Choosing an e-bike

Your first e-bike is a big investment. Someone will probably say: “But you could have bought a car for that money!” So it’s worth getting it right. Also see “You get what you pay for, it is that simple“.

Step 1 – Understand what you will use it for

If you don’t really know, then you probably shouldn’t buy one.

This will help you narrow your choices substantially and add some criteria into your decision tree. This guide is mostly for people who will use their e-bikes for commuting, going to the shops or light touring (eg rail trails). For those who would prefer to buy a “real” eMTB that involves a different set of criteria.

Knowing how you will use the bike will tell us how much range you need the bike to do.

Set a budget too – from >$2,400 to >$10,000. You typically get what you pay for (but more is not necessarily right for your needs).

Step 2 – The basics

You want something comfortable that can carry you and your gear in a variety of conditions and last a few years. You probably want some biggish tyres, a rack on the back, built-in lights and mudguards. I can’t stress how much you want mudguards, because it sometimes rains and you don’t want your feet, bum and face to get soaked. Generally, the e-MTB frames don’t allow you to easily retrofit mudguards and racks, or lights that are powered by the battery. (For light commuting you can adapt a eMTB but it might not be ideal).

Decide on the frame type – do you need a step-through style? More upright or more racey? Do looks matter to you, because some of the best bikes are ugly ducklings?

Do you need to put your bike in the car, carry it up stairs? In which case a folding e-bike like the Onya might suit.

Bigger wheels are better for most purposes, so only go for a small-wheel bike if it meets a particular need. Smaller wheels may help you feel more confident at lower speeds as your centre of gravity is lower. For smaller riders this is a benefit.

Step 3 – The battery

The battery is likely the most expensive component on an e-bike, so it’s precisely where the ‘shaving’ might come from to reach a price point. So how much do you need?

Speed, headwinds, hills, and your weight (plus your gear), play a major part in determining how far you will go (in descending order of impact). Batteries deteriorate with age too, so make sure you have a contingency in mind. Mid-drive motors tend to be a bit more efficient than hub drive motors (because they can use your gears and make you pedal a bit) so you will likely get a little bit more range.

The only true way to tell is to use your intended bike on your intended route.

11Ah (~400Wh) battery will take you around 20-75km in a full charge.

13.8Ah (~500Wh) battery will go 30-90km.

Manufacturers post ludicrous ‘high’ numbers assuming you are using a very low assist level. Why not just say ‘infinite’ assuming the motor is off? It’s about as useful.

Many Euro bikes seem to go a long way which is often ascribed to the ‘more efficient’ mid drive motors. There is only a tiny bit of truth in it, mostly it is because these bikes are typically speed limited to 25km/h (latterly 32km/h). At 35km/h most motors and motor types are similar in their power use.

Step 4 – The motor

For on-road purposes, it doesn’t really matter too much where the motor is (front, rear or middle). What does matter is how the bike feels – more about that later.

The main types of motors are as follows:

  1. Geared rear hub. These are the most common on sub-$4000 bikes in NZ (eg Smartmotion eCity/Pacer, Magnum, Onya, Pedego, Hiko). They are relatively cheap and can be made quite ‘powerful’ for their size and weight. They tend to make a little bit of noise as there are internal gears and some electrically induced noise from cheaper controllers. Since you have a rear hub motor, you are restricted to derailleur gears. Punctures are nightmare with a rear hub motor, so be sure to get good puncture-resistant tyres.
  2. Geared front hub. eZee bikes use this configuration for Sprint and Torq, as do some cheaper imports, kits and Faraday. It enables internal hub gears and creates better balance when you are loaded up with panniers, child seats.
  3. Direct drive hub. Can be front or rear (Specialized Turbo up to 2016, Stromer, Grace). They are totally silent and can be fast but are heavy. That puncture comment again…
  4. Mid drive. This is the typical configuration for European bikes powered by Bosch (Haibike XDuro, Scott, Moustache, some Trek), Impulse (Kalkhoff, Focus), Yamaha (Haibike Sduro, Giant, Lapierre), Shimano Steps (Avanti, some Merida, some Trek) or Brose (Specialized Vado, some Scott, Bulls). Bafang/Dapu/Shengyi also make mid drive units including units popular for aftermarket conversions and increasingly in full bikes too including newer Smartmotions (although they are different than the aftermarket drives). Mid-drive is arguably the best location as it allows for a balanced bike and it uses your gears, so you have a choice of gear types (eg hub gears, derailleur). However because it drives through your chain it requires more diligent maintenance and more frequent drive train changes. They are more complex so might also require engine maintenance or repair.

What we mostly care about, is if the motor can make it up our hills, and can it go fast enough for us? Almost all the mid-drive Euro bikes are speed limited to 25-27km/h (or 30-32). Most NZ geared rear hub bikes can do around 32-38km/h. A few can go faster (Specialized Turbo and Vado at 42-45km/h, Giant Quick-e). You want to try the bike on your route especially if you live near steep hills like in Wellington, Dunedin, Port Hills or West Auckland.

