Choosing my first ebike- buy or convert

Ducky77

Member
Region
USA
Hi everyone! I am new here! Many of the threads here have already been super helpful :)
I am a 40ish year old lady, reasonably active, haven't ridden much since I was a kid. Hubby and I live in a coastal area of Southern California and will be doing relaxing rides on paved trails, bike paths, etc. We live in a hilly area.
I am looking to either buy or convert (DIY) a cruiser style bike. Style, comfort and price are important to me. So far I have tried the Townie, Electric bike company model y, E-luxe Malibu, Bluejay and Pedego.
First impressions... I LOVED the vintage look of the BlueJay, but it was the least comfortable of the bunch and not a cruiser. The EBC model Y , I also loved the look of it... but the rear hub motor was very jolting. The Pedego was nice, but only the 24" fit me and I don't like their color options. E-Luxe was comfy but again, I did not like the "look".
The most comfortable was the mid drive Townie. I have very short legs and with the Townie I could reach the balls of my feet to the ground and still get good leg extension while peddling.
I think a forward pedaling design is best for me as I prefer to reach the ground without having to jump forward off the seat when I stop.
I still want to try the Blix Sol. I am really tempted by the price and I really love the look. Does anyone know how they compare to the Townie? The pedals don't appear to be as forward.

I am also considering buying a used standard bike with a frame I like and customizing it and converting it. My husband is a mechanic that also restores classic cars and said he thinks doing a bike would be pretty easy. He is very meticulous and was already talking concealing the wires inside the frame (his issue with a lot of DIY conversions is the messy wires). If we convert the bike, we can use good quality components, I get the exact look I want and we save some money too. Am I on the right track?
 
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mtatkow

New Member
Region
USA
I have both a factory bike (RAD) and a conversion. I truly enjoy both, but the conversion outperforms the factory bike and was built at a good price point. I based it on an old steel frame bike, as such, I had to do careful wire management since there is no good way to run wires within the old narrow tubes. There are good ways to do this with a decent looking result, and you can chose whether you want front or rear drive - I chose front for several reasons. Still, the wiring is visible - but not terrible to look at.

The only of those bikes you listed with which I am familiar is the Townie, and my impression is that the bicycle components they use are lower end. I am not familiar with their electric version to which you refer. I will tell you that if you go with a conversion, you have the choice of how you put it together, and my '75 Motobecane conversion uses Deore level Shimano crankset and derailleurs, higher end than you normally will see on an E-bike until you get into $$.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
FWIW, my wife and I were faced with the same decision when we decided to get into ebiking. I looked into converting our Trek MTB's and found the conversion cost was a bit less than buying new but there were other factors to consider. The conversion process would take time to build & debug and we wanted to get back to riding as soon as possible. There was also the question as to whether the Trek frame was up to the stress of conversion.

We test rode a dozen or more ebikes before deciding to buy new cruiser style Pedego Platinum Interceptors. I'm not sure which Pedego model you tested but my wife is 5' 2" with a 27" inseam and the 26" Interceptor fit her well. She is able to have both feet on the ground with the seat set to it's lowest position. I'll admit the color choice was limited since the bike was only available in silver.

You are doing the right thing by test riding a variety of bikes. One size definitely does not fit all. Your personal comfort with the look & feel of the bike is all that really matters.
 

Ducky77

Member
Region
USA
FWIW, my wife and I were faced with the same decision when we decided to get into ebiking. I looked into converting our Trek MTB's and found the conversion cost was a bit less than buying new but there were other factors to consider. The conversion process would take time to build & debug and we wanted to get back to riding as soon as possible. There was also the question as to whether the Trek frame was up to the stress of conversion.

We test rode a dozen or more ebikes before deciding to buy new cruiser style Pedego Platinum Interceptors. I'm not sure which Pedego model you tested but my wife is 5' 2" with a 27" inseam and the 26" Interceptor fit her well. She is able to have both feet on the ground with the seat set to it's lowest position. I'll admit the color choice was limited since the bike was only available in silver.

You are doing the right thing by test riding a variety of bikes. One size definitely does not fit all. Your personal comfort with the look & feel of the bike is all that really matters.
Interesting! I tried the 26” interceptor and even my toes didn’t reach the ground. I’m 5’3” with a 28” inseam. They did have a really cushy seat on it and also the shock absorbing seat post .
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Interesting! I tried the 26” interceptor and even my toes didn’t reach the ground. I’m 5’3” with a 28” inseam. They did have a really cushy seat on it and also the shock absorbing seat post .
My wife's bike is a 2018 model. It's possible there was a frame change on newer bikes.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Converted many bikes. I like a bike that doesn't look too electric, For a time, I thought the tradeoff on a DIY bike was that I couldn't integrate the battery as well as a storebought bike, but so many of those bikes are now so big and chunky that I wouldn't want one of them.

With the Covid, we changed to mostly local bike rides, and that allowed me to switch to smaller battery packs and our smaller bikes.. We could do 20 miles on less than 10AH at out speeds. Easier to put them in a bag too.
 

mtatkow

New Member
Region
USA
Agreed about the look. I purchased the RADMission as it both looks the part of a "normal" bike and my body recognized the riding position - very similar to a non-powered hybrid. The conversion bike I built is a 1975 Motobecane Grand Touring which I had converted to a hybrid position given that my 60something year old back does not understand drop bars or bolt upright riding position (same reason my motorcycles are BMW's, BTW - similar body position slightly tilted forward).

