Choosing my first ebike, up to $2k budget

federal_tourist

New Member
Hey all,

Here's how I got here and where I'm at. I went to an electric vehicle event last October to check out some electrics (big fan of cars in general) and while there also got to try two electric bikes. Couldn't even tell you which brand(s) but it was striking to be on a bike and feel a push while pedaling or twist a throttle and cruise along easily. A week later, I moved!

Now I'm only two miles from work. I've walked plenty of times, but I have an awkward schedule where I start early and frequently end late which can be very deflating when I finish an 8-12 hr day only to remember there's a 40 min ish walk separating me from truly being done. Two miles is also an absurdly short drive to repeatedly put on a car. This is where I figure an ebike (or regular bike since I don't currently own any bike) could come in handy.


Here's my relevant thoughts I've had while researching:
  • Since commuting is a core use it needs fenders and a rear rack or be under budget for me to add my own. Commutes will happen in dark hours so the bike will need a headlight and taillight either from the factory or added myself.

  • I like the idea of a folding bike for the ease of being able to pop it in the trunk of my car or to make it easier to bring inside my shared apartment. I'm wondering if most any ebike could have its headset loosened so the bike could be laid flat in a car trunk? Seats do fold in my car for long objects. Would swapping in aftermarket folding pedals be a good idea for a non folding bike in that situation?

  • Would mostly be used on pavement but I wouldn't want it to be a turd going on dirt/trails.

  • I live in northern Virginia, the topography of my area is best described as "hilly".

  • Since not all bikes are sized for everyone I figure I should include that I'm 5'11" with about a 31" inseam. Normally weigh about 190 lbs but add 10 lbs for the Corona life.
  • My daily driver (car) is a hybrid so in my head I like the idea of direct drive recapturing energy but I also understand that adds resistance, seems like those bikes cost more, and it also seems like many reviews don't prefer it.

  • Not certain how important having hydraulic brakes from the factory should be to me. I've only ever ridden bikes with rim brakes so the stopping power of disc brakes of any type is something I could use opinions for.

Here's my choices so far (still researching so not a complete list):
  • Radpower RadMini4 - (folds, has fenders and lights, big tire versatility, I'd qualify for $200 discount, missing a rear rack)
  • Radpower RadRover5 - (same discount applies, traditional bike looks, missing a rear rack)
  • Sondors FoldXS - (folds, solid build, $1699 price and accessory bare could spell budget danger)
  • Sondors Smartstep - (folds, accessory bare but $999 price has tons of leeway)
  • Aventon Level - (Aventon bikes look fantastic, missing headlight/taillight but $1599 price leaves room)
  • Lectric XP - (folds, rack and fenders, $899 price leaves tons of leeway to customize, no suspension and uses a lot of steel so it could rust)

That's where I'm at.

I'm certain there's more bikes I haven't noticed yet so please let me know what other bikes I should look at.

TL: DR Questions from thoughts:
Folding bike or loosen headset to lay flat in a trunk?
Direct drive or geared hub? Does it really matter?
Hydraulic disc brakes or mechanical? No experience with either.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
If you are really climbing a lot of hills you may want to take a look at a mid-drive motor.
You will be able to use the mechanical advantage of the rear gearset and have a more natural/balanced ride.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products...icycles/ebikes-electric-folding-bikes-ef3.htm

