I’m obsessed with e-bikes, but I have sooo many questions

six different ebikes

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I have to make a confession: throughout the last year or so, I’ve gone from knowing nothing about e-bikes to becoming obsessed with them and knowing I need to own one. And it seems like I’ve got lots of company on this journey: a recent New York Times article looked at the exciting rise of e-bikes over the past several years, citing the statistic that sales of electric bikes went up 145 percent in 2020, and are outselling electric cars.

We talk about e-bikes a lot on BikePortland, and have for a long time. But I suspect there are other people out there like me who know why e-bikes have the power to be so transformative — but are overwhelmed with the details of acquiring an e-bike of our own.

“I started pedaling and was startled by a thrilling little whoosh of energy. I found myself meandering around the streets, and was actually disappointed by how fast I managed to get to my destination, because I wanted to keep riding!”

My personal electric bike paradigm shift came when I accidentally rented one in Chicago earlier this year, thinking it was just any old bike share bicycle until I started pedaling and was startled by a thrilling little whoosh of energy. I found myself meandering around the streets, and was actually disappointed by how fast I managed to get to my destination, because I wanted to keep riding!

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Later that night, standing outside in the pouring rain, I had the brief temptation to (groan) call an Uber. But then I remembered how fun it was to ride the electric bike, so I happily allowed myself to get drenched so I could spend some more time riding around on it. This is a story I imagine is replicated all the time, even by people who aren’t as plugged into the merits of cycling as I am — people who we should be wanting to bring along on the shared-use path toward a better biking society.

So, I want an e-bike. And I have a lot of questions, but I am in luck: with the encyclopedic knowledge of the BikePortland readership, I think a lot of world problems could be solved — least of which is the relatively simple task of figuring out what electric bike I should get.

This is just an introduction: as I continue on this journey, I’ll update you on my progress. But for now, please tell me about your e-bike! Or, if you’re like me, the questions you have about them! I’ll round them all up and try to get answers for you in a future post. If all goes according to plan n serve as a liaison between the e-bike newbies and experts so more of us can experience the joys and benefits of riding them.

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Lucy W
Lucy W
6 months ago

Oh my goodness Taylor I have this EXACT issue!! We are ready to get our first E-bike, but it’s such an investment and we’re hemming and hawing about how to find the right one. I have a spreadsheet I’d be happy to share if you’re interested, but I’m so excited you’re taking this topic on!

J.R. Mcgrail
J.R. Mcgrail
5 months ago
Reply to  Lucy W

OMG could I please get a copy of that spreadsheet? Many thanks!
JRMcGrail @Gmail.com

Matt
Matt
6 months ago

Hey Jonathan–would you consider adding a “no e-bikes” article filter such as is available on Pinkbike? I’m tired of having them crammed down my throat.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Matt

Thanks for the suggestion Matt. I’ve considered that. And the answer is no.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago

Why?

FullLaneFemme
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

You could have just scrolled yet you took the time to type out a comment and then submit the comment. Sounds like a lot of energy for something you hate.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  FullLaneFemme

You mean I disliked this article, and wrote a comment expressing my displeasure? Exactly like how you disliked my comment, and wrote a comment expressing *your* displeasure? Neither of us just acquiesced in silence; rather we each expended energy to express ourselves? Seems like we’re both prone to wasting our respective energies. ***Editor—I deleted your last sentence.***

Chris I
Chris I
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Wow.

BikeRound
BikeRound
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Let’s call it for what it is: an electric motorcycle. Riding electric motorcycles in the city would still be preferable to driving cars, but the vast majority of electric motorcycle riders will get little to no exercise out of the process. They will crank up the power to max, and that’s it. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Nick W.
6 months ago
Reply to  BikeRound

Evidence>anecdotes. Class 1 and 3 ebikes only provide assistance while pedaling, and studies have shown that the exercise is significant.

