Seeking help for first ebike pick! :)

statementblanket

New Member
Hello all!

I was referred to EBR via Reddit. Been browsing for a few days, reading reviews and doing research. Pretty new to riding bikes altogether (less than a year) and goddamn does that make navigating buying an ebike an intimidating amount of tech-y information to sort through.

I'm moving from Utah to San Diego, CA to start a graduate program at SDSU in July, and I’ve been toying with the idea of buying an ebike to make my work/school commute more enjoyable (read: faster/less sweaty) and to avoid campus parking hassles.

I am 34 years old, 5’4’’, 135 lbs, and I'm anticipating anywhere from a 10-30 mile daily commute depending on work vs school. Ideally, I would like to strike a balance between buying something so nice it’ll get stolen immediately and buying something so cheap it falls apart after a year. (Watched two friends have their Surlys stolen while locked up in broad daylight in the space of six months, so a little wary...)

I’m currently still in Utah, and I *think* I've still got access to some pro deals on the big name brands through bike shop acquaintances, so it’s hard to say for sure what price point I’m looking at— probably no more than $3500 retail. Thinking I’d like a class 3 step-through, as folks say step-throughs are better if you’ve got loaded up racks/panniers etc, but not really looking to ride fully upright. Would also like something with a reasonable warranty/the ability to form a relationship with an LBS when I move, so probably no web-only brands.

With my limited understanding of tech specs and reading reviews, it seems like the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 hits all the marks for me, but I'd really love some perspective from you all. (Seems like I missed the window on the Specialized discount/rebate deal by a couple weeks... bummer, but oh well.)

Random questions for kind souls who are willing to answer:

Is an ebike a money pit? (If I’m putting 150 miles on it a week, how often will it need to be serviced? What kind of maintenance and upkeep do I need to be worried about?) I've got funds at the outset, but I'm about to leave the workforce for 2.5 years, so...

Most of the ebikes I’ve looked at are 60+ lbs…. how does anybody casually get one of these things up 1-2 flights of stairs (rental isn’t locked in yet, but let’s say I have a second floor walkup apartment— am I screwed?)

Do I want a class 2 or 3 bike for riding in city traffic? Kinda fuzzy on whether all class 3's have throttles, and whether that's really a no-go in CA?

Thank you in advance!!!
 

TMH

Well-Known Member
Welcome!

In thinking a bit about what you have posted it seems to me the best fit for you may be a Ride1Up bike. They offer step-thru or step-over frames, and are Class 3 - Plus they are located right in S.D., about 15 miles from the campus. They are generally well regarded e-bikes, and are on the less expensive end of the spectrum (possibly lower theft target).

I own a Turbo Vado 4.0 and I can't even imagine leaving it locked up all alone in a bikerack at a college campus. What you need is an e-bike which is more of just a tool. (But having that Vado 4.0 for weekend fun wouldn't be a bad idea ;) )

Not all Class 3 e-bikes have throttles. The general classification definitions are:

Class 1 - Pedal assist only supported up to 20 mph;
Class 2 - Pedal assist with a throttle, supported up to 20 mph;
Class 3 - Pedal assist only up to 28 mph.

Bikes which provide assist up to 28 mph and have a throttle are commonly called 'Class 4' by some, although there is no legal definition in CA for a Class 4 e-bike. So up to 28 mph with a throttle is gray area.

Yes, many e-bikes are at least in the 50+# weight range. Getting them up or down from a second story apartment will be challenging, or maybe considered weight training?

Yes, e-bikes require maintenance, especially if you are sometimes talking 150 miles per week of commuting. The best and cheapest method is to perform simple routine maintenance on your own to keep things from breaking prematurely. (Keep your chain clean and lubed for longest service life, make sure the brakes are maintained in adjustment, make sure bearings are properly lubricated and torqued, etc.) These are generally simple chores which can be learned from a Bicycle Home Maintenance book and through experience. There will likely be lots of bike shops around, as there typically are near any large campus. But understand that some shops still don't like working on e-bikes, much less any bike they haven't sold themselves.

This is where being close to the manufacturer (Ride1Up) can be another benefit as they might be able to assist, or recommend a local shop if you have issues. They are local too.

Juiced Bikes is another 'local' e-bike manufacturer (Chula Vista), and one of their CrossCurrent bikes might also work out for your 'commuting tool'.

