Criteria: Mid-Drive, Belt Drive, Class 3—what bike do you pick?

ajb

New Member
Region
USA
Hi everyone, I'll try and keep this as short as I can.

Last year around April I bought an Aventon Level (V1). After over 3k miles ridden commuting to work nearly every day (16 mile round trip) (even through much of the winter), I can safely say that I am 100% sold on the idea of e-bikes. But owning my first one has also helped me understand better what I want in an e-bike:
  • ESSENTIAL: A Mid-Drive motor with a proper torque sensor and a more natural feel (compared to a hub motor).
  • ESSENTIAL: A belt drive setup with an internal gear hub. Low maintenance and less noise is the dream here.
  • ESSENTIAL: The ability to reasonably maintain class 3 speeds (in other words, above 20 mph, up to 28 mph).
  • ESSENTIAL: Specced out for commuting. This means it should have fenders, lights, and a solid rear rack.
  • OPTIONAL: Front suspension, and even better, a suspension seat post included stock.
  • OPTIONAL: No automatic shifting garbage. Let me handle the shifting myself.
Now here are some bikes I've found that seem to partially or fully fit the bill:
  • Gazelle C380+: Very solid all round. Gazelle has also dropped their 2023 lineup, yet it doesn't include a single class 3 bike—RIP.
  • Specialized Turbo Como 4.0 IGH: All the Specialized bikes as far as I've found are reported to have exceptionally quite and natural feeling motors—yet oddly few reviews on YouTube for the newer models. This bike really seems to be the only one which truly checks all the boxes—provided class 3 speeds are actually maintainable while riding it. It even seems to have a suspension seat post included stock. What more could I want? Weirdly, the Vado doesn't appear to have a 4.0 IGH version.
  • Specialized Turbo Como/Vado 3.0 IGH: I'm worried that the assist would be too weak to realistically maintain class 3 speeds—more than the other bikes on this list.
  • Specialized Turbo Como/Vado 5.0 IGH: Very nice, but I wish it had the option to shift manually.
  • Priority Current: Best value anywhere I've seen, but it has no rear rack for some reason, and no suspension. Gotta cut costs somewhere I guess.
  • Serial 1 RUSH/CTY SPEED: Absolutely gorgeous internal wiring, but I wish it had the option to shift manually, and it has no suspension.
  • Fuell Flluid-1S: Seems to have potential, but doesn't seem as nice as some others on this list.
  • Riese & Muller: Some bikes fit the bill, but they all cost an arm and a leg (like $7k+).
If you know of any good ones I should be considering please let me know!

Really one of the main things I'm worried about is the fact that some of these premium class 3 e-bikes seem to be class 3 only in the sense that they don't inhibit you from going above 20 mph—not in the sense that they make 28 mph a reasonably sustainable speed. I want to pedal, but I want the required effort to be reasonable, and I want ~25 mph to be reasonable too at that effort on the highest pedal assist. Yet I can't really know without hearing from people with firsthand experience riding the bikes.

Some other bikes seem to have strong motors (from what I can find via reviews)—yet no suspension. I've ridden my hub drive Aventon Level at 28 mph with the suspension locked—and those bumps really rattle your bones. Maybe the trails where I live just suck, but for me suspension is a must if I'm going to shell out $3k+.

What is everyone's thoughts and opinions on which direction I should be going here? I come with a completely open mind.

FYI The Turbo Como 4.0 IGH is on sale right now for $3,250 (down from $4,750 apparently). Seems like an insane value compared to the other options on this list.
 
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The automotive envelo hubs has a Bluetooth remote you can use to shift, or your cellphone. Test ride the serial1 first to find the right size frame you. Do not trust the website. I did, it said medium frame. Ordered it. Not comfortable and no way to change it the stem. So I returned it. It was a fun bike.
 
Hi everyone, I'll try and keep this as short as I can.
Last year around April I bought an Aventon Level (V1). After over 3k miles ridden commuting to work nearly every day (16 mile round trip) (even through much of the winter), I can safely say that I am 100% sold on the idea of e-bikes. But owning my first one has also helped me understand better what I want in an e-bike:
  • ESSENTIAL: A Mid-Drive motor with a proper torque sensor and a more natural feel (compared to a hub motor).
  • ESSENTIAL: A belt drive setup with an internal gear hub. Low maintenance and less noise is the dream here.
  • ESSENTIAL: The ability to reasonably maintain class 3 speeds (in other words, above 20 mph, up to 28 mph).
  • ESSENTIAL: Specced out for commuting. This means it should have fenders, lights, and a solid rear rack.
  • OPTIONAL: Front suspension, and even better, a suspension seat post included stock.
  • OPTIONAL: No automatic shifting garbage. Let me handle the shifting myself.

