Dost Crate, Vvolt PIE, or Zen Photon?

Grenseal

New Member
Region
Canada
Hi guys. I'm currently looking for an ebike as a car replacement. I'm looking for a do it all bike for getting to work, visiting friends and family, and groceries shopping. I have a race road bike that I ride for fun, but it's not practical for everyday use.
My absolute must have would be mid motor and belt drive. The bike doesn't really need to carry massive amount of cargo; 50-70lbs is probably all I need.
I've been looking at the Dost Crate and Vvolt PIE. Both are upcoming new mid motor/belt drive cargo ebike. They look cool and have everything I want/need. Dost seems to have a bad rep on these forums, and both Dost Crate and Vvolt PIE are brand new with no reviews anywhere.
One of the Dost "buyer beware" threads lead me to Zen bikes. I've been looking at the the Zen Photon; not a specific cargo bike, but looks like it could handle the amount I would carry, also mid motor/belt drive. I like that Ravi is so active on these forums, and customer service appears fantastic.
What do you guys think?
 
You can't go wrong with Zen , I've had one for just under a year now and delivered by Ravi himself. Just an amazing ride 4000+ kms on it now ( it would have been more but a knee surgery got in the way last spring ) Smooth and quiet and a motor that climbs hills like a freight train with a big battery my search is over . It doesn't get any better, I'd buy another if I had to !
 
You can't go wrong with Zen , I've had one for just under a year now and delivered by Ravi himself. Just an amazing ride 4000+ kms on it now ( it would have been more but a knee surgery got in the way last spring ) Smooth and quiet and a motor that climbs hills like a freight train with a big battery my search is over . It doesn't get any better, I'd buy another if I had to !
Which model did you get? I'm looking at the Photon, but there isn't any reviews around.
 
Which model did you get? I'm looking at the Photon, but there isn't any reviews around.

Hi Grenseal,
Thrilled you're considering the Photon as your next potential ride—it's an excellent choice (My totally biased opinion, Lol)! While it's still gaining traction, we do have some community reviews that might give you the insights you're looking for. Here are three links from EBR community members who own a Photon :
  1. EBR Community Member Review Link 1
  2. EBR Community Member Review Link 2
  3. EBR Community Member Review Link 3
Each of these reviews should give you a personal take on the Photons performance and riding experience. Photon has a built in rack and can easily carry between 80- 100 lbs. Hope this helps, and I'm here if you have any more questions!

Here are the bike specifications:
Motor : Zen 500 W, 120 Nm Mid Drive
UL Certified Battery : 52 V; 20 Ah ; 1040 Wh Integrated Battery
Charger : 4A UL-certified charger
Rear Hub: Enviolo Heavy Duty 380
Shifter Rear : Enviolo Pro
Frame : Hydroformed Aluminum 6061
Brake : Tektro E725 Hydraulic Disc Brakes With E-Cutoff (4-pistons)
Fork :RST Aerial 27.5" x 2.6", 120mm
Travel - Boost Spacing, Air Suspension With Lockout
Tire : Schwalbe Supermoto 27.5”x 2.4”
Drivetrain : Gates Belt Drive, 55T (Front-sprocket) - 22T (Rear-Cog)
Speed : Max 32Km/hr (Canada)/ 45Km/hr (USA)
Seat Post: Custom Suspension seat post
Assist levels : 5
Color : Electric Blue, Charcoal Grey, Cream
Throttle : Yes/ Thumb Throttle
Warranty : 3 Yrs
Lights : 200 Lumens
Display : LCD K-DISP 686 with usb-c charge port

Best,
Kri
 
You can't go wrong with Zen , I've had one for just under a year now and delivered by Ravi himself. Just an amazing ride 4000+ kms on it now ( it would have been more but a knee surgery got in the way last spring ) Smooth and quiet and a motor that climbs hills like a freight train with a big battery my search is over . It doesn't get any better, I'd buy another if I had to !
Thank you for the support Brat! 4000+ Kms WOW!! Glad you're enjoying the bike.
 
Hi Grenseal,
Thrilled you're considering the Photon as your next potential ride—it's an excellent choice (My totally biased opinion, Lol)! While it's still gaining traction, we do have some community reviews that might give you the insights you're looking for. Here are three links from EBR community members who own a Photon :
  1. EBR Community Member Review Link 1
  2. EBR Community Member Review Link 2
  3. EBR Community Member Review Link 3
Each of these reviews should give you a personal take on the Photons performance and riding experience. Photon has a built in rack and can easily carry between 80- 100 lbs. Hope this helps, and I'm here if you have any more questions!

