Kettler Twin or Dahon Briza with BionX kit or just Briza or something else?
Hi, I'm new on this forum and new to e-bikes. I have read many posts and learned a lot already. I am not sure what kind of bike I want, although I have 3 distinct ideas. This is a very long post: I give here a lot of details that I believe are relevant, so THANKS if you read all this.
I live in the San Francisco Bay area, atop a huge, steep hill, but I work and do all my errands around the nearby flats, in about a 7-mi radius from my house. Thanks to past hip troubles and surgeries, biking around flat cities is fine, but hills are not good for my hip. I like a traditional, upright comfy feel in a bike, I'm a 5'5", 140 lbs woman. Also because of some minor hip movement restrictions I like a 'girls style' bike without the bar, for easy mount/dismount.
My family shares 2 cars among 3 drivers, and I am usually the one without a dedicated car. My current, bikeless routine involves going with the babysitter to drop kids off at school, then she drops me off at work, and after work my husband usually comes to pick me up, which is next to his gym, so fine. This routine in itself works ok, but I have thought about getting a bike for exercise, fun, and toodling around for nearby errands, and if I get an eBike I can also come home when I want. I loved biking in flat European cities in the past and I think if I had a bike I might like living here better.
So here are three ideas I had:
1. I like dropping off kids in the morning, so I thought about getting a folding NON-ebike to put in the car, go to kids' school dropoff as usual, then from their school I would ride to work (all this is in the flats), ride around town and do errands. I could keep the folding bike in my office. Disadvantages are that I couldn't come home on my own, I'd still need to get picked up. I don't mind being picked up, it's nice time with husband, but the freedom to come home whenever I want is nice. Also even the 'flats' here are not really flat. And if I want to do recreational biking up in the hills, they are too steep for me without assistance. The folding bike that was recommended to me by NYCewheels was the Dahon Briza, with its step-through frame and relatively large wheels for a comfortable, upright ride. The big advantages to this choice are weight, compactness and price.
1a. I could get the Dahon Briza (or what else would anyone recommend?) and then later, if I really felt like I want to be able to ride home, get a BionX kit. I'd have a shop do the work, no desire to modify it myself. But I have a lot of questions about this option. is BionX strong enough to get up my big, steep, 2 miles of winding road hill? I'm ok with pedaling, but it can't be a lot of strain on my hip. And if I do this will I wish that I had spent the $2500 that the bike + conversion would cost on a totally different, possibly better and integrated, eBike? And also would this be such an expensive object that I wouldn't be ok doing errands with it because of theft risk? That would really be contrary to my goals. Obviously I'd get a good lock, but can I really park a $2500 eBike outside a store? And lastly, this would weigh about 47 lbs, not so easy to heave into the car. Would I be better off in that case with a regular electric bike plus a bike rack for the car (see below)? Would Briza + conversion be FUN to ride, or clonky, irritating, who knows what.
3. I could get a nonfolding eBike and a bike rack for the car. Disadvantages: The bike would not be as easy to store in my office. Could I lock it outside all day?? It would weigh about 53 lbs--is this too heavy for me to heave onto a bike rack? Would it be as fun to ride as a regular bike? If it's not fun, I won't ride it. Would it have the same problem as #2 with me not being comfortable doing errands because of risk of theft? Which bike would be sure to make it up our big steep hill? I was recommended the Kettler Twin because it supposedly rides like a regular bike, which sounds great and fun to me, and I have thought about the Sanyo Eneloop. I haven't researched much about Kalkhoff, I've only seen a lot of positive reports on this forum. There is a store in SF that sells the Kettler Twin and says they modify it slightly (something with the gears) to make sure it can handle our steep hills. Does that sound right? And lastly, it costs SO MUCH, would I really enjoy it and use it as much as I think? The last bike I bought was $400 15 yrs ago and I thought that was extravagant.
Prizes should be offered to whoever reads all this and responds!
Last edited by Shouldbeworking; 03-09-12 at 08:38 PM.
xtracycle, electric recumbent, downtube folder and more
For really steep hills, I also live in a port town and have steep hills, you should look into inline motors. When you shift into first gear the motor is in that gear also so has more ability to get up those hills. Check out Ecospeed for the best in this line.
No ebike that will go up that hill will be light or inexpensive. If you got a light folding bike could you walk up? A good quality folding bike would allow you to get around using public transit for longer rides and then bike the rest of the way.
Ride some bikes to check them out. I have had many sellers tell me their electric bike will make it up my hills but they lie a lot. Make them prove it with a test ride up a steep hill.
If you can make it up part way, you will get stronger usually and then the rest of the hill will be a shorter walk up. Walking my folder is easy because it is so light. I geared it better so I don't have to walk up the hills anymore but some of the San Fran hills I would not be able to get up.
Thanks Crackerdog. The Kettler has an inline motor, but my similar post to the 50+ board received a reply that the European models aren't as strong. Is that your experience? No way could I push a bike up my hill. I have walked up the hill, but I don't do that if I'm carrying much beyond a purse.