On watts: We have a 300W power restriction in NZ, and the way it gets interpreted is inconsistent. Bottom line is, don’t pay too much attention to Watts, try the bike for yourself. The controller (ie the ability to supply lots of current) is more important to power than the motor itself, and generally it is an invisible component. Same thing for Volts, though 48V is likely to give more grunt than the more common 36V. If you are interested in the history of ebikes and a discussion on watts and volts and batteries and more… read my interview with Wai Won Ching.

Step 5 – The feel and ride

You have to like the fit and ride if you are going to enjoy your e-bike. Assuming the bike fits, the feel of the ride is a combination of many factors including geometry, saddle and other contact points, quality of the frame/wheels/tyres/gears, the motor, its controller and sensors.

There are two main types of sensors:

  1. Cadence sensor – also known as ‘level set’. This detects if you are turning the pedals and gives power according to the setting on the controller. It typically comes in a bit of a rush, and the controller setting determines the assist level and hence speed. Most geared rear-hub bikes have cadence sensors, though that is changing slowly.
  2. Torque sensor – this detects how much effort you are putting in and effectively multiplies that. So the harder you pedal, the more assist the motor gives and the faster you go. Most mid-drive bikes have torque sensors.

The Smartmotion Catalyst and Pacer allow you to select between cadence and torque sensing. A nice feature.

Step 6 – Component Quality

The more you pay, the better quality componentry you can expect. If you intend to do high mileage, ensure the wheels are good quality (they will have eyelets around the spokes), especially if it is a rear hub drive. Rebuilding a bent or broken wheel will cost a few hundred dollars. Not such an issue for mid-drive bikes with regular hubs, you can buy new wheels off-the-shelf.

Hydraulic disk brakes are nice especially if you intend to ride fast or down steep hills. Bear in mind that you could go through a set of disk pads in 1000-2000km so make sure replacements are readily available. Most ebikes have Tektro brakes which are good and pads are readily available. Rim brakes are typically best avoided unless they are hydraulics like on the Kalkhoffs and Kreidlers.

Tyres cost $30-70 to replace, so your major consideration is puncture resistance. Repairing a puncture on the road with a rear or front hub bike might not be practically possible for most mortals. Schwalbe Marathon/Plus/GT/Energizer are among the best out there. Think about this carefully if you are considering a rear-hub eMTB.

Gears don’t matter as much as you might think, especially with hub drives. Most of them will work just fine. More (up to 11) is a sign of quality of componentry while being vaguely useful (different story for eMTB).

Lights need to be up to the task. It is hard to change them out for something better. This is an area where cheaper bikes will suffer. Less of a problem if you only ride in the day time. If you are converting an eMTB to be a commuter you will likely need to add separately powered lights which is a bit of an extra hassle.

The saddle choice is personal – you could always ask your retailer to swap it out if you don’t like the one on the bike. Some have a suspension seatpost which is a nice-to-have.

If you have a rack, it might limit the choice of pannier or top pack that you use. Pannier bags are convenient and can be bought as 100% waterproof. You might also want to consider a front basket. They are really convenient for small items.

Locks are another important thought. Built-in frame locks are great, better if you get the add-on chain and best if the same key works for lock and battery (kudos Kalkhoff). Cable locks are useless so don’t bother.

Other Considerations

An ebike represents a substantial financial investment – often cost justified over a few years use. Serviceability and ongoing support are vital. Do ask some questions of the supplier and retailer and their ability to provide spare parts on an ongoing basis – in a timely manner – which means spares available in NZ. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where an electrical component has failed a year out and is unrepairable, or the battery is not holding charge and you can’t buy a new one. There are lots of little bits to an ebike that you may not even think about.

Our market is being flooded by bikes imported directly by all-and-sundry, this is easy to do thanks to alibaba.com – heck you can even get them branded and customised with whatever you like. Don’t be fooled by ‘designed in NZ’ – it may not mean what you think. As far as I am aware, only Smartmotion and Onya are actually designed in NZ (and even then it’s mostly based on pre-existing frames and parts). If you want NZ to have a strong bike culture and industry, consider supporting local bike businesses that are here for the long haul.

Caveat emptor – buyer beware

We should also be honest, looks count too. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You want to love your bike and ride it daily, so please pick something you can see yourself using daily.

How long will it last?

Great question… In general, cheap bikes will not last as long as the more expensive bikes. This applies to major items like the battery, motor, electronics, wiring and bike componentry. There are tons of bits that you might not even think about including wires, connectors, MOSFETS, Hall Sensors… With cheaper bikes, expect a 2-3 year ownership cycle. For top-end, more likely 3-5 years. So perhaps $1k per year plus servicing as a total cost of ownership. Your mileage may vary…

Of course if you buy something direct from an importer who can’t support you, then maybe less.

What is a reasonable price?

