What's the Best Electric Bike, or at Least Your Favorite!

Court

Administrator
Staff member
I'm kicking things off with a question to myself... that I get asked all the time during visits to shops, phone chats, and in interviews. I actually did an interview with REI recently, the Guardian, Yahoo, and a bunch of others... and they are just so packed with great questions! I always wish I had made recordings... my hope is that this "ask" space can fill in the gaps ;)

 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Care to share what you learned?
Here's another way to think things through.

If our present ebike 'parted company' from us, would we buy the same bike again – perhaps, a newer or slightly different model. For me…
  • 2017 : Kalkhoff Integrale Alfine 11 Di2 (seriously expensive; disastrously flawed) – no.
  • 2018 : Trek Powerfly 5 (mid-range eMTB; outstanding dealer support) – yes.
  • 2019 : R&M Homage Rohloff (premium quality; dream ebike) – yes.
Reliability and brand support are of utmost importance.
 
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Mike_V

Member
I'm kicking things off with a question to myself... that I get asked all the time during visits to shops, phone chats, and in interviews. I actually did an interview with REI recently, the Guardian, Yahoo, and a bunch of others... and they are just so packed with great questions! I always wish I had made recordings... my hope is that this "ask" space can fill in the gaps ;)
Hi Court, thanks for asking about my bike! I am a delighted customer with my 'Stealth Chopper' BPM Imports F-35-MX ~$1.6K dirt bike.

Having a full suspension is a pleasure on the rail trails and dirt roads that I ride for 500+ miles since August. It's somewhat puzzling to me that having suspension is not a top priority for many people, perhaps they ride smooth roads. I often ride alongside the trails to travel over some mildly challenging hilly terrain, soft soil, leaf litter, sticks and rocks. Riding over unimproved gravel rail trails with old railroad ties is a blast on the throttle with this nimble, quick handling suspension bike.

This ebike effectively delivers lots of torque with the 750W Bafang, 20" fat tires and 22A controller. Riding uphills and 20MPH is easy despite my ~200# weight and ~63# bike. Most importantly: This bike standover height ~28" is perfect for me since I'm short and I can get off it without getting hurt.

The bike's rear LED red marker (selected by the LCD panel) and bright brake light is a great safety feature No complaints or any problems worth the time to write or read about. MV
 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
If our present ebike 'parted company' from us, would we buy the same bike again – perhaps, a newer or slightly different model. For me…
Such a great way to frame this question @David Berry! I'll reciprocate...
  • 2012 EVELO Aries (frame flex, weak motor that wasn't dynamic, noisy rattly battery box, great customer service though!) - no...
  • 2013 Pedego City Commuter (this was one of the first ones they sold to the public, it was great but the rear rack failed and Pedego replaced it, then the display got water inside because of the rain in Austin, and ultimately without suspension it was rattling me to death) - maybe... depends on the condition of streets
  • 2013 Easy Motion Neo Jumper (dynamic pedal assist, throttle, removable display, comfortable and capable anywhere... but no rack, TMM4 torque sensor is finicky, custom battery looked good but couldn't be charged on frame and faded differently than rest of the bike, easy motion later removed throttles from their off-road models and lately the company seems to be struggling with an office move and major downsizing) - no... way better options of mid-drive speed pedelec full suspension models now like the BULLS Iconic EVO TR 1
  • 2017 VoltBike Enduro (very affordable, pretty comfortable... even though the suspension is super basic, nice mid-drive, has throttle) yes... even though the paint faded a bit, this bike was given to Darlington, who parked it outside and rode it in rain, snow, and shine with no issues!
  • 2017 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert 6Fatty (awesome suspension, geometry, drivetrain, smooth dynamic quiet Brose motor, annoying battery and battery plug, annoying control pad on side of pack vs. handlebar, too expensive to use as a daily rider for fear of scratches and theft... see VoltBike Enduro!) - maybe... I'd buy the newer versions of this ebike, which I mention in the video above! It climbs stairs fantastically with the new Brose Drive S Mag
These are most of the ebikes I actually owned, but there have been many loaners in between. I don't own ebikes now because I travel so much and like to try a wide variety. It leaves me with less depth on long term use, but that's why I love the forums, because it's great to hear from YOU and what the reality of these bikes actually is ;)
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Court my current favorite bike would also be a R+M Delite, but I am wondering which type of gear changer to select. Which would you get on your Delite?
Great question... I'd go with standard cassette and derailleur. It's tight and fast, I know how to ride and shift appropriately (especially with Bosch motor) so I won't mess it up. The electronically shifted Rholoff is neat, but heavy and expensive, it also doesn't feel like I'm "painting" with my body while shifting, more like shifting into a clunking gear on a car... I like the feathery feel of trigger shifters, where I can apply just a bit of pressure and feel my way into the next gear. I find the grip shifters to be difficult to twist sometimes, especially on the NuVinci / Enviolo continuously variable transmission... which is also heavy and expensive. If price was no object, I'd still get sprockets and derailleur unless I was in a really rugged environment and wanted to remove some of the vulnerability of a derailleur hanging down. I also feel like these CVT units and belt drives add drag and remove efficiency. They add some durability and reduce noise and mess, but for me, I keep my bikes clean and like a race feel, like the bike is an extension of my body more than a vehicle :D
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Along those lines... we started with a Motorino dual battery 500 watt hub motored bike which I scrapped after 6,000 k. NO NO NO! ...followed by a Yunbike C1 still in box on CL for $400. At that price and after 600 km WHY NOT? Then we got serious with a Riese and Muller Charger GT tour( 15,000km) for me, which is a resounding YES, and a Trek Powerfly 5 for my wife (6,000 km), also a big YES.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Along those lines... we started with a Motorino dual battery 500 watt hub motored bike which I scrapped after 6,000 k. NO NO NO! ...followed by a Yunbike C1 still in box on CL for $400. At that price and after 600 km WHY NOT? Then we got serious with a Riese and Muller Charger GT tour( 15,000km) for me, which is a resounding YES, and a Trek Powerfly 5 for my wife (6,000 km), also a big YES.
Oh man, great choices with R&M and Trek... those are two of my top pick brands for sure! How did the Yunbike C1 perform? I've gotten many questions about "where do I get a replacement charger" and it seems like the run was just a single year and there's no follow up support, which might be why the price was so good ;)
 

Solom01

Active Member
There's no best ebike, just ones that do a better job of meeting a person's needs. I would never want a tank like a R & M, can't stand the feel of a 50 plus pound "bike" loaded with panniers and other weight. But for other people that's their dream machine. I really like my Orbea Gain, it's light, nimble and feels like a bike. But I realize that for a lot of people a bike that requires real work to ride and doesn't have a huge motor and a ton of battery power seems like a strange choice. So the best bike is the one that meets your needs. And at this point there's not one bike that is best for each person.
 

eliot3b4

New Member
I'll offer my thoughts here as I've owned 3 electric bikes. A little background on me. I used to ride a bike in my younger days. I am now 68 years old. I love adventures, fly airplanes, and am a commercial pilot. Life got the best of me and I stopped riding, exercising, etc.

A couple of years ago, I saw the electric bikes, and decided to try to ride once again. Electric bikes have opened up my world. I have a rather steep hill to my home, hence the electric bike to get back to my home after a ride around the neighborhood.

My first bike was a Raleigh step though bike with the battery in the rear of the bike. This bike got me started, and was very affordable. However, the battery in back bugged me and I felt it was unsafe to be riding with a rear mounted battery. I then saw the Trek, and purchased the Super Commuter 7+. I have ridden this bike over 2,000 miles in total. A very stable bike. However, the issue is the weight of the bike. It does not fit on a bike rack very easily, and is bloody heavy for me to lift. Even the dealer had issues with putting this bike on a rack.

Then the new bikes with the battery in the stem came out. I wanted another Trek, but Trek does not make a light weight bike for my height. I was greatly disappointed. After a lot of research, I found the Cannondale Synapse NEO 1, tried a similar Neo, then purchased the Neo 1. I had to wait to get one, as I need a small size due to being short (5'2"). She finally arrived last weekend and I have ridden her 21 miles so far.

In thinking of this progression. The first bike, the Raleigh, got me outside riding a bike. That was the first step. Breaking that barrier to I can't ride a bicycle again to whoo hoo this is fun was a huge step. The Trek really helped me push myself and ride further distances. And now the Cannondale will get me to ride even further and in different areas.

The difference between the Trek and Cannondale. The Trek is like riding a huge SUV. The Cannondale is like riding a little MG Midget. The weight of the bike is an issue when finding myself unsteady. I fell once with the Raleigh due to my own error going up the hill to my home, and once with my Trek, while trying to turn a corner and being unsteady. Because of the weight of the bikes, I did not have the strength to stop the fall.

I have named the Cannondale "Wild Thing", as she will very easily get away from me and I will not be able to control her. So, I slow down on hills going down, especially the one near my home. I get bumped around more on the Cannondale, but I am able to control the impact of those bumps better than the Trek.

Overall, it does not matter which bike you are riding. The important thing is to get on a bike and ride. It is a hoot and does have a positive impact on ones health and outlook on life. Be prepared to fall at least once. The first fall did not shake me too much but the second one did. I wear a helmet made for electric bikes and it has a face mask, which I highly recommend. Make certain you can be seen my traffic. Lights, and reflective clothing all help.

I love this web site and really appreciate all of the work Courtney has done in researching electric bikes. It is because of this web site, that I took the first step in purchasing an electric bike. Thank you, Courtney!
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I love my "tanks" I ride two bikes, both Riese & Muller. One is a 2018 Delight Mountain with a derestricted Bosch CX motor and a modified Shimano Diore XT 11 speed. The other is a 2019 Homage Rohloff High Speed (class 3) Both have dual 500 wh batteries. Between the two of them I have averaged 650 miles a month this past year. I am a retired boat captain and ride mostly on country roads or around town running errands, light shopping, going to the gym or out for coffee. My ebikes have taken over as primary transportation with the Homage being the comfort round town/touring bike and the Delight being more the fast, long distance recreational bike. My car is feeling neglected and only gets gassed up every 6 weeks or so.

On the Delight, in order to take advantage of the unlimited assist, I changed out the front chain ring from a 15 tooth to a 18 tooth and changed the cassette from an 11-42 to an 11-46. I generally do three group rides a week on the Delight with my roady friends, often serving as a motor pacer for the faster riders. I am a bigger guy at 6'1"/215 lbs. so I punch a big hole in the air for people riding on my wheel. I can sustain 24-28 mph on flat ground for up to eight miles at a time. This bike is quick and nimble, with sporty performance and handling, I liken it to a BMW Z4 while the Homage is more like an S class Benz.

The Homage with the Rohloff and the belt has for me, the perfect drive train. Once you really learn to shift the Rohloff and have it well broken in, it is quiet, smooth and easy to be in just the right gear, especially with the E14 shifter being able to quickly jump 3 gears at a time. After a month of riding it being in the right gear is just intuitive and natural. I live in a hilly town (Bellingham WA) halfway up a steep hill. The last 1/2 mile of every ride starts with a 8% climb that ends with the last two blocks at 17%. I usually do the 8 degree in 6th gear and the final 17% in 2nd. The 13th and 14th gears allow me to take full advantage of the speed capabilities of the Performance Speed motor.

If I could retrofit the Delight with a Rohloff and a belt, it would be done. I wipe down and lube my chain every 100 miles but would rather not have to bother. The refinement and comfort of the Homage is remarkable. While heavy it does not ride clunky but rather solid and quite responsive.

I started out ebiking with a CubeTouring Hybrid 500EXC. When it became apparent that I was completely hooked on ebike riding and had transitioned to using it as my primary mode of transport, it was easy to justify stepping up to Riese & Muller bikes. I still have the Cube and use it as our "guest bike" My wife also rides a 2018 Homage Rohloff HS. So with four ebikes, we can accommodate a visiting couple and go out riding as a foursome.

We have a Thule Easyfold XT2 for transporting the bikes and are planning a trip down the west coast in January in search of sunshine and to visit friends. The joy of riding is what I look forward to every day. What it has done for my fitness, endurance and overall health is remarkable. (total cholesterol 134, HDL 45, triglicerides 100, bp 120/60) My cardiologist calls me "the miracle man", a good thing to be called by your doctor!

For me the best ebike is the one you love to ride, look out the window first thing every morning to make sure you can ride and just can't stay off of. I am fortunate to have two such bikes.

And Court, I have to extend my thanks and deep appreciation for all the guidance and encouragement you give to all of us.
 
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Solom01

Active Member
Court sorry I forgot to thank you for the site. I've learned a lot from it and gotten to hear a lot of different points of view. Alaskan sorry to have been a snarky old man. "Tank" is a really ugly word, and your bikes seem perfect for your needs. You could just as easily call my bike skittish, underpowered and overpriced. Its all a matter of what is important to the rider. Hope you all have a great holiday.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I always have to plug my Tern GSD on the favorite bike question. Maybe they could have named it the GED for Gets Everything Done (fairly well). It isn't my favorite to commute on but it handles it well. Not my favorite for a long leisure ride but it handles it fairly well. For general all around use it does a lot of things pretty well and the wife can ride it too. So it gets my vote as my favorite due to its versatility and strong build quality.
Pros: does a lot of things pretty well; accommodates multiple riders; really strong build and quality components; convenience of the modular design ethic of Tern (1 battery or 2, multiple rack choices, bag choices etc)
Cons: after you outfit it for cargo (rails, baskets...), it is really heavy and you lose some of the ease of transport; not going to be an off-road machine or handle snow and ice very well
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
Another young 68 here. I came from 20 years of a Cannondale T400 drop bar touring bike that I loved, along with a Cannondale mountain bike I had in the late 90s till I gave it to my son. The T400 spent four years hanging in the garage until I decided I really missed riding in 2016. Did that long enough to realize that it wasn’t as much fun anymore as I was pretending it was, and bought an eJoe Koda late that summer.

Wow, what a blast. I put about fifteen hundred miles on that but replaced it the next summer with a Trek xm-700 after I realized I was more of a day touring rider and wanted a mid drive for the more natural feel. Really like that one, rode it across NYS on the Erie Canal route in the fall of 2017. Six thousand miles on that one.

But I’ll be damned if every time I rode past some singletrack path going off into the woods, I didn’t want to go see where it went. Enter the Giant ToughRoad that I still have, now with 2400 or so miles on it. Sadly, it went to the basement this morning... by the time we get home after the weekend there is supposed to be ten inches of snow on the ground.

Next bike? I intend to keep this one for a good while, but if it gets replaced it would probably be with the new Giant Revolt. So at the end of the day I’m right back where I started, drop bar long frame touring/gravel bike. The xm-700, wonderful as it was, had me sitting way too upright.

While we’re here, let me acknowledge the work Court has done on what is certainly my favorite stop on the web. The community that has evolved here is terrific, and the source and scope of information the best in the field. Thanks, Court