Hope this helps, and good luck!
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
I own a Turbo Vado 4.0 and I can't even imagine leaving it locked up all alone in a bikerack at a college campus. What you need is an e-bike which is more of just a tool. (But having that Vado 4.0 for weekend fun wouldn't be a bad idea ;) )
I'm almost certain that a Turbo Vado will get stolen in less than a month at a college campus. I only take my ebike where I can take it with me inside. I leave my bike in my office when I go to work. I would recommend getting the lowest priced ebike with a good reputation for reliability and get a good lock. I probably wouldn't advice spending more than $1000 for the environment that you need it for.

This is where being close to the manufacturer (Ride1Up) can be another benefit as they might be able to assist, or recommend a local shop if you have issues. They are local too.
Probably a good idea.

If ebike weight may be important to you, because you may have to haul it up a flight of stairs, you should give the Baby Maker (yes, that's its real name) a look.
It will be impractical to haul up a 60lb bike up and down the stairs multiple times a day. If your apartment has a garage, it might alleviate that problem. I agree that Babymaker (Pro version) @Deacon Blues mentioned or the Luna Stealth Bike may be better options. They are both lighter weight, but still heavy compared to analog bikes. They both offer IGH with Gates Carbon Drive which like won't need much maintenance if at all. My analog bike with similar setup hasn't been serviced at all since I bought it 5 years ago and it hasn't given me any problems.
Lune's bike is more expensive, but it's come with a mid-drive motor.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I change tires every 2000 miles since I use kenda knobbies. Street tires 700 miles, 200 miles between flats. Knobbies, no flats if knobs are >3/32".
Brake pads 2500 miles but I live in a hilly area. Adjustment about 1000 miles, takes 5 minutes on tektro mechanical disks.
Chain 5000 miles but I have a geared hub drive that doesn't wear the chain.
Gear adjustment about annually if you have serious Jaguar or clarks cables. about monthly with the grocery store grade cables on most bikes.
If I were you I'd get a discount store bike with disk brakes, then convert it with a geared hub drive. I'd put a generic battery on insulated flag terminals, with velcro fasteners then carry the battery off to class with me. $700 battery, $300 bike, $300 hub motor. So if stolen, you're out $600 plus a coupla days converting another bike.
I use serious stainless steel sling as security device, I'd invest in the $120 abus granite lock if I was on a college campus. Two locks & cables, one on the power wheel, really slows thieves down. Takes a pannier or basket to contain the 6'cable, it is not tiny. 6' because it will wrap around a power pole or gas meter, no skinny bike racks for me. Wald baskets are tougher to cut off & steal than panniers.
My geared hub motor from ebikeling cost $221 with controller/throttle/display/levelcontrol/brakehandles/PASpickup&ring, and has lasted 5000 miles so far. Requires motor cover tightening 2 or 3 times a year, even with blue loktite. 5 minutes with a phillips screwdriver. I have double nuts on the motor shaft, saves a maintenance point.
Note for small people, 18" or smaller frames are not usually in discount stores. Nor do bike shops carry them. Buy a frame that fits. Elektra is one preassembled brand of small ebikes, LIV is another. Pink paint would help ruin the resale value to rude boys.
 

GypsyTreker

Well-Known Member
My wife has a Ecotric 20" fat tire folder with a walk assist on the controller. I suspect, with practice, you could power it up a flight of steps, rather than carry. These bikes are under $900 and built well based on our experience. Folded and secured these would be a p.i.t.a. for a bike thief. Her bike is the step through due to her short stature. Both of us have biked all over San Diego having once been OB residents. I think you could put the extra $2k to better work, get the job done and have a basic hub motor set up. :)
 

TomD

Well-Known Member
Neither the FLX babymaker or the Luna fixed are step through and range may also be an issue with the small batteries which can't be removed so you would want an extra charger and bring the bike inside to charge at school with a 30 mile commute.

I think the Vado step through is a decent choice. As others have noted, security is going to be an issue if left outside.

FLX sells a step through that might be light enough to carry up a flight of stairs, but not sure how good it is or how much frame flex it would have with the rear rack loaded up. Unfortunately it's on pre-order with August delivery: https://flx.bike/products/step-through

Sooner or later someone needs to order the motobecane step thru from BD and provide feedback. Might work for the OP.
 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
May be @pushkar (Watt Wagons) has something that solves your problems?
Yeah @statementblanket WattWagons normally sells high-end expensive bikes, but Pushkar is quite creative at meeting customer needs 😁

$3500 budget
Step Through
Must be light enough to carry up stairs
Class 3

 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Neither the FLX babymaker or the Luna fixed are step through and range may also be an issue with the small batteries which can't be removed so you would want an extra charger and bring the bike inside to charge at school with a 30 mile commute.

