard to compare them.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
If you're not a handy person, the bicycle parts alone on an ebike will frustrate you, and those are probably the components that go out of tune quickly. That's how bike shops are still around in the age of amazon. Meanwhile, the electrical parts will confound most everyone without electrical knowledge. If you fit in this category, then a store bought bike makes more sense. Most ebikes just work, but if you get one that doesn't work, online support requires you to (a) know what broke and (b) be able to install it if they send you a part.

For what you want to do, bopping around in Austin, you don't need a Specialized. Look around for a entry level Class II step-thru. Cadence sensor and throttle. It's not the purity of a torque sensor, but it works great for the casual biker.
 

OrTrek

Member
Actually lenajc, Austin gives you a good option for RadPower. Per their website they have a Rad mobile service and soon will have a couple of "pop up" stores with a Rad showroom this summer. So service should be available directly from them. There is a recent Rad City review here on EBR. I have a 2018 RadMini that is always folded in the back of my Jeep and is used exclusively on forest roads and on the miles of beaches here in Oregon. It's not babied and I've had no issues with it. I like it.

In addition you can get a bike from REI and if it doesn't work out you have a year to return it. Additionally if you're a member they qualify for the 10% dividend if not on sale. Most REI's also provide service - some better than others.

Having a local bike shop can be a great asset. I also have a little Haibike Radius Tour (class 1 Yamaha mid motor) that fits in the back of my Subaru Crosstrek and travels with me all over the country. I use it on bikeways and streets primarily. Really like this little bike and my LBS has been great and they have no issues servicing the Rad.

So....you have a lot of options in Austin. harryS makes good points. Ebikes can be game changers. Where I got to the point of hardly ever riding my "muscle" bikes, these two ebikes I ride a lot and are a real kick.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Specialized is arguably top of the line, and you pay for that. Giant and Trek are also worth looking at - I love my Explore and it was right about $2k. The Verve+ rides very nicely, $2500 list. And you should get top-notch service from any big-3 dealers.

Yamaha makes their own bikes now, very nice, and you might find a local dealer for them.

The direct-to-consumer bikes are cheaper in all ways including quality, but many get along fine going that route. It's a whole 'nother discussion however.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Is the store service and name brand really worth the added cost for a first bike?
Yes. Unless you want to do your own warranty service. I don't see $1000-$1500 spread when comparing components. Specs like "Shimano derailleur" can be dirt cheap to pricey.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Giant LaFree E+2 is two grand from a Giant bike shop and has an excellent Yamaha mid drive motor. A better deal IMO than Treks $1500 ebike the Electra Townie Go 7d
There's the LIV Amiti as well, a step-thru from Giant. It's about the same price as the trek, not quite as much as the entry Como or Vado. The yamaha mid-drive rides seamlessly, assists on all your gears, are quiet, will climb any hill, get great range, nearly bulletproof, get solid backing by a huge outdoor sports manufacturer, and excellent compents for reliability and durability. IMO Yamaha is the sleeper in the industry. Any time you see the tuning-fork logo you know you can rely on it. 👍

That's not to say the Bosch and Brose in the Specialized aren't just as good. The important thing is if you have a problem they'll fix it for you. An ebike multiplies the incidence of component failure by a magnitude over a pedal bike - you got electronics, electrical, and electro-mechanical things going on, plus a battery array.

Some people really like the beach-cruiser style, others fat-tire bikes, then there are minibikes and folders. So you want to first assess your common riding terrain and your personal style, and shop to match that.

It helps to have a budget but most will raise it some once they learn what you get for your money. Yes, they're all expensive. Yes, they all have crappy resale. So it pays to do your homework up front. We know, that's why you're here! 👍

I have ridden the RadPower bikes and they are very nicely done. And seem to be durable. They don't fit all riders or all rider styles though, and are considered budget or economy. In fact, bang-for-buck, they're very good. Lots of happy owners, and a few not so happy. Everything is peachy-keen 'till your bike won't go, then life takes a turn. o_O

In that arena others to consider are Ride1Up, Aventon, Magnum, BH and a host of others. Crazy Lenny's is a retail store that blows bikes out cheap, worth a look, google search. There are other discount online sellers as well.