Good luck to you, most bikes come in multiple frame sizes, as such, the statement that 6zfshdb noted above may be correct, differing frame size - perhaps not even a model year issue. For example, my Wif's BH is a medium frame size, perfect for her at 5'6" with an added spring seat post and a cushy seat. In addition "medium" is rather meaningless, as it is a judgement call of the manufacturer.

I will add that building a conversion was not terribly time consuming or complex, but you need to know a few tricks. Simple items such as frame spread in the rear and possible modification to the dropout widths are easy to do, but you have to have some aptitude. It is unlikely that any kit purchased will be a drop in for the bike to which it is to be applied. I researched what I was going to do for the Motobecane build, and it still took me probably 5-6 hours to get everything just how I wanted it, and maybe another hour or 2 tweaking settings during rides to get the performance exactly how I liked.
 

mtatkow

New Member
Region
USA
Sorry, one last thing - I am 225 # 6'1". I took the Motobecane to New Orleans in early December, some of the roughest roads I have ever been hammered by, and put close to 150 miles on the bike that week. No problem with frame strength - held together fine, I have already put just shy of 1000 miles on the build. I used a front wheel motor to avoid spreading the frame, but had to widen the fork dropouts about 1mm to get the axle to fit properly. Being an engineer I will insult my clan by saying we tend to dramatically overbuild anything structural. That includes bike frames.
 

kmccune

Well-Known Member
Sorry, one last thing - I am 225 # 6'1". I took the Motobecane to New Orleans in early December, some of the roughest roads I have ever been hammered by, and put close to 150 miles on the bike that week. No problem with frame strength - held together fine, I have already put just shy of 1000 miles on the build. I used a front wheel motor to avoid spreading the frame, but had to widen the fork dropouts about 1mm to get the axle to fit properly. Being an engineer I will insult my clan by saying we tend to dramatically overbuild anything structural. That includes bike frames.
My step granddad( a veteran of the Pacific theatre in ww2- He had the cajoles to go down into the caves on a rope and flush the enemy out) said it best" If you do not build strong enough you will soon find out, if you overbuild you will never know it". He was a very good carpenter.
 

kmccune

Well-Known Member
FWIW, my wife and I were faced with the same decision when we decided to get into ebiking. I looked into converting our Trek MTB's and found the conversion cost was a bit less than buying new but there were other factors to consider. The conversion process would take time to build & debug and we wanted to get back to riding as soon as possible. There was also the question as to whether the Trek frame was up to the stress of conversion.

We test rode a dozen or more ebikes before deciding to buy new cruiser style Pedego Platinum Interceptors. I'm not sure which Pedego model you tested but my wife is 5' 2" with a 27" inseam and the 26" Interceptor fit her well. She is able to have both feet on the ground with the seat set to it's lowest position. I'll admit the color choice was limited since the bike was only available in silver.

You are doing the right thing by test riding a variety of bikes. One size definitely does not fit all. Your personal comfort with the look & feel of the bike is all that really matters.
If you are really on the fence and want to dip your toes in the water without spending a mint, get an "Ecotric Peacedove" fairly durable surprisingly comfortable best of all just cost a little over $600, it has adequate specs, and its actually easily upgradeable, most People sneer at them,I sold one I had to a Friend and He was more than pleased with it-As "Sheryl Crow" sez, "if it makes you happy, it can't be all bad".
 
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JES2020

Well-Known Member
Interesting! I tried the 26” interceptor and even my toes didn’t reach the ground. I’m 5’3” with a 28” inseam. They did have a really cushy seat on it and also the shock absorbing seat post .
So give us an update. What did you decide on, you did alot of research, always interested on the choice of the informed.
 

JES2020

Well-Known Member
I got a basic 26” Townie 7D and converted it with a tongsheng motor. I did put a Pedego seat on it! It fits me perfect! I love it!
I was confused, when I looked up the Townie 7d, I thought it was an ebike...thought to myself where the hell is the motor LOL.
Didn't help that they call it the Electra.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
I got a basic 26” Townie 7D and converted it with a tongsheng motor. I did put a Pedego seat on it! It fits me perfect! I love it!
Those flat foot frames are incredibly comfortable. My TSDZ2. Gifted to an old buddy living rough.
I have a Trek Pure and all three KHS flatfoot frames. Vintage Townies are incredible frames. The 7D like yours still have better components. I upgraded many KHS components.

1650543858728.png
 

kmccune

Well-Known Member
Those flat foot frames are incredibly comfortable. My TSDZ2. Gifted to an old buddy living rough.
I have a Trek Pure and all three KHS flatfoot frames. Vintage Townies are incredible frames. The 7D like yours still have better components. I upgraded many KHS components.

View attachment 120795
One of the "divers" bikes I wished to build( for some reason always hung up on power) I did try to get a Tongsheng one time, it disappeared en route to my " hot rather large hands" Doris( bless Her Heart) did refund my money.