Looking for my first ebike for a commute w big hill

Reneelb

New Member
Hi all!

Im looking to buy my first e-bike and very open to advice, as im getting pretty overwhelmed looking through this site. Primarily need it for commuting to/from work and generally getting around the city (Philadelphia, PA). I've been riding a regular bike as my main transportation for years now and love it, but I'm about to move to a neighborhood that's further from my work, and up a long steep hill (probably a couple miles of hill). Id like to keep getting some exercise (one thing i like about bike commuting) but i like the idea of choosing how much i want to work, and still getting home quickly if I'm totally beat at the end of the day (my job is pretty physical). My total commute is about 7 miles each way (so 14 miles per day at least) and I'm looking for a bike that's reliable for everyday commuting with big hills, comfortable (I like sitting pretty upright on my current bike, my wrists and back appreciate it too), has a rear rack to help carry some groceries etc. Id like to spend under 2000 if possible, but could go a bit over that. I dont need to go too fast and im definitely looking for comfort, safety, and reliability in what will be my main vehicle. Im also nervous about theft; I have secure indoor storage at home and work but wondering about best locks for locking up at places like the store or a nature trailhead (my current bike is pretty basic so i dont worry too much with a cable and ulock, but maybe id want something more serious for an expensive bike? And/or i might just take the regular bike for those types of trips). Also delivery to me (or a local bike shop?) would be a big plus. Would love any suggestions! Thanks in advance!
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Depending on your height here are a couple of hub motor ebike suggestions:

Small up to 5’ 8” the Junto uses a standard 48v 500w Bafang hub motor and a torque pedal assist sensor and was liked by Court when he reviewed it, plus they’re a local company. You might also want to ask when their next batch of MetroMule ebikes is coming in case you'd prefer that model.

Tall 5’11”-6’3” Firth & Wilson have a Fuji branded ebike also with a Bafang hub motor, but a less powerful 36v 350w version, plus a basic cadence pedal assist sensor.

I think both bikes would need fenders, lights, and a rack adding, but with either bike you could add those afterwards and still spend under two grand.
 
Last edited:

indianajo

Well-Known Member
If you want to maintain your fitness level while getting help on headwind days, a bike that doen't drag with the power off is a good choice. Geared hub drives and mid drives yamaha, brose, and shimano, fit that description. I ride a geared hub drive on the front, a Mac12. I ride unpowered about 2/3 of the distance.
You should be able to find dealers in Philadelphia. Buying a bike from a dealer gives you a warrenty backup if a flaky problem occurs, as often happens with modern electronic devices with computers.
I would buy a bike with fenders already, it probably rains in Philidelphia and one doesn't want mud spots on the clothes. I ride in the rain a lot, I oil the steel parts of my bike bi-weekly and it performs okay after 2 1/2 years.
Cargo on the back can take weight off the front wheel and cause unstable steering. I had the front tire snap sideways on 2 MTB's and a cruiser, 5X over 5 years. Hit a pavement separator, a speed bump, a stick, a ridge of gravel when run off the road by a truck. Bike threw me over the handlebar on my chin each time. I now ride a cargo frame (stretch behind the seat) that puts my weight on the front tire and the cargo on the back tire for better balance. The bike shown left is a yubabike bodaboda, which now comes with a no-drag shimano mid drive. That is the drop frame for small people, I have a 29" inseam. The quality of my 2017 unit was superb. Other vendors of cargo bikes are magnum (has dealers) m2s, kona, xtracycle, blix (24" wheels) tern (20" wheels), surly, rad(garbage). I would stay away from 20" wheels, they provide a lot more shock if you run through a pothole in the rain. Surly is steel frame, heavy for big people with huge loads. Cargo bikes will not fit on a bus rack. My bodaboda has bosses in the frame for a front basket, which allows you to carry cargo up there that doesn't swing with the front wheel. That balances the load somewhat, I carry my battery up there.
Cargo bikes do not have suspensions but if you run the maximum size tires (usually 2.1") you can lower the pressure to 45 psi to smooth out the bumps somewhat.
One advantage of a hub motor bike like magnum, if your chain falls of the sprocket (happens) or some other chain problem, you can let the motor push you home and deal with it there. Mid drives, you have to stop. Mid drives wear out chains faster than hub drives. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain, chain life of 1000 miles is not unusual on mid drives. Mid drives do climb hills with less wattage than hub drives, but slower IMHO because of the gear reduction. I climb 15% grades on my commute, using momentum from the previous hill to speed me up the next hill. My 500 W geared hub motor will start me from a stop on that grade at 330 lb gross (70 lb supplies). Be sure not to buy a direct drive hub motor for cargo hauling, like the Radwagon model 3. Radwagon is cheap, popular, and has 34 complaints for loose spokes on the known problems thread of that forum.
See the security threads, but I use a stainless steel wire rope sling that is hard to cut, https://www.mcmaster.com/3550T17 with a $37 lock and have had no trouble. We don't have bike parking fixtures here so I use power poles, electrical conduits, gas meters, and the like. If I lived in a big city I'd probably also use a U-lock and a $125 abus granite lock on my cable. 2 locks and tethers of different types is better than one. My cable is up off the ground just below the seat, which makes it harder to use a cutter. Other higher security options are pawang chain (square corners), motorcycle style hardened chain, jointed bar locks locks like abus & kryptonite (too short for my tether points). The heavier the device, the less cargo you get to carry. My lock+chain is about 8 lb and rolls up in the pannier bag. Stay away from mild steel cables with integrated locks, easy to smash with a hammer and the cable is too easy to cut.
Happy shopping, & riding.
 