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indianajo

Well-Known Member
Okay, disk brakes work in the rain. Rim brakes don't. I was at APG, MD, I believe it rains frequently in n Va. I ride mechanical disks, 320 lb gross down 15% grades, think they are fine. I don't have to replace leaky cylinders when replacing pads and mechanicals don't require $$ a ml special brake fluid. Adjusting mechanicals at 1000 mi takes 5 minutes. Better grade cable reduces adjustments required of mechanicals. (clark's, jaguar). I handle the rust issue by oiling everything steel every 2 weeks, it rains a lot here & my bike sits out at stores or my volunteer job.
Folding bikes have 20" wheels. Those wheels give you a good jar when you hit a pothole. Do you have potholes in your route? we do. I ride 26" wheels. Fat tires or front suspension ameleorate the small wheels, but cost $$$.
Taking the headstock loose is dangerous, if you hit a pothole and it cuts loose while your riding, you fall over. Cost me 8 stitches when Schwinn Jeffville didn't tighten headstock enough. You want the headstock to rust in place and never come loose.
Headlights & taillights are eye candy, you can buy those for $20 - $50. Many add on lights are rechargeable through a micro USB port.
Direct drive is for high speed. Geared hub is for up grades, or getting quick across intersections. I have 6 seconds green light to get across 6 lanes in my town, my geared hub will do it even if 3 cars are in front of me. Mid drive is for climbing from the sea to the park at the top of the sierra (LA) geared hubs overheat if run uphill full power >15 minutes. I don't believe there is a grade east of Colorado that will overheat a geared hub, but lots of buyers in LA burn their geared hub motor their 2nd excursion. The mid-drives shimano steps, yamaha, and brose don't drag power off. They and all mid drives chew up chains 2 to 10 x faster than hub drives. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain with a hub drive. Some high speed commuters with 11 speed chains wear one out in 500 miles.
Recapturing energy means your bike drags when you pedal unpowered. I pedal my geared hub 90% unpowered, to build up my heart/lungs. Oddly, excess lung capacity is in fashion right now, lessens the chance of needing a ventilator. Power is for 25 mph headwinds which can extend my commute time by 90%.
Cheap bikes have plastic cranks. If you cross thread the pedal putting it back in, you bought a new crank. With 6 different pullers, I couldn't get the plastic crank off my Pacific Quantum MTB. Pedal wore out threaded hole. Scrapped it & bought a yubabike. Your experience may vary.
Don't forget serious security. My 6' SS cable will fit around a power pole or gas meter, but requires a big bag to carry it. U-locks fit city installed tethers, there may be some of those as near as Pittsburg to here. (800 miles)
If I lived in Reston & didn't have to buy groceries off the bike I'd buy a M2s R750 or a Magnum Ui6. Since I'm age 69, I like not dancing over the center bar of R750. I'm extremely happy with my yubabikes bodaboda shown left, which will carry 136 lb groceries on 26x2.1" tires. The drop frame fits short leg me, the diamond bar fits normal people. Not cheap.
Have fun shopping, and then riding.
 
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Alex M

Well-Known Member
TL: DR Questions from thoughts:
Folding bike or loosen headset to lay flat in a trunk?
Direct drive or geared hub? Does it really matter?
Hydraulic disc brakes or mechanical? No experience with either.
1) Yes, easy. Telescopic folding stem on most 20" folders. I don't think handlebars on Sondors Smart Step can be turned sideways easily and without re-adjusting again later.
You aren't going to like lifting 68 lbs bike like Mini into trunk.
2) Doesn't matter for 2 mile drive. DD adds resistance when not pedaling, geared hub you won't feel. DD is less efficient than geared on grades. Energy recapturing with DD is negligible but DD helps when braking.
3) Mechanical brakes take more effort but this only matters on motors bigger than 350W. As noted, they are less efficient in rain, not completely useless but less efficient, takes 2 times longer to stop on flat surface. When speeding 30 mph downhill in heavy downpour it probably won't stop at all and will barely slow down, don't do stupid things.

Other thoughts:
You don't need fat tires on paved roads. Folding bikes with 2" tires weigh 10-15 lbs less, easier to load in a trunk.
Aftermarket lights are cheap but you'll have to remember to charge them or replace the batteries. I prefer integrated lights - powered from the bike battery.
Rear rack is not a problem at all, 20-30$ and 10 minutes to install. Don't buy a rack until you get a bike, 29" wheels might not accept a regular size rack even when Amazon seller says that it does.
 
