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

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
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

The battery bar graphs are terrible at best. One thing though, is that there is a possibility some of that erratic behavior might go away after the battery gets a few charges through it. It's not too unusual for them to show sag under a big load, only to return to normal afterward, but it would be a bit unusual (in my experience) for that sag to show up AFTER the fact.

In any case, you'll get used to it as you get some time on it, the same as you would with a crummy gas gauge in a car.
 

wrightpwx

New Member
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
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

I had the same problem with the brake cable, it was too short when I raised the handlebars. I took the bike apart and rerouted the cable.
 
The Ride1Up LMT'D model you have not totally eliminated? You might want to also wait a short time, as Ride1Up is expected to announce soon(as soon as early this month) a brand new mid-motor Ride1Up model that will be fairly light(under 50 pounds with battery) & Class 3 top speed will similar range as LMT'D. The expected price of $2100-2200. That's what the Ride1Up owner Kevin Dugger is saying is coming very soon.

That 10% grade hills you are climbing it's for how long? When I was testing out a e-bike awhile back on a commuter bike with Bosch Performance Line CX motor(2nd generation), riding up a hill probably closer to 15% grade for about maybe a little less than half a KM it's was fairly smooth up for me(not too hard). It's never going to be almost effortless like a car or motorcycle(& you need to do some pedaling in a lower gear).
The new Ride1Up will not be available until August 2021
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
200 mile update

I tried the alternative firmware. For those who don't know, Priority has an alternative firmware for the Current's controller. The original firmware was developed to be as smooth as possible (their words), and probably for flatter cities (my words). It modulates power delivery at lower speeds so that the bike isn't jerky and doesn't 'take off from under you' as many cadence sensing bikes do (or those with poorly tuned torque sensors). However, if you're like me and need to climb steep hills often, you likely do so at lower speeds. In these situations, the smoothness gets in the way of having more much needed power. As a result, Priority tweaked it a bit and put together a configuration that tries to deliver more power at lower speeds, without compromising too much of the smoothness. The update process was easy - they ship you a cable, you plug it into the bike and your computer, and they do the update for you through remote access. The changes are noticeable immediately after, especially at high PAS levels, but after riding for a few days, you get used to it. It becomes the new normal.
Here are the two situations where the alternative firmware was most noticeable:​
  • Gaining speed from a full stop: Before, it used to take a bit more effort to gain speed after a stop light. Especially at higher PAS (e.g. 4, 5), I now get to 10-15mph from a full stop very quickly. I don't care that much for quick acceleration, but the other implication is that it's easier to get started if I stop on an incline. Previously, although the motor would engage quickly, it felt like I needed a few extra revolutions to get the full assistance at a given level. Now, it feels like this assistance comes sooner. With the exception of the incline situation (which is better!), neither is necessarily better or worse for me. The prior experience felt very natural and very much like a conventional bike, which some users appreciate, some don't. At lower PAS (1,2) it still feels very natural and I mostly ride my bike at those levels, when I'm not going uphill. A few days after the change, it has become the new normal. Except for the higher levels, the bike still feels very smooth.

  • Climbing: This one is noticeably better. I feel like I gained a power level or a gear, compared to the previous setting. I tested several times on the 14.5% hill next to my house - before, I used to climb it at either PAS 5 gear 2, or PAS 4 gear 1. Now, I'm able to climb it on PAS 5 gear 3 @10mph, PAS 4 gear 2 @ 8mph, or PAS 3 gear 1 @ 6mph. The 17.5% hill I could only climb at PAS 5 gear 1, with considerable effort, now can be climbed at PAS 5 gear 2 with some effort. The 19.5% hill I couldn't climb, now can be climbed at PAS 5 gear 1 (granted, only a block's worth and I get tired, but that's enough!).
Minor gripes:​
  • Motor cutoff delay becomes more noticeable (at high PAS). In one of my attempts, I was climbing the 20% hill at full power (but slowly) and decided to stop. I quickly braked and put both feet on the ground. The bike probably jumped forward a foot after that, since there is a small delay in power cutoff when you stop pressing the pedals. It was there before, but it's more noticeable when you have more power at low speeds. At higher speeds it's not really noticeable since it takes a while for you to reach a full stop anyway.