Last edited:

Reneelb

New Member
If you want to maintain your fitness level while getting help on headwind days, a bike that doen't drag with the power off is a good choice. Geared hub drives and mid drives yamaha, brose, and shimano, fit that description. I ride a geared hub drive on the front, a Mac12. I ride unpowered about 2/3 of the distance.
You should be able to find dealers in Philadelphia. Buying a bike from a dealer gives you a warrenty backup if a flaky problem occurs, as often happens with modern electronic devices with computers.
I would buy a bike with fenders already, it probably rains in Philidelphia and one doesn't want mud spots on the clothes. I ride in the rain a lot, I oil the steel parts of my bike bi-weekly and it performs okay after 2 1/2 years.
Cargo on the back can take weight off the front wheel and cause unstable steering. I had the front tire snap sideways on 2 MTB's and a cruiser, 5X over 5 years. Hit a pavement separator, a speed bump, a stick, a ridge of gravel when run off the road by a truck. Bike threw me over the handlebar on my chin each time. I now ride a cargo frame (stretch behind the seat) that puts my weight on the front tire and the cargo on the back tire for better balance. The bike shown left is a yubabike bodaboda, which now comes with a no-drag shimano mid drive. That is the drop frame for small people, I have a 29" inseam. The quality of my 2017 unit was superb. Other vendors of cargo bikes are magnum (has dealers) m2s, kona, xtracycle, blix (24" wheels) tern (20" wheels), surly, rad(garbage). I would stay away from 20" wheels, they provide a lot more shock if you run through a pothole in the rain. Surly is steel frame, heavy for big people with huge loads. Cargo bikes will not fit on a bus rack. My bodaboda has bosses in the frame for a front basket, which allows you to carry cargo up there that doesn't swing with the front wheel. That balances the load somewhat, I carry my battery up there.
Cargo bikes do not have suspensions but if you run the maximum size tires (usually 2.1") you can lower the pressure to 45 psi to smooth out the bumps somewhat.
One advantage of a hub motor bike like magnum, if your chain falls of the sprocket (happens) or some other chain problem, you can let the motor push you home and deal with it there. Mid drives, you have to stop. Mid drives wear out chains faster than hub drives. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain, chain life of 1000 miles is not unusual on mid drives. Mid drives do climb hills with less wattage than hub drives, but slower IMHO because of the gear reduction. I climb 15% grades on my commute, using momentum from the previous hill to speed me up the next hill. My 500 W geared hub motor will start me from a stop on that grade at 330 lb gross (70 lb supplies). Be sure not to buy a direct drive hub motor for cargo hauling, like the Radwagon model 3. Radwagon is cheap, popular, and has 34 complaints for loose spokes on the known problems thread of that forum.
See the security threads, but I use a stainless steel wire rope sling that is hard to cut, https://www.mcmaster.com/3550T17 with a $37 lock and have had no trouble. We don't have bike parking fixtures here so I use power poles, electrical conduits, gas meters, and the like. If I lived in a big city I'd probably also use a U-lock and a $125 abus granite lock on my cable. 2 locks and tethers of different types is better than one. My cable is up off the ground just below the seat, which makes it harder to use a cutter. Other higher security options are pawang chain (square corners), motorcycle style hardened chain, jointed bar locks locks like abus & kryptonite (too short for my tether points). The heavier the device, the less cargo you get to carry. My lock+chain is about 8 lb and rolls up in the pannier bag. Stay away from mild steel cables with integrated locks, easy to smash with a hammer and the cable is too easy to cut.
Happy shopping, & riding.
Thanks, this is pretty helpful, and im still a little uncertain! A little more info: im 5'8" with 31" inseam, 170lbs, the commute home involves a 3 mile long pretty steep hill (google maps says about 240 ft elevation). I'm not seeing any dealers really in philly when i search, except juntos and a trek shop. Either of which I'm open to but trek looks expensive and im not sure juntos is powerful enough, but maybe Im wrong! I've been looking at magnum metro, aventon level, and other similar commuter ebikes reviewed here in the 1500-2000 dollar range. Will these bikes be able to handle my commute? Do I need a mid-drive motor for the hill? I tend to bike relatively cautiously and I read somewhere that hub motors might struggle at lower speeds? Im trying to learn a lot of this from scratch right now. I also hear what youre saying about a cargo bike being more balanced for heavy loads, but it looks like the more decent ones are a lot more expensive?
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Do test ride as many ebikes as you can before you buy. Junto uses a Bafang geared hub motor the same as used on JUMP ebikeshare bikes, albeit they use a lower power 36v system, still powerful enough for hill climbing. Philly’s Indego electric Bikeshare use a 36v Bosch mid-drive motor. The Junto’s higher voltage Battery allows the controller to be set to a lower current amp rating for the same power delivery as a higher current 36v system. You can ask Junto how they program the controller but if the peak power rating of 500w reported by Court in his review is accurate it’s probably 10a which would run cool because that’s well within the operating amp rating of the mosfets inside the controller.
 