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Dewey

Well-Known Member
Tern Vektron D7i looks good for your needs, and there’s a Tern dealer Bikes@Vienna just off the W&OD trail
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Okay, disk brakes work in the rain. Rim brakes don't. I was at APG, MD, I believe it rains frequently in n Va. I ride mechanical disks, 320 lb gross down 15% grades, think they are fine. I don't have to replace leaky cylinders when replacing pads and mechanicals don't require $$ a ml special brake fluid. Adjusting mechanicals at 1000 mi takes 5 minutes. Better grade cable reduces adjustments required of mechanicals. (clark's, jaguar). I handle the rust issue by oiling everything steel every 2 weeks, it rains a lot here & my bike sits out at stores or my volunteer job.
Folding bikes have 20" wheels. Those wheels give you a good jar when you hit a pothole. Do you have potholes in your route? we do. I ride 26" wheels. Fat tires or front suspension ameleorate the small wheels, but cost $$$.
Taking the headstock loose is dangerous, if you hit a pothole and it cuts loose while your riding, you fall over. Cost me 8 stitches when Schwinn Jeffville didn't tighten headstock enough. You want the headstock to rust in place and never come loose.
Headlights & taillights are eye candy, you can buy those for $20 - $50. Many add on lights are rechargeable through a micro USB port.
Direct drive is for high speed. Geared hub is for up grades, or getting quick across intersections. I have 6 seconds green light to get across 6 lanes in my town, my geared hub will do it even if 3 cars are in front of me. Mid drive is for climbing from the sea to the park at the top of the sierra (LA) geared hubs overheat if run uphill full power >15 minutes. I don't believe there is a grade east of Colorado that will overheat a geared hub, but lots of buyers in LA burn their geared hub motor their 2nd excursion. The mid-drives shimano steps, yamaha, and brose don't drag power off. They and all mid drives chew up chains 2 to 10 x faster than hub drives. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain with a hub drive. Some high speed commuters with 11 speed chains wear one out in 500 miles.
Recapturing energy means your bike drags when you pedal unpowered. I pedal my geared hub 90% unpowered, to build up my heart/lungs. Oddly, excess lung capacity is in fashion right now, lessens the chance of needing a ventilator. Power is for 25 mph headwinds which can extend my commute time by 90%.
Cheap bikes have plastic cranks. If you cross thread the pedal putting it back in, you bought a new crank. With 6 different pullers, I couldn't get the plastic crank off my Pacific Quantum MTB. Pedal wore out threaded hole. Scrapped it & bought a yubabike. Your experience may vary.
Don't forget serious security. My 6' SS cable will fit around a power pole or gas meter, but requires a big bag to carry it. U-locks fit city installed tethers, there may be some of those as near as Pittsburg to here. (800 miles)
If I lived in Reston & didn't have to buy groceries off the bike I'd buy a M2s R750 or a Magnum Ui6. Since I'm age 69, I like not dancing over the center bar of R750. I'm extremely happy with my yubabikes bodaboda shown left, which will carry 136 lb groceries on 26x2.1" tires. The drop frame fits short leg me, the diamond bar fits normal people. Not cheap.
Have fun shopping, and then riding.

To the OP, there is some really good advice on the pros and cons of many choices... you may want to take time to read it. ;)
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
1) Yes, easy. Telescopic folding stem on most 20" folders. I don't think handlebars on Sondors Smart Step can be turned sideways easily and without re-adjusting again later.
You aren't going to like lifting 68 lbs bike like Mini into trunk.
2) Doesn't matter for 2 mile drive. DD adds resistance when not pedaling, geared hub you won't feel. DD is less efficient than geared on grades. Energy recapturing with DD is negligible but DD helps when braking.
3) Mechanical brakes take more effort but this only matters on motors bigger than 350W. As noted, they are less efficient in rain, not completely useless but less efficient, takes 2 times longer to stop on flat surface. When speeding 30 mph downhill in heavy downpour it probably won't stop at all and will barely slow down, don't do stupid things.
Other thoughts:
You don't need fat tires on paved roads. Folding bikes with 2" tires weigh 10-15 lbs less, easier to load in a trunk.
Aftermarket lights are cheap but you'll have to remember to charge them or replace the batteries. I prefer integrated lights - powered from the bike battery.
Rear rack is not a problem at all, 20-30$ and 10 minutes to install. Don't buy a rack until you get a bike, 29" wheels might not accept a regular size rack even when Amazon seller says that it does.

