Help choosing an ebike for mountain roads

Jay.Rooster

Member
New to e-bikes and this forum, but have done some casual research for the past month or so and looking to purchase my first e-bike.

I live on a mountain that has many hills that are preventing me from enjoying more of the beauty around me. I'm looking for a bike that will help assist me with a few hills. I don't need it to do it for me, but I need some help depending on the hill.

I did rent my first e-bike this past weekend (Pedego Trail Tracker). It was a fat tire bike. I'm sure it's a divisive topic, but dang that ride was beautiful. I had so much fun. Had absolutely no idea it would garner that much attention which was a bit of a negative for me, though. Really did like the design, but the associate and some stuff I've read tells me that a fat tire e-bike is probably not the most practical for what I'm looking for. I may not care in the end, because if I'm riding something, I want it to fit with me and my personality stylistically. And that fat tire bike did. I digress.

Specs wise I'm looking for the following (correct me where my desires may not be optimal for my needs):
- 500w battery or higher
- Class 2
- Prefer twist throttle
- minimum of 20mph (prefer 30)
- want to be able to go in the range of 35-65 miles on one charge. (This isn't terribly important but I don't want to be stuck looking at a battery charging light every day.)
- and the fun part.. budget.. would prefer it under $1500.

My research has dropped the RadRover 5 in my lap looking for other possibilities as well. Hoping to hear a few opinions of a few of you to hopefully help steer me in the right direction. I am well aware there are a lot of other options to have an opinion about, I simply don't yet have the knowledge to know what I'm looking for. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
One thing regarding the Rover you may not know about. There are performance options available for it. You can start out with the basic bike, and modify it as required. The Rovers have made a LOT of friends, almost a cult like following, so the aftermarket is starting to cater to it.....

The other thing is, the Rover has a geared hub drive, making it pretty capable when it comes to hills, especially when modified to get more performance. That said, a mid drive, with the same amount of power, will have way more hill climbing ability. Down side of the mid drive is what they cost. They'll bust your budget for sure, so you'll need to decide, settle on, just how much hill climbing performance you would like....

Welcome to picking out an e-bike/decisions 101! 😄
 

GenXrider

Active Member
New alternative to the step-through Radrouter - the Espin Nero.

Thumb throttle, 25 mph max, not shipping until October if you can wait, early bird pricing $999 (without premium package) $1149 (with premium package). Price will jump $300 after August.

 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Well, you're north of Chattanooga. there are no 1000' in 15 minutes grade there that would burn up a geared hub motor. Hub motors get you out of the frequent replacement of chains required by mid-drives. I get ~4000 miles per chain with my front hub motor.
DD hub motors cool better on extreme grades like in California & the Rockies, but burn up excessive watt hours at low speeds.
Your desired range is a problem with most built up bikes. I can burn up 840 watt hours at 8-10 mph over 30 miles on my route with 77 hills. My 17.5 ah battery is red lighting and dropping out on the last couple of hills. I'd say 21 or 24 ah is desirable, but not common at all.
OTOH if you build the bike yourself, you can buy as much battery as you want. Battery vendors in the US i trust are lunabikes, ebikeling, and shicks has said nice things about california ebikes. You can also buy a geared hub motor more capable than 500 watts. Mine is 1300 watts, which I find useful. It won't put 1300 watts on the ground, only about 420 measuring rise weight & speed, but the excess watts will start it at gross weight 330 lb on a 15% grade if I get stopped by something stupid like a dog. I bought my 48 v 1300 w geared front hub motor from ebikeling, and have about 5000 miles on it. It will go a little over 25 on the flat. I have 2" tires, which I find adequate with no suspension at 8-10 mph. Over that speed I'd want a suspension.
The downside of a home built bike, if there is an ittermittant problem, there is no warrenty. You can't take it to the shop. You throw the battery or hub motor away and try again. I had two trash 48 v batteries that would collapse to 7 or 11 volts @ 10 amp load before I bought one from luna that works. Since I proved the battery from amazon bad in <30 days, (voltage would stay low after road failure) I got my money back on that one. The ebay battery would pop back up to 48 v after stalling me on the road, until I developed a load to test it on my back stoop with continuous voltage monitoring. Did not get my money back from ebay since it took me 80 days to figure that out.
Read the "known problems" about any brand you are thinking about buying. One brand you mentioned has 17 entries for loose spokes, whereas the bike pictured left that cost $1500 without a motor has never needed spoke adjustment or shifter adjustment. I did have to tighten 2 spokes on the ebikeling power wheel after 4000 miles. There are higher qualities of "steel" in spokes & cables available than the bargain brands equip a bike with.
Don't neglect matching the frame to your body. It is a bike, not a car with electrically adjustable seats. Your legs need to be nearly straight with the crank pedal down, and still be able to touch the ground with your toes when you stop. Frame sizes run from 17" to 22 ". Pick the right one. Some brands have 4 or 5 sizes, some idiots claim one size fits all. Being short, I'll say they are wrong. I had to have the bike shown left shipped in from California, since all the bike shop owners around here expect their customers to be enormous & leggy. Kiddy MTB's in discount stores fit me, but remember the **** spokes, shifters cables & brakes they come with. I put up with that for 50 years, then finally bought a higher quality bike that fit with disk brakes, 24 speeds, SRAM shiters, and a frame that wouldn't throw me over the handlebars on my chin yearly.
As for fat tires, they are great on sandy beaches & in powder snow. They also attract thieves, as one owner chased me down to ask me to look out for his missing bike. Some people say they are difficult to change the tube out on the road with limited tools. I can change a 2" tube in < an hour even on the end with the hub motor, less on the other end.
Happy shopping.
 
