Multipurpose ebike, looking for advice

J Miller

Member
I'm looking for a general purpose ebike, as I don't own a car or driver's license. I currently own a decent mountain bike that serves my needs, but I like to hike and biking up the (mostly paved / well maintained dirt) hills and canyons to the trailheads is annoying. It's also a bit tiring carrying a lot of stuff uphill when I'm just trying to run errands and not in the mood for a workout.

Main points:
  • Budget: $2500-4000
  • Decent range - at least 25-30mi baseline, preferably more (again, no car)
  • Preferably 50lbs or less
  • All-season use (snow, rain, etc)
  • I'd like both throttle and pedal assist, but could settle for just pedal assist
  • Would prefer something that goes over 20mph in pedal assist mode (like the E3 Dash and others)
  • Must be able to mount standard equipment like the Toppeak track rack
  • I'm about 5'7", 185lbs (in the process of losing weight)
I was leaning towards the mid-drives, but in videos most of them seem rather noisy, and a lot of the more affordable ones only had 8 or 9 speed gearing, which concerns me if I need/want to go up a steep hill unpowered. On the other hand, due to my need to carry stuff around I often have a lot of weight on the rear of the bike already, so I'm wary of exacerbating the issue with a hub drive. I'm also concerned whether hub drives can hold up to hills over time.

I don't really need heavy offroad capability, but even mountain bike tires can be tricky on snow, so I'm extremely wary of the thin road bike tires (and I know for sure that I will have to ride on snow in the winter, not to mention occasional heavy rain conditions in summer).

Some of the bikes I've been looking at are the E3 Dash, the Kalkhoff Pro Connect models, the Easy Motion Neo Xtreme, and the Stromer ST1 models.
 

opimax

Well-Known Member
I can report on Stromer ST1 Platinum

Platinum list price is above 4g
I figure 30 miles a battery , hard use , i have multiple, 40 for flat and a little more in ECO
weighs 62 LBS per manufacture
All season is OK w/this model
Pedal assist only , miss the throttle on the earlier model
27-28mph on flats , hard pedaling
no mounting holes in the frame behind the seat for mounting points. I bought the expensive City Kit just to have a rack to carry 2 add'l batteries

My choice based on what you wrote would be the EM Neo Xtreme. More important to me is what the local dealer sells..you will visit them!

Also i am into "stealth", Neo is good at that too

Mark
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
1st choice under $4k:
1. Optibike Allroad Pioneer (mid drive). ~$2800

Optibike is known for quality and service. They have a 90 day satisfaction trial period - hard to beat. I tried their 1100R and returned it after 90 days, and it costs $$$. (No issue with the bike. It had too much power with the gears too low for 1100 watts. I didn't feel the pedals enough, and was too lazy to change the rohloff sprocket, but the bike was a smash for all around performance) It has throttle and PAS. I would highly recommend a mid drive if you are doing a lot of off road and hills. Yeah, some noise with mid drives, but you get both the speed thru the gearing and the range via the efficiency.

2. Kalkoff not really for off road. Haibike is over 7k. There may be cheaper models for Haibike, and be good options.

3. If you really want a hub, I would go with a geared hub and one of the NEO bikes. Probably the Jumper since you will be on trails.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
I just love my Stromer... And they are on sale now.. You can get their top of the line ST1 platinum for less than 4k on eBay.
 

J Miller

Member
Got a chance to test ride the E3 Dash and E3 Peak yesterday. I was especially impressed with the Dash, now I understand what people mean when they say 'torquey' or 'zippy'. It handled the relatively mild hills (compared with the foothills) like they weren't even there. In fact, my main issue is that even assist level one on the Dash is almost too fast, it made it difficult to go below 20mph on level ground in some cases.

The place I went to today also had the Stromer ST1 Elite and Platinum, but it looks like I can't mount the track rack on it (nor any other rack requiring the rear brazeons, which is a borderline deal-breaker given the cost and my cargo needs. I've got another test ride lined up with the Neo Xtrem and Neo Jumper tomorrow.

@Bike_On: I think you got my intent backwards - I do not need heavy offroad capability, I just want to be able to handle light trails if needed and I'm more comfortable with the larger tires and front suspension on mountain and cross style bikes. The Allroad only has a one-year warranty, and after some thought I'm probably going to stick with a hub drive because of the "stealth" factor, especially after seeing how silent the Dash's motor was.