Regarding the 3rd question on brakes... I think the OP was referring to the difference between Hydraulic and Mechanical Discs. ;)
Both types are far superior to rim brakes... either will do well on an electric bike, and the hydraulics have a high-pressure advantage.
 

federal_tourist

New Member
Regarding the 3rd question on brakes... I think the OP was referring to the difference between Hydraulic and Mechanical Discs. ;)
Both types are far superior to rim brakes... either will do well on an electric bike, and the hydraulics have a high-pressure advantage.

Oh yeah I figured both are superior to rim. What I didn't know was should I not settle for anything less than hydraulic or is it nice to have but far from necessary. From what I'm seeing is it becomes more important with a more powerful ebike but so long as it's not raining regular mechanical disks should do the job
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Oh yeah I figured both are superior to rim. What I didn't know was should I not settle for anything less than hydraulic or is it nice to have but far from necessary.
From what I'm seeing is it becomes more important with a more powerful ebike but so long as it's not raining regular mechanical disks should do the job

Both will work well with an Ebike especially in wet conditions. The real difference is the braking force applied and maintenance procedures.
There is even a third option for a hybrid brake design that uses mechanical cable actuation and hydraulic pistons to clamp on the standard rotor.

Take a look at this article for a good discussion on the pros and cons of the various systems.

 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
If you go for a folding 20" bike, definitely don't limit yourself to hydraulics only. Very few 20" bikes have hydraulics. As noted, hydraulics require less effort per equal stopping power but 20" bike won't be moving fast so you won't need much effort.

I would say mechanical disc brakes are adequate on 500W bike under most conditions too, unless you have arthritis or other hand problems. If you load a lot of cargo you'll see limitations of mechanical brakes.
 
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federal_tourist

New Member
Okay, disk brakes work in the rain. Rim brakes don't. I was at APG, MD, I believe it rains frequently in n Va. I ride mechanical disks, 320 lb gross down 15% grades, think they are fine. I don't have to replace leaky cylinders when replacing pads and mechanicals don't require $$ a ml special brake fluid. Adjusting mechanicals at 1000 mi takes 5 minutes. Better grade cable reduces adjustments required of mechanicals. (clark's, jaguar). I handle the rust issue by oiling everything steel every 2 weeks, it rains a lot here & my bike sits out at stores or my volunteer job.
Folding bikes have 20" wheels. Those wheels give you a good jar when you hit a pothole. Do you have potholes in your route? we do. I ride 26" wheels. Fat tires or front suspension ameleorate the small wheels, but cost $$$.
Taking the headstock loose is dangerous, if you hit a pothole and it cuts loose while your riding, you fall over. Cost me 8 stitches when Schwinn Jeffville didn't tighten headstock enough. You want the headstock to rust in place and never come loose.
Headlights & taillights are eye candy, you can buy those for $20 - $50. Many add on lights are rechargeable through a micro USB port.
Direct drive is for high speed. Geared hub is for up grades, or getting quick across intersections. I have 6 seconds green light to get across 6 lanes in my town, my geared hub will do it even if 3 cars are in front of me. Mid drive is for climbing from the sea to the park at the top of the sierra (LA) geared hubs overheat if run uphill full power >15 minutes. I don't believe there is a grade east of Colorado that will overheat a geared hub, but lots of buyers in LA burn their geared hub motor their 2nd excursion. The mid-drives shimano steps, yamaha, and brose don't drag power off. They and all mid drives chew up chains 2 to 10 x faster than hub drives. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain with a hub drive. Some high speed commuters with 11 speed chains wear one out in 500 miles.
Recapturing energy means your bike drags when you pedal unpowered. I pedal my geared hub 90% unpowered, to build up my heart/lungs. Oddly, excess lung capacity is in fashion right now, lessens the chance of needing a ventilator. Power is for 25 mph headwinds which can extend my commute time by 90%.
Cheap bikes have plastic cranks. If you cross thread the pedal putting it back in, you bought a new crank. With 6 different pullers, I couldn't get the plastic crank off my Pacific Quantum MTB. Pedal wore out threaded hole. Scrapped it & bought a yubabike. Your experience may vary.
Don't forget serious security. My 6' SS cable will fit around a power pole or gas meter, but requires a big bag to carry it. U-locks fit city installed tethers, there may be some of those as near as Pittsburg to here. (800 miles)
If I lived in Reston & didn't have to buy groceries off the bike I'd buy a M2s R750 or a Magnum Ui6. Since I'm age 69, I like not dancing over the center bar of R750. I'm extremely happy with my yubabikes bodaboda shown left, which will carry 136 lb groceries on 26x2.1" tires. The drop frame fits short leg me, the diamond bar fits normal people. Not cheap.
Have fun shopping, and then riding.