  • If I'm on flat at PAS 5 I need to be careful not to rest my foot too hard on the pedal. It jumped forward a bit a few times. Also something that existed before, but is more accentuated now that there is more power from a stop.
Bottom line: I don't think the alternative firmware is necessary for everyone. The original firmware makes it feel more like at regular bike at times. However, for my use case where I have these big hills everywhere I got, it was definitely an upgrade.​

For the first time I tested the range of a full battery. I regret not having done this before the update, as I have no basis for comparison. After fully charging the battery, I wanted to know what is the longest I could ride in a real world setting before running out of power. Here's what the scenario looked like:
  • I was doing my regular leisure rides. No specific routes, just going around my day as usual (parks, beaches, occasional errands).
  • These are usually slower rides, I probably average 12mph.
  • Most of the ride is pretty flat (at most 7% grade). I did occasionally go up the bigger (15%+) hills.
  • I was trying to get some exercise, so the power distribution was: 60% of the time at PAS 1 (up to 5% inclines), 30% at PAS 2 (when I was tired or 5-10% inclines), 10% of less in PAS 5 (when I had to climb 10%+ hills and wanted to get it over with quickly).
In these conditions, I was able to ride for 55 miles before running out of battery. My impressions of this experience were the following:​
  • I don't think I can get more than this. These are slow rides, where I expect to contribute a lot of leg power. When I return to in-person work, in a commute scenario my range will be significantly lower. I will have longer uphill stretches and won't feel like riding at PAS 1 at 7pm after a long day of work. I'll probably keep it at PAS 3 most of the time, so I expect dramatically different range. I have short commute, so this doesn't matter much.
  • A 60+ mile range in a flat city (e.g. NYC) exclusively at PAS 1 is definitely possible. Now, I don't think PAS 1 counts as comfortable. In many terrains, it barely offsets the weight of the bike. Fit people on lightweight road bikes absolutely smoke me when I'm at level 1. So do people on 250W front hub city rental bikes. It is still a great way to get some exercise.
  • The experience of running out of battery is actually interesting. Power delivery remains fairly consistent even when the battery is low. I managed to squeeze a little over 7 miles off the last bar (out of 10) of battery, which makes me concerned for how accurate battery readings really are. When you're very close to zero, the last remaining bar starts to flash, giving you a few minutes to plan a backup strategy. After a few more blocks, the motor shuts off. It is smart enough however, to cut off power to the motor, but leave enough to keep the lights and display on, which I appreciated.
  • A dead battery will fully charge in about 3 hours with the supplied charger.
The only major gripe I have with the bike, which I mentioned in the past, are the battery readings. To be clear, this has nothing to do with the update. I also don't have other e-bikes to compare it to. For some time, no matter how much I charge it, the bike always starts with 9 bars. I probably only ever got 10 bars on the display during the first week. Second, and this seems to be more accentuated when the bike has < 50% battery left, battery readings jump a lot as you cycle through power levels. One day this week, I left for a short ride with 4 bars. I set it to PAS 5 and climbed two blocks of steep hills (probably 5ish minutes). The battery meter dropped to 1 bar. I rode for another half hour at PAS 5 in a mix of flat roads and smaller inclines, and that single bar remained steady. It is really hard to tell how much battery is left. This is further confirmed by the fact that I got almost 8 miles out of the last remaining bar on my bike today (different charge).

Lastly, here's a funny story so we can all laugh at how much of a bike noob I am. When I was a kid, I used to brake primarily with the rear brakes. This was due to the fear instilled in me by my parents, that one day I would be going down a steep hill, brake with the front brakes, and fly over the handlebars. I remained like this for a long time, since I never really questioned this advice. With this heavier, faster bike, I decided to finally start braking correctly and use both brakes simultaneously. In the first few days, I noticed I was veering slightly left every time I would use the brakes. This got me worried, of course - is something wrong with my bike already? Well, turns out that either because my left arm is ever so slightly shorter than my right, or because it is used to just resting on the handlebar instead of, now, reaching for the brakes, every time I had to squeeze with both hands, I ended up slightly steering left. I felt very stupid when I realized that, but also reassured that everything was fine :)

Bike tax for the long post

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