@opimax: Yeah, I'm really leaning towards the Neo Xtrem - I'm going to test ride one tomorrow to see how it compares with the Dash. I can go over 20mph on the streets here legally as long as it's pedal assisted (just verified today), so both options are very tempting.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hi J Miller, I think you're on the right path with the Neo Line and just want to add that the Neo Jumpers are great for smoothing things out (but cost a bit more). Given your height of 5'7" I think the 26" wheel versions (Xtrem and regular Jumper) are fine but they do offer the 27.5" 650b models if you're looking for more rolling efficiency.

The stealth factor (including low noise), ability to use assist and throttle and the weight distribution of the Easy Motion bikes is great. There are 2013 versions with 9 amp hour batteries and 2014 with larger 12 amp that will go further but weigh a bit more. The newer versions of the bikes also have a gentler eco mode and since you said the Dash felt too powerful at times this might be worth considering for the Neo's as well.
 

J Miller

Member
Reporting in - I tried out the Neo bikes, but unfortunately they still had the same "too much assist even in Eco" feel that the Dash did (though not as extreme), and most of the Easy Motion models have a higher-than-normal height that cuts into my crotch when standing still (which I wasn't expecting, as medium frames work fine for me on other bikes). Also, the hub motor made a surprising amount of noise (I'm guessing it's because it was geared, unlike the Dash).

I decided to give the mid-drives another shot, and ended up buying a 2014 Kalkhoff Agattu after trying one at a local dealer (Pete's in Colorado). I have to wait for the diamant version to come in (store carried step-through version), so I'll report back when I get a chance to ride it for real. I especially like that it has an internally geared rear hub, making it much easier to use a mid-drive by switching gears while stopped, and it has lights/fenders/etc already built in. And like the Neos and Dash, it can assist past 20mph (dealer can unlock it from the european limit of 15mph).

Thanks for the input everyone!
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Reporting in - I tried out the Neo bikes, but unfortunately they still had the same "too much assist even in Eco" feel that the Dash did (though not as extreme), and most of the Easy Motion models have a higher-than-normal height that cuts into my crotch when standing still (which I wasn't expecting, as medium frames work fine for me on other bikes). Also, the hub motor made a surprising amount of noise (I'm guessing it's because it was geared, unlike the Dash).

I decided to give the mid-drives another shot, and ended up buying a 2014 Kalkhoff Agattu after trying one at a local dealer (Pete's in Colorado). I have to wait for the diamant version to come in (store carried step-through version), so I'll report back when I get a chance to ride it for real. I especially like that it has an internally geared rear hub, making it much easier to use a mid-drive by switching gears while stopped, and it has lights/fenders/etc already built in. And like the Neos and Dash, it can assist past 20mph (dealer can unlock it from the european limit of 15mph).

Thanks for the input everyone!

Excellent choice...!
Congratulations.
I believe it comes with Impulse 2.0 system and has lights, fenders, seatpost shock, ergonomic grips etc. Also rim brakes but Magura!
Did you go with 612Wh battery?
 

J Miller

Member
Excellent choice...!
Congratulations.
I believe it comes with Impulse 2.0 system and has lights, fenders, seatpost shock, ergonomic grips etc. Also rim brakes but Magura!
Did you go with 612Wh battery?

I'm not sure on the battery - I actually missed that it came in different capacities, so I'll find out when it comes in. It does come with the Impulse 2 and the rest though! The drive was very quiet, not as much as the Panasonic on the Neo Offroad I tried, but definitely quieter than the E3 Peak and slightly quieter (or at least less noticeable) than the Neo's rear hub.
 

J Miller

Member
Got the bike and have tried it out for a bit. Speed is still locked to Euro limits until the shop gets the tool shipped in, so the assist drops out around 17mph. It's difficult to get the bike much above 17-18mph on flat regardless because the sprocket on the hub is a little large, resulting in lower gearing than I'm used to. I've ordered a 16T sprocket to replace the 21T it came with, which should significantly help with gearing.

Range is phenomenal, I've ridden 19 miles (including a large hill) using a mix of different power levels, and the battery is still somewhere between 70 and 80%.

Will post more once I get the new sprocket on and the speed unlocked.
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Got the bike and have tried it out for a bit. Speed is still locked to Euro limits until the shop gets the tool shipped in, so the assist drops out around 17mph. It's difficult to get the bike much above 17-18mph on flat regardless because the sprocket on the hub is a little large, resulting in lower gearing than I'm used to. I've ordered a 16T sprocket to replace the 21T it came with, which should significantly help with gearing.

