Confusion after trying some affordable bikes

Danne

New Member
Region
USA
Hi - I'm ready to purchase my first ebike, but I'm getting a bit confused after riding a few.

About me - I'm about 5'2", 28.5" inseam, 115-ish lbs on a good day so I'm looking for a step thru. I would use the bike for exercise and leisure riding, maybe an occasional ride into town. I would definitely not consider myself an avid biker. I used to do 20-30 mile gently rolling to rolling scenic rides on a hybrid back in the day, and I think an ebike would help me get back to exploring even though I'm not in quite the same shape I was. I really don't like going fast - not looking to be launched - less effort for exploration and getting over occasional hills are my goals. I would like to keep the cost in the "affordable" range <$1500. I drive a family sedan and will have to spend some $ on a hitch mount and rack too.

OK. So, My daughter and I rented Rad City 3s this past summer and I really liked it. I felt like it was assisting me, but I was still contributing to the ride. While my daughter was getting used to hers
(and going painfully slow :)), I could still use the assist at 8-10mph, and then we sped up consistently between 12-15mph. I think I spent most of the time in PAS 1 and 2, occasionally 3 for a bit of fun. It seemed smooth to me. It was heavy. I rode without the assist and I wouldn't want to do that for long. My hesitation to buy one - I believe their battery is proprietary and pricey, and weight, especially for transportation.

Yesterday, I rode an Aventon 350. I had read about the "launching" when not starting from PAS 0 and that is really true. I didn't care for that. I also felt that even in PAS 1, it was bringing me up to 15mph without any effort on my part. It was a bit jerky and felt "clickety" when I pedaled. I'm not sure how else to describe that. I'm assuming it was the interaction between the cadence sensor and the geared motor. I don't recall any of that with the Rad City - I'm not sure if that was due to the direct drive motor being smoother. I liked that the Aventon was lighter. I rode the medium frame and that felt fine even thought the specs would suggest the small for me. Definitely not buying this one though.

I've looked at a lot of others online and watched the great reviews here. A lot of them are too large for me or seem like they would be really uncomfortable on a longer ride (Ariel, Juiced, Himiway, Sondors, Blix). The other bike I've looked at online quite a bit is the Ride1up 500. It's a lighter bike than the Rad City and it has programmable assist levels. I'm wondering if this would be a happy compromise that would get me the smoother, lower speed assist without the launching. I've also glanced at the 700 which would bump the weight back up, but has hydraulic breaks. I'm not sure if this is worth the tradeoff.

I would greatly, greatly appreciate any thoughts about the "feel" of these bikes that would help me interpret the specs. Is the Aventon "launching" something I should expect in other similar bikes or is it really unique to that one? Also wondering if all bikes with rear geared hub motors have basically the same feel? Would that programmable assist on the Ride1Up be the answer to my low speed concerns? Any other bikes that I should be considering? Thanks!
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Yes it’s good to test ride if you can to get a feel for the bike. Another option a bit more expensive than your budget is the Pedego Element. Court’s review emphasized this would be a good choice for a petite rider, he recommended taking the battery off the bike before lifting it as then it would weigh about 50lb, its worth watching the video for the tips such as getting a crossbar like the Saris beam to let you hang the bike off a car trunk rack. The nominally 500w motor should be plenty powerful as the 18a controller should mean peak power of 48v x 18a = 864w which is good. I tried out the thumb shifters by Microshift on a bikeshare ebike last year and thought they worked well. Apart from adding the optional headlight, rack, fenders, and a battery tail-light, I’d probably change out the tires for something more puncture resistant and with a reflective sidewall stripe like the Kenda Kraze. Pedego is one of the bigger ebike companies with lots of dealers, hopefully one near you that could arrange a test ride.
 
Last edited:

indianajo

Well-Known Member
The rocket launch feel of PAS1 has to do with the programming of the controller, not the geared hub motor. Known problem thread of Aventon has numerous complaints about the jerky takeoff in the lowest level, and investigators have announced that Aventon has prohibited modifications to their controller. Read the known problem thread about any bike brand you consider.
My ebikeling kit had the same effect in PAS1. I never used PAS after the first time or two, only throttle. When I moved the motor to another bike, I abandoned the PAS pickup altogether. Many jurisdictions like Massachusetts & NYC prohibit throttles altogether. They want their motorcycle tax from the license plates.
I don't see any benefit to hydraulic brakes, unless you are a downhill MTB racer that wears out a pad in one run. I get about 1000 miles and 6 months between pad adjustments with my cable pull brakes. It takes me 2 minutes on the front and ~7 on the back because I have to take the pannier off to reach the caliper. The ease of use problem can be addressed by replacing the 3 1/2" handles on cheap cable pull brakes with 5" handles that used to be standard on hand braked bicycles. BTW cheap scrap metal cables stretch. The cables on my $1300 yuba bike and jaguar & clarks replacement cables never need adjusting because they are made of steel.
A brand known to cater to small people is Liv. It is a line sold by trek. My yubabike shown left is for small people,but is heavier than you want.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I'm a major proponent when it comes to things like adjustable PAS levels. So that said, a bike set up that way, as compared to one that "launches" to 12mph, those bikes are at the opposite ends of what's available. The best and the worst. I think that as the bike industry evolves, we're going to see the PAS programming features grow in sophistication. Things like that "launching" will be gone and forgotten. You are not alone regarding how desirable a 6-10 mph ride might be. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

