Hitting Decision Wall Between Bikes - Any Input Appreciated!

MyBikeIsMyCar

New Member
Hello! I'm new to the forum, but have been reading through other threads about decision issues, which have been very helpful. I'm still stuck with deciding myself, and would appreciate any input!

I've spent a few months now researching and debating which bike would be the best fit for me, but every time I think I'm close to a decision, I find some other review or information that throws me back into indecision :p

This would be my first ebike—my current bike is all me-powered and has been my primary or sole means of transportation for over 15 years! (I originally was looking into converting it to an ebike, but I don't think I have enough experience and skill sets to know the best way to do this).


I've largely narrowed it down to 4 options I'm waffling between:



For context on what I'm needing from an bike, if that's helpful:

  • I need to be able to haul things with my flatbed trailer
  • I need to have a higher distance-per-charge as I may be—at times—needing to go 30+ miles one way (and return)
  • I will eventually be living in a converted bus, so space is a consideration
  • I currently have some steep hills I'd be going up, sometimes with a load on my trailer
  • My bike is my only means of transportation, so I am a "heavy user" :)
  • I need racks, fenders, and lights for sure
  • Despite biking everywhere, I'm not very proficient with modifying/tinkering, so the more user-friendly the better
  • I ride in the winter too, so snow and ice are a consideration, as well as some limited off-road time (I live in Iowa)
  • My budget is not massive, so while I know there are many other brands, I'm needing to keep this within the price range of these models
  • I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.

UPDATE: forgot to include that I'm about 5'1'' and around 110lbs. So do need to be sure I can reach the pedals and all :)

Here are some pros/cons/considerations I've reached with the different models:

  • For my trailer: I can attach the hitch to Ariel Riders easily, according to their support, but would have to figure something out with Sondors as a quick-release-hitch won't work
  • Ariel Riders come with fenders and lights and have racks available. Sondors does not (they had fender/rack set for the Fold but removed it)
  • ATM, Sondors doesn't seem to have direct support. They refer to to an unofficial Facebook group.
  • The M-Class has only 3 gears. I'm not sure if this is an issue
  • The M-Class is the only one with the mid-drive motor, which seems advantageous for hauling & winter-riding, but I have also read that these can break a chain more easily when going up really steep hills
  • Ease of tire replacement is a concern for all of these, but mostly the Sondors Fold, Ariel Rider M-Class, and to a lesser extent the Sondors X/XS


Thank you so much in advance for any help! I really appreciate it :)
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
None of those bikes will go 60 miles pulling a loaded trailer with some steep hills. They aren't cargo bikes. When it gets cold the battery range drops dramatically. The only way to ride on ice is with spiked tires, especially pulling a loaded trailer. If you want user friendly, buy from a local shop. Internet only companies will only send you parts after you do the diagnostic work. You could be weeks with no transportation if the internet company doesn't stock many parts. I waited 2 months for a replacement motor from Sondors. The motors were coming by container from China. Sondors only orders full containers. If you order a bike, or parts, and they don't have a full container, you wait longer. I have two Haibike mid drives, no chain breakage with 4,400 miles between the two.
 

MyBikeIsMyCar

New Member
None of those bikes will go 60 miles pulling a loaded trailer with some steep hills. They aren't cargo bikes. When it gets cold the battery range drops dramatically. The only way to ride on ice is with spiked tires, especially pulling a loaded trailer. If you want user friendly, buy from a local shop. Internet only companies will only send you parts after you do the diagnostic work. You could be weeks with no transportation if the internet company doesn't stock many parts. I waited 2 months for a replacement motor from Sondors. The motors were coming by container from China. Sondors only orders full containers. If you order a bike, or parts, and they don't have a full container, you wait longer. I have two Haibike mid drives, no chain breakage with 4,400 miles between the two.

Thank you for the reply. There aren't any local shops that have electric bike inventories. At least none that I've found.

