Help finding balanced commuter / errand bike < ~$2k

indianajo

Well-Known Member
That gary fisher hybrid would be fine with a rear hub motor & a 7 speed sprocket. The suspension fork is not suitable for a front hub motor. Disk brakes are a minimum for me now, since rim brakes are so useless wet. Be sure the frame fits you, of course. The head down posture is unacceptable to me, but tens thousand rode across Iowa this summer on bikes like that. Use torque plate on the motor axle if frame is aluminum.
I have a front hub motor on the bike left, which is aluminum except the front fork is steel. 63 lb original, bags & 2 leg stand add 5 lb, motor & battery another 7, 75 lb as I ride it. Less than the Pacific MTB I was riding before with steel baskets on the back: which threw me on my chin, which broke.
 
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stanmiller

Member
Given the requirement of getting a new bike (new to me, at least) to pair with a conversion kit, the chances probably drop that I'll go this route. But just to get an idea -- is something like this more suitable? Or, what's the requisite criteria?
See if you can find a Gary Fisher ebike conversion someone has done and follow what they did. Before converting my first bike, I found a few Townie conversions between endless-sphere.com and Youtube.

This bike has an ISIS bottom bracket, so the typical square bracket pedal assist sensor (PAS) won't work.
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
This bike has an ISIS bottom bracket, so the typical square bracket pedal assist sensor (PAS) won't work.
I converted the ebikeling plastic magnet plate to fit on a 90's huffy savannah, with a 1 piece crank unlike anything sold today. Ground the center of the plate out with a 1/4" tree bit, which fit around the curve of the crank. Then filled in the extra space with 3 wood splinters glued with 3M windshield adhesive. Pickup didn't fit either; hung it off a plastic bracket sawed out of a lawnmower hood, screwed to the kickstand slot.
Took about 4 hours. Saved $2500 off the price of a Pedego, the only brand for sale within 160 miles. Regrets? No disk brakes. 14 lb battery hung on fork swung around, didn't like it. Moved the motor to the bike left. $15 wasted on the used huffy.
 
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ianschum

Member
For buying new, I think I'm zeroing in on this field of contenders:

That much-cheaper Propella (online only) is hanging on due to the style and lightness of it ... but only by a thread because of the actual cost of outfitting it the way I'd really want it:

Propella v3.2 - TRUE COST model
ItemQtyUnit CostLine Item Cost
Propella 3.2 - 7-speed1$1,299.00$1,299.00
Extra 7ah battery1$249.00$249.00
Schwalbe Marathon 700 x 32c2$52.00$104.00
700 x 45 fenders1$30.00$30.00
Shipping$50.00
Tax$0.00
Total$1,732.00
So after all this gets added in, sadly it's not so cheap! When all is said and done, ~$1750 is only lightly competitive with the 'higher end' options that are already on my list.


And then there are the significant risks piled on top from buying online:
  • Can't test ride this bike; on the off chance that I buy and don't like it, I eat $250 restocking / return shipping immediately :-(
  • No support from a local bike shop -- at least no guaranteed support, anyway
I think this ends up nearly making the decision for me. Suffice it to say I think I've convinced myself to go near the top-end of my range, which is pretty much what you all were urging me to do at the start 😏

The rest of the field are higher-end contenders, and with these numbers in front of me, it's obvious they deliver a much better value:
  • Ability to test-ride (!!)
  • Maintenance / service support (all or nearly all of these can be ordered through local bike shop)
  • Higher-end components from the start (mechanical, electrical, mid-drives, torque sensing, etc.)
  • No need to swap tires, add fenders, or wonder about a rear rack -- fully spec'd for commuting already
  • Just remembered today that by going through an LBS, the city of Austin will offer a $200 - $300 rebate (!!!)
The only exception here is the FLX, which appears to be available locally through VeloFix only -- something like a pseudo-local bike shop / assembly / mechanic / concierge service(?). Adds probly $150 - $250 for their services, which comes back again in the form of the local city rebate.

