Sub $3000 Leisure/Commuter Bike For Hilly Area [Final Choice: Priority Current]

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
OP - how do you get the Priority Current for $2700? I see it listed at $3300.
At the time of writing, it cost $2700 w/ coupon. Now, it costs $3000 w/ coupon ELECTREK on their website or $2600 on Costco Next, linked above.
 
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In short, in my mind the geared hub drive is easier to ride. Compared to the mid drive Ultra, brain dead easy. At this point, that's likely the biggest difference I think. You couldn't prove the torque sensing bike is the run away winner here. Not yet anyway.

From there, the 2 bikes I have are so different with one conventional 26" with 2" tires and the other with the fat 3" tires, it's difficult to compare them. They each have their pluses and minuses. Both have medium size frames. The fatty clearly rides nicer, the RAD has much less rolling resistance. They'll both run 35 miles easily on their batteries (dropping to 46v then charging), but one battery is a 14.5ah and the other is a 19.2. It's not just a weight differnce either. The 2 bikes aren't that different. They're both in the high 60's. They both have suspension seat posts and wannabe front suspensions too.

Part of this indecision I'm pretty sure, is the fact I only have about 250 miles on the Ultra. The MAC powered RAD City has been ridden since '07, and I've had 2 other motors in that bike. I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. I'm still trying to figure out how to ride the Ultra bike most effectively. Mix that with the fact there are so many options to explore in the controller it makes your head spin. That's really where the Ultra might have the edge in this match up. As much as I like the way the RAD's KT controller works with the MAC, I think this confirmed tinkerer will be able to do better with the Ultra. That, or it will never cease being a work in progress. ;) -Al
What's your opinion of true 750 watt Bafang rear hub motor? Ravi is saying his upcoming sub-$2,000 Zen geared hub drive bike will have a better motor than in the Bolton Blackbird bike(it has the Bafang 750 watt hub motor). Still waiting for what hub motor he will use on the Zen rear hub bike.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
In my mind, part of the beauty of going Bafang is the fact it's not proprietary. No matter how good a motor is, the idea it MUST be serviced by a dealer is a complete turn off. That's me though, somebody that enjoys doing my own work.
 
In my mind, part of the beauty of going Bafang is the fact it's not proprietary. No matter how good a motor is, the idea it MUST be serviced by a dealer is a complete turn off. That's me though, somebody that enjoys doing my own work.
There's talk that the Bafang Ultra mid-motor would soon be closed system(cannot be adjusted by the customer). Only can be adjusted by the dealer.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
There's talk that the Bafang Ultra mid-motor would soon be closed system(cannot be adjusted by the customer). Only can be adjusted by the dealer.
You're talking about the change to CAN buss serial type. To my knowledge, that's currently just talk. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while yet. More hope would include somebody breaking that code as efficiently as they have the current UART buss, and the CAN change will be a moot issue. Still more hope would have Bafang change the current M620 model number to something else so the CAN buss motors could easily be identified.
 
You're talking about the change to CAN buss serial type. To my knowledge, that's currently just talk. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while yet. More hope would include somebody breaking that code as efficiently as they have the current UART buss, and the CAN change will be a moot issue. Still more hope would have Bafang change the current M620 model number to something else so the CAN buss motors could easily be identified.
Yes yes. Probably best rear hub motor out there GMAC/MAC(you have a MAC variant on your modified Rad City), why is it no bike brands are building up complete bikes with it(with exception or two)? Could it be because Grin Technologies hording up all the MAC hub motors available?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Yes yes. Probably best rear hub motor out there GMAC/MAC(you have a MAC variant on your modified Rad City), why is it no bike brands are building up complete bikes with it(with exception or two)? Could it be because Grin Technologies hording up all the MAC hub motors available?
My guess? Grin is buying up all of the MAC components available. No clue why MAC isn't gearing up production, but that lack of availability would be a darn good reason no OEM wants any part of them.
 
You're talking about the change to CAN buss serial type. To my knowledge, that's currently just talk. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while yet. More hope would include somebody breaking that code as efficiently as they have the current UART buss, and the CAN change will be a moot issue. Still more hope would have Bafang change the current M620 model number to something else so the CAN buss motors could easily be identified.
Aren't some of the newer Bafang mid-motors have already changed to that? So these newer Bafang motors are a closed system?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Aren't some of the newer Bafang mid-motors have already changed to that? So these newer Bafang motors are a closed system?
I read where they were making, or have made, that change on the M600 motors. I have not seen anything indicating that's happened with the M610 Ultra, though it wouldn't surprise me if that happens.
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
I received the Priority Current on Friday and rode it for about 16 miles yesterday. Here are my impressions, trying to go back to the requirements that started this thread.

20210109_135747.jpg


Shipping
Fedex and holidays aren't a great mix. Nothing specific to this bike, though. They had been holding the bike for a while at my request, and as soon as I ask to, they shipped it. In the first day or two, Fedex's delivery estimate only grew. In the end, it made it to the west coast within the original estimate. About 5 business days. The box didn't look too roughed up - I felt lucky.

