Considering getting an ebike. How do I set my expectations?

bbdata

New Member
Region
Canada
Hello. I wanted to get some input from more experienced ebike owners.

I've been considering purchasing my first ebike.
Have cycled for over 20 years mostly for recreation and commuting.
Hoping to get something more meant for city/urban use.

I have found the pedal assist to be rather odd.
How it kicks in mid rotation and would sort of throw me off my groove.
There's also the scenario where the ebike was in a higher gear and I had a harder time moving and the pedal assist wouldn't kick in at all.

I explained these feelings to the sales reps but they didn't really provide a meaningful answer.
My guess is that it has to do with the sensor on the bike and that it is speed related?

What should my expectations for ebikes be?
Do I need to adopt a different mind set? And what is that mind set?
Or perhaps it's a change in habits? Like, using the throttle to start and only pedal when I'm at a comfortable speed?

I just don't know how to set my expectations.

Your advice appreciated.
Thank you

Edit 1: I've gotten some great suggestions. But in terms of budget, I'd like keep it under $3,000 CAD as I just don't know what to expect right now.
Edit 2: I'm also looking for something that looks more low-key meant for city use, preferrably a mid-step with a removable battery. So fat bikes and integrated batteries are being avoided.
 
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bbdata

New Member
Region
Canada
your feeling a hub powered bike. if you test out a mid drive it will feel natural but make you feel powerful. a mid drive uses torque sensing the harder you push the more it helps.
Thank you for pointing that distinction out.
That is true that the two ebikes I've tried are hub motors.
I guess I'll need to find a shop that carries mid drives to test ride.

What about hub motors that have a torque sensor? Would that lend itself to feel more natural like a mid drive?
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
Thank you for pointing that distinction out.
That is true that the two ebikes I've tried are hub motors.
I guess I'll need to find a shop that carries mid drives to test ride.

What about hub motors that have a torque sensor? Would that lend itself to feel more natural like a mid drive?
it would be closer but I doubt exactly the same. its still going to feel like your being pushed not like your powering your bike. Plus there are not a lot of them out there. All of the big brands will be mid drive bikes.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Thank you for pointing that distinction out.
That is true that the two ebikes I've tried are hub motors.
I guess I'll need to find a shop that carries mid drives to test ride.

What about hub motors that have a torque sensor? Would that lend itself to feel more natural like a mid drive?
I have never ridden a hub drive with torque sensor, but it's still a hub drive that just spins the wheel at whatever speed the PAS is set to and doesn't use your chain or gears.

Mid drives have other advantages like weight and balance, higher efficiency for better range, hill climbing, or headwinds, but has other disadvantages like wearing out chains faster and not being able to ride with a broken chain, and often not being as quick from a stop on level ground.

You will need to ride both on the kind of terrain you want to ride if possible. Once around the parking lot won't tell you very much.
 

bbdata

New Member
Region
Canada
it would be closer but I doubt exactly the same. its still going to feel like your being pushed not like your powering your bike. Plus there are not a lot of them out there. All of the big brands will be mid drive bikes.
Is it safe to assume that all mid drive motors will be torque sensors?

You will need to ride both on the kind of terrain you want to ride if possible. Once around the parking lot won't tell you very much.
Agreed. That's what I did with my first two test rides. Found the most hilly area I can and just tried all the different settings.
 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
I have never ridden a hub drive with torque sensor, but it's still a hub drive that just spins the wheel at whatever speed the PAS is set to and doesn't use your chain or gears.

Mid drives have other advantages like weight and balance, higher efficiency for better range, hill climbing, or headwinds, but has other disadvantages like wearing out chains faster and not being able to ride with a broken chain, and often not being as quick from a stop on level ground.

You will need to ride both on the kind of terrain you want to ride if possible. Once around the parking lot won't tell you very much.
If a torque sensor equipped hub bike just spins the wheel at whatever speed the PAS is set to, then what is the torque sensor used for??

Thats not how my torque sensor equipped hub drive bikes work at all. I also have PAS only mid-drives bike that behave like you describe for hub-drives.

Many of the other advantages you mention are not always true. This comes from someone who has both at comparable power levels/bike frame geometry/ and rides them on the same rides and compares/logs results.
 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
Is it safe to assume that all mid drive motors will be torque sensors?