As a rule-of-thumb, think of how much you would pay for a similar unpowered bike, with similar features and component quality. You’d be surprised at how much the electrics add to the cost (local costs being higher because there is a much higher likelihood of warranty support required for the electrics than the base bicycle). To this ‘base bike’ add the following: (list under development – feedback welcome)

  • Basic hub motor (250W) and low-spec battery (<12Ah): $1500
  • Better hub motor/higher spec battery: $1600-2000
  • Basic mid-drive (Shimano STePS E6000, Bafang 500-750W conversions): $2000-2500
  • Bosch Active Line (400Wh), Bafang OEM: $2200-2700
  • Bosch Performance Line (500Wh), Yamaha, Impulse 2.0/Evo (>14Ah): $2500-3500
  • Bosch Performance CX, Brose, Shimano Steps E8000: $2700+ depending on battery config
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91 comments

  • I have an E-Zee Sprint step through. Bought by my wife for my seventieth birthday. The first two years of use I was living in Wellington and commuting to Johnsonville regularly, cycling up Ngaio Gorge. I chose an E-Zee sprint as it was good value, and well equipped. A sturdy, no nonsense sort of bike and I actually liked its traditional look, now improved with a Brooks sprung saddle (highly recommended as you can’t fit a sprung seat tube). I liked it better than more expensive options as it was much more powerful hill climbing, had an accelerator and assistance to around 37kph. e.g. my wife road the E-Zee Sprint up Brooklyn hill at 27 kph without too much extra effort. These attributes are a real safety feature when commuting in traffic, being able to keep up and get away quickly. So much of what is the “best” e-bike is what you intend to use it for. I would have preferred a mid drive, but most of them then were limited in speed and power. The front hub motor can be “clattery” and noisy at times on higher assist levels. And I’d never buy a bicycle with derailleur gears, hub gears are much better for the sort of use I make of my bicycle. I’ve done only 3,500 kms so far but it’s been a reliable work horse. The original distributors have stopped supplying this make, and they say they’ve had a lot of problems with them, but I am surprised as they are relatively simple and sturdy, my experience is fine and the present distributors challenge this claim (obviously!) The cycle is sturdy enough for the better kept cycle trails. You don’t need that many speeds (for commuting or touring) with an electric motor, contrary to one person’s contribution here. I now live in Martinborough, which is pretty flat, and my biking is now just for pleasure and keeping fit. The E-Zee sprint perhaps is less suited for this, as it’s heavy and the need for it being so fast and powerful is less. Most of the time I’m pedalling without assistance, just using for steeper or longer hills and wind, so a lighter, more nimble bicycle might suit better. I was really impressed by the e-bike kit provided provided by Lekkie, and was tempted by the model I tried . That way you can find the bicycle you’d really like, and electrify it with a mid-motor, with torque sensor and accelerator. The motor is a Bafang and is noticeably much quieter than all the other e-bikes I tried. I think the cost of having this kit fitted is about $2,000. If I did decide to change my electric bike, this is the way I’d go, though I’d try and find a bicycle where the battery can fitted on the down tube and not over the rear wheel for better weight distribution. I’d also avoid having anything too complicated electronically. KISS.

    • Hi John, FYI the distributor of eZee is now Electric Bike Team in Auckland. Take what the other guys said with a pinch of salt. They are one of the most reliable bikes around which is one reason they are popular for fleets.

      • Thanks guys for these responses but I posted that query some months ago and have since bought a bike. I remain very interested in hub-gears esp the Alfino but I wanted a MTB or “hybrid” style and I noticed that no brand in NZ used that gear system on those styles. Well, affordable ones anyway. I figured there had to be reason for that. Maybe weight, ratios or reliability?? In the end I bought a Giant Hybrid E. At $3400 it was a good deal BUT I’ve learnt a lot about E bikes and Torpedo 7 in the process and I’ll do better next time. Cheers, Win

  • Gidday, lots of good info here for an old guy planning to buy an Ebike. Could I see some comments please on planetary gears? I like the sound of them, like the fact that you can select a gear while stationary. I don’t see many (any really) advertised. What’s holding them back??

    Thanks Win

    • Longevity with mid drives, and an inability to use them with rear drives. Most of the hub gears (eg Alfine, Nexus) are planetary gears.

    • I wouldn’t have anything other than a hub (planetary) gear, much easier to manage for commuting and touring. Any presumed “loss of efficiency” with a hub gear is a non-issue with an electric motor. It is said that having a mid-drive motor with a hub gear can wear out the gears more quickly. I am not able to judge that. For instance, the Shimano Alfine is a better quality gear than the Nexus and perhaps it might be a better option?. If you’re not a big, powerful rider, I doubt there’s any real issue but you’d best ask the dealer or get some independent knowledgeable advice. Cheers.

  • Thank you so much for the great information, I’m traveling into cbd for work here in Wellington, its only 4K one way, this is roughly 50% cycle path and 50% road.
    Id ideally like to then use the bike to go further such as groceries and town from time to time.
    This would also open the opportunity of riding in the wet given the extra support.
    What bikes would you suggest that might suit my needs above?
    Thanks again

  • Hi there, your site is a fantastic source of info, so thanks fo4 your efforts.
    I’m looking at getting a reasonably entry-level eMTB but am conscious of ‘you get what you pay for’. I’d mainly be commuting to work in Wellington (live at the top of one of the higher hills), but am keen to do a little off road riding too. I’ve done short test rides of the Haro Double Peak I/O (can get it for $3600) and the Trek Powerfly 5 (can get for $4200). Both were good to ride, but I can’t find out much about the Haro. I have also seen the Giant Fathom E+3 online, which seems like good value for money at under $2,800 with what appears to be similar level specs or better to the Haro. Can you offer any insights, particularly on the Haro vs. Giant or would I be better to spend a bit more for the Trek?
    Thanks

  • Hi, lots of great info on here and thoughts. I’ll pop along to the Bike Expo here in Chch this weekend but has anyone had good experience with e-bike retailers in Chch? Looking at commuting 20kms each way up the Bridle Path and maybe down Rapaki to Hornby. Not entertaining Dyers in the morning with the way people drive on there.

    • Hi Ian, we bought our bikes from Papanui Cycles and found Kevin the owner good to deal with. Bike Barn at Home Base, Shirley is also good and Evo at Tower Junction a bit hit and miss depending on who you get to talk to.
      With regards to commuting over the Port Hills via Bridle Path you will need a good quality MTB and will find that going uphill will really suck the juice so will probably have to recharge after each way.
      I would recommend the Bosch performance line CX motor with 75 nm or torque such as in the Trek Powerfly for climbing steep hills.
      Also the Shimano Steps 800 motor in a MTB. Be aware that descending steep hills on gravel tracks is a completely different kettle of fish than on tarseal if you have not done it before.

      • Many thanks for those comments, rode several bikes today, admittedly on the old runway at Wigram and had some good yarns with retailers which is a good start as this won’t be a quick purchase partly because of price…quite a variety of bikes about today which was great as you could compare on the same day in same conditions…well wind anyway.

  • Thanks for the fast reply, I just read about the OceanCurrent Juiced bike, but can’t find anyone that stocks one in NZ…is it not avail here? Cheers, Lorenzo.

  • Hi all, good read on the e bike world, I am currently researching what to get, want a mountain bike with good speed and power, will be using it to go 15km to work each day, and then back, so it needs a reasonable range, and it is open road, so good speed might be beneficial. What would I expect to pay for a good mid drive in this format please? My budget would be around 3500.00. Is it too low? Cheers Lorenzo.

    • Probably, unless you can find a second hand deal or otherwise get lucky. You might consider one work a Bafang Max motor that is also unlimited. Bottecchia Kripton if you can get one. They are quite fast with the right tyres on.

  • I bought an e-bike in Jan and absolutely love it. It is a Fleetwood with shimano steps mid frame motor and suitable for both road and trails, and I have used on both. Does about 60km on mid assist step per charge and I have been able to ride it without motor on at times – some models are very heavy. Just putting it out there as a model to consider if you want versatility. I have done over 2000km already!

  • This is a really helpful thread as I am looking to buy an e-bike as well. I currently have a standard MTB and would prefer a step-through and something a bit more upright. My riding will be a mix of city and off-road trails and I want to do the Otago rail trail, the West Coast Wilderness trail and the like. I am currently looking at a 2018 MERIDA ESPRESSO CITY 800E EQ which also has an “off road” model, the 2018 ESPRESSO URBAN 600EQ which is not a step-through. The other main differences are the handlebars, seat and battery – all other specs are the same. I am concerned that the battery placement on the carrier on the former bike will make the bike “rear heavy” on hills (dangerous??) and that rough tracks will subject it to too much vibration compared to the vertical battery on the URBAN 600EQ. Do you see either of these issues being a major drawback for the off-road riding I want to do?

    • If you are genuinely going to do off-road trails, the ride quality of a bike with mid motor and battery will be much better than if either was at the rear.

  • I thought you were not allowed to throw your jet over an EB because the motor could kick in and unbalance your foot on the pedal.

  • meanderingmark

    How on earth do they make these so cheap? Not that you’d be allowed to ride one on the cycle path or the road, but the aluminium framing, motor and battery specs look incredible compared to an ebike of the same price

    https://www.trademe.co.nz/browse/listing.aspx?id=1649571035&/listing?rfm=1

  • Hi
    1. Wanting some guidance on an entry level e-bike + value for money to commute from westgate to CBD in Auckland mainly from fitenss perspective.
    2. I was perplexed on the statement re life of bike. you mentioned it to be 2-3 years and average entry level bike is around 2-3 grand which means cost of owning the bike is almost a grand per year. Is this correct?

    • Your mileage may vary and a well maintained bike could last longer. Some bikes are more durable than others, but in heavy use I think that is a reasonable expectation. There are also costs of maintenance. In my own “business case”, I assumed around $2k per year in costs and depreciation and that’s probably about right.

    • That’s the point of this website!

      • ha ha.. yes I get it, thanks mate. I understand you prefer to be independent and not be biased toward any manufacturer / retailer. thanks for taking the effort to put so much information especially in local context. this is really valuable I am sure is appreciated by many who has any interaction with cycles.

  • My wife and I are pensioners but thought an ebike would be great for exercise. However we cannot afford too much. We saw at the clearance shed a Mexller M16 city e-bike, do you think this would be ok or would we be wasting our money going by the old addage you get what you pay for. We will be using them mainly on the cycle way.

    • You get what you pay for. After sales service is possibly the most important factor. All to see the spares of you have any doubts, and ask yourself if the local distributor will be around to provide support in five years time. It’s a tough business, this bicycle business.

  • Hi. I am considering buying an electric bike for daily commute (west Auckland to cbd -roughly 22km one way and a very uneven terrain). I am a first time biker to Auckland and i am very confused with the options available. Thinking between a Trek powerfly 5 and smartmotion pacer mid drive. Any help or suggestions appreciated.

    • Hi Jessica, these are very different bikes. The Trek is a great bike, but a hardtail eMTB. So knobbly tyres, no mudguards, no lights, no carrier. The PacerGT has all those things. If you can wait a week or two I’ll have a full review of the PacerGT.

  • Hi there 🙂

    I’m looking for an affordable e bike (thats going to last/good value for money) to commute to and from university every day, which is a 23 km return trip. There a few steep hills and I would like to be able to use it on rough and smooth terrains. With this in mind i’m looking at the magnum range and the Bottecchia BE16. just wondered your opinions on the bikes or other recommendations

    Thank you

  • Hi there,
    Firstly, thanks for the fantastic information found here. It has really helped me narrow down my requirements.
    I am in the market for an e-bike for commuting – traffic woes in Tauranga 😦 and am wondering if you have any advice on a Bottecchia or the XDS from Torpedo 7.
    Many Thanks

    • Hi Liz,
      I don’t know much at all about bikes but maybe you should also look at the Magnum Metro. They are a nice looking bike. Not sure if I’m allowed to say but they are stocked by Electrify.nz. Not sure who else but I’m sure you can Google.

  • I found the information useful and started hitting down notes but then got a bit lost in all the options. I’m new to this and looking for a bike that has the mudguards and you can peddle as well if you want. I’m not small or fit (yet) but hoping to use the bike to inspire some exercise and commute to work. Live in dunedin so the bike would need to handle that. You seem. To know your subject so is it possible to get a suggestion? Work and home is approx 15kms and longest trip is likely to be 60kms.
    Thanks

  • Allan and Sherralynne

    Hi, we are moving to Napier and are thinking of buying two E bikes to ride on the flat cycle paths there. Also to take down to the Otago Rail Trail. The Avanti Inc E model appeals to us. No derailleurs to worry about and belt drive so we won’t get oil in the apartment. We own Avanti MTB’s and have had no problems with their quality. What do you think of the Avanti Inc E bike?

  • what have you heard about the Trek Verve+ … it is what my (current non-electric) bike shop guys recommend, and it certainly felt nice on a short test ride … but i cant find it talked about above, so curious

    • I haven’t seen it ridden one. It looks like a nice bike with some notes: the Bosch Active like is the weakest of the Bosch motors. If you have very steep hills it won’t manage. Also the 400Wh battery is quite small so useful if you only ever plan to do short trips, which in my opinion is a bit limiting. Maximum practical range is 35-40km. May sound like a lot but most road cyclists would routinely do 2-3x that. You wouldn’t be able to complete the loop route that I am researching around Auckland.
      Saying all that it looks like good value.

  • Hi Barry. Thanks for this very informative site. As you mention, it’s good to have NZ info.

    I am in Christchurch and have been looking at the Specialized 2018 TURBO LEVO FSR 6FATTIE/29 and Trek Powerfly FS 5 (a bit cheaper).

    I have had a Giant VT2 full suspension MTB for a good 10 years. I do some single track stuff on the hill here, but not very good technically. I am keen to get an eMTB because I think I will use it more, including some commuting.

    If I am going to be doing some riding on the road, riding on 4WD tracks, some single track (not too technical), is the Specialized bike an overkill? It certainly seems to ride very well. I am also thinking that I might struggle to go back to a non-FS bike after all this time.

    I also enjoyed riding the Trek, but it’s difficult to compare when you’re not riding one after the other.

    Very interested in your thoughts. I know that you are a fan of the Specialized bike, but how does it compare with the Trek for the type of riding I have described.

    Many thanks, Wayne

    • They are both really good bikes. The Specialized goes a bit faster out of the box (32) so might be better for any on road work. But I know someone with the trek who has dongled it do go really fast. I heard the Specialized were unavailable for a while so that might also answer your question.

