Considering a replacement of 2011 ebike - opinions desired

RandallS

Well-Known Member
I bought my first ebike in 2011, after sourcing one for my wife who has MS. I bought her an Electra Townie and had a local specialist LBS add a BionX kit to it.
I liked hers so much, I had them do one for me too. Unfortunately her balance is giving her grief and she hasn't ridden in a couple of years, so I typically ride solo (especially now :-( )

My Townie_Bionx.jpg

My Electra Townie is a 21D with RRL 350w motor and 36v lithium battery in rear rack case.
One major reason I went with the upright style townie is that I always suffered from a sore neck (congenital neck fusion) when riding MTB or "normal" road bikes.
I went with the BionX kit as well, just in case she ran out of power while we were cycling, so I always had the option of swapping batteries with her.

Well in 2014, had a fairly serious industrial accident and to make a long story short, both legs are not very good. Fast forward to 2020 and although I've been pretty diligent about battery health, my BionX system is starting to indicate to me that it may be time to look for a replacement.

I'm 62 yrs old, 5'7" and carry a bit of extra weigh at 100Kg (220 Lbs) and like to do 3 or 4 50Km (30 miles) rides a week. Where I live, in NW Calgary Alberta, is somewhat hilly, so depending on route for the ride, I am looking at some longer climbs to start or finish.

I am quite comfortable on the Townie, but it is a heavy bike and wouldn't mind something a bit lighter.

The options I am thinking about are simply replacing the BionX with a Bafang mid drive kit (and living with the weight), or going all out on something brand new.
Price is not a super big deal, but I would like to keep it under $5 Canadian which should give me plenty of options.

Some of the bikes I've researched a little bit about (all available at local shops) are:
  • Specialized Como and Vado (not sure if V3, 4 or 5)
  • Bulls Lacuba
  • Haibike Sduro Trekking
  • Cannondale Neo X 3
I're read a bit on Brose vs Bosch vs Yamaha etc, but quite frankly, I think for my purposes, any should do.

One final word on the leg damage - sometimes when I need to push hard, I simply can't. It's not just the pain - (I can deal with the pain) it's the nerve damage. That concerns me about bikes without a throttle - but there's always compromises.

Any suggestions of retrofitting my old bike, or should I try something new and improved.

Any and all suggestions, thoughts or shared experiences would be welcomed, although I may do nothing at all this year.

TIA
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
I only have experience riding Haibike and Trek. I currently own a Haibike with the Bosch Performance Line motor and it works great with no issues. I'm not sure what your budget is, but from your list my vote is for the Specialized Vado or Haibike Sduro Trekking. If you have about $6k, you can also look into the Watt Wagons new super bike. I pre-ordered mine. It's got a powerful Bafang Ultra motor with a custom controller with throttle and all components are top end. And did I mention Gates Carbon Drive with Rohloff IGH?
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I was about to suggest you upgrade your townie with a $300 hub motor wheel and a $700 generic battery, until I saw it had rim brakes. I hit the side of a car that ran a 4 way stop in the rain with rim brakes. I was going all of 2 mph since I had stopped 13 feet before impact. No more of that. Disk brakes work in the rain.
OTOH the townie has plenty of room to ditch that battery on a rack and hang one from the upper bar. I make clamps out of a 1" wide strip of steel sheet with #10 SS screws to hold it together. Use elastic stop nuts to keep the nuts from falling off all the time. Or 5 mm screws if your tool set is metric. I hang the controller under the seat with clamp made of spam can lid.
Two US sources of decent batteries & hub motors are lunabikes.com and ebikeling.com . I connect the two with 12 ga wire from the auto supply, also .250" insulated flag terminals from Dorman. Put male on plus and female on minus so you can't get them backwards.
Edit, I see you are in Canada. In that case buy from ebikes.ca , there would be no border customs problems if you had a warrenty issue as I would.
The cool thing about a diy kit, you can buy as big a battery as you want. At 30 miles you'll want at least 17.5 AH and maybe 21 AH for longer battery life. there are not a lot of built bikes that come with that big a battery. The less often you drain a battery to <10% the longer it might last. The range estimates on batteries on court's reviews I think involve a lot of pedal input that some days you might not be able to do. I chew up most of 17.5 AH in a 30 mile trip with 77 hills where I pedal unpowered 2/3 of the way.
If you don't want to change the chain yearly or more often, hub motors have a huge advantage. Also, you are allowed to buy a throttle, which is illegal as a built bike in a lot of state. I will not ride an electric bike without a throttle, since if I twist my knee out at my summer camp I can't really use it for anything for a week or more. No cartlege and bone spurs too, ex Viet Nam era vet.
If you buy a front hub motor, the wheel will come with disk brake flange already & all you have to do it put a clamp around the front strut to support the caliper. When I bought ebikeling was selling disk brake caliper for $11 a set. He sold disks, too. One front disk brake should do. You can make a clamp to support the torque arm on a hub motor, too.
Happy shopping.
 