So regardless of which company I go with, I'll be having to order the bike :(

I did just peruse Haibike's website—there are a lot of options. My budget, though, as I said, is pretty limited, and I'm not seeing any within the range.

Which models do you have or would you recommend?


I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
@rich c has given you some solid advice here.

I hear you that there are some budgetary constraints. However;
  1. this is your only transportation
  2. Regardless which bike you buy, you need a second battery to haul the trailer in hilly country with the daily distance you described.
  3. You are not mechanically inclined and therefor will need good service from someone else
These are factors that will bust your stated budget but things you will absolutely need in order to do what you want to do.

I don't care how good a bike is, it will have problems from time to time that will keep you from riding. The only question is: for how long?

A bricks and mortar shop will have more serviceable bikes, with a good parts distribution system and on-staff bike mechanics (s). Thus it will keep you on the road and riding your bike far more reliably. This service, of necessity, comes with a cost.

Bottom line: I don't think you will find a bike to do the things you want it to do at the price point you have set, especially with the kind of access to service and parts you will need for your only way of getting around. If you stick with that price range, keep your old bike to ride when you ebike goes down. While you are waiting for the parts, you will need to find someone who will fix the bike once the parts arrive.
 

MyBikeIsMyCar

New Member
@rich c has given you some solid advice here.

I hear you that there are some budgetary constraints. However;
  1. this is your only transportation
  2. Regardless which bike you buy, you need a second battery to haul the trailer in hilly country with the daily distance you described.
  3. You are not mechanically inclined and therefor will need good service from someone else
These are factors that will bust your stated budget but things you will absolutely need in order to do what you want to do.

I don't care how good a bike is, it will have problems from time to time that will keep you from riding. The only question is: for how long?

A bricks and mortar shop will have more serviceable bikes, with a good parts distribution system and on-staff bike mechanics (s). Thus it will keep you on the road and riding your bike far more reliably. This service, of necessity, comes with a cost.

Bottom line: I don't think you will find a bike to do the things you want it to do at the price point you have set, especially with the kind of access to service and parts you will need for your only way of getting around. If you stick with that price range, keep your old bike to ride when you ebike goes down. While you are waiting for the parts, you will need to find someone who will fix the bike once the parts arrive.

Thank you for the reply. I appreciate your input and advice . I would prefer a brick and mortar store for sure. I'd rather shop there and speak to a human than online. I don't have an ebike store in my area, though, and while the local bike shops will help assemble an ebike and can maybe help with some things, I don't really have the option of trying out different ebikes and discussing options.

Given what I'm ideally needing from an ebike, if removing the budgetary constraint, do you have any recommendations for what is best suited? I think it would be helpful to have some ideas of what would be the best fit as even if it's not possible for me to afford at the moment, it is still very useful information in deciding how to proceed.

I did poke around this site more again and there are ones said to be usable on snow and such that are lower cost, like this one or this one. But I just don't know enough to know what all to consider. The more I read and research, the more overwhelmed and lost I become.

Many thanks!
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
In your shoes, I would be looking for the nearest dealer for
  1. Trek
  2. Specialized
  3. Giant
Each of these have widely distributed retail shops, a variety of reliable ebike offerings. They do not offer Chinese, rear hub drive bikes with throttles. They are all pedal assist, with center/crank driven motors which typically get more miles per watt, climb hills better but do require you to keep pedaling.

I do not ride any of the above but have given them test rides and they are all good bikes. The main thing is that they come with dealer service and have the most bricks and mortar locations.
 

ebikemom

Well-Known Member
Does your local bike shop sell Trek or Giant, or Specialized? If they are already dealers of the conventional bikes, they should be able to get the coaching, parts, etc., needed to fix your bike when it needs it.
 

ebikemom

Well-Known Member
Another thought--could you take a short trip to actually ride ebikes? For example, drive to Iowa City or wherever the nearest city is with a store that stocks ebikes, and have a little weekend away to actually try bikes in the major brands carried by the shop in your town? It could make a big difference in what you actually purchase. Even if a group of bikes are all "good bikes," individual preferences vary.
 

