Looking for an ebike and definitely overwhelmed ><

beaniebeaniebean

New Member
Region
USA
I've read so many of y'alls awesome posts and suggestions for other people, so I thought I would dip my toes in, too, and ask for advice.

I'm a moped person, new to the ebike world. I'm interested in continuing to reduce reliance on my car, and love using my mopeds to get around, but unfortunately, they're not very conducive to large grocery trips/carrying a lot of stuff (even with my tried and true milk crate/backpack combo). I've obviously come across the RadWagon, and am definitely intrigued, but discouraged based on the very (steep) hilly area I'm going to be living and am considering going for more of the mid-drive situation.

I've also contemplated purchasing a pre-owned bike and converting it to an ebike. I've found a Mongoose Envoy that's an ~okay~ price point, but then was looking into Mongoose Envoy builds only to see that the price is potentially more than buying a manufactured ebike. I've also been toying around for just waiting to find the ideal used ebike, but I'm not sure if the pre-owned ebike situation is incredibly robust where I live (think the Indianapolis to Lexington KY area [mostly because I do travel between that span of I-65 for family/work-related reasons]).

Okay, here's my list of considerations and I'd love feedback.

1) Environmental strain -- preferably an environmentally-conscious option that takes into consideration driving the market forward/consumption of new material & overall environmental footprint (while acknowledging it is definitely not perfect).
2) Capable of carrying a fair amount of groceries/running errands
3) Hilly riding conditions
4) Big riders (I'm 5'10 and my husband is 6'1)
5) Also a good commute-to-work bike (so maybe not a longtail, but something for carrying trailers?--this is where I defo need opinions due to the trailer hitch/drivetrain/hill considerations discussed).
6) Not obscenely expensive (ideally under 2k, but that seems VERY limited)


THANKS!!
 

billmeek

Member
Region
USA
City
Summertown, TN
I initially wanted the Sondors LX (mid drive) but it wasn't in stock and I needed to be exercising now, so I ordered the Sondors MSX (hub drive). One week after receiving the MXS I went ahead and ordered the LX for September delivery after discovering the hub drive strains on some of the hills here in Middle TN. While my bike is primarily for exercise (after riding a bit), I decided that I wanted the ability to make grocery runs to town (around 20 miles each way) on my ebike. So looking around I found a reasonably priced, light weight bike trailer:


When ordering the trailer I went ahead and bought a spare hitch for $16 so I can swap the trailer between the 2 bikes. I'm adding a Sondors fender/rack/bag kit to the MXS today. While I'll normally use the bag to carry a spare battery, tools, tire/chain repair parts for longer rides, I can swap it out for a milk crate to add storage for smaller loads where the trailer is not required.

At $2299 (+$97 shipping) the LX isn't exactly inexpensive, but it's lower priced than many of the mid-drives I've seen. Sondors also has the Cruiser that may be more to your liking. Personally, I prefer the LX over the Cruiser for the front suspension.

 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I also recommend you test ride an REI Co-Op CTY e2.2 model in Large frame size. It uses a good Class 1 motor with 60nm torque which is useful for climbing hills. The CTY models have a rear rack welded into the frame. If you join REI as Co-op members ($25 fee) and get the REI credit card you can get 15% off the msrp with a 5% CC discount and a 10% annual dividend you get next January. REI also sell cargo trailers
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Are trailers good option though?

I don't think I would want to be hauling around a trailer if I didn't have to, also it will be difficult to turn in some situation because of different turning radius. Also the bumpy roads might be a little problematic too.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member

 

billmeek

Member
Region
USA
City
Summertown, TN
I've hauled a light-weight trailer behind a scooter for thousands of miles. While I wouldn't want to pull it everyday, they are useful when you need them for items like grocery shopping or camping. I pulled the Wike trailer (empty) on a 20+ mile ride as a test. Like the scooter trailer, it's a little bouncy on rougher dirt/wash-boarded roads. A few pounds of weight would help settle it. On paved roads I forgot it was back there most of the time. But with the slower speed of an ebike and lower weight of the trailer, it's not nearly as bad as pulling an empty trailer on the scooter. At only 32-inches outside width, the Wike trailer extends about a half a foot (on each side) beyond the pedals of my bike.
 