What is everyone's thoughts and opinions on which direction I should be going here? I come with a completely open mind.
FYI The Turbo Como 4.0 IGH is on sale right now for $3,250 (down from $4,750 apparently). Seems like an insane value compared to the other options on this list.

You could also check out our bikes :
Anyway, a refined torque sensor + belt drive + IGH is the way to go if you are riding a lot of miles. Saves you a ton of time and would be a pleasant experience.
 
There are some used Class 3 models with belt drive available from the New York based Upway.

Also another suggestion the Evelo Atlas
 
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Really one of the main things I'm worried about is the fact that some of these premium class 3 e-bikes seem to be class 3 only in the sense that they don't inhibit you from going above 20 mph—not in the sense that they make 28 mph a reasonably sustainable speed. I want to pedal, but I want the required effort to be reasonable, and I want ~25 mph to be reasonable too at that effort on the highest pedal assist. Yet I can't really know without hearing from people with firsthand experience riding the bikes.
This would be my concern as well. You have to keep in mind that the motor on a mid drive, or even a geared hub for that matter, it totally buried within a housing that's not allowing any cooling air to circulate around it, making sustained high speeds difficult from a reliability factor.

The direct drive motors are way more suitable for a task like this (sustained high speeds), the issue there being a lack of performance in the hills and stop and go traffic.
 
I think the C380+ is a great choice. I love the internal gear hub to keep the parts clean, and being able to shift at a dead stop is a great benefit as well. I noticed the no class 3 from Gazelle also, and feel it is to bypass all of the upcoming litigation imposed on other than class 1 bikes.
 
Class 3 really need 80-90nm motor if you want to sustain 25-28mph over long distances. Vado 70nm would be more in 20-25mph range with short bursts upto 28mph.
I've dongled old gen2 CX 75nm will do 25-30mph no problems with light headwinds on flat. Add moderate headwind or gentle slope and 25mph is more realistic. I typically cruise at 20-25mph in eco or tour mode with odd burst to 30mph to merge with traffic.
I definitely work lot harder on this bike compared to my 65nm 20mph trekking ebike. Mainly because extra effort is rewarded with lot more speed.

Wouldn't worry about motors overheating, I've never had issue on CX with sustained climbs in turbo and that is with reduce airflow because of lower speeds.

If you are will to waiting a year there should be bikes available with Pinion MGU (motor gear unit). Do some googling. NB they aren't cheap.
 
I am not going to weigh in directly but what I'll say is if you have any Current specific questions, I'd be happy to help.

While I'd love if it came with suspension, I can't really say I miss it. Partially because I added a suspension seatpost from the day I got it. Suspension stems are also an option. None of them will fully replace suspension, but they can help smoothen the experience. A rear rack is $40. At the $2600 Costco price, the Current is a very good value. I should note, though, that comparing the Current's no-name motor to all of these Bosch and Brose, is not apples to apples. As much as I'd like to say they're equivalent, they very much aren't. Those name brand will be better supported by bike shops, will last longer, and should be quieter (minor point).
 
Hi everyone, I'll try and keep this as short as I can.

Last year around April I bought an Aventon Level (V1). After over 3k miles ridden commuting to work nearly every day (16 mile round trip) (even through much of the winter), I can safely say that I am 100% sold on the idea of e-bikes. But owning my first one has also helped me understand better what I want in an e-bike:
  • ESSENTIAL: A Mid-Drive motor with a proper torque sensor and a more natural feel (compared to a hub motor).
  • ESSENTIAL: A belt drive setup with an internal gear hub. Low maintenance and less noise is the dream here.
  • ESSENTIAL: The ability to reasonably maintain class 3 speeds (in other words, above 20 mph, up to 28 mph).
  • ESSENTIAL: Specced out for commuting. This means it should have fenders, lights, and a solid rear rack.
  • OPTIONAL: Front suspension, and even better, a suspension seat post included stock.
  • OPTIONAL: No automatic shifting garbage. Let me handle the shifting myself.
Now here are some bikes I've found that seem to partially or fully fit the bill:
  • Gazelle C380+: Very solid all round. Gazelle has also dropped their 2023 lineup, yet it doesn't include a single class 3 bike—RIP.
  • Specialized Turbo Como 4.0 IGH: All the Specialized bikes as far as I've found are reported to have exceptionally quite and natural feeling motors—yet oddly few reviews on YouTube for the newer models. This bike really seems to be the only one which truly checks all the boxes—provided class 3 speeds are actually maintainable while riding it. It even seems to have a suspension seat post included stock. What more could I want? Weirdly, the Vado doesn't appear to have a 4.0 IGH version.
  • Specialized Turbo Como/Vado 3.0 IGH: I'm worried that the assist would be too weak to realistically maintain class 3 speeds—more than the other bikes on this list.
  • Specialized Turbo Como/Vado 5.0 IGH: Very nice, but I wish it had the option to shift manually.
  • Priority Current: Best value anywhere I've seen, but it has no rear rack for some reason, and no suspension. Gotta cut costs somewhere I guess.
  • Serial 1 RUSH/CTY SPEED: Absolutely gorgeous internal wiring, but I wish it had the option to shift manually, and it has no suspension.
  • Fuell Flluid-1S: Seems to have potential, but doesn't seem as nice as some others on this list.
  • Riese & Muller: Some bikes fit the bill, but they all cost an arm and a leg (like $7k+).
If you know of any good ones I should be considering please let me know!