AlanDB

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Iowa
You don't say what part of Iowa you are from, but there are two great e-bike shops in Cedar Rapids. Between those two shops, all three of the mentioned brands are sold/supported.

Incidentally, welcome to the forum and to ebiking. There are a several of us Iowans that are members here.
 

raceto100

Member
Hi,

Analysis paralysis, I remember that feeling well from when I was making my decision to buy an E-bike. My cure was to go to the bike store (3 times) and actually ride the bikes I was interested in. Unfortunately that's not an option for you with these mail order bikes.

But looking at your list of needs the Ariel Rider M-Class seems to me the best choice. Let me look at each point:



For context on what I'm needing from an bike, if that's helpful:

  • I need to be able to haul things with my flatbed trailer - you've confirmed that it can work according to Ariel Rider's support.
  • I need to have a higher distance-per-charge as I may be—at times—needing to go 30+ miles one way (and return) - Probably one way, but not both ways unless you use lowest assist and perhaps no assist, which is possible with a mid drive.
  • I will eventually be living in a converted bus, so space is a consideration - it's small and you don't have to fold it and unfold it.
  • I currently have some steep hills I'd be going up, sometimes with a load on my trailer - Dapu Mid Drive has lots of torque and is 500w so even with a 3 gears - steep hills should be fine.
  • My bike is my only means of transportation, so I am a "heavy user" :) M-Class is a classified as a commuter bike and looks comfortable enough for the occasional long rides.
  • I need racks, fenders, and lights for sure. M-Class comes with lights and has optional Front and Back racks
  • Despite biking everywhere, I'm not very proficient with modifying/tinkering, so the more user-friendly the better. M-Class looks user friendly and the support seems top notch based on the reviews on their website.
  • I ride in the winter too, so snow and ice are a consideration, as well as some limited off-road time (I live in Iowa) Off-Road and winter may not be so good with the M-Class. But having a mid-drive and I see some clearance between the tire and fenders so you could install knobby tires for the winter.
  • My budget is not massive, so while I know there are many other brands, I'm needing to keep this within the price range of these models $1738 shipped to lower 48 with fully loaded with front and rear racks and 2 pannier bags, seems like a good deal
Sondors I wouldn't consider if I were you because relying on a Facebook group for support is just scary for a primary transportation bike.

For example last night I buggered up my Haibike Urban Plus' wiring while jamming it into the back of a friends SUV when he insisted on driving me when it was too late, too chilly and too far away for me to safely ride home. This morning my Cobi app on my bike kept saying no battery. Luckily I figured out the problem myself (loose wire), but I sure felt secure knowing I could take it to Amego where I bought it or perhaps call Haibike if I had to.

Also why bother with a folding bike when the M-Class can fit into your bus/house (i'm assuming this) and you don't have to fold and unfold every time you want to take it out.

As for the Ariel Rider W-750 it's huge, what were you thinking? I don't have much experience with beach cruiser style bikes but I can't see myself riding 30 miles on one, or in the winter or off-roading.

Hope this helps.

Cheers
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.

If you want to ride with no electric power, you only have one motor choice. Geared hub motor. Direct drive hub motors will have a ratcheting feel from spinning past the magnets with no electric assist, and mid drives are geared up inside the motor housing. 1 rev on the pedals is 2 1/2 revs on the chain ring. To pedal that with no assist, you provide the torque needed to overcome that gear increase. Only geared hub motors pedal freely because they have a freewheel inside.
 

raceto100

Member
I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.

If you want to ride with no electric power, you only have one motor choice. Geared hub motor. Direct drive hub motors will have a ratcheting feel from spinning past the magnets with no electric assist, and mid drives are geared up inside the motor housing. 1 rev on the pedals is 2 1/2 revs on the chain ring. To pedal that with no assist, you provide the torque needed to overcome that gear increase. Only geared hub motors pedal freely because they have a freewheel inside.


