Help choosing a mid-drive ebike

gringo

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Seattle
Hi all,

I'm in the process of trying to select a mid-drive ebike that would be used primarily for commuting. I'm a big guy at 210 lbs and my commute is fairly hilly with 400 ft (125m) hills at the beginning and end. But the commute is fairly short at only 18 miles r/t (9 miles one way). 95% of riding would be on roads or asphalt trails. I'm only interested in a mid-drive and only class 3 speed pedelec (28 mph/45 kmh). I recently tested a few bikes and my favorite two were (in no particular order):

1. Giant FastRoad E+ EX Pro (2020)


2. Bulls Urban EVO (2019)


I think I preferred the motor on the Giant (Giant Syncdrive Pro / Yamaha PW-X2) since it felt like a little more power on the hills compared to the gen 2 (or gen 3?) Bosch Performance Line Speed (the one with the 2.5x reduction gear). After the test ride I looked up the specs, which seem to confirm this (Yamaha: 80Nm & 360% support vs. Bosch 63 Nm & 275% support). However, the numbers don't tell the full story since performance also depends on how power is distributed. Both motors performed well. Bosch seemed to have a slight edge on smooth implementation and Giant/Yamaha seemed to have a slight edge on power. I also felt that it was a slightly easier to pedal the Giant/Yamaha unpowered once the motor cut out over 28 mph or when off (I'm not sure if this was because of less drag or slightly lighter bike or if I was just more tired on that day.... it's fairly subtle). This point is a significant factor for me as I want to have the option to occasionally pedal unpowered. But don't get me wrong, the Bosch on the Bulls was very nice too.

Beyond the motor, I thought the Bulls is a little more elegant and refined as a bike. Hard to describe, but the Bulls had a slightly more luxury feeling vs the slightly more utilitarian Giant. But again, both were very nice. The Giant has a smaller 375Wh battery (vs the 500Wh on the Bulls). I could see the low capacity battery as a major problem for some people, but it is not a major concern to me since I will mostly be using for commuting 18 miles/day and rarely take rides longer than 30 miles these days. The Bulls has a suspension fork and the Giant has Aluminum blade fork (no suspension). I kind of like rigid forks, but I'm fine with suspension and on occasion have experienced the benefits (especially off road). The Bulls felt like it weighed a bit more than the Giant (probably due to fork and battery differences), but it wasn't a huge difference. Both have fenders, rack, and lights. The Bulls is on sale, but still a couple hundred $ more than the Giant (both are at upper end of my budget).


Should I consider selecting based on my preferred motor or the slightly more refined build of the bulls?
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I would say the Giant would be almost perfect for you. I own a Giant e-MTB with the same SyncDrive Pro motor and am stunned with its capabilities. What's more, Yamaha motors rarely break. The FastRoad is equipped with the RideControl EVO display, which seems to be invaluable for me (it is good the bike is not equipped with the RideControl One remote -- no display, which I don't like). The 375 Wh battery will be ideal for your commute distance. If your appetite for distance grows, you'll be able to buy the 275 Wh range extender. Are there any weak points of the Giant e-bike? The motor is slightly noisy but I know Bosch motors are even noisier. I am not totally happy with the Giant RideControl app but I hear Bosch is not any better in that respect. The price: Giant e-bikes are affordable.

If you could consider stretching your budget, then you could think of looking at the Holy Grail of the Class 3 e-bikes, which is the Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 ($4350). (I don't want to elaborate on the 4.0 for the simple reason those are sold out in the U.S.) The Vado 5.0 is equipped with the silent Specialized 1.3 motor (Brose S) of 90 Nm and peak power of 520 W (400% support, Giant is 360%), a 600 Wh battery and top-notch components such as drive-train and brakes. The latest TCD-W display is just fantastic and poses no connectivity issues. And the Vado looks like a Ferrari.

Remember: "Money spent are forgotten soon but nothing can wipe the big grin from your face" :) I'm riding a 2020 upgraded 2017 Vado 5.0 so I should know it better ;)

A lot of success in your quest!
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Both are great EBikes... I prefer the power delivery on the Yamaha system over the Bosch.


 

BlackHand

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Western WA
Which bike puts a bigger smile on your face? They are both good choices, so it's OK to go with the one that you LIKE the most.

