Choosing Quality over Low Price

Of the questions we hear at bike events, “how much does this one cost?” always comes up.  And rightfully so.  Those who ride thousands of miles each year don’t bat an eye when we tell them $4,000, $5,000 or $7,000.  But many do betray a wince or respond with, “ooouuuuhhh.”  The reality is, as Mike Hyde of Electric Revolution says, “you get what you pay for.”  

In this short article, we’ll break down the differences between the ebikes we produce and the often significantly cheaper ebikes available.  We recognize that finances can make large purchases challenging and we also recognize the role that lower priced ebikes play in the cycling world. This article is not meant to bad mouth cheaper brands or models; in fact, we applaud their efforts to make affordable transportation options to car ownership and the sometimes unpredictable local transit systems.  We simply want to present a clearer picture of the options available. 

Motor System: This is the main distinction between cheaper and more expensive ebikes.

Hub Drive Motor

Mid Drive Motor

  • Built into the hub of the rear wheel
  • Less durable, reliable & efficient
  • Can overheat under strain. 
  • Abrupt power assist jump between levels
  • Challenging flat tire procedure, as you’re removing the whole drive unit with the wheel.
  • Often include a throttle, classifying them as Class 2, and not legal on some bike paths/trails. The throttle feature is a significant battery drain.
  • Motor replacement can be done with the swap of a new wheel.
  • Generally have externally routed wires that are vulnerable to being snagged.
  • Built into the bottom bracket area of the bike frame
  • More expensive to manufacture
  • Have higher tolerances for better efficiency and longevity
  • Are created by big name motor brands
  • Offer smooth transitions between pedal assist levels
  • Motor repairs generally require a certified mechanic
  • Do not have a throttle feature

Battery

Hub Drive Motor

Mid Drive Motor

  • Cheaper batteries provide less power as battery level goes down, up to 20% loss
  • Cheaper batteries are less efficient and provide significantly less range.
  • Batteries often sit on the exterior of the bike frame, utilizing water bottle space.  
  • Have highly regulated energy distribution, providing full strength through the power cycle
  • Are integrated into the frame tubing, providing a cleaner look and lower center of gravity
  • Offer higher capacity and more efficiency for longer range.
  • Have higher quality control standards

Brakes

Cheaper/Hub Drive ebikes

Mid Drive Motor

  • Have unbranded disc brakes with smaller rotors
  • Some are hydraulic while others are cable actuated
  • Equipped with larger rotors for more stopping power
  • Include trusted name brand hydraulic braking systems
  • Offer brake lever adjustability for ergonomic comfort 

Ride Quality and Fitment

Hub Drive Motor

Mid Drive Motor

  • Are made in a single frame size to keep costs down, but lack proper fit
  • Come with smaller wheels to ensure universal fit
  • Incorporates less precision into the design, allowing for more rattling, noise and drag from the hub motor.
  • They can weigh upto 40% more than higher quality mid drive ebikes. 
  • Can feel like the bike is being pushed from behind, making turns challenging.
  • Non-standard frame specs can require replacement parts directly from manufacturer
  • Heavy rear wheel makes them a poor choice for mountain biking.
  • Comes in multiple sizes for correct fitment, weight distribution and handling
  • Offer larger, more efficient and comfortable wheels.
  • Remove “range anxiety” due to a more powerful and efficient pedal assist system
  • Offer a much better ride experience due to a combination of the above-mentioned advantages.  Feels like a bike with tailwind on demand.
  • Standard bike frame geometry allows for easy upgrade and replacement of parts

Warranty, Service and Lifespan

Hub Drive Motor

Mid Drive Motor

  • Generally 1-year warranty for the entire bike, except consumables (tires, brake pads, etc.)
  • Many bike shops won’t work on hub drive bikes, as they don’t have access to replacement parts
  • Direct-to-Customer sales requires bike build up
  • Heat build up in the hub motor leads to shorter lifespan
  • Generally 2-5 year warranty on frames.
  • Motor manufacturers offer their own warranty, generally 2 years.
  • Consumables are often covered by a manufacturer non wear-&-tear warranty
  • Motor manufacturers provide training and certification to local bike shops 
  • Purchased at an authorized dealer, who builds the bike and offers in-person overview
  • Most large bike shops are authorized service centers for most mid-drive motor companies, providing a great network of service centers around the country.

So, what are you looking for in an ebike?

At BULLS, we pride ourselves on offering the best bang for the buck with our ebikes, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap.  We offer high quality frames with the most proven mid-drive motors and the largest batteries available.  Our bikes are spec'd with reliable and high performing components, from suspension to the drivetrain to tires.  Simply put, we make bikes for people who want to invest in something they’ll be riding for years.  If you have the means, we encourage you to consider prioritizing quality over low price.

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