Lightweight e-bike with torque sensor

McSkelley

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
Hi,

2 questions
1) are there any comparison sites where I can 'tick' my requirements to get a list of suitable e-bikes ?
-I have come across some but none where all my requirements are listed as options - especially weight
2) are there any lightweight upright e-bikes with torque sensors ?

My wife & I live in the UK and are in our 60's. My hope is to cycle on quiet country roads & gravel paths admiring the scenery without having to get off & push the bike up hills.
I had a test ride on a Ribble A1 - was great but I hated the cadence sensor. (I am not trying to maintain a set speed)
I have come across several 'ideal bikes' but all have been too heavy (eg the Gazelle Grenoble)

Ideal e-bike would be:
a) lightweight (including battery, under 20kg but the lighter the better)
b) standard upright sitting position, low step through (standard wheels, disk brakes, not foldable etc)
c) torque sensor
c) hub gears with Clarke belt (derailleur gears probably the best I will be able to get due to weight. I understand that combined hub motor & gears exist. Mid motor probably adds too much weight but would be best if available in a lightweight bike)
d) about £2000 (but would pay more if 'ideal')
e) integrated lock

Any advice on what is available would be most welcome

All the best
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Not for 2000 quids (if you find a better offer please tell me):
The unequipped version weighs 15-16 kg.

If you demand a totally upright e-bike with the carbon drive belt and internally geared hub, it is not only more than £2000 but also the e-bike won't be that lightweight as the one with the derailleur system:
The weight is 20-21 kg.

Of course both e-bikes are equipped with a mid-drive motor (with torque and other four parameters used). It will be very difficult to find another brand offering the same for a lightweight e-bike.
 
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McSkelley

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
Thanks for your post - the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 looks like a great bike, ticking many of my boxes. Unfortunately, at over £3000, it is beyond my budget, more so as I would be purchasing 2 e-bikes.
I think reducing my requirements to weight, torque sensor & price would be simpler - the Ribble AL would be great but has a cadence sensor: does anyone know if they (or others) will be using the MAHLE SmartBike Systems X35+ as it seems to have several sensors, including torque " the X20 has a sophisticated sensor package that measures acceleration, speed, torque, temperature, and pedaling rate "
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
@McSkelley, I make them, exactly to my specifications and requirements. I am a world away in Northern California. But anyone, anywhere with creativity and initiative can do this to get a better bike than those offered at stores. I like the new eBike chains that are super strong for internally geared hubs more than belts. They last about as long and are more practical and far less costly. Here are two examples. One is a step through, the second has an IGH. This is exactly what superior electric bikes look like, not clunky and under 20Kg. And with the right to repair, so you are not stuck with a proprietary system that you do not really own, but you are beholden to. Freedom!
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1651250670141.jpeg
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Like you, I thought, when I first looked at them early last year, that most were too heavy and clunky. But after owning a Trek Allant+ 8s for over a year, I now feel differently. Motors are game changers, especially for those of us who are (1) 70+ (2) not in perfect health or fitness and (3) live in hilly areas. ( or 4, no longer want to spend our time in our home shop building, tweaking or maintaining our home built, no offense petaluma.

Don't be too quick to discount mid-drives (they're not heavier - hubs have weight too) or classic derailleurs, especially if cost is an issue. We haven't needed to adjust our drive trains once in the past year, on two bikes.

Specialized bikes? Never seen a major brand so talked about in these forums, mostly problems. Just saying...much more so than Giant, Trek, or the major brands more common across the pond.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
@PedalUma is right, you might consider converting a bike like the Marin Presidio 3 which costs a grand, or the BMC Alpenchallenge One, with a TSDZ2 mid-drive kit motor with torque sensor. That kit uses 110bcd 5-bolt mount so presumably you would need a 110 to 130bcd adapter to mount a Gates 130bcd 5-bolt front chainring.
 
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Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Hi,

2 questions
1) are there any comparison sites where I can 'tick' my requirements to get a list of suitable e-bikes ?
-I have come across some but none where all my requirements are listed as options - especially weight
2) are there any lightweight upright e-bikes with torque sensors ?

My wife & I live in the UK and are in our 60's. My hope is to cycle on quiet country roads & gravel paths admiring the scenery without having to get off & push the bike up hills.
I had a test ride on a Ribble A1 - was great but I hated the cadence sensor. (I am not trying to maintain a set speed)
I have come across several 'ideal bikes' but all have been too heavy (eg the Gazelle Grenoble)

Ideal e-bike would be:
a) lightweight (including battery, under 20kg but the lighter the better)
b) standard upright sitting position, low step through (standard wheels, disk brakes, not foldable etc)
c) torque sensor
c) hub gears with Clarke belt (derailleur gears probably the best I will be able to get due to weight. I understand that combined hub motor & gears exist. Mid motor probably adds too much weight but would be best if available in a lightweight bike)
d) about £2000 (but would pay more if 'ideal')
e) integrated lock

Any advice on what is available would be most welcome

All the best
Hi McSkelley

what's tricky is your budget, it's just at the lower level where things get interesting, especially since the pandemic and bike shortages where all bikes seem to have jumped a few hundred quid. £2K is a big amount and you's expect to get a decent e bike for that amount, but it is tricky now.