Assembly

Boy, did I underestimate how much work assembly is if you have never put together a bike! They offer a choice of $30 ground shipping, $130 for shipping and assembly through a network of local bike shops, or $150 with home assembly through Velofix. I chose to assemble it myself, since no bike shops near me were available. Priority makes it easier with great instructional videos. Not a lot of paper user guides specific to the Current - we get a user's guide that is kind of generic for their non-electric bikes, so it doesn't deal much with the Current. Your best bet is to follow their instructions video.

The bike came well packaged and protected. It took me at least half an hour just to unpack everything, remove all the foam, zip ties, and protective cardboard. Following the video works like a charm, Some tasks would benefit from another hand or two, or a bike stand, to be done quicker. It took me a few hours to get everything in place and adjusted to my liking. If I could do it again, I would have chosen the Velofix assembly.

After everything was put together, I started checking the wheels and noticed a periodic rubbing noise from the front wheel. I tried to adjust the disk brakes (again, with an instructional video from Priority) which lessened but didn't fix the noise. Priority advised me to get it checked out at a LBS, and so I did. The mechanic said the rotor had two slight bends, probably from shipping. The bike is shipped with the kickstand going through the front wheel (to keep it in place/save space) which I assume may have caused it. $20 later, the rubbing was gone. I was told the rotor isn't (and will never be) 100% straight due to the complex bends, but it shouldn't be a problem. Priority offered to send a new rotor if I wanted.

Appearance

To me, the bike looks great. I got lots of curious questions and comments during that day. The paint is nice and glossy, integrated battery makes it more stealthy, integrated lights are nice to have, the plump tires give it a nice look. The mid step frame wasn't my favorite at first, but it makes the bike very versatile - people of different heights can use it well. While attaching the holder for my lock, I accidentally ended up chipping the paint on the underside of the top tube. I was disappointed how easy it chipped, but happy they also included touch up paint. Since it's not visible from any angle, I think I'll leave it like that to save the touch up pain for more serious occasions.

Comfort

I found the included Selle Royal saddle pretty comfortable. I also immediately added a Thudbuster ST suspension seatpost I had purchased earlier. In retrospect, I wish I had tried it with the stock seatpost earlier, so I had any basis for comparison on the effectiveness of the suspension seatpost and the bike without it. The rides have been pretty comfortable, I still feel the bumps on the road, especially at lower speeds and mostly on the handlebars, but it feels much better than the bikeshares I've used. I have also set my tire pressure on the lower end of the range provided, for increased comfort.

The one thing I haven't fully settled on is stem angle. Before even riding it, I increased the adjustable stem from the stock 10 deg to 40 deg. This definitely felt more natural to me, but after a few miles of riding, I still felt more hunched over than I would have wanted. In the future, I will consider either a higher angle or replacing the handlebars with some with a bit more curve.

Weight

The bike weighs 51 lbs fully assembled (battery, fenders, pedals) and about 44 lbs without battery. As I had established when test riding the Momentum, it doesn't pose much of a challenge for the front stairs to my apartment. Heavy, of course, but fairly easy to carry up a short flight of stairs - I don't anticipate it being a problem daily. The bike is also surprisingly rideable with a dead battery if you're on flats. From a stop or at any level of incline, it gets much harder. However, once you start rolling and making smart use of gearing, it isn't half as bad as I expected. If you remove the battery, it's gets better. I anticipate I'll be riding on PAS0 occasionally to built up strength.

The Ride

The riding experience has been great. This is the most important part, but it is also the part that needs more than one ride to develop an opinion on. First, it's really quiet. This is one of the things people appreciate about belt drives. It is definitely not a must-have, but it is nice. No rattling of the chain thanks to the belt, no clicking of the freewheel thanks to the igh. The motor isn't too noisy. As other have noticed, it emits a high pitched humming, but I've had worse. Bosch motors are quieter. As for the gearing, I need more time to be able to say something useful here. I noticed that the lowest gear didn't feel as low and some other, conventional bikes I had ridden. In this first ride, it didn't bother me because, as I have mentioned before, I have never been good at making optimal use of gearings - I tend to stick to the middle of the range (1 week update: the gearing feels adequate up to, say, a 15% incline. At steeper grades, I wish it could drop even lower). Steering felt very responsive - being used to beach cruisers and bike shares, it's nice to be able to make sharper turns again. It took me a few miles to learn to control it well. Switching between PAS levels is easy and intuitive, although it does take 1-2 seconds for the change to apply. The display is bright and easy to read in any light. Shifting is smooth. Brakes have plenty of stopping power.

