Commuting ebike in the middle of nowhere

sorofsh

New Member
Region
USA
Hello everyone,

I am looking for a nice commuting ebike. I have a mile walk to work which I want to travel by bike everyday. The route is extremely hilly, which what I have been told, calls for at least 500W bike. I do not think I am planning on using it off road, so I do not think mountain bike is necessary. I am about 6'3"-6'4" 220 pounds. So I need a big bike that can handle a big person. I have back issues so something comfy would be great. Do you guys have any recommendations?

I read that you should pick bikes that have retailers near you, for repairs, but I live in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. So no such retailers exist. There is however, a bike repair shop so I am not too worried about that. From conglomeration of reviews I have read, it seems that RadPower and Aventon are good brands at a price point I am looking for (3k at most, but I would really like to keep it below 2.5k).

The three bikes I sort of am looking at are:
Pace 500/Level (Aventon)
Radcity 4


Any other recommendations or comments on my choices would be great.
Thank you!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Welcome to EBR from another citizen of nowhere, PA. We call it Pensyl-tucky here in the central part of the state. But, I am blessed with multiple good bike shops: Trek, Specialized, Giant, and several smaller brands all have local dealers. Maybe it's the Mennonite influence.
I don't know the bikes you mentioned, but Rad is an extremely popular brand on here, and others will chime in.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
" a mile walk" as in a one mile each way commute? If so thats going to mean you don't have any range issues to worry about and you can ride pretty much any bike without concern of it running out of power (unless you forget to charge it regularly).

As a general rule, mid drive bikes are in their element and the best choice for getting the job done in hill country. Hub drives are, by their nature, single-speed. They power the bike thru the axle. The only use for the gears is to let you grunt out additional assistance with muscle power. If you think on it, your hub motor's life sucks just like yours would if you couldn't downshift into a lower gear and were stuck with a 1-speed. Thats the easiest way to understand why a hub motor is out of its element on an 'extremely hilly' route.

When I hear

-extremely hilly
-big person
-back issues

I double down on the recommendation for a mid drive. Chances are, you are going to want/need that bike to take over for you on some days when pain becomes an issue. A mid is best capable of doing that and letting you rest on the ride home when a bad day demands it. Sure you can still get all the exercise you want on your good days, with the option of taking it easy.

A mid drive does have a learning curve. There are certain do's and don'ts to eliminate chain/chainring wear for example. But its the right tool for the job and so long as you are open to learning how to ride it (an ebike is not a bicycle... its a bicycle-shaped object) you can expect it to have a long life - drivetrain included. Especially if you are only riding it 1-2 miles at a time.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
A big guy using his bike in a hilly area is going to completely overwhelm the power available from a Rad City 4 (or it's predecessors). Note that the Rad City 5 uses a different type of motor. There's some pretty good reasons for that. One of them would be more power - think hills. The second would be more power - think big riders 😁.

The Rad City is the latest in a string of Rad bikes where the direct drive rear hubs have been replaced by gear driven rear hubs. Reasons are more power for sportier performance, as well as increased battery life (mileage per charge). The direct drives, especially direct drives with larger riders, are known for pretty "casual" (gutless) performance while starting from a stop, and when encountering much in the way of a hill. If the hill is too much, you may be forced to walk the bike to the top of the hill or risk overheating it.

Realize that a "hill" is different things to different people, depending on where you live/what you are used to. If your hills are HILLS I agree with Mr. Robertson's thoughts above. Your HILLS may overwhelm even the newer 'City unless they are "hills". If they are HILLS the mid drives may be the better plan. Clearly the mid drives are more expensive, but the redeeming factor is that they're able to climb about anything. Here's an idea of what I'm thinking of - https://rizebikes.com/products/rize-md

-Al
 

sorofsh

New Member
Region
USA
Wow, thank you everyone for your comments! I really appreciate the help.

@Rome I cannot find any reviews of the bike and it seems to only ship to Hawaii. Am I missing something?

@m@Robertson Thank you for pointing it out, I have also read somewhere else that mid drive is the way to go. Do you know of any resources that would help me maintain a mid motor, if I get one?

