You get what you pay for, it is that simple
Recently I have seen distributors trash talking other bikes because they are ‘low quality’, I’ve seen others proclaim their bikes as the best because they have Engine X. Meanwhile, I’ve ridden lots of different bikes and spoken to real owners, and guess what? For the most part they like their bikes, and I liked the bikes I rode.
How can this be that I liked all the bikes, you ask? Simply because I considered what they were for and what price bracket they were aimed at, and didn’t have false expectations. Now some of those bikes retail at $9000 (Levo) and were outstandingly good, others were $5000 bikes (Haibike SDuro) and others were a lot cheaper. There are differences of course, but they are all OK in their own way.
Let’s take one that was being pilloried by a competing vendor – the Juiced Crosscurrent. I loved riding the bike, and sure it’s not built to the standards of one twice its price, but seriously what were they expecting? To be fair, you have to compare it to other bikes in its price range and that’s all there is to it. As such, it stands out from the crowd.
What do you think when you see a Kickstarter campaign that claims it has revolutionised the ebike industry with a bike defying gravity, physics and modern economics? You call bullshit, that’s what you do. Because the truth is that there are no revolutionary technologies that separate one manufacturer from another, and if there were, it would be more expensive as a result, not cheaper. And the same is true for retailer/distributor claims, especially when they start trashing someone else’s product.
A further consideration is support. Retailers bear the cost (for the most part) of after-sales support during the warranty period, have to carry parts, tools and a place for you to go and store bikes. This is both a cost to them and a value to you – so next time you see a bike cheaply at a bulk-drop discounter or direct online seller, ask yourself if you want any after sales service with it. Trust me, you’ll need it. Ebikes (or any bikes) are a bit like 1970s era cars in that little things do go wrong and need fixing or replacing. You want a local retailer who can support you and keep your investment on the road.
So next time you read one of my reviews, remember that I am independent, don’t get paid for this, and consider the whole package including its price in my assessments. If it’s a step-through I don’t knock it because of it’s lack of MTB ability, if it is cheap I don’t knock the quality of the connectors if it does what it claims to do. I am just trying to match each bike with its rightful owners.
There are substantial price differences for more vs less battery, and one drive type vs another. See my rough guide to the price impact of different motor systems in Choosing an Ebike.
I am in full agreement with your ‘horses for courses’ comments on the ebike industry! I believe that as long as reliability isn’t an issue, and warranties are fully supported, then there is something for everyone in the ebike supply chain. As a shop, we counsel riders on intended use, and teach for example that if its a daily rider they should to spend a bit more than an occasional use bike, as cheaper bikes will wear quicker, and the less precise componentry will need more regular tuning. But as long as expectations are matched at the purchase stage (shameless retailer plug – buy a bike from a retailer that understands the bikes and the market!), then all riders should be very happy with their bikes.
Thanks Jonno. Probably a blog post for another day – the support (or not) that you get from your bike shop remains long after the thrill of getting your new bike. I was advised to make sure that there were locally available spares for the bike I bought – even though it is a high quality bike I was glad I heeded that advice.