Price vs. Cost: How to buy intelligently

When making my most recent ebike purchase, I...

  • Bought on-line (bike shop, Amazon, distributor, manufacturer, etc.)

  • Bought directly from a bricks 'n motor bike store

  • Bought used from a private source or in some other fashion than above


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Jack Tyler

Active Member
EBR is my principal research tool as I determine which ebike best suits my needs. Like many before me, I'm winnowing a broad selection down to a handful, digging thru many of this community's reviews (and elsewhere), and doing the comparison spreadsheet thing to keep my head screwed on straight. I'll be buying from a small Montana city (50,000) with no significant ebike shop presence for hundreds of miles, altho' biking itself is hugely popular here. And the ebike buyer reviews (here and elsewhere) report as many build quality issues, angst and general frustration as they do praise, perhaps even moreso. So my basic plan - no surprise - is to select one of the local bike shops to help me with my final selection (frame size, components, etc.) and then help with the set-up and ongoing maintenance. That leaves one big, empty hole in my research: How to buy wisely. Some bikes sell for as low as 50% of their MSRP, apparently due to a mix of seasonal changes, new product introductions, direct buy arrangements, etc. As one of many examples, I just yesterday saw a DB Trace EXC listed on REI's website for 25% of it's prior sale price, which was below its original retail price.

So...can you folks offer some tips on how to shop, or where to shop, or when to shop? (FYI an Emotion Evo or perhaps Volton Alation model - if I can resolve Volton's build quality reports- are examples of what' I'm considering). Should I just cherry pick 4 or 5 of the major city ebike stores and haunt their websites for sales? I'd welcome hearing comments about ebike shopping tactics. I'm happy to pay a fair price. Based on what I'm reading, I'd feel a bit like a punter if I paid MSRP. Thoughts?

Jack
 

Nirmala

Active Member
I bought bikes online for my wife and myself, and while it has ultimately worked out for us, it has been a challenge at times due to minor and major problems that showed up. Fortunately, I am pretty familiar with working on bicycles, so I was able to deal with everything. As long as the company you deal with is willing to honor their warranty, it could be a way to go, since you do not have a ebike shop near you.

Another idea is to see if any of the bike shops near you do carry one of the major bicycle manufacturers who also make ebikes, like Trek or Specialized. If they are a general dealer for Trek, maybe they would be more willing and able to help you when a problem arises with a Trek ebike.

Finally, I would shop around for a used ebike. That would seem to be another way to save a lot on your purchase.
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nirmala. I do think that finding the right shop in my small city is one key to success. Fortunately, Bozeman has 15,000 university students and I'll bet 90% of the city's population owns and rides a bike!

Jack
 

David1

Active Member
I know what you mean by searching . I did the the same looking reading. Months of it! If you can travel and get to the ebike demo tour next yr. traveling the country this will focus your choice ( mid-drive or hub) you know what I mean. That's what I'm doing for my Mt. Bike. edu. I scored on my road bike St2. 2015 , I'm hoping to do the same for my trail. I like your way of speaking with shops prior to deciding, getting their input. Enjoy the search.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nirmala. I do think that finding the right shop in my small city is one key to success. Fortunately, Bozeman has 15,000 university students and I'll bet 90% of the city's population owns and rides a bike!

Jack


Most "normal" bike shops don't want anything to do with your E bike. Won't touch anything to do with the motor. But more the attitude, like you have leprosy at the "hard core" bike shops.
If they don't sell and service that E bike, they're "probably" not going to be of much use.
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
MLB, I guess you've found that to be generally true in your experience. I'll be surprised if that's my universal experience when visiting the Bozeman shops, for a variety of reasons including economic and cultural. Either way, innocent until proven guilty I'm thinking. <s>
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
MLB, I guess you've found that to be generally true in your experience. I'll be surprised if that's my universal experience when visiting the Bozeman shops, for a variety of reasons including economic and cultural. Either way, innocent until proven guilty I'm thinking. <s>
Hi Jack,

I hope you find good help at your LBS for your ebike needs, but MLB isn't far from the truth. I live in very rural Pennsylvania and I think it's one of the friendliest places anywhere, that includes the three local bike shops. All the shops are a 20 mile ride/drive from me and I've spent money at all three. None want anything to do with ebikes, 2 of the 3 thought they weren't legal in PA.

