Interesting Use Case. Need Advice.

jpa2825

Member
Son and GF live together in Oakland. They both have cars and have discussed getting rid of one car in favor of an e-bike they both can use. Both have road bikes and are familiar with riding. Particulars below:
  • Daily commutes
    • Son will be starting law school at USF (Go Dons!) in AUG.
      • He would need to be able to take it on BART (subway definitely & bus probably)
      • Appears there are some secure places to lock up a bike on campus (but outside and not in a locker or anything).
      • Folding might be an option
      • Lyft BikeShare might also be an option. Appears $134 discounted annual membership for students. Would eliminate the need to secure e-bike.
      • Needs to allow for backpack and/or heavy books / computer in panniers
    • GF works at a lab close to their house. (5-10 minutes max via e-bike)
      • Not sure about security at her place of employment
      • Needs to allow for backpack and/or typical work items during commute.
  • Other uses when car is not available (other person has it or easier to e-bike to location)
    • Needs to be able to make trips to pick up food, do light shopping, get to reasonably close locations (movies, museums, restaurants, etc.)
    • Given their location, most of this should be available within reasonable e-biking range
    • I don't think there is a need / use case for a cargo bike since these big trips will typically be made when the car is available.
    • When a car is needed, ride share is widely available and probably less expensive per month than gas and insurance on the 2nd car.
  • They rent 1st floor of a house and don't have garage access.
    • 1st floor is up 1 flight of stairs to front door but they aren't particularly steep or hard to navigate even with a heavy e-bike.
    • Also, they are both young and healthy.
    • They have some room in their living area to store the bike since outside / garage aren't really options.
    • They have a huge closet where their road bikes & related paraphernalia is stored.
Given the above, let me know your thoughts. Putting it on paper, security of the bike seems to be a big item. Integrated locks, alarms, smell (Skunklock purport to emit a terrible, "vomit-inducing" odor if cut), computers (Bosch Kiox and Nyon can be set to disable motor if not in place), Van Moof has "bike hunters" if stolen, Apple Air Tag integration, etc.

Thanks in advance for any ideas and suggestions. Glad they are thinking about reducing their carbon footprint so I want to encourage the process.
 

JASmith

Member
Region
USA
My bike was stolen my first week of school at university, and I had it locked. Seems to be a problem at pretty much any university, and I can only imagine its twice as bad in California. Motorcycle theft was not an issue though, and is what I ended up switching to since parking for motorcycles was much easier than finding spots for cars. In Texas we have had a ridiculous two weeks of heavy rain often with thunderstorms, it just won't stop. As long as they are fine taking an uber whenever the weather isn't nice, I could see it working, but I wouldn't consider an e-bike a reliable form of transportation and more of a fair-weather tool. Whether its cheaper or not from an economic standpoint, you'll find that generally speaking additional vehicles cost almost nothing to insure since primarily they are insuring you the driver and not the vehicle itself. We recently sold a vehicle on our multi-vehicle policy and the rate dropped a whopping $90 a year. Registration, inspection fees, maintenance costs and such are likely to be more expensive than insurance, at least for us. Fuel usage if going on trips short enough to be traversable on a e-bike are going to be negligible. What most people forget is that unless you get an older cheap beater, the biggest cost of a vehicle is actually depreciation from its original purchase price, since they are such large ticket items and lose value just by age even if barely used. They can add that up for what they currently own to see what five year cost would be and then compare that to the price of the e-bike and uber costs they would replace it with.

Personally, I would just have one of them try it out for a couple of months with the bicycle, as the e-bikes aren't THAT different and see if it works before selling the car and the bicycles. There might be a snag for him or her on little things too, like if they are sensitive about helmet hair or restrictions to wardrobe as certain shoes and skirts and what not just won't work.

If it works, I'd get a folder that can fit inside the vehicle they choose to keep, so if someone needs to be picked up (say it seemed nice in the morning, but then a massive thunderstorm rolled through) it can be put in the back of the SUV or otherwise you'd need a heavy duty rack as ebikes are heavy.
 

WattsUpDude

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
San Francisco, Bay Area
Are they about the same size? If not, they may want a bike that's easy enough to adjust for their own riding positions. I'm immediately thinking about the Ariel Rider M Class or Tern Vektron. Both bikes have a middrive for the steep hills that they will likely encounter in the Bay Area and can haul panniers or cargo.
 

chunk

Member
Region
USA
I think it would be a PIA schlepping it along on BART and a bus. I would consider a little motor-scooter, Chinese, Japanese, S Korean, Italian manufactures. All prices from inexpensive to high dollar, like ebikes. Huge storage on them usually and easy to ride. Available from 50cc all the way up to 600cc and maybe larger. Disclaimer: I'm a motorcycle guy though, so I might be biased. Easy to park and could bypass public transportation and the need to drag the ebike along. Just my thoughts, and YMMV. Good luck to them with what they decide to do. cheers.
 
