My very limited and recent experience with e-bike purchasing...

My very limited and recent experience with e-bike purchasing—your mileage may vary:

Knew nothing about e-bikes. Started researching Rad Rover. Well, Bolton Bikes says they misrepresent their 750w BAFANG hub. Research Bolton Bikes. Learn about mid-drives and why hub motors aren’t as good. Research about mid-drives. Most USA offerings are 250watts and 350watts, no throttle. Research bikes with the m620. Find a new level of bikes, but at around twice the price. Ok…I get that. If I am going to spend $1500 on an ‘ok’ bike, might as well spend $3000-$4000 on a ‘better’ bike. I’m totally fine with that. You get what you pay for.

Start researching the m620. Few USA companies offer this motor in their stores so hard to actually “see” one or try it out. If you want one, have to blind buy a bike and HOPE it’s what you want and there is no damage or issues. If there is, contact the company, hope they send the part/fix so you can ride your new bike two weeks after you got the box.

Email some companies. Some companies feature pages don’t match their specs pages. Email a bunch of times for clarifications. No, slow or incomplete response. Responses given AFTER their pre-sales. So miss out on a bike after information given. Next pre-sale in the fall.

Few, if any, seem to have actual stock, basically Asian group buys that you have to plop down $2500-$4000 to reserve a slot with most requiring 10% cancel fee. Most pre-sales deliver several weeks or months in the future. Very difficult to drop $3000 sight unseen on an item with missing or incorrect information. If you put in a pre-order and later find out some information is inaccurate…you are out hundreds of dollars (10% restocking fee) because you find out the bike you “bought” is not the bike that was “sold”. Ok…that gives one pause to be sure. Or you decide on a bike, pre-order and like all tech…someone offers a better one two weeks later. Well that’s no fun either.

Learn about a FREY BIKE…good price, good components. Month or longer shipping. No North American support. Not to mention other difficulties with expensive overseas purchases.

Continue researching m620’s. Find a bike in USA. Ask about battery sourcing. They use a proprietary battery, so no buying aftermarket. Refuse to discuss their battery system. Then just recently…read the m620 has “issues”: bumps, clunks, inconsistent PAS, power efficiencies, odd throttling, etc. and that can only be addressed by another company offering $1300 upgrades and $6000+ e-bikes!

Pretty shocking to go from $1500 to $6000 in three weeks time to find that “perfect” e-bike with enough features/components to future proof it (I’ll only ever buy one, I can’t afford to fill my garage with them). I don’t even mind dropping that kind of cash if one could actually hit that sweet spot and not be frightened of the process, outcome or making a very expensive mistake with little or no recourse for satisfaction. Some REFUND policies say the bike has to be “unused”. Does that mean I can’t open the box? Assemble it and sit on it? Push down on the throttle? Ride it around the block for ten minutes? Not to mention there is something kind of “off” about paying used car prices for a bike no matter how fancy it is. I am not rich.

This is just my brief experience. The issues I mention are perhaps my problem with the process. I am sure others have had better, more satisfying experiences and are not bothered by the issues I have encountered or described. That’s fine and I admire their courage to take those issues head on. Browsing the forums and reading the comments is very helpful!

P.S. I just received an email from another company as I was writing this. I asked eight direct questions (yes or no) about their bike and not one of them was answered. I will say the writer was pleasant and friendly, but completely ignored my simple questions and this was a $4000 bike. I get that right now it’s a sellers’ market and no one needs my business, but jeesh…
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
It can be a frustrating experience! Especially now in the wake of supply chain issues and exploding demand.

Have you actually ridden any bikes? Even bikes you're pretty sure you're not interested in can give you valuable feedback about what works and doesn't work for you. Until you try and experience different drives (direct hub, geared hub, mid drive), throttle/no throttle, motors, etc, you really won't know what works best for the way you want to ride. Specs on paper are one thing. How bikes actually ride and perform are something else. Riding is definitely part of the research.

If nothing else is available, start with the major brands (Giant, Trek, etc) that have big dealership networks.

