First ebike, hauling kids in a hilly area

Leafiann

New Member
Hi, I'm looking for some advice on my first ebike. I have a combination of things I'm looking for that are overwhelming me as someone new to ebikes.

So, for background, I live in a small town in Vermont. I have a disability that prevents me from driving, but having an ebike would give me a lot more freedom. I'd like to be able to ride it to pick a sick kid up from school (so that my spouse doesn't have to drive all the way back from work), or to take both of my kids to the library in the summer. That's about 4 miles, kind of hilly.



I live on a dirt road.

There is a killer hill on the way up to my house, I couldn't make it up this on a regular bike towing my kids last year.

2 kids, small size, but ages 5 & 7. Need a bike that can carry them whether it's a cargo or a regular with room for a passenger/ability to do a trail along type thing, etc. Neither is ready to ride on their own.

I am short, 5'2, and altogether my kids and I weigh less than 200 lbs.

I don't need extreme range or extreme speed, I have room in the garage so it doesn't have to fold.

I cannot afford a $5000 ebike. I'd like to be under 2000, but if I absolutely can't find something that will work in that range, the closer to that number the better.

I am not a bike afficianado, so I won't notice extra smooth gear shifting or anything like that. My bikes have all been from Walmart, pretty much anything will feel fancy to me.

Being able to ride in snow is a bonus (since Vermont), but not a requirement.



I had been looking at a RadWagon, but I'm not sure if it can make it up hills by me with just 40nm of torque. Since I'm in a rural area, too, there just aren't a lot of bike shops where I can go and try a bunch of models out.

I feel like I've looked at so many variation of bike style and method to haul my kids that I have gotten overloaded and now have no clue what to do. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Radwagon has a good configuration for hauling a child under 10, but users have reported frequent maintenance of the wheels is required. The DD hub motor will lug up hills without overheating, but may require help from the rider. Rad is an internet bike and maintenance is up to the purchaser.
I have a similar bike left, a yubabikes.com bodaboda, which is one notch up the quality scale. In 5000 miles I've broken a fender mount with my foot, replaced a broken shift cable and replaced a set of brake pads.
Yuba has a number of accessories for dealing with child seats direct on the back, then a shelf & handlebars for a 5-10 year old, plus "monkey bars" for 4-8 year olds too big for a child car seat. They also have a cover over the rear wheel to prevent pinched fingers in the spokes. There is an overhang on the back of the rack that probably is suitable for hitching one of those kid half bikes, the one with no steering wheel, but the kid can pedal himself if he wants to help.
Mine shown left was $1800 with double kickstand, 2 pannier bags, front basket, and free delivery. I added the motor myself, a ebikeling geared hub motor wheel kit for $221 and a lunabikes 17 ah 48 v battery for 620. My geared hub motor takes 160 lb me & 60 lb supplies up 15% grades, 7/8" in 6", at a minimum of 4 mph. Faster if I carry momentum from the previous downgrade. Geared hubs will overheat if lugged up a steep grade at full 1000 watts for more than 25 minutes. Sounds like that is not a problem for you. It is not for me, I ride 30 miles twice weekly, 77 hills, but half of the time I am riding downhill. The 15% hills are 100 feet or less and the motor is warm when I arrive. Yuba has dealers in California but not here, I had mine shipped in. It came perfect. Even brake and shifter adjustment were perfect. The SRAM shifters on bodaboda are much more precise than the 7 speed shimano that comes with the Radwagon. 32:32 low range is also useful getting up the 15% grade at 330 lb gross when the battery doesn't work (not the luna one, the amazon/ebay bargains previous).
There was a mid-drive (shimano) electric bodaboda at yubabikes.com for sale last week for $3200, but has disappeared. Maybe they are out of stock. You can call them. The drop frame bodaboda is for short legged people like me (28" pants inseam).
The yuba mondo has a lower rear wheel, which helps the bike not falling over while loading up the child seat. Be sure to buy a double kickstand, if not from yuba, elsewhere. THe smaller wheel will cause more shock if you run through a pothole.
Similar bikes are the Pedego stretch, which comes with local dealer warranty, the xtracycle swoop,
look under cargo bikes category if I've forgotten any. Reiss & muller, but they are very expensive.
I ride mine in all weather, except when there is ice on the road. I do not have studded tires, just off road knobbies from kenda. Note Li-Ion batteries should be put inside at freezing or below. In that case the geared hub is nice because it doesn't drag when I pedal myself. The shimano mid drive also has that feature, but the bosch on many mid-drives do drag unpowered.
Note cold weather performance of li-ion batteries even at 40 F is ~33% of warm weather performance, so don't skimp too much on battery to ride in bad weather.
 