Here are the bike specifications:
Motor : Zen 500 W, 120 Nm Mid Drive
UL Certified Battery : 52 V; 20 Ah ; 1040 Wh Integrated Battery
Charger : 4A UL-certified charger
Rear Hub: Enviolo Heavy Duty 380
Shifter Rear : Enviolo Pro
Frame : Hydroformed Aluminum 6061
Brake : Tektro E725 Hydraulic Disc Brakes With E-Cutoff (4-pistons)
Fork :RST Aerial 27.5" x 2.6", 120mm
Travel - Boost Spacing, Air Suspension With Lockout
Tire : Schwalbe Supermoto 27.5”x 2.4”
Drivetrain : Gates Belt Drive, 55T (Front-sprocket) - 22T (Rear-Cog)
Speed : Max 32Km/hr (Canada)/ 45Km/hr (USA)
Seat Post: Custom Suspension seat post
Assist levels : 5
Color : Electric Blue, Charcoal Grey, Cream
Throttle : Yes/ Thumb Throttle
Warranty : 3 Yrs
Lights : 200 Lumens
Display : LCD K-DISP 686 with usb-c charge port

Best,
Kri
Thanks.
 
Looked up dost crate and vvolt pie. Both are stretch frame cargo bikes, as I ride. This puts your weight on the front tire, and the cargo on the rear. Since I received the yuba bodaboda 1/18 I have not been pitched over the handlebars on my chin once. Over the bars 5 times 2008-2017 on MTB's & and a cruiser. **** quick steering!@#)$(*&
Dost has straight bars, which I hate. Vvolt pie has curved back handlebars, but a 20" front tire, which I hate. We do have potholes in my city, and if it is raining or I'm following a line of cars through a stoplight, I can't always miss them.
Other brands stretch cargo frame with big wheels, xtracycle, Pedego , giant momentum, Blix packa. I ride yubabike, but aluminum frame bodaboda no longer available. Left out some brands with long lists of problems on brand forum like magnum, m2s, rad.
You must have long steep grades to require a mid-drive. They cool better than hub motors. I do fine over 77 rolling hills in 30 miles with a 1000 w geared hub motor. With 8 speed rear sprocket I get 5000 miles out of my chains. 24 speeds is handy when the electricity fails in a bad rain. (wet sensors) Since I electrified the bike myself I put the motor on the front, also the battery. This makes the bike much easier to push around with a load; no controlling a wagging heavy rear from the handlebars. I like the front basket of the vvolt pie. I have frame mounts for a front basket on my bodaboda, used them to mount the battery. The white thing out front in my avatar.
It is winter and I stored the battery in the garage under a back heater pad. Going to be 22 F tonight, bad weather for LiIon batteries. Range drops 1/2 under 50 F. My battery is 5 years old, holding up fine.
Rode 8 miles to market today, cubed out both panniers with $94 groceries. No 12 liters soda+1/2 gal milk substitute so was not 70 lb today. Geared hub motor doesn't drag unpowered the way most mid-drives do. Bosch makes you spin the motor with your feet unpowered. Good thing, wind was 25 mph in my face all the way home. My frame has 11000 miles on it. I have worn out one hub motor (4500 miles, gears) and burned one that was too small (350 w) for the hills. Geared hub Motors are <$400 each, the 350 w one was $37, and it takes about an afternoon or two to swap in a power wheel, modify caliper, and rewire. No giving the bike a ride in a car to the shop (I don't keep one), no waiting 2-10 weeks for parts or for your turn in the shop. I have a spare motor+wheel waiting & ready at all times. Takes longer to swap out a chain than it does a hub motor. I installed extra wire folded up so I don't have to unplug the motor to get the wheel off for flat repair. I store a spare controller, throttle, PAS pickup, at all times. <$100 for all that. 3 or 4 spare tubes, spare tire in garage, 1 at summer camp, and a foldup tire in the pannier. (ripped a tire once, pushing groceries 7 miles at 96 F is no fun).
Happy shopping & later riding.
 
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Hi guys. I'm currently looking for an ebike as a car replacement. I'm looking for a do it all bike for getting to work, visiting friends and family, and groceries shopping. I have a race road bike that I ride for fun, but it's not practical for everyday use.
My absolute must have would be mid motor and belt drive. The bike doesn't really need to carry massive amount of cargo; 50-70lbs is probably all I need.
I've been looking at the Dost Crate and Vvolt PIE. Both are upcoming new mid motor/belt drive cargo ebike. They look cool and have everything I want/need. Dost seems to have a bad rep on these forums, and both Dost Crate and Vvolt PIE are brand new with no reviews anywhere.
One of the Dost "buyer beware" threads lead me to Zen bikes. I've been looking at the the Zen Photon; not a specific cargo bike, but looks like it could handle the amount I would carry, also mid motor/belt drive. I like that Ravi is so active on these forums, and customer service appears fantastic.
What do you guys think?
Get the ZEN and you will find bliss when you cycle to your happy place!
 