All are just as friendly as ever and will take my money, after all the economy has not been kind for many years and that's especially true in rural areas. One shop is a Specialized dealer and in the spring of 2014 when I was shopping for my first ebike, I wanted to see and ride a Turbo. I had purchased a bike there in 2013, so they knew I was a buyer and not just a looker. They nicely declined the request. When I asked; "don't you want to sell me a $4000 bike?" Their response was; "no, not that kind of bike".

Many traditional bike shops are still very dismissive of ebikes. Group rides from any of my local shops do not allow any ebikes, but will gladly accept me if I turn up on a traditional bike. I believe that's now and the tide will turn. It's still early days for ebikes in the US, hell spell check doesn't recognize it as a word... yet;)

A year ago I never saw another ebike anywhere in my area and I've met 4 ebike riders in the past 30 days! Time will sort it all out and LBS will move with the times or die. Fortunately for us here at EBR we have some very good ebike shops represented and I got a good deal very recently on my second ebike from @Crazy Lenny Ebikes. As for maintenance, I take care of all that stuff and always have. The kind of money I've spent in the last couple of years, the local bike shop would be kicking themselves if they knew.

If I were you I would consider calling one of the fine ebike dealers represented here on EBR.
Likely I've missed one or more, but I've seen these guys active here on EBR. Oh and I couldn't answer your poll because I met my dealer here, researched the bike I wanted and called the dealer I wanted to buy from. I will be posting a thread soon about my shopping, purchase and ride experience of my new bike.

Good luck with your search Jack! Just don't get too bogged down with the numbers, the numbers change so frequently with ebikes at present, that spreadsheet summations are rarely lasting. After riding my first ebike for a year and 6000 miles, my opinions changed completely.

JR
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
Well, sorry to hear such disappointing stories. Re: Bozeman, we shall see. But meanwhile, thanks for the suggested dealers, JR. In fact I've already dug into two of them, so I guess that means on heading off in the right direction.
 

David1

Active Member
Hey Jack, the link is electricbike-expo.com
1st Stop Tempe Arizona 3 day Wk. end. in January . I plan on attending Houstons, and learn about E-Mt.bikes. You want to see something sweet ,check out this beauty, and they will ship to USA. Heisenberg XF1. No wonder they can't keep ebikes from going off showroom floors with these available.I want to ride a belt drive mt.ebike. I road a chain drive that had serious clunking going on. Maybe it just needed adjustment.
 
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MLB

Well-Known Member
MLB, I guess you've found that to be generally true in your experience. I'll be surprised if that's my universal experience when visiting the Bozeman shops, for a variety of reasons including economic and cultural. Either way, innocent until proven guilty I'm thinking. <s>


I phrased that poorly. I didn't mean they all looked down their noses at E bikes. I think it's as much liability concerns and/or just not knowing anything about them and scared of screwing something up.

That said in their defense, I come to E bikes from 20 years on mostly recumbents and the attitudes are the same: "it's weird, it makes us uncomfortable because it's not "normal", make it go away"..................
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Big e-bike discounters do not support the industry. In fact, they help destroy it. Those dealers that ship outside of their local markets at huge discounts have a deleterious effect upon the breadth of the e-bike dealer network and of course the viability of the local dealer. I am guilty of buying a bike from a large discounter and I regret doing so....never again. I realize that most folks could care less about the well-being of their local dealers.
 

Nirmala

Active Member
Online retailing is changing so much in our world, and in most cases it is becoming harder and harder for brick and mortar stores to compete. However, after having a mixed experience from having purchased our ebikes online, I am not sure if ebikes are suitable for that kind of shopping. Fortunately, I know a bit about fixing bicycles, and the company we purchased from (Magnum) has been very good about dealing with the problems that have come up. Without both of those factors, it could have been a disaster.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Big e-bike discounters do not support the industry. In fact, they help destroy it. Those dealers that ship outside of their local markets at huge discounts have a deleterious effect upon the breadth of the e-bike dealer network and of course the viability of the local dealer. I am guilty of buying a bike from a large discounter and I regret doing so....never again. I realize that most folks could care less about the well-being of their local dealers.

Very broad brush stroke painting there. ;)

I spoke to all 3 of the LBS in my area and tested the only lines carried by the 1 shop that was interested. They are a Curry distributor but "not interested" in carrying Haibike........... so I bought from Crazy Larry who has done MORE to support and build the E bike industry than any 10 LBS you can name. Get real dude. This is 2015.
Anybody with a brain cares about and supports local businesses.
When they have NO interest then you can go elsewhere with no guilt.
WHen the big online retailer is getting bikes to people in areas with no LBS or no LBS interested. then what??????????????????
CL offers to FLY you to Wisc to test ride if you are interested.
Not supporting the industry...........

