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Lightweight e-bike hybrid with Throttle

Old 12-08-23, 10:52 AM
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Lightweight e-bike hybrid with Throttle

Budget: ~$2K (but will go to $3K if it's perfect).
Use: Mainly recreational and tooling around (motsly paved, maybe some light gravel), but other uses like shopping/commute is possible

Requirments (in rough order of importance)

1. Ideal Geometry/looks, like a hybrid, think Trek DS, and not an e-bike
  1. Throttle (Class II/III)
  2. 50lbs max (ideally ~40lbs)
  3. 50+ mile range
  4. Torque Sensor
  5. Hydraulic brakes
  6. Reliable
  7. Own Display (i.e. don't need my phone)
  8. Easy to get serviced at local bike shop
My ideal would be like a Aventon Soltera II (but better specs and lighter)

Any and all advice appreciated, including that what I'm asking may not exist, and what I have to compromise on.
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Old 12-08-23, 11:11 AM
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in terms of a literal match to you list, something like the zen saral - 2.2k, 55lb, class iii, 500w, 640wh, throttle, torque sensor, no idea if the brakes are any good, front suspension, looks ok.

priority current - 3.2k, 53lb, class iii, 500w, 500wh (good for more than 50 miles assuming no crazy hills or winds or >25mph speeds), torque sensor, hydraulic brakes, fenders, etc. integrated battery, looks OK but not great IMO. NO THROTTLE.

at the other end of the spectrum - you can pick up a vado SL on sale for $3k which is everything you list except the throttle, but a significantly lower power level, much more fun to ride :

specialized turbo vado sl 4.0 - $3k, 35lb, class iii, 320w, 320wh (50 miles totally doable if you keep the speeds in the 18-22mph range), torque sensing mid drive, hydraulic disk brakes, integrated battery, etc.

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Old 12-08-23, 12:07 PM
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Seems one can use a throttle on front or rear wheel drive, eliminating all mid-drives.
I mentioned a few times on our page that a Swytch front-drive conversion makes a lot of sense.
Mounted mine on a rear rack and carry a spare battery, starting with an 18 pound road bike.
Turns it into around a 28-pounder, capable of sixty miles with me pedaling the entire time.
No pedal sensor installed and only use a throttle. Nice balance carrying the batteries aft.
Swytch takes orders on a new system for a longer-range and heftier battery for '24.
Anyway, price complete runs about $500 to $800, depending how far you option it.
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Old 12-08-23, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
Seems one can use a throttle on front or rear wheel drive, eliminating all mid-drives....
there are many mid-drive e-bikes with throttles.
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Old 12-08-23, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
there are many mid-drive e-bikes with throttles.
Okay. Thanks. Does that sort of system work well?
I picture another mechanism in the bottom bracket to engage the crankset to spin without pedaling.
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Old 12-08-23, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
in terms of a literal match to you list, something like the zen saral - 2.2k, 55lb, class iii, 500w, 640wh, throttle, torque sensor, no idea if the brakes are any good, front suspension, looks ok.

priority current - 3.2k, 53lb, class iii, 500w, 500wh (good for more than 50 miles assuming no crazy hills or winds or >25mph speeds), torque sensor, hydraulic brakes, fenders, etc. integrated battery, looks OK but not great IMO. NO THROTTLE.

at the other end of the spectrum - you can pick up a vado SL on sale for $3k which is everything you list except the throttle, but a significantly lower power level, much more fun to ride :

specialized turbo vado sl 4.0 - $3k, 35lb, class iii, 320w, 320wh (50 miles totally doable if you keep the speeds in the 18-22mph range), torque sensing mid drive, hydraulic disk brakes, integrated battery, etc.

Thanks. Yeah I looked at the Speciaized turbo vada, and you're right - everything I need apart from the throttle.

I have to say I just really liked the throttle on the times I've used an ebike, not for continuous, but just the occasional use.
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Old 12-09-23, 08:04 PM
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Yeah go with the Vado SL, I own one and it is a fantastic bike and thanks to it being a bike and not an e-moped I can ride it anywhere that bikes are allowed. I am currently building it out to make it perfect for me as it was the owner of the shop I previously worked at's before he passed away and I want to keep the bike going but if I am riding it I need to do a few things for me that he would probably approve on some and maybe not all the way on others until he rode and would say damn I like it.

