Seeking advise on a (mostly) grocery run economical ebike for ebike newbie (who rides a regular bike 2K miles a year). Steep hills involved daily.

Artbarton

New Member
Hi all, I am a new member,and this is my real name (Art Barton). I tried out an Aventon Level bike last week at a dealer, and this was my first ride on an ebike. My primary objective in getting an ebike is to drive less when buying groceries or when going out for coffee without the hassle and extra sweat of taking out a regular bike every time I skip the car. I should explain that I am both an avid road cyclist, who has pedaled (without a motor) over 60,000 miles since I turned 40 years old, and also now definitely a Senior, as I will turn 70 in December. So my needs are changing. And I am looking for some experienced advise on choosing an ebike.

I should note I live on an extremely steep coastal California hill, "only" about 170 feet up from the main road, but that's the equal of 17 stories of a building to cycle up in about 400 yards. Which I do all the time on my regular bike, but mostly without groceries in tow. Also there are numerous long and sometimes steep hills along my usual grocery shopping routes, not just the steep hill I live on. However this is a place with no snow or ice where it only rains notably from late November through early April, so this ebike shopping usage would be very regular, even when accounting for my ongoing recreational road biking.

So I want to pack 25-35 pounds of groceries in panniers on a regular basis. And FYI, while my Trader Joes run may be only 17 miles round trip, it involves about 1200 vertical feet total. So I am looking for an ebike that is optimal for that, assuming I pedal more than most ebikers would, and which does not require a lot of mechanical skills to keep going, as I do only the basic bike maintenance on my own.

Note I found 16-17 MPH plenty fast on my test ride of the Aventon for my intended purpose.

And I'm think I'm in the right ballpark of price/performance with either the Aventon Level or the Aventon Pace 500, or perhaps the new REI Co-op basic bike https://www.rei.com/product/172495/co-op-cycles-cty-e21-electric-bike. But I also want a bike that will last at least 6 to 7 years of regular (125 trips a year or more) usage, assuming some replacement of chains, cassettes, etc would be necessary. .

So I'm looking for advise on whether that regular usage goal is realistic with those roughly $1400-1800 bikes I'm looking at, given their motor quality?

Also I'm looking for advise on whether front shocks make a big difference in ride comfort for my intended use?

Finally I have a 2nd electric bike envisioned use. There are times when i want to go into our amazingly beautiful mountain reservoir system without having to climb (and descend) 3500 vertical feet on my own power. And that ride is about 45 miles round trip.

Is that a realistic ride in terms of range and hill climbing ability for either of those Aventon bikes, or the new REI one, or similarly priced ebikes for relatively light-weight person, assuming I will pedal a lot more than your average e-biker up and down hills, and also assuming I use the lowest speed/lowest pedal assist mode on all the uphill parts?

Thanks all for answering
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
a mid drive will give your torque and is a lot range friendly. plus since you ride regularity its going to feel like a regular bike but will just be easier.
 
Hi all, I am a new member,and this is my real name (Art Barton). I tried out an Aventon Level bike last week at a dealer, and this was my first ride on an ebike. My primary objective in getting an ebike is to drive less when buying groceries or when going out for coffee without the hassle and extra sweat of taking out a regular bike every time I skip the car. I should explain that I am both an avid road cyclist, who has pedaled (without a motor) over 60,000 miles since I turned 40 years old, and also now definitely a Senior, as I will turn 70 in December. So my needs are changing. And I am looking for some experienced advise on choosing an ebike.

I should note I live on an extremely steep coastal California hill, "only" about 170 feet up from the main road, but that's the equal of 17 stories of a building to cycle up in about 400 yards. Which I do all the time on my regular bike, but mostly without groceries in tow. Also there are numerous long and sometimes steep hills along my usual grocery shopping routes, not just the steep hill I live on. However this is a place with no snow or ice where it only rains notably from late November through early April, so this ebike shopping usage would be very regular, even when accounting for my ongoing recreational road biking.

So I want to pack 25-35 pounds of groceries in panniers on a regular basis. And FYI, while my Trader Joes run may be only 17 miles round trip, it involves about 1200 vertical feet total. So I am looking for an ebike that is optimal for that, assuming I pedal more than most ebikers would, and which does not require a lot of mechanical skills to keep going, as I do only the basic bike maintenance on my own.

Note I found 16-17 MPH plenty fast on my test ride of the Aventon for my intended purpose.

