Help choosing year-round commuter eBike for Wisconsin weather

Ben U

New Member
I am new to eBikes, but I want to replace one of my vehicles with an electric bike that I can use year-round, rain and shine, snow and sleet. My biggest concern is salt and slush in the winter getting into the motor or battery. Rain doesn't bother me much. However, I don't want to invest in a nice $3000+ bike and then ruin it in a few years because of winter riding. I am strongly considering the Specialized Turbo Como 3.0 or 4.0 and the RadRover5. The closest bike shop to me is a Specialzed dealer, and I tested the Turbo Como 2 already and loved it. They didn't know about winter riding though. Apparently that's not real common here (Tomah, WI. Rural area). The bike shops I visited also seemed hesitant to endorse buying from Rad Power Bikes because of quality concerns. They said it was basically like taking a Walmart bike and throwing a motor on it, so "you get what you pay for." All the reviews of Rad Power Bikes that I've read have been positive, so I was surprised by that.

Anyway:
  • Does anyone have experienced with the Specialized Turbo Como bikes in snow and extreme cold (subzero)?
  • Should I buy a cheaper bike (like RadRover5) in the $1500-$2000 range instead of investing in a $3000+ bike?
  • What's the best year-round, all-weather commuting electric bike?
    • I weigh ~160 and am 5'9
    • My commute is ~10 miles round trip, but I would want to take it for ~30 mile round trips if necessary
    • There are lots of hills in the surrounding area
  • Do I even need an electric bike for winter? Should I just get a cheaper fat-tire exclusively for winter?

Thank you for your input!
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Have you previously ridden a lot in snow? I hate it. About 1 in 10 rides in snow is fine or even fun in Central IL. That's the soft powder rides that are fun. The rest sucks. There is deep slush which requires the very best long fenders, frozen slush which can be filled with ruts, frozen footprints that are like solid pot hole riding, water on ice which is the very slickest surface there is, followed by snow on ice, and then just ice. Then if you ride streets, they are seldom plowed right to the curb, so the lane is narrower than normal. And slush with a passing car is horrible! About that local bike shop, ask how many of them have actually ridden a RadPower. No electric bike is water proof. Water resistant at the best. You'll need studded tires. The battery range will be cut in have in extremely cold temperatures. You absolutely can't charge a super cold battery, it shortens the life dramatically! So you will need to get the bike inside during the day, or at a minimum you'll need to remove the battery and take it in.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Absolutely get the Ice Spiker tires or similar. I went down on black ice 18 months ago and my knee still hurts ! Ebikes and ice are a deadly combo. I decided to put the Schwalbe Winter marathon plus tires on my pedal bike and not use the Ebike when it is below freezing.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Winter cyclists are to admired. You are way tougher than I am.
One additional concern would be salt on the roads. Many areas use a mixture of sand and salt to keep the roads from icing up. Water in an ebike motor is bad enough but corrosion salt way worse.
Please post what you decide.
 

Trail Cruiser

Well-Known Member
I am new to eBikes, but I want to replace one of my vehicles with an electric bike that I can use year-round, rain and shine, snow and sleet. My biggest concern is salt and slush in the winter getting into the motor or battery. Rain doesn't bother me much. However, I don't want to invest in a nice $3000+ bike and then ruin it in a few years because of winter riding. I am strongly considering the Specialized Turbo Como 3.0 or 4.0 and the RadRover5. The closest bike shop to me is a Specialzed dealer, and I tested the Turbo Como 2 already and loved it. They didn't know about winter riding though. Apparently that's not real common here (Tomah, WI. Rural area). The bike shops I visited also seemed hesitant to endorse buying from Rad Power Bikes because of quality concerns. They said it was basically like taking a Walmart bike and throwing a motor on it, so "you get what you pay for." All the reviews of Rad Power Bikes that I've read have been positive, so I was surprised by that.

Anyway:
  • Does anyone have experienced with the Specialized Turbo Como bikes in snow and extreme cold (subzero)?
  • Should I buy a cheaper bike (like RadRover5) in the $1500-$2000 range instead of investing in a $3000+ bike?
  • What's the best year-round, all-weather commuting electric bike?
    • I weigh ~160 and am 5'9
    • My commute is ~10 miles round trip, but I would want to take it for ~30 mile round trips if necessary
    • There are lots of hills in the surrounding area
  • Do I even need an electric bike for winter? Should I just get a cheaper fat-tire exclusively for winter?

Thank you for your input!
Considering that Specialized is the nearest store from you, and you like the Como 2 then I would get that ebike.

After-sale service and warranty support is also important. I am assuming if you dispose "one of your vehicles" then you still have another car left.