Power

The power on the bike so far felt adequate. Riding it yesterday helped me understand why I got so wildly different feedback from people about it. If you are not in a hilly area, power will never be a concern. On a flat surface, at higher PAS, you can reach 20 mph+ quite easily. They tried to not make the ride jerky. What this means is power delivery from a stop will be gradual. At lower PAS, it is definitely harder to take off than the hub bikes I've tried. On those, the smallest movement would send the bike flying forward. Surprisingly, I miss this part (1 week update: I don't miss it anymore. If you learn how to shift correctly and play with PAS levels, you can have the same experience). It enabled me to get a head start on cars and cyclists. At higher PAS, it's less of a struggle. I haven't tried taking off from a stop on a hill yet (1 week update: If you downshift and increase PAS, it's pretty easy to take off from a start on an incline). The advantage is, of course, I can still downshift from a stop to make this experience much more pleasant. I'm not very used to that yet.

I also realized how much power is actually needed to overcome big, steep hills - a lot. The experience difference when biking on a flat surface versus up a hill is dramatic. But again, I remember how I was able to move fast on my 35lbs+ Electra Cruiser, but struggled on hills. I noticed too that my testing of the Momentum was unfair because it was very limited. Unless you got a bike with a monster motor (e.g. Bafang Ultra), your hill climbing will not be consistent. I climbed the same 15% grade short hill next to my house a few times. The first time, I was coming with some good momentum from a flat area and climbed it very easily at PAS 4 and gear 2. Another time, I was stuck behind other people who were climbing it much slower (justifiably so) on regular bikes. This caused me to lose a lot of momentum and, even bumping it up to PAS 5, climbing behind them wasn't a breeze. I should have lowered it to gear 1, but didn't (1 week update: at gear 1 and PAS 5, the 15% hill is much easier to climb). Finally, I tried to climb a 20% hill and failed miserably no matter what PAS and gear. Granted, I was tired by this point, but not sure if I would have made it regardless.

The conclusion, though, is that it can confidently handle my ordinary commute. I won't be able to tackle some of the monster hills in this city, though, at least not without building up some muscle and experience.

Speed

This is another point where I have to agree with the sage advice given to me in this thread. For this first ride, I kept the bike as a Class 1, capped at 20 mph. If I'm being honest, you were right - I won't go past this often at all in the city. I reached 22mph on a flat on 4th gear and PAS 2, and it was fairly easy. However, at that speed, coupled with how windy this city is, the wind resistance was very annoying. At PAS 4-5, I can maintain 20mph with little to no effort, but I honestly don't see me doing this often in the city (too many stops, cars, people) plus it would kill the battery. I will go on other rides after derestricting it and post my opinions, especially about the feasibility of reaching 28mph in gear 5.

Range

I don't have a lot of data on range. After the 16 mile ride yesterday, I still had 8 bars left. However, I probably spent considerable time in PAS 0, to get a feel for it, and very little time in PAS 5. Most of the time I was in PAS 2. Range has never been a huge concern for me. I don't think I'll ever go over 20 miles in one day, commute or leisure, so this battery will do fine. I naturally wonder how long it will stay this way, as opposed to decay and hold less of a charge. At $600, it's quite expensive to replace every couple of years.
 
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Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
Additional impressions after a week:

Doing a day 1 review is silly. I am guilty of both rushing to conclusions and frantically asking people for their opinions right after they got their bikes. This is my first 'real' bike, that is, the first one I care enough about to pay attention to. What I learned this past week is that it takes time to get used to a new bike. More than a week, even! Riding this bike daily in the past week, every ride was better than the prior. Whether it is learning how to better use the gears, getting using to the geometry, the motor, I feel much more positively about the bike than I did on the first day. This also says something about test rides. They can help you find obvious mismatches, but if I had test ridden this bike only for a day, I probably wouldn't have liked it as much as I do now.

For my use, class 3 isn't a requirement. Sure, it is nice to have. It is nice to speed up on a long stretch when it's available. However, as much as I've tried, I haven't found the opportunity to ride at 28mph for more than a few seconds. When commuting in the city, it's downright impossible - parked cars opening their doors, people crossing away from the crosswalk, stop signs every block, I am lucky if I hit 20mph occasionally. Under those circumstances, 28mph would endanger me and others. It is not hard to reach 28mph on flats. With PAS-5, 5th gear and a healthy (accelerated) pedaling cadence, 28mph is very attainable. Of course, you won't be able to use it like a cadence sensing hub bike, where you half-ass pedal and the hub alone propels you to the top speed, like a disguised throttle, but the cadence isn't uncomfortable if you enjoy riding bikes. At that level, power consumption is huge! I lose battery bars by the minute. Even if I had the whole city for myself, I imagine I'd run out of battery very very fast at that rate.

I need a bell/horn. As I mentioned before, the bike is very silent. All I can hear is the high pitched humming from the motor and the rolling tires. A fast and quiet bike is a dangerous combination in a dense urban environment. Bell choice is very personal, but I definitely need one for safety - being heard is important.