In any case, I often ride just as fast on my road bike as when I’m on an ebike. Is there really much difference to the rider I pass whether I’m on drop bars or a class 2 throttle ebike?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
6 months ago

I want an eBike, but my main problem aside from “affordability” is that any eBike I get needs to go inside my apartment, which has a step into my living room. As I get older, I find I can’t lift bikes over 50 lbs, and most eBikes are over that, even without bags, locks, groceries, and the usual accessories. I don’t have a garage, in common with most urbanites, so rolling a 75lb monster into a dry secure location isn’t really an option. And leaving it outside invites theft.

Also, does anyone make a steel eBike that is normal in size with a mid-drive motor? I weigh over 350 lbs and I need steel.

Paul
Paul
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

There are lots of ebikes around 40 pounds, and some lighter, even as low as 25 pounds. Although that may cut into the affordability.

Amit Zinman
Amit Zinman
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Yes, the electric Brompton definitely is lightweight as well as being truly expensive.
This is pretty compact and much cheaper
https://blixbike.com/products/vika-electric-folding-bike

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Bike Weight With Battery: 55lbs

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

if you have a car, you can get a Radmin, fold it and store it in the trunk. Another option is to remove the battery and carry the bike and the battery separately. So you want an ebike that weighs less than 50 pounds without the battery.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

TOTAL WEIGHT: 68.3 lbs (30.98 kg)

Pedaling in PDX
Pedaling in PDX
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Although there seems to be quite a debate over what drive system is best, check out Grin over at ebikes.ca (Jon I don’t know your out-bound link policy but consider allowing this one if you otherwise wouldn’t) They are a company that helps people with retrofitting their current bike to be an e-bike and iirc they can keep things sub 50lbs depending on your needs. IMO an ideal situation would be to have very affordable rental hubs at apartments for situations like yours but that may still be a ways out.

As a personal anecdote, I am also a heavier rider and have known many that have had much success with both aluminum alloy and carbon, the tech has advanced leaps and bounds since it first entered the market and can often best steels load tolerances.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I recently bought a 27 lb e-bike because I have inflammatory arthritis that prevents me from being able to lug a heavy e-bike up the stairs to my apartment.

I’m not sure whether this bike would work for you and the cost was high enough that I’m somewhat ashamed of my purchase but the bike works for me:

hybrid model:
https://lemond.com/prolog

step through model:
https://lemond.com/dutch

Steve C
Steve C
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

Wow, super cool. I’d love to hear what your impressions are. I’m glad Lemond is getting a third (or fourth?) act. Seems like a genuinely good dude making an interesting and unique product.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

It’s light enough that it rides like a normal bike with the system powered down (not even sure that I can detect any drag). If I use assist it’s typically at the lowest setting; however, a ride up an 8% grade was very easy at the highest power setting. I replaced the cheap plastic pedals and am planning on replacing the saddle but other than that it’s well equipped (even the free fenders are crabon fibre). I plan on adding a Tubus Airy rack so that the bike can be used for longer distance shopping trips in the future. For people that feel limited by the assist cut off, I added a dongle that hacks the assist to 24 mph. Although there were some minor issues with the integrated lights Lemond addressed these quickly so am overall happy.

PS: I’m really enjoying the panaracer gravel slick 38s and if they hold up well to sharp gravel and smashed car window glass they may dethrone gatorskins as my default commuting tire.

JG
JG
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

What a beautiful bike. I had no idea LeMond was making these. The price may make you bashful, but that bike is worth showing off.

rick
rick
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Bike Friday’s compact and lightweight ebikes are welded in Eugene.

Steve C
Steve C
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Currently, the e-drive portion of the system adds about 10-13 lbs to a bike (mid-drive motor: ~7 lbs, and 400Wh battery: ~6 lbs).

There are a few kits that retrofit a standard bike to a mid-drive ebike. That might be the best route to get a bike that fits all your criteria.

mperham
6 months ago

We’ve got two ebikes: a Super73 and a Trek Verve+. They are very different and have their own usecases. I hope you find something great for your lifestyle, Taylor!