    • Thanks Barry. Am taking the Specialized for a good long test drive tomorrow.

      Wayne

  • There are lots of 10 speed (single front ring) e bikes out there. They will be fine for flat riding and possibly even on moderate hills. BUT if you have steep hills on your journey, get an e bike with at least 2 front rings or even 3. Compare a 10 speed to a 20 or 30 speed e bike on a good hill before you buy. I ride a 300 watt BH Emotion 29er with 30 speeds in Dunedin and use all 30 gears. For hills, gears matter on e bikes! Try before you buy.

  • Excellent blog post with some great information. Thanks!

  • I have been researching ebike for awhile first a conversion but the prices some charge are to dear I am looking at the merida big nine e-lite 650 mainly for trail and commute what are your thoughts on this bike

    • I don’t know Graeme. I haven’t ridden it. Merida is a good brand, but do look at other brands too. Ride them all, ensure your retailer will be there for you in the long run.
      Bear in mind that the bike you are looking at is an e-MTB, so it has a sporty stance, doesn’t have mudguards, a rack, lights, lock or puncture resistant tyres, and will only do 25km/h. Perfectly reasonable if you mostly ride trails, and it’s likely good for that. It has the most powerful Bosch motor. If commute is the main purpose then perhaps consider something else.

    • Hiya Barry I did go for the Merida big nine 650 with borsch running gear .it’s the best thing I ever did. After having bypass surgery in march 2017 have been riding the fire breaks at woodhall forest and commuting around the Northshore. Thanks for your help

  • Hi
    I’m thinking of getting a conversion kit for my MTB and found this one on Indiegogo. It looks like a good system to my novice-eyes. Could could one (or more) of you guys take a look and tell me what you think? Their base-level conversion kit is $299US and they sell an e-bike for $599.

    Thanks!

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/swytch-convert-any-bike-into-an-ebike-electric/x/6642927#/

  • Hi there, really enjoying your site. I am looking to buy an ebike and recently rode a Fleetwood. Found it really great and seems as though it fits the commuting and trails options. Has anyone used one and what did you think? Are you able to get a rack and guards for this make? Cheers. Andy

    • Hi Andy, suggest you talk to your retailer about that. I haven’t ridden a Fleetwood but it looks like a well spec’d bike and the importer runs a sound business with Moustache.

  • Hi,
    Has anyone bought/ridden the FE2. Container door have sold them a few times.
    Marek

    • Hi Marek, I have spoken to people who have bought them and seemed happy enough given what they paid. As long as your expectations are in line with what you paid then you are OK. Compared with the Onya F-19 from which it is derived, every component of it is ‘somewhat worse’. That includes the frames which have not-very-nice finishing, it includes the wheels which are rim brakes, the battery, probably the controller, tyres, hardware… I think the motor might be the same which may well be the only thing in common.

  • Hi there I am a larger build and would like a bike to do bike trails eg Otago and bike paths around Auckland. Wondering ifthe Disovery E low be a good bike

  • Hi again. What are your thoughts on the
    Merida – ebig.tour 300 eq. Thank you you are brilliant 😊

  • Hello – My family are looking at buying our Dad a E Bike for his 70th birthday. What would you recommend. At present he just rides around town and down the river track which is flat. He would need a bike with good suspension and enough power for those lovely northeaster winds. Cheers

  • Hi guys, really want an ebike but have a very limited budget. Solo mum of two small kids I wanted a bike I can do the school run on towing a kids trailer and/or having one on the back. Then on to work. Been reading about the Hiko Pulse. Any thoughts? Hard when there aren’t many to test ride! In Dunedin. I did think I should maybe stretch and was looking at the Smaetnotion Pulse but local guy doesn’t rate it. Any advice welcome. Ta!

  • What are your thoughts about the $1300 ebike from 1day? Offered up on todays listings. https://www.1-day.co.nz/products/AA7BWLK01?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Email&&utm_campaign=Daily_Thursday

    • I think it doesn’t go very fast and had a tiny battery, so it is probably worth $1300. If you have that money to spend on something that you haven’t ridden and won’t be able to get parts for, then you can probably buy a bike from an established brand or outlet that will actually work and last beyond the warranty period.

  • Thanks for an excellent review , iam looking at buying an ebike and have done some research
    Our local bike shop stocks a range of bikes ,there best seller is a Volto Tui ….with quoted range of 90kms Its a brand of NZEBIKES designed in NZ made in China with its base in Tauranga
    Price $1,950 The reviews are good but I haven’t seen this bike feature in any bike publications or articles.
    Any comments?

    • Hi Robin
      I haven’t ridden that bike so con’t comment with authority. It is quite old fashioned in the sense that it has a direct drive hub motor, unlike the somewhat more modern geared hub motor or even more modern mid-drive. Plus side is that the motor will last forever having no moving parts, but it won’t be the best climber of hills. I’d encourage you to ride it over a meaningful distance and also ride other bikes in your price and specification range. That would include the Smartmotion-based Everglide (from Evo cycles), Smartmotion eCity, Magnum UI5, eZee Sprint. Maybe even have a look at something more pricey and see if the difference is enough to have you commit more cash to the project.