And I'm think I'm in the right ballpark of price/performance with either the Aventon Level or the Aventon Pace 500, or perhaps the new REI Co-op basic bike https://www.rei.com/product/172495/co-op-cycles-cty-e21-electric-bike. But I also want a bike that will last at least 6 to 7 years of regular (125 trips a year or more) usage, assuming some replacement of chains, cassettes, etc would be necessary. .

So I'm looking for advise on whether that regular usage goal is realistic with those roughly $1400-1800 bikes I'm looking at, given their motor quality?

Also I'm looking for advise on whether front shocks make a big difference in ride comfort for my intended use?

Finally I have a 2nd electric bike envisioned use. There are times when i want to go into our amazingly beautiful mountain reservoir system without having to climb (and descend) 3500 vertical feet on my own power. And that ride is about 45 miles round trip.

Is that a realistic ride in terms of range and hill climbing ability for either of those Aventon bikes, or the new REI one, or similarly priced ebikes for relatively light-weight person, assuming I will pedal a lot more than your average e-biker up and down hills, and also assuming I use the lowest speed/lowest pedal assist mode on all the uphill parts?

Thanks all for answering
A few things stood out to me:

1. If you're used to a road bike, and still want a similar feel, I wouldn't get the Aventon. It has a cadence sensor (unless I'm mistaken), so the assist is based strictly on how fast your cranks are moving. This is fun for a while, but you may begin to feel "disconnected" from the power output after some longer rides. I'd suggest finding something with a torque and cadence sensor.

2. If you want the bike to last 6 or 7 years, be very careful about the type of battery and motor system the bike is equipped with. You'll definitely be replacing the battery in that time period, and don't want to get stuck with a proprietary system and limited options.

3. It'll be easier to change a flat rear tire on a mid-drive system, but don't let that completely rule out hub drives. Some of them are tuned very well and are capable climbers, contrary to what you may hear.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
A few things stood out to me:

1. If you're used to a road bike, and still want a similar feel, I wouldn't get the Aventon. It has a cadence sensor (unless I'm mistaken), so the assist is based strictly on how fast your cranks are moving. This is fun for a while, but you may begin to feel "disconnected" from the power output after some longer rides. I'd suggest finding something with a torque and cadence sensor.

2. If you want the bike to last 6 or 7 years, be very careful about the type of battery and motor system the bike is equipped with. You'll definitely be replacing the battery in that time period, and don't want to get stuck with a proprietary system and limited options.

3. It'll be easier to change a flat rear tire on a mid-drive system, but don't let that completely rule out hub drives. Some of them are tuned very well and are capable climbers, contrary to what you may hear.
bosch is the only company that will support the bike in that time frame. bu that jacks up the cost a bit. bulls has some sales going on to check out it would cost a little more but it would be a great bike and a lot more power https://www.cynergyebikes.com/Bulls-EBikes-Fall-Super-Sale-s/224.htm
 

Artbarton

New Member
Thanks for the quick replies and advisories, Mike and FF Doggie. I did notice it was a wierd feeling the way the Aventon engine suddenly engaged going up hills, and maybe that was a function of candence sensor, though of course I have no frame of reference for that new experience besides my skinny-legs powering a much lighter bike. What are some examples of mid-drive ebikes with Torque and Cadence sensors that are economically priced and are sold through dealers?
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
And I'm think I'm in the right ballpark of price/performance with either the Aventon Level or the Aventon Pace 500, or perhaps the new REI Co-op basic bike https://www.rei.com/product/172495/co-op-cycles-cty-e21-electric-bike. But I also want a bike that will last at least 6 to 7 years of regular (125 trips a year or more) usage, assuming some replacement of chains, cassettes, etc would be necessary. .

So I'm looking for advise on whether that regular usage goal is realistic with those roughly $1400-1800 bikes I'm looking at, given their motor quality?
Also I'm looking for advise on whether front shocks make a big difference in ride comfort for my intended use?
Finally I have a 2nd electric bike envisioned use. There are times when i want to go into our amazingly beautiful mountain reservoir system without having to climb (and descend) 3500 vertical feet on my own power. And that ride is about 45 miles round tripIs that a realistic ride in terms of range and hill climbing ability for either of those Aventon bikes, or the new REI one, or similarly priced ebikes for relatively light-weight person, assuming I will pedal a lot more than your average e-biker up and down hills, and also assuming I use the lowest speed/lowest pedal assist mode on all the uphill parts? Thanks all for answering
Based on your criteria, I would go with the REI City bike... a Shimano mid-drive for balance and climbing, front shocks, and a commuter-friendly rack and lights. ;)