Range is phenomenal, I've ridden 19 miles (including a large hill) using a mix of different power levels, and the battery is still somewhere between 70 and 80%.

Will post more once I get the new sprocket on and the speed unlocked.
The Germans make good stuff. I did some reading up on the Impulse drive 2.0 motor being a dd mid drive, and more quiet than the geared type (Bosch/Optibike mbb). Enjoy.

Impulse 2.0
There are some buzzwords and marketing fluff here, but it is informative.

http://www.50cycles.com/kalhoff-impulse-2.html
 
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Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Ravi,

I got the dd info from New Wheel in SF:
http://newwheel.net/electric-bike-basics/electric-bicycle-motor-systems/

I was perplexed about the comment, since i understood all mid drives to have a higher rpm for torque, and step down with planetary gears. By dd, they must mean it spins at the rpms of a hub motor, 250-300rpm? The pic below does show a nylon gear with tapered teeth working on the bottom bracket.

Is this really different than planetary gears?

Dan

IMPULSE 2.0 (MID-DRIVE)
(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Update: We've writen a complete description of Impulse 2.0, the newest version of the Impulse drive. Read all about it.

The Impulse motor is a mid-drive motor made in Germany. It was developed as a partnership between Derby Cycle Werke and Daum Electronics out of Fürth, Bavaria, a large electronic fitness equipment manufacturer. In 2011, Derby Cycle Werke took a 50% interest in Daum and licensed the Daum motor system under the Impulse name. Beginning in 2011, the Impulse system took its place in the motor line-up of Derby Cycle Werke's brands which include Kalkhoff, Focus, Gazelle, and Raleigh in the German speaking world.

The Impulse drive is unique for many reasons. First and foremost, it is a middle motor, with all the benefits outlined in the Panasonic article above. An added benefit of Impulse is that it is capable of putting out up to 80 Nm of torque through the drivetrain, making it the strongest hill climber in our line-up. The power is delivered through a single chainring—as opposed to a seperate motor sprocket as on the Panasonic drive—which allows for higher torque and less drivetrain complication. On a similar note, the Impulse is a direct drive system, meaning there is no planetary gear that the motor works through. This allows for much higher efficiency and simplicity of design. Lastly, the Impulse motor's pedal assist takes into account torque, speed, and cadence to give more nuanced and accurate pedal assistance. Take a test ride and you'll see what all of these improvements add up to.

Bikes with Impulse: Kalkhoff Sahel i8 Compact, Kalkhoff Sahel i8, Kalkhoff Sahel Light i8, Kalkhoff Agattu i8
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the info, Dan.
I haven't had a chance to ride any of the impulse 2.0 system but apparently Newwheel (the website you posted; I have inquired with them) and Tim @ 50cycles.com (one of the largest Kalkhoff, Focus dealer in UK) think this is a notch better than the Bosch drivetrain.

I will check with them again as to how this is different from other geared systems.

Here is more info: http://www.50cycles.com/kalhoff-impulse-2.html
 
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Bike_On

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the info, Dan.
I haven't had a chance to ride any of the impulse 2.0 system but apparently Newwheel (the website you posted; I have inquired with them) and Tim @ 50cycles.com (one of the largest Kalkhoff, Focus dealer in UK) think, this is a notch better than the Bosch drivetrain.

I will check with them again as to how this is different from other geared systems.

Here is more info: http://www.50cycles.com/kalhoff-impulse-2.html

I posted that 50cycle link above. ;)

Well, the 70Nm spec should get attention. Mid drives can crank up the torque and be smaller motors with higher rpms. But then the gears...
Not to over sell the Optibike, but I think I heard their torque spec to be near 85Nm.

The links above do a nice compare to Bosch.

I would buy a Kalkoff before a Bosch. 612 whrs is awesome for this level of bike.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
I posted that 50cycle link above. ;)

Well, the 70Nm spec should get attention. Mid drives can crank up the torque and be smaller motors with higher rpms. But then the gears...
Not to over sell the Optibike, but I think I heard their torque spec to be near 85Nm.

After your review of the Optibike, I test rode R8 and R11.
Very well balanced machines, powerful and smooth. If it had pedal assist, they would be absolutely great machines.