    • I have researched ebikes for a couple of years and bought one nearly 12 months ago (NOV 2017).
      I live in Pukekohe which is quite hilly and am an older guy who wants a bit of help on the hills and an alternative to an exercycle for the non winter months, plus for a break from golf.
      Have tried (ridden)many makes eg VOLTO, SMART MOTION, MAGNUM, plus quite a few others from all over Auckland and Hamilton
      Found the VELOCITY the best all round for road/footpath use.
      WHY… Battery 18.4AH (others as low as 10AH) which reduces range and require recharging more often… 7 speed shimano pedalling, + 5 level power assist + throttle overide..made it up Pukekohe Hill ok. Battery position below the seat good for balance and not reducing step Thru space like for the Magnum. Battery cost goes up $300 for every 2or 3AH.
      Overall very good quality ..I chose the VELOCITY ZEST as Step Thru has many advantages.
      Available from TE RAPA and NEW LYNN.
      Cost then was $1995 (now $2100). This is nearly $1000 cheaper than the equivalent in the makes mentioned above which do not have as large a battery and no better specs.
      I use Power level 1 most of the time and increase with the throttle on gradients and starting up from intersections. I have 6 or so different “courses” of around 15km which take about 45mins. I re charge the battery after 4 or 5 “trips”. I opt for minimal traffic times and as few intersections as possible. Beware of obscured driveways if you are on the footpath…few cars stop at the footpath so best to ride on quiet roads and through parks. Watch for grass drop of at edge of concrete paths.
      PS Crackerjack ex The Clearance Shed have a much cheaper ebike at about $1300 which has most of the features of the Velocity .Suit the medium to smaller physique up to say 85kg, and has a comfortable seat like the Velocity. I think the Bike Barn has a similarly priced one, but make sure it has both pedal assist, and pedal only options.
      Also some have wider tyres of 2.1 which are better for heavier riders..eg Volto Tui, Magnum, and Velocity has another model too. but they are dearer.
      Any queries welcome.

  • Has anyone tried a Metro 500watt – Glide 26″ available through AMW?

  • FYI: We just visited a Cycle trail Bike hire operator, who also sells bikes (including e-bikes). They have been in business for a few years, and update their bikes on a regular basis. We found that they were knowledgeable, keen for us to understand what was on offer and not at all pushy. They had observed what worked on the trails for them (which happened to be what we were after) and were keen for us to try ALL the e-bikes they had (which we did). Better still they are about 15 minutes walk away if the bike fails!!! Their comments appear to be pretty consistent with what you have written.

  • Thanks for the good basic information. I’ve had a front hub drive conversion kit for some years now and looking to get a new bike but I’m continually frustrated by the lack of relevant knowledge of retail staff. They can wax lyrical about the Flibbey dabby forks and the Grinky ‘cassette’ whatever that is, but often don’t know what make the motor is, and as for the controller – ask about software capability and availability of updates all you get is blank stares.
    Come on guys, the potential in the electric bike market is for people who buy bikes the same way they buy cars. Can I afford it, does it look good and does it do what I want. They don’t ask or expect to be told who made the alternator or steering wheel. Forget the ‘cycling as a sport’ market segment and get some people who know about the product and the audience.

    • I agree Peter. There are some stores that meet your specification but they are few and far between. This is a large part of my personal quest; to help people identify their actual needs based on what they expect the bike to do for them. Some things that are relevant to other bikes (like light weight) are less relevant to ebikes. But new things become important, good lights for example.

    • I found the same lack of information when choosing an e-bike 2 years ago (the choice was not as extensive then) – I did a lot of research online then set out to test ride them. This quickly eliminated many models, I found the smart motion and pedego heavy, unbalanced and motored along without much effort….this may suit some but I was looking for more of a sporty bike feel suited to tracks that gave the feel of a normal bike rather than a motorbike, definitely no throttle.
      I wanted to use the assistance when needed on hills etc for my weak knees.
      When I rode the Moustache Samedi….I knew it was the bike for me – just felt like a high quality normal mountain bike so I still get the exercise and give assistance on steep hills…..I had to fork out more $$$
      But I found the bike to suit my needs. Unfortunately I had to travel to Tauranga to get this bike the man from “Anebike” Len knows everything there is to know about e-bikes and has many brands I would suggest you call him to chat about the bike that suits your needs.
      I was also very impressed with the Hai Bike which is similar with the Bosch mid drive motor and sporty feel – but you have to check on after sales service and parts as I nearly purchased a “haibike” when the shop closed suddenly …should anything have gone wrong I would have been up the river without a paddle!

      • Thanks for sharing your experiences Kathy. Which shop closed suddenly?

