Looking for fun, small frame (non fat-tire) ebike

Region
USA
Hi everyone,
I’m a small-to-average size, later-middle-aged woman looking for an ebike to use for daily commuting & running errands (mostly within a 3-10 mile radius), as well as recreational riding. Although I’ve enjoyed cycling in the past, I’m a bit out of practice more recently. I’ll be riding in a suburban community with some gentle hills and very few roads with dedicated bike lanes. That said, there are a number of beautiful bike paths in our area which I also hope to enjoy.

After doing some research and test riding a few bikes these are my current preferences and priorities (subject to change with additional data), in no particular order:

Size. Of the five bikes I’ve test ridden so far, the best riding experience was on a Pedego Interceptor with 24” wheels - mostly I think because it was so much smaller than any of the others. (Unlike some other manufacturers, Pedego actually varies frame dimensions by size, not just the wheels.) Although I’m 5’5”, I have always preferred bikes where I’m at the top end of the suggested height range rather than the lower. (Second favorite riding experience was on a S/M Cannondale Neo 4.)
Money. My budget started out around $1500-2000; current budget extends to ~$3000. (That Pedego was a bit above budget at $3695.) Finding the right bike at a lower price would be awesome.
Motor. Having a throttle is important to me. Even though I don’t anticipate using it much, having it is a real confidence booster. (Really, don’t bother trying to talk me out of this - I have read a lot of the discussions about this question and I know what my personal preference is.)
Mid-drive vs. hub-drive… undecided. I’ve test-ridden both and can’t say I really have a specific preference. For what it's worth I really enjoyed the feel of the Cannondale Neo 4 motor (a Bosch Active line) and my husband (who’s a bit of a DIY bike mechanic) thinks DIY work will be easier on a mid-drive bike (on everything except the motor, of course). I also know there are not a lot of mid-drive bikes with throttles, since European bikes generally don’t have this, so I'm open to either.
Battery location. I think I'd rather have the battery on the down tube. I am concerned about how the bike will balance with even a small load of groceries on the rear rack if there is already a heavy battery up there.
Accessories. Racks, fenders and lights are a must but I’m okay adding them myself. A front/handlebar basket is also a must, but again I’m okay adding this.
Derailleur. Gears are a must. The terrain near me is too varied for a single gear “beach cruiser.” No preference for a specific number of gears. (I just know I transitioned through gears a lot when riding a regular bicycle.)
Weight. This is a concern for me. I know these bikes are heavy - but keeping at/around 50 pounds (or less) is preferable. (It’s important to me that I am able to lift the entire bike myself. I can handle 50# bags of dog food fine, but I think adding another 10-15 #s would be pushing the limit for me.)
Frame style. I prefer a low-rise or step-through version of more traditional frame styles - not a fat tire bike.
Brand / manufacturer. No preference, though quality and reliability are both very important. Name brand components are great, though I know some of the dedicated ebike companies are having good, unbranded components made for them by the same manufacturers. (Also, I know nothing about determining the quality of a battery…. While I don't need a huge range and I won't be climbing up San Francisco's hills, I do want the bike to have enough power so climbing the hills in my area won't be a problem.)
Brakes. Hydraulic brakes preferred. (This seems to be the way most newer models are going.)

So, all of that means my ideal bike might be something like this:

A small framed (14-15”) mid-drive bike with a throttle, hydraulic brakes, and removable battery in the down tube by a reliable/well known manufacturer using quality/brand-name components (including the battery) for <$3000. Bonus points if it comes with racks, fenders and lights. Additional bonus if the throttle is on the right handle.

Does such a thing exist or am I searching for a unicorn?

Living in the south, I am unfortunately limited in the brands and models that are available to me to test ride. I am hesitant to buy a bike without ever having ridden it, however that may be what I have to do. I like the fact that Espin offers a 7-day full return policy and I almost bought one just to try it, but when I looked more closely at the frame dimensions, I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually like it. I tried the REI City Co-op 2.2 and really didn’t like it. Both the seat and seating position were uncomfortable and the feeling of riding it was kind of blah.

I am not in a hurry - though If I find what I'm looking for soon enough, it would be nice to be able to take advantage of current sale prices. (Plus I am excited to start riding more!) That said, if there is a new model coming out in 2022 that fits my needs/desires, I can wait. I’m looking at this as a long term investment - if I choose well, I hope to be the one who rides it enough to exhaust (& replace) the battery!

