Looking for Opinions on Bikes (and potentially some other options)

Normalization

New Member
Hey everyone,

I live in San Francisco, and I'm looking to buy an eBike sometime in the next month or two, for commuting about four miles both ways, as well as general recreational riding around the city. My budget is about $5000, not including taxes or other fees. My commute is not particularly hilly, but I anticipate wanting to climb some of the hills in SF on weekends.

I'm looking to use this bike to make my commute faster and more enjoyable, as well as to get back into cycling, as I've gotten out of shape.

The things I'm looking for in a bike are, in rough order:
  • Reliability and support. I'm not mechanically inclined (though I'm willing to learn), nor do I have much room for tools in my apartment, so I would like to reduce the amount of maintenance I need to perform myself for my first eBike. I'm also mostly looking at brands with local support due to this.
  • A decent amount of climbing power. I live in SF, and while my commute doesn't have too many hills on it, I want to be able to take the bike as many places as I can in the city.
  • A smooth ride, both electrically and mechanically. From what I've read, torque sensors provide a smoother pedaling experience, so I think that's what I want. I also want to be able to handle some rougher roads and maybe some light trails, but I am willing to sacrifice this if suspensions make handling poor.
  • Range. Once I settle into the bike, I want to take it a bit farther out than the city.
  • Stealth. I don't want to stand out too much, but this is a relatively minor consideration.
I've done some research online, and am planning to do some test rides later this week to get a feel for some of the bikes I'm interested in. A LBS recommended that I get hydraulic brakes and a mid-drive, though I'm still interested in hub drives since it sounds like mid drives may lead to increased maintenance and trickier shifting.

So far, I've found the following bikes that seem to align with what I'm looking for:

Giant Quick E+/Explore E+: Mid drive bikes with custom YAMAHA motors and some local dealers. The Quick-E is available in-city, so I'm leaning toward that one if I choose Giant. MSRP $3150 for the Quick E+.

Haibike Sduro Cross 9.5: Mid drive with a Bosch/YAMAHA motor (specs say Bosch but page says YAMAHA), though I believe the Bosch CX is limited to 20mph. I'm also having trouble using their find a dealer page, so I can't confirm that it's available in SF. MSRP $3800.

Stromer ST1X: Direct rear hub drive with a custom motor. Specs say its torque output is 35Nm versus the above two, which say 80Nm, but I'm not sure how that translates to relative performance as they're mounted differently. The connectivity features are interesting, especially the anti-theft. Available locally. MSRP $5000.

Some other bikes that I've looked at:

FLX Trail: Mid drive with a strong motor (120Nm?) and an optional throttle. I'd originally passed over it as I thought it only had a cadence sensor for some reason, but I'm also not sure they have any dealers here in SF. MSRP $2700.

Juiced CrossCurrent X: Rear internal geared hub with a strong motor, big battery, and a throttle, but no local (or anywhere apparently) dealers and thus likely no local support. Lots of reported QC and support issues, so although it looks perfect on paper, I'm reluctant to buy it in case I have issues. MSRP $2500.

I'm sure there are a lot of other good eBikes I haven't looked at, and I'd welcome some other suggestions as well as opinions on the ones I've listed here.
 
I picked up a Gepida Alboin SLX trekking model. Take a look at their videos, especially the manufacturing process: http://gepida.com/Company/Videos I'm very impressed with the fit and finish and the quality of the components. Their manufacturing facility is second to none, which means highly accurate assembly. I was originally going to get a RadBike or similar e-bike, but I'm glad I went with a pedelec with a high-performance series Bosch center-mount motor. The pedelec is simpler mechanically and lighter, and the big kicker for me is a pedelec steers clear of any legal requirements for insurance, licensing, or registration since it cannot move without pedaling (I'm in Europe and some over-regulation is occurring.)

Like SF, I live in a town with very steep hills. The Gepida/Bosch has 4 levels of assist, the highest being "Turbo." Going up a wickedly steep hill requires all the bike can give, Turbo with the bike geared down to 2nd or 3rd gear on the steepest part. But I remain seated and go right up at a decent clip. My heart rate goes up and I can feel a little burn in my thighs, but it's nothing like a non-assisted bike. I do get exercise, but the pain is removed from riding. Last, the Gepida doesn't scream money. It is not real flashy. The motor has a super secure key that allows you to pop off the battery if you have to leave the bike unattended. The digital display also pops off. If you were in a situation where the bike would be sitting all day and you wanted more protection, the front wheel has a quick disconnect although you have to insert a spacer in the disc brakes.

