E-Bikes and Bikes and Biking, OH MY

#1

Hey buds,
BIKES
I saw a Sonders Thin E-Bike today when I was leaving the gym. I have never seen one in the wild, but I have been admiring them for a while (8-12 months?) on the internets.

Previously, when I lived in a very flat state and city, I biked for 80%+ of my commutes. I have been in my “new” city for about 7 years now and have biked twice (on my late grandfathers bicycle which I inherited, he was an avid cyclist).
Hills are rude, and tbh I am already stretching out my physical capacity each day (I am a professional dog walker and do Crossfit), and I might like a little boost from an E Bike. I find them all ugly except the Sonders Thin, that Vanmoof one, and the Faraday.

Does anyone have any input on E Bikes, want to back-and-forth about them, or want to discuss other bikes?
This is a thread about bikes. Lez talk about bikes. :bike:

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#2

Whhhoa, did you hear @krmit’s idea for a show on e-bikes and how to decide if they’re worth it? Amazing.

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#3

No! I am just barely able to keep up with all of the forum now, which is exciting but also… I AM MISSING THINGSSSS

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#4

Yay! :biking_woman:

My bike is an 18-year-old Trek mountain bike that is way more heavy duty than I really need as a city commuter. Mr krmit thinks I need to upgrade to a lighter speedier bike and I’m e-bike curious, which I know may not be lighter, but speedier is a plus.

Looking forward to that OMD show on e-bikes!

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#5

No experience with e-bikes personally but I’ve read a lot about them.

Some considerations:

-make sure whatever bike you pick has the range at the level of desired assist for your use case

-batteries are consumable, how easy is the battery back to replace/service?

-unlikely but possible, are there restrictions on e-bikes in your area where they aren’t allowed on trails, etc that might limit the appeal of biking with assist.

#6

I work at a shop, and have worked in the bike world for a while now and honestly at first was grumpy about e-bikes. But, after a few years of watching the industry sort out some growing pains and develop some really cool e-bike commuter-type options I am pretty sold. I think it makes a ton of sense for someone who lives in a somewhat bigger town, commutes more than a few miles around every day and just doesn’t want to drive. Also, you get to be outside in the sunshine, pedaling around and still getting some exercise while not completely exhausting yourself on longer errands.

We carry a few different commuter style bikes, and one cargo e-bike which is super cool. I honestly want one, and my commute is like…1 mile. Ha! It’s just a great option for hauling whatever you want around town, and literally makes cars unnecessary except for long road trips. We are selling them more and more to people who live 3-5 miles outside of town, and their ride home is uphill/into the wind. It has been life changing for those customers, and they rarely use their cars anymore to do errands around town.

The downside to e-bikes of course is price, but I have watched the prices get more and more affordable the past few years. We carry higher end commuter bikes for sure (in the $2k-$3k range), but it is cool to see more small companies making affordable models as well. I don’t know a lot about those more affordable brands, but I know the brands we carry have really good warranties, and motors/batteries from Bosch and Shimano that are sturdy and are supposed to last for 7-10 years.

I second the suggestion above to figure out what range you want out of a bike. Some bikes go 28mph at maximum assist, but can only do that for 20-30 miles before the battery dies. Some bikes max out at about 18-20mph, and last a little longer. It mostly depends on motor size. If you are just doing quick errands around town, range isn’t really an issue…plus running the e-bike in max assist mode is mostly unnecessary except for big hills, or one of those “crap I’m really late” moments.

I could chat bikes all day, so I will stop before I ramble on anymore!

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#7

What is the brand/style of the cargo e-bike you carry?

#8

We carry the Kona Electric Ute. It is amazing to ride, and comes with all the cargo bags which is a plus. Also the color is sweet!

Another bike I was recently shown, that we don’t carry in our shop but is super cool, is the Yuba Boda Boda. It’s a little less expensive and a little less bulky than the Kona.

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#9

Thank you! Adding this to my e-bike research…

#10

The ebike episode comes out next week - I got over 70 responses from ebike owners (in less than 12 hours). The most ever. I think it will be helpful!

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#11

I get the most grief from 20-year old fixie riders that tell me I’m cheating. Ironically I get the most compliments and legit questions from fully-kitted cyclists from local teams while on training rides along my commute route.

I think ANY bike purchase should revolve around knowing what you want the bike to do for you. My bike replaced my car, so I was looking at bikes designed for transport and cargo. I need to be able to get to work (10ish miles) in 45 minutes year-round when I’m on call, so e-assist is necessary in winter when I’m slower and can’t handle hills without an inhaler, heh.

