Online companies vs the Established bike manufacturers

ebikerr

Member
Region
USA
I have been looking at e-bikes in the 3000-4000 range.
Requirements are mid drive, torque sensor, front suspension and atleast a 500W motor with 20+ mile range on full assist. Throttle nice to have but not a bust.

While looking at the reviews on EBR, I see that ebikes fall into 2 categories as far as manufacturers are concerned.
Online or new companies like Biktrix, Dost, Prodigy etc.,
Established bike manufactures like Canondale, Specialized, Trek, Giant, Gazelle etc.,

The bike which costs 3000-3500$ from the online folks, a similar bike (but with slightly better specs) costs 4000-4500$ or even 5000$ from the established bike companies.

So I am wondering what are the pros and cons for going with the new kids on the block (most of which are in Canada) vs somebody who has a local presence via dealers and support network

Some of the pros-cons I could think of are

Established companies
  • Dealer network to test drive and actually see and feel the stuff
  • Warranty support - how do you even get warranty on a faulty motor from the online chaps. Ship the motor to canada? Try DIY repairs based on their instructions
  • Bosch/Brose more common
  • Easier to get commuter spec (vs Fat tire spec)
  • Lighter bikes
New kids
  • Lower price
  • More powerful motors and bigger batteries too
  • New technology at lower price point eg CVT
  • Passionate bike builders - its not a big corp starting to build bikes but passionate individuals in a startup

So just wondering which way to go. I feel a good compromise would be to go with a california manufacturer like Gazelle so you get kind of best of both worlds. But stuff biktrix and prodigy put out at the price points is so damn nice. Very confused.

What did you choose? And Why? Looking to hear some thoughts from the community as well the hosts!
 

Roamers

Active Member
Region
USA
The biggest reasons I went with "big boys" (Gazelle) are for local dealer support and a fairly reasonable assurance of reliability since they are backed by design and test groups and decent warranty.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I'n not spending $3000-4000, but if I were, it would go to the established manufacturer, not some passionate guy who couldn't handle normal business disruptions, growth, etc, and went bankrupt.
 

theemartymac

Well-Known Member
Dealing with a local shop or major manufacturer almost guarantees you will get service. Some local shops won't touch mail-order bikes, or ebikes they didn't sell. Worth asking around your area if that is a concern to you.. You'll occasionally hear frustrating stories on here from folks who have to drive 3-4 hours to get a service, update, or warranty repair. Not as big a deal if you are very techie and comfortable with all aspects of bike repair, and you can then just ship the electrical parts. Obviously you won't get detailed setup and/or tuning at delivery with a mail-order retailer, so you had better be confident with basic maintenance and setup.

Mail order won't likely include any software or firmware updates or support other than what you can do yourself. Again, how saavy are you?

And a brand name 'may' include better components at the higher price point, and often a more refined final product. You really do have to scrutinize the spec sheet on mail order bikes to make sure you aren't over paying for a given component set, and compare to the brand names. There are definitely exceptional deals to be had in that category if you can stomach the risk of online shopping and shipping. Many, many happy folks have gone that route with good results - some have horror stories. if you are risk adverse, or skill limited, you would likely be far better off sticking to your local shop or a major retailer.
 
Last edited:

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I'm an active DIY'er. Pretty comfortable working on about anything, so doing all my own work on my bikes is a given. I am completely turned off if I am forced to take a bike back to the dealer. Then there's proprietary parts vs. over the counter parts available everywhere (like Amazon for instance). Proprietary will demand you go to a dealer, and because you can't shop for this part on the open market, you will nearly always pay double what an over the counter part sells for, IF they are even available.

Clearly the DIY route isn't for everyone. It IS a call you need to make early on. Some are lucky to have easy access to shops willing to work on consumer direct bikes. Many more are victims of dealers with the "we won't work on it if we didn't sell it" attitude/logic.

You mentioned Biktrix. In that vein, with a much better selection of conventional (not fat) bikes, have a look at the Rize Bikes line up. Pretty good if bucks spent for bang received is a priority.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
I have been looking at e-bikes in the 3000-4000 range.
Requirements are mid drive, torque sensor, front suspension and atleast a 500W motor with 20+ mile range on full assist. Throttle nice to have but not a bust.

While looking at the reviews on EBR, I see that ebikes fall into 2 categories as far as manufacturers are concerned.
Online or new companies like Biktrix, Dost, Prodigy etc.,
Established bike manufactures like Canondale, Specialized, Trek, Giant, Gazelle etc.,

The bike which costs 3000-3500$ from the online folks, a similar bike (but with slightly better specs) costs 4000-4500$ or even 5000$ from the established bike companies.

So I am wondering what are the pros and cons for going with the new kids on the block (most of which are in Canada) vs somebody who has a local presence via dealers and support network

Some of the pros-cons I could think of are

Established companies
  • Dealer network to test drive and actually see and feel the stuff
  • Warranty support - how do you even get warranty on a faulty motor from the online chaps. Ship the motor to canada? Try DIY repairs based on their instructions
  • Bosch/Brose more common
  • Easier to get commuter spec (vs Fat tire spec)
  • Lighter bikes
New kids
  • Lower price
  • More powerful motors and bigger batteries too
  • New technology at lower price point eg CVT
  • Passionate bike builders - its not a big corp starting to build bikes but passionate individuals in a startup

So just wondering which way to go. I feel a good compromise would be to go with a california manufacturer like Gazelle so you get kind of best of both worlds. But stuff biktrix and prodigy put out at the price points is so damn nice. Very confused.