1602539403601.png
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the quick replies and advisories, Mike and FF Doggie. I did notice it was a wierd feeling the way the Aventon engine suddenly engaged going up hills, and maybe that was a function of candence sensor, though of course I have no frame of reference for that new experience besides my skinny-legs powering a much lighter bike. What are some examples of mid-drive ebikes with Torque and Cadence sensors that are economically priced and are sold through dealers?
yes the cadence sensor just gives you power when you peddle. a torque sensor just helps the harder you peddle the more it helps but it just makes you feel stronger. when I test rode bikes and tried a hub drive I tried spinning at my usual 80rpms and the bike would just keep going faster till I hit the assist limit. that took care of hub drives right away.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Most of the people posting here want to divorce the rider from the pedaling experience. Ie bosch bafang & other mid drives that drag like anchors with the power off. I ride power off a lot of the time, a geared hub motor that doesn't drag power off. Then when the wind gets >10 mph in my face, I can maintain the same time over the same distance at the same heart rate by using electricity as required. Lots of wind these days, didn't used to happen from May to late September. I hated cadence PAS, too fast & too jerky, so I'm riding straight throttle control now.
Also If you're going to carry cargo, get a cargo bike. Most of the cheap ebikes have almost no frame behind the seat, and a set of baskets or a pannier shelf wags like a dog's tail connected to the seat post or a skinny frame with no mount for a rim brake. Wagging baskets rub the rear tire. Also, lifting the front tire with rear baskets led to my hitting my chin on the road 4 times in 5 years on MTBs & a cruiser. My cargo bike puts my weight on the front tire for adequate steering stability, cargo on the rear tire. The cargo shelf is welded up and doesn't waggle. No chin strike events on the bodaboda.
My bodaboda has about 6000 miles on it and i've worn out a fender, the dual leg kick stand, one chain, some brake shoes, and an aftermarket sun twist shifter that I broke the cable on. Also about 8 tires, the OEM road tires only lasted 700 miles before going flat. Kenda knobbies go about 2000 miles and I remove them before they go flat. I don't use slime or liners or any of that "no-flat" ****.
Other cargo bikes are xtracycle, radwagon, m2s, magnum, blix packa others, see the category. The envoy mongoose is non electric and about $700, can be converted with a front hub motor kit 17.5 ah for about $1000. that is what I did to my non-electric bodaboda, and when my first hubmotor wore out the gears at 4500 miles, it took me 1 afternoon to convert over to another motor I had salted away in the garage for that day. I'm still on the first battery.You see it mounted on the front for better balance, in an aluminum frame that has baffled potential thieves at the grocery store twice already. Screws were removed, but the wrong ones.
Radwagon is direct drive hubmotor which wastes stupid watthours on hills and is slow crossing the 6 lane hiway. also they have 34 complaints of loose spokes on known problems thread in the brand forum. I don't have spoke problems on the yubabike. The seatpost on the yuba is not compatible with sprung seatposts, wrong diameter.
Selle seats are more comfortable than the yuba oem seat, has rails like a brooks seat.
I carry up to 80 lb cargo, typically 40 lb for my weekly shopping trip. but I carry the supplies 30 miles out to my summer camp, so stability is important. My geared hubmotor will start 330 lb gross on a 15% grade, and maintain 20 if I hit that grade with some speed. My yuba panniers the velcro is getting useless, but the bottoms are holding out against all the tools & metal **** I carry in there.
Happy shopping and later riding.
 