My first thought as well was the Ribble AL, looks a handsome bike and they seem to have a good reputation, but if you've tried one and the ebike motion hub motor doesn't do it for you fair enough.

Have you come across the UK e bike review site ebike choices?


Tony who runs it is based down on Bodmin and covers all budgets from build your own (he's built more then a few) to reviews of any main brands he can get his hands on. Think he rides a Vitus (Wriggle/chain reaction) fazua equipped himself. But his reviews are very fair and he's always happy to answer any questions about his reviews. You might spot a UK or imported e bike there that fits the bill.

Happy hunting!
 

McSkelley

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
Hi again,

Thanks for all the posts,
PedalUma's bikes look & sounds great but I suspect I am not up to the task of self build - I simply do not know enough about bikes. I looked up the Marin Presidio 3 but, as you say, it would need a motor.
My ideal e-bike would have a mid-motor, preferably Bosch, but I have yet to come across a lightweight model. Can you suggest any lightweight mid-motor e-bikes?
I can't remember the comparison sites I found but none of them included weight - when I say comparison sites I mean a site that gives option boxes (eg hub or mid drive, hub or
derailleur gears, price range, weight (under 15kg, 15-20kg, 20-25kg and so on) then lists all e-bikes with these features. There are so many e-bikes brands and models available now, I am simply lost.
I have looked at specific brands that I have heard of (such as Raleigh, Specialized, Ribble) but none have suitable lightweight e-bikes. Also my local cycle shops have limited brands and cannot suggest a suitable bike.
I have generalised on my ideal bike specifications - I have enjoyed ridding bikes with mid-motors/torque sensors while not enjoying the Ribble AL which had a hub motor/cadence sensor -blaming the cadence sensor. Ordering an e-bike without having a test ride could be problematic - I therefore rely on reviews. Please continue with the advice.
Thanks.
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The problem is your focus on low weight, unreasonably so IMHO. The only lightweight ebikes I know of are aimed at a completely different group - folks in good condition that are used to group tours where riders go fast and far. These bikes are expensive.
On top of light weight, which is normally achieved with very expensive components such as carbon frames, you want an inexpensive bike.
I'm afraid to say it, but you're never going to get even close to your "ideal", especially with hill climbing ability.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The problem is your focus on low weight, unreasonably so IMHO. The only lightweight ebikes I know of are aimed at a completely different group - folks in good condition that are used to group tours where riders go fast and far. These bikes are expensive.
On top of light weight, which is normally achieved with very expensive components such as carbon frames, you want an inexpensive bike.
I'm afraid to say it, but you're never going to get even close to your "ideal", especially with hill climbing ability.

Respectfully disagree. This shouldn't be as much of a problem even for aluminum eBikes as it is; it's a very reasonable thing to want. From an engineering standpoint, there's no reason the bike he wants could not be manufactured or custom built, and there are a few out there. They are hard to find, but not impossible, though he probably can't have everything he wants, will have to compromise on a few issues, like the integrated lock. You don't have to get a carbon fiber bike. And I didn't want to pay much more than $2,000, my budget was even lower than the OPs.

I am SO glad i didn't compromise and get a heavier bike. If weight is important to you, it's important to you. It turns out that I have bilateral rotator cuff syndrome-- the left one is really bad-- and for many trails and roads, I have to lift my bike down a short flight of stairs, or lift it two or three feet in the air to get the handlebars over a gate. If I had a bike rack, it would be even more important to me.

My bike is a manufactured aluminum full-suspension eMTB (Motobecane Ultra eAdventure) with an integrated mid drive and was 49 pounds out of the box, a little over 46 pounds after switching to tubeless tires and swapping out the seat. I am told that if I swapped our rims, pedals, and the front fork, I could probably get it down to pretty near the upper limit of what the OP is seeking: 44 pounds. $2,000 before tax (a year ago, it's more now) and $2,500 after mods and assembly. Over a year and about 800 trouble-free miles so far.

The tradeoff? A less powerful motor with only three levels of assist-- but does he really need more? We don't know. I expect the OP could ride my bike all day on mild to moderate grades with no problem, it's only on the long, steep stuff that he'd sweat a bit, and be very careful to downshift early.

