First E-Bike: Lightweight and for the Hills

reallylost

New Member
Region
USA
Hi everyone!
I feel like I have finalized some preferences from multiple threads on this forum, but I don't really know where to start looking for more information or if my options are feasible together. This will be my first real bike purchase, and I am budgeting $2,500 max. Generally, I would rather invest rather than regret my purchase (esp. since this will substitute/supplement the lack of owning a car). Here's a list of my current thoughts:

Hard Preferences/Considerations:
- Steep hills in Seattle area for commute
- Lightweight (40-47lbs)
- Relatively short rider (5'4")
- Integrated battery

Other Considerations/thoughts:
- Would prefer torque sensor rather than cadence, since it seems like it is overall a better system to invest in (might be wrong?)
- Most of the lightweight bikes I have seen are rear hubs. No real strong preference, but my biggest concern motor-wise is getting up these horrible hills
- Really have no know-how about bikes; would prefer something that gets little to no maintenance from me and is easy to upkeep.
- Can't really decide a preference between Class 2 or 3. Throttle seems cool, but I don't feel very strongly about them. 28mph assistance also seems cool but I don't really do cardio and really only ride bikes p. casually, so I doubt I will get that speed.
- General riding weight will probably be 160-230lbs.
- More upright/forward stance than anything aggressive.

A couple I have already considered: Hilltopper Discover (out of stock, but I'm debating waiting for the 2021 model), Aventon Level (seemed promising, but super heavy for me)
All in all, I'm really just hoping to get some guidance/suggestions for a lightweight eBike that will not fail me up steep hills. Thank you in advance :)
 
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Dewey

Well-Known Member
The Yamaha Cross Core in the small frame size should be on your test ride list, weighs about 45lb and has a good torquey Yamaha PW SE motor (70nm). Court's review of the model is here. Yamaha don't sell step-through ebikes in the US so if that's a factor you might consider a Liv Rove E+ in the XS or small frame size, it uses a less powerful Yamaha/Giant SyncDrive Core motor (50nm) and weighs about 6lb more than the Yamaha.

Is $2,500 a hard maximum? For a few hundred more the Kona Dew-E or the Kona eCoco in the small frame size would be a candidate, weighing around 45lb. For 2021 Kona have switched from the Bosch Active Line Plus (50nm) to the more torquey Shimano Steps e6100 motor (60nm).

The same Shimano e6100 motor is also used in the REI Co-Op CTY e2.2 model that should be restocking this spring or summer though you'll have to be quick, it's a good deal because of the 10% REI member rebate from the $2200 msrp, and the small frame size is a step through, it weighs about 7lb more than the Yamaha and Kona ebikes. The REI Co-Op ebike line also includes a less powerful CTY e2.1 model with the Steps e5000 motor (40nm) that I would not recommend, the CTY e2.2 is the one to get, they will likely sell out quickly as the first batch did.

Also worth a test ride is the Gazelle Medeo T9 in the step-through frame size 45 (up to 5'6"), it weighs about 50lb and uses the same Bosch Active Line Plus motor (50nm) as last year's Kona Dew-E. 50nm torque is about the minimum power motor for a Class 1 ebike I'd suggest for hill climbing, this is why I do not recommend the Batch Bicycles e-bike because it uses the entry level Bosch Active Line (40nm) motor.
 
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FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
The Yamaha Cross Core in the small frame size should be on your test ride list, weighs about 45lb and has a good torquey Yamaha mid-drive motor (70nm). Court's review of the model is here. Yamaha don't sell step-through ebikes in the US so if that's a factor you might consider a Liv Rove E+ in the XS or small frame size, it uses a less powerful Yamaha/Giant SyncDrive Life motor (50nm) and weighs at least 6lb more than the Yamaha.

Is $2,500 a hard maximum? For a few hundred more the Kona Dew-E or the Kona eCoco in the small frame size would be a candidate, also weighing around 45lb. For 2021 Kona have switched from the Bosch Active Line Plus (50nm) to the more torquey Shimano Steps e6100 motor (60nm).

The same Shimano e6100 motor is also used in the REI Co-Op CTY e2.2 model that should be restocking this spring or summer though you'll have to be quick, it's a good deal because of the 10% REI member rebate from the $2200 msrp, and the small frame size is a step through, it weighs about 5lb more than the Yamaha and Kona ebikes. The REI Co-Op ebike line also includes a less powerful CTY e2.1 model with the Steps e5000 motor (40nm) that I would not recommend, the CTY e2.2 is the one to get, they will likely sell out quickly as the first batch did.

Also worth a test ride is the Gazelle Medeo T9 in the step-through frame size 45 (up to 5'6"), it weighs about 50lb and uses the same Bosch Active Line Plus motor (50nm) as last year's Kona Dew-E which is about the minimum power Bosch motor I'd suggest for hill climbing. This is why I do not recommend the Batch Bicycles e-bike that is otherwise a contender but let down by the choice of the weakest Bosch Active Line (40nm) motor.