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Mike_V

Active Member
Hi Jay,
Fat tires are great.
Mike

Noisy, hard to transport, tubes, heavy but,
Real traction on dirt, gravel, road sand, rocks and sticks = excellent.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Noise is a condition that can be remedied with a tire change. Get rid of the aggressive noise making knobbies, and put something with a pavement strip on it. Often called "slicks", there are varying degrees of aggressiveness on either side of a smooth section going down the center.
 

Jay.Rooster

Member
Great replies!

@AHicks I have seen a number of videos now that show a few different customizations for the Red Rover which I enjoyed a good bit. Initially even the budget priced RedRover 5 is still steep for me. Initially I wanted to spent 1k but it seems that severely cripples my ability to purchase something worth much of anything. With all that said, it's at the tops of my list.

@GenXrider Love the link and how that brand seems to go over on reviews. I have never heard of Espin, but at this point, that's probably the same for 97% of the brands out there. I'm going to keep this one on my radar

@indianajo I won't be riding from the top of the mountain to the bottom or vice versa. I just want something to give me some help with the hills on top of the mountain. (or heck, down below too.. it's nothing but hills here. Just moved here from Florida. Big difference in terrain. :) Exact opposite) I do have a 2007 or 2008 beater Schwinn Frontier GSX that I know is low end even for 2007. I have considered putting a motor on it though. It gets me around alright.. I don't know what expectations one should have with a DIY kit, so I'm a bit out of the loop in that respect. But definitely giving this consideration. I think your response is a good place for me to start there. Just not sure if this bike is worth it to put something rinky dink into it until i'm ready to spend more than my 1500 budget on an eBike. Low end Schwinn.. And if I have to buy another bike to put a motor in, i think i'd rather just buy one pre-made. Right? I'd have to have major assistance with the mods or just have a local bike shop do it for me. Which is probably what would happen. I'd try.. get super frustrated because I'm just not as technically inclined as I want to be.. then take it to the shop anyway. I'm just not sure where my money is best spent just yet.

@Mike_V Awesome! I mean.. that Pedego Trail Tracker retails for way more than i'd ever spend, but I really had no gripes with the ride at all. Just.. go faster? It went 20. But if that's a max I'd have to settle for with fat tire bikes in my price range, I'm okay with that.

@AHicks (2) Thank you! Not familiar with knobbies, but did change out the tires on my beater Schwinn from semi-mountain bike type tread to a road tire tread. Way faster, way less energy wasted, and way way quieter.
 

Jay.Rooster

Member
I'll add that these are the bikes that my entry level searches gave me right off the bat. Like I said, that RadRover 5 is at the top, but a few others are considered:

RadRover 5
Sondors X (Some things steer me away from this one though)
Himiway Cruiser (know the least about this one)
Ride1Up
Nakto Super Cruiser (Know very little about this brand)
Espin Nero (Now that @GenXrider recommended it)
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Jay, I've built a couple of bikes (my first e-bikes), and "re-built" my Rad City to accommodate my tastes perfectly (not a lot of the original bike left). The difference in price between the bikes I built, which were all new, using mid range quality parts (not the best, but certainly not the worst) and a bike like RAD offers, is not that much. There was a LOT of time spent researching parts, then sourcing them, while hoping the would work/fit.