I'm on the pretty side of 64, and I have a chronic health condition, but my typical daily ride about 8-12 miles with 1,000-1,400 feet of vertical and occasional grades over 15% (I break a good sweat, but I'm not totally exhausted) some very short stretches of dirt up to 25% (I have to stop and rest for some stretches, but only on intermediate/advanced very primitive trails.)

Here is a cool solution with front suspension that probably weighs around 46 pounds. If you got rid of the rack and fenders, I bet it would come in right around the OP limit, close to 44 pounds. It has the same motor my bike does. It only comes in one size, and I don't know if they ship internationally.


It's scary buying a bike from bikesdirect, and it's impossible to find reviews for motobecanes-- though I did find some on eMTB forums, and found that there is a small community that absolutely swears by them. If this doesn't work? There's got to be something like it out there.

I think the whole over-50-pound eBike thing is like electric windows in cars. Manufacturers don't realize that some of us just HATE that. We find it impractical, inefficient, and just generally unnecessary.

Pedaluma's point is well taken-- but finding a builder or acquiring the DYI skills is not practical for all of us. I expect that I will be calling him in five years or so to see if he can mod my bike with a new drive system, because the hills here are so steep that one day, I may need a more powerful motor!

What we don't know is how steep the hills are where the OP intends to ride, and how far his rides might be.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
I just want to be clear with everyone. I am strictly local. I do not sell stuff or ship. I also do not recommend specific products or suppliers when it comes to things like motors and batteries. There may be someone in your neighborhood with similar skills. Really, drop the belt idea. It sounds better than it actually is. Here is a bike with the new KMC single speed chain for IGH eBikes. It is extra-wide and beefy. I like it more than a belt and it can go on any bike. A LBS can lace a 135mm OLD IGH into the Marin for about $200. That is not including the new hub. A five speed e-hub of gears might be nice. With adequate power you want overall range more than fine increments.
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Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
What about this mid drive (shimano E6100) Decathlon bike:


It's slightly over your budget (£2199) and slightly over your max weight (21.7kg). Has a lowered top tube.
electric-hybrid-bike-riverside-540e-bluegrey.jpg
 

McSkelley

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
Hi again,

Posts are very interesting.

We stay in the central belt of Scotland and have superb scenery and quiet roads in nearby driving distance to our home (look up Loch Voil on Google maps !). The roads undulate but have few if any severe hills. There are also many cycle paths along disused railway lines etc. We tend to drive/park then cycle about 5 miles then back again - we are not trying to get anywhere, just admire the scenery. I am sorry to say that on the way back, our legs are getting tired (so we limit how far we go).

We are fair weather cyclists and tend to decide to go out on the spur of the moment (ie the sun is out, not an every day occurrence). Weight is important to us as the effort of lifting heavy bikes off/on the cycle carrier would probably be a barrier to us just 'getting up and going'. I know there are ramps for cycle racks but that is just one more hassle. We have friends who have all singing- all dancing Kalkhoff bikes but they tend to only cycle locally due to their weight.

I have mentioned the Ribble ALe Step Through e-bike a few times - it is a hybrid bike, weighs 13.75kg (30.25lbs), has the MAHLE X35+ SmartBike System (250 watts of additional, pedal-assisted power, over three distinct power settings & 250w/h battery), full carbon fork (we probably do not need front suspension), derailleur gears and hydraulic disc brakes. It has excellent reviews and sounds perfect - except the cadence sensor. MAHLE is bringing out the X20 motor which has a torque sensor so perhaps, if we weight (sorry, meant wait), Ribble will upgrade. There are bound to be other similar models out there.

I expect if we wait long enough, our ideal e-bike will appear - but we might end up never getting an e-bike !
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
catalyzt, you missed my point, that it's about compromise and an impossible set of specs. Of course you don't need a carbon frame for light weight. You found one in AL. Otoh, yours is a 400 wh battery, weight saving, and range limiting. And this year it lists for $3495 if you can find stock anywhere, plus freight.
I should also point out that the ebikes you and poster 14 highlight have smaller batteries, ~400 wh. My bike is 56 lbs, but with a battery over 50% bigger. That's most of the weight difference.
 

BEC111

Well-Known Member
Hi again,

Posts are very interesting.

We stay in the central belt of Scotland and have superb scenery and quiet roads in nearby driving distance to our home (look up Loch Voil on Google maps !). The roads undulate but have few if any severe hills. There are also many cycle paths along disused railway lines etc. We tend to drive/park then cycle about 5 miles then back again - we are not trying to get anywhere, just admire the scenery. I am sorry to say that on the way back, our legs are getting tired (so we limit how far we go).