Thank you for taking the time to read - I appreciate any suggestions you might have for bikes to consider as well as insights for anything I'm overlooking!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Welcome to EBR. I have almost no experience with throttles, but can say that the fit of the bike is probably the most important of your specs and many DTC bikes ( that come with throttles) are a one size frame that fits only some people.

Most major brands have multiple sizes available. Pedigo is the only one I know of with multiple sized frames and throttle.
Gearing required will depend on the power available, but most seem to end up at 7 to 10 speeds if there are any hills or headwinds involved .
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Though I've purchased several bikes now, and just one of them was a RAD, it was a very positive experience. Because they are SO popular, and well within your price range, I'm thinking a Step through RAD City, the newest version (RAD City 5 Plus), might work well for you. If nothing else, it will get your feet wet in the e-bike world with the least chance of burning you. The resale value of the RAD bikes, and the demand for them, makes for an absolute minimum risk if it turns out to be a mistake (possible, but not very likely). Thought here being it will teach you (and the husband) a TON, so a year or 2 down the road if the desire exists for something nicer, you can make a much more informed decision on exactly what YOU want, and get out from under the RAD with a minimum loss. This minimizes that huge leap of faith all of us must make buying that first e-bike.

 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
Since you mentioned that your husband is a DIYer:
Tongsheng TSDZ2 mid drive is torque sensing, provides a natural feeling good assist (4 or 5 levels depending on which display you choose) and is compatible with a throttle.
Here is my wife's Dahon Briza folding bike (24" wheels) that I had installed a tsdz2 for her. Total weight including battery is <45#. It doesn't have disc brakes but I haven't found them to be necessary, rim brakes have worked fine for me and my wife. At least one seller has complete kits including battery for $500.
1638984808796.png
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I think the blix packa would check your boxes. $1999
I like a geared hub motor because I ride 80% unpowered for my health. The 60th-80th steep hills on my summer commute I use the power going up. Since I installed the motor myself, extra wiring tied up in tie-wraps allows me to take the hub motor off without unwiring to fix a flat. When the rain takes out the throttle, I can pedal home without drag and without calling a tow truck the way a mid-drive requires.
Blix packa has an accessory front basket that you don't have to steer. Blix has a throttle. Blix is a stretch frame that puts your weight on the front & the cargo on the back. I found shopping off a MTB or cruiser, I was pitched over the handlebars on my chin 5 times since 2008 and was knocked over by a dog hitting the front wheel. I didn't have a front basket, and the weight on the front wheel without me was only 20 lb with a load.
Blix packa has 24" wheels which are smoother on potholes than the 20" wheels of Tern HSD or euronau.
Yuba combi is similar but steel frame, which is heavier. I have a yuba bodaboda left, no longer sold. It is aluminum. Quality was superb, and the 24 speeds get me up 15% grades without the motor if I wish, and allow me to help the motor @ 25 mph if I wish. Cable brakes are not a nuisance if they have slick stainless cables that don't bind or stretch all the time requiring adjustment. I adjusted a brake cable first in the 3rd year.
Happy shopping & riding.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I think the bike weight is going to be an issue for Class 2 ebikes with a throttle. A couple that are closer to your ideal include the Charge Comfort that weighs 51lb but has mechnical disk brakes, or the Vanmoof X3 (46lb) that has a 'boost button' that acts like a throttle, 24" wheels, and hydraulic disk brakes. A friend of mine has a Vanmoof X3 she uses on school-runs, but neither of these ebikes has a downtube mounted removeable battery.

Another Class 2 that might work for you is the Linus Cesta 500 that weighs 49lb, has a downtube mounted removeable battery, but mechanical disk brakes. Linus bikes are distributed through dealers across the South but as it's a new model you may have to order one without taking a test ride. Linus have a 30-day return policy but charge a $150 restocking fee for ebikes.
 