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
6 months ago

One thing about buying an ebike is be sure to check the cost of battery replacement. They’re not cheap, between 600 and 1000 bucks. Batteries typically last between two to five years depending on use.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Good point Mike…I am hoping the market for ‘rebuilding’ post OEM e-bike batteries takes off in Portland and other ‘Bike towns’ (assuming your e-bike has a ‘hot swappable’ battery pack or an in-frame design that allows it to be done in a shop). Our family just ‘re-homed’ a 10+ year old e-bike, so we are its third caretaker and will need to deal with the battery refresh in a year or so. And a new OEM battery would likely be more than we paid for the bike. One way to mitigate this is for legislation or the “market” to offer a standardized design…like ICE car batteries (remember when car batteries came in various voltages…6v, 12v etc.?)…or an adapter? Or Plan B…pick an e-bike that pedals well as a regular bike after removing the battery.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
6 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Yeah. Another consideration is most batteries are made in China and Taiwan. And with America seemingly itching to pick a fight with China, future supply could be a major issue. Funny, the U.S. wants to pick a fight with its biggest supplier of consumer goods.

Amit Zinman
Amit Zinman
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

I’d rather have less (or no) consumer goods than screw over minorities, children and people who criticise the government of China, not to mention Hong Kong and Taiwan.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

I feel the same way about the USA/Oregon/Portland.

EEE
EEE
6 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

This market already exists and has for over a decade because the necessary set of components for an ebike is extremely simple – motor, controller, battery; and they are very interchangeable outside of your typical branded ebike.

Chris I
Chris I
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

5 years max? I guess my 10 year old Bionx is a zombie, then. Original battery.

Carrie
Carrie
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Batteries typically last between two to five years depending on use.

Where did that stat come from Matt? Curious because I’ve had my ebike for 4 years now with 3000 miles and haven’t noticed much decrease in battery performance at all over it’s lifetime to-date.

Tim D
Tim D
6 months ago

Ohh, exciting! I love the idea of e-bike to assist me when I need that extra power when towing a kid or cargo, and to help make cycling more accessible for people who may no be able to ride a non e-bike. My big hesitation is lifespan of the battery and general wear on the e-bike specific parts- any info you dig up on that would be great!

Nick W.
6 months ago
Reply to  Tim D

Battery lifespan can vary widely depending on the charge/discharge usage, the sophistication of the cell balancing system, and some other factors as well. Lithium batteries should be good for 500+ charges, so you should get at least a few years of use before needing to rebuild or recycle.

As for the e-drive specific parts wear, it’s all over the map. Riding behavior matters. Anecdotally I’ve talked to a number of e-bike mechanics who report burned-out motors from riders using a “hard” gear and high assist almost all the time, working the motor hard and hot. I suspect this is why the latest generation of Specialized Turbos have an “efficiency coach” in the form of a cadence meter encouraging riders to pedal in the optimal zone, which I think is somewhere around 85-100rpm.

At the end of the day, it’s good to weigh whether an ebike would help you to ride more and drive less. If so, (and assuming the finances pencil out) it’s a good choice for you and the community as a whole.

SERider
SERider
6 months ago
Reply to  Tim D

A wagon-style ebike with kids on the back has been a game changer for us here in hilly Seattle. School/pickup drop off is such a breeze, and it got my wife out riding who previously was a very reluctant cyclist.

Felice
Felice
6 months ago

Hi Taylor,
I have a Van Moof X3, and it’s fun to ride, and I think it’s cuter than the standard ebike!
Previously I had some issues getting it serviced, but now it is supported by west end bikes, and they
May have some to test ride too!
Felice

eawriste
eawriste
6 months ago
Reply to  Felice

Plus they find it for free if it’s stolen. It does have weird components.