Agreed. That's what I did with my first two test rides. Found the most hilly area I can and just tried all the different settings.
If you are buying a name brand mid drive from the big 4 (shimano, brose, bosch, yamaha) then yes, your mid drive will be torque sensor equipped.

From your description, I expect you will like a torque sensor equipped mid-drive the best, especially going up hills (although hub drives can go up hills as well...I do it all the time). If your budget allows, you will have a great bike.

I test rode a PAS hub drive and a Stromer torque sensor equipped hub drive initially and like the Stromer ALOT. I then test drove a Brose equipped mid-drive, came back to the bike shop and bought the bike.

Currently I have 5 ebikes and love them all:
Bulls Evo 3 Hardtail eMTB (Brose torque sensor mid-drive) - best choice for MTB hands down, hate the 20mph speed limit although its a mute point for strictly offroad.
Juiced CCX (torque sensor hub drive) - fast powerful and long range speed pedelec commuter
iZip Moda E3(Brose torque sensor mid-drive, speed pedelec) - fun/nimble commuter
Surly Troll BBSHD (Very powerful DIY PAS mid-drive)
Surly Bridge Club GMAC(Very Powerful DIY torque sensor hub drive)
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
FWIW most of "the big three" Specialized, Trek, and Giant bikes are middrives without throttles, and most shops (around here anyway) also carry a lower priced but heavier line of hub drive bikes with bigger motors, bigger batteries, and throttles. In my limited experience the smaller middrives outperform the bigger hubs on hard climbs and such. But YMMV.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
If a torque sensor equipped hub bike just spins the wheel at whatever speed the PAS is set to, then what is the torque sensor used for??

Thats not how my torque sensor equipped hub drive bikes work at all. I also have PAS only mid-drives bike that behave like you describe for hub-drives.

Many of the other advantages you mention are not always true. This comes from someone who has both at comparable power levels/bike frame geometry/ and rides them on the same rides and compares/logs results.
I don't doubt you since the only hubs I rode were PAS only, but that is how my LBS explained it to me and for the bikes I've tried (all LBS bikes except one DTC) that is exactly how they worked.
Example : Set the PAS level to whichever level that goes 15mph and pedal hard or soft, slow or fast, and it goes 15mph. The torque sensor adjusts the acceleration, but the only way to change the speed limit is to change the PAS level.
How does yours work?
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
What about hub motors that have a torque sensor? Would that lend itself to feel more natural like a mid drive?
Yes. PAS with a fixed speed is bad to awful. Dangerous if doing a U-turn on a tight lane. The hub motor is not awful, is is a great help on a windy day. I deleted my crank pickup for the PAS. Mid drives, especially the lower 3 models of bosch, are addictive, and most sold drag when ridden without power. (Not yamaha, brose, shimano steps, level 4 bosch). I ride without power a lot, but the wind is in my face a lot more often than 5 years ago. Wind >12mph in the face, on goes the power. Plus my chains last 5000 miles, and when the first hub motor ($221) wore out, I rode it to destination and back home again without power or drag. A mid-drive wears out, you'll be calling for help, which is not available where I ride. As my crank arms are clicking (7000 miles) I'm going to look into a new controller compatible with a torque sensor in the crank tube. My motor is just fine, but holding the throttle for 30 miles on a windy day is a bit of a nuisance.
BTW, riding without power this week has my weight down to 1978 level and my rest pulse down to 66. Tell me again how great bosch mid-drives are? Hub motor gives me a chance to excell, without paying with 6 hour 144 bpm days into a howling wind.
On your brand selection, check the brand forums for the list of known problems. There are a lot of e-bikes built of scrap metal without the luxury of burnout of the copper, aluminum, lead. Stretched spokes, short life sprockets, fractured wheel rims, constant adjustment of stretching cables, even a cracked frame have been reported. My $1900 (w/o power) bike has been nearly trouble free for 6500 miles, but you wouldn't want a cargo bike probably. Trek & Surface 604 have as short a list of known problems as my yubabike. Trek is not a tiny niche brand, but it is not cheap.
 