Really one of the main things I'm worried about is the fact that some of these premium class 3 e-bikes seem to be class 3 only in the sense that they don't inhibit you from going above 20 mph—not in the sense that they make 28 mph a reasonably sustainable speed. I want to pedal, but I want the required effort to be reasonable, and I want ~25 mph to be reasonable too at that effort on the highest pedal assist. Yet I can't really know without hearing from people with firsthand experience riding the bikes.

Some other bikes seem to have strong motors (from what I can find via reviews)—yet no suspension. I've ridden my hub drive Aventon Level at 28 mph with the suspension locked—and those bumps really rattle your bones. Maybe the trails where I live just suck, but for me suspension is a must if I'm going to shell out $3k+.

What is everyone's thoughts and opinions on which direction I should be going here? I come with a completely open mind.

FYI The Turbo Como 4.0 IGH is on sale right now for $3,250 (down from $4,750 apparently). Seems like an insane value compared to the other options on this list.
I have similar criteria to you and have a few if the mentioned bikes in my final four. Have you considered the Bulls Iconic Evo 1 speed?

Front suspension, road based tires, class 3. It’s not a belt drive, but appears to run a solid groupset.
 
  • OPTIONAL: No automatic shifting garbage. Let me handle the shifting myself.
I feel that way about throttles. No Moped mode garbage for me. I like to pedal. (I'm all in favor of throttles for those that actually need to have one).

I can only say I'm quite satisfied with my two e-bikes. Either would fulfill most of your criteria. (Priority Current and Evelo Omega). On the other hand, I'm not a fan of suspension forks due to the added weight, maintenance and potential bounciness. I ride a lot, if not mostly, on dirt/gravel roads and trails. I do use a suspension seat post though and find that sufficient for my body n' butt. (I don't think it means much to have that as standard equipment. In fact, most designers understand that every backside is different, so better left to the individual to customize. A comfort saddle and suspension seat post is a relatively inexpensive and easy upgrade).

While both of the above bikes share more similarities than differences, I enjoy the sportiness of shifting the Shimano on the Current, as I'm more engaged with the machine itself compared to the Evelo with the "automatic shifting garbage". On the other hand, I'm more engaged with my surroundings when I can just pedal and not think about shifting strategy. I'm using both bikes equally now, and at some point might post a detailed comparison. By the way, the Enviolo Automatiq app allows riders to switch over to manual shifting if they so decide, so they have that versatility.

With all of that said, the Specialized deals right now are hard to beat. Keep an open mind though about automatic shifting, which should really come in handy if commuting in any kind of traffic situation. I can't attest to the Specialized ride quality, but the Evelo Omega feels like an Escalade compared to the Level. (A close friend recently sold his in favor of a Current. I rode the Level a few times myself. It's a very decent bike for what it is, but I think you'll find having a mid-drive torque sensing bike a huge upgrade).
 
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the Enviolo Automatiq app allows riders to switch over to manual shifting if they so decide
Yes, as well as the app I understand there is also an optional handlebar shifter for the Enviolo Automatiq where each press shifts the CVT hub in 5% increments.
 
I am not going to weigh in directly but what I'll say is if you have any Current specific questions, I'd be happy to help.

While I'd love if it came with suspension, I can't really say I miss it. Partially because I added a suspension seatpost from the day I got it. Suspension stems are also an option. None of them will fully replace suspension, but they can help smoothen the experience. A rear rack is $40. At the $2600 Costco price, the Current is a very good value. I should note, though, that comparing the Current's no-name motor to all of these Bosch and Brose, is not apples to apples. As much as I'd like to say they're equivalent, they very much aren't. Those name brand will be better supported by bike shops, will last longer, and should be quieter (minor point).
The motor on the Current is a custom Truckrun for whatever that's worth. My newer Evelo has a Dapu, which is noticeably quieter, but I'm not qualified to address long term reliability or quality. Probably owing more to the different IGH transmissions, they each have a different pedal feel, and in that regard I prefer the torque of the Current to anything else I've been on. ( I have not ridden the other mentions on ajb's list though).
 
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