The difficulty pedaling a Rad City with no power is a different kind of issue. That was due to the fact it uses a direct drive rear hub for power. That systems has a built in inherent drag, making it much more difficult to pedal when unpowered (PAS 0). The faster you go, the more drag that must be overcome. That works to your advantage to hold your speed in check while coming down a big hill, but the rest of the time, it's generally considered a strike against that type power. Actually most bike manf's selling "economy" priced bikes have moved towards the much more common gear driven rear hubs.

Can I ask who will be getting their hands dirty when the new bike(s) need attention? If this will need to be a local dealer, you need to know that many (most?) will not work on anything they didn't sell. This limits your buying choices to that available locally. If you are able/planning on doing the service work yourself, the huge variety of consumer direct bikes will be available. This is a major call, and it needs to be made early in your shopping plans. Noteworthy are the mobile bike services available in many areas. Many consumer direct manf's will allow warranty work to be done by them, making them a service option if available. Check out velofix.com They have a great reputation. You can actually have you bike sent to them directly, they assemble it and check it out thoroughly, then deliver it to your door. Not free for sure, but worth what they charge for a lot of people.
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
Hi - I'm ready to purchase my first ebike, but I'm getting a bit confused after riding a few.

About me - I'm about 5'2", 28.5" inseam, 115-ish lbs on a good day so I'm looking for a step thru. I would use the bike for exercise and leisure riding, maybe an occasional ride into town. I would definitely not consider myself an avid biker. I used to do 20-30 mile gently rolling to rolling scenic rides on a hybrid back in the day, and I think an ebike would help me get back to exploring even though I'm not in quite the same shape I was. I really don't like going fast - not looking to be launched - less effort for exploration and getting over occasional hills are my goals. I would like to keep the cost in the "affordable" range <$1500. I drive a family sedan and will have to spend some $ on a hitch mount and rack too.

OK. So, My daughter and I rented Rad City 3s this past summer and I really liked it. I felt like it was assisting me, but I was still contributing to the ride. While my daughter was getting used to hers
(and going painfully slow :)), I could still use the assist at 8-10mph, and then we sped up consistently between 12-15mph. I think I spent most of the time in PAS 1 and 2, occasionally 3 for a bit of fun. It seemed smooth to me. It was heavy. I rode without the assist and I wouldn't want to do that for long. My hesitation to buy one - I believe their battery is proprietary and pricey, and weight, especially for transportation.

Yesterday, I rode an Aventon 350. I had read about the "launching" when not starting from PAS 0 and that is really true. I didn't care for that. I also felt that even in PAS 1, it was bringing me up to 15mph without any effort on my part. It was a bit jerky and felt "clickety" when I pedaled. I'm not sure how else to describe that. I'm assuming it was the interaction between the cadence sensor and the geared motor. I don't recall any of that with the Rad City - I'm not sure if that was due to the direct drive motor being smoother. I liked that the Aventon was lighter. I rode the medium frame and that felt fine even thought the specs would suggest the small for me. Definitely not buying this one though.

I've looked at a lot of others online and watched the great reviews here. A lot of them are too large for me or seem like they would be really uncomfortable on a longer ride (Ariel, Juiced, Himiway, Sondors, Blix). The other bike I've looked at online quite a bit is the Ride1up 500. It's a lighter bike than the Rad City and it has programmable assist levels. I'm wondering if this would be a happy compromise that would get me the smoother, lower speed assist without the launching. I've also glanced at the 700 which would bump the weight back up, but has hydraulic breaks. I'm not sure if this is worth the tradeoff.

I would greatly, greatly appreciate any thoughts about the "feel" of these bikes that would help me interpret the specs. Is the Aventon "launching" something I should expect in other similar bikes or is it really unique to that one? Also wondering if all bikes with rear geared hub motors have basically the same feel? Would that programmable assist on the Ride1Up be the answer to my low speed concerns? Any other bikes that I should be considering? Thanks!