Biggest -ve's are: Price, sound, lack of pedal assist.
Back in 2007 and up until 2011, throttle was great but pedal assist (torque sensor) gives a very natural feel to biking.
Most importantly, pedal assist requires minimal intervention from the rider. This makes rides much more enjoyable.
Kind of like an iPhone. People may have lot of opinions about iPhone but still people love it because it is one of the very few phones that require no manual to operate. Very intuitive.

My next bike purchase would be a Focus Thron Impulse speed pedelec. Would you be interested in a group buy? :)
 

Bike_On

Well-Known Member
After your review of the Optibike, I test rode R8 and R11.
Very well balanced machines, powerful and smooth. If it had pedal assist, they would be absolutely great machines.

Biggest -ve's are: Price, sound, lack of pedal assist.
Back in 2007 and up until 2011, throttle was great but pedal assist (torque sensor) gives a very natural feel to biking.
Most importantly, pedal assist requires minimal intervention from the rider. This makes rides much more enjoyable.
Kind of like an iPhone. People may have lot of opinions about iPhone but still people love it because it is one of the very few phones that require no manual to operate. Very intuitive.

My next bike purchase would be a Focus Thron Impulse speed pedelec. Would you be interested in a group buy? :)

Ravi,

Nice input.

Where did you test ride the R8 and R11, what dealer? Did you try a Pioneer? Isn't the torque in the R11 sick?

I totally agree with everything you said about the PAS system vs. throttle. They are easier to ride, more bikish, less motorish.

IMO, there is currently NO IDEAL ebike design, model, brand. For niche, specific applications, some models get close to ideal.

From a road perspective, a ddhub, PAS system gives the best ride experience with independent power systems to optimize cadence, force, response. Plus it is silent and has high speed performance (25-30mph). Cons are unsprung weight, usually lower torque, heat loss on hills and uneven weight distribution. Some of these are overcome somewhat with geared hubs, suspension and bigger tires with an expected center mount battery. But this is not ideal for an all-around , road/off road bike.

The Optibike, Haibike and Focus Impulse Thron mid drive designs, IMO, come closer to ideal all-around bike. Perfect balance and handling for on/off road. Efficient on hills and overall range. Change application by changing tires only. While Haibike and Focus give PAS and less noise, the Optibike is 2-3x the power and 1.5x more battery whrs to keep you at 25-30mph vs 20-25 mph for the expected 25-30 miles.

Ravi, you have a geared hub NEO design, right? Why are you interested in changing to a mid drive?

I suspect Optibike WILL add a PAS option, and their MBB noise has improved. But no mid drive is noise free, thus NOT ideal. Other non-ideal characteristics I have experienced with mid drives are a locked/dependent and limited cadence range coupled with more gear shifting. When I rode my Optibike a lot, very far and very fast, I sometime just got tired of pedalling at the 80-95 rpm range. Mid drives promote more pedalling by design than ddhubs. More work. It is nice to have a system that allow both: a good workout using PAS, or a relaxed effort aided by throttle.

Group buy on the Focus? Partially interested. I would have to test ride one before I shell out 3-4k. The 20mph limit would need an override, not an option for me. I would also want to compare to a Bosch middrive and I'd give the Opti SIMBB and Pioneer a look. Going full suspension is cool for overall, but the rear shock and assembly adds weight and bounce. The rear shocks needs to be adjustable and able to stiffen up some in order to feel ok on the road, and allow good travel for off road rides. A hard tail mid drive eliminates bob/weight/power transfer and still maintains off road ability if frame and forks are good design. All my ramblings and opinions when looking for a bike to do it all.
 

James

Well-Known Member
I can report on Stromer ST1 Platinum

Platinum list price is above 4g
I figure 30 miles a battery , hard use , i have multiple, 40 for flat and a little more in ECO
weighs 62 LBS per manufacture
All season is OK w/this model
Pedal assist only , miss the throttle on the earlier model
27-28mph on flats , hard pedaling
no mounting holes in the frame behind the seat for mounting points. I bought the expensive City Kit just to have a rack to carry 2 add'l batteries

My choice based on what you wrote would be the EM Neo Xtreme. More important to me is what the local dealer sells..you will visit them!

Also i am into "stealth", Neo is good at that too

Mark

I also have this bike. A not very well known feature is a throttle assist mode that can take you from 1.8km/hr to 20km/h at just a push of a button! Check this out.

Cheers,