@AHicks Yeah I am not sure how to describe the "degree" of hilliness lol. One piece of information I can offer is that if I really put effort into it, I can make it up the hill using a regular bike. I am very exhausted afterwards but I am out of shape. The point is, the incline is doable using my muscle, if need be. I might go take a photo of a "hill" to give you a feel for what I mean. If I do buy a bike that can deal with hills even if I do not need one now, just gives me more possibilities with the bike which is not a bad thing. thank you for the suggestion, I will certainly look into it!
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
As a general rule, mid drive bikes are in their element and the best choice for getting the job done in hill country. Hub drives are, by their nature, single-speed.
Yeah, the single speed is zero to 25 mph: For geared hubs. Direct drive hubs will go 30 mph but chew up a lot of watthours (battery) at lower speeds on hills.
Mid-drives are required to climb 1000' in an hour without burning the winding. I don't believe there are any such hills in Pennsylvania. I climb about 80 hills with my geared hub drive on my 30 mile route in southern Indiana. 4 hills are 15% grade, 7/8" rise on a 6" K-mart level.
Hub drives are a lot cheaper, and if you wear one out, a replacement power wheel assy is $200-350. It takes less time to put a replacement hub drive wheel assembly in that it takes to change a chain, IMHO. Fewer tools, too. Mid drives wear out chains about 2 to 5 times faster than hub drives. Especially chains for sprocket clusters of more than 8 speeds. Replacement power wheels (used) are $45 at www.batteryclearinghouse.com right now.
I'd say be sure to buy a brand that comes in sizes so you can get a frame for large people.
Check the number of known problems in the brand forums below of any brand you intend to buy. Rad & Aventon have long lists. Brands sold mostly at dealerships like Trek, Giant, Cannondale, seem to have a lower percentage of problem reports. I bought a brand with a very low problem count (7) and have been very happy over the 8000 miles I've ridden it since purchase. Real steel & aluminum spokes, rims, cables, require a lot fewer adjustments than the grey mystery metal on the kiddie bikes I rode before (Pacific, Diamondback). I suspect bargain brands like Rad, Aventon, are made of the same quality of parts as the diamondback or Pacific. The diamondback broke a rear axle under my enormous 180 lb, and the rim was so small some tires would fall off of it and blow the tube. I was forever adjusting brake & shifter cables, too. My current yuba with cable pull disk brakes, the front pad requires adjustment about every 1000 miles, or about 6 months for me. Takes 5 minutes with an allen wrench.
 
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sorofsh

New Member
Region
USA
Perhaps I have overestimated how hilly the area is. I was talking from a perspective of riding up it using a regular bike. In all honesty, it is not bad, and the hills are not terribly long either. I do not think the hills will be a huge problem.

So what I am understanding is: Mid-drives are stronger and better for hills but due to that power, the components deteriorate quicker. Thus they require more care, and are generally more expensive.

Perhaps this might not be the best type of a bike to start with then, if it requires maintenance I do not know how to do.

@indianajo Do note, that Rad and Aventon are popular here. Hence more people have them, hence more issues are being reported. That might not mean they have more issues on average. However, I do like the idea of buying it from a big manufacturer like giant. However, they are pretty costly. Rize MD is cheaper than Giant ROAM yet rize is 750W vs 250W. Also again, no dealerships near me. I live in State College quite far from all.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
maintain a mid motor
I will jump in on and others can pickup. Maintaining a mid-drive: You will go through chains. Some of that depends on the power of the motor and weather it has a throttle and the number of gears. I had a popular 1000W mid-drive that ate a SRAM Eagle 11-Speed drivetrain in three weeks. I changed that over to a 350W torque sensor motor without a throttle to a generic 9-speed. The lower the number of gears, the stronger the chains. Chains cost $25 and last for many months of daily riding. After going through two chains and while installing a third, it is time to replace the cassette. That is $35 for a good quality generic one. After about three years of daily riding it is about time to do some preventive maintenance. On a winter day take apart the motor housing, clean both sides of the internal transmission and then repack with grease. One guy is quoted as saying that, "There is nothing as smooth as a lubed tranny." Because you do not have a close bike shop you could have one shipped ready to ride.
 