dmark

Active Member
Get a new Biktrix.
I would be careful about getting used; the used battery is probably at the end of its life.
 

dmark

Active Member
That's like saying get a new Trek. 😑

Specifically, which one?
I would get the Biktrix Juggernaut Ultra Duo, but the Juggernaut Classic or Classic Duo is cheaper; the Stunner LT is cheapest if you don't mind hub drive. There's only 10 bikes on the site, so I would look at all of them.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I ride a yubabike bodaboda, pictured left, and do all my shopping off of it. Caveat, I did rent a U-haul Wednesday for a 650 lb mower deck. My yuba came perfect, $1900 unpowered including 2 panniers, bread bsket, and double leg stand (recommended!) Other than normal wearout items I broke the fender with my foot and I hated the OEM seat. Look at Rad's 13 pages of known problems and ponder well.
I carry up to 80 lb cargo to my summer camp, which is preceded by 3 hills of 15% grade, 100'. The ebikeling 1300 W and now the Mac12t geared hubmotors will start 330 lb on that hill without pedal assistance. OTOH, if I'm feeling frisky, I can pedal 330 lb up that hill by leg power, using 32:32 or even 32:28 2nd sprocket ratio. My bike is the small frame for people like me with short legs. Obviously you need a large frame.
Bikes of equivalent short known problem lists are kona ute, (the original stretch cargo bike), xtracycle, reiss & mueller, pedego stretch. I view with suspicion the whole tiny wheel cargo bike phenomenon, hercules, tern HSD, blah blah blah. Run a 20" wheel through a pot hole at the bottom of a steep grade @ 35 mph and see if you stay upright! I'm staying with 26" wheels & 2.1" tires with thick tread. Did that Wednesday; the pothole was in deep shadow on a very sunny day.
I did a conversion because I wanted 24 sprocket speeds and besides yuba was selling bosch active line in 2017 on a 9 speed bike, which I view as signing up for cocaine delivery to your door. bosch active line drags unpowered. I ride unpowered as much as possible, but days with a 15 mph headwind all 30 miles like today are happening more & more. A geared hubmotor (except the perverted GMAC) doesn't drag unpowered. No wind, tailwind, ride the bike just like an unpowered one, only the motor & battery weigh 13 lb more than the unpowered bike. I have the motor & battery on the front, where it balances the cargo and 10 lb tool/supplies pack nicely. Yuba has holes in the frame for a front "bread basket" which doesn't steer with the fork. Very handy for the battery. I have a 17.5 AH battery. WIth ebikeling motor @ mounts, the first conversion was $840, 630 the battery. That hubmotor wore out the gears after 2 1/2 years, and the $730 Mac12t was in the garage waiting the day. The bike was down for conversion from one hub motor to the next 2 afternoons. See if your Bosch dealer is that fast.
Advantage of 8 speed rear sprocket over 9 up speeds or mid drives, my first chain lasted 5000 miles. My second chain has 2500 miles on it. Stocker KMC chain, nothing fancy.
You pretty much can't buy a cargo bike with a front hubmotor. Don't ride powered front wheel onto wet rock, wet or muddy steel plates, wet wood bridge decks, ice. You might fall down. Have a brain, use it.
Happy shopping & later riding.
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
Alternatively, you can just get a RadWagon and get a Bolton upgrade kit 😁
Yeah, plus change out the wheels for something made of steel and aluminum, not the scrap RAD uses. Change the cables to something that doesn't stretch and require constant adjustment like a $230 kiddie bike.. Plus change the kiddie grade acero shifters & sprockets to SRAM. And then there is the problem of 22" tires & tubes, sold only by RAD last I checked ebay/modernbike/thebikeshopstore.
I haven't adjusted a yuba supplied cable, or their shifter, or tightened a spoke, or trued the yuba wheel, in 7500 miles. The $221 ebikeling power wheel did require a couple of spokes tightened. So far, the $730 luna/mac wheel, not.
 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
Yeah, plus change out the wheels for something made of steel and aluminum, not the scrap RAD uses. Change the cables to something that doesn't stretch and require constant adjustment like a $230 kiddie bike.. Plus change the kiddie grade acero shifters & sprockets to SRAM. And then there is the problem of 22" tires & tubes, sold only by RAD last I checked ebay/modernbike/thebikeshopstore.
actually, that's a good point about 22 inch proprietary size tire that you can't get anywhere else.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Having built one, and written up a variety of budget builds for it, and then gone upscale with bigger and better bikes, I would say the Mongoose Envoy is the best donor bike for making a low-cost, high-feature cargo bike like what @beaniebeaniebean is looking to do. Its a great commuter, its an excellent cargo bike - especially if you make the cheap 78L duffel-bag-based panniers, and use 8 hose clamps to uprate the rear wideloaders' capacity (the whole rear is already rated for 90 lbs). Change out the tires to indestructo Marathons or Continental Contact Plus City belted/flatless tires, and you have your reliable commuter angle down. The mid drive eliminates the hills' weakness of bikes like the Rad. A 16ah USA-made battery from Bicycle Motorworks is under $500. Play your cards right, use one of the lower-cost builds I list and you are well under 2 grand (Magura brakes are actually cheaper now than when I wrote the build sheet up). I had my Envoy up over 400 lbs of grocery cargo without issue (other than momentum/inertia/tricky balance).


