Comfortable but fun first e-bike in Japan

Quanta

New Member
Hi, I would be really grateful if you could offer me some advice regarding my first e-bike :)

I live in Japan where the three main brands are Bridgestone, Yamaha and Panasonic.
The intended main usage of the e-bike would be to commute to work on most weekdays, i.e. not-raining days.
The distance is around 6.5 km one-way with a couple of slopes along the way and it should take around 30 minutes to cover this distance.
I am looking for a bike that is comfortable but at the same time reasonably fast/fun (keep in mind that here e-bikes are limited to 250W and there cannot be any assistance above 24 km/h).
About myself: male, forty, 170cm, reasonably fit (gym, and running 1-2 times a week).
I also have some not serious lower-back problems: I started doing core exercises and paying attention to sitting posture and the situation improved.

I had the chance to try a few models and it seems that the ones with 3 gears are not a lot of fun to drive.
At the same time some of the "sport" models require a quite inclined sitting posture that I fear might be problematic for my back.
With the above considerations I am now undecided between the following 2 options, both with 5 gears:

ALBERT (Bridgestone):
I tried this from a friend who has the 2018 model and I liked the "sprinty" feeling.
The main downside is that with 27" wheels and at around 26 kgs it is a bit big and heavy with a high sitting position.
In Tokyo one happens to cover part of the journey on pavements (of course driving carefully!) so it helps if the bike has good maneuverability.

PAS VIENTA5 (Yamaha):
Unfortunately I could only try this shortly on a short straight street next to a bike shop I visited.
It is more fun to ride and more manoeuvrable than ALBERT due to 26 wheels and only 21 kgs of weight.
From the web-page above you can see (left picture) a comparison with the PAS Brace and it can be seen that the VIENTA5 results in a bit less inclined posture.
My main concern is whether this bike would still turn out to be uncomfortable / give me back pains.

To compare the two, I created this abomination (the VIENTA5 saddle should be lower probably):

comparison.png


As my concern is about posture for the VIENTA5 due to the lower and more forward handlebar, I wonder whether it might be possible to add a stem raiser / use a stem with different angle / use a different handlebar, were posture turn out to be an issue for me.
This gives a detail of the part (from someone who changed the handlebar):
How does one investigate what kind of modifications are possible for a given bike?

To summarize, were it not for the posture concerns I would choose the VIENTA5, as it is I am undecided.
But maybe I am making a big deal out of nothing, and the posture is actually nowhere as taxing as I might be thinking...

Any help is welcome, even completely different suggestions.
Thanks
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
As my concern is about posture for the VIENTA5 due to the lower and more forward handlebar, I wonder whether it might be possible to add a stem raiser / use a stem with different angle / use a different handlebar, were posture turn out to be an issue for me.
Modifying a bike will void your warrenty. Find a bike that fits you before purchase.
I had to order bike left from 3000 miles away to get what I wanted. Fortunately the freight was free with $200 in accessories, which I needed anyway (panniers). Looked for 2 years, and bought without electricity then added the motor & battery later. I ride upright, which slows me down to 50% of speed of people that crouch over drop bars can achieve. But I have no back or neck problems. I've never ridden crouched over. My mother popped a disk in her neck working with wrong furniture at her job, and I'm built just like her. Wasn't repairable, caused constant pain. More speed is not worth that pain.
I'm age 69, and I touch my toes 30 times 4 times a week with 18 lb in weights in hands to keep my back muscles in shape. Contact a physician to make sure you don't have disk problems before starting an exercise problem. I also do leaning pushups - arms not strong enough to push up off the floor anymore.
I view muscle soreness when I wake up in the morning as a sign I'm not losing strength as I should at my age. Stretching out after breakfast helps that.
 