I'm still finding the perfect position for comfort. I raised the adjustable stem to 60 deg. This gets me to a satisfactory degree of upright. I am still not fully upright, like on my cruiser, but I don't feel the need to raise it more than that. However, this often gets me weird looks at bike shops - maybe it affects handling. I plan on potentially getting handlebars with a bit more raise/backsweep, and lower the stem a bit.

You can't turn the bike on while pedaling. This isn't a complaint - rather, an observation. I often turn the bike on after a few meters, because I forget to do so before riding. My street is flat, so when I do that, I am usually coasting. Once, however, I realized I forgot to turn on the bike when I was a few meters up a hill. I tried turning it on then, while pedaling, and although the display would work, the motor wouldn't. Probably a safety feature in the controller. I had to stop pedaling, turn it off and on again. In the future, I'll remember to turn it on before going up a hill.

I am more satisfied with the power now. After I've become significantly better at making use of gears, I've felt more satisfied with the power delivered by the motor. I have nothing to compare to. I wish I could have tried a bike with a Bafang Ultra, for example, to understand what that feels like. If downshifting and turning up assist, I can easily take off from a complete stop while going uphill. I can also climb hills better (see below). I think power is something we will always wish for more, so yeah, I'd love to have more so I had the peace of mind of not having to plan my routes to avoid the abundant 20%+ hills around me. But still, it gets the job done.

Here's how I use each PAS level:
  • PAS 0: Used for exercise, for saving battery in flat areas, for learning how to use the bike better. The latter has become very important to me - in the past, I've either biked exclusively on flats (before moving here) or ridden rental ebikes, which always give you all the assist they've got. As a result, I am not very good at using the gears effectively. Learning how to do so makes such a huge difference! When riding around at PAS0, I am forced to make optimal use of gears or I will die. Of course, I can't climb anything serious on that level, but I can still overcome moderate inclines by downshifting a lot.
  • PAS 1: Used for regular riding, when no huge hills are expected. Good to get a moderate workout for moderate inclines.
  • PAS 2: My comfort setting. If I want to get from A to B as effectively as possible, while conserving some of the battery, this is my choice. It provides more than enough power to cruise at higher speeds on flats without me putting much effort, and enough power for me to overcome moderate inclines with little effort, making smart use of gearing.
  • PAS 3 & 4: I haven't found good use for 3 & 4 yet. In my experience so far, if I'm somewhere where 2 isn't enough, I likely need everything the bike can give me, which leads us to...
  • PAS 5: Use it for steeper hills. Usually for those I want to leave them behind as quick as possible, so I don't waste time trying to find the perfect balance of power and exercise. I can climb a 14.5% hill easily at gear 1. I climbed at 17.5% with lots of effort at that level. I could not climb a 20% yet, even with lowest gear + highest assist.
20210118_103932.jpg
 
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gochet

New Member
I received the Priority Current on Friday and rode it for about 16 miles yesterday. Here are my impressions, trying to go back to the requirements that started this thread.

View attachment 76423

Shipping
Fedex and holidays aren't a great mix. Nothing specific to this bike, though. They had been holding the bike for a while at my request, and as soon as I ask to, they shipped it. In the first day or two, Fedex's delivery estimate only grew. In the end, it made it to the west coast within the original estimate. About 5 business days. The box didn't look too roughed up - I felt lucky.

Assembly

Boy, did I underestimate how much work assembly is if you have never put together a bike! They offer a choice of $30 ground shipping, $130 for shipping and assembly through a network of local bike shops, or $150 with home assembly through Velofix. I chose to assemble it myself, since no bike shops near me were available. Priority makes it easier with great instructional videos. Not a lot of paper user guides specific to the Current - we get a user's guide that is kind of generic for their non-electric bikes, so it doesn't deal much with the Current. Your best bet is to follow their instructions video.

The bike came well packaged and protected. It took me at least half an hour just to unpack everything, remove all the foam, zip ties, and protective cardboard. Following the video works like a charm, Some tasks would benefit from another hand or two, or a bike stand, to be done quicker. It took me a few hours to get everything in place and adjusted to my liking. If I could do it again, I would have chosen the Velofix assembly.

After everything was put together, I started checking the wheels and noticed a periodic rubbing noise from the front wheel. I tried to adjust the disk brakes (again, with an instructional video from Priority) which lessened but didn't fix the noise. Priority advised me to get it checked out at a LBS, and so I did. The mechanic said the rotor had two slight bends, probably from shipping. The bike is shipped with the kickstand going through the front wheel (to keep it in place/save space) which I assume may have caused it. $20 later, the rubbing was gone. I was told the rotor isn't (and will never be) 100% straight due to the complex bends, but it shouldn't be a problem. Priority offered to send a new rotor if I wanted.

Appearance

To me, the bike looks great. I got lots of curious questions and comments during that day. The paint is nice and glossy, integrated battery makes it more stealthy, integrated lights are nice to have, the plump tires give it a nice look. The mid step frame wasn't my favorite at first, but it makes the bike very versatile - people of different heights can use it well. While attaching the holder for my lock, I accidentally ended up chipping the paint on the underside of the top tube. I was disappointed how easy it chipped, but happy they also included touch up paint. Since it's not visible from any angle, I think I'll leave it like that to save the touch up pain for more serious occasions.

Comfort

I found the included Selle Royal saddle pretty comfortable. I also immediately added a Thudbuster ST suspension seatpost I had purchased earlier. In retrospect, I wish I had tried it with the stock seatpost earlier, so I had any basis for comparison on the effectiveness of the suspension seatpost and the bike without it. The rides have been pretty comfortable, I still feel the bumps on the road, especially at lower speeds and mostly on the handlebars, but it feels much better than the bikeshares I've used. I have also set my tire pressure on the lower end of the range provided, for increased comfort.

The one thing I haven't fully settled on is stem angle. Before even riding it, I increased the adjustable stem from the stock 10 deg to 40 deg. This definitely felt more natural to me, but after a few miles of riding, I still felt more hunched over than I would have wanted. In the future, I will consider either a higher angle or replacing the handlebars with some with a bit more curve.

Weight

The bike weighs 51 lbs fully assembled (battery, fenders, pedals) and about 44 lbs without battery. As I had established when test riding the Momentum, it doesn't pose much of a challenge for the front stairs to my apartment. Heavy, of course, but fairly easy to carry up a short flight of stairs - I don't anticipate it being a problem daily. The bike is also surprisingly rideable with a dead battery if you're on flats. From a stop or at any level of incline, it gets much harder. However, once you start rolling and making smart use of gearing, it isn't half as bad as I expected. If you remove the battery, it's gets better. I anticipate I'll be riding on PAS0 occasionally to built up strength.

The Ride

The riding experience has been great. This is the most important part, but it is also the part that needs more than one ride to develop an opinion on. First, it's really quiet. This is one of the things people appreciate about belt drives. It is definitely not a must-have, but it is nice. No rattling of the chain thanks to the belt, no clicking of the freewheel thanks to the igh. The motor isn't too noisy. As other have noticed, it emits a high pitched humming, but I've had worse. Bosch motors are quieter. As for the gearing, I need more time to be able to say something useful here. I noticed that the lowest gear didn't feel as low and some other, conventional bikes I had ridden. In this first ride, it didn't bother me because, as I have mentioned before, I have never been good at making optimal use of gearings - I tend to stick to the middle of the range. Steering felt very responsive - being used to beach cruisers and bike shares, it's nice to be able to make sharper turns again. It took me a few miles to learn to control it well. Switching between PAS levels is easy and intuitive, although it does take 1-2 seconds for the change to apply. The display is bright and easy to read in any light. Shifting is smooth. Brakes have plenty of stopping power.

Power

The power on the bike so far felt adequate. Riding it yesterday helped me understand why I got so wildly different feedback from people about it. If you are not in a hilly area, power will never be a concern. On a flat surface, at higher PAS, you can reach 20 mph+ quite easily. They tried to not make the ride jerky. What this means is power delivery from a stop will be gradual. At lower PAS, it is definitely harder to take off than the hub bikes I've tried. On those, the smallest movement would send the bike flying forward. Surprisingly, I miss this part. It enabled me to get a head start on cars and cyclists. At higher PAS, it's less of a struggle. I haven't tried taking off from a stop on a hill yet. The advantage is, of course, I can still downshift from a stop to make this experience much more pleasant. I'm not very used to that yet.

I also realized how much power is actually needed to overcome big, steep hills - a lot. The difference in performance when biking on a flat surface versus up a hill is dramatic, feels like different bikes at times. But again, I remember how I was able to move fast on my 35lbs+ Electra Cruiser, but struggled on hills. I noticed too that my testing of the Momentum was unfair because it was very limited. Unless you got a bike with a monster motor (e.g. Bafang Ultra), your hill climbing will not be consistent. I climbed the same 15% grade short hill next to my house a few times. The first time, I was coming with some good momentum from a flat area and climbed it very easily at PAS 4 and gear 2. Another time, I was stuck behind other people who were climbing it much slower (justifiably so) on regular bikes. This caused me to lose a lot of momentum and, even bumping it up to PAS 5, climbing behind them wasn't a breeze. I should have lowered it to gear 1, but didn't. Finally, I tried to climb a 20% hill and failed miserably no matter what PAS and gear. Granted, I was tired by this point, but not sure if I would have made it regardless.

The conclusion, though, is that it can confidently handle my ordinary commute. I won't be able to tackle some of the monster hills in this city, though, at least not without building up some muscle and experience.

Speed

This is another point where I have to agree with the sage advice given to me in this thread. For this first ride, I kept the bike as a Class 1, capped at 20 mph. If I'm being honest, you were right - I won't go past this often at all in the city. I reached 22mph on a flat on 4th gear and PAS 2, and it was fairly easy. However, at that speed, coupled with how windy this city is, the wind resistance was very annoying. At PAS 4-5, I can maintain 20mph with little to no effort, but I honestly don't see me doing this often in the city (too many stops, cars, people) plus it would kill the battery. I will go on other rides after derestricting it and post my opinions, especially about the feasibility of reaching 28mph in gear 5.

Range

I don't have a lot of data on range. After the 16 mile ride yesterday, I still had 8 bars left. However, I probably spent considerable time in PAS 0, to get a feel for it, and very little time in PAS 5. Most of the time I was in PAS 2. Range has never been a huge concern for me. I don't think I'll ever go over 20 miles in one day, commute or leisure, so this battery will do fine. I naturally wonder how long it will stay this way, as opposed to decay and hold less of a charge. At $600, it's quite expensive to replace every couple of years.
That's an amazing review, and much appreciated! Thanks for all the effort. :)
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Additional impressions after a week:

Doing a day 1 review is silly. I am guilty of both rushing to conclusions and frantically asking people for their opinions right after they got their bikes. This is my first 'real' bike, that is, the first one I care enough about to pay attention to. What I learned this past week is that it takes time to get used to a new bike. More than a week, even! Riding this bike daily in the past week, every ride was better than the prior. Whether it is learning how to better use the gears, getting using to the geometry, the motor, I feel much more positively about the bike than I did on the first day. This also says something about test rides. They can help you find obvious mismatches, but if I had test ridden this bike only for a day, I probably wouldn't have liked it as much as I do now.

For my use, class 3 isn't a requirement. Sure, it is nice to have. It is nice to speed up on a long stretch when it's available. However, as much as I've tried, I haven't found the opportunity to ride at 28mph for more than a few seconds. When commuting in the city, it's downright impossible - parked cars opening their doors, people crossing away from the crosswalk, stop signs every block, I am lucky if I hit 20mph occasionally. Under those circumstances, 28mph would endanger me and others. It is not hard to reach 28mph on flats. With PAS-5, 5th gear and a healthy (accelerated) pedaling cadence, 28mph is very attainable. Of course, you won't be able to use it like a cadence sensing hub bike, where you half-ass pedal and the hub alone propels you to the top speed, like a disguised throttle, but the cadence isn't uncomfortable if you enjoy riding bikes. At that level, power consumption is huge! I lose battery bars by the minute. Even if I had the whole city for myself, I imagine I'd run out of battery very very fast at that rate.

I need a bell/horn. As I mentioned before, the bike is very silent. All I can hear is the high pitched humming from the motor and the rolling tires. A fast and quiet bike is a dangerous combination in a dense urban environment. Bell choice is very personal, but I definitely need one for safety - being heard is important.

I'm still finding the perfect position for comfort. I raised the adjustable stem to 60 deg. This gets me to a satisfactory degree of upright. I am still not fully upright, like on my cruiser, but I don't feel the need to raise it more than that. However, this often gets me weird looks at bike shops - maybe it affects handling. I plan on potentially getting handlebars with a bit more raise/backsweep, and lower the stem a bit.

You can't turn the bike on while pedaling. This isn't a complaint - rather, an observation. I often turn the bike on after a few meters, because I forget to do so before riding. My street is flat, so when I do that, I am usually coasting. Once, however, I realized I forgot to turn on the bike when I was a few meters up a hill. I tried turning it on then, while pedaling, and although the display would work, the motor wouldn't. Probably a safety feature in the controller. I had to stop pedaling, turn it off and on again. In the future, I'll remember to turn it on before going up a hill.

I am more satisfied with the power now. After I've become significantly better at making use of gears, I've felt more satisfied with the power delivered by the motor. I have nothing to compare to. I wish I could have tried a bike with a Bafang Ultra, for example, to understand what that feels like. If downshifting and turning up assist, I can easily take off from a complete stop while going uphill. I can also climb hills better (see below). I think power is something we will always wish for more, so yeah, I'd love to have more so I had the peace of mind of not having to plan my routes to avoid the abundant 20%+ hills around me. But still, it gets the job done.

Here's how I use each PAS level:
  • PAS 0: Used for exercise, for saving battery in flat areas, for learning how to use the bike better. The latter has become very important to me - in the past, I've either biked exclusively on flats (before moving here) or ridden rental ebikes, which always give you all the assist they've got. As a result, I am not very good at using the gears effectively. Learning how to do so makes such a huge difference! When riding around at PAS0, I am forced to make optimal use of gears or I will die. Of course, I can't climb anything serious on that level, but I can still overcome moderate inclines by downshifting a lot.
  • PAS 1: Used for regular riding, when no huge hills are expected. Good to get a moderate workout for moderate inclines.
  • PAS 2: My comfort setting. If I want to get from A to B as effectively as possible, while conserving some of the battery, this is my choice. It provides more than enough power to cruise at higher speeds on flats without me putting much effort, and enough power for me to overcome moderate inclines with little effort, making smart use of gearing.
  • PAS 3 & 4: I haven't found good use for 3 & 4 yet. In my experience so far, if I'm somewhere where 2 isn't enough, I likely need everything the bike can give me, which leads us to...
  • PAS 5: Use it for steeper hills. Usually for those I want to leave them behind as quick as possible, so I don't waste time trying to find the perfect balance of power and exercise. I can climb a 14.5% hill easily at gear 1. I climbed at 17.5% with lots of effort at that level. I could not climb a 20% yet, even with lowest gear + highest assist.
Regarding a comparison to the Ultra power, I'm 315 lbs, and the only time I use PAS 3 is for big hills (which are plentiful in this area) which are then climbed in 5th and 6th gear. I generally start from stops on the level in 5th or 6th gear - and the bike is only pulling 150 watts doing that, so it's just loafing along. Have never used PAS 5. "Enough" power is just not something you think about often.

That said, you still have an awesome bike there. To be able to lighten up to that level, and to gain the MUCH more stealthy look while doing that, is something to behold. If I were a little lighter (personally), that might be a move I'd consider. At my weight though, the reserve power the Ultra has on tap seems like the better plan for my purposes....

Congrats on the new bike! -Al
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
Regarding a comparison to the Ultra power, I'm 315 lbs, and the only time I use PAS 3 is for big hills (which are plentiful in this area) which are then climbed in 5th and 6th gear. I generally start from stops on the level in 5th or 6th gear - and the bike is only pulling 150 watts doing that, so it's just loafing along. Have never used PAS 5. "Enough" power is just not something you think about often.

That said, you still have an awesome bike there. To be able to lighten up to that level, and to gain the MUCH more stealthy look while doing that, is something to behold. If I were a little lighter (personally), that might be a move I'd consider. At my weight though, the reserve power the Ultra has on tap seems like the better plan for my purposes....

Congrats on the new bike! -Al
Honestly, it's easier and cheaper for me to drop 10 lbs of my own weight, than it would be to make an ebike 10 lbs lighter :p
 
Regarding a comparison to the Ultra power, I'm 315 lbs, and the only time I use PAS 3 is for big hills (which are plentiful in this area) which are then climbed in 5th and 6th gear. I generally start from stops on the level in 5th or 6th gear - and the bike is only pulling 150 watts doing that, so it's just loafing along. Have never used PAS 5. "Enough" power is just not something you think about often.

That said, you still have an awesome bike there. To be able to lighten up to that level, and to gain the MUCH more stealthy look while doing that, is something to behold. If I were a little lighter (personally), that might be a move I'd consider. At my weight though, the reserve power the Ultra has on tap seems like the better plan for my purposes....

Congrats on the new bike! -Al
My concern with Ultra power(that much power) with regular drivetrain(not IGH system) is not having it on the right gear when climbing(if it's too high gearing to climb, it could start destroying my bike groupset parts in a short time). You're starting at 5th or 6th gear on climbs(you have user customized the power output to your needs, which you can with Bafang Ultra motor?)!!
 
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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Wandering off topic a bit here. I'll be happy to respond privately for more info-
Briefly, I don't believe anything I did in the controller setup would affect the motor's available torque. It's just silly powerful as is. A true torque monster.

The big things I did were to soften the too aggressive start using the throttle, and lower the power in PAS 1 as I was only able to ghost pedal at low speeds as received. Both mods worked wonderfully.

You can monitor the motor (and thus drive line stress) easily using the watt meter. I'm pretty sure I'm not stressing any drive train components at the power levels I generally run at. On the level, I'm rarely over 350w or so, but generally under 200w. Climbing I may hit 800 watts (1/2 rated capacity), but that will be just briefly, and I darn sure won't be shifting while pulling that kind of power. Way more effective to just change PAS levels! Regarding climbing in 5th or 6th, if I drop down to 4th for that same climb, it'll still be pulling that same 800w, only now I'm going slower. I started out doing that (running hills in a lower gear), but learned there wasn't much to gain. The watt meter doesn't lie....

And oh hell yes, it will pull 1500w pretty easily.... -Al
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
Here are some of my thoughts from this week:

The effort to maintain 28mph depends heavily on terrain/wind. I finally found the best place to test the bike's top speed for longer periods of time - a bike track in a park. There, I didn't have to worry about pedestrians/animals and could set it to gear 5 and PAS 5 to see how it looked like. As I mentioned before, I could reach/maintain 28mph while spinning the pedals in the 95-100 RPM range. It is definitely a fast pace, but felt comfortable most of the time. The speed felt like an appropriate reward for the amount of effort made. However, different scenarios led to vastly different experiences. Even in the track, when going against the wind I had a hard time breaking 25mph. Going the other way was, literally, a breeze. Similarly, on slight downhills it was very easy to reach 28 mph, while in slight uphills, I seemed to be stuck around 24-25mph.

The brake cable is scratching the front of the bike. This is a silly comment, but just something that I happened to realize. Last week I noticed some scratching on the front of the bike. I didn't immediately realize what it was. I was a bit disappointed in myself for having scratched the bike this early in my ownership, but didn't know what it could have happened. Later, I noticed it was getting worse - then, it dawned on me. With the way the front brake cable is clipped to the side of the bike, it rubs against the frame as I turn. I didn't know it could do such damage! As a solution, I will add some clear tape to protect the high contact area.

20210118_163608.jpg


Battery readings are confusing. This part might be common to all ebikes. However, since this is the only one I own, I'm gonna talk about my experience. Today I went on a short 6 mile roundtrip ride. The first leg consists of mostly downhill - about 120 ft of elevation gain, 300 ft of elevation loss. The return is a bit tougher - there's about a mile on a 10% hill. So far I had only tackled hills (even steeper ones) spawning one or two blocks. This was my first chance to test the performance over a longer stretch. I started the ride with 5 bars. By the end of the first leg, I had 4 bars. Not bad, but expected, since it was mostly downhill. The bike handled the return beautifully - I didn't want to risk running out of leg halfway uphill, so I cranked the motor up to 5 during that 1 mile stretch. When the climb ended, my display still read 4 bars. I thought: wow, this is much better than expected! I reduced power back to 1 and rode for another minute or two. When I looked again, I had only 1 bar left! I guess this is the voltage sag from the load applied during the climb. I just didn't expect it to kick in only after the climb was over. Another minute of riding and I was back to two bars. I rode on flat for another 10 minutes on 2 bars, until I stopped for a drink. When I powered the bike back again, I was at 3 bars! Another five minutes of riding and I was back to 2. Now, I understand that there is variation due to the load, but this was kind of stressful. I didn't know whether I should pack it up and go home charge the bike (1 bar), or if I still had plenty of battery left (3 bars) and what number to trust.

Bonus photo from said ride:
20210123_163251.jpg
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Here are some of my thoughts from this week:

The effort to maintain 28mph depends heavily on terrain/wind. I finally found the best place to test the bike's top speed for longer periods of time - a bike track in a park. There, I didn't have to worry about pedestrians/animals and could set it to gear 5 and PAS 5 to see how it looked like. As I mentioned before, I could reach/maintain 28mph while spinning the pedals in the 95-100 RPM range. It is definitely a fast pace, but felt comfortable most of the time. The speed felt like an appropriate reward for the amount of effort made. However, different scenarios led to vastly different experiences. Even in the track, when going against the wind I had a hard time breaking 25mph. Going the other way was, literally, a breeze. Similarly, on slight downhills it was very easy to reach 28 mph, while in slight uphills, I seemed to be stuck around 24-25mph.

The brake cable is scratching the front of the bike. This is a silly comment, but just something that I happened to realize. Last week I noticed some scratching on the front of the bike. I didn't immediately realize what it was. I was a bit disappointed in myself for having scratched the bike this early in my ownership, but didn't know what it could have happened. Later, I noticed it was getting worse - then, it dawned on me. With the way the front brake cable is clipped to the side of the bike, it rubs against the frame as I turn. I didn't know it could do such damage! As a solution, I will add some clear tape to protect the high contact area.

View attachment 77421

Battery readings are confusing. This part might be common to all ebikes. However, since this is the only one I own, I'm gonna talk about my experience. Today I went on a short 6 mile roundtrip ride. The first leg consists of mostly downhill - about 120 ft of elevation gain, 300 ft of elevation loss. The return is a bit tougher - there's about a mile on a 10% hill. So far I had only tackled hills (even steeper ones) spawning one or two blocks. This was my first chance to test the performance over a longer stretch. I started the ride with 5 bars. By the end of the first leg, I had 4 bars. Not bad, but expected, since it was mostly downhill. The bike handled the return beautifully - I didn't want to risk running out of leg halfway uphill, so I cranked the motor up to 5 during that 1 mile stretch. When the climb ended, my display still read 4 bars. I thought: wow, this is much better than expected! I reduced power back to 1 and rode for another minute or two. When I looked again, I had only 1 bar left! I guess this is the voltage sag from the load applied during the climb. I just didn't expect it to kick in only after the climb was over. Another minute of riding and I was back to two bars. I rode on flat for another 10 minutes on 2 bars, until I stopped for a drink. When I powered the bike back again, I was at 3 bars! Another five minutes of riding and I was back to 2. Now, I understand that there is variation due to the load, but this was kind of stressful. I didn't know whether I should pack it up and go home charge the bike (1 bar), or if I still had plenty of battery left (3 bars) and what number to trust.

Bonus photo from said ride:
View attachment 77422
Congrats and enjoy the ride!