LWR
LWR
6 months ago

Have happily been commuting by e-bike daily for about 18 months now. I went with a 2019 RadWagon which I absolutely love almost everything about except for how unholy heavy it is and a few other minor quibbles.

Cost is definitely an issue. I hope we continue to see progress on legislation and other programs that help make them more accessible to all.

maxD
maxD
6 months ago

Does the City of State regulate E-bikes? Every morning on my commute I pass a guy heading in the opposite direction of me on the waterfront path. He is riding a an e-bike/electric motorcycle thing styled to look like a vintage mini-bike (70’s/e8-‘s era). He is wearing a full motorcycle helmet and goggles, he has some stuff strapped to the back and about half the time he has a passenger. He is going pretty fast for the environment (20-25 mph I would guess) and I have never seen him pedal. Is this an e-bike?

EEE
EEE
6 months ago
Reply to  maxD

The state regulates ebikes (see ORS 801.258) making it either an ebike or not.
You don’t need to pedal, but the bike needs to be capable of pedaling.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
6 months ago
Reply to  EEE

pedal a 70 lb moped ?

wow!

Tony
Tony
6 months ago

You have a lot of ebike questions and you wanted more from us?
Post your questions and we might be able to help.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago

Post your ebike questions and we might be able to help.
https://electricbikereview.com is a good site and they have many YouTube reviews.

Damien
Damien
6 months ago

I got a Brompton electric folding bike last year that I’m very happy with – got it because I lived in a two-story walk-up and hauling a proper bike up and down the stairs/past all the doors was such a logistical nightmare I found myself simply not riding all that often.

I wouldn’t do anything terribly long distance with it, but for getting around the city, particularly with the flexibility of just carrying it in anywhere I go (so I don’t have to worry about theft – though, it is definitely not the lightest thing to suitcase carry around), it’s fantastic.

One definite downside: For folding purposes, the brake handles are pointed towards the ground when you’re riding. At 6’1″, it’s barely okay for me, but when my 5’3″ wife gave it a go, she couldn’t really brake.

Mike Owens
Mike Owens
6 months ago

Hey Taylor, I bike the streets of PDX for about 2 decades w/o the electric assist. A few things I used to decide to get one:
1. Do you have many or big hills? Do you want the better workout or do you need to arrive at work fresh?
2. The benefits of a non e-bike include being a much lesser target in our bike theft riddled streets, so be sure you have an absolutely safe place to always park your pricey eBike. Locks outside are no longer safe in the age of angle grinders.
3. The biggest need in PDX is safe, protected infrastructure. This would increase all ridership much more than any push for a type of vehicle. Esp given 1 and 2 above. So look at your route and see how much of the limited safe bike network you have available to you.
4. Do you mix transit types? eBikes are harder to get onto bus/MAX. Though this varies for sure.
5. Go rent a few or borrow! I have an Ariel Rideal that works great for me, was $899. Happy to show it to you or any others maybe at a local event ride. The price point for the size and use of motor, removable battery, disc brakes, 6 speeds, integrated lights and options for racks won me over vs. some others in the price category. I decided I needed the eBike vs. non-eBike for my long hill home in the interest of time mostly.

Gar
Gar
6 months ago

“I’ve gone from knowing essentially nothing about e-bikes to becoming obsessed with them and knowing I need to own one.” I’m with you, Taylor, although maybe a little further along, since I finally landed on one I’m thrilled with (Priority Current)which I purchased after a ton of trial n’ error, expense, and research. With that said, I’m fairly atypical of market trends since I much prefer peddle-only E bikes (Class 1 or 3) to the far more popular Moped type bikes (Class 2) with a throttle. In any case, I understand why you’re hooked. Happy e-bike hunting!

Gibran Ramos
Gibran Ramos
6 months ago

As a family, we’re on our fifth e-bike.

Before the kids came along, me and my partner biked more than the average people. We bike commuted most days and did our errands by bike, all year long. We biked to restaurants and concerts for date nights. We even chose to live in inner SE when we moved to PDX in 2003 because it was so flat (compared to Seattle) and bike assessable.