Anyway ... things are definitely gaining more resolution here.
 

sl_duck

Member
With a commute so short, you probably don't need that extra 7ah battery. You'd be wiser to buy a spare charger you can leave at work if you're concerned about doing the trip two ways.

Your Gary Fischer Marlin would make a great conversion, and since you are happy with it all it needs is a little electric boost to make the ride effort more like an easy walk. The front fork looks like it's steel, so can handle a modest hub motor with very little messing around. The only thing that makes me cringe a little is the cantilever brakes. I hate adjusting those. Once you have the kit set up, you will have very little maintenance especially if you don't regularly ride in the rain.

In your shoes, with such a short commute and a bike you like, I would just convert the old bike. Maybe check out the new Swytch kit on indiegogo. Looks like you can still preorder their Eco kit for $500, and your bike weight will end up under 40lbs, maybe even under 35lbs.

Here's a couple good vids from Grin on conversions in general:
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
The Gary-Fisher example would likely work fairly well for a hub-drive conversion, I can't say for a mid-drive. The latter cost more, mostly what you find for sale here in the states. I'm not sure why companies are not selling the geared-hub kits, other than Amazon imports from China, from Aliexpress, and ebay. The dealers or shops selling kits mostly all sell the mid-drives. Grin in Vancouver - ebikes.ca - are big-time proponents for hub-drives, but they only carry the tiny 250w Bafang hub, and then MAC or other hub systems.

We bought new bikes 3 years ago, I got a Specialized Crossroads Elite - 27spd, carbon fork, v-brakes. She got the roll - balloon tires, 21spd, tektro disk brakes. The latter was an easy conversion as StanMiller says, pretty much just a drop-in - the rear hub/wheel assembly literally just dropped into the chain stays, no modifications, no nothing. A perfect fit. I transferred over the brake rotor, it came with a new freewheel 7-gear cassette, all ready to mount a tire and install it. I changed out the 3-ring crank for a single to simplify things for her, and with the assist there was really no need for the 3 front chain rings. This cleaned up the left handlebar clutter as well.
Breaking it down for a tire repair is a whole new ballgame with this now though - a word of warning here.

I looked into converting my Crossroads as well, but disc brakes really make more sense for a ebike - mostly due to higher speeds, and rim brake performance really suffers in the rain. Besides, all of the hubs come ready for a disc rotor, and you would have to have a custom wheel lace done to get a rim for v-brakes. So there's the option to convert - a Tektro kit isn't that much, under $100 I think, but there's no place to mount a caliper on that carbon fork. Plus I'm not sure about the braking forces at the end of the fork legs - liable to snap them right off! Surely you wouldn't want an alloy fork conversion for disk - the purpose built forks are properly designed and reinforced for this duty, with the mounting tangs built in. The rear would need a special bracket attached to the chainstays to mount a caliper. In the end it was going to cost more than I wanted to spend on a conversion, opting for a new complete ebike instead. The crossroads is for sale on Craigslist. LOL

Another plus for your Fisher example is the suspension fork - again, the ride enhancement at ebike speeds is a plus, and why you tend to see bigger tires for suspension effect. Things that reduce pedal performance are no longer an issue with an ebike with assist - like suspension and tires that would soak up pedal effort.

We're still seeing a lot of skinny tires on ebikes, but I think that's just a hold over from the pedal days where peak performance was sought out, and may well still apply for special use, like extending range for trekkers and commuters. Most everything else comes with bigger tires to soak up bumps. I'll probly change out my 47mm tires for 50's or 55's - the ride is better, and I'm not concerned with a small loss of range.
 

ianschum

Member
Did a test ride of the MOD Berlin today. To nobody's surprise, it's a lovely machine backed by a lovely, passionate company that's committed to service and long-term customer relationships.