The great thing as well with the Specialized is your last request of being able to go into a bike shop to get it worked on. Most shops will see a Aventonton or similar online hub drive thing and say no we don't work on that but Specialized you are more likely to get help and will definitely get help at a Specialized dealer.

Aventonton and similar don't really have any brick and mortar presence and even if they did probably a lot of shops wouldn't want to service them that sold them if they didn't have to. I know trying to get info about their own bikes from them was like pulling teeth that were not going to come out without nasty destructive methods that would leave a bad taste in everyones mouth. We need a part for a customers fork and they could only come back with the same information I had already told them and I spoke with CS folks and the "engineers" and all of them were stumped on their own bike and could only read the copy from their website. They wouldn't even credit the customer for the part that would have been warranty.

Really the only money you save is purely looking at only initial costs and no other costs and that is never a great way to go. Always look at it long term, Specialized I know will be in business for a long time and they have excellent support for a while we had customers with old e-bikes the original ones and I think nearly all of them got new bikes at a heavy discount from Specialized because they knew their first gen stuff (which is long gone and no longer anything close to what they are building now) was not up to par long term and plus a lifetime warranty on their frames really does pay off if you have an issue which I have had (not with an e-bike though).
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Old 12-09-23, 09:06 PM
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I ride a 3+ year old Specialized Creo that is perfect except for the price
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/c/...BoC2MwQAvD_BwE
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Old 12-09-23, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
Okay. Thanks. Does that sort of system work well?
I picture another mechanism in the bottom bracket to engage the crankset to spin without pedaling.
It works just fine. It is not 'another' mechanism in the bottom bracket. The mechanism in the bottom bracket is all the mechanism that is needed. No mechanism at all in the wheels means they can be removed and re-installed as easily as on a regular bike. It also keeps the weight of everything central and low down which is good for handling (feel).
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Old 12-09-23, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
It works just fine. It is not 'another' mechanism in the bottom bracket. The mechanism in the bottom bracket is all the mechanism that is needed. No mechanism at all in the wheels means they can be removed and re-installed as easily as on a regular bike. It also keeps the weight of everything central and low down which is good for handling (feel).
So...no coasting. Or freewheeling. The rider make the effort to turn the pedals enough to power the rear wheel, while applying the throttle.
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Old 12-09-23, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by shed
Budget: ~$2K (but will go to $3K if it's perfect).
Use: Mainly recreational and tooling around (motsly paved, maybe some light gravel), but other uses like shopping/commute is possible

Requirments (in rough order of importance)

1. Ideal Geometry/looks, like a hybrid, think Trek DS, and not an e-bike
  1. Throttle (Class II/III)
  2. 50lbs max (ideally ~40lbs)
  3. 50+ mile range
  4. Torque Sensor
  5. Hydraulic brakes
  6. Reliable
  7. Own Display (i.e. don't need my phone)
  8. Easy to get serviced at local bike shop
My ideal would be like a Aventon Soltera II (but better specs and lighter)

Any and all advice appreciated, including that what I'm asking may not exist, and what I have to compromise on.
I am curious as to how you came up with this very specific list of druthers given that you, by your own admission, don't really know that much about the market. When I was in the market, just before Covid, a bike like what you want would easily be over $4k. They've got to be even more than that now. The Trek Allant 8s was my dream e-bike and Raleigh's and Giant's (Quick E+) offering were the runners up. The Trek was $4.5K and the Raleigh was $3.5K and if e-bikes are cheaper now it is at the cost of something. Most (all?) lighter e-bikes are rigid front end. Rear hub drives will be more affordable. Aventon, Juiced Bikes, Dash, and a couple others have new bikes that tick several of your boxes but your insistence on throttle will limit your options. Throttle is kind of a bad word in this sector of the market. You are supposed to WANT to pedal. And you can get just about any e-bike serviced at a LBS because all LBS's now sell e-bikes. An e-bike is still a bike. If anything goes wrong with the 'e' part of it, the place to take it is the place you bought it!! Anything else, and you really should be doing it yourself, but, not judging, just saying. Bike co-op's are where I go if I can't do it myself.
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Old 12-09-23, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
So...no coasting. Or freewheeling. The rider make the effort to turn the pedals enough to power the rear wheel, while applying the throttle.
not sure what you're getting at here. of course you can coast or freewheel on a mid-drive ebike. you can pedal backwards or not at all. the difference between this and a normal bike is that when you pedal backwards, the chainring actually doesn't go backwards. the crank arms and pedals do, but the chainring stays still.