My Haibike Urban Plus (Mid Drive) seems to pedal fine if I put my motor in level 0 which is no assist but it pedals like a regular bike (albeit at 60lb bike). However if my bike is totally powered down it feels like I'm riding in sand.
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.

If you want to ride with no electric power, you only have one motor choice. Geared hub motor. Direct drive hub motors will have a ratcheting feel from spinning past the magnets with no electric assist, and mid drives are geared up inside the motor housing. 1 rev on the pedals is 2 1/2 revs on the chain ring. To pedal that with no assist, you provide the torque needed to overcome that gear increase. Only geared hub motors pedal freely because they have a freewheel inside.

Sorry rich, but I think it's just bosch that gears it's mid drives. Most of the other manufacturers use normal front sprockets / 1-1 cranks to chain rings - I know my yamaha powered giant is fine to ride powered off ( I do it whenever I ride with my youngest child) .

On the road, my speeds are similar human powering my giant ebike vs my norco oldbike. In the dirt, the 2.6 inch tyres on the ebike can drag more, but it's not a huge difference
 

Sushi

New Member
Ha! I feel your pain! I have been looking hard and watching video after video the last month or so and couldn’t make up my mind either.
First I thought, well...for $1,500.00 I should be able to find a NICE bike.
After looking around a bit I thought, well...maybe I could go as high as $2,500.00 to get what I want.
Then I looked around some more and thought, well...if I find a great sale or close-out price, maybe I could go $3K...
I finally pulled the trigger last night and bought an FLX Blade. It’s $3,999.00! D’oh! (It’s a sickness, I tell ya).
To get what I really wanted I had to adjust my expectations.
 

larry-new

Active Member
I am wanting to be able to have the option of regular pedaling without any assistance, Pedal Assist, and full electric.

If you want to ride with no electric power, you only have one motor choice. Geared hub motor. Direct drive hub motors will have a ratcheting feel from spinning past the magnets with no electric assist, and mid drives are geared up inside the motor housing. 1 rev on the pedals is 2 1/2 revs on the chain ring. To pedal that with no assist, you provide the torque needed to overcome that gear increase. Only geared hub motors pedal freely because they have a freewheel inside.

Not so on my Rad City...DD with regen...set to Pas 0 , no assist and no ratcheting whatsoever.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Not so on my Rad City...DD with regen...set to Pas 0 , no assist and no ratcheting whatsoever.
How's it do that? Do they have a freewheel inside the direct drive to not spin it past the magnets?
Sorry rich, but I think it's just bosch that gears it's mid drives. Most of the other manufacturers use normal front sprockets / 1-1 cranks to chain rings - I know my yamaha powered giant is fine to ride powered off ( I do it whenever I ride with my youngest child) .

On the road, my speeds are similar human powering my giant ebike vs my norco oldbike. In the dirt, the 2.6 inch tyres on the ebike can drag more, but it's not a huge difference
Oops, sorry about that. My mistake.
 

John from Connecticut

Well-Known Member
In your shoes, I would be looking for the nearest dealer for
  1. Trek
  2. Specialized
  3. Giant
Each of these have widely distributed retail shops, a variety of reliable ebike offerings. They do not offer Chinese, rear hub drive bikes with throttles. They are all pedal assist, with center/crank driven motors which typically get more miles per watt, climb hills better but do require you to keep pedaling.

I do not ride any of the above but have given them test rides and they are all good bikes. The main thing is that they come with dealer service and have the most bricks and mortar locations.

I strongly agree with the Post from " Alaskan" You have a long list of requirements. Since your bike will be your only means of transportation,
purchasing the correct size bike is extremely important. A competent bike shop will be invaluable.
 

larry-new

Active Member
May I assume you've read every review and brand specific comment pertinent to the bikes you're interested in on this site? I did before making my decision.