You don't say anything about where/how you want to ride. There are thousands of people here who are happy with their bikes, from a variety of brands and suppliers, and a variety of uses and styles of riding. Different drives, different motors, different batteries - lots of variables, but also lots of great information. Maybe set the technical research aside for a bit and watch some bike reviews and check the different brand and type forums to get an idea of what's working and what's not for members?
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
I agree that you should at least try test riding some mid-drives from different brands. It'll give you a better idea of little things that matter to you you may not understand from specs alone.

In regard to an ebike with M620 motor, Watt Wagons is a good place to check out. They have a few offerings that will likely meet your needs. One of the key upside to their bikes are that they are IGH with Gates Carbon Drive which should require little to no maintenance. They also use standard batteries and the two I recommend that you check out below also allows you to add a 2nd battery if you feel that you need the extra range.

The owner @pushkar is very active and well regarded member on this forum and usually responds to questions within hours if not minutes.

M600 Motor
M620 Motor

FYI, My original budget was $2000 when I started and I ended up buying the New UC Pro and will likely buy the CIty Commuter as well. So, I understand what you're going through. :)
 
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Marci jo

Well-Known Member
You are wise to be skeptical about info only offered online. Anyone can create a pretty website and take your money.
Start doing test rides on real bikes. It will help narrow your search.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
For what it's worth, I took a little different approach. I figured that with all the aftermarket options available, I could take a bike that had proven "unsatisfactory" (for just about ANY reason!) and modify about anything I needed to make it right pretty inexpensively, with the exception being the frame.

I now ride a very modified Rad City that I absolutely love. About the only thing that's still OEM is the frame, the battery, and the front wheel! Total cost still nothing near what a comparable bike might cost (IF I could find one).

This is coming from a very active DIY'er, so your mileage may differ! -Al
 
D

Deleted member 4210

Guest
You chose the perfect time to do internet research. Covid-19 knocked out production of all ebike manufacturers for more than 90 days in most cases. With normal demand shortages would have occurred just with that alone,and never caught up with the way production and supply chains work, requiring months in advance of planning. But Covid 19 here in US actually increased demand. Many ebike oems and dealers are reporting 300% increases, year over year. So you are getting to see everyone you connect with under the worst possible circumstances. At some point however, one of them is going to stand out, and shine above the rest, responding to your questions quickly and with intellect. Your search has just begun,and it's good you recognize that. There are more than 100 brands marketed here in the US.

So you have a long way to go. Since many are out of stock, there is no reason to rush, no reason to be impatient. Use your time to identify what it is you really want or value in an Ebike. If you live in an area where there are a number if bike shops, then find out which ones actually carry them. If they don't have demonstrators on hand now, they probably won't ever have them, bc they didn't think ahead. That's not a shop you want to deal with.

So then probably buying on line is your only choice. In that case, ride along trails with your regular bike,and courteously find people with their ebikes, and see if they will be open to answering a few questions. There are probably hundreds of those people when you look, and again be respectful and only ask a few questions, and dont take up much of their time. You'll probably find most are very friendly and even some willing to talk your ear off.

And eventually you probably will find someone,a friend or neighbor, willing to let you try theirs. Don't expect it, but be kind and respectful and it just might happen. Many of my customers talk about how they met people on trails, neighbors, people at campgrounds, and other venues where they learned about ebikes and what brands seemed to be good,and what made a good fit for them. There are many good brands these days, unlike just 5 years ago. You have a wonderful resource here, with EBR reviews. And maybe there is someone on the forum, who jives with your thinking and interests in an Ebike, so you can reach out in a private conversation, and get their advice.

You'll find the perfect ebike for you. I'm confident of that,with so many choices that exist today.

Best wishes and good luck to you !
 
Rental programs are a great start if offered by the local bike shop or an independent vendor. We rented two Raleigh ebikes just because we could and were sold on the concept immediately, although a couple other shops offered more brands with features for which we were looking at higher price points.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Well said Mike!