Here's the thing about cargo bikes though: They are NEVER going to be inexpensive if they are worth a damn. My Surly Big Fat Dummy started at over $3000 and thats before I even got anywhere near the motor etc. And a frontloader/bakfiets? Bust out another thousand (and then some). Thats why I think of the Mongoose as such a unique animal ... the field for decent, usable cargo bikes has a high starting point, pricewise. $750 for what is in essence a top quality frame with good wheels, wideloaders already installed and some acceptable existing parts that you can upgrade over time as your budget allows... its a unicorn.

IMG_20200327_123439.jpg
 

WattsUpDude

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
San Francisco, Bay Area
Are trailers good option though?

I don't think I would want to be hauling around a trailer if I didn't have to, also it will be difficult to turn in some situation because of different turning radius. Also the bumpy roads might be a little problematic too.
Trailers are a great option for most simply because they are detachable. So all I need is one nimble bike for my every day commute plus leisure and the same bike can haul my kids and big grocery run when needed.

For commutes, all I haul is a small pannier with lunch and my everyday carry. If I’m going to Costco, I’ll pull the Burley and take it inside with me to use as a cart. Hook it back up to the bike and I ride home.

The only drawback with this option is that I have to store the trailer when not in use but it folds flat anyway. I’d rather have that very small inconvenience than having a longer, heavier dedicated cargo bike. If I had to haul stuff daily, I’d get an HSD.
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Your #1 criteria is mutually exclusive with your #6. Your budget virtually demands that your bike will be entirely made in China. This assures the lowest level of environmental consciousness in materials, assembly, waste disposal and labor practices. You will have to make a choice as to which is most greater importance to you.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
It was 2019 when I priced out those linked Mongoose builds. Lemme see what it would tally up to now if I use today's prices:

Mongoose Envoy in Medium/Large: $899
Wow they are charging $100 for the big frame now. That sucks. But given the OP's rider heights, the M/L is right at that sweet spot for them both.

BBS02 kit from BafangUSADirect: $500
color 500C display
BBSHD kit from Luna: $640
Cheapie DPC-07 display
My basic builds spec a BBS02, where you save money. But you can kill a BBS02 if you screw up. The HD is so robust it can't be killed in a cargo bike application unless you genuinely try via hot rodding it.