Lots of choices, and something made closer to where you live might be a better value due to lower import fees.
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
I believe juiced & stromer have no dealers. So any parts replacement required would be by you.
Magnum has rear geared hub motors for climbing power, and has a dealer network.
I like front drive geared hub, which allows me to have 8 speeds on the back including a 32 tooth sprocket for pedaling myself up steep 15% hills, and an 11 tooth for assisting the motor at speeds over 11 mph.
The base page of electricbikereview.com should have a dealer locator (paying dealers) if you put in your zip code.
Geared hub drives and Yamaha mid drive offer the possibility of riding the bike unpowered if your fitness progresses that far. Also if there is an electrical failure or you outrun the battery range, you can pedal home without calling a tow truck. I get about 10 years or 10000 miles out of 7 speed chains unpowered, and geared hub should be the same. 9-10-11 gear chains are less durable. Derailleur takeups last about 4-5 years, but the sprocket teeth start looking worn, you don't need a chain measuring device. Mid drives of course, wear chains faster than human power or hub drives.
Don't forget to measure your body and the frame sizes. Riding the wrong size frame can be miserable and nearly impossible without power on steep hills. Frame size is generally measured from seat post to steering stem, coming from 17" to 22 " generally for adults. Some vendors don't specify frame size, some do. If you go to a dealer you should be able to try out the frame, although frames for short people are not usually stocked.
You also have a choice of riding positions, with the head forward design being covered here mostly under "light" bike category. Back straight position as I ride reduces speed or range about 25%, worse with a strong headwind. Crank forward comfort bikes allow better foot engagement with the ground when stopped. Larger wheel sizes are more comfortable through potholes and over speed bumps than the cheaper 20" models. I ride a 26" x 2.1" wheel, without suspension. I'm 68" tall with short 28" pants inseam. Larger 700 mm and 27.5 " wheels are for taller people or those with longer legs. Smaller cross section tires have less rolling resistance, which is more important for pedal only bikes on long tours. At the speeds e-bikes are capable of I wouldn't buy less than 1.5" cross section.
Don't forget to take a helmet when visiting dealers. One local bike shop refused to even let me stand over his floor model without a helmet - I did not buy it from him.
In your city, don't go anywhere without a serious lock and tether system. I use steel cables, but in high theft SF with real bike racks available, the ABUS folding bar model may buy you lower theft rate. I can't use folding bar because I usually use power poles, shopping cart racks, road signs over 8' tall, gas meters or live conduits to lock to. The only bike racks here are the front wheel kind, which offers security for your front wheel, but not your frame motor or $800 battery. Think about battery security, some are easier to get off and resell than others. Some designs the battery mount fills up with water in the rain; read the brand specific forums before you purchase a particular brand.
 
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christob

Well-Known Member
For another test ride, can you pop down to Santa Clara and visit Vintage Electric Bikes? (Though for all I know, there may be shops that carry them in S.F., being so close by.). I live in Virginia, and their service and support has been exceptional, despite being so far from me. They have two Class 3 bikes, one with front suspension, one without. Quite powerful... more power than I need, tho I don’t have your terrain here. My commute is 5 miles one way, though I usually detour to 7mi going in, and about 20mi going home.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Wow, that’s a great budget. There’s lots to choose from. This forum will provide much help.
I’ve only test ridden a few brands through local bike shops. No test rides with online purchases, obviously.
Currently have two ebikes:
Specialized Vado 6.0 Speed pedelec with 90 nm torque and 600 wh battery. Love it. It flys up the hills around here (not SF hills). But for me, it’s heavy at 55 lbs. Maybe not a factor for you.
Trek Dual Sport Plus 2019. Class 1. Agile and nimble and at 45 lbs it’s easier to lift.
Looking forward to to seeing your new bike.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
REI sells an interesting variety of electric bikes (including some Stromer models) and can and will service your bike whether you purchased it there or not. At least at some of their stores you can also test-ride bikes.

While it is at the high end of your budget and looks weird, I'd strongly consider a Tern GSD. It isn't a folder but can be stored in a very small space. If you get a dual-battery version (extra money) or just buy an extra Bosch power pack you will have more than adequate range. The derailleur version climbs hills adequately but for some extra bucks you can get an IGH version that will climb mountains.
 

DaveMatthews

Well-Known Member
I went with Giant because they have a large network of stores near me (Vancouver Canada), and the bikes are great.
 