These are all very good recommendations for strong mid-drive for steep hill climbing in Seattle.
I would probably go with the Yamaha Cross Core base on the strength of the 70Nm motor. ;)

 

WattsUpDude

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
San Francisco, Bay Area
I definitely echo the praise for the Cross Core. It's a great value, relatively light-weight and has a torquey motor for climbing hills. The only knock against it is that it doesn't have hydraulic brakes. But that can be switched out relatively inexpensively if it's something you need.
 

reallylost

New Member
Region
USA
Thank you for the responses! I have a few clarifying/learning questions: Are mid-drive motors generally better suited for hill-climbing? I assumed rear hub motors were better since it's what some local Seattle bikes (such as Rad) generally offer. I have also heard there can be a significant amount of drag; does that just depend on the type of mid-drive motor?
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Just wanted to comment that if you're going to climb a steep hill with a torque sensor mid drive, you'll have to pedal, and be in the right gear. In other words, it's a bike, not a car with an automatic transmission. Ahh, but you'll figure it out.
 

reallylost

New Member
Region
USA
Just wanted to comment that if you're going to climb a steep hill with a torque sensor mid drive, you'll have to pedal, and be in the right gear. In other words, it's a bike, not a car with an automatic transmission. Ahh, but you'll figure it out.
For sure! Expanding on my first thoughts, I feel like I will honestly forget there is a throttle just because it will be such a different association since it's not a moped/motorcycle. That's why I don't really have any strong feelings between Class 2 or 3 eBikes. It seems cool to have or mess around with, but I honestly don't know if I would use it enough to justify it as a playing factor for my final decision. Is there a reason why you specifically say torque sensor mid drives or is it just because those are the bikes that have been currently recommended?
 

TomD

Well-Known Member
Every year around March or so Specialized seems to have a spring sale with unbeatable deals. Last year you could get a Como or Vado 4.0 in your budget. I might wait to see what they offer this year.
 

bones774

Active Member
Every year around March or so Specialized seems to have a spring sale with unbeatable deals. Last year you could get a Como or Vado 4.0 in your budget. I might wait to see what they offer this year.
I'd like to hear about that when it happens, where will it be advertised? thanks
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
For clarification the ebikes I recommended are Class 1, weighing around 45-50lb with 400 or 500wh battery offering decent range, a bicycle-like riding experience due to the pedal torque sensor no throttle, and as @harryS mentioned you need to shift down the gears and increase the pedal assist power level before climbing hills.

Lighter Class 1-3 ebikes that weigh around 35lb typically have compromises such as non-removable smaller frame battery, or lower level of pedal assist torque under 40nm so not offering as much hill climbing assistance, or are single speed that are typically geared high for comfortable cadence on the flats but too high for hill climbing.

Heavier Class 2 or 3 with a strong enough geared hub motor can power you up hill on throttle alone as can be seen in the riding segment of several of Court's review videos for EBR. More recent models with higher torque geared hub motors, large higher current batteries, a throttle and cadence sensor pedal assist, like the 75lb RadRunner or Super 73, or 100lb Juiced Scorpion, offer a more moped-like riding experience.
 
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TomD

Well-Known Member
I'd like to hear about that when it happens, where will it be advertised? thanks
Last year it went mid March thru mid April. You might want to ask your local Specialized dealer if they've been given any advance notice.
 

WattsUpDude

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
San Francisco, Bay Area
Thank you for the responses! I have a few clarifying/learning questions: Are mid-drive motors generally better suited for hill-climbing? I assumed rear hub motors were better since it's what some local Seattle bikes (such as Rad) generally offer. I have also heard there can be a significant amount of drag; does that just depend on the type of mid-drive motor?
Yes. Middrives will climb better than hub drives given they’re at at the same power. Middrives are able to leverage the drivetrain’s gearing whereas hub drives cannot. On steep, sustained hills, a hub drive may “run out of breath” due to thermal protection and inefficiency.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Is there a reason why you specifically say torque sensor mid drives or is it just because those are the bikes that have been currently recommended?
Most mid drives are class 1, and are torque sensor. They also require bike experience. If you were not a prior rider, you can damage a mid drive trying to climb a hill in the wrong gear.

I'm just thinking about my favorite rider. When her bike stalls out, she falls over. I got her into a step thru so se could at least put her feet out.

There are some high power class 2 mid drives, but they're not that light, and are intended for a different riding experience.
 

bones774

Active Member
Last year it went mid March thru mid April. You might want to ask your local Specialized dealer if they've been given any advance notice.
I just called my LBS, very nice guy, old time bike shop and he said with inventory the way it is not to count on bike sale in spring, accessories maybe. It's his guess.
 

reallylost

New Member
Region
USA
For clarification the ebikes I recommended are Class 1, weighing around 45-50lb with 400 or 500wh battery offering decent range, a bicycle-like riding experience due to the pedal torque sensor no throttle, and as @harryS mentioned you need to shift down the gears and increase the pedal assist power level before climbing hills.
I see! Harry's comment definitely helped me understand the concern a bit more.
Do you have any recommendations for any with an integrated battery? I would honestly rather pay more (looked up the Como 3+ price) and I wouldn't mind paying more just for the integrated battery with mid-step combination. Also to your first reply, I am definitely fine without a step-through (rode my friend's Diamondback Ascent around town pretty comfortably), I would just prefer not to have a crazy lean from drop handlebars etc like the iGo Camillien because there's a strong possibility I might have a dog on my back.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I recommend the Gazelle Ultimate or Cube Kathmandu models, both use Class 1 Bosch motors and frame integrated batteries. Despite the extra cost, they are well designed good all-round Class 1 ebikes.