We are fair weather cyclists and tend to decide to go out on the spur of the moment (ie the sun is out, not an every day occurrence). Weight is important to us as the effort of lifting heavy bikes off/on the cycle carrier would probably be a barrier to us just 'getting up and going'. I know there are ramps for cycle racks but that is just one more hassle. We have friends who have all singing- all dancing Kalkhoff bikes but they tend to only cycle locally due to their weight.

I have mentioned the Ribble ALe Step Through e-bike a few times - it is a hybrid bike, weighs 13.75kg (30.25lbs), has the MAHLE X35+ SmartBike System (250 watts of additional, pedal-assisted power, over three distinct power settings & 250w/h battery), full carbon fork (we probably do not need front suspension), derailleur gears and hydraulic disc brakes. It has excellent reviews and sounds perfect - except the cadence sensor. MAHLE is bringing out the X20 motor which has a torque sensor so perhaps, if we weight (sorry, meant wait), Ribble will upgrade. There are bound to be other similar models out there.

I expect if we wait long enough, our ideal e-bike will appear - but we might end up never getting an e-bike !
Your preferences mirror mine. When I was shopping for an ebike about two years ago, my budget was $1500. I soon realized that the hub motor bikes at this price range were not for me. I also wanted to buy from an LBS since I had no experience other than lubing a chain with mike maintenance, let alone assembly or repair. I also don’t have room for anything but the most rudimentary parts and tools storage.

So I upped my budget to $2000, then $2500. As I shopped in that range I realized that I couldn’t lift a 50 pound bike onto my wall mounted bike storage rack, let alone get it into my SUV or onto a car bike rack. So more shopping. And riding my analog Cannondale.

Then on my wife’s birthday in May 2020, the Specialized Vado SL was announced. It met all my physical bike requirements. The remaining issue was price. It was $1000 more than my already raised budget. And I knew I’d need to buy more stuff to keep it happy. I hemmed and hawed for a while, then cycled to my nearby LBS, saw the beautiful machine and took if for a test ride. Perhaps it was delirium brought about by the excitement of finding the ideal machine, but! I bought it. (I bought it on a Saturday for pickup the next Wednesday. When I bought it the shop was filled with bikes. When I can to pick it up, only a few days later, their floors were bare. I wouldn’t have been able to buy anything for weeks or months, it seems.)

And after serious mea culpas for buying myself an expensive gift on my wife’s birthday, I haven’t regretted it one bit. And no matter how hard I look, I’ve not seen a better choice of a class 3 ebike under 40 pounds. And now it’s even more expensive. It’s still A seller’s market, but if you’re buying two bikes your dealer may give you some sort of deal.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
catalyzt, you missed my point, that it's about compromise and an impossible set of specs. Of course you don't need a carbon frame for light weight. You found one in AL. Otoh, yours is a 400 wh battery, weight saving, and range limiting. And this year it lists for $3495 if you can find stock anywhere, plus freight.
I should also point out that the ebikes you and poster 14 highlight have smaller batteries, ~400 wh. My bike is 56 lbs, but with a battery over 50% bigger. That's most of the weight difference.

Range limiting? Not so much. 42 miles with 4,200 feet of vertical, which is WAY more than most riders are going to do. On terrain that is less insane, with occasional hills and more normal grades, the range of either Motobecane-- the Ultra eAdventure or the Elite EUrban-- is likely to be more like 60 miles. On gentle, rolling grades, it could probably do 70 or 75 miles, though I have no practical way of testing that! (I am inclined to try someday, I just don't know what route I would take from my house!)

You can't make assumptions about range based just on battery size. It is true that I only way 150 pounds, so the OP's experience might be different, but it sounds like the terrain he's riding is pretty gentle.

Someday, I'll probably need an 80nm bike, but not for a while. I road one in Vermont last summer. For me, it wouldn't be enough exercise, too much like riding a motorcycle. The OP is still riding an acoustic bike, and on gentle grades. 40nm in a mid-drive might be plenty for him and his wife.

Where do you get $3,600? Bikes Direct is listing the Elite EUrban-- the bike I linked to-- for $2,000 and it's in stock right now. The ads are tricky to read, look again. The shipping is a problem, however-- I don't know what they'd charge for it, or if they'd even do it.

What is range limiting is 60-80 nm motors that use more power and require bigger batteries. When I need that, which I will someday, yes, I'll have to suffer the extra weight of a heavier battery.

It's really hard to get a sense of the numbers and what they mean in the real world.
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Where do you get $3,600? Bikes Direct is listing the Elite EUrban-- the bike I linked to-- for $2,000 and it's in stock right now. The ads are tricky to read, look again. The shipping is a problem, however-- I don't know what they'd charge for it, or if they'd even do it.
Where'd I get that price? By pricing the bike YOU bought last year for 2K, as I said in my post. I guess you missed that in your zeal to promote Motobecane and Bikes Direct.

I'm done with this discussion. We're obviously in different worlds. :(