One bike you might check out is the Gazelle Arroyo. The 2017 version got one of Court's 2 "best picks" for a city electric bike (https://electricbikereview.com/best-electric-bikes/), and they have only improved since them. There are very few best picks. I own the 2018 model. The 2019 Elite is improved even more with the battery in the down-tube giving better weight distribution.

The Gazell bikes are made in the Netherlands and made very well. They use a Bosch mid-drive motor which is quite natural and smooth feeling. The Arroyo does have some

I am not surprised the LBS recommended a mid-drive in San Francisco. You already mentioned the advantage of torque sensing which they almost always come with. Also, because they use the bike's gearing and generally have higher torque than hub drives they have an advantage on steep hills. You will be going slower on steep hills (even with an e-bike) and the slow speed makes hub motors inefficient. That inefficiency means that a lot of the electrical power is turned into heat in the motor itself, which may cause the motor to cut out after a while to prevent damage. Meanwhile, you can downshift with a mid-drive to keep it in a normal cadence range so that it stays efficient and doesn't get too hot.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
San Francisco is perfect for test riding many brands, given so many good ebike dealers. Test mid drive, geared hub and direct drive hub motors. Step outside the box and test ride city bikes, hybrid bikes and mountain bikes. Most bikes can accommodate fenders and racks, the exception being full suspension mtb can be more challenging to add rear rack and fender, but you can add a seatpost suspension like a Kinekt BodyFloat to a hardtail mtb. Have fun with your testing and try bikes you never considered. Good luck!
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Also, because they (mid drives) use the bike's gearing and generally have higher torque than hub drives they have an advantage on steep hills. You will be going slower on steep hills (even with an e-bike) and the slow speed makes hub motors inefficient. .
False. Also false. Mid drive has higher torque than direct drive hub drives, especially in the 350 W limited European versions. San Francisco is in the US, where even 2000 W motor kits are for sale except in nanny states. Direct drive hubs are inefficient at slow speeds. 1000 W direct drive hubs handle hills up to 15% well (which we have here) but burn up a lot of watt-hours. Geared hub motors are great at hills, & efficient due to the fast internal speed. Geared hub motors have a heat limit which might be exceeded in long climbs (20 miles) like in the Sierra or Rocky Mountains. SF hills are short.
 
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Normalization

New Member
I picked up a Gepida Alboin SLX trekking model. Take a look at their videos, especially the manufacturing process: http://gepida.com/Company/Videos I'm very impressed with the fit and finish and the quality of the components. Their manufacturing facility is second to none, which means highly accurate assembly. I was originally going to get a RadBike or similar e-bike, but I'm glad I went with a pedelec with a high-performance series Bosch center-mount motor. The pedelec is simpler mechanically and lighter, and the big kicker for me is a pedelec steers clear of any legal requirements for insurance, licensing, or registration since it cannot move without pedaling (I'm in Europe and some over-regulation is occurring.)
That does look quite nice! I find the design really attractive and it ticks a lot of boxes for me. It also seems to be available here with support at a LBS, so I'll add it to the list of bikes for me to consider.

I believe juiced & stromer have no dealers. So any parts replacement required would be by you.
Magnum has rear geared hub motors for climbing power, and has a dealer network.
I like front drive geared hub, which allows me to have 8 speeds on the back including a 32 tooth sprocket for pedaling myself up steep 15% hills, and an 11 tooth for assisting the motor at speeds over 11 mph.
The base page of electricbikereview.com should have a dealer locator (paying dealers) if you put in your zip code.
Geared hub drives and Yamaha mid drive offer the possibility of riding the bike unpowered if your fitness progresses that far. Also if there is an electrical failure or you outrun the battery range, you can pedal home without calling a tow truck.

Yeah, I ruled out Juiced due to that. There is a LBS here that sells and supports Stromers, so that's why it's still on my list. I did look at Magnum, but it looks like they use cadence sensors. I'll try one if I find one locally, though.

Can Bosch drives be ridden unpowered, or is that a particular feature of Yamahas? I'm also surprised direct drive hubs aren't included in that list, though I suppose always-on regenerative braking indicates that the motor is always causing some drag on the wheel.

Thanks for all the advice! I'll be using it as I start visiting shops and looking into security options. I do plan on only parking my bike indoors for commuting, as my office has a bike rack, but I will not be skimping out on security measures regardless.