Having e-assist, for me, also totally takes away the “crap I’m tired I’ll take transit instead” mentality. It’s always easier to ride my bike now. It’s easier to park, easier to navigate traffic, and after 7 months is still really, really fun to ride. Plus it makes my regular bike feel like a rocket after riding my 100-lb beast all week :slight_smile:

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#12

I love that! All of the reasons you gave for having your e-bike are why I think they are great now. It makes total sense for commuting, and I am all for anything that means driving less. I wish I lived in a city with more than 1 mile commute, because I really want an e-cargo bike, but can’t really justify it at the moment. I think the “cheating” comments come from people who really just don’t want to understand why people use e-bikes, and they aren’t ever going to be open to alternatives to what they may have decided is “the right way to bike commute.”

When I was 22, and first started working in the bike world I definitely had a “gatekeeping” mentality (very ashamed of this now) and felt that if someone wanted to go fast/see cool things, they needed to train harder, not get a motor. I was (and still am) a bike racer, and that mentality of just work harder/train more definitely followed me for a few years in my early 20s. Now I am approaching 30, and I have been doing this for a while (the bike thing) and I have seen how all types of bikes have changed people’s lives…but especially e-bikes. I live in a very small town with a large retirement community, so most of our e-bike customers are older, retired, and either miss riding long miles, or want something to help get up the hill to their house. The joy that exudes from their faces the first time they hop on a pedal assist bike is incredible…seriously I tear up sometimes watching them, because it’s the same reaction a 5 year old kid has when they get their first real pedal bike. Anyway, I have come a long way from my judgey 22 year old self, and my “why” for working in the bike world has transformed into a desire to share the joy that I have found in bikes with every person who walks through the door.

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#13

I don’t think I’ll ever not have an e-assist bike for commuting again. It’s been such a game changer, being able to get out ahead of traffic, and stop fully at signs and lights without losing energy. I drive my bike, really, and am just another vehicle on the road. I don’t feel that way on my “regular” bike. @mountainmustache29 that “gatekeeping” mentality I feel has been just a byproduct of the industry - until very recently anyway. In my city it’s starting to shift especially as casual riders are being taken more seriously as consumers, and the bike world in general is starting to be less focused on racing and more on riding. And really, that’s where the money is now and what will keep the industry vibrant - not with my bikey friends who buy frames off ebay and build the bikes themselves :wink:

The funny thing (that I usually point out) about the cheating comments is that 1. we’re already cheating by not just walking like your body is designed for; and 2. my ebike doesn’t replace my “fun” bike, it replaces my car and I ride my “fun” bike even more now. So heck yeah, bikes are the best cheat code ever.

I don’t know anyone in my personal circles that is still riding only fixed gear year-round in their 50s, and those (young, fit) riders are the ones that tend to be the most critical in my city. I was never that cool to begin with so it doesn’t bother me :slight_smile: My personal opinion is that more people on bikes, no matter how they get there, is good for all of us that bike.


My blah blah aside –

I found this website helpful as a starting point when I was researching motors/battery life/bikes:

I was specifically looking at cargo bikes, with a Bosch middrive, and for my needs narrowed things down to Yuba Spicy Curry (my favorite), Xtracycle Edgerunner (now called eClassic I think- nope still Edgerunner), Bike Friday Haul-a-Day (what I wanted for the past ten years and still love as a brand, there just aren’t many out here and they weren’t Bosch), and Tern’s GSD (but wasn’t in stores yet).

I’m lucky that I live in a city where I can test ride a ton of options - I rode a few Pedego electric bikes with throttles that were REALLY FUN but also I learned that’s not for me and my style of riding, for example. I was 99% sure I was buying a Yuba until I rode the Spicy Curry and Edgerunner back to back. There were no major differences in how they rode, they have the same motor, and the same cargo space, but Xtracycle was hugely discounted through my shop at the time so I went that direction.

Here’s my naked bike. I’m so used to it being loaded up it looks weird when I’m just toodling around!

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#14

Your bike is so cool! I’ve never seen an e-xtra cycle, I have several friends with the non motorized versions. I don’t know anything about fixed gear riding…it is pretty much not a thing here because of giant mountains. I’m guessing it is a bigger city commuting thing, but to me it doesn’t make sense for any type of riding haha.

I apologize on behalf on the entire cycling industry for the gatekeeping you have experienced. I have worked at a few shops that seemed oblivious to the fact that you mentioned above “casual riders are where the money is, and they are serious consumers.” My current shop is amazing, super welcoming, and a hub in our town for bike community. Being at this shop for the past 3 years has reframed my “why” for working in the bike industry even among really low pay, terrible hours, and a lot of stress. I love creating a welcoming environment for every single person who walks through the door, and it is so fun to watch the joy on a customers face when they find the bike that they have been looking for. It has also reframed my expectations for how I will be treated in the bike world, which has actually been pretty disappointing. As a female walking into a bike shop, I am still treated with barely a head nod, and given information that immediately assumes I have 0 bike knowledge or experience. I hope this will change eventually, but a lot of shops (including ours!) still have a lot of work to do on just basic customer service, and treating everyone as an equally important customer. It sounds like you have found a great shop to support where you live, and a community of like minded people to pedal around with which is amazing!

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#15

Why I Love e-assist, part 42967482:

My typical commute is down to 40 minutes on the second level of assist, third for hills (10 miles with full stops for stoplights and stop signs). This means it’s faster to ride than to take rideshare or transit!

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#16

Oh that’s fantastic!

#17

I can’t wait for the podcast!

I have a bike converted on an old e-kit that doesn’t meet my current needs, but gave me a good opportunity to figure out what those needs are. [Answer: Enough battery power to going up hills + be hauling 60-70 lbs of dog in a safe configuration, whether trailer or cargo set-up.]

I believe that something currently exists that meets this definition. I just haven’t done enough of the research. I also have to figure out what that price per use actually looks like for me.

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#18

Ooooh I’m gonna try to figure that out this week! I’ve kept track of “trips that replaced car trips” and know that my car averaged $235/month for all car-ownership costs, and how much per month my bike averages currently, but I like the per trip idea a lot!

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Is $3,000 on an e-bike worth it?
#19

I got rid of my car 12 years ago, and relied on transit and bikes. When we had our first kid 7 years ago, we got a bakfiet-style bike (a Cetma Margo). It was $3500 including shipping & taxes. We got it when kid #1 was around 4 months old. The reason we went with that bike instead of a longtail was for weather protection (it came with a rain cover) and because it could fit an infant seat. I’ve always hated trailers (after hitting numerous trail bollards and weird curb cuts), so I didn’t trust hauling around a kid in one of those.

We used that bike for 5-6 years. We live in Seattle, which has pretty awful public transit (it’s slowly getting better as light rail stations come online) and tons of hills. Without that bike, we definitely would have needed a car. I’m not sure what type, but I’d conservatively estimate that the bike saved us at least $40,000. I also do bike repairs myself, which makes it even cheaper.

Then we had kid #2, and kid #1 started kindergarten at the local elementary school. The elementary school is at the top of a massive hill, and we’re on the steep side of the hill. We could bike to the other side of the hill and go up, but in reality what we ended up doing (because we were always late) was just biking to the bottom of the hill and walking up the last 2 blocks. That got old reeeeeeeeal quick, so we upgraded…

I tried having the local cargo bike shop adding a motor to the Cetma, but it was uncomfortable and the frame flexed. So we returned the motor and rented a couple different e-assist bikes. The Packster 80 was my favorite, so we bought one of those. It was very expensive ($8800 after taxes), but I got all the bells and whistles - dual-battery version, etc. It’s incredible, I love it so much. We’ve been using that for the past year. The Cetma’s been sitting in the garage.

My regular road bike is a fixie. I still like the simplicity of that machine, but for hauling 2 kids + random stuff around hilly Seattle, the Packster is amazing.

We’re moving to NYC in a few months, and we’re probably going to sell the Cetma and take the Packster with us. I’m a bit nervous about having such an expensive bike in the city (and NYPD’s ridiculous anti-ebike crusade), but we’ll see how it goes.

Math: 6 years of no car at $9k/yr = $54k. The two bikes cost $12.3k, and I expect to get at least $2k back when I sell the Cetma. The Cetma maintainance was super cheap; brake pads, chain, and lube every once in a while; probably on the order of $100/year. The Packster is proving to be a bit more expensive in that regard. Probably because of the eassist, it goes through brake pads A LOT faster, and I’ve already destroyed a disc brake rotor. I’ve only had the Packster for a year, but so far it’s been like $300-$400 in maintenance.

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#20

I came here to do a small amount of venting. I want a Sonders Thin quite badly.
There’s one that’s been parking in front of the bike shop that’s next to my gym for a few weeks now. It looks really nice. I want a white one, I want to swap the tires out for white tires and the seat out for a leather seat, and I want to put a rack on the back for storage and ride into the sunset.

It’s perhaps an irresponsible purchase for me at this time, it can’t fully replace my car, but could potentially replace 50% of my commute. I have no idea when that would pay for itself, since it’s such an inconsistent calculation. But it’s not making me check their site any less or drool over the one parked near my gym any less.
They’re 1k, which actually seems fairly reasonable. But I also have SO MANY other places I could spend 1k.
I won’t ride a regular bike, as I know I’d have to get off and walk it at least twice during a regular day of commuting, and that will get old quick.

Ok, that’s all really- just a vent! :slight_smile:

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