Last edited:

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Also delivery to me (or a local bike shop?) would be a big plus. Would love any suggestions! Thanks in advance!
OK, lets start with this. What LBSs are in your area, what brands do they offer, what’s your budget, are you planning/capable of maintaining an ebike, etc.?
Lots of folks here are willing to order online and try to do it all themselves which is fine but you need to ask some questions. Does the company you’re looking at have a decent warranty? Are you seeing anyone on this site successfully doing their own repairs on the same bike? Are you interested in doing maintenance? Are parts available if you need them? How about the knowledge to actually do repairs beyond normal bike stuff. How are you at electrical fixes? You get the idea.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Thanks, this is pretty helpful, and im still a little uncertain! A little more info: im 5'8" with 31" inseam, 170lbs, the commute home involves a 3 mile long pretty steep hill (google maps says about 240 ft elevation). I'm not seeing any dealers really in philly when i search, except juntos and a trek shop. Either of which I'm open to but trek looks expensive and im not sure juntos is powerful enough, but maybe Im wrong! I've been looking at magnum metro, aventon level, and other similar commuter ebikes reviewed here in the 1500-2000 dollar range. Will these bikes be able to handle my commute? Do I need a mid-drive motor for the hill? I tend to bike relatively cautiously and I read somewhere that hub motors might struggle at lower speeds? Im trying to learn a lot of this from scratch right now. I also hear what youre saying about a cargo bike being more balanced for heavy loads, but it looks like the more decent ones are a lot more expensive?
I’m a Trek Allant+7 owner and am about your height but weigh over 200. The Allant has the Bosch Performance Line CX motor and it can climb like a mountain goat. Yes it’s pricey but to me it’s been worth every penny and has had no issues with over 850 miles. I just bought another for my wife.👍
Best of luck with your journey.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Thanks, this is pretty helpful, and im still a little uncertain! A little more info: im 5'8" with 31" inseam, 170lbs, the commute home involves a 3 mile long pretty steep hill (google maps says about 240 ft elevation). I'm not seeing any dealers really in philly when i search, except juntos and a trek shop. Either of which I'm open to but trek looks expensive and im not sure juntos is powerful enough, but maybe Im wrong! I've been looking at magnum metro, aventon level, and other similar commuter ebikes reviewed here in the 1500-2000 dollar range. Will these bikes be able to handle my commute? Do I need a mid-drive motor for the hill? I tend to bike relatively cautiously and I read somewhere that hub motors might struggle at lower speeds?