The one deal-breaker was ... it's too big for me 😏
I think my practical limit for a comfortable stand-over height is around 28" or 28.5". I warned the bike shop ahead of time, so they swapped out the normal 700C with 26" tires -- this helped some, but I still couldn't fully stand-over the bike with both feet flat on the ground. I'm not talking about ground contact while my butt's in the saddle -- I mean that I just want to be able to stand over the top tube with both feet on the ground, e.g. when I'm at a long traffic light. Not to mention, lowering the bike closer to the ground ended up putting the pedals close enough to scrape the ground a bit, at least when cornering tightly.

I really wanted to like this bike, especially since it's gone on sale now(!), but the fit issues unfortunately disqualified this model for me. The co-owner of MOD let me know that they're planning for a low-step rendition, but it's only in prototyping right now so it won't get to market until probably late 2020.

Suffice it to say: MOD bikes is awesome and I wish the Berlin would have worked for me. Anybody reading this and shopping around for an ebike in the Austin area should certainly give them a serious look.

####

Moving on ... now that I've gotten to test out a couple of mid-drive models and a couple of hub-motor models -- I tried the MOD City just to get more experience with the latter category -- I'm quite convinced that I like a mid-drive better. Just confirming my initial biases, in other words. For anybody reading this who is new to ebikes and wants some informed-newbie impressions: riding a mid-drive feels like riding a bike, where you just happen to have magical steroids in your legs. By comparison, using a rear hub motor feels more like a bike with a motor, and you can also pedal it sometimes. In the latter case, there's a bit of a disconnect between the motor-assist and the pedal experience. As has been discussed all over this forum (and the internet), rear hub motors work great for a lot of people. But for me, I frankly have gotten used to the feeling of riding my hybrid non-electric bike over the last decade, and so it feels much more natural for me to preserve that bike-riding feeling by going with a (more expensive) mid-drive model.

Which leads me to what is (probably) my final question on this thread!
I've narrowed down my selection to these two: Trek Verve+ vs Batch E-Commuter

Thru the local Bicycle Sport Shop, I can get either of them for the same price of $1999, and then Austin will provide a $200 rebate. So the price is identical. Most of the specs are identical or verrrry close. I wanted to solicit feedback on any significant differences that the more-observant among you can pick out. Is there a reason you all might pick one over the other, or is this basically a coin toss?

Note: I still need to confirm the E-Commuter comes in a size that will work for my stand-over height; meanwhile the Verve+ comes in a mid-step model that should be no problem.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Hands down Trek. Never even heard of the other brand.
If nothing else you'll make it up on resale for simple brand recognition.

The no-name import is probably faster. But Trek makes a REALLY nice bike - the quality is there.

Seems you landed on a dealer for support as well - in all likelihood a good idea. 👍
 
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sl_duck

Member
Which will accommodate a fatter tire? I’m guessing the Batch. Once you burn through what it came with, switching to something like a 2.0 schwalbe is a nice upgrade.
From the spec you linked to the Batch also seems to have a sportier cockpit, and comes with a rack (though that would be trivial to add to the trek). Trek has integrated lighting though, which is a nice luxury. I’d prob lean slightly toward the trek but get the shop to put on a lower stem and rear rack.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
The batch has a 7 speed rear sprocket cluster. I've had one of those from shimano, the race came unscrewed and dropped the balls, about 4 miles from home. About 4000 miles from purchase. They left out a $.12 locknut to save cost. The Trek has a 9 speed. I've got 5000 miles on a shimano 8 speed rear and no problems. The 9 speed probably doesn't have the cost pressures of a 7 speed, but 9 speed will wear out chains faster than the 7 speed.
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Based on favor of the Trek Verve+, I would say go down the street to your competing dealer and test ride the Giant Explore and the Specialized Vado. These are the 'big-3', the most market share, good bikes, but more importantly they're the top bike companies in the US so you are assured of quality and support, good warranty, solid dealers.

The reason being is the Trek is the least powerful of the group with 45nm of assist - the Giant and Specialized are more like 70. Trek is just a little behind the eightball on this - it's a nice bike at a good price, well fit out, but a little short on power. Which may or may not be an issue.