I have 2 Espin Sports and love them. Espin also makes a step-thru called Flow. Smooth riding, smooth shifting and not too heavy. (55 lbs) Comes with a 1 year warranty and arrives 90% assembled. Plenty of battery (50 miles on a charge), hydraulic brakes, front suspension and comes with rear rack and fenders. I have had no issues with either bike after about 1000 miles on each. At $1200, I am more than pleased with the value compared to other bikes at that price-point and configuration.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
FWIW, we have a Espin Flow on order, but haven't received it yet (they LOST the CONTAINER it's in for a while prior to locating it in the Port of Los Angeles!!!). Bike selected (our fourth) after a lot of online shopping. I haven't ridden it yet, so no idea of the PAS programming, but have heard good things about it. Between that, it's price, the fact it's built using over the counter parts available from many different sources, has decent specs that will suit our purposes well, we're looking forward to receiving it soon (in the next few days).
 

Danne

New Member
Region
USA
Yes it’s good to test ride if you can to get a feel for the bike. Another option a bit more expensive than your budget is the Pedego Element. Court’s review emphasized this would be a good choice for a petite rider, he recommended taking the battery off the bike before lifting it as then it would weigh about 50lb, its worth watching the video for the tips such as getting a crossbar like the Saris beam to let you hang the bike off a car trunk rack. The nominally 500w motor should be plenty powerful as the 18a controller should mean peak power of 48v x 18a = 864w which is good. I tried out the thumb shifters by Microshift on a bikeshare ebike last year and thought they worked well. Apart from adding the optional headlight, rack, fenders, and a battery tail-light, I’d probably change out the tires for something more puncture resistant and with a reflective sidewall stripe like the Kenda Kraze. Pedego is one of the bigger ebike companies with lots of dealers, hopefully one near you that could arrange a test ride.
Thanks! I looked at the video and there is a Pedego just over the border in NH. Most of the other ebike dealers near me rep Aventon or the higher end brands so I might check Pedego out for a comparison. Those tires are really chunky!
I was experimenting doing some bicep curls today with my old Trek hybrid with some freeweights strapped to it to mimic the motor and battery. I think I have a good idea of my limit. Of course, if I keep lifting the Trek that should go up. lol
 

Danne

New Member
Region
USA
I'm a major proponent when it comes to things like adjustable PAS levels. So that said, a bike set up that way, as compared to one that "launches" to 12mph, those bikes are at the opposite ends of what's available. The best and the worst. I think that as the bike industry evolves, we're going to see the PAS programming features grow in sophistication. Things like that "launching" will be gone and forgotten. You are not alone regarding how desirable a 6-10 mph ride might be. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

The difficulty pedaling a Rad City with no power is a different kind of issue. That was due to the fact it uses a direct drive rear hub for power. That systems has a built in inherent drag, making it much more difficult to pedal when unpowered (PAS 0). The faster you go, the more drag that must be overcome. That works to your advantage to hold your speed in check while coming down a big hill, but the rest of the time, it's generally considered a strike against that type power. Actually most bike manf's selling "economy" priced bikes have moved towards the much more common gear driven rear hubs.

Can I ask who will be getting their hands dirty when the new bike(s) need attention? If this will need to be a local dealer, you need to know that many (most?) will not work on anything they didn't sell. This limits your buying choices to that available locally. If you are able/planning on doing the service work yourself, the huge variety of consumer direct bikes will be available. This is a major call, and it needs to be made early in your shopping plans. Noteworthy are the mobile bike services available in many areas. Many consumer direct manf's will allow warranty work to be done by them, making them a service option if available. Check out velofix.com They have a great reputation. You can actually have you bike sent to them directly, they assemble it and check it out thoroughly, then deliver it to your door. Not free for sure, but worth what they charge for a lot of people.
I'm really liking the idea of being able to adjust the bike controller to my style of riding and comfort - definitely a plus for Ride1up.

For the most part, it will probably be me getting my hands dirty. I'm an engineer and I fix just about everything. Having said that, I have looked into local shops especially for warranty purposes. Unfortunately, no Velofix in my area, but I have found similar mobile service providers.

Thanks for the input. It was very helpful.
 

BET

Active Member
I second the Espin Flow. Step through. Comfortable. I have the similar non step through Sport and I think it rides nicely in level 1 on bike path. Unlike some bikes the throttle works from a full stop which is great at intersections. Well built. It is 55 lbs. with rack and fenders. Nice suspension fork, hydraulic brakes. We have a similar Ride1up 500 but I prefer my Espin Sport. I think the frame is smaller. If you want a foldable, there is the new Espin Nesta. Also step thru with a bigger 750 w motor. Fat tires, hydraulic brakes, suspension fork. Currently the Nesta is $100 less than the Flow. We also have an Lectric xp step thru. It was only $900. It is a nice adjustable folding step thru with fat tires, rear rack, fenders. However it is about 65 lbs, no suspension fork, no hydraulic brakes, cheaper components, smaller battery so less range. However, if you just want a less expensive bike to ride reasonable distances and you do not mind the heavier weight it seems good bang for the buck. They seem sturdy and have good customer service. You can get $50 off Espin bikes with a code.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
If you plan on doing bike work yourself, check to see if the bike maker will ship parts directly to you without going through a dealer. This is one reason I chose Pedego since the closest dealer is 3 hours away.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Danne,
Congrats on your search for an ebike!
I have similar concerns as you as I am considering a throttle ebike. Looking for a small frame and small tires so it will fit inside my suv. I too did a test ride on an Aventon and found it "surgey." But then I thought maybe that's how all rear hub throttle bikes feel. And I also have two mid-drive ebikes so I'm new to a rear hub feel.