Quanta

New Member
Just to clarify, what I am looking for right now is a reasonable bike to use to commute, comfortable enough for daily usage and if possible enjoyable to ride.
I don't care so much about speed, what I liked about the smaller bike was that it was more responsive and maneuverable.
If I were to search for a *definitive bike*, I agree it might make more sense to buy a bike separately as there is much more choice, and then add the electric assist.
What I am factoring in here is the convenience of buying and selling the bike when the bike will not be needed any more.
So, for the time being choice is limited to what readily available here in Japan, excluding some cheap imports of doubtful quality and some (very expensive here in Japan) import models. That basically leaves the three makers mentioned above.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I think it’s likely your bike will have a standard 1” steerer meaning you could fit any 22.2mm quill stem like these Nitto brand from Japan https://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/stems/index.html#onethreadlessstems

It should be a simple swap and your bike shop should be able to source them if they don’t have a variety of different heights in stock. You could buy it from Rakuten but stems come in different heights so to figure out which height you like it’s best ask a bike shop to help you try out different stem heights.

If you want an adjustable stem, consider getting the Gazelle switch stem in 22.2mm that you can easily adjust the angle by lifting a handle, Again comes in different heights so find out what height works for you before ordering the corresponding stem
 
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Yamahonian

Active Member
Modifying a bike will void your warrenty. Find a bike that fits you before purchase.
I had to order bike left from 3000 miles away to get what I wanted. Fortunately the freight was free with $200 in accessories, which I needed anyway (panniers). Looked for 2 years, and bought without electricity then added the motor & battery later. I ride upright, which slows me down to 50% of speed of people that crouch over drop bars can achieve. But I have no back or neck problems. I've never ridden crouched over. My mother popped a disk in her neck working with wrong furniture at her job, and I'm built just like her. Wasn't repairable, caused constant pain. More speed is not worth that pain.
I'm age 69, and I touch my toes 30 times 4 times a week with 18 lb in weights in hands to keep my back muscles in shape. Contact a physician to make sure you don't have disk problems before starting an exercise problem. I also do leaning pushups - arms not strong enough to push up off the floor anymore.
I view muscle soreness when I wake up in the morning as a sign I'm not losing strength as I should at my age. Stretching out after breakfast helps that.

I don't see how changing a handlebar or stem would void any warranty. That is basic bike fitment.
 

Quanta

New Member
Thank you all!
@Nova Haibike, how did you figure out that the Vienta5 uses a threadless steer?
Following the suggestions I have been looking around, indeed it should not be too problematic to (have a bike shop) carry out the required modifications.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
It would seem the bike shop can fit the bike. One thing about extreme changes is possibly not enough slack in the cables to raise the bars. Looks like they already used all of it on the Vientas being ridden by the gal in your link, and I would not bet on whether it's threadless/threaded.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Japan has one of the most complicated ebike laws.

1. In Japan, cadence sensors are illegal, only torque sensored bikes can be ridden on the road.

2. The full 250W assist is only allowed under 10km/h (6mph)
Within the 250W assist, it can be 200% of human power or 250W, whichever is lower.
For example, if the person is pedaling at 80W, the assist can be 160W (so not 250W).
However, if the person is pedaling at 300W, the assist will be 250W, because the law does not allow bike to amplify the power by 200% in this case.

3. From 11km/h (7mph) to 24km/h (15mph), the assist level will gradually have to lower. In other words, you will never have 250W of assist past 6mph. By the time you get close to 15mph, the assist must be very close to zero.

In 2008, Japan made a pretty big change in ebike regulations.
It used to be 100% max, but now raised it to 200% max.
Also the top speed used to be 20km/h (12mph) but now 24km/h (15mph)
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
Thank you all!
@Nova Haibike, how did you figure out that the Vienta5 uses a threadless steer?

Because I am a professional bicycle technician and I can tell just be looking. ;) Beyond that, I looked at the bike's manual (page 33) to confirm it. As far as cables are concerned, the shop should be able to install longer one's if necessary to accommodate a taller stem and/or handlebars. It is not difficult.