What did you choose? And Why? Looking to hear some thoughts from the community as well the hosts!
Gazelle is a Dutch manufacture, not from California.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I would (jokingly) say buying from an established brand lets you not carry a multimeter on your rides :)
And seriously? Solid warranty, local service and repair.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I'll echo exactly what @AHicks said. I build my own. But I've got the experience in the 'e' part and the 'bike' part, so there are few mysteries, and I have a workshop with proper tools to carry out my evil plans. Some of the Facebook DIY 'builder' groups I belong to are an absolute horror show.

I see three ways to go here:
  1. Do your research and buy a name brand. This is a max cost proposition and as noted above, you'll be paying top dollar and more. In some cases (*cough*Bosch*cough*) the manufacturer will be so restrictive as to require dealer visits to reprogram your motor if you change a (approved only!) chainring size. It can get that bad, so before you bbuy hang out at some user groups and see how dealer service is handled. If all you want to do is ride the bike and let everything else be the shop's problem, this is your path.
  2. Buy an online brand. Save a couple thousand bucks and probably save more over time as you replace parts at market value rather than name brand markup. Expect this to be your entree into ebike maintenance as it will be best for you to do your own work (or required if a warranted part needs replacement: you are the shop mechanic who will be replacing the supplied part). This can be a gateway drug into the last option:
  3. Build your own. As noted... this is not for everyone.
I have 4 parts written of a new series entitled "How To Build An Ebike From Scratch". This comes up so often, and I have never seen an attempt to cover the whole process from use-case planning to assembly to tidying up build mistakes afterwards, I am using my most recent build as the subject bike to describe project management, the thought process behind frame choice, parts acquisition, assembly, tools... everything. I'm leaving with the bike for the Grand Canyon Monday morning and plan rides around the South Rim, lots of pics and should post up the completed installments when I get back last week in April.

Its this bike, which is still a little rough in appearance in the pics I have up so far.

 

ebikerr

Member
Region
USA
Thanks everyone. I agree Online brands are cheaper, but the price difference is about 600-700$ now, not 2000. A good biktrik mid drive is about 3500. 4200 gets you the Canondale neo X2 is 4100$
Sure Biktrix has the 100W motor, but the Cannondale is lighter and bosch performance line is no slouch and quality is quite good
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Thanks everyone. I agree Online brands are cheaper, but the price difference is about 600-700$ now, not 2000. A good biktrik mid drive is about 3500. 4200 gets you the Canondale neo X2 is 4100$
Sure Biktrix has the 100W motor, but the Cannondale is lighter and bosch performance line is no slouch and quality is quite good
You haven't mentioned which approach you prefer when it comes to assembly or service, DIY vs. take it to the dealer? That's a big deal, and without that info/decision at hand, it's hard for others to contribute anything useful.....
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
I’m a kit fan as well. Ready made bikes lock me out of doing my own service. The putz will blather on about superiority but can’t sort s*it from Shinola. If you have a favorite fits great bike Grin and Bafang are good choices, these days I don’t need a mid so eBikes.ca is my direction. Sadly controllers are all out of stock.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I would (jokingly) say buying from an established brand lets you not carry a multimeter on your rides :)
And seriously? Solid warranty, local service and repair.
Assuming you're OK with being forced to have a dealer service the bike under warranty, that same dealer has a license to steal after your warranty.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I’m a kit fan as well. Ready made bikes lock me out of doing my own service. The putz will blather on about superiority but can’t sort s*it from Shinola. If you have a favorite fits great bike Grin and Bafang are good choices, these days I don’t need a mid so eBikes.ca is my direction. Sadly controllers are all out of stock.
That's not true at all. ALL ready made bikes DO NOT lock you out of doing your own service.

Nothing wrong with kit building if you have the patience, but I prefer to find a "ready made" that's close/checks most of my boxes, then make any necessary mods to check the rest of them...

Point being there's often more than one way to reach the same objective.....
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
Assuming you're OK with being forced to have a dealer service the bike under warranty, that same dealer has a license to steal after your warranty.
the horror of getting a problem taken care of for free man I have suffered so much from that. the horror bosch replacing my motor for free after the warranty was up the injustice of that was just beyond words.
 
Last edited:

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Jeebus you like to split hairs(definition)
Ready many ready made bikes lock me out of doing my own service.
And more everyday. Including your Bafang motors.

ALL is yo choice of words.

Isn’t that you always hunting for ways to program Bafang’s newest motors?
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Y. O.
the horror of getting a problem taken care of for free man I have suffered so much from that. the horror bosch replacing my motor for free after the warranty was up the injustice of that was just beyond words.
You remind me of gambler's that only talk about the times they win... They never mention the times they lost and paid out the ass which are ten fold.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Jeebus you like to split hairs(definition)
Ready many ready made bikes lock me out of doing my own service.
And more everyday. Including your Bafang motors.

ALL is yo choice of words.

Isn’t that you always hunting for ways to program Bafang’s newest motors?
It was YOUR choice of words Tom. You made a blanket statement, and though it may fit some "ready made" bikes, it's sure as hell not true for all "ready made" bikes.

On the bold ("Isn’t that you always hunting for ways to program Bafang’s newest motors?"), Really? You're arguing like a woman loosing an argument. Rather than admit she was wrong, she's always going to change the subject, and most often with something totally not relevant to the current conversation, and very likely a topic chosen from ancient history.

What in the world has that got to do with the topic at hand?

Dealers, AND manf's don't have any better idea of how to program a CANbus controller than you or I - and that's assuming they even cared enough to look into it.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
You remind me of gambler's that only talk about the times they win... They never mention the times they lost and paid out the ass which are ten fold.
well so far I have not paid out the ass. but what happens when a bafang motor croaks ? you pay out the ass for a new one. because warranties dont really work with it. I always hear about having to replace parts out of pocket on home made bikes.