Really surprised how heavy the little 20" fat tire ebikes can get. Some of the folding ones are still over 60 lbs (27 kg), even without the battery. Consequently lifting these little beasts is nearly impossible.

As you consider a car rack for hauling your bike, be sure to check the maximum weight that the rack can carry. And also the actual weight of the rack itself so you are able lift it onto your vehicle.

Please post your impressions of the Pedego Element, if you test ride it. It's 50 lbs without the battery so it might be liftable. Once Spring breaks out here and the snow melts, I plan to test ride one.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Marci I will guarantee you that not all hub drives are "surgey". The "surgey" are the bottom extreme of that available - including the non adjustable varieties. Some of the "non adjustable" ride fine! What's frustrating to me, is the fact this is 100% about the controller programming. Just a LITTLE more care/experience on the part of whoever is responsible for that programing, can make an absolute night and day difference in "ride ability". The hardware, surgey controller vs. not so much, could be identical.....
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Thank you AHicks.
As I noted, I'm new to hub drives so any info is appreciated.
The Aventon models are super popular. My local bike shop has become a dealer and cannot keep these in stock, aside from the strange year. The manager said as soon as the truck would arrive all the Aventons were spoken for.
Cycle on!
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Depending on your DIY confidence/experience, those Aventon controllers could be pulled by their roots and a MUCH more capable, fully customizable, controller installed in it's place. KT components to do that, including display, would be less than 100. Same basic "kit" that Bolton sells as a drop in for Sondors and Rad. Difference being with the Aventon is you would have to match up the connectors/wires yourself with very little guidance available.
 

Danne

New Member
Region
USA
Hi all - just wanted to update this post. Thanks everyone for the advice. This community is great!

I tried a few bikes and I decided to get the Ride1up 700ST. I based my decision on a few factors. The flexibility was important to me in that I can adjust the assist levels. I'm still experimenting with this, but it's a great feature. I also like this bike because the components were all available - nothing proprietary. I did a lot of research on racks and local shops that would work on it if needed, and checked these boxes too.

I've had it for a week. It's cold in New England. I usually wouldn't ride in this weather, but it's so much fun that I can't stay off of it!

Things I was concerned about -
Launching - After riding the Aventon I had some concerns about the assist launching you even in the low level. This was really just a characteristic of the Aventon. I can really control how slow or fast I want to go. I did learn that if your first biking move is a sharp u-turn to turn the assist down low or off since any extra push can be too much.
Weight - The Rad City felt a little tank-ish. The 700ST is heavy, but I actually like the feel even better than my old, much lighter Trek hybrid. That motor keeps you moving, but it feels very stable and comfortable. I can ride it in low or no assist without much effort. Of course, my pandemic exercise biking is helping there. I think the Rad City was a little smoother when powered because of the direct drive motor, but it did impact the feel with no assist.
Size - I followed the size guides online, and even though I'm short, I'm really comfortable on the bike. There's still plenty of adjustment available in the seat post if I decide to grow or shrink. One of the other reasons I chose the 700 was that it had a few more adjustments on the handle bars.

Other things I like-
The throttle. I haven't used it much, but I live on a steep road and it is nice to have that little kick. I also used it today to cross a busy-ish road. That was really nice.
Nice Bright Display. As I'm learning the bike and balancing when to shift mechanically vs electrically, it's nice to have a really clear display so that I can quickly see what is going on.
Speed - OK. My original post says I don't like going fast. I've been going a little faster on this bike. I think it's because the bike is a bit heavier and the tires are larger. It feels more stable to me than my old bike. I'm still not close to topping out the speed and I don't want to, but I'm moving and it's fun.
Power. Needless to say. It was really windy today. I would have been hurting on my conventional bike. EBike doesn't care. Love that.

Things I don't care about so far-
The brakes. The 700 has hydraulic brakes. They work well, but I'm not sure I've noticed the real difference - granted this is a heavy bike so I imagine that the comparison to the mechanical brakes on my conventional, much lighter bike isn't exactly fair. I also haven't gotten to the point of needing maintenance.
Cadence sensor. You definitely feel when the motor kicks on. It's not exactly smooth, but I don't mind that feeling at all. I also like that little kick when the airplane starts moving down the runway so....

Hope this post helps someone else looking for ebike advice!
D