Last edited:
I have both a hub drive cadence sensor bike and a mid drive torque/cadence sensor. I far prefer the mid drive with the torque sensor - it feels like a normal bike. I can leave it in one power setting for my entire ride (off road, tight singletrack with roots and rocks) and it feels like my non powered mountain bike, just easier to pedal.
The hub bike needs to have the power level adjusted a lot depending on the slope of the road. Also, for each power setting, it will go a certain speed regardless of whether I am barely pedaling or whether I am pushing as hard as I can. My effort, beyond just spinning the pedals lightly, makes no difference in my speed.
Do not concern yourself with the power ratings on the motors. My Brose equipped mtn bike can climb a hill so steep that I have a hard time keeping the front wheel on the ground.
You will probably see the argument for a hub bike that it will get you home with a broken chain. How often do you break a chain?
Be aware that the forks on the $1500 bikes are low quality. They might be better than a rigid fork, but not by much.
I would suggest you raise your price tag by another $1000 or so. Consider buying from a bike shop if you don't do maintenance or don't know when your bike is telling you it needs maintenance.
The REI bike, for the money, looks to be a very good bike. The Shimano motor is a little light on torque (which helps on hill climbing), but should give you the boost you need for getting home. It sounds like your legs are still pretty strong, so you don't need the bike to do ALL the work for you.
The highest quality/most natural feeling motors are from German or Japanese companies, in my opinion. Chinese motors have lots of power, but don't seem to control it well.
Just looked at your REI bike - its not the new one that I have seen in the last few weeks, but is similar. Looks good.
Have fun with your search. Now is the time of year that you can find a deal. Deals might get better by Nov., but stock will be even lower. What good is a deal if you can't buy it?
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Most of the people posting here want to divorce the rider from the pedaling experience. Ie bosch bafang & other mid drives that drag like anchors with the power off. I ride power off a lot of the time, a geared hub motor that doesn't drag power off. Then when the wind gets >10 mph in my face, I can maintain the same time over the same distance at the same heart rate by using electricity as required. Lots of wind these days, didn't used to happen from May to late September. I hated cadence PAS, too fast & too jerky, so I'm riding straight throttle control now.
Also If you're going to carry cargo, get a cargo bike. Most of the cheap ebikes have almost no frame behind the seat, and a set of baskets or a pannier shelf wags like a dog's tail connected to the seat post or a skinny frame with no mount for a rim brake. Wagging baskets rub the rear tire. Also, lifting the front tire with rear baskets led to my hitting my chin on the road 4 times in 5 years on MTBs & a cruiser. My cargo bike puts my weight on the front tire for adequate steering stability, cargo on the rear tire. The cargo shelf is welded up and doesn't waggle. No chin strike events on the bodaboda.
My bodaboda has about 6000 miles on it and i've worn out a fender, the dual leg kick stand, one chain, some brake shoes, and an aftermarket sun twist shifter that I broke the cable on. Also about 8 tires, the OEM road tires only lasted 700 miles before going flat. Kenda knobbies go about 2000 miles and I remove them before they go flat. I don't use slime or liners or any of that "no-flat" ****.
Other cargo bikes are xtracycle, radwagon, m2s, magnum, blix packa others, see the category. The envoy mongoose is non electric and about $700, can be converted with a front hub motor kit 17.5 ah for about $1000. that is what I did to my non-electric bodaboda, and when my first hubmotor wore out the gears at 4500 miles, it took me 1 afternoon to convert over to another motor I had salted away in the garage for that day. I'm still on the first battery.You see it mounted on the front for better balance, in an aluminum frame that has baffled potential thieves at the grocery store twice already. Screws were removed, but the wrong ones.
Radwagon is direct drive hubmotor which wastes stupid watthours on hills and is slow crossing the 6 lane hiway. also they have 34 complaints of loose spokes on known problems thread in the brand forum. I don't have spoke problems on the yubabike. The seatpost on the yuba is not compatible with sprung seatposts, wrong diameter.
Selle seats are more comfortable than the yuba oem seat, has rails like a brooks seat.
I carry up to 80 lb cargo, typically 40 lb for my weekly shopping trip. but I carry the supplies 30 miles out to my summer camp, so stability is important. My geared hubmotor will start 330 lb gross on a 15% grade, and maintain 20 if I hit that grade with some speed. My yuba panniers the velcro is getting useless, but the bottoms are holding out against all the tools & metal **** I carry in there.
Happy shopping and later riding.

Good stuff in your post... can you post a few photos of the Yuba for the rest of the EBR forum? Thanks. 😉
 

Artbarton

New Member
You rock!!
Thanks, and maybe so, but I rock a bit more slowly these days :).

One downside to my plan to get an e-bike I anticipate. I have this goal of hitting at least 2K miles a year, and note this year I've already hit it, which is the one upside to having little social activities in the time of Covid, though trust me, I'd prefer full options that distract me from being quite so regular on the riding such as local taverns with live music where I misbehave at least a little. Etc. But for next year what will the mileage mean if I cut back on my unpowered miles, and ride a lot of power-assisted miles?