1st) As an early adopter, I retrofitted 1990s Univega mountain bike frame with a hilltopper ebike conversion kit – basically a front motor hub on a 26″ mountain bike aluminum rim – 2010 – didn’t use this much and sold it within a year. The motor was mediocre battery was a heavy and battery range was abysmal. Also it wasn’t fun stopping the extra momentum with rim brakes.

No ebikes, just pedal powered bikes from 2011 to 2017.

Then in 2017, we were expecting our first kiddo and along came the question of how to transport an infant/toddler on a bike.

A single mom friend of ours inspired us to go with the cargo ebikes in 2017 after her insurance company “totaled” her car. With the insurance money, she bought a front loading cargo ebike to replace her car to commute to work, do errands, and haul around a toddler. It was inspiring to see a single mom give up her car for an electric cargo bike.

2nd) used front loading cargo bike with first gen Bionx hub motor – 2017 to 2020 – a true car replacement with a canopy over the cargo area. We used it most days for errands and commuting. Hydraulic disk brakes. Sold this to purchase 4th cargo ebike.
3rd) new another front loading cargo bike with second gen bionx hub motor; canopy over cargo area. 2018 to 2021 – again, almost daily use. Hydros. At one point we had the battery refurbished with new higher capacity cells for $500. Sold this to purchase 5th cargo ebike.

4th) new longtail cargo ebike (Radwagon 4th gen – white color); hub motor – 2020 to present – more-or-less daily use. Upgraded front light and brakes to hydro.

5th) new longtail cargo ebike (Radwagon 4th gen – black color); hub motor – 2021 to present. Not upgrades for hardware. Did retrofit longtail with a canopy.

We live in SE so hub motors are perfect. Not insane torque but enough speed and power to get an 80+lb cargo bike up to 20mph. If you live amongst the steep West hills, then a mid-drive is necessary, in our opinion, to allow for mechanical advantage of the rear cassette gearing and hill climbing.

Me and my partner love commuting on our ebikes as we can arrive to the office in full raingear and not breaking a sweat. We can haul a lot more cargo with an ebike – kiddos, groceries, etc.

Ebikes, in general, extend the range people are willing to bike from just a couple miles to over five miles. There was a study a while bike that I looked into this phenomenon of increased biked miles on a ebikes.

We like the safety of being able to keep up with traffic more so especially through areas that don’t have separated bike lanes – e.g. downtown core.

Yes, ebikes are not cheap, but can be true car replacements. Battery costs are a significant portion of cost of electric cars/bikes, but these prices are coming down and consumers are getting more range for less money.

Mainly though, ebikes are fun! “Smiles for miles!” is a phrase that comes to mind when I think about my ebike.

JR Namida
6 months ago

I purchased an eBike in May 2020, as I could not find an eBike to try in my City Las Vegas that I could ultimately aford in any of our locale bicycle shops. I read everything I could about eBikes, and the local rumors about theft of batteries being stolen off properly double and triple locked eBikes by my neighborhood grocery store. Also the bike racks were removed by Walmart and Mcdonalds because of the theft problem.

I purchased a KBO Stealth Urban Hurricane – Spent $1,045 and the bicycle arrived 4 days after on-line purchase. A single speed 37.7 pound alloy hybrid style bicycle with a Mtb flat alloy handle bar, with Mechanical disc brakes.

First problem, 37.7 pounds was to heavy for me to carry up and down 3 flights of stairs for my daily commute. I continued to ride my 17 pound road bike daily as the weather in Las Vegas continued to get warmer.

Modding the KBO by adding a light weight front wheel, and a continental Gatorskin tire with known puncture protection brought the weight down a bit. My first ride was on the weekend I road the KBO eBike without any electric assist for the first 6 miles to be certain I could ride if I lost electrical power. Then I switched on the electrical power and stayed in lowest level (econ mode) and road 32 miles, discovering the second problem (lack of power climbing a short hill). Did a U turn, and tried the hill with the highest level of power assist, I still could not climb the short hill without a large effort and becoming immediately drenched in sweat as I finally crested the short hill.