DD hub motors as on the Radwagon 1,2,3 struggle at low speeds. Geared hub motors as on the junto are fine with grades. My Mac12 climbs 15% grade (7/8" rise in 6" run) 100 feet 3x every 30 mile commute. 20 miles steep hills as California sea to the Sierra runs & Colorado Pikes peak can burn up a geared hub motor, but 3 miles grade is nothing.
Chain replacement on a mid-drive is 3 to 10 times as often as a geared hub drive. Dallant has 850 miles on his; I put 5000 miles on my chain (2 1/2 years) before the Park tool said it was time to change.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
DD hub motors as on the Radwagon 1,2,3 struggle at low speeds. Geared hub motors as on the junto are fine with grades. My Mac12 climbs 15% grade (7/8" rise in 6" run) 100 feet 3x every 30 mile commute. 20 miles steep hills as California sea to the Sierra runs & Colorado Pikes peak can burn up a geared hub motor, but 3 miles grade is nothing.
Chain replacement on a mid-drive is 3 to 10 times as often as a geared hub drive. Dallant has 850 miles on his; I put 5000 miles on my chain (2 1/2 years) before the Park tool said it was time to change.
Yeah well the Allant has no struggles at any speed. Chain replacement hasn’t been an issue I’ve heard much about as long as your shifts are smooth. Changing the chain on a mid-drive is pretty basic stuff.
 

Reneelb

New Member
DD hub motors as on the Radwagon 1,2,3 struggle at low speeds. Geared hub motors as on the junto are fine with grades. My Mac12 climbs 15% grade (7/8" rise in 6" run) 100 feet 3x every 30 mile commute. 20 miles steep hills as California sea to the Sierra runs & Colorado Pikes peak can burn up a geared hub motor, but 3 miles grade is nothing.
Chain replacement on a mid-drive is 3 to 10 times as often as a geared hub drive. Dallant has 850 miles on his; I put 5000 miles on my chain (2 1/2 years) before the Park tool said it was time to change.
Great, thanks, this is reassuring that my options are less limited than i worried
 

Reneelb

New Member
OK, lets start with this. What LBSs are in your area, what brands do they offer, what’s your budget, are you planning/capable of maintaining an ebike, etc.?
Lots of folks here are willing to order online and try to do it all themselves which is fine but you need to ask some questions. Does the company you’re looking at have a decent warranty? Are you seeing anyone on this site successfully doing their own repairs on the same bike? Are you interested in doing maintenance? Are parts available if you need them? How about the knowledge to actually do repairs beyond normal bike stuff. How are you at electrical fixes? You get the idea.
Im willing to learn some things but my bike maintenance knowledge is very minimal (like, i can lube a chain and change a tire and thats about it) --professional help would be much appreciated if/when something needs done. There are tons of bike shops in philly, but im not seeing much with a decent selection of ebikes and im not sure about ebike specific concerns/repairs?
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Im willing to learn some things but my bike maintenance knowledge is very minimal (like, i can lube a chain and change a tire and thats about it) --professional help would be much appreciated if/when something needs done. There are tons of bike shops in philly, but im not seeing much with a decent selection of ebikes and im not sure about ebike specific concerns/repairs?
They may not have them in stock but the may be able to get them in for a test if you’re serious. Which concerns/repairs are dependent on which ebike you get. Rear hub drives have different issues than mid-drives. Different motors (Bosch/Yamaha/Brose/etc.) will also have different issues. So far my Bosch hasn’t had any repair issues so that’s all I can speak to.
 
Last edited: