Free Download: The Ultimate Florida eBike Buyer's Guide

Video Transcription:

- Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. So, we have produced a new publication called 'The Ultimate Florida eBike Buyer's Guide.' And I want to talk about that today. And Kati has put the image up for us.

So we're really happy with what we're doing here. You know, if you have issues, if you're like a lot of people, like me actually, when e-bikes started being popular, I'm like, I want to understand e-bikes, you know. In the last six months, I've done a lot of reading about them. But you know, a lot of people don't want to wait until a lot of technical detail figuring out e-bike and at what price do I need to pay and what are the features I need to look for. And so, we're going to cover all that in our e-bike buyer's guide. This is something we've created here in our firm, we're going to make it available as a free download, it's going to be very simple, you're going to get a link and you just go to the link, give us your first name and your email address and boom! You can get it and Kati's running the link right now. So let me tell you what we have done in this buyer's guide.

So, this is the first edition, our opening edition, which is The November, 2020 edition. And I'm going to tell you two parts really to the guide. First is sort of a discussion of some of the major decisions and questions that people have about motors and batteries and distance, and braking and all those things, you have choices on what kind of bike you want to buy. And the second is what about the actual bike? So, the process for us is we have to look at a bike, we've got to reach out to the manufacturer for permission to use their image and description, and then we can include it in our guide. And what we've done in our guide, we've listed where the bike is made, do they have the service department, and you know, will they actually answer the phone, hopefully. And then the price of the bike, the features, and then if we find a review, if the bike has been reviewed by somebody, we'll attach a snippet of the review, and give them credit and we have a link to the review, so you can read it, the full review yourself. And then we're going to break these bikes down in bikes that are 1500 or less, up to 25 to 3,500 and then over 3,500. So really into three categories.

In the opening edition, which we are putting out currently, we have about 25 bikes. And let me tell you, you're probably, some people, if you really are attached to a particular manufacturer and you wonder why we don't have their bike, a couple of things, we have reached out to several manufacturers who quite frankly have not responded to us. So there are bikes that we want to put in the guide that I haven't had a response back from the manufacturer, which is a little surprising to me since it's all free advertising and we're trying to help them. So there's that hurdle but we're continuing to add bikes and information to this guide. So this is going to be a continuing project. We hope to do the next revision next month. And we hope to add another group of bikes and we'll continue to do that. I'd like to get it up to at least a hundred bikes as quickly as we can. And really I want it to be a resource, you know, if I want people to feel comfortable that they can go, start your research here, get an idea about motors and batteries and all those things, which I'll talk about in just a minute and start looking at some of the features and options in what you get for 1500 or what you get for 2,500 and kind of, where's the sweet spot going to be for you. Bikes are no different than buying an automobile. You can buy a $60,000 bike or automobile, or you can buy a $16,000 one and so what are the trade-offs for you in what you're getting from what you're paying and it's no different for e-bikes, you know, you rarely get more than you pay for. It's just a question of how much you want to pay and how much that feature is important to you.

So the first thing is like motors. You know, e-bikes largely have hub-driven motors, which means the motors are in their rear wheel typically, can't be in the front wheel and we have mid-drive motors, in which the motors are in the bottom bracket, you know, down there between the pedals. There's advantages and disadvantages to both; the better e-bikes tend to use mid-drive motors but that's not universal. There are some issues with hub-drive motors that you need to understand. I've covered it in that, in our guide, just some mechanical, like if you have a flat, what are you going to do? Because there's an issue about disconnecting the power lead when you do the flat and all that.

So there's also, we have the whole issue of batteries. The batteries to me were just a big, I didn't understand what the features were. We've got a short paragraph, this is not, I mean, we're doing this description for you in several pages, this is not a dissertation you've got to spend days reading. We're going to have to tell you the essential things we think are important to help you kind of focus in on what you need to talk to your dealer about when you're buying your bike. So on batteries, I was always sort of under the impression, if I can get the biggest motor and the biggest battery, that's what I was going to do. But in reading about it, that's probably not what you really need to do. You know, in Florida, e-bikes can have up to 750 watts. Now, watts is the power that the motor drains from the battery, it's an indicative of the power of the bike of the motor. But most of the e-bikes are going to be in the 250 or 350 range. There's some, there's a few in the 400, I've even seen 500, but for most bicycles that you're going to ride, even mountain bikes, the motor size tend to going to be in that 250 or 350 range.

We talk about the major players in the mid-drive motors and the major player is just the Fang, obviously, and in the hub-drive motors or some others that are out there but not as plentiful. And then we talk about, so you have the motor and you have the battery, so where do you measure the power? You know, we could talk about torque. You know, torque is the actual, what drives the power that drives the effective use of the motor, the power that's delivered to the wheel to make you go. More torque, more power, so you need more torque for a mountain bike than you do for a commuter bike. Typically, more watts, more torque, bigger battery, more weight, more costs. And it's finding for us as consumers, where's that sweet spot of the right torque and battery size and motor strength, that I need to ride, whatever I'm doing, road biking, commuting, and there's going to be a sweet spot in there. And typically you're going to want at least 500 watts on your battery and we talk about how you measure torque, they are in Newton meters, and it's in Nm and for instance torque, the highest torque values are going to be 90, 100 Nm, Newton meters. Those are the strongest bikes that are going to be used for mountain biking and other strenuous sporting issues. But for riding on the road, you don't need all that torque.

We talk about how to calculate or get an understanding of how long can you ride your bike on the battery. There's watt hours and how that is used to calculate the average, how long you can ride. So the description of that, there's also motor sensors. You know, when you pedal, there is a sensor that's determining how much power the motor should put out. And there's two essential, most common sensors that we describe in the guide and the cadence sensor and the power sensor and know which ones are the most common in which bikes have, which better bikes have the type of sensor that you're looking for.

One thing that I've talked about in here, I think is really practical that you really need to think about is weight. If you ride a road bike, whether it's aluminum or carbon, you're used to a bike, that's probably under 25 pounds, most of them, road bikes, I mean, carbon framed e-bikes can be under 30, expensive ones, but buying large, your e-bikes are going to range between 50 on the light end and 70 on the higher end, some higher than that, the bigger motor, the bigger battery, everything gets heavier. But the question is, where do you keep this bike? Are you going to have to pick it up and carry it from place to place? How do you transport it from where you live to where you want to ride it? Or you can put it on a rack and can you lift a 65 pound bike and put it on a rack or put it in your garage or pick it up to your apartment, or what are we going to do? And so don't overlook from a practical standpoint, the weight of the bike that you're looking at.

When you actually ride an e-bike and it's under power, the weight largely disappears. It is really not much of a factor because the power offsets any weight issues until you run out of battery, or you have a maintenance issue and, you know, your battery connection to your motor goes out and you're 25 miles from home, you know. Are you going to be able to, can you peddle this wonderful e-bike having no power because it will occasionally happen, you know, Murphy's law, if it can happen, it will happen eventually. Just something to keep in the back of your mind, you can always call AAA because they'll pick you up as well.

And another thing that we're talking about here is, so there's a, I have a description in the guide about, you have a choice, do you want to order a new bike online, or do you want to go into a local dealer and get it? And there's definitely advantages to both. There is, there's been a lot of pressure in the bicycle world, to the people that are having a difficult time keeping up with volume. Bike shops, don't have bikes, the manufacturers of e-bikes that don't have local dealerships have the same issue, they're putting out as many as they can put out but that has created a great deal of issues with the service department because even quality e-bikes are going to have some service issues. So will you get service when you need it from a manufacturer out of state, who doesn't have a local area representative or a place to take your bike? You need to find out if you have an issue and this occurs with major brands, if you have an issue with your bike, are they going to tell you to box it up and send it back to them in California or Oregon or somewhere versus dealing with a local dealer, where you walk in, try some e-bikes, deal with them, get parts and service from them locally and that's a question you got to decide but I think some people would just assume and believe that I can order any bike online, it will, you know, and I'm describing here that it like comes in various stages of being assembled, some are fully assembled, some require a great deal of assembly. Are you able to do the assembly required if it arrives that way? But secondly, what if you just assume I'm going to order any bike, it's going to come, I'm going to take it to my local bike shop, but then put it together and everything will be good. But I point out in here and talking to bike shop owners, some of them they're not wild necessarily about putting together your e-bike or servicing your e-bike, depending on the brand and the quality of what you have purchased. Now, I'm not giving a blanket, they won't do it but I think you'll find most shops are doing a kind of a case by case basis. They, there's definitely an issue when you buy a very, an expensive e-bike that has the inability to get parts for it. Many shops are going to be very reluctant to start working on that for fear that it's not going to be working and they can't get the parts and you're going to be pointing a finger at them for some reason. So just know where the service will be done. Are you going to be happy with whatever that process is? And would you be better off dealing with a local dealer?

So, oh, and the other thing is, remember, and I point out in here and I've talked about this before, in Florida, we have three classes of e-bike. Class I is pedal assisted for the maximum of 20 mph, the motor stops working at 20 and you can pedal faster but it's you and the machine at that point. Then you have throttle only, category two or Class II, where you're just cruising along, not peddling and you can go 20 mph, battery only. Okay? You get your shortest battery life on using that throttle only. And then you have category three or Class III, which is pedal assisted 28 mph. There's a little discussion in our manual about that. You know, are you comfortable riding a bike 28 mph? Are you experienced to do that? There are definite issues when you, I was talking to a great triathlete client about it today and it's like, you know, cars are just not looking for you to be going 26 mph, they're just not accustomed to it and they pass you and then you catch them much more quickly than they think and they turn right into your path or they didn't realize you were closing on them that quickly when they're trying to make a left turn across or u-turn where you're riding. So those are just some issues about 28 mph e-bikes. Personally, I would get a Class III just to have the ability, if I wanted to cruise at 22 or 23, or even occasionally I'd go 28, if the circumstances warranted, I'd like the option of being able to do that. But there's a lot of, and even in the clubs, there's going to be discussions about who's riding a 28 mph bike and are they going to be permitted to ride and are they riders? You know, do they have the experience and the ability to navigate with them?

So these are all things you just need to consider when you're buying it and I think that Katie, you want to show the guide again? And we have the link there. This is a work in progress because we're going to continue to add bikes to our guide and we're going to continue to add discussion points to the guide. If you have a bike that you love, send us an email, tell us about it, why you like it and we will do our best to include it in our guide. I want to make this as broad as we can and as useful as we can and I hope that you enjoy it, I hope you find it's a great tool. We're going to hear from you. Remember I'm, I have a commitment to cyclists. I'm an experienced injury lawyer, we specialize in helping cyclists. If you've been injured in a cycling crash or you've been injured in any way in Florida and you're a cyclist and you need me, call me, I'll do my best to help you. Order our guide and I look forward to seeing you on the next live stream and be safe. Take care. Bye-bye.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.