What a silly thing to say
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Very broad brush stroke painting there. ;)

I spoke to all 3 of the LBS in my area and tested the only lines carried by the 1 shop that was interested. They are a Curry distributor but "not interested" in carrying Haibike........... so I bought from Crazy Larry who has done MORE to support and build the E bike industry than any 10 LBS you can name. Get real dude. This is 2015.
Anybody with a brain cares about and supports local businesses.
When they have NO interest then you can go elsewhere with no guilt.
WHen the big online retailer is getting bikes to people in areas with no LBS or no LBS interested. then what??????????????????
CL offers to FLY you to Wisc to test ride if you are interested.
Not supporting the industry...........

What a silly thing to say
Thank you for making my point!
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Big e-bike discounters do not support the industry. In fact, they help destroy it. Those dealers that ship outside of their local markets at huge discounts have a deleterious effect upon the breadth of the e-bike dealer network and of course the viability of the local dealer. I am guilty of buying a bike from a large discounter and I regret doing so....never again. I realize that most folks could care less about the well-being of their local dealers.
Many of us don't have the option to buy local, apparently you did and still do. I ask you who is hurting the local bike shop, the person who has local options and still chooses to buy from out of state, or the person that tries to buy local and can't? Are you looking to see less sales in the U.S.? That would mean less offerings and much higher prices. In 2014 there were 100k ebikes sold in the U.S. (1.1 mil. in Europe), that tells you few bike riders here (maybe half) have access to local ebike sellers. More ebikes on U.S. roads and trails educates the public and gives the fledgling U.S. ebike industry at least a chance at surviving and growing.
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Many of us don't have the option to buy local, apparently you did and still do. I ask you who is hurting the local bike shop, the person who has local options and still chooses to buy from out of state, or the person that tries to buy local and can't? Are you looking to see less sales in the U.S.? That would mean less offerings and much higher prices. In 2014 there were 100k ebikes sold in the U.S. (1.1 mil. in Europe), that tells you few bike riders here (maybe half) have access to local ebike sellers. More ebikes on U.S. roads and trails educates the public and gives the fledgling U.S. ebike industry at least a chance at surviving and growing.
Well, of course, if you do not have a local retailer you have to explore other options. Very young nascent markets that experience early price whoring and limited distribution usually fail. Broad based distribution equals broad based sales. By removing the necessary margin to survive, a local bike dealer would be crazy to stock and sell e-bikes, knowing that the vendors do not provide some level of pricing integrity.

If you want more ebike sales (and we all do) there are three things that need to happen: a: broader and easier availability and b: proactive marketing to reach the non-cycling community, and c: pricing integrity. A few online discounters will never impact the overall viability of the e-bike market and they cause the local dealers who may test e-bike flooring to stay away.

Specialized has achieved success partly because they ferociously protect dealer margins and M.A.P. pricing.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
It's hard for me to love the corporate side of things, notably Accell. Yes, they want their dealers to succeed. But their marketing is often dishonest (a throttle can be a pedal assist), and they tie their marketing to their lobbying. The California ebike bill was written by them. It reflects their interests.

I find the people who sell for conversion, the kit vendors, much more to my liking. In general, they offer a way to make a regular bike an ebike. Whether this is a good, bad, or indifferent way to go is just personal preference. I like it. The kit vendors offer limited options, but they are well known and understood. They offer much better choices on batteries, and defend their construction methods.

In the kit world, you have full service companies like Lectric Cycles. You have real discounters like Luna Cycle. You have highly respected industry icons like Paul and Justin. You have folk hero journos like Karl at Fatbike. I don't know who the heck runs these corporations, what they stand for, why they think I would want their products (anymore). They just don't seem like 'real' people.

I can respect the people who like the corporate side of things, up to a point. I wish I had a sense they could "do" something for me. I guess I don't see the 'progress' (so much) in the fancier stuff. A lot of what they do, like mid-drives, still seems a bit half baked.

I love ebikes. I don't thing 'they' have ever sold the concept. I guess discussions like this are, to some extent, why it's never 'worked out'. Wall Street doesn't own ebikes, right?