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TMH

Well-Known Member
Ride some of the new bikes if you can.

Earlier this year we sold our vintage 2010 Pedegos and the current crop of e-bikes are night-and-day better then the ones from 2010-2011.

You may feel that you need the throttle due to your physical condition based on your experience with your current bike. You may find that popping into Turbo mode on a Vado or Como (or any of the others) will cause you to never miss not having a throttle.

But look at the motor torque specs on all of the bikes you are reviewing. With the nerve damage in your legs having the highest available torque should be the best for you.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
@RandallS, as a dedicated Vado owner I will tell you only one thing: If your LBS can deliver the Vado 5.0 in your size, Step-Through, and you can afford it, go for it. My legs are severely weakened by arteriosclerosis (I can hardly walk), and I'm making 80 km trips with my Vado. That's a beautiful and powerful e-bike. Apart from the fact no throttle is allowed in Europe, I never felt the need for the throttle.

I lost 12-13 kg by riding e-bikes since January this year and my walking capability improved from 200 to 400 then to 1200 metres without ache.

Go for the Vado 5.0. It is a luxury and the bike feels like a sports car. If you wouldn't like the riding posture, the bike can easily be fit to your needs.
 
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RandallS

Well-Known Member
@Stefan Mikes going for a test ride on the Vado on Tuesday - the nearest LBS has a 3.0 in stock to try out the geometry first, but can bring in a 4 or 5 for subsequent tests if I want to.

I considered a Trek Allant + but they are special order and I'm not committing that kind of money without a test ride.

I'd also love to try a Dost, but am very leery of new startups of any kind with the current state of affairs. I hope they can weather the storm as I would prefer to support Canadian businesses.

Off topic:
I see you are in Poland near Warsaw. In 2010 and again in 2011, I spent some time in Krakow area, including Katowice and Tychy. Loved the food and beverages! I keep telling people to try visiting Poland rather than some of the other more "popular" European places like Budapest or Prague. One highlight was the salt mine at Wieliczka.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
@RandallS, try to demo ride the Turbo Como, too, it might be more comfortable for you.

I'm actually writing these words from Kraków! I'm here for an MTB ride with my friends. I agree, Kraków and it's neighbourhood are extremely attractive and the city is actually English speaking because of the tourists. I also know Tychy very well, and I've been to Katowice for many times!
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Randall if you want Canadian consider these brands : https://ohmcycles.com/ . Also Norco is Cdn :https://www.norco.com/bikes/e-urban/e-hybrids/ Here are a few other ideas: https://www.citecycles.com/store/R&M-•-Nevo-GH-vario-p158785672. The Nevo has a great upright riding position and the Bosch CX motor gives lots of low end torque to help you starting out. Also this may be interesting for you: http://citruscycles.ca/gepida-thoris-tandem : AND since you kept your Townie so long ,perhaps you would enjoy this one: https://electricbikereview.com/electra/townie-path-go-10d-eq/
 
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RandallS

Well-Known Member
Test drove a Turbo Vado 3.0 today - mainly to test out the geometry.
I think my body can deal with the Vado - it was quite comfortable "off the rack".
I thought the 3.0 motor was a little weak, but I probably wasn't using the correct gearing at times.
My hub based system was more forgiving as I always had the option of the throttle when I needed a quick boost.

It was a medium frame step over and I had no problems getting on and off. So the Vado will stay on the list and the Como will likely drop off (although I may try one next time when I have more time).
I've also been reviewing the Ohm bikes and I really like the look of those, but there's no simple option to test drive.
So more "stuff" to decide on.