That experience led me to the purchase of a RAD bike next, purchased cheap enough where about ANY part of it could be modified to make it "perfect" for MY tastes.

Important parts, which can be difficult to change and/or expensive to replace, are the frame of course, the battery, and the motor. Get those right and you are home free. Anything else can be changed economically and easily. Best of luck!
 

vtuvia

New Member
Hey Jay, how about looking at our VTUVIA SN100 this bike?

*750w motor
*Thumb throttle
*Max Speed: 23-28MPH
*Max Distance: About 35 miles with level one assist
And just a little expensive than you expected, do you think $1699 is affordable?

our link is: https://vtuviaebike.com/products/sn100-fat-tire-mountain-ebike

 
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Jay.Rooster

Member
Thanks for the reply, @vtuvia! That camo certainly doesn't hurt. That's an awesome visual style and right down my alley. I do think the price is a little more than I'm comfortable putting down for a first eBike, but I'm going to research this bike more to determine if going over my budget is worth it. Very much appreciated.
 

GenXrider

Active Member
I'm still thinking about getting the Nero. Since early bird is through August 31 with October shipping, I don't need to make up my mind yet. Ultimately, I would like an e-bike with standard size tires next spring, but I would always like to have a working backup in case my primary is out of service. So two styles would give me a little variety as well.
 

Jay.Rooster

Member
Well, I got bold and was ready to make a RadRover5 purchase. Was ready to click the order and then I read "Ships September". Heart sank. I need a dang summer bike. So I said.. ok.. I guess maybe the Sondors XS then. Go to the site, same shipping estimate. Then i really am ready to change my thinking so I look at the Sondors X. I didn't see any shipping disclaimer so I click order now. Get a little more into the process of purchasing, and it gives me the same dang estimate of September. Joy.
 

GenXrider

Active Member
Yeah, availability has been a real issue this year. Loss in production due to the pandemic and increase in demand. Some of the Ride1up bikes (not fat) say they will ship late August, but even that, is no guarantee. I've basically written off this summer but hope to not be in this position again next spring.
 

Ridin222

Active Member
Well, I got bold and was ready to make a RadRover5 purchase. Was ready to click the order and then I read "Ships September". Heart sank. I need a dang summer bike. So I said.. ok.. I guess maybe the Sondors XS then. Go to the site, same shipping estimate. Then i really am ready to change my thinking so I look at the Sondors X. I didn't see any shipping disclaimer so I click order now. Get a little more into the process of purchasing, and it gives me the same dang estimate of September. Joy.
Same with me. =( I went to buy the Bolton Blackbird and it sold out (while in my cart, ready to click buy). And get this, it happened to me twice! So now I am back to possibly getting the Sondors MXS. Or maybe the RR5. Or maybe the Juiced RCS. Ugh, I dunno! I've been researching for months now. Anyway, the few bikes I just mentioned won't ship til August/September, but at least I don't get the 'sold out' message. Now if I could just make up my mind......
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Not too long ago Rad would send you an email to let you know the bike you're after would be in stock the following day at a certain time. You would literally have to get your order in, and accepted, within just a few minutes AFTER that time. Or they were sold out AGAIN.

Just recently they started these pre-sales, where you can reserve a bike coming in on the next shipment. Yes, they're WAY out on those shipments, but at least you know you have a bike with your name on it on that shipment.

The wife and I are going to try the fat tire thing. We'll be putting our name on a couple of Rovers soon - as soon as I can decide if I want a boys bike or a girls bike. No, I meant a boys bike or a "step through". No, no, no. What I REALLY meant is a "step over" or a "step through"! Honest....😂 -Al
 

GenXrider

Active Member
The wife and I are going to try the fat tire thing. We'll be putting our name on a couple of Rovers soon - as soon as I can decide if I want a boys bike or a girls bike. No, I meant a boys bike or a "step through". No, no, no. What I REALLY meant is a "step over" or a "step through"! Honest....😂 -Al
At least you have the choice. That fatty I mentioned is only available in step-through.
 

GenXrider

Active Member
Found one that shipped in August and made that leap yesterday!


I had misread ship date (or it changed) and was able to get it in. Very excited.
That's a super fat bike. Geared a little low and not much range with that 14-28T freewheel, but that might not matter much for an extra fatty and for your purposes. Good luck.