First E-Bike - Giant / Momentum Lafree? Human with joint (hip and knee) problems commuting in hilly areas

AMH_bike

New Member
Region
Canada
Hi all,

I'm looking for feedback from folks that have a Momentum (Giant) LaFree+ which seems to be the one I keep coming back to. I can't seem to find a lot of reviews on them, nor a lot of changes in newer models.
I'm wondering if anyone has any comments on: rideability, longevity, comfort, power?
Are there major downfalls I'm not aware of? I keep seeing it referred to as an entry level bike, and I'm not sure what would put something in this category.

I'm looking for a bike with a fairly upright position, with a removable battery (to avoid major temperature shifts as it gets cold here in the winter), and moderately light and easy to ride. I have tried the Trek Verve 2+, Electra 7D, Yuba Kombi. The Giant shop near me does not have test riding - I have been on it in the shop only.
Things that draw me to it are: comfort (but just sitting so far), look, warranty / shop close by, battery size and mid-drive motor.

I currently ride a Kona Coco (not e-bike, in a size large, although I'm only 5'7". The Lafree+ is also a size large).

Thanks in advance!
 
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Dewey

Well-Known Member
Not an owner but if you ride at night you might like to ask the shop if the bike is pre-wired to accept e-bike lights. Owners of other Momentum models have added them afterwards either tapping the wiring harness as a work-around, or where the wiring harness was pre-installed just asked their Giant dealer to order e-bike lights with matching connectors and fit them to the bike.

The Momentum website specs describe the 2022 US LaFree E+ as having the Giant/Yamaha SyncDrive Life motor rated at 60nm torque which is fine for hill climbing on road.
 
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AMH_bike

New Member
Region
Canada
Thank you!

I am also very interested by the new Voya in Giant's line up, but it seems that maybe the smaller battery size and lower torque (25) may not be ideal for me. Love the ideal of the lightness and the sleekness though!
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Triad
I have a 2019 Giant La Free E+2 (chain, not belt drive) that I ride regularly in a very hilly area, and I'm very happy with the bike. It's comfortable to ride, and gets very close to the advertised battery range. Also have knee problems, and this bike has really saved my old knees! I'd at least try a medium size frame, if it's available.

I'd also just get lights that are independent of the battery - there are a lot of very good options. available.

Two things to be aware of:

1 - the placement of the battery, under the rack, can make the front tire feel skittish going steep uphill. I bought a trailer for my bike to carry heavier items, to avoid any more weight on top of the rack on the back of the bike.

2. The geometry of the frame sometimes causes your toe to hit the back of the front fender when turning. I've become accustomed to making sure my foot isn't too far forward on the pedal, but it took a bit of time to develop that habit.

In my experience, it's been a good quality bike with no issues in the 2 years I've owned it (not counting Giant's app issues about a year ago when they did a crappy update).
 
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Coolbob

Well-Known Member
@AMH_bike We came so close to buying a LaFree for my wife when we rode one at the first bike shop we visited when shopping for eBikes. The LaFree is a great bike, and if you like the rack, fenders, and lights that are included on the bike, then it's a great value too. While I did like most of the accessories and the belt drive, I'm not a fan of having the battery up that high and I want to use Topeak bags and accessories that only work with a Topeak rear rack. My wife isn't as particular about the accessories so we kept the LaFree as a very good option for my wife while we investigated other bikes.

I told the bike shop employee I wanted to add my own accessories to my bike and I really don't care for fenders. The employee showed me the Transend E+ on Momentum's website and said he could order one and get it in a few days. We rode quite a few eBikes at various shops over the next few weeks, but I kept coming back to the Transend. IMHO the Giant/Momentum drive system was the best of all the bike brands I rode, I like that the Transend was Class 3 and I preferred the minimal design of the Transend, allowing me to add exactly the rack, lights and other accessories I wanted. I ordered the Transend E+ on-line and it was delivered to the bike shop, assembled and ready to pick up in a week. Now, nearly two years later, I still love this bike and have outfitted it with several accessories, including the Topeak racks I love so much.

My wife put off getting an eBike for almost a year, then our local bike shop had a Momentum Vida E+ in stock. She took it for a ride around the block and she loved that it was more upright and had lower gearing and a bigger saddle than my Transend. The Vida E+ is has a similar riding position to the LaFree, but fewer accessories and a frame integrated battery. She preferred the sportier look of the Vida and so far the only accessories she's added to her bike is a Topeak rear rack, handlebar bag and seat bag.

I'd sum up my impressions of the three bikes like this:
LaFree - Good value with lots of accessories and traditional derailleur gear system, upright riding position and soft saddle. If you like the way it's accessorized it's a great deal, but you won't be able to change the rear rack.

Vida E+ - Comfortable upright riding position and soft saddle, stylish bike perfect for relaxing rides, frame integrated battery, internal 7-speed rear hub. But the Vida E+ does not come with lights, rack or fenders.

Transend E+ - Fast with a good blend of comfort and spirited riding position (I've removed a few of the handlebar spacers for an even less upright riding position), frame integrated battery and internal 7-speed rear hub. But no lights, rack or fenders.

There wasn't much information on the Transend or Vida when we were looking, so I've made several videos on the bikes:

Transend.
Transendo Accessories.
Topeak Racks.
Transend Vida comparison.
QuadLock phone mount.
 
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AMH_bike

New Member
Region
Canada
Hi all - one last (I hope) question - does anyone have any good comparisons / ideas between the Giant Lafree and the Gazelle Medeo T9 City? They are very similar prices - I see the Gazelle has lights and a suspension fork, but less torque. A store in my less immediate area is getting a shipment of Gazelle's in.

Thanks again!
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Triad
You can always add lights, and a suspension seat post if you find you need more comfort. I don't ride a lot of real bumpy terrain on my La Free - mostly paved roads, paved trails, occasionally gravel and some packed dirt. I haven't found the lack of suspension fork noticeable at all.

Features you need depend on where and how you ride 😉. If you're riding hills, as mentioned above, I'd go (I DID go) with the La Free...
 

Coolbob

Well-Known Member
IMHO buying a bike because you like the accessories is like buying a car because you like the floor mats. My advice is to focus first on things that can't be changed like: drivetrain, battery, frame geometry and dealer support (Local > mail order) first.

Then consider things that can be changed, but would be difficult/expensive like: forks, gearing and brakes.

Handlebars, tires, seat, and accessories are at the bottom of my list of concerns.

While I'm already on my soapbox I may as well get this off my chest. I'm not a fan of suspension forks. I've been doing just fine without the extra cost, weight and maintenance for 50-years. ;)

OK, now I've gotta go yell at some kids to get off my grass and tell them how much harder things were when I was their age.......