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fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
Yes. PAS with a fixed speed is bad to awful. Dangerous if doing a U-turn on a tight lane. The hub motor is not awful, is is a great help on a windy day. I deleted my crank pickup for the PAS. Mid drives, especially the lower 3 models of bosch, are addictive, and drag when ridden without power. I ride without power a lot, but the wind is in my face a lot more often than 5 years ago. Wind >12mph in the face, on goes the power. Plus my chains last 5000 miles, and when the first hub motor ($221) wore out, I rode it to destination and back home again without power or drag. A mid-drive wears out, you'll be calling for help, which is not available where I ride. As my crank arms are clicking (7000 miles) I'm going to look into a new controller compatible with a torque sensor in the crank tube. My motor is just fine, but holding the throttle for 30 miles on a windy day is a bit of a nuisance.
that whole drag thing is just a myth this is how much effort it takes to turn the crank of a gen 2 bosch motor. it is not enough to make any difference at all. if your hub drive dies or lucks up if the spokes break because of a cheap wheel. if if if.
I have gotten almost 10,000 miles on my bosch powered bike in a year and a half no problems at all.

 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
I don't doubt you since the only hubs I rode were PAS only, but that is how my LBS explained it to me and for the bikes I've tried (all LBS bikes except one DTC) that is exactly how they worked.
Example : Set the PAS level to whichever level that goes 15mph and pedal hard or soft, slow or fast, and it goes 15mph. The torque sensor adjusts the acceleration, but the only way to change the speed limit is to change the PAS level.
How does yours work?
Its hard to give an 'exact' answer since it depends on how the PAS is implemented. PAS can typically be power or speed based.

Im pretty sure bikes like the magnums are speed based from my experience riding them (hated it).

The Juiced CCX hub bike feels power based in that the assist level doesnt seem to try to maintain any speed, it just gives a set amount of assist (which would actually equate to a constant speed on a flat road with no wind). The torque sensor just seems to add more power based on rider input(the amount is based off the assist level). The feedback to the rider is nowhere as nice as my Brose mid drives. If you ghost pedal the CCX, it will assist.

The DIY torque sensor GMAC hub bike feels similar (just more responsive and powerful). I have mine setup so it doesnt start assisting until I input 10 watts so no ghost pedaling on this bike. Its also set up to only amplify my power inputs.

The BBSHD bike is a set amount of amps for each assist level and no torque sensor. You can also set a speed for each assist level although I have the speed set to something like 99mph. If you set the assist level too high for what your riding, your ghost pedaling so you have to fiddle with assist levels more.

Of course, the Brose bikes rule for 'feel' which is why I have 2. They just get better the slower you go and with lower gears.

Alot of this becomes mute at higher speeds (20mph+) when the mid-drive is actually experiencing 'torque reduction' due to gearing. At these speeds, the euro based mid-drives are also near their power limit so they will require more human input (which is great if thats what you want)

Im all for the nice euro based mid-drives from the big manufacturers if that what someone wants. They are beautiful well integrated bikes. They are also $$$ and replacement costs can be pretty high (just like apple products which many people adore)
 
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bbdata

New Member
Region
Canada
I test rode a PAS hub drive and a Stromer torque sensor equipped hub drive initially and like the Stromer ALOT. I then test drove a Brose equipped mid-drive, came back to the bike shop and bought the bike.
Sounds like you have experience with both torque and speed sensors on hub motors.
It's a little too early in my research to know if a mid-drive would be in my budget range. It also depends on what's available from my local bike shops too.

Do you find that you change your expectations and riding style based on whether it's a torque or speed sensor? In terms of settings and what not.
Or do you just leave them all at a certain PAS level and just start pedaling?

Because, from the two ebikes I've test road, it almost feels like it is smarter to use the throttle only in some circumstances. Like a start of a hill, or a quick U turn. Otherwise the pedal assist just kicks in at the weirdest times.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Sounds like you have experience with both torque and speed sensors on hub motors.
It's a little too early in my research to know if a mid-drive would be in my budget range. It also depends on what's available from my local bike shops too.

Do you find that you change your expectations and riding style based on whether it's a torque or speed sensor? In terms of settings and what not.
Or do you just leave them all at a certain PAS level and just start pedaling?

Because, from the two ebikes I've test road, it almost feels like it is smarter to use the throttle only in some circumstances. Like a start of a hill, or a quick U turn. Otherwise the pedal assist just kicks in at the weirdest times.
Yes I had a Motorino hub drive that I scrapped after 6,000 km . With only 6 magnets, in the sensor ring , It had that problem of surging or lurching when you were going slowly through tricky spots. I got hurt on it a few times.