Get the ZEN and you will find bliss when you cycle to your happy place!
The zen photon appears to be a cruiser bike with a rear hub motor and a battery in the downtube.
With wald basket & 50 lb groceries on the back, my cruiser (huffy savannah) had about 100 lb rear 20 lb front without me on it. The upright posture puts the majority of rider weight on the back. This low weight on the front tire led to instability and in my case, pitching me over the handlbar on my chin. The front wheel snapped sideways on a bump. If your hands are strong enough to "hold the handlebar straight" good for you. Mine are not.
IMHO stretch frame cargo bikes are much better for hauling groceries, if you do not take your bike for rides in your automobile. Even in hilly Clark Cty IN, I do not find the extra 15 lb of frame annoying. I am not racing; I am shopping, eating out, visiting meetings or concerts, doing volunteer work, off my bike. As I ride Thanksgiving-mid-April without a battery, I find ratios from 24:32 to 52:12 useful for pedaling up & down hills.
 
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The zen photon appears to be a cruiser bike with a rear hub motor and a battery in the downtube.
With wald basket & 50 lb groceries on the back, my cruiser (huffy savannah) had about 100 lb rear 20 lb front without me on it. The upright posture puts the majority of rider weight on the back. This low weight on the front tire led to instability and in my case, pitching me over the handlbar on my chin. The front wheel snapped sideways on a bump. If your hands are strong enough to "hold the handlebar straight" good for you. Mine are not.
IMHO stretch frame cargo bikes are much better for hauling groceries, if you do not take your bike for rides in your automobile. Even in hilly Clark Cty IN, I do not find the extra 15 lb of frame annoying. I am not racing; I am shopping, eating out, visiting meetings or concerts, doing volunteer work, off my bike. As I ride Thanksgiving-mid-April without a battery, I find ratios from 24:32 to 52:12 useful for pedaling up & down hills.
The Photon is a mid motor.
I am considering stretch frame cargo bikes as well (Crate, PIE), but they may be a bit much for my use case. I logged my trips with my car and I rarely go over 50lbs of stuff.
The Photon has an included front rack rated at 15kg/33lbs, and a rear rack rated at 25kg/55lbs. I will probably mount a box or some panniers on the rear rack depending on the trip, or both.
The Photon has a large battery included, 20Ah. My friends and I often take trips to Birds Hill park, about a 74mile/120km round trip. The Photon should accommodate that.

I have until March to decide, maybe Ravi'll have a cargo bike built by then haha.
 
As a current owner of a Zen Photon myself, when doing preliminary research, I remember reading somewhere that Dost uses cadence sensors. Zen Photon uses a torque sensor. I've never owned or ridden a cadence version, so I'll let others here on EBR help you decide which might be the better choice.

(I've attached below the link I remember reading beforehand. According to a May 2023 replier, Dost still uses cadence sensors. I couldn't find anything myself on the topic in Dost's own Drop CVT model website specs.)

On a side note, I will have to say, some of the nightmares I've been reading here on EBR from people placing orders with Dost in the latter half of 2023 have been pretty scary. My interactions with Zen -- before, during, and after the sale -- were superb. The Photon really is a great bike. And at its current price of $2999, I'd classify it as an outright steal.


 
As a current owner of a Zen Photon myself, when doing preliminary research, I remember reading somewhere that Dost uses cadence sensors. Zen Photon uses a torque sensor. I've never owned or ridden a cadence version, so I'll let others here on EBR help you decide which might be the better choice.

(I've attached below the link I remember reading beforehand. According to a May 2023 replier, Dost still uses cadence sensors. I couldn't find anything myself on the topic in Dost's own Drop CVT model website specs.)

On a side note, I will have to say, some of the nightmares I've been reading here on EBR from people placing orders with Dost in the latter half of 2023 have been pretty scary. My interactions with Zen -- before, during, and after the sale -- were superb. The Photon really is a great bike. And at its current price of $2999, I'd classify it as an outright steal.


Can you tell me more about the Photon?
Things like:
Is the motor loud?
What's the real world range based on your experience?
Thanks.
 
Can you tell me more about the Photon?
Things like:
Is the motor loud?
What's the real world range based on your experience?
Thanks.
I'm actually the author of "Review Link 2" mentioned by Kri near the beginning of this thread, so you've probably already read my take on the Photon. What you may have missed however, comes later in that thread, starting at reply #22. A fellow EBR member shares their thoughts on noise levels for some of the more common ebike motors available today. My response describes the Photon motor tone to be very similiar to what can be heard in that linked video. It's the volume of the tone that's so subjective. As can be seen in my original review, I simply pointed out that the Zen motor can be heard at any pedal assist level and at just about any speed. Is that normal for a motor with 120nm of torque? Maybe. I have no idea, as the Photon is my first ebike. Is it louder than some other ebikes (with less powerful motors) that I tested? Yes. Has that minor annoyance hindered my desire to ride the bike? Absolutely not. I love it! It's a hill-climbing beast -- with a throttle.