I think the Vado step through is a decent choice. As others have noted, security is going to be an issue if left outside.

FLX sells a step through that might be light enough to carry up a flight of stairs, but not sure how good it is or how much frame flex it would have with the rear rack loaded up. Unfortunately it's on pre-order with August delivery: https://flx.bike/products/step-through

Sooner or later someone needs to order the motobecane step thru from BD and provide feedback. Might work for the OP.
oops I missed the step through part!
 

TomD

Well-Known Member
@Ravi Kempaiah might also have an option but it's going to be a while for a production bike.

females in the age group of <40 might also benefit greatly if they can find a very low-maintenance bike that is built from the ground up to be a high-quality machine.
So, we are designing this prototype. The goal is to build a very low maintenance bike that women (and men) can get on and ride.
Service will be handled through Velofix or local bike shops for which they will be reimbursed.
 

pushkar

Well-Known Member
Yeah @statementblanket WattWagons normally sells high-end expensive bikes, but Pushkar is quite creative at meeting customer needs 😁

$3500 budget
Step Through
Must be light enough to carry up stairs
Class 3

:cool:

OP, a few questions for you.

1. Is 35 miles per charge range ok with you ?
2. Do you have a preference for shifting - manual or electronic ?
3. Will you take the bike on the train ?
4. Would you prefer an integrated GPS for tracking your bike?
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Neither the FLX babymaker or the Luna fixed are step through and range may also be an issue with the small batteries which can't be removed so you would want an extra charger and bring the bike inside to charge at school with a 30 mile commute.

I think the Vado step through is a decent choice. As others have noted, security is going to be an issue if left outside.

FLX sells a step through that might be light enough to carry up a flight of stairs, but not sure how good it is or how much frame flex it would have with the rear rack loaded up. Unfortunately it's on pre-order with August delivery: https://flx.bike/products/step-through

Sooner or later someone needs to order the motobecane step thru from BD and provide feedback. Might work for the OP.

I agree. The OP should look at the BD step-thru mid-drive and add a speed chip if she wants class 3 performance... a nice deal at $1799. ;)



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statementblanket

New Member
Holy sh*t! Thank you so much to everyone who has responded. So much to think about and consider, but I think I'm definitely on board with all the recommendations to spend ~$1000 instead of buying something that'll get swiped immediately. :)
 

ElevenAD

Well-Known Member
OP clearly said she as leaning toward stepthru and wanted to buy from a LBS supported Brand, not sure why folks are suggesting FLX Baby Makers,Wattwagons and Lunas? these bikes are neither.
this is not my area of expertise so im not gonna chime in but i will say take your time,dont make any impulse buys, there are a bunch of guys on this forum who are very knowledgeable when it come to LBS supported brands, just give this thread some time and good luck with your bike!
 

Rás Cnoic

Active Member
Having to worry about a bike getting stolen is a right pain in the arse & to me would be a major consideration. $1000-3500 is a lot plus the pain theft causes & if you’re embarking on a student life for a few years, going to hurt more. What are your options to bring inside? Guessing that’s tricky if moving around a campus to lecture halls etc. But if you can bring indoors both ends of commute then weight of bike becomes a major factor but does open up the higher end of your price bracket.
Then you have the commute route, is it flat or very hilly? And equally your own fitness levels. If flat, if you can store bike safety indoors or lock up cage and relatively fit then the lightweight end of the market might suit. Check out the various Ebikemotion motor equipped bikes, the Fazuas motors and the Specialized Vado SL though the last one doesn’t have a step through. Cannondale have a Ebikemotion model or two might have step thru versions, forget what model is called. Other advantage of the smaller motor/battery ebikes is some don’t look like e bikes much at all with both concealed in frame and so might not be as much of a target.

if you need a bigger motor then there will be far more options for step thru, but the weight will be awkward for stairs.

maybe suggest - if you can - checking out the College & student orgs & seeing if there are Ebike users who face the same issue and if they have found a group solution for securing their bikes on campus?
Good luck!