My Atom Arrived - Not Quite As Expected/Ordered

Shel-done

Member
Region
USA
City
PNW
Hello EBR forum goers,

Figured I'd share my experience purchasing from Wattwagons for others to see. My goal with this post is to be factual with minimal opinion or bias. Most of what I'm sharing comes from memory, my order confirmation and the original spec sheet listed on Wattwagons site. I had to use waybackmachine.org to pull the original listing from May 15th, 2021 due to Wattwagons pulling the product page entirely when they discontinued the bike.

I'll start by stating the specs of the bike as I ordered and expected to receive based on part selection & base specs from the product page:
  • Frame: Atom in M/L size
  • Controller: Stock
  • Drivetrain: Gates Belt Drive
  • Wheels: 27.5" Velocity Blunt 35 (32h Front, 36h Rear)
  • Tires: 27.5x2.4" Schwalbe Super Moto-X with Greenguard and Black reflex
  • Rear Hub: Shimano Nexus 3
  • Brakes: Magura MT5e
  • Pedals: Stamp 1
  • Saddle: Ergon SMC
  • Grips: SQL Labs
  • Front Light: Magicshine 2000W wired integrated light
  • Rear Light: Magicshine Battery operated
  • Fenders: SKS Bluemels 65
  • Rear Rack: Racktime (integrated w/rear fender)
  • Kickstand: Pletscher Comp 18
  • Charger: 5A with 90/100% switch
Subtotal for the order: $3,446
Shipping: $120
Taxes: $360.17
Total: $3,926.17

Proof of my order:
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Specs as listed on Wattwagons:
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Next I'll detail the timeline of events for this bike purchasing experience from memory, email and call history:
  • June 3rd, '21- Confirmed order for an Atom on Wattwagons site
  • June 4th, '21 - Received thank you email from Wattwagons stating the bikes were tracking 2-3 weeks for estimated fulfillment. Email also included the following quote, "Please note that if you have ordered a complete bike from us - we offer special discounts if you want to buy other bikes or accessories or upgrades in the future. Please reply to this email and I will be happy to send you a coupon to take $300 off your order."
  • June 4th, '21 - Replied to above email accepting the coupon and to advise that I had not received an invoice to complete payment for the bike order
  • June 7th, '21 - Finalized payment after waiting for invoice/payment option per their store instructions and reaching to multiple contact points on Wattwagon's site
  • November 15th, '21 - Received phone call from Gregg @ Watt wagons, first direct communication about my order. He was calling to discuss possible options due to issues with certain parts
  • November 16th, '21 - Received call from Gregg confirming the bike would not work with belt drive. I asked for other options or free upgrades in lieu which he would verify with Pushkar before confirming back to me
  • December 19th, '21 - Exchange multiple emails with Pushkar and he advises he will sync with Gregg on viable options and confidently stated they could build my bike and they'd follow-up
  • December 21st, '21 - Receive call from Gregg to confirm downgrading the bike from belt drive to chain, I agreed and a two week shipment date was estimated - no proactive upgrades offered
  • December 21st, '21 - I email Pushkar & Gregg to ask a question about the Veer Belt drive system as a possibility & to put in writing my request for some upgrades in lieu of the Gates drivetrain
  • December 22nd, '21 - Gregg calls to confirm upgrade to Archon X2 controller (to be shipped later), answer my questions about the Veer belt drive (did not recommend due to frame tensioning issue) and says will email me to confirm controller upgrade since it may not be available till June 2022
  • December 30th, '21 - I email Pushkar & Gregg to follow-up on order updates and verify the two week estimate was still on track. Also asked to confirm the free Archon X2 will be sent when available. Received prompt reply from Gregg confirming bike on track to ship by end of the next week
  • January 3rd, '21 - Miss scheduled 1:1 as I was busy at work and my personal calendar didn't alert me. Received email from Amit stating they were missing the battery mount and now expecting to ship the bike out the next week
  • January 4th, '22 - Received email from Gregg to confirm in writing I'd receive the controller upgrade at no charge when the boards are available, projected mid-year 2022
  • January 11th, '22 - Email Amit to ask if bike was still on track to ship that week
  • January 12th, '22 - Amit confirms bike still on track to ship that week and they'd let me know of delays
  • January 14th, '22 - Receive confirmation my order is on the way with a FedEx tracking number
  • January 19th, '22 - FedEx picks up package
  • January 28th, '22 - Receive bike from FedEx and assemble for inspection
The only part swap confirmed during conversations with Wattwagons was the Gates belt drive swapping to a chain due to frame compatibility issues. Everything else was to be built as ordered to my understanding, and no communication was received to indicate otherwise. Below is a list of the differences noticed upon arrival which came as a surprise and in some cases counter to specific part selections when ordering:
  1. Grips: Ergon GP1 in lieu of SQL Labs - likely equal value
  2. Fenders: Planet Bike Cascadia ALX in lieu of SKS Bluemels 65 - unsure of value comparison
  3. Rack: Planet Bike Versa in lieu of Racktime integrated w/rear fender - unsure of value comparison
  4. Saddle: Fizik Terra Aidon X1 in lieu of Ergon SMC - Fizik likely higher cost, but also listed in the base specs on the site (I may have downgraded to save, can't fully recall)
  5. Wheels: SUNRinglé DÜROC 30 27.5" (32h F&R) in lieu of Velocity Blunt 35 (32h Front, 36h Rear) - likely equal value, fewer spokes in rear
  6. Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Almotion E-25 in lieu of Schwalbe Super Moto-X E-50 rated - likely equal value, lower rated and less puncture resistance
  7. Headlight: Magicshine Monteer 6500s in lieu of Magicshine 2000 wired/integrated - 6500s is substantially more expensive but uses an incredibly bulky 72wh (laptop sized) separate battery
  8. Charger: 2.8A with no % charge switch in lieu of the 5A listed in specs - lower value (unsure if it was an upgrade option based on expired product page)
Other observations worth noting:
  • Packaging was good. Solid choice of packing materials and nothing seems damaged or lost from what I can tell so far
  • Only one or two noticeable nicks in the paint that would take someone specifically looking for them to find
  • Assembly was easy but the bike came with no tools (not a big deal to me)
  • Cables were managed with zip ties but no spiral wrap as pictured (I have some, not a big deal)
  • One unused 3-pin HIGO connector (orangish yellow) and what appears to be light wires from the Bafang harness (no cap on the unused HIGO, still searching what it's for)
Wrapping up with opinions:
This forum is littered with posts from other customers that have experienced similar issues with communications. I also recall at least one other user posting similar results with different parts arriving on their bike than expected, though can't link at the moment. I don't get a sense of nefarious business tactics from my experience, just a culmination of weak company communication, lack of product management and overpromised expectations. Couple these issues with the downright depressing state of the supply chain shortages, logistics issues and a small company; you're going to have problems.

I ordered this bike for three key reasons in this order: Gates Belt Drive, Mid-Drive motor and integrated battery. Remove any one of those, specifically the belt, and it takes away at least 30% of my purchasing decision. I do not see how this bike was listed as a fully spec'd product, open to orders online, if it hadn't been fully tested to be compatible with the core components advertised. That is the definition of bait & switch be it intentional or incompetence. I didn't order a bike from Indiegogo/Kickstarter, nor was there any indication on the product page that it was a preproduction item subject to change after final development.
As for the various undisclosed part swaps with my order; I just don't understand why this occurred without communication. Give me options if you don't have the items I expect/selected at the time of purchase, don't substitute based on your discretion. It may have been the more affordable bike offered by WW but $3500 for a Bafang powered ebike with low capacity battery is by no means "competitive", especially without the Gates belt drive. I specifically wanted wired lights and chose that option for the front (no option for rear wired) and didn't get it. I don't want the Magicshine 6500s headlight with it's heavy & large separate battery that requires strapping it to the top tube and charging separately. I also was quite ecstatic to be getting SKS fenders with an integrated rear rack from Racktime as this isn't something I could get if I built DIY. It was included in many photos on the product page and likely played a key role in the tagline 'The Most Dapper Commuter!' This was probably my biggest let down/shock upon unboxing the bike because I can't fix this, these parts aren't available on the end-consumer market from what I can find via Racktime's or SKS' sites. The saddle may be an upgrade in terms of cost but I would never ask for an expensive saddle I haven't tried before without an option to return for a different saddle. I was planning on running a Brooks saddle and likely will if the Fizik doesn't fit my body. As for the other parts, I'm less concerned for the time being even though I am a bit bummed about the tires and lack of 36 spoke rear wheel for extra strength.

I'm happy to work with WW to resolve these issues and will contact them directly soon. Will post a follow-up edit based on how those conversations progress. I'm not outraged or even pissed off, just disappointed and dissatisfied with the final outcome of what was supposed to be a low maintenance, minimal fuss, prebuilt to my ideal standards, commuter ebike. Had I known it would all play out like this, I would have gone DIY from day one and forgone an integrated battery/mid-drive in favor of a belt + hub motor setup.

EDIT 1:
Rode the bike for the first time today and am pretty pleased with the ride and frame fit to my body. The M600 feels so much smoother than the BBSHD I had on my last bike, although still so powerful that I'll likely keep it in assist 1 or 2 most of the time. The bike rides quietly and smoothly, IGH shifts well and the brakes are quiet and firm. Felt good to finally feel some joy in this purchase and I'll likely be taking it on a maiden commute to work this Monday if I can source lights this weekend (I'm not using the bulky and heavy headlight they sent, no way).

I should also clarify that although I'm overall dissatisfied with the outcome, Pushkar and Gregg are both very kind and easy to speak with about issues. I feel slightly bad not emailing them first with my complaints but transparency is important. However, I'm not entirely sure how they can make some of these issues right unless they have the parts I want and can arrange shipping me new components so I can return the undesirables...we'll see. I'll likely never get over the belt drive bait & switch (again, not saying they did it nefariously or with bad intentions) - I freakin' hate dealing with a chain on a commuter bike in western Washington. I'll curse WW under my breath every single time I clean and re-lube the chain, without a doubt.

Photos:
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JRA

Well-Known Member
It is pretty easy to see why they weren't able to use a belt drive....there is no split in the drive side frame to allow for one. That seems really strange it was even offered.

I wasn't aware of any 3spd IGH that isn't 36h but I haven't really followed their development that closely.

You are way more patient and understanding than I for sure, I got anxious when the bike I got recently was at first posted for delivery by FedEx and they changed it to one day later and still received it one week after payment! I hope that you at least get the use and riding experience you were hoping for?
 

BarnBoy

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pleasanton, CA
@JRA - for BELT, the Atom has a break point on the Drive Side chain stay. You can see the two screws in the above photo….

@Shel-done - sorry for your issues, you dealt with them very professionally. This bike was to be a box build and direct ship from Asia that didn’t work as hoped…..
-BB
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Those two bolts are to adjust the chain tension via placing the hub forward or back. There is no visible break in the actual dropout visible to my eye that would allow for putting an endless belt on the bike.

Screen Shot 2022-01-29 at 6.09.20 AM.png


The black plate visible behind the dropout is part of the "cage" that also is working to take up the chain slack.
 

BarnBoy

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pleasanton, CA
Those two bolts are to adjust the chain tension via placing the hub forward or back. There is no visible break in the actual dropout visible to my eye that would allow for putting an endless belt on the bike.

View attachment 112927

The black plate visible behind the dropout is part of the "cage" that also is working to take up the chain slack.
Oops I see I said chain stay, meant seat stay…. Sorry!
-BB
 

Zachdds

Active Member
The two things about that bike that separated it from the pack were belt drive and controller. To wait 8 months and end up with neither of those sucks big time.

Ps. Can you get rid of the tensioner? One less thing to worry about.
 
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Zachdds

Active Member
Switching out the components without consulting with the customer is what you are concerned about when you order off of Alibaba. Not a boutique bike store out of Massachusetts.
 

Zachdds

Active Member
I waits for Shel Done to see what his remedy for his new bike. Atleast he got motor and fancy controller to work with.
Bafang 600 is the rave now, it made an appearance on EMBN ebike motors show in Munich.
Maybe I read it wrong. But I think all he got was the promise of fancy controller
 
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Shel-done

Member
Region
USA
City
PNW
The two things about that bike that separated it from the pack were belt drive and controller. To wait 8 months and end up with neither of those sucks big time.

Ps. Can you get rid of the tensioner? One less thing to worry about.

I would love to get rid of the tensioner if I can. Will look at the chain to see if I can shorten it and use the frame's tensioning design to make things work. I didn't really get a ton of details from WW about why this setup was required, which is something I'd get if shopping at a LBS. Honestly, I'm half tempted to try the Veer belt drive system out with this frame and if the tension can't be accomplished, using a different pully tensioner that works with the belt width.
Switching out the components without consulting with the customer is what you are concerned about when you order off of Alibaba. Not a boutique bike store out of Massachusetts.

Precisely. That was my sentiment as well, especially when some of the part selections are fundamentally different regardless of cost value (the lack of wired light & non-integrated rack/fender). Had I known any of this I probably would have cancelled my order and built a Priority Continuum Onyx up with a Grintech All-Axle hub motor in the front. The price would have been comparable and overall the Priority has better components thru-and-thru.​

I thought this bike never made it into production. I'm wondering if this was a pre-production bike.

The bike was discontinued silently with no formal communications sent to existing orders (at least none to me). Typically when a company discontinues a product they leave the product page on their site with an update to explain their reasoning for discontinuing. In my opinion, WW should never have taken customer's money for an untested product, falsely advertising belt drive support that is a HUGE factor for many bike shoppers.
Maybe I read it wrong. But I think all he got was the promise of fancy controller

No, you are correct. I only received a promise of the Archon X2 controller upgrade being sent to me free of charge when those boards arrive sometime in 2022 (estimated mid-year). This was after I had to ask for some type of free upgrades multiple times in lieu of the belt drive as WW was not proactively offering any form of compensation. If/when I receive that controller, I'll need to swap it myself (which is fine, I don't mind) and it will likely only serve to increase my necessity to upgrade the battery capacity. Luckily I found a source for a larger capacity Reention Eel Mini Pro battery though the cells are likely suspect/cheap crap compared to the big providers.​

Thank you guys for jumping in with the support. Feel like I needed the validation because I strive to not be "that" customer. I've worked in service my entire life and try to be reasonable above all else. Added an additional edit to the main post with some more context and fairness to Wattwagons.
 

Zachdds

Active Member
On a customer service basis, I find these things baffling.

You ordered a bike and got an email that said the bike would be shipped in 3-4 weeks, and then it took 20 weeks for ww to reach out and say that they were having supply problems.

At no point did they tell you that this bike had been discontinued and that it never was going to make it to production.

That is nuts.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
"Luckily I found a source for a larger capacity Reention Eel Mini Pro battery though the cells are likely suspect/cheap crap compared to the big providers."

Don't be afraid to try and communicate your desire for a good as possible battery and BMS from any of the Asian manufacturers. Most will if you can find one that communicates well in English especially. At least you can request the data for the cells they use.

Too bad you missed out on the Any Axle. I have one and it works very well in the city I found when I lived just outside one and commuted in on it. It is 180d from the M600 you got however. A totally different experience but both work.
 

Shel-done

Member
Region
USA
City
PNW
"Luckily I found a source for a larger capacity Reention Eel Mini Pro battery though the cells are likely suspect/cheap crap compared to the big providers."

Don't be afraid to try and communicate your desire for a good as possible battery and BMS from any of the Asian manufacturers. Most will if you can find one that communicates well in English especially. At least you can request the data for the cells they use.

Too bad you missed out on the Any Axle. I have one and it works very well in the city I found when I lived just outside one and commuted in on it. It is 180d from the M600 you got however. A totally different experience but both work.

Hm, good point. Never thought about asking for better cells from one of the companies on Aliexpress. I'll give that a shot if I find the small capacity wanting or when its time to get a new battery. I imagine things will be fine until I start towing around my daughter or doing more loaded rides.

Dang, I really wanted to see some user reviews of the All-Axle hub motor. Grin had it for sale (25% off) on their site before the new year and I was honestly SO close to cancelling my order with WW to go DIY instead. Will be kicking myself in the butt on that decision if I can't work out an amenable solution to the Atom's upsets. Converting a Priority Continuum sounds like a recipe for a really good commuter at a fair price.
 
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TomD

Well-Known Member
Damn, what a cluster. Seems they either suckered you in to taking a pre-production bike or they are actually planning to produce this POS. Not good no matter how you look at it.
 

Zachdds

Active Member
Damn, what a cluster. Seems they either suckered you in to taking a pre-production bike or they are actually planning to produce this POS. Not good no matter how you look at it.
yes, it is amazing to wait 8 months and end up paying full price for that. Look at the battery, motor, 3 speed, nonintegrated light, chain drive, add on rack and compare that to what you can get for the same price. That is embarrassing.