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RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
An expensive option would be the Brompton Electric. It is perfect for multimodal commutes like your son has as it folds up very small and can be carried on the train even if there is no room for bikes. It can also be carried into the building and stowed under a table to prevent theft. As @JASmith pointed out, bike thieves love universities as bikes are parked unattended for long periods of time and Oakland is a mecca for bike thieves.

Because it is a folder, it is very adjustable for different sizes of people and could be shared easier than a full size bike. The battery attaches to the front luggage block, but there is an option for a front bag the battery can go in that can accommodate groceries.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
For their uses, I'd agree with @RunForTheHills that the Brompton Electric is a good idea, though pricy.

GoCycles are another lightweight, but pretty expensive option that can be taken just about anywhere, but they also have a rear pannier accessory.

One option for urban commuting that's worth looking at is the lineup from Qualisports. For electric folding bikes, they're fairly inexpensive option, and they're not all fat tires. :)

I'd say either the Dolphin or Volador might be good choices for their needs.


 

jpa2825

Member
Are they about the same size? If not, they may want a bike that's easy enough to adjust for their own riding positions. I'm immediately thinking about the Ariel Rider M Class or Tern Vektron. Both bikes have a middrive for the steep hills that they will likely encounter in the Bay Area and can haul panniers or cargo.
I knew I left out some important data! He is 5'11" and she is 5'2" which is a pretty big spread.

The Brompton suggestion below (and other folders) is an option I was thinking of researching. Solves a lot of problems (height differential, theft, mass transport, etc.).
 
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jpa2825

Member
For their uses, I'd agree with @RunForTheHills that the Brompton Electric is a good idea, though pricy.

GoCycles are another lightweight, but pretty expensive option that can be taken just about anywhere, but they also have a rear pannier accessory.

One option for urban commuting that's worth looking at is the lineup from Qualisports. For electric folding bikes, they're fairly inexpensive option, and they're not all fat tires. :)

I'd say either the Dolphin or Volador might be good choices for their needs.



Very interesting reviews for the 2 Qualisports options. I think the bigger battery supports the extra $200 for the Dolphin. Really like that they have designed the bottom of the seat tube to be a resting point when folded. Unboxing videos are very detailed and easy to follow. Availability on Amazon is a plus. Thanks for the guidance. Not sure I would have found it without the EBR forums.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
They’re both young and it doesn’t seem to be a longer commute so why bother with an ebike? Why not just get an older good bike that is easily replaceable if stolen?
 

jpa2825

Member
They’re both young and it doesn’t seem to be a longer commute so why bother with an ebike? Why not just get an older good bike that is easily replaceable if stolen?

Like most, you can carry more while sweating less and go faster than a traditional bike with less effort. I also find ebikes are easier to ride in traffic for quick getaways at stop lights and snappy acceleration to avoid the usual cycle of "You pass cars & stop at light. Cars pass you and stop at light. You pass cars and stop at light." Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also, since folding bikes seem to provide lots of benefits (discussed above), the efficiency of riding a folding ebike is probably magnified.

Finally, by dropping a car an ebike will give the person at home more freedom to not feel trapped when home alone while the other person has the car. If faced with a quick trip to the store 5 miles away to grab something for a project, I'm much more likely to jump on my ebike to go grab it than I would be with an acoustic bike. That's doubly true if they are both folding bikes.
 

Luto

Active Member
Like most, you can carry more while sweating less and go faster than a traditional bike with less effort. I also find ebikes are easier to ride in traffic for quick getaways at stop lights and snappy acceleration to avoid the usual cycle of "You pass cars & stop at light. Cars pass you and stop at light. You pass cars and stop at light." Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also, since folding bikes seem to provide lots of benefits (discussed above), the efficiency of riding a folding ebike is probably magnified.

