E-Joe 2015 Epik SE Problems--UPDATE


New Member

My wife, an experienced cyclist, had a serious accident on her E-JOE EPIK SE electric folding bike on 8/31/17. She originally bought the e-bike on 6/20/15 from a Denver dealer. I say “originally” because we returned the first E-JOE EPIK SE. The brakes were flimsy, mushy, and inadequate for stopping quickly and safely. The headset felt quite rough while riding and turning the handlebars, especially for a tight turn. We considered both of these serious safety problems.
We took the E-JOE back to the dealer to fix the rough steering and adjust the brakes. The dealer’s mechanic was unable to solve the problems to our satisfaction. On 9/15/15, the dealer offered us another new E-Joe EPIK SE 2015. We should have rejected this offer and asked for a full refund, especially when my wife learned after riding the new bike near our home that it, too, had the same flaws as the original bike (i.e., unsafe braking and the identical problem of a rough headset).
Because we have always put bike safety first, we had an experienced, trusted local mechanic/bike store owner replace and upgrade the brakes, brake levers, and headset on the second E-JOE, which we picked up on 1/20/16.
On 8/31/17, the day of the accident, both the weather and the road surface were good. My wife described what happened before she fell on a downhill in a bike lane: “The bike’s steering began to wobble uncontrollably—the handlebars were going back & forth [laterally] rapidly and violently.” Because she could not control the steering, she knew she was going to fall either to the left or the right side. She could not remember whether she tried to brake. The odometer showed 925 cumulative miles and the max speed that day was 29 mph.
Lying on the road, my wife was unconscious when the ambulance arrived. In the ER she was assessed with a concussion, several fractured facial bones, two fractured neck bones, a disintegrated head of the left humerus, two large bruises on her face, and abrasions on her left side. Two weeks later she underwent total reverse shoulder arthroplasty (surgery). After months of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy, she still has not regained total range of motion in her shoulder.
After the accident, we asked the same mechanic who worked on the bike (in January 2016) to check it. He determined that the headset that he replaced with a higher-quality one was fine. The (front) suspension seemed okay, although he thought the bushings in the lower part of the forks were somewhat loose. He noted that the handlebar stem, which has a folding quick-release mechanism, was not quite tight. (Note A below links to the comment “EPik SE Steering Stem Keeps Coming Loose.”) Although our mechanic did not find any obvious cause of the accident, he also would not state that this bike was safe to ride at 29 mph. In Boulder County, with its many hills, it is virtually impossible not to exceed 30 mph on almost any road ride.
We took the E-JOE to another reputable Boulder bike shop for a second opinion. The manager test-rode the bike on a level street near the shop and found it worked properly at ca. 20 mph. He made the following observations:
1. There was no problem with the E-Joe’s front wheel, the tire’s seating on the rim, or the headset and front suspension.
2. He suggested the geometry of the bike might be at fault because:
a) The bike is back-heavy. There is not enough weight at the front end; thus, making the steering harder to control;
b) The bike’s front end [i.e., handlebars] is too high in relation to the saddle;
c) The bottom bracket’s placement directly under the seat tube is not ideal; a more forward placement of the seat tube would achieve a better balance.
The accident could have been caused by a combination of a poorly designed and manufactured frame (see Notes A-C below), and incorrect weight distribution (see Notes D and E).
  • See “Epik SE Steering Stem Keeps Coming Loose”:
  • https://electricbikereview.com/forums/threads/epik-se-steering-stem-keeps-comingloose.12950/
  • See “quick release latch issue on ejoe epik se 2015 frame”:
  • https://electricbikereview.com/forums/threads/quick-release-latch-issue.3185/
    “Has anyone experienced an issue with the quick release latch on the ejoe epik se 2015 frame? After 2 rides, the medal clamp does not lock. The plastic locking mechanism secures the clamp slightly, though I am afraid that that plastic does not appear very durable and may not hold the clamp securely over time. Any feedback is kindly appreciated. Thank you.”
  • See “my biggest gripe with the bike is the brakes”:
  • https://electricbikereview.com
  • “After riding it for two weeks I can say that my biggest gripe with the bike is the brakes. Even though everything was professionally adjusted, the breaks[sic] feel soggy, they rattle and don't have any ‘bite’ to them. They do work but I expected something more responsive.”
  • Could incorrect weight distribution have been the cause of the uncontrollable wobble with my wife’s E-JOE? The bike had a 5-lb portable oxygen concentrator (POC) in a wire basket mounted on the rear rack, and rear panniers with a few items inside. The weight was distributed more in the middle and back end of the bike than on the front end. My wife weighs only 105 lbs, and the rear rack held the POC and panniers.
  • See “Speed Wobble–When The Bike Shakes Its Head,” CyclingTips, March 11, 2011: https://cyclingtips.com/2011/03/speed-wobble-when-the-bike-shakes-its-head/
  • Speed wobble is the term used to describe a quick oscillation of the handlebars while riding at high speeds. Any vehicle with a single steering pivot is capable of experiencing speed wobble.
    This might have been the case with my wife’s E-JOE.
  • A scenario seen relatively often is that the top tube of the bike is underbuilt. If you put a lot of weight on the saddle the front end of the bike can pivot around the seat tube and create oscillation….
3. Incorrect weight distribution is a very common cause of speed wobble. Quite often, speed wobble has just as much to do with the rider as it does with the bike. If speed wobble starts occurring, many people will intuitively put their weigh towards the back of the bike instead of putting their weight towards the front to actually stop it and dampen it out.
4. E-JOE EPIK SE compared with BIKE-FRIDAY CRUSOE (see the next paragraph and photos below):
Both are folding bikes with 20-inch wheels; they have similar, but not identical geometry. The steering on the two bikes is totally different, which most likely contributes to the difference in weight distribution on the bikes.
I have ridden a BIKE-FRIDAY CRUSOE, my 3rd Bike Friday (BF), since 2007. I rode my 1st BF (1995 New World Tourist) and 2nd BF (2001 Pocket Rocket Pro) on a number of Ride the Rockies tours and elsewhere, totaling thousands of miles. During these years, I experienced not one accident attributable to the design or the manufacture of the bike itself. Moreover, my wife rode her 1995 New World Tourist in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Colorado without a single incident or accident, until health problems required her to discontinue cycling (until she discovered e-bikes).


Sorry to hear about your wife's accident and resulting condition.

The thing that sticks out to me in your comparison is the rake angle on the BF is greater and results in a longer overall wheel base and in most cases more stable steering.

Not saying she was going that fast at the time of the accident but 29mph on that bike would scare the bejeezus out of me.

On second look compare where your hands would hold the bars normally on the bikes pictured. The BF hand position in the drops is forward of the center of the front axle while the other bikes is behind. This would make steering very sensitive on the white bike and there would be much less pressure on the front wheel.

Picture how a shopping cart wheel works. When the axle is behind the wheel all is good. But trying it the other way around doesn’t work well at all.
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