For another test ride, can you pop down to Santa Clara and visit Vintage Electric Bikes? (Though for all I know, there may be shops that carry them in S.F., being so close by.). I live in Virginia, and their service and support has been exceptional, despite being so far from me. They have two Class 3 bikes, one with front suspension, one without. Quite powerful... more power than I need, tho I don’t have your terrain here. My commute is 5 miles one way, though I usually detour to 7mi going in, and about 20mi going home.
I could, though it's not as convenient since i have to take Caltrain. I do have some friends down there, so I could probably make a trip to visit and try some bikes at the same time. I think their Rally model is pretty close to what I'm looking for. Thanks for the suggestion!

Wow, that’s a great budget. There’s lots to choose from. This forum will provide much help.
I’ve only test ridden a few brands through local bike shops. No test rides with online purchases, obviously.
Currently have two ebikes:
Specialized Vado 6.0 Speed pedelec with 90 nm torque and 600 wh battery. Love it. It flys up the hills around here (not SF hills). But for me, it’s heavy at 55 lbs. Maybe not a factor for you.
Trek Dual Sport Plus 2019. Class 1. Agile and nimble and at 45 lbs it’s easier to lift.
Looking forward to to seeing your new bike.
Sure seems like it to me! I wasn't expecting so many replies when I woke up.

I'm planning to make this my new hobby, so I'm willing to put a good chunk of change into making sure it gets off to a good start.

Both of those look pretty good; I'm not sure how I feel about weight yet, but I figure I'll find out once I've done some test rides.

One bike you might check out is the Gazelle Arroyo. The 2017 version got one of Court's 2 "best picks" for a city electric bike (https://electricbikereview.com/best-electric-bikes/), and they have only improved since them. There are very few best picks. I own the 2018 model. The 2019 Elite is improved even more with the battery in the down-tube giving better weight distribution.

I like it, though it seems like their Cityzen model might be more my speed (I like the riding position a bit better). I'll try out both, though!
San Francisco is perfect for test riding many brands, given so many good ebike dealers. Test mid drive, geared hub and direct drive hub motors. Step outside the box and test ride city bikes, hybrid bikes and mountain bikes. Most bikes can accommodate fenders and racks, the exception being full suspension mtb can be more challenging to add rear rack and fender, but you can add a seatpost suspension like a Kinekt BodyFloat to a hardtail mtb. Have fun with your testing and try bikes you never considered. Good luck!
Yep, if there's anything this thread has shown me, it's that there's a lot of shopping for me to do!
 

ilanarama

Member
If you are okay with buying a bike without first test-riding that model, the Priority Embark is available from Costco online for $3000. I'm suggesting this because it's relatively light (45#), has a Bosch mid-drive, and also uses a belt drive rather than chain drive and a sealed continuously variable transmission, which make it very low maintenance. I live in Colorado and specifically needed something that would power me up the 300+ foot hill I live on, and it's perfect. The downside from your POV is that it's delivered only partly assembled; Priority provides the needed tools and an instructional video, and it didn't really take long, but it was good to have my more-mechanically inclined husband there to help. I suppose you could have it delivered to a bike shop that would assemble it. There is also the issue that you wouldn't have local support, but I have to say that Priority has been amazing with their support over email for me. (The Purion unit wouldn't turn on, and I emailed them at what was 8:30pm their time, and they a) told me the problem was that it needed new batteries, b) told me the work-around of turning the bike on at the battery instead, which got me through the two days before c) the new batteries they had Amazon send me arrived.)

This is a class 1 and so limited to 20mph powered, and it is possible to ride with the motor off (I've done it a bit). I've only had mine for a week but I've already ridden 65 miles and really am a fan. The only thing I'm wishing was different is that there is no shock absorber and badly-paved roads transmit every detail of the pavement to my butt.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Can Bosch drives be ridden unpowered, or is that a particular feature of Yamahas? I'm also surprised direct drive hubs aren't included in that list, though I suppose always-on regenerative braking ...

PS - nowadays I frequently ride the VEB Cafe (direct drive gearless hub) in Level 0 (no assist) when I’m aiming for more of a workout impact, and have even ridden it without the battery in place two or three times. Note however the VEB doesn’t have regenerative braking.
 
Can Bosch drives be ridden unpowered, or is that a particular feature of Yamahas?

Bosch drives ride fine unpowered. My Gazelle has the Performance Line motor, which some people have reported has a drag when it isn't powered. However, the drag must be light enough that I don't notice it. When I go on longer bike rides through the country I will often turn motor assistance to "off" for much of the ride and only use power for uphill and headwinds. The bike also behaves the same with the battery removed.