There is a dizzying array to choose from, and not all are that cracked up to what they want to be. This is a fairly consistent 'you get what you pay for' type of purchase, and everyone has different priorities. ;)
 

lenajc

New Member
Yes. Unless you want to do your own warranty service. I don't see $1000-$1500 spread when comparing components. Specs like "Shimano derailleur" can be dirt cheap to pricey.
I think the store service, more so than the name brand, is a big selling point for me. Granted, I've never had any issues with my non-electric bikes. But for an e-bike, I assume to service it while under warranty, you would just take it to a Specialized/Trek/Electra dealer. I don't know what that would be like for a an online-only bike.
 

lenajc

New Member
There is a dizzying array to choose from, and not all are that cracked up to what they want to be. This is a fairly consistent 'you get what you pay for' type of purchase, and everyone has different priorities. ;)
Yes there is (a dizzying array to choose from). I would prefer to ride one before purchasing and that is also a big limiting factor. I believe REI has a fairly lenient return policy, even on ebikes. I will confirm with them before I purchase. Plus I have ridden a non-electric Townie. So even though I've won't be able to test ride a Townie Go 8i (with the Bosche motor) before making an purchase, being able to purchase it from REI seems pretty safe. I can check to see if there are any Giant or Yamaha dealers in town. The store that I went to sells Trek bikes and they either didn't have it or didn't show me one of the ebikes. I will continue to look around.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Yeah, you're a in a pretty big metropolitan area, so there should be quite a number of dealers to check out.
At least ride the varying styles of bikes that interest you - a high(er) end mid-drive from the big-three, and a hub-drive from a competitive import brand. You may even find RadPower has a demo place or rental agency there or nearby. They're doing a good job at getting the word out.

I did a quick look at the townie go mentioned - not my style of bike, but at least you have Trek backing it up. And I will say, a mid-drive is a little more refined riding experience compared to a hub-drive. We have both, and they're more similar than different - they make you go - but the rider interface is more variable and better integrated with the mid-drives. Hub drives tend to be more like an on/off switch, although drive controllers for hub-drive bikes are getting better all the time, smoother, better integrated with rider input, etc.

I did a kit conversion on wife's Roll (in my sig) and the motor quit after about 600 miles. After two weeks we are still in limbo as to a solution, and the local shops are of no help whatsoever. If you didn't buy your bike there they don't even want to talk to you. So if you go with a direct-to-consumer seller, know that you'll be relying on them for distant support and parts availability. This isn't to say a big-3 dealer might not delay, that happens too, but if you bought it there then there's a big incentive for them to keep you happy. And they have direct factory support and parts availability. The big-3 have been known to replace the entire bike if there are persistent problems and failures.
 
Last edited:

PatriciaK

Active Member
Giant LaFree E+2 is two grand from a Giant bike shop and has an excellent Yamaha mid drive motor. A better deal IMO than Treks $1500 ebike the Electra Townie Go 7d
I love my Giant La Free E+2! The motor is responsive and quiet - I leave it in auto mode and just ride the bike. It's a very comfortable ride, and has great range. I live in a very hilly area, and never have a problem. I think it's well worth checking out 😉.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
There's the LIV Amiti as well, a step-thru from Giant.
Although I am a great fan of Specialized, I looked at the LIV Amiti and am impressed. Very good specification, good price and the bike looks very nice. It's a pity LIV bikes are not imported to my country because I would greatly recommend that bike to my female friend.


U.S. Turbo Vados starting from the version 3.0 are Class 3, look beautifully and I would recommend that because of the good speed these achieve. Turbo Como is nice and allows more upright riding position but I am afraid there are no 2020 Comos only the 2018 model year.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
@lenajc,

There are some points you need to consider:
  1. The mid-drive motor is the must for hills

  2. When you consider e-bike models, never choose too small a battery. The battery is a very expensive component. Consider e-bike with at least 500 Wh battery. The money spent will be forgotten soon but the "range anxiety" is a terrible feeling. Your 14 mile ride is nothing for an e-bike. Your appetite for longer and longer trips will grow. Soon, you will be willing to take 30 mile or even longer trips; I can promise that to you :) With too small a battery, you will feel a buyer's remorse and soon will start saving for the spare battery; these are very expensive.