None of the bikes I'm looking at have rims, that's just the only brake type I've had on a bike so you all know what my experience was.

Alright so no messing with the headset. Something I didn't consider yesterday, does anyone make use of quick release front tires to make stowing your bike in a car easier?

Interesting, I hadn't thought about geared v direct in terms of speed. Most of the bikes I'm looking at are geared and perhaps that's why. So much to learn!

And you're probably right about the headlight being eye candy. Still feel the red light on the rear would be useful, especially if it's fully integrated with a brake light function as some bikes have.

2-10x faster chain wear?! Jeezus! That's a scary strike against the mid drive!

Most of the bikes I've looked at don't appear to have plastic cranks but I haven't been paying close attention. Would you avoid cheaper cranks or is that just for if you want to swap pedals?

Yup! Haven't forgot about locking it up. Need to do a lot of research there so recommendations/cautions are more than welcome!

That M2S looks great! Hadn't even seen that brand yet, thank you! Magnum looks strikingly similar save for a smaller rack some color choices. I'd definitely spring $100 more the bigger rack and larger battery on the M2S.
In normal times I'm the type of person who prefers to make smaller, frequent trips to the grocery store so as long as the bike could manage one reusable bags worth of groceries I'm set (and I haven't seen any so far that would make me doubt that)

Seriously amazing response, Indianajo!
 

federal_tourist

New Member
If you go for a folding 20" bike, definitely don't limit yourself to hydraulics only. Very few 20" bikes have hydraulics. As noted, hydraulics require less effort per equal stopping power but 20" bike won't be moving fast so you won't need much effort.

I would say mechanical disc brakes are adequate on 500W bike under most conditions too, unless you have arthritis or other hand problems. If you load a lot of cargo or pull a trailer you'll probably see limitations of mechanical brakes.