From Bicycle Motorworks (pack made to order in USA)
52v, 16ah Samsung 40T (21700 cells) pack: $470 or
52v, 12.5ah Samsung 25R (18650 cells) pack: $420

Magura MT5 brakes (2 sets) $122 x 2 = $244 or
Magura MT5e brakes (2 sets) plus bus cable: 160x2+26
Magura Storm HC 2x180mm rotors 2x$30=60

Lowest cost with BBS02 and 12.5ah battery: $2123
Highest cost with BBSHD and 16ah battery: $2313

And of course, your time/effort to install everything, which is either part of the fun or a big chore depending on you.

Yup, everything has gone up. But the build above would get you a bike with a solid, powerful, reliable motor and if you spring for it, one that you probably will be unable to kill even if you try - on a solid frame that should take anything you can throw at it. And it has darn near the best brakes money can buy which is something nobody else has done on bikes that by their nature have super heavy loads and relatively high speeds given the electric motor.

I would also spring the roughly $150 on a 9-spd drivetrain like I describe in the build links. Its a solid performer with a mid drive and shifts butter smooth, which the stock Shimano bits do NOT.

Also everything here is in stock (or the bike and the parts are). If I were on a budget and wanted a cargo+commuter, I would still do an Envoy.
 

john peck

Well-Known Member

My main concerns with a cargo bikes are the frame. & spokes.
 

beaniebeaniebean

New Member
Region
USA
Thanks so much to everyone for all of the helpful advice!!

It's been affirming to read y'alls responses and helps to solidify my thoughts. Definitely get the points regarding environmental concern/cost. Honestly? I'd much rather go for something sustainable that takes me some time to save up for, rather than something inexpensive that isn't sustainable/satisfies my current desires. It seems like Yuba is a good company for this. Is that a safe assumption?

I actually read your entire blog on the build, m@Robertson! It was really well done and helped me understand the process and your thoughts. I'm definitely open to doing a build with a donor bike. I think I come back to concerns over making sure I'm doing things correctly/not burning up the bike or catching myself on fire, haha.


It was 2019 when I priced out those linked Mongoose builds. Lemme see what it would tally up to now if I use today's prices:

Mongoose Envoy in Medium/Large: $899
Wow they are charging $100 for the big frame now. That sucks. But given the OP's rider heights, the M/L is right at that sweet spot for them both.

BBS02 kit from BafangUSADirect: $500
color 500C display
BBSHD kit from Luna: $640
Cheapie DPC-07 display
My basic builds spec a BBS02, where you save money. But you can kill a BBS02 if you screw up. The HD is so robust it can't be killed in a cargo bike application unless you genuinely try via hot rodding it.

From Bicycle Motorworks (pack made to order in USA)
52v, 16ah Samsung 40T (21700 cells) pack: $470 or
52v, 12.5ah Samsung 25R (18650 cells) pack: $420

Magura MT5 brakes (2 sets) $122 x 2 = $244 or
Magura MT5e brakes (2 sets) plus bus cable: 160x2+26
Magura Storm HC 2x180mm rotors 2x$30=60

Lowest cost with BBS02 and 12.5ah battery: $2123
Highest cost with BBSHD and 16ah battery: $2313

And of course, your time/effort to install everything, which is either part of the fun or a big chore depending on you.

Yup, everything has gone up. But the build above would get you a bike with a solid, powerful, reliable motor and if you spring for it, one that you probably will be unable to kill even if you try - on a solid frame that should take anything you can throw at it. And it has darn near the best brakes money can buy which is something nobody else has done on bikes that by their nature have super heavy loads and relatively high speeds given the electric motor.

I would also spring the roughly $150 on a 9-spd drivetrain like I describe in the build links. Its a solid performer with a mid drive and shifts butter smooth, which the stock Shimano bits do NOT.

Also everything here is in stock (or the bike and the parts are). If I were on a budget and wanted a cargo+commuter, I would still do an Envoy.