The Giant Explore hits the same price point. The first think I did was change out the tires to a road pattern - Schwalbe Marathons, making it more a road bike than a gravel bike. It doesn't have the fenders and lights, but mounting points for them if a rider needs/wants them. Your dealer will normally accommodate some customization.

If you have a local dealer that carries Haibike, they also have a very nice cross-bike/hybrid the Trekking 2.0 with yamaha mid-drive, fully fit out.

Lots of good mid-price winners here. 👍
 
Did a test ride of the MOD Berlin today. To nobody's surprise, it's a lovely machine backed by a lovely, passionate company that's committed to service and long-term customer relationships.

The one deal-breaker was ... it's too big for me 😏
I think my practical limit for a comfortable stand-over height is around 28" or 28.5". I warned the bike shop ahead of time, so they swapped out the normal 700C with 26" tires -- this helped some, but I still couldn't fully stand-over the bike with both feet flat on the ground. I'm not talking about ground contact while my butt's in the saddle -- I mean that I just want to be able to stand over the top tube with both feet on the ground, e.g. when I'm at a long traffic light. Not to mention, lowering the bike closer to the ground ended up putting the pedals close enough to scrape the ground a bit, at least when cornering tightly.

I really wanted to like this bike, especially since it's gone on sale now(!), but the fit issues unfortunately disqualified this model for me. The co-owner of MOD let me know that they're planning for a low-step rendition, but it's only in prototyping right now so it won't get to market until probably late 2020.

Suffice it to say: MOD bikes is awesome and I wish the Berlin would have worked for me. Anybody reading this and shopping around for an ebike in the Austin area should certainly give them a serious look.

####

Moving on ... now that I've gotten to test out a couple of mid-drive models and a couple of hub-motor models -- I tried the MOD City just to get more experience with the latter category -- I'm quite convinced that I like a mid-drive better. Just confirming my initial biases, in other words. For anybody reading this who is new to ebikes and wants some informed-newbie impressions: riding a mid-drive feels like riding a bike, where you just happen to have magical steroids in your legs. By comparison, using a rear hub motor feels more like a bike with a motor, and you can also pedal it sometimes. In the latter case, there's a bit of a disconnect between the motor-assist and the pedal experience. As has been discussed all over this forum (and the internet), rear hub motors work great for a lot of people. But for me, I frankly have gotten used to the feeling of riding my hybrid non-electric bike over the last decade, and so it feels much more natural for me to preserve that bike-riding feeling by going with a (more expensive) mid-drive model.

Which leads me to what is (probably) my final question on this thread!
I've narrowed down my selection to these two: Trek Verve+ vs Batch E-Commuter

Thru the local Bicycle Sport Shop, I can get either of them for the same price of $1999, and then Austin will provide a $200 rebate. So the price is identical. Most of the specs are identical or verrrry close. I wanted to solicit feedback on any significant differences that the more-observant among you can pick out. Is there a reason you all might pick one over the other, or is this basically a coin toss?

Note: I still need to confirm the E-Commuter comes in a size that will work for my stand-over height; meanwhile the Verve+ comes in a mid-step model that should be no problem.
I have mentioned in previous posts how my local Trek dealer has been superb in answering any questions, they have workshops and the mechanic even took me behind the scenes and opened the Bosch motor so I could see how it worked to me personally that type of customer service cannot be replaced and makes me confident moving forward for many many years on this bike. I needed to confirm for myself how well it could handle a fairly steep hill, and I have one nearby and the total distance of the hill is right around 1.5 miles and the elevation gain is about 400 feet, and I was able to maintain between eight and 10 mph mostly using the sport mode and on a couple of the steeper portions turbo and I am not in shape and it definitely was a work out but not exhausting and I did not strain myself as I have to be very careful with my physical limitations. I got mine for 2K. I actually videotaped myself doing it as my wife did not believe I could pull that hill!!
 

ianschum

Member
Alright everyone, sounds like the vote is overwhelmingly in favor of the Trek, and the reasons seem plain.