      • The shop that closed down was in Westhaven (not sure of name) – the owners name was (Neil) had a great range of Haibikes as well as other brands.
        Seen him recently – has opened another shop in Eden Terrace.

      • That must be Flux. I haven’t been there in a while and their website looks like at was last updated several months ago, so I wondered if they had maybe gone out of business. For anyone listening in… not updating your website makes it look like you are struggling or out of business…

      • Yes that’s the name “Flux” just checked out their website and apparently new shop in Eden Tce is now closed and they are moving to Tauranga – they have partenered up with Cyco to offer sales and service (which they needed to do) I knew of someone buying a Haibike and when something went wrong they were told it had to go back to Germany.
        Can’t stress enough about after sales service.

      • Good real world advice, thanks Kathy!

      • Flux has reopened in Tauranga

      • Hi Kathy, Would love to chat to you about your Moustache Samedi and how it’s going. If you get this message perhaps you could reply to me? I am in Auckland, seriously considering an ebike.

      • Trina I’ve sent you a lengthy email regards the Moustache – at the address that Barry sent – hope this helps – feel free to get hold of me on the number I sent for more info

      • Thank you very much, so helpful.

      • Hi Kathy, can you specify which model of Moustache Samedi you bought please? And if you could CC your detailed email to Trina to me as well that would be great!

      • Chouette, I purchased Moustache “Silver” (2015) as its 3 years old now models have been upgraded as have the prices, unfortunately. There are so many on the market out there now – you have weigh up which bike will suit your needs for the type of riding you will do and take them for a spin.
        Mine is an entry level to MTB range – so I wanted front shocks (no point in paying more for full suspension) as I don’t do true mountain biking but it is surprising how many of our Sunday rides end up in mud, grass and gravel so the fat tyres have been a benefit. I wanted a mid drive motor (more cost) but better weight distribution for a sporty feel. I also wanted one I could lift easily to transport so weight was a big factor- I also wanted a bike that rode well without assistance so I got my excercise and only used power for hills. Mine is also made for European standards so it won’t do more than 25mph – if you want Speed and a throttle it’s not the one for you.
        Mine also has no mudguards – can get mucky when it’s wet and is not a step through so I have to climb over a bar to get on and off (if you are not tall) it may not suit.
        Just pointing out some of the pros and cons for you to consider before choosing – hope this helps, Kathy

      • Kathy I think I’m upgrading to a Moustache! Love mine but as you say need fat tyres even for urban rides. Trina

      • Thanks for your reply Kathy, you have confirmed some things that I think would definitely be required such as wider, off-road tyres. I really would like a step through as I don’t like swinging my leg over the seat but this limits my choice considerably so I might have to decide if this really is an issue or not.

  • Thanks this is very helpful!

  • We are wondering about the pros and cons of fitting up a good mountain bike to having a new custom model, designed to be an ebike?

    What do you think?

    • Hi Rob. I don’t know a lot about conversions, but here is what I do know:
      – You would definitely want a mid-drive conversion. To get one that is legal in NZ is next to impossible. They start at 500W upwards and we are limited to 300W. This is partly because they are rated on maximum vs nominal to sound more impressive, but it is likely the label that makes it compliant or not rather than measured power output. The law in NZ says that the place you are riding = the road, so don’t take advice from anywhere else
      – The conversions typically have their batteries awkwardly placed. If you look at the Turbo Levo for example it is really low on the downtube, and the difference in handling is amazing.
      – If it is indeed a good mountain bike (and I’m thinking $3000+ here) then you will probably detract from its value. Your converstion will cost you ~$2000 and you can’t compare it to a $5000 ebike
      – You can get a reasonable dedicated eMTB for $3500 – I am testing one on the weekend with a Bafang mid drive

  • Thanks for your comment. Your summary of the issues to consider is most enlightening.
    We are retired and believe that e-bikes would extent our capabilities to continue to exercise and explore. The choice is very extensive both in performance and price. You have given us a good starting point to seek the most suitable option for using the bike trails of Auckland and the environs. We greatly appreciate your review.

    • Just to add to the valuable information you were given – I ride in an over 60’s group on Sundays and half of us have e-bikes – so many types available and depends entirely what you want to spend. The group leader has a Smart Motion as he only didn’t want to spend more than $3,000 he loves it but I didn’t like the feel at all so I spent the $5,000 to get a more sporty mid drive Moustache – I absolutely love it (my comments above) – I’m so glad I got the mountain version as we rarely bike on smooth terrain in Auckland especially when doing tracks – the bikes without shocks and wider tyres bounce around a lot more.
      I can recommend a great bike shop – “Electric bike hub” in K Road by the pink cycle path – he knows everything about e-bikes and is very generous – would probably give you a bike to try in the weekend.
      A lot of our group purchased bikes from him – great after sales service. He was not there when I purchased mine – I had to travel to Tauranga to get my Moustache though Maurice from Electric Bike Hub is able to get Moustache now.
      I definitely would avoid the conversion and go for a bike that was designed to be an e-bike.

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