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fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
there are good bikes with a bosch mid drive in that price range that will be a good quality bike. cargo bike I have two shops locally that sell good quality cargo bikes.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
If you, or some shop you know, can install conversion kits, look at bicycles built for two. That 7 year old may grow fast. I installed the geared hub motor on the front, which means I get the full 8 speed rear sprocket that my bike came with for riding unpowered. I don't know of any bicycles built for two that come with a motor already.
Maker sure the tires are 1.75" or 2", to handle all the weight. Those 22 mm tires on some of those bikes probably ride like a Flintstone car on stone wheels.
Bosch mid drives have a serious design flaw. If the electrical system fails or runs out of battery, the rider has to drive the motor with his feet. Or call a tow truck. I've pedaled a geared hub 20 miles unpowered after the battery failed.Yamaha & shimano have a one way clutch that frees up the crank from the motor when you pedal unpowered.
 
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sl_duck

Member
I have kids only slightly older than yours and often dream of shuttling them around by bike, so I read all I can on what's out there. I think a RadWagon is probably your best bet, with the kid hoop attachment. Velofix has partnered with them and will assemble, tune and deliver the bike to you for $199 if you're not confident with bike maintenance.
Theres some talk in this thread about the power on hills, and it seems like it wouldn't be a problem for 200lb of human cargo.

If price were less of a barrier the Tern GSD would also be on my list because of the more manageable size and ability to adjust to a range of riders.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Talk to Vbike in Brattleboro, they can provide a consult to talk you through the various types of cargo ebikes, and tell you about the $200 discount from GMP at participating Vermont bike shops and low interest loans, they have a cargo bike lending library which has closed for the season now but these consults were even featured in the excellent cargo bike documentary Motherload.

Given your budget is firm you might find it best to buy a regular mid-drive ebike to tow your trailer. An affordable pre-built mid-drive ebike is the Schwinn Constance, $1500 from Walmart, with a Bafang Max mid-drive motor with 80nm torque, Court gave it a favorable review here & the price has come down since his review, I would recommend paying a bike shop to upgrade the gearing to a wide range cassette, better rear derailleur, shifter, & longer chain to better handle climbing hills in low gear, it has a quick release skewer on the rear hub so you would need a trailer hitch compatible with QR, and I would replace the tires with ones able to grip your dirt road and that have a reflective sidewalk stripe, or alternatively there are likely end of season deals on ebikes at a bike shop local to you. For a DIY option under two thousand dollars, for example I converted a Breezer Downtown pedal bicycle with a Bafang mid-drive motor and use it to tow a chariot trailer or a wee-hoo. You might prefer a bike with disk brakes for hilly Vermont, for example the Electra Townie Path 27D for $680 available at a Trek dealer. A bafang bbs02 mid-drive motor plus battery from a reputable seller like EM3EV.com or California Ebike will cost between $1100-1300 including shipping depending on your options, if like me you have difficulty removing the bottom bracket and making the motor work with the gearing on your bike you may like to take it to a local bike shop who may charge anything from $100-250 for the labour. I paid $200 each for the trailer and the weehoo, bought used off Facebook marketplace and a local Mom’s group.
 