Last edited:

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Bike weight matters if you are carrying it up the stairs or putting it on a bus rack. Otherwise, not, IMHO. I weigh 160, my bike weighs 94 lb with motor, 17.5 ah battery, bags, tools, water, dual stand, racks. I can pedal it and 80 lb ag supplies up a 15% 100' grade without power if I want to. I can't pick it up but I can roll it over to change a tire or repair the derailleur.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
First, no harm in waiting til 2022, with only three weeks left, Stalled in the Senate is a bill that includes a tax credit for purchase of ebikes, If it passes, it will only apply for 2022.

If someone has DIY skills, and you have a bike that already fits your, I agree with EMGX. Add a motor and hang a battery on your bike., I've done this more times than I can remember.

There are all kinds of ways to approach it. This bike went to Colorado with its puny rear motor and passed all the gassed out tourists on their rental bikes at 9000 feet, It's under 45 pounds.
20170826_104935-2.jpg

These bikes love riding in the minivan to Florida. Both under 40 pounds.
nova_1-2.jpg P1650047.JPG

You can have small batteries for short rides, and pack larger ones for longer rides. The only drawback is you can't hide the battery in the frame like you can on a commercial bike, but at the same time, you don't add 5 pounds of aluminum around it to hide it. If the bike already has disk brakes, it's not hard to replace them with hydraulics.
 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
Here is a 20" folding bike that I installed a tongsheng mid drive. This one weighed 40# including the 36v 10ah battery in the seat bag.
Easy conversion if your husband knows his way around a bike, inexpensive, works great and can be put on a bike that you might already have and like.
I've done this conversion 6 times and soon to become a 7th, just because I already had the bikes - and loved the performance each time.

1638991510767.png
 
Region
USA
Thank you for all the great suggestions! I
Welcome to EBR. I have almost no experience with throttles, but can say that the fit of the bike is probably the most important of your specs and many DTC bikes ( that come with throttles) are a one size frame that fits only some people.

Most major brands have multiple sizes available. Pedigo is the only one I know of with multiple sized frames and throttle.
Gearing required will depend on the power available, but most seem to end up at 7 to 10 speeds if there are any hills or headwinds involved .
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have indeed found that bike fit is the most important, or at least the starting point of the important considerations in making this choice!
 
Region
USA
Though I've purchased several bikes now, and just one of them was a RAD, it was a very positive experience. Because they are SO popular, and well within your price range, I'm thinking a Step through RAD City, the newest version (RAD City 5 Plus), might work well for you. If nothing else, it will get your feet wet in the e-bike world with the least chance of burning you. The resale value of the RAD bikes, and the demand for them, makes for an absolute minimum risk if it turns out to be a mistake (possible, but not very likely). Thought here being it will teach you (and the husband) a TON, so a year or 2 down the road if the desire exists for something nicer, you can make a much more informed decision on exactly what YOU want, and get out from under the RAD with a minimum loss. This minimizes that huge leap of faith all of us must make buying that first e-bike.

I started out thinking exactly that - and then I started reading/watching reviews and reviewing posts here...and the choice got a lot more complicated, lol. I ended up making weight and frame size my starting "bars" so to speak...which limits the field quite a bit, while pushing up the price just as much (or more). But if I don't like it I won't ride it - and those are big factors in whether I like it.
 
Region
USA
I think the blix packa would check your boxes. $1999
I like a geared hub motor because I ride 80% unpowered for my health. The 60th-80th steep hills on my summer commute I use the power going up. Since I installed the motor myself, extra wiring tied up in tie-wraps allows me to take the hub motor off without unwiring to fix a flat. When the rain takes out the throttle, I can pedal home without drag and without calling a tow truck the way a mid-drive requires.
Blix packa has an accessory front basket that you don't have to steer. Blix has a throttle. Blix is a stretch frame that puts your weight on the front & the cargo on the back. I found shopping off a MTB or cruiser, I was pitched over the handlebars on my chin 5 times since 2008 and was knocked over by a dog hitting the front wheel. I didn't have a front basket, and the weight on the front wheel without me was only 20 lb with a load.
Blix packa has 24" wheels which are smoother on potholes than the 20" wheels of Tern HSD or euronau.
Yuba combi is similar but steel frame, which is heavier. I have a yuba bodaboda left, no longer sold. It is aluminum. Quality was superb, and the 24 speeds get me up 15% grades without the motor if I wish, and allow me to help the motor @ 25 mph if I wish. Cable brakes are not a nuisance if they have slick stainless cables that don't bind or stretch all the time requiring adjustment. I adjusted a brake cable first in the 3rd year.
Happy shopping & riding.
Thank you for sharing your insights! I haven't ruled out hub motors completely. And I definitely agree that being able to feel comfortable riding unassisted for health is an important consideration!
 