Finally, by dropping a car an ebike will give the person at home more freedom to not feel trapped when home alone while the other person has the car. If faced with a quick trip to the store 5 miles away to grab something for a project, I'm much more likely to jump on my ebike to go grab it than I would be with an acoustic bike. That's doubly true if they are both folding bikes.
I agree. Getting to work and needing a shower at the start of the day is not fun. I use my ebike MORE often when speed and less effort is required. When I want to get a work out I use my regular bike.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I like the bikeshare idea but it has some downsides. They would both need to join so the fees would double. A bike may not always be where and when you need it. For me I would get an inexpensive folder from Craigslist and pop a discrete small motor in the bottom bracket and have a light removable battery on the seat tube. Use new brake pads with twice the surface area. The folders as mentioned adjust for different sizes of riders. Fold the bike and have it locked in a bag. There are bike lockers and bike rooms on UCSF that require registration, log in and sticker tags. Sell one road bike to make room.
Here is one on the Bay Area Craigslist I spotted as an example. Oh, motor and battery add ten pounds.
1626387270376.png
 

Dmac

Member
Region
Canada
The Brompton folder will be more of the lighter options. I have a Brompton. On electric and you can pick it up and fold it fast. In my opinion Brompton make the best fold. I also have a Magnum Classic II folder and it is so much heavier and I couldn’t see myself folding it to carry anywhere. I’m 5’3”. My Magnum is great for what I use it for - folding and taking in my car and not needing to do anything quickly.
 

billmeek

Member
Region
USA
City
Summertown, TN
The Brompton folder will be more of the lighter options.
I was just looking at a Brompton. This one line dissuaded me from investigating further:

The Brompton Electric will require specific servicing, which can only be performed at a trained Brompton Electric store.
 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
I like the bikeshare idea but it has some downsides. They would both need to join so the fees would double. A bike may not always be where and when you need it. For me I would get an inexpensive folder from Craigslist and pop a discrete small motor in the bottom bracket and have a light removable battery on the seat tube. Use new brake pads with twice the surface area. The folders as mentioned adjust for different sizes of riders. Fold the bike and have it locked in a bag. There are bike lockers and bike rooms on UCSF that require registration, log in and sticker tags. Sell one road bike to make room.
Here is one on the Bay Area Craigslist I spotted as an example. Oh, motor and battery add ten pounds.
View attachment 93362
I have been floating my 36v 500w TSDZ2 mid drive on different bikes lately, just because.
Here it is on a $200 Walmart folding bike that I've had for years sitting on a shelf in a shed.
To all the department store bike haters I can say this has been a very solid and functional bike that I've ridden many hundreds of miles, mostly after work, often in the dark on a rural path accompanied by coyotes and deer. And rode it around Crater Lake - had to carry it across some snow to continue the ride.
1626402400047.png

20" wheels work well with the Tongsheng with the two lowest levels of assist providing very good assist and the two highest levels will climb just about anything. One recent ride on a steep paved path it took some effort to keep the front wheel on the ground, otherwise I was doing wheelies whenever I pedaled hard.
The 10ah battery weighs 5 pounds including the seat post bag and I've taken it as far as ~50 miles with 3500 ft elevation gain on a single charge with 40% resting residual charge (35v).
Bike prior to conversion ~27# with the motor/battery a touch over 40 pounds on a hanging scale.
1626401461983.png


A couple days ago I removed it from the Walmart folder and put it on a Dahon Jack, it might stay there for a while.
1626402047106.png
 

Dmac

Member
Region
Canada
I have been floating my 36v 500w TSDZ2 mid drive on different bikes lately, just because.
Here it is on a $200 Walmart folding bike that I've had for years sitting on a shelf in a shed.
To all the department store bike haters I can say this has been a very solid and functional bike that I've ridden many hundreds of miles, mostly after work, often in the dark on a rural path accompanied by coyotes and deer. And rode it around Crater Lake - had to carry it across some snow to continue the ride.
View attachment 93392
20" wheels work well with the Tongsheng with the two lowest levels of assist providing very good assist and the two highest levels will climb just about anything. One recent ride on a steep paved path it took some effort to keep the front wheel on the ground, otherwise I was doing wheelies whenever I pedaled hard.
The 10ah battery weighs 5 pounds including the seat post bag and I've taken it as far as ~50 miles with 3500 ft elevation gain on a single charge with 40% resting residual charge (35v).
Bike prior to conversion ~27# with the motor/battery a touch over 40 pounds on a hanging scale.
View attachment 93390

A couple days ago I removed it from the Walmart folder and put it on a Dahon Jack, it might stay there for a while.
View attachment 93391
That looks great! My dad is currently riding the bike I bought, and had assembled by, ToysRUs back in the 90s & it's held up extremely well.