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sorofsh

New Member
Region
USA
Okay considering everything that has been said here. I think I will go with Rad Power either RadCity 5 Plus or RadRover 6 Plus,not step through due to my height. As @AHicks said, the motors in the newer models are better and should handle hills better which I think should not be a huge deal. RadRover 6 has fat tires, which I do not think I need as I will be riding on regular roads mainly, at least I think so. Hence I am leaning towards RadCity 5 Plus. Though Rize MD is still in the back of my mind, as it is Mid drive and is not that much expensive than RadCity. However, I think that is a little deep waters for me.
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
Hello everyone,

I am looking for a nice commuting ebike. I have a mile walk to work which I want to travel by bike everyday. The route is extremely hilly, which what I have been told, calls for at least 500W bike. I do not think I am planning on using it off road, so I do not think mountain bike is necessary. I am about 6'3"-6'4" 220 pounds. So I need a big bike that can handle a big person. I have back issues so something comfy would be great. Do you guys have any recommendations?

I read that you should pick bikes that have retailers near you, for repairs, but I live in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. So no such retailers exist. There is however, a bike repair shop so I am not too worried about that. From conglomeration of reviews I have read, it seems that RadPower and Aventon are good brands at a price point I am looking for (3k at most, but I would really like to keep it below 2.5k).

The three bikes I sort of am looking at are:
Pace 500/Level (Aventon)
Radcity 4


Any other recommendations or comments on my choices would be great.
Thank you!
I'm surprised the Espin Sport or Flow aren't in your list of candidates. I have purchased 2 Sports and they both are awesome. Under $1500, plenty of battery, delivered with a rack and lights and will get you down the road no problem. Add a suspension seat post if you wish and you are in business. Would totally stack it up with comparable Aventon or Ride 1 Up
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
There is nothing obviously wrong with the Rize MD as a mid-drive. But, it is a cadence sensor only. That means that it has no feel and you can 'ghost' pedal. Torque sensor bikes IMO are much better to ride. Eliminate all hub-drives because you have hills. This example happens to be a girly $299 Target Special, Gateway, that I made electric yesterday by installing a torque sensor mid-drive. It will kick the butt of $6500 bikes and does not look all that electric. Better bikes do not have ugly wires.
1643502546274.jpeg
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
There is nothing obviously wrong with the Rize MD as a mid-drive. But, it is a cadence sensor only. That means that it has no feel and you can 'ghost' pedal. Torque sensor bikes IMO are much better to ride. Eliminate all hub-drives because you have hills. This example happens to be a girly $299 Target Special, Gateway, that I made electric yesterday by installing a torque sensor mid-drive. It will kick the butt of $6500 bikes and does not look all that electric. Better bikes do not have ugly wires.
View attachment 112972
Yeah, but what if you wanted to use that spot for a bottle holder instead of a battery? :)
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
The issue with many/most torques sensing production bikes is the fact they don't have throttles. Clearly you can get away without a throttle, but to me it makes about as much sense as buying a car with a manual transmission.....

Torque sensing is nice, but you are also talking about more expensive bikes in many cases.

I remember, clearly, spending what I did for my first e-bike was a big leap of faith. If I had known I would be riding an e-bike pretty much daily from that point on, that first purchase would have been MUCH simpler!

Here's another thought too. The hub drive bikes are just flat simpler to ride. You can get on and go. The mid drives need to be ridden with a degree of awareness regarding what gear you are in, and what gear you SHOULD be in! There's also the certain degree of finesse required to make a smooth shift, especially if the bike is under power. Timing that pause in pedaling effort no big deal for somebody that's spent a lot of time riding and shifting, but it can be a bit of a challenge for a newby.

Which brings up wear in the chain line. Because the mid drive is driven through the chain line there's little chance it's not going to wear faster than a hub drive's chain line, but that not to say the mid drive is going to eat parts at some ridiculous rate. That's not been my experience anyway. Many others have said the same thing. That will have to do with the maintenance it receives, as well as rider skills. That clanging, popping and banging that can be heard between shifts on a bike ridden by a rookie shifter can be hard on parts....