Region
USA
I think the bike weight is going to be an issue for Class 2 ebikes with a throttle. A couple that are closer to your ideal include the Charge Comfort that weighs 51lb but has mechnical disk brakes, or the Vanmoof X3 (46lb) that has a 'boost button' that acts like a throttle, 24" wheels, and hydraulic disk brakes. A friend of mine has a Vanmoof X3 she uses on school-runs, but neither of these ebikes has a downtube mounted removeable battery.

Another Class 2 that might work for you is the Linus Cesta 500 that weighs 49lb, has a downtube mounted removeable battery, but mechanical disk brakes. Linus bikes are distributed through dealers across the South but as it's a new model you may have to order one without taking a test ride. Linus have a 30-day return policy but charge a $150 restocking fee for ebikes.
Great suggestions to consider - thank you!
 
Region
USA
Bike weight matters if you are carrying it up the stairs or putting it on a bus rack. Otherwise, not, IMHO. I weigh 160, my bike weighs 94 lb with motor, 17.5 ah battery, bags, tools, water, dual stand, racks. I can pedal it and 80 lb ag supplies up a 15% 100' grade without power if I want to. I can't pick it up but I can roll it over to change a tire or repair the derailleur.
Glad that works for you. :) Bike size and weight make a difference in how confident I feel while riding the bike.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I started out thinking exactly that - and then I started reading/watching reviews and reviewing posts here...and the choice got a lot more complicated, lol. I ended up making weight and frame size my starting "bars" so to speak...which limits the field quite a bit, while pushing up the price just as much (or more). But if I don't like it I won't ride it - and those are big factors in whether I like it.
I guess I was thinking about how easy it would be to bail on a RAD, especially as compared to most others. Their popularity means you're looking at a bike that's easy to sell when/if you want/need to, and also assures top resale value.

Bottom line, RAD likely offers the least gamble. My bet is though, if they offer the right bike for your needs, you're going to love it...
 
Region
USA
Since you mentioned that your husband is a DIYer:
Tongsheng TSDZ2 mid drive is torque sensing, provides a natural feeling good assist (4 or 5 levels depending on which display you choose) and is compatible with a throttle.
Here is my wife's Dahon Briza folding bike (24" wheels) that I had installed a tsdz2 for her. Total weight including battery is <45#. It doesn't have disc brakes but I haven't found them to be necessary, rim brakes have worked fine for me and my wife. At least one seller has complete kits including battery for $500.
View attachment 108841
Beautiful bike! Thanks for the inspiration. DIY may be a FUTURE project for us. :)
 
Region
USA
First, no harm in waiting til 2022, with only three weeks left, Stalled in the Senate is a bill that includes a tax credit for purchase of ebikes, If it passes, it will only apply for 2022.

If someone has DIY skills, and you have a bike that already fits your, I agree with EMGX. Add a motor and hang a battery on your bike., I've done this more times than I can remember.

There are all kinds of ways to approach it. This bike went to Colorado with its puny rear motor and passed all the gassed out tourists on their rental bikes at 9000 feet, It's under 45 pounds.
View attachment 108846

These bikes love riding in the minivan to Florida. Both under 40 pounds.
View attachment 108847 View attachment 108849

You can have small batteries for short rides, and pack larger ones for longer rides. The only drawback is you can't hide the battery in the frame like you can on a commercial bike, but at the same time, you don't add 5 pounds of aluminum around it to hide it. If the bike already has disk brakes, it's not hard to replace them with hydraulics.
Love the creativity and personalization that's possible with DIY - thanks for sharing! Such a project may be in the future for us. :)
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
While you are working out proper fit, my experience was a bit too small is easier to deal with than a bit too big. I actually had to return my first bike b/c it was too big and I dropped it repeatedly.

Also, several of the folks that commented here are way different sizes. I'm 5 ' 7" and 200 lbs, @indianajo is maybe 150 lbs, and I'm not sure but I think @rich c is a big guy.