Never mind, as long as one keeps pedaling, then one gets not exactly eternal youth, but at least good living, and a pretty slow resting pulse, for as long as possible. That much I can testify to.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Here is the bodaboda with both racks, but a rear hub DD motor. It has front geared hub motor now, a MAC12. I made a torque arm & painted it green, clamped to the fork 4" up. You see the front battery rack which evolved from a rack to carry 3 two liter bottles to a battery rack. The 17.5 ah battery is wedge shaped. The rear rack shown is for carrying a L78-15 pickup tire to town for replacement. An 18.5"x26" aluminum frame screwed on top of the yuba kiddie seat rack. Works on 6000 BTU air conditioner boxes, too. The seat shown is a schwinn, about the right shape but hideously uncomfortable. I'm using a Meagher sprung seat now, salvaged from a $15 bicycle from Salvation Army. The Selle Respiro Royale seat was about the same shape, but much too hard for my no-fat hips.
 

Attachments

  • FHD0032.JPG
    FHD0032.JPG
    740.7 KB · Views: 33

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Here is the bodaboda with both racks, but a rear hub DD motor. It has front geared hub motor now, a MAC12. I made a torque arm & painted it green, clamped to the fork 4" up. You see the front battery rack which evolved from a rack to carry 3 two liter bottles to a battery rack. The 17.5 ah battery is wedge shaped. The rear rack shown is for carrying a L78-15 pickup tire to town for replacement. An 18.5"x26" aluminum frame screwed on top of the yuba kiddie seat rack. Works on 6000 BTU air conditioner boxes, too. The seat shown is a schwinn, about the right shape but hideously uncomfortable. I'm using a Meagher sprung seat now, salvaged from a $15 bicycle from Salvation Army. The Selle Respiro Royale seat was about the same shape, but much too hard for my no-fat hips.

That rig is a cargo monster... you could call it the Hulk! ;)

1602614632745.png
 

arcom

Active Member
1602615791714.png

 

Artbarton

New Member
I have both a hub drive cadence sensor bike and a mid drive torque/cadence sensor. I far prefer the mid drive with the torque sensor - it feels like a normal bike. I can leave it in one power setting for my entire ride (off road, tight singletrack with roots and rocks) and it feels like my non powered mountain bike, just easier to pedal.
The hub bike needs to have the power level adjusted a lot depending on the slope of the road. Also, for each power setting, it will go a certain speed regardless of whether I am barely pedaling or whether I am pushing as hard as I can. My effort, beyond just spinning the pedals lightly, makes no difference in my speed.
Do not concern yourself with the power ratings on the motors. My Brose equipped mtn bike can climb a hill so steep that I have a hard time keeping the front wheel on the ground.
You will probably see the argument for a hub bike that it will get you home with a broken chain. How often do you break a chain?
Be aware that the forks on the $1500 bikes are low quality. They might be better than a rigid fork, but not by much.
I would suggest you raise your price tag by another $1000 or so. Consider buying from a bike shop if you don't do maintenance or don't know when your bike is telling you it needs maintenance.
The REI bike, for the money, looks to be a very good bike. The Shimano motor is a little light on torque (which helps on hill climbing), but should give you the boost you need for getting home. It sounds like your legs are still pretty strong, so you don't need the bike to do ALL the work for you.
The highest quality/most natural feeling motors are from German or Japanese companies, in my opinion. Chinese motors have lots of power, but don't seem to control it well.
Just looked at your REI bike - its not the new one that I have seen in the last few weeks, but is similar. Looks good.
Have fun with your search. Now is the time of year that you can find a deal. Deals might get better by Nov., but stock will be even lower. What good is a deal if you can't buy it?
Thanks Emotion-Pro, I appreciate the advise. Though I don't want to spend another $1k beyond what I'd planned, you've lead to me to attempt to find some models with torque sensors that maybe are around $2500. Do you know of any?

At very least, I do want to see if a torque sensor makes a big difference in the fun of it for me, because there will be some pleasure ebike rides along with the more frequent grocery runs.

And yes, i definitely do want to buy a model local dealers will service under warranty and long-term, due to those limited mechanical skills of mine. You are right there.
 
If you want to buy from a local store the best way forward would be to visit each store in person. Trek, Specialized, Cannondale and Giant are often found in most stores. Plus you could look for an REI store. If you change your mind about buying in store, the next places to shop for good quality bikes with mid-drive and torque sensors would be bikesdirect.com and Crazy Lennys ebikes.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
If you want to buy from a local store the best way forward would be to visit each store in person. Trek, Specialized, Cannondale and Giant are often found in most stores. Plus you could look for an REI store.
If you change your mind about buying in store, the next places to shop for good quality bikes with mid-drive and torque sensors would be bikesdirect.com and Crazy Lennys ebikes.

Good idea... here are the current deals from CL and BD. ;)

1602816159337.png


1602816458241.png
 
Last edited: