I have a conundrum!

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Everyone here knows how much I love my La Free :D!

For some time I have been looking for a bike to keep at our second home on the opposite coast. I really did not want to invest $2000 in a bike that I will only be riding a fraction of the time (a significant fraction, but still, a fraction) I ride at home. Anyway -

I was checking out the website of the LBS at our east coast location, and saw they are having an ebike sale through September 4 - a quick call to them revealed the have a La Free available for $1799. That's a nice discount on the $1999 price, but still almost $200 more than I paid for the same bike on sale here last fall.

Then...

I saw the Espin Flow, for $1199: https://www.espinbikes.com/products/flow?variant=28721767612495#

Of course, it's a very different bike from the La Free! But, it's also $600 less than the on sale La Free. It looks like a very nice bike for the price, with good quality components. The website says it does well on hills, though I will not have the hilly terrain in the Piedmont Triad that I ride here in the seaside remnants of the Cascade mountains. It's not available for delivery until October, but we won't be in that location until October either. If I were to get the La Free, it would sit in our storage shed until then, so immediate delivery doesn't matter. The Flow also has a throttle.

My concerns are that I am going to miss the torque sensing and natural feel of the mid-drive La Free (though I can probably adjust), that the cadence sensing PAS will be too aggressive for me, and that, being a fairly young (4 years old?) company, Espin might not be around for the long haul like Giant will.

I've looked at reviews and the Espin thread here but not a ton of info from owners. I've also written Espin to ask questions about the PAS levels, whether or not the battery is proprietary, and a few other questions.

I'm stuck between sticking with what I know and love, and trying something different, and need to make a decision before the end of the local sale if I want to get the La Free.

Help - thoughts and opinions most welcome! Should I stick with La Free, or "go with the Flow" ;) ?
 
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antboy

Well-Known Member
The cadence based hub bike is going to feel a lot different. It'll will almost definitely feel more "jumpy" when the motor engages, but you get used to it quickly.

As for the company itself: that would be less of a concern, beyond warranty issues, as it's mostly off-the-shelf components. It looks like the battery is either Bafang's downtube battery, or maybe Reention, but I'm not sure. Either way, there are battery re-packing services as well.

The biggest difference between hub and mid drives for me is that PAS levels on a hub essentially tell you what your top speed is before you hit the "Wall of Mud" where you feel like you're slogging through slop, whereas a mid-drive just amplifies your leg power and has that "natural feel" you mention.

I think both types have their place, depending on use. I prefer my Shimano mid-drive, but I'll use my Bafang fat-folder to pick up groceries because it's just a more stable ride. Also, sometimes the throttle is fun. :)
 

McCorby

Active Member
Can you test ride one or one with a similar drive system? I have ridden both types of drive systems and think you may be disappointed In the performance of the hub motor versus the mid-drive...... Personally, I do not like the “unnatural”, ghost pedaling feel of the cadence based hub drives I’ve had the opportunity to try.
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
;)
Can you test ride one or one with a similar drive system? I have ridden both types of drive systems and think you may be disappointed In the performance of the hub motor versus the mid-drive...... Personally, I do not like the “unnatural”, ghost pedaling feel of the cadence based hub drives I’ve had the opportunity to try.
I rode a hub drive Fuji last year - did not particularly like it, but didn't hate it, either.

Espin, despite the dealer EBR review, told me they are selling all direct online so no option to test ride.
 

McCorby

Active Member
I guess the question you need to answer for yourself is....will you be ok with something you may not particularly like, but may not hate...... 😉
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Similar situation here. Considering another bike for the "other end", to be used 6 months of the year.

The wife and I have a couple of customs now. I built one from kits, and modified the heck out of a production bike for the other. I'm thinking that as we've been using the heck out of these things for 2-3 years now, thinking we might enjoy something nicer for our next bikes. So maybe go a step up from where we are, selected using experience gained, rather than try to get by on something even less expensive? Just a thought....

Just wanted to mention too, that not all cadence equipped bikes have a top speed associated with each PAS level. It's about the quality of the software in the controller/display..... they are NOT all the same. -Al
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
$600 is not enough for me to abandon something I really like to experiment and buy something I have no idea how it will ride.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
True, though the two batteries will be 2000 miles away from each other ;).

There are hazmat shippers out there who will ship an ebike battery. Whether they are conveniently available in both your locations is an issue though. Timing and cost would be other factors. Perhaps your LBS might be of help.
 

Mike TowpathTraveler

Well-Known Member
Patricia, I'm with 6Z....... keep things simple and consistent and just stick with the Giant with the Yamaha power and battery. Having a second battery opens alot of riding options, provided you can transport it to your second home.

A 600 dollar difference between the superior Yamaha edrive system versus that hub drive thingy is a bargain in the aggravation you will likely deal with long past the date of sale on that second bike! Looked at this way, they are practically giving away that LaFree, at that cost.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Assuming you're handy with tools, another plus for having two identical bikes is diagnosing problems. I have three identical bikes and I often swap parts to identify bike issues. Parts like throttles, displays, controllers & batteries are the main failure points. On many bikes, these are quite easy to swap. I realize your dual locations may make this less practical however.

In my case, since I'm a bit wacky, if I spent a significant amount of time in two locations, I would be inclined to take these parts with me (except the battery of course) to have on hand in case of a problem.
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Update: going to stick with the La Free 😁! The security of knowing Giant is going to stick around, the fact that I love my current bike, and, the fact that I can get the La Free now, while espin won't be shipping until the end of October (giving me little riding time before our return West), all contributed to my decision.

The Flow looks to be a sweet bike, but too many"what ifs" for me.

Thanks, everyone, for your input!