Is there any chance that a demo ride on a hub drive might be possible? That might help bring the hill climbing ability into focus. Fat tires are easily justified by sand and snow. Unless you are riding either regularly, I'd suggest that the fatty isn't necessary or even desirable.
 

scottsdalecommuter

Active Member
Region
USA
Hello everyone,

I am looking for a nice commuting ebike. I have a mile walk to work which I want to travel by bike everyday. The route is extremely hilly, which what I have been told, calls for at least 500W bike. I do not think I am planning on using it off road, so I do not think mountain bike is necessary. I am about 6'3"-6'4" 220 pounds. So I need a big bike that can handle a big person. I have back issues so something comfy would be great. Do you guys have any recommendations?

I read that you should pick bikes that have retailers near you, for repairs, but I live in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. So no such retailers exist. There is however, a bike repair shop so I am not too worried about that. From conglomeration of reviews I have read, it seems that RadPower and Aventon are good brands at a price point I am looking for (3k at most, but I would really like to keep it below 2.5k).

The three bikes I sort of am looking at are:
Pace 500/Level (Aventon)
Radcity 4


Any other recommendations or comments on my choices would be great.
Thank you!
I’ll share I’m in Phoenix and 6’2 and 170 lbs and have found the aventon pace 500 to be quite comfortable overall after 1300 miles. After an hour I definitely want off it but the first hour is pretty nice. No hills here so can’t speak to that but had more than enough power and I never go over assist level 3 out of 5 because I don’t feel in control of the bike over 22mph should an old lady walking her dog pop out from a side path on the bike trail I use. Price is great, I mainly stayed away from mid drive because of the price jump and this was my first ebike and I didn’t know how much I would use it. Not the most natural pedaling but I’ve got used to it and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Best of luck!
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I will jump in on and others can pickup. Maintaining a mid-drive: You will go through chains. Some of that depends on the power of the motor and weather it has a throttle and the number of gears. I had a popular 1000W mid-drive that ate a SRAM Eagle 11-Speed drivetrain in three weeks. I changed that over to a 350W torque sensor motor without a throttle to a generic 9-speed. The lower the number of gears, the stronger the chains. Chains cost $25 and last for many months of daily riding. After going through two chains and while installing a third, it is time to replace the cassette. That is $35 for a good quality generic one. After about three years of daily riding it is about time to do some preventive maintenance. On a winter day take apart the motor housing, clean both sides of the internal transmission and then repack with grease. One guy is quoted as saying that, "There is nothing as smooth as a lubed tranny." Because you do not have a close bike shop you could have one shipped ready to ride.
On my Bosch Haibike Trekking I get 3,000 miles for a Shimano chain. 6,700 miles on the bike and have the original cassette and chainring. I call BS on the universal accepted story that mid drives are chain eating machines because it's really based on how you ride, the motor setup, and maintainance of the chain.
 
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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
For a 1 mile ride, I'd save thousands of dollars and buy a bicycle. It's not up hills both ways is it? LOL Even when I was a fat freshly retired corporate worker I could do 6 miles.
That makes sense from a purely practical standpoint, but if he can find a bike that will do a good job for him while commuting, I would say that most will agree that bike is going to be ridden on the weekends as well. So while the cost can be justified by the need/ability to commute, why not buy something you can have some fun with? Something you can ride for excercise as well as to have some fun! Exploring for instance, just fascinates the hell out of me, even if I have to turn around and go back the way I came.....
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
For a 1 mile ride, I'd save thousands of dollars and buy a bicycle. It's not up hills both ways is it? LOL Even when I was a fat freshly retired corporate worker I could do 6 miles.
Are you and the 1 mile rider fully able? It’s funny if another rider is not?
I couldn’t pedal a mile. eBikes gave me the ability to keep my legs in motion but reduce the pressure and ensuing pain. I could probably make the mile blasted on Rx pain meds but that isn’t a life for me.
 
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