Hmmm, good observation! And no arthritis, I'm [hopefully] way too young for that. And who knows, a good ebike that helps you take a longer ride might be a good antidote for arthritis onset
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
3) Mechanical brakes take more effort but this only matters on motors bigger than 350W. As noted, they are less efficient in rain, not completely useless but less efficient, takes 2 times longer to stop on flat surface. When speeding 30 mph downhill in heavy downpour it probably won't stop at all and will barely slow down, don't do stupid things.
Rain has very slight effect on any disk brake, rain is a major inhibitor of rim brakes. I have arthritis and have no problem with my mechanical disks.That is with 80 lb groceries down a 15% grade. The replacement handles that came with the hub motor are longer than stock, probably help me.
Court always quotes crank brand and part #, doesn't ever say which models are plastic. I wore out one plastic crank in 1500 miles, don't respect them at all. 99% of kiddie bikes like Pacific quantum are not ridden that far.
I've always carried books & now groceries on the back, have been over the handlebars on my chin on 4 different bikes - 2 cruisers, 2 MTB, one twice. Hit a ridge of gravel, stick, bump, front wheel whips sideways, rear tire jumps up, over I go. I measured the MTB without me, weight was 100 lb rear 20 lb front with groceries. But the wrecks have happened when light, just basket & tools. Weight behind axle lifts front tire. Haven't been over the handlebars on the cargo bike left yet, better weight distribution. Also has bosses in frame for front cargo,I carry a big battery up there that is not difficult to steer. So I'm partial to those if you're going to shop at all . Don't fit in cars or bus racks. Cheapest one is envoy mongoose, not electric. Also blix packa, radwagon, (has bosses in front), xtracycle, magnum, tern GSD are the cheap ones. Mine is a yubabike specially small. I have $221 ebikeling front hub motor on mine. Don't ride front hub motors on ice or wet moss. Had 136 lb groceries in the back last week. Have carried a pickup tire & a 6000 btu air conditioner with it.
Head forward hips up bikes like the orbea may put the person's weight on the front tire better, but that flexing of the neck to see strikes me as a great way to break a disk. My mother broke a disk typing, neck flexed postures are dangerous to her & me. Also having wrecked more than once, riding around with my head sticking out first strikes me as stupid. Thousands do it.
BTW my geared hub motor will go ~23 mph on the flat. Fast enough for me. DD hub motors are faster, but you need a front suspension for those speeds.
 
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Alex M

Well-Known Member
Something I didn't consider yesterday, does anyone make use of quick release front tires to make stowing your bike in a car easier?
Not a common feature in your price range, and not common in folding bikes. RAD Mini has quick release but at this weight the job doesn't qualify as "easy", IMO.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Well, look at this foldup 20" bike. folding pedals and a folding handlebar that doesn't require fiddling with the stem joint. Also torque sensing assist, which is rare in a hub motor bike:
 

dak1010

New Member
Well, look at this foldup 20" bike. folding pedals and a folding handlebar that doesn't require fiddling with the stem joint. Also torque sensing assist, which is rare in a hub motor bike:
This review states the 350 watt motor is comparable to Rad or Juiced in real world performance... Is this possible? will this bike take you up big hills on PAS 8?
 

federal_tourist

New Member
Hey everyone,

Thank you again for the advice! I wanted to let you all know I finally pulled the trigger and I decided on a bike I wasn't initially considering. I decided on the M2S R750 Sport in black/blue color with the standard 16 amp battery, thank you Indianajo for suggesting M2S!

If you're familiar with the R750 in OG form, the Sport is nearly identical but trades the 4" tires for 3" tires and it gets larger fenders. Since I'm not planning on snow or beach duty the 3" tires make more sense for cruising around town with the freedom to leave the pavement.

I don't have the bike yet but the estimated ship date is June 15 with a one day shipping time (they're in NC and I'm in VA) so I hope to be back here soon with pictures and first impressions!
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Hey everyone,

Thank you again for the advice! I wanted to let you all know I finally pulled the trigger and I decided on a bike I wasn't initially considering. I decided on the M2S R750 Sport in black/blue color with the standard 16 amp battery, thank you Indianajo for suggesting M2S!

If you're familiar with the R750 in OG form, the Sport is nearly identical but trades the 4" tires for 3" tires and it gets larger fenders. Since I'm not planning on snow or beach duty the 3" tires make more sense for cruising around town with the freedom to leave the pavement.

I don't have the bike yet but the estimated ship date is June 15 with a one day shipping time (they're in NC and I'm in VA) so I hope to be back here soon with pictures and first impressions!

Congratulations on your new bike... the M2S R750 Sport looks like a winner. ;)