Changing out the alloy front fork for a carbon fiber unit, and carbon fiber integrated stem and drop bar style Handlebars the bicycle lost more weight. Changed out the heavy alloy seat post and saddle with a Thomson Elite seatpost and fabric saddle The eBike became lighter. Most of all the horrid road buzz from the pavement disappeared as I began to search for a different Commute route eliminating the short hill and 4 mile gentle incline the bicycle would not climb without a lot of sweat producing effort. I dumped the heavy alloy pedals and installed some Crankbrothers candy’s a third of the weight, from what was shipped with the bicycle. The bicycle is now 32 pounds and much easier to carry up and down 3 flight of stairs.

I found a route without any hills or inclines and increased the time to ride to and from work, but was able to use the power assist and not get sweat soaked on the way to the office. I road the most of the time, entire summer, but did drive to work on 110°F forecast days. In september as the weather cooled I was able to ride to and from work everyday. Pedal assist from the stealth eBike on flat pavement was a dream, except for the traffic that selectively do not see cyclists. I was using less traveled roads, letting the single speed bicycle raise my average speed from 12 mph to 12.5 mph.

I would have purchased a 24 pound Ribble eBike if my pocketbook allowed such an extravagant purchase. Instead I have managed to reduce the KBO’s eBike weight down to 32 pounds. Now if I could find a generic carbon fiber Stealth eBike frame I believe I could have a 26-28 pound eBike that would be much easier to carry up and down the narrow stairs.

It is funny as I ride to work, with other commuters, many of them never spin the pedal and only use the throttle. I always wonder why they purchased a eBike instead of a cheaper faster electric powered motorcycle. My bicycle has a cheap cadence sensor and I wounder how much better a Torque sensor would change the eBike I ride?

I am certain the next eBike I purchase will have a Torque sensor, and maybe a chain with 7 gears to make hills and gentle inclines possible…

JR

Gar
Gar
6 months ago
Reply to  JR Namida

It is funny as I ride to work, with other commuters, many of them never spin the pedal and only use the throttle. I always wonder why they purchased a eBike instead of a cheaper faster electric powered motorcycle.

Amen to that, but we’re in a small minority of e-bike buyers. Most insist on a throttle. Twist throttles, in particular, impress me as an accident-waiting-to-happen. (I owned an Aventon Pace 500 for a while that had a thumb throttle, but I didn’t use it). I would just as well buy a Moped if I didn’t want to peddle.

I am certain the next eBike I purchase will have a Torque sensor, and maybe a chain with 7 gears to make hills and gentle inclines possible…

The torque sensor certainly has a more natural feel, so as a rider you will feel far more in control of your bikes performance. I imagine there are some though that enjoy the “bolt” take-off typical of many cadence sensor bikes, but I much prefer having a torque sensor, having experienced both. The Priority Current I now ride also has a belt drive and internally geared hub for shifting, so there are no chain derailleur issues.

Karl
Karl
6 months ago

My wife and I purchased rear hub drive bikes in the spring of 2021, and enjoyed them very much, but there was something ‘off’ in our experience. After renting some mid-drives in Colorado over the summer, we figured it out. The hub drives were applying the assistance in a manner that was unnatural to us for a bike – it would just kick in and take you to whatever speed was associated to the PAS level that we were at, as the controller was managed by the single cadence sensor alone. The mid-drives, with their cadence + torque + speed sensors, managed the assistance much more intuitively, as well as the fact that there was no throttle and you still had to pedal to move. When we got back home, we found a couple mid-drives at our local Gazelle dealer, and brought them home. Sold the hub drives on Craigslist in 3 days.