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Leafiann

New Member
Thank you all, again!

I didn't know about vbike, that's awesome!

I've also found a couple of options locally for a conversion if I go that route.

Finally, anyone have experience with the Blix Packa? It has the same 40nm as a Radwagon, but the info mentions being able to handle steep hills so I wasn't sure if other aspects made it better in that regard or if it's just marketing.

I really don't mind if I'm going very slowly up hills, I just don't want to have an asthma attack in the process, hah.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
The blix packa has the same motor as the Radwagon, a 500 W DD motor. Same torque as they say. The difference is the wheels are 24" instead of 26", so you get 13/12 torque on the ground or 8% more. For a short person this is not a bad tradeoff. Tires are 2.4" cross section so it should give as decent a ride as my 26"x2" tires.
I haven't seen 2 complaints about wheels needing spoke replacement as I have on the radwagon. Perhaps the reason is the packa is new and there aren't many out there. Or maybe they bought real steel spokes?
As far as going slowly, the slower an electric motor goes the less torque it has. If I hit a steep hill at 12 on my geared hub motor, I can maintain that up the hill. If I start from a stop on that hill the motor can only get up to 4 mph with 330 lb gross weight.
 

Leafiann

New Member
I really paid attention to the road up to my house today, and it looks like before most of the steepest parts there is a place to get a bit of speed up. And mostly the steep parts are fairly brief, so like a nasty grade for 100 feet, then a bit of downslops before a low grade.

So knowing now that having a bit of speed going into it is important, that was somewhat reassuring!
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I really paid attention to the road up to my house today, and it looks like before most of the steepest parts there is a place to get a bit of speed up. And mostly the steep parts are fairly brief, so like a nasty grade for 100 feet, then a bit of downslops before a low grade.

So knowing now that having a bit of speed going into it is important, that was somewhat reassuring!
I do customer support for a fella that supplies a growing number of shops. There’s a couple of shops there that we support. Off hand don't remember them all but Burrows Sports is one

They put kits on bikes. We sell a lot of BBSHD Mid Drives to families hauling kids. These motors are also used by pedicab and delivery companies. If interested I can share their contact information. There will never be an issue with hills and a bike that fits you best can be converted. It’s also a good motor for trailer hauling.


 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Honestly, I don't see a problem with RadWagon.

Rad Power is very popular and well known.

Rad Power forum is one of the most active and popular here on EBR.
(745 threads, 9.5k messages)
It's nice to be able to talk fellow Rad owners online if you had questions.
Also there's Bolton kit and other aftermarket parts for more power, better brakes, etc.

I know some of you may say Rad is mainly sold online they don't have physical shop blah blah... but for the price?
Being a budget conscious buyer myself (I own Juiced), I fully support Rad Power.

Many people say affordable internet bikes like Rad, Juiced, Amego, Volt, Surface 604, etc.. do not have physical store (well Amego does I guess) and can't take care of customers like good old days and all that.

But what I can tell you is, I would NOT be riding ebike if those affordable internet ebikes didn't exist.

Okay, I get it. Stromer, Riese & Muller, Turn, Giant, Specialized, Trek, they're all nice and have much better components, quality and customer care.

But affordable online bikes give people like myself more options.
I am totally fine with mild inconvenience of doing DIY work if something needed to be done.
 

Leafiann

New Member
I ended up ruling out the Radwagon and Blix Packs because they both have a 33 inch minimum saddle height. I could barely, barely, get my tiptoes on the ground with my husband's bike set to that height for me to test. I figured I would have a really hard time managing either with two kids on it and the bike weight.

I ended up increasing my budget to 3k and managed to track down a great deal on a floor model spicy curry.

I would have been fine getting a more budget brand bike, but it seems like a very common area that costs are cut is in sizing. I had to rule out a huge number of options because of my height.

Thanks everyone for your help!