The last challenge is figuring out whether I pull the trigger on the present sale -- I believe the $1999 price on the Verve+ is for a single bike that has been used as a floor model locally -- or do I wait for Black Friday?

And to some of the commenters noting options from Giant, Specialized etc., yeah I've seen there are similar good options from them in the neighborhood of $2000 - $2500.

The broader question is, how much might these models get discounted when the holiday sales start? I've never bought a 'serious' bike before so I don't know how much I should hold my breath for Black Friday. If you were me, would you get the 'sure thing' $1999 model from last season, or wait to see if any of the other options come down in price?
 

PatriciaK

Active Member
Alright everyone, sounds like the vote is overwhelmingly in favor of the Trek, and the reasons seem plain.

The last challenge is figuring out whether I pull the trigger on the present sale -- I believe the $1999 price on the Verve+ is for a single bike that has been used as a floor model locally -- or do I wait for Black Friday?

And to some of the commenters noting options from Giant, Specialized etc., yeah I've seen there are similar good options from them in the neighborhood of $2000 - $2500.

The broader question is, how much might these models get discounted when the holiday sales start? I've never bought a 'serious' bike before so I don't know how much I should hold my breath for Black Friday. If you were me, would you get the 'sure thing' $1999 model from last season, or wait to see if any of the other options come down in price?
I think the Trek is changing for the upcoming year - let me check. If so, you're not going to get a break in a brand new model.

Why not talk to your LBS about the floor model and see if you can either get a further discount, due to it being "used", or get some extras in the deal? If course they'll go over it and tune it up/clean it up before you take delivery...
 

ianschum

Member
Which will accommodate a fatter tire? I’m guessing the Batch. Once you burn through what it came with, switching to something like a 2.0 schwalbe is a nice upgrade.
From the spec you linked to the Batch also seems to have a sportier cockpit, and comes with a rack (though that would be trivial to add to the trek). Trek has integrated lighting though, which is a nice luxury. I’d prob lean slightly toward the trek but get the shop to put on a lower stem and rear rack.
Luckily I have a rear rack that I'm happy with (~8 yr old Topeak Explorer) which should take care of that particular issue. Good point about the upright vs. forward position though. Having gotten used to my forward-leaning Gary Fisher for the last decade, I actually have a preference for that more aggressive position since it allows me to more easily distribute weight between arms and legs -- I haven't really loved the last few test-rides on more upright-style bikes. That's an interesting suggestion about asking for a lower stem -- I wonder what my bike shop could accommodate there, and more importantly at what price. I guess I'll see 😏
 

ianschum

Member
I think the Trek is changing for the upcoming year - let me check. If so, you're not going to get a break in a brand new model.

Why not talk to your LBS about the floor model and see if you can either get a further discount, due to it being "used", or get some extras in the deal? If course they'll go over it and tune it up/clean it up before you take delivery...
Not a bad idea, I'll have to see what I can do. Right now the $1999 price is the best that I see anywhere on the internet for that model, so I have to imagine that number is already discounted for its being "used".
 

PatriciaK

Active Member
I think the Trek is changing for the upcoming year - let me check. If so, you're not going to get a break in a brand new model.

Why not talk to your LBS about the floor model and see if you can either get a further discount, due to it being "used", or get some extras in the deal? If course they'll go over it and tune it up/clean it up before you take delivery...
Nope no change... Considering list is $2499, that's a pretty good price.
 
Not a bad idea, I'll have to see what I can do. Right now the $1999 price is the best that I see anywhere on the internet for that model, so I have to imagine that number is already discounted for its being "used".
I think that is a great price and if a dealer can beat it I would be very surprised. I got mine in early September at that price because the last of that year‘s model was on sale. I went back a few weeks later to get a rear rack and sure enough the new 2020s were in, and if I can remember the only addition was a plastic chain guard. The price was $2450.00