Especially regarding comments on the trails. Every time I cycle the trail I get at least one question/comment, especially at the stops. And it’s interesting how the other ebike owners gather and talk about their bikes.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
My very limited and recent experience with e-bike purchasing—your mileage may vary:

Knew nothing about e-bikes. Started researching Rad Rover. Well, Bolton Bikes says they misrepresent their 750w BAFANG hub. Research Bolton Bikes. Learn about mid-drives and why hub motors aren’t as good. Research about mid-drives. Most USA offerings are 250watts and 350watts, no throttle. Research bikes with the m620. Find a new level of bikes, but at around twice the price. Ok…I get that. If I am going to spend $1500 on an ‘ok’ bike, might as well spend $3000-$4000 on a ‘better’ bike. I’m totally fine with that. You get what you pay for.

Start researching the m620. Few USA companies offer this motor in their stores so hard to actually “see” one or try it out. If you want one, have to blind buy a bike and HOPE it’s what you want and there is no damage or issues. If there is, contact the company, hope they send the part/fix so you can ride your new bike two weeks after you got the box.

Email some companies. Some companies feature pages don’t match their specs pages. Email a bunch of times for clarifications. No, slow or incomplete response. Responses given AFTER their pre-sales. So miss out on a bike after information given. Next pre-sale in the fall.

Few, if any, seem to have actual stock, basically Asian group buys that you have to plop down $2500-$4000 to reserve a slot with most requiring 10% cancel fee. Most pre-sales deliver several weeks or months in the future. Very difficult to drop $3000 sight unseen on an item with missing or incorrect information. If you put in a pre-order and later find out some information is inaccurate…you are out hundreds of dollars (10% restocking fee) because you find out the bike you “bought” is not the bike that was “sold”. Ok…that gives one pause to be sure. Or you decide on a bike, pre-order and like all tech…someone offers a better one two weeks later. Well that’s no fun either.

Learn about a FREY BIKE…good price, good components. Month or longer shipping. No North American support. Not to mention other difficulties with expensive overseas purchases.

Continue researching m620’s. Find a bike in USA. Ask about battery sourcing. They use a proprietary battery, so no buying aftermarket. Refuse to discuss their battery system. Then just recently…read the m620 has “issues”: bumps, clunks, inconsistent PAS, power efficiencies, odd throttling, etc. and that can only be addressed by another company offering $1300 upgrades and $6000+ e-bikes!

Pretty shocking to go from $1500 to $6000 in three weeks time to find that “perfect” e-bike with enough features/components to future proof it (I’ll only ever buy one, I can’t afford to fill my garage with them). I don’t even mind dropping that kind of cash if one could actually hit that sweet spot and not be frightened of the process, outcome or making a very expensive mistake with little or no recourse for satisfaction. Some REFUND policies say the bike has to be “unused”. Does that mean I can’t open the box? Assemble it and sit on it? Push down on the throttle? Ride it around the block for ten minutes? Not to mention there is something kind of “off” about paying used car prices for a bike no matter how fancy it is. I am not rich.

This is just my brief experience. The issues I mention are perhaps my problem with the process. I am sure others have had better, more satisfying experiences and are not bothered by the issues I have encountered or described. That’s fine and I admire their courage to take those issues head on. Browsing the forums and reading the comments is very helpful!

P.S. I just received an email from another company as I was writing this. I asked eight direct questions (yes or no) about their bike and not one of them was answered. I will say the writer was pleasant and friendly, but completely ignored my simple questions and this was a $4000 bike. I get that right now it’s a sellers’ market and no one needs my business, but jeesh…
If you are anywhere near Madison.WI, you might want to consider taking a look at Crazy Lenny's. He has quite a bit of selections and one of the largest showrooms I have ever seen. A good healthy start IMHO! Happy shopping!
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
My very limited and recent experience with e-bike purchasing—your mileage may vary:

Knew nothing about e-bikes. Started researching Rad Rover. Well, Bolton Bikes says they misrepresent their 750w BAFANG hub. Research Bolton Bikes. Learn about mid-drives and why hub motors aren’t as good. Research about mid-drives. Most USA offerings are 250watts and 350watts, no throttle.
Most mid-drives use 'nominal' power ratings for Euro reg compliance. The actual peak power output is often over 2x the nominal rating. My ebike has a 250 W rated mid-drive. Tested output peaks at 550W.

mceclip10.png

My ebike has the Specialized 1.3 mid-dive motor.