Here's another link to the thread containing my review (note reply #22). My comments on "range anxiety", along with actual ranges obtained, can be found in the "Battery" section.

 
I'm actually the author of "Review Link 2" mentioned by Kri near the beginning of this thread, so you've probably already read my take on the Photon. What you may have missed however, comes later in that thread, starting at reply #22. A fellow EBR member shares their thoughts on noise levels for some of the more common ebike motors available today. My response describes the Photon motor tone to be very similiar to what can be heard in that linked video. It's the volume of the tone that's so subjective. As can be seen in my original review, I simply pointed out that the Zen motor can be heard at any pedal assist level and at just about any speed. Is that normal for a motor with 120nm of torque? Maybe. I have no idea, as the Photon is my first ebike. Is it louder than some other ebikes (with less powerful motors) that I tested? Yes. Has that minor annoyance hindered my desire to ride the bike? Absolutely not. I love it! It's a hill-climbing beast -- with a throttle.

Here's another link to the thread containing my review (note reply #22). My comments on "range anxiety", along with actual ranges obtained, can be found in the "Battery" section.

Ah yes, yours was the super detailed review. Thank you.
It didn't occur to me to look at the name haha.

I did have a chance to ride my friend's Prodigy v2 from Ride1Up. That thing has a Brose motor is pretty much silent. I think it's because Brose has internal belt instead of gears.
However, the Prodigy was more missing a few things I'd like to have, like the front rack.

I'm hoping that the noise from the Zen custom motor isn't that high-pitched whine. My road bike makes a whoosh noise due to the 50mm carbon wheels. That's the kinda noise I hoping for haha.
70 miles and still at 20% is fantastic.
 
Looked up dost crate and vvolt pie. Both are stretch frame cargo bikes, as I ride. This puts your weight on the front tire, and the cargo on the rear. Since I received the yuba bodaboda 1/18 I have not been pitched over the handlebars on my chin once. Over the bars 5 times 2008-2017 on MTB's & and a cruiser. **** quick steering!@#)$(*&
Dost has straight bars, which I hate. Vvolt pie has curved back handlebars, but a 20" front tire, which I hate. We do have potholes in my city, and if it is raining or I'm following a line of cars through a stoplight, I can't always miss them.
Other brands stretch cargo frame with big wheels, xtracycle, Pedego , giant momentum, Blix packa. I ride yubabike, but aluminum frame bodaboda no longer available. Left out some brands with long lists of problems on brand forum like magnum, m2s, rad.
You must have long steep grades to require a mid-drive. They cool better than hub motors. I do fine over 77 rolling hills in 30 miles with a 1000 w geared hub motor. With 8 speed rear sprocket I get 5000 miles out of my chains. 24 speeds is handy when the electricity fails in a bad rain. (wet sensors) Since I electrified the bike myself I put the motor on the front, also the battery. This makes the bike much easier to push around with a load; no controlling a wagging heavy rear from the handlebars. I like the front basket of the vvolt pie. I have frame mounts for a front basket on my bodaboda, used them to mount the battery. The white thing out front in my avatar.
It is winter and I stored the battery in the garage under a back heater pad. Going to be 22 F tonight, bad weather for LiIon batteries. Range drops 1/2 under 50 F. My battery is 5 years old, holding up fine.
Rode 8 miles to market today, cubed out both panniers with $94 groceries. No 12 liters soda+1/2 gal milk substitute so was not 70 lb today. Geared hub motor doesn't drag unpowered the way most mid-drives do. Bosch makes you spin the motor with your feet unpowered. Good thing, wind was 25 mph in my face all the way home. My frame has 11000 miles on it. I have worn out one hub motor (4500 miles, gears) and burned one that was too small (350 w) for the hills. Geared hub Motors are <$400 each, the 350 w one was $37, and it takes about an afternoon or two to swap in a power wheel, modify caliper, and rewire. No giving the bike a ride in a car to the shop (I don't keep one), no waiting 2-10 weeks for parts or for your turn in the shop. I have a spare motor+wheel waiting & ready at all times. Takes longer to swap out a chain than it does a hub motor. I installed extra wire folded up so I don't have to unplug the motor to get the wheel off for flat repair. I store a spare controller, throttle, PAS pickup, at all times. <$100 for all that. 3 or 4 spare tubes, spare tire in garage, 1 at summer camp, and a foldup tire in the pannier. (ripped a tire once, pushing groceries 7 miles at 96 F is no fun).
Happy shopping & later riding.
NOT HUB DRIVE Joe
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