SERider
SERider
6 months ago
Reply to  Karl

That issue with the hub drive seems unique to the ebikes you bought. Radbikes just produce a set amount of watts at each PAS level, regardless of speed. I’ve found it to be quite natural. I wouldn’t write off all hub drives based on your experience. I actually really like the throttle too for riding in traffic and starting from a stop. Nice to have that quick boost when you need it to get out of a sticky situation.

Aaron Brown
6 months ago

I know it’s all up in the air at this point, and heavily subject to change depending on which way the political winds change, but should the Build Back Better bill pass (knocks on wood), does anyone have any sort of understanding when those e-bike subsidies would take into action? What are the odds they could be retroactive? I’m absolutely hoping to buy an e-bike in the next couple months but I’d be willing to wait if there was reason to believe there’s a couple hundred dollars savings i could apply

FullLaneFemme
6 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Brown

It won’t be retroactive.

chris
chris
6 months ago

I love my e-bike! After eyeing the Rad Power Bikes Radwagon for years, I finally ended up getting the smaller Rad Runner Plus because we only have one kid and don’t need to haul that much cargo. And I love the bmx/moped look of it plus the ability to go “off road” on it.
Ironically, some bicycle riders seem to get more butthurt when I pass them on the e-bike than they used to act when I passed them on my vintage 1978 2 stroke moped. Guess you can’t please everyone.

Shuppatsu
Shuppatsu
6 months ago

I have a RadWagon 4. Overall I’m happy with the purchase. For a while I was using it on long commutes, and if I had kept that up it would have been worth it to buy a pricier bike like a Tern. But currently it’s back to short trips taking the kids to soccer practice and the like, so it’s perfect.

I have no problem with the hub motor, PAS, etc. YMMV, but I’ve used plenty of mid-drive bikes, and while they are superior, they aren’t worth it to me.

My main issue is the custom tires and tubes. The tires are fine, but they are NOT puncture-proof. I’d suggest putting slime in the tube or finding some tire liners that you can cut down to size. It’s a huge pain to patch the rear tire on the road. I’ve done it once, and I hope never to have to do it again. And buy a spare tire and tube before you need it. It’s custom, and the tubes were recently backordered by a month. The tires are cheap; the tubes are pricey.

Todd
Todd
6 months ago

I have been heavily into regular bikes since the 1980s, and ebikes since 1999. I even sold both for a living for 12 years. Am 55 and never owned a car before 2 years ago: all bike all the time before, even as a parent, homeowner, business owner etc. I struggled with the “impurity” factor of ebikes, given how great a light plain bike can feel, and how clunky even better ebikes can feel in comparison. I have now broken the tension by owning both a couple nice plain bikes, and … an electric unicycle.

The latter has none of the conflicts of an e-bike. It is smaller than a folded Brompton, and will out-run any ebike for up to about 50 miles. It is also a vastly better value on specs than any e-bike, with battery sizes around 2,000Wh for around $2000 (I dare you to compare). The learning curve is steep and long, but the fun factor is off the charts, like learning to ride a bike all over. One. Moving. Part. They’re also truly new, like bikes were circa 1880, early adopters swept up in similar passion and pace of innovation as bikers once knew. And they were invented in Camas WA, pretty much. Exercise? Not as much per mile, but I’m finding that riding 45 miles or so just for fun several times a week beats the exercise value I was getting out of my increasingly utilitarian short bicycle rides by a long ways.

Climate cal
Climate cal
6 months ago

Make sure that it has fenders, that it’s easy to lock to a bikerack (some aren’t), that (ideally) it also has a handlebar mounted throttle to help you walk it upstairs or get moving on an uphill slope. If your trip is multimodal, will it be luggable on transit?

How heavy, & will you ever need to lift it? or fold it?

A kit starts at $600.

Chris Streight
Chris Streight
6 months ago

Taylor, I have been riding a town type e-bike for 4 years now. Happy to answer questions. Just drop me an email.