Personally, I would be worried about the 375Wh battery even though it is plenty for your commute. But I'm not familiar with how efficient the Yamaha is/isn't so I don't know if that worry is justified. I do know that most mainstream bikes are coming with 500Wh batteries and that the standard is rapidly moving to 600-625Wh with the new models this year. If resale matters to you that might be a consideration.

Other than that, I think the Bulls has a slight edge in the level of components but I like the wider rim and tires of the Giant.

I have a similar commute (11.5 mi ea way) as yours in the same city and have been happy so far with my Bosch powered Haibike. I haven't had any issues with power on hills as long as I'm in the proper gear.

FWIW - I've been lurking here for about a year and have seen quite a few people list how the bike handles with zero assist as a consideration before purchasing. I can't ever recall reading anybody posting about actually riding their bike that way once they actually have an ebike. :)
 

BlackHand

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Western WA
If you could consider stretching your budget, then you could think of looking at the Holy Grail of the Class 3 e-bikes, which is the Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 ($4350). (I don't want to elaborate on the 4.0 for the simple reason those are sold out in the U.S.) The Vado 5.0 is equipped with the silent Specialized 1.3 motor (Brose S) of 90 Nm and peak power of 520 W (400% support, Giant is 360%), a 600 Wh battery and top-notch components such as drive-train and brakes. The latest TCD-W display is just fantastic and poses no connectivity issues. And the Vado looks like a Ferrari.

Enzo is rolling in his grave!

The local Specialized dealer does still list some Vado 4.0's in stock. On the other hand the only 5.0 they show is probably too small for the OP and is inexplicably priced at $5150.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
The OP is in Seattle, U.S.
What I can see here is US$4350 and all sizes are available:

I think Enzo would be riding Turbo Vado were he among the living :D

P.S. The 4.0 is a good e-bike but it has some features that put it a little behind the 5.0:
  1. The 1.2 motor vs the 1.3;
  2. The 500 Wh battery vs the 600 Wh;
  3. The 40T chainring vs the 48T.
Other differences are less significant though I might mention better drive-train and brakes in the 5.0. The 4.0 sold out because apart from being a very good and beautiful e-bike, Specialized had the "double-rebate" action back in May in the U.S. and the model sold out like freshly baked buns...

P.S.2. The Turbo Vado 4.0 LTD costs only US$3750, is fully available but not everybody likes the mango colour ;)
 
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BlackHand

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Western WA
I know, I'm in Seattle too. I was talking about Vado's that might be available to test ride and purchase here at our local dealer. I was surprised to see them list some 4.0's in stock and even more surprised to see the price they have the 5.0 listed at:

 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Which bike puts a bigger smile on your face? They are both good choices, so it's OK to go with the one that you LIKE the most.

Personally, I would be worried about the 375Wh battery even though it is plenty for your commute. But I'm not familiar with how efficient the Yamaha is/isn't so I don't know if that worry is justified. I do know that most mainstream bikes are coming with 500Wh batteries and that the standard is rapidly moving to 600-625Wh with the new models this year. If resale matters to you that might be a consideration.

Other than that, I think the Bulls has a slight edge in the level of components but I like the wider rim and tires of the Giant.

I have a similar commute (11.5 mi ea way) as yours in the same city and have been happy so far with my Bosch powered Haibike. I haven't had any issues with power on hills as long as I'm in the proper gear.

FWIW - I've been lurking here for about a year and have seen quite a few people list how the bike handles with zero assist as a consideration before purchasing. I can't ever recall reading anybody posting about actually riding their bike that way once they actually have an ebike. :)
I am riding my new bike mostly without assist now, untill I know how it works as a bike. I probably will stop doing that and use more boost as I become a better rider.
 

gringo

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Seattle
Wow! Thank you for these excellent responses!

Based on your comments, I tried a Vado 4.0 and it is quite impressive. Nice power and super quiet. Solid overall build feel too. Great, now I have a third bike to choose from...my short list just got longer. 😂

I'll ponder this a bit more. I do appreciate these comments. They've been really helpful. I agree with Blackhand and should just choose the one that feels right and I like the best.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Go for it. Then join the Club :)
(P.S. When you start saying the chainring or the battery is too small please remember I was talking the 5.0) :)
 
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