I would reserve that second car for adverse weather and use the ebike for nice weather condition. In that case you don't have to worry about modifying your ebike to be all-out-weather-proof (that modification can be very expensive) . Maybe just have to add fenders with splash guard and that's it.

You have to pay extra attention to the motor at the bottom bracket location. Make sure that it is not exposed to road splash from the front wheel. If you look at the Vado, the splash guard extends all the way down to protect the motor. Or just get the Vado and you don't have to think about making any modifications.

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BillyDeeFour

New Member
If you can go significantly above "3000+” you should take a look at what Watt Wagons has to offer. Their Ultimate Commuter Pro was designed to handle New England winters. I got one in March and I could ride it on days that where too cold for the PAS on my RipCurrent to work. BTW, if you buy the UCP, it comes with great support and a two year guarantee.
 

Mike TowpathTraveler

Well-Known Member
In March of 2018, after NJ got nailed with a Nor'easter blizzard that put down about 10 inches of snow, I thought I'd take my non-ebike, analog bicycle out for a short spin into town before the bright sun, snow plow ops and salt spreader operations got to turning the relatively fresh, virgin snow into a salt-fortified mixture of salt water and slush.

Usually, in the after hours of a storm, I'm spending hours doing snow removal ops at the house. This time, I was determined to just see what the fat bike can do in this snow. I aired down the tires for maximum traction being that my tires are not studded and did my ride.

First off, unless you are living in the big city, commuter width tires are not going to be a fun ride in snow, slush and ice. But the most important piece of advice I can pass to you is that you are going to have to keep your bike clean after each ride or your components will be attacked by that calcium chloride that works like acid on your aluminum components, your derailleur system, your chain, everything. After that ride I made, I was still wiping salt crusts away from the little nooks and crannies down around the rear derailleur.

A fat bike or mtb with studded tires might be your best option, with a second set of non-studded wheels/tires for those days of extended clear weather.

Pics of my short, 5 mile jaunt into town and back. Note there is no shoulder to ride on, away from motor vehicles...
 

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Ben U

New Member
How far are you from Madison and crazy Lenny’s? I would check them out and they should have a lot of good info on riding in the winters there
It's about an 90 minutes to Madison, but I think Dane County is still under shut down :p That's a little too far to go for me. There are also other bike shops in La Crosse, about 45 minutes away.
 

Ben U

New Member
So what I'm seeing is 1) definitely use studded tires and 2) the ice, sand, salt, slush combo can do damage to your components if you're not careful. It seems like spray down with warm water after every ride plus lubing the chain would be the best maintenance, but who really does that? Seems like a lot of work to maintain :| That gets me thinking that maybe a single speed fat-tire or mountain bike would be a good option instead of an electric bike.

But...I still really want one! Ha
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
I am doubting any bike shops near you have the amount of stock to test ride etc as crazy Lenny’s
Lbs is great but Lenny’s may be the biggest ebike store in the country- and only ebikes
They have huge store And great prices and think they are open to sell bikes , pretty sure their website said that
 

Bruce Arnold

Well-Known Member
This is going to be kind of an odd suggestion, but you might like to consider the Scorpion by Juiced Bikes. It's got fenders and full suspension, which would be helpful for ice and snow. The main reason I suggest it is that you would have a lower center of gravity and the ability to put either foot down firmly in case of a skid, slide or swerve. Also, fat tires. Just a thought.

If I were looking for a typical diamond-frame bike, I'd want a mid-drive motor for splash protection from the front fender. Next would come internal hub gears so you don't have a derailleur picking up all the road salt. Third, and way down from second, would be a belt drive. Changing chains is not that big a deal so this would be a luxury rather than a big help like 1 and 2.

There's a lot to be said for your idea of a fat-tire pedal bike. You may not want to go that fast, so that takes out the ease-of-speed part of the ebike equation. But you might want pedal assist just for the extra rolling resistance, even if you're not trying to go that fast.
 

ruffruff

Well-Known Member
You don't want a single speed fat tire. Riding a single speed fattie in 6" of snow is like riding in wet cement!

I ride all winter but on trails. I'm very happy with my BikTrix Juggernaut. It comes with full fenders.
I'm thinking as a street/salt bike I'd go with a cheaper model and if it's rusted out in 3-4 years get another. You will probably come out even.

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Marci jo

Well-Known Member
You don't want a single speed fat tire. Riding a single speed fattie in 6" of snow is like riding in wet cement!

I ride all winter but on trails. I'm very happy with my BikTrix Juggernaut. It comes with full fenders.
I'm thinking as a street/salt bike I'd go with a cheaper model and if it's rusted out in 3-4 years get another. You will probably come out even.

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Cool fenders!!