basically, the crank arm is connected to an axle, which is connected to the gearing mechanism of the motor, which has a freewheel or clutch mechanism. if you turn the crank forward, the chainring turns forward. if the motor is on, it turns the chainring forward. if you turn the crank backwards, the chainring is not driven backwards.

you can't really tell in the photo, but the crankarm is not connected directly to the chainring.
https://roadbikeaction.com/wp-conten...eo-sl-1937.jpg
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Old 12-10-23, 08:40 AM
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One of my LBS's sells Aventon, but as you say, they're behemoths. You can locate a bike with the characteristics you've specified (I've seen YouTube videos of some). Just keep looking. The most difficult aspect if you want a throttle is "40 pound". You can DIY one easily.
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Old 12-10-23, 08:59 AM
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Once the regulatory nonsense has been resolved, likely all ebikes will have the option of throttles. If you find one you like but w/o a throttle, investigate a conversion kit for that specific bike.
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Old 12-10-23, 10:47 AM
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Thank you for all your help. I get the Unicorn aspect of my ask. I guess my head was at the Aventon Soltera II has most of what I want, and I'd happily pay an extra grand for more range and/or specs and/or lightness, but that doesn't seem to exist and/or is not possible.

Weight is where I will compromise the most say 50lb max (heck it's not like I'm not carrying way more extra weight on my body than an extra 10lb)

I definitely looked at reviews/specs of the Specialized Vada and it was kinda everything apart from the throttle, and I've generally been a trek/specialized owner in the road and hybrid bikes I've owed and like both brands, sp perhaps will test at my LBS.

On the throttle front, as someone who's done a lot of regular biking, I definitely see why it could be viewed dimly, but I rented one with a throttle a few weeks ago, and I loved it just on getting up to speed quick after a stop and the last 5 mins of a ride when I was tired.

Out of interest, what's the deal with not having throttles on ebikes; is it technological? Regulatory (I'm in US, Cali fwiw)? Tradition? Bike manufacturers fearing it will reduce their ability to state a good range?

Last edited by shed; 12-10-23 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 12-10-23, 12:29 PM
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The lack of throttle is an artificial distinction and purely regulatory. Many jurisdictions permit certain ebikes to be used as if they were non-motorized. I think as numbers and lobbying power grow, the utility of a throttle will prevail. As for weight, unless you have to carry the bike up stairs or load it on top of a car, the weight is pretty much irrelevant.
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Old 12-10-23, 04:34 PM
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Throttle is really nice on recumbent bike in assisting takeoff. On upright bike, I don't miss the throttle.
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Old 12-10-23, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
there are many mid-drive e-bikes with throttles.
sure bafang and dapu are two then the cheap stuff from lectric and such. my first e bike was a dapu mid drive with throttle. but then I upgraded to a bosh powered bike and it was so much better.
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Old 12-11-23, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by shed
Thank you for all your help. I get the Unicorn aspect of my ask. I guess my head was at the Aventon Soltera II has most of what I want, and I'd happily pay an extra grand for more range and/or specs and/or lightness, but that doesn't seem to exist and/or is not possible.

Weight is where I will compromise the most say 50lb max (heck it's not like I'm not carrying way more extra weight on my body than an extra 10lb)

I definitely looked at reviews/specs of the Specialized Vada and it was kinda everything apart from the throttle, and I've generally been a trek/specialized owner in the road and hybrid bikes I've owed and like both brands, sp perhaps will test at my LBS.

On the throttle front, as someone who's done a lot of regular biking, I definitely see why it could be viewed dimly, but I rented one with a throttle a few weeks ago, and I loved it just on getting up to speed quick after a stop and the last 5 mins of a ride when I was tired.