I think that he had traded his car in to buy a bike for commuting to work when he stopped working from home (could have that wrong) and felt like he needed something.
 

Shel-done

Member
Region
USA
City
PNW
Has watts wagon been in contact to address your concerns.

Yep, Gregg from WW called me on Monday to discuss possible solutions. He was patient and explained that part swaps occur but typically not without the buyers awareness from Sales. However, he also explained they will usually aim to upgrade parts if the original selections aren't available and I believe this to be true for most of the items I've called out - except the rack. While I don't want separate battery powered lights, the Magicshine 6500s is considerably higher tier in terms of output & cost than a wired option (just wasn't my preference). I'd say WW has definitely shown they are willing to listen and work with me to find a path forward. Again, not trying to tear their company down by any means. When you see people mention their communication issues, its always a lack of problem, but when they do reach out they are great people to work with.

I'm currently awaiting a follow-up from Gregg on wired lighting options along with a different rear rack that will work better with my panniers. Gregg is super easy to chat with too.

yes, it is amazing to wait 8 months and end up paying full price for that. Look at the battery, motor, 3 speed, nonintegrated light, chain drive, add on rack and compare that to what you can get for the same price. That is embarrassing.

I think that he had traded his car in to buy a bike for commuting to work when he stopped working from home (could have that wrong) and felt like he needed something.

It's important to note that I chose to proceed with my order after they informed me of the downgrade to a chain drive setup. I'm not sure I'd make that same decision again, I was just really hoping to find a belt drive solution for myself after-the-fact. I'm not shy from a good DIY project or working on bikes and have most bike specific tools from my last build. However, after speaking with Gregg in more detail about the belt drive issues with this frame it seems like a longer path or possibly no way forward toward a belt drive setup. This bike's frame has a flawed tensioning system in numerous ways, one of which is the non-horizontal adjustments (you can see in photos they are angled slots vs. what you'd see on a horizontal dropout frame). Makes sense why they chose to discontinue the frame and pivot other customers to a different bike altogether. I turned down that option because I just wanted the Atom frameset as it matched the classic triangle frame w/simple tubes design that I prefer (I've owned many a steel framed bikes, love the aesthetic). Most of my critique of WW comes down to a lack of communication, which cannot be defended. Time will tell if I'm able to figure out a custom belt drive tensioner setup that could work with the Veer belt drive system for the Atom.

Me and my spouse did trade our two vehicles in for a single new car in August 2021 knowing I'd be getting this bike. My goal was to be less car dependent personally so forgoing two insured vehicles, tags, car maintenance, etc. was a good option. Plus the used car market is nuts and our cars were worth far more than they'd be after the chip shortage resolves...may as well capitalize on hiked trade-in values. Ended up only taking about $2k less than what I paid for my Crosstrek new in 2017 after owning it for 3 years/30k+ miles.

Stay tuned on more updates as I work with WW. It seems they are making moves to improve communications with the update emails, 1:1 meeting options and maybe even a new CRM(?). So YMMV if you choose them for a future bike purchase. Just wanted to document my experience and if I'm being honest, vent a little.
 

ruffruff

Well-Known Member
Damn, what a cluster. Seems they either suckered you in to taking a pre-production bike or they are actually planning to produce this POS. Not good no matter how you look at it.
I agree. How could you make that big of a mistake-offering a belt drive and then not being able to produce it.
You'd think if you are planning around a belt drive system the FIRST thing you would do is see if the frame is compatible.

In the real world people lose their jobs over chit like this!
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
I agree. How could you make that big of a mistake-offering a belt drive and then not being able to produce it.
You'd think if you are planning around a belt drive system the FIRST thing you would do is see if the frame is compatible.

In the real world people lose their jobs over chit like this!
I think that's why this bike never made it into production. After receiving and working with the pre-production bikes WW realized the belt drive/hub wasn't going to work.
 

bexamous

Active Member
Region
USA
I'm not outraged or even pissed off, just disappointed and dissatisfied with the final outcome of what was supposed to be a low maintenance, minimal fuss, prebuilt to my ideal standards, commuter ebike. Had I known it would all play out like this, I would have gone DIY from day one and forgone an integrated battery/mid-drive in favor of a belt + hub motor setup.
I think you documented experience well and criticisms are fair. I hope you end up feeling satisfied with outcome. I also I hope WattWagons the best.. I feel like their intentions are good.