Brose (Specialized) vs. Shimano STEP (Ohm) vs. Bosch (still lurking in the weeds is another Townie with the Bosch CX)
If Specialized, Vado 4.0 vs. 5.0
For any manufacturer, Step over vs. Step through.

Paralysis by analysis... :)
For me - not new behaviour...well, I do have time on my hands these days.
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
Test drove a Turbo Vado 3.0 today - mainly to test out the geometry.
I think my body can deal with the Vado - it was quite comfortable "off the rack".
I thought the 3.0 motor was a little weak, but I probably wasn't using the correct gearing at times.
My hub based system was more forgiving as I always had the option of the throttle when I needed a quick boost.

It was a medium frame step over and I had no problems getting on and off. So the Vado will stay on the list and the Como will likely drop off (although I may try one next time when I have more time).
I've also been reviewing the Ohm bikes and I really like the look of those, but there's no simple option to test drive.
So more "stuff" to decide on.

Brose (Specialized) vs. Shimano STEP (Ohm) vs. Bosch (still lurking in the weeds is another Townie with the Bosch CX)
If Specialized, Vado 4.0 vs. 5.0
For any manufacturer, Step over vs. Step through.

Paralysis by analysis... :)
For me - not new behaviour...well, I do have time on my hands these days.
You mentioned an accident that injured your legs. I would think going for higher motor torque would be a good strategy. The Vado 3 develops 75Nm where the Vado 5 is at 90Nm. I ride a Vado 5. It climbs any of our steep local hills. I think tou'll notice the difference.

I test rode a Giant with the Yamaha drive. It felt weaker than the Vado 5 to me though it had a double chain ring which helped. It had an 80nm torque rating. I haven't ridden bikes with the Shimano or Bosch drives but their torque specs are lower as well; https://shopsandiegoflyrides.com/bl...log/84011011-bosch-vs-yamaha-part-1-the-motor and https://electricbikereview.com/forums/threads/shimano-steps-e8000-torque-power-values.29368/

Good hunting!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
I test rode a Giant with the Yamaha drive.
There are three flavours of the SyncDrive/Yamaha motor of Giant: Life, Sport and Pro, the latter being the strongest of them all. Giant bikes equipped with the Pro motor have "Pro" in the model name. I greatly recommend Giant Pro bikes in addition to what Sierratim has advised. I could climb an 18% incline on a Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro.
 

RandallS

Well-Known Member
Bugger! Vado 5 went up $400 yesterday - supply and demand pressures I imagine. Fewer and fewer shops are showing any inventory, and I'm not in a position to pull the trigger yet. Right now, waiting on a treatment on an Achilles injury that's really limiting my mobility, so not really wanting to invest $6k until I see a positive outcome. Plus, the weather here has been crap so I haven't been able to do any more test rides. I can do the rides - but pay the price in pain afterwards. It's nothing new says the "ex bulletproof sportsman" :) .
 

TMH

Well-Known Member
I believe that Specialized at times down-spec's bikes of the same number during subsequent model years.

Look closely at the component specs of the MY19 vs MY20 3.0's, and that might allow you to make more sense of the pricing.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Oh but this is not to say upgrading a bike is bad idea.. also the center of gravity might change and if you get a bike that fits you well ergonomically, it may feel lighter.
 

RandallS

Well-Known Member
Update
Still shopping but due to both physical health and bike supply shortages, I think I may have to slow down on the replacement initiative. As much as I love the Vado, it is so expensive and prices are going up.

A Vado 5.0 is now $6400 (Canadian) and that's just too much. If I have to compromise, then I am going to look at other products. One that's caught my eye is the Giant Explore E+ 2 STA, which is priced locally at $3499. $2900 buys a lot of IPA...and there are some very satisfied Giant riders on these forums.

I know that it's not at the same level as the Vado, but we'll see once I've had a test drive. It's even priced lower than the Vado 3, so I need to check it out. I am going to stay with the big 3 as I've learned my lesson with the Bionx.

My knee and ankle issues are now starting to show up in the hips, so ride geometry is going to be crucial to enjoyment. I've been limiting my rides to 20k lately as it is becoming physically uncomfortable, plus, as my Bionx system no longer provides me accurate battery levels, I have extreme range anxiety as I'm riding in higher assistance levels than ever before. Hills I used to power up in level 2, now need levels 3 and 4.

Happy trails!