There are lots of opinions re throttles. My first DIY ebike conversion had a throttle. My replacement Ebike does not. It has torque and cadence sensors that, combined with good software, make a throttle un-necessary for me. YRMV...😎
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Yep. Call Crazy Lenny in Madison, make an appointment, and go test ride some of his bikes, There's a city bike path behind his shop, Bring a vehicle that can bring your bike home. It's hard not to buy one,

In the end, it's just a bike with an electric motor. No need to overthink it, or drop big bucks on them.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
I purchased all 3 of my bikes from CL. Some were purchased sight unseen. (made a deal I could not refuse). They all are performing to my expectations. As stated, be prepared to have your vehicle ready to transport 1 or even 2 back home if at all possible. He and his staff know how to sell E-bikes from A to Z.
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
For what it's worth, I took a little different approach. I figured that with all the aftermarket options available, I could take a bike that had proven "unsatisfactory" (for just about ANY reason!) and modify about anything I needed to make it right pretty inexpensively, with the exception being the frame.

I now ride a very modified Rad City that I absolutely love. About the only thing that's still OEM is the frame, the battery, and the front wheel! Total cost still nothing near what a comparable bike might cost (IF I could find one).

This is coming from a very active DIY'er, so your mileage may differ! -Al
Not trying to start another hub vs mid discussion, just to note that hub bikes are easier to modify than mid-drive bikes. They are modular.
You have a "motorised" wheel that you can replace in its entirety - with a different motor already laced in, with no more mechanical work than if it were a non-powered wheel. More tedious and slightly cheaper option would be buying a new motor and lacing it in.
Controller is a separate module, various displays are available if you know what you're doing. Bolton have made it easier for RAD owners willing to upgrade, offering both controller and (very versatile) display for not much money.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Not trying to start another hub vs mid discussion, just to note that hub bikes are easier to modify than mid-drive bikes. They are modular.
You have a "motorised" wheel that you can replace in its entirety - with a different motor already laced in, with no more mechanical work than if it were a non-powered wheel. More tedious and slightly cheaper option would be buying a new motor and lacing it in.
Controller is a separate module, various displays are available if you know what you're doing. Bolton have made it easier for RAD owners willing to upgrade, offering both controller and (very versatile) display for not much money.

Good point as well. I have little experience with the mid drives, but it does seem like there are Bafang mid drive fans that are leaning on them a bit for increased performance too ......
 

Coolbob

Member
@Man Without Shadow your Ebike journey sounds a lot like mine. There are lots of Ebike companies out there and the choices are overwhelming. Many of the companies didn’t exist a few years ago and are based thousands of miles away.

I may have missed out on a bargain, but for my first Ebike I decided to narrow my search to well known bike manufacturers. I knew that way I would get a warranty and local support.

I called around and found a few Ebikes in stock at bike stores within an hours drive so I made the rounds and got to sample a few mid-drive and hub-drive bikes.

The Giant/Momentum bikes were my favorites, but no one had the model I wanted in stock. Giant only ships to their stores, so I ordered my bike on-line and it was delivered to the store and assembled in less than a week.

IMHO there’s more to ‘value’ than getting the lowest price.
 

Lantley

Member
I ran into the OP's (original posters) erratic shopping experience as well.
I did not feel the comfortable buying a $3-4K ebike and hope things eventually worked out.
I also visited a couple of LBS who had 1 or 2 bike available for a test ride, however they did not have time for me either. They had more of a take it or leave it approach.
Eventually I stumbled across Pedego with their dedicated dealer network and my issues were solved. Pedego has a completive assortment of Ebikes.
But more importantly they have a dedicated network of dealers that can provide an adult buying experience that does not involve crossing your fingers and praying.
I have read of several brands that appear to build a better bike, however they simply don't have a reliable way to distribute and support their products.
If you don't want a circus buying experience consider the Pedego nationwide dedicated dealer network. I am not affiliated with Pedego I am merely a customer who recently went through the Ebike buying maze and discovered Pedego.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Murray, I think the OP bought an Ultra Eagle or something like it, a fast bafang mid drive.