Out of interest, what's the deal with not having throttles on ebikes; is it technological? Regulatory (I'm in US, Cali fwiw)? Tradition? Bike manufacturers fearing it will reduce their ability to state a good range?
The "Class" system, adopted by about 2/3 of the US (including CA) and not likely to be changed anytime soon, specifies that a "Class 1" bike (750w, PAS only, 20 mph max motor assist) is defined the same as any unpowered bicycle. Many locales allow Class 1 bicycles (but not Classes 2 or 3), so the "Majors" produce mostly Class 1 bikes.
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Old 12-11-23, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
not sure what you're getting at here. of course you can coast or freewheel on a mid-drive ebike. you can pedal backwards or not at all. the difference between this and a normal bike is that when you pedal backwards, the chainring actually doesn't go backwards. the crank arms and pedals do, but the chainring stays still.

basically, the crank arm is connected to an axle, which is connected to the gearing mechanism of the motor, which has a freewheel or clutch mechanism. if you turn the crank forward, the chainring turns forward. if the motor is on, it turns the chainring forward. if you turn the crank backwards, the chainring is not driven backwards.

you can't really tell in the photo, but the crankarm is not connected directly to the chainring.
https://roadbikeaction.com/wp-conten...eo-sl-1937.jpg
Similar--mine is mid drive and when powered off rides exactly like any bike, coasting included. Generally start out with it off to warm up, then switch to low boost for the balance, or on to a higher setting as desired. One isn't particularly aware of the 8# e-drive system when handling corners, avoiding obstacles and the like. Guessing larger, heaver e-bikes might not give the same responsiveness, but it's a huge array of product to pick from.
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Old 12-11-23, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by shed
Thank you for all your help. I get the Unicorn aspect of my ask. I guess my head was at the Aventon Soltera II has most of what I want, and I'd happily pay an extra grand for more range and/or specs and/or lightness, but that doesn't seem to exist and/or is not possible.

Weight is where I will compromise the most say 50lb max (heck it's not like I'm not carrying way more extra weight on my body than an extra 10lb)
The weight is a double-edged sword. More weight usually means more power and more range; you can't have that without more weight. ....EXCEPT that with a lighter bike, you will have more range in the respect that it's no big deal to pedal a lighter bike home if you should run it empty!


I definitely looked at reviews/specs of the Specialized Vada and it was kinda everything apart from the throttle, and I've generally been a trek/specialized owner in the road and hybrid bikes I've owed and like both brands, sp perhaps will test at my LBS.

On the throttle front, as someone who's done a lot of regular biking, I definitely see why it could be viewed dimly, but I rented one with a throttle a few weeks ago, and I loved it just on getting up to speed quick after a stop and the last 5 mins of a ride when I was tired.

Out of interest, what's the deal with not having throttles on ebikes; is it technological? Regulatory (I'm in US, Cali fwiw)? Tradition? Bike manufacturers fearing it will reduce their ability to state a good range?
It's regulatory and also was a strategic decision by the bike companies. Regulatory in that Class 1 eBikes are allowed anywhere a regular bike is allowed. Strategic I guess because the companies are trying to sell them as bikes, but with a boost. Personally, I think that was VERY short-sighted, and the Chinese sure did jump quickly to fill that niche!

*********

Anyway, my advice after reading all this is to do a little more soul-searching and either:

A) Go with the Solterra, as it's light(ish) and won't be an issue to pedal home if you run it down, or

B) Get the Aventon Level.2. It'll add another ~20 lbs. but you'll have the power and throttle that you wanted. It's heavier than the Solterra, but not so heavy that it's not pedalable. The tires are efficient. When I ride mine un-powered, I find myself going 13 mph on level ground; about the same as my regular hybrid bike, (Trek Verve 3) but it just takes longer to get up to speed on account of weighing 30 lbs. more. Up hills, it can be tough. I've found Aventon's 60 mile range spec to be accurate if I use power sparingly. (only against headwinds and when going uphill. Since it has a torque sensor that reacts quickly, I don't find myself EVER using the throttle. Components are good, fit & finish are good.

I did an in-depth review in this thread and the embedded videos:
https://ebikesforum.com/threads/aven...w-thread.3764/
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Old 12-11-23, 11:56 PM
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FYI, Class 1 & 2 ebikes are permitted on bike paths in "the OC" (Orange County, CA) unless expressly prohibited (which they are on a few paths that I frequent -- on MTB's), but are prohibited from all county and state parks. The fine for state parks is $385 AFAIK.
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Old 12-12-23, 11:31 AM
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$2K budget, 50lb. max, 50 mi. range, likely not going to be a light bike for the budget.
Just the battery alone is going to be heavy even with smaller output motor.

I feel that you can do a model comparison with Ride1Up.
https://ride1up.com/compare-models/
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