  3. The overweight mostly affects the battery range on climbing. Another reason for spending more for the model with a large battery.
When you do shopping on the Internet and compare different brands, models and versions always look for the battery capacity. 500 Wh is the practical minimum nowadays. Never trust the estimated range as advertised. Divide the promised range by two or three. Upwind, elevation gain, good speed and the rider's weight eat the battery charge very fast.

Hope that helps.
 
Last edited:

lenajc

New Member
@lenajc,

There are some points you need to consider:
  1. The mid-drive motor is the must for hills

  2. When you consider e-bike models, never choose too small a battery. The battery is a very expensive component. Consider e-bike with at least 500 Wh battery. The money spent will be forgotten soon but the "range anxiety" is a terrible feeling. Your 14 mile ride is nothing for an e-bike. Your appetite for longer and longer trips will grow. Soon, you will be willing to take 30 mile or even longer trips; I can promise that to you :) With too small a battery, you will feel a buyer's remorse and soon will start saving for the spare battery; these are very expensive.

  3. The overweight mostly affects the battery range on climbing. Another point for spending more for the model with a large battery.
When you do shopping on the Internet and compare different brands, models and versions always look for the battery capacity. 500 Wh is the practical minimum nowadays. Never trust the estimated range as advertised. Divide the promised range by two or three. Upwind, elevation gain, good speed and the rider's weight eat the battery charge very fast.

Hope that helps.
That does help. So I am seriously considering purchasing from REI. I just realized that you are not living in the U.S But I mention REI because I do have a year to return an ebike for a full refund. So the risk is a bit lower if you end up not liking the bike. REI has the Electra Townie Go! 8i. It's a step-through, upright style which I like (as well as the pretty rose gold color). Mid-drive Bosche motor. However the battery is 400 Wh, so a bit lower than your recommended 500 Wh. I still may go for it.

I will keep looking, particulary for the Giant model you recommended. I will see if there are any local stores that carry it. Thanks.
 

Eheller

Member
I will say that I really struggled with the same dilemma. And I was very tempted by some of the online e-bikes, because the cost savings are significant, and there are lots of posts on Facebook, here, and Reddit about people who love them. (You also see a good number of people with problems - but I think you have to account for the fact that people tend to be more vocal when they're unhappy.)

Anyway, I took some advice from the forums here to test ride some e-bikes first, so I went to the three dealers within an hour of me (which meant Trek, Specialized, and Giant) and I have to tell you, I was surprised at how different they felt, even from the same company - Vado vs Como, for instance. But the differences between Trek and Giant and Specialized etc. felt even more significant. I can only imagine how some of the online bikes would ride, and that's the point. It just seemed like buying an ebike without trying it first was going to be a big gamble.

So for me, I decided to spend more on something I could actually ride. In my case that was a Specialized Vado - but the point is, it's a personal thing. I also wanted to have a local shop that knew what they were doing, because I'm a novice, and this is harder to find with an online-only bike. But if I could have ridden a Rad or a Juiced first, I'd have given them a lot more consideration.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
I will say that I really struggled with the same dilemma. And I was very tempted by some of the online e-bikes, because the cost savings are significant, and there are lots of posts on Facebook, here, and Reddit about people who love them. (You also see a good number of people with problems - but I think you have to account for the fact that people tend to be more vocal when they're unhappy.)

Anyway, I took some advice from the forums here to test ride some e-bikes first, so I went to the three dealers within an hour of me (which meant Trek, Specialized, and Giant) and I have to tell you, I was surprised at how different they felt, even from the same company - Vado vs Como, for instance. But the differences between Trek and Giant and Specialized etc. felt even more significant. I can only imagine how some of the online bikes would ride, and that's the point. It just seemed like buying an ebike without trying it first was going to be a big gamble.

So for me, I decided to spend more on something I could actually ride. In my case that was a Specialized Vado - but the point is, it's a personal thing. I also wanted to have a local shop that knew what they were doing, because I'm a novice, and this is harder to find with an online-only bike. But if I could have ridden a Rad or a Juiced first, I'd have given them a lot more consideration.
@lenajc,

The post of @Eheller is valuable. I'd really advice you visit the dealers of the Big Three and not only compare/demo ride different brands but also models. Buying online is not good. Even the most expensive e-bikes available in the market break; there are numerous cases reported on this Forum. It is good to have an LBS supporting you or even replacing the whole bike. E-bikes are infinitely more complex that traditional bicycles.

Would you buy a car online without a trusted garage to support you?