Were You Moving Away From E-Bikes, What Traditional Bicycle Would You Buy?

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
'Your biggest mistake Stefan was you got used to a pretty high speed on your e-bikes but didn't understand the process of getting fit starts from very slow rides...' was a friendly remark of my cycling friend on our group ride of yesterday -- 'When you were demo riding a Diverge EVO, you started from expert level terrain; that's why you failed your test' -- he added. After we completed our group ride, the friend could complete his ride on the leg power only, making 142 km on the day.

Yesterday has turned out to be a breaktrough day for me. Confronted with two very slow riders in the group, I switched the assistance OFF on my Vado SL and was happily pedalling on my own leg power for 60 km in a mixed terrain consisting in 50% of gravel roads. Despite my medical condition, I found I was capable of pedalling better than two other riders in the group even if the dry weight of my Vado SL was 17 kg, and the fully loaded e-bike was far heavier than that! That has opened my eyes: Could I buy a good pedal bike and be successfully riding it at lower speed? My calories burnt on the 60 km ride were the same as if that were a 100 km assisted Vado SL trip!

There was an important factor that made me happy riding my Vado SL unpowered: the bike is perfectly fit to my body, and I can assume ideal riding position on my bike. It is still a heavy bicycle.
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Yes, I was demo riding a Diverge EVO. The bicycle rode in the rough terrain as a dream. It was comfortable with the regard to the compliance (no vibration whatsoever!) It held on very rough surfaces perfectly. Yet... My riding position felt weird: very upright with arms spread on very wide handlebars. It was not my bicycle. It was not for me. I came back from a relatively short ride totally exhausted. While I had a big grin on my face on the return from my unassisted Vado SL ride.

No reason to buy a new bicycle now with the Winter approaching fast. I could think of buying a pedal bike for the Spring. Now, will I feel good on a new traditional bike?
  • A bike type - gravel capable, lighweight, flat handlebars
  • Bike geometry - issue
  • Bike size - issue
Now I know the Diverge Evo is a no-go for me. Two demo rides and I hated that bike. Specialized Sirrus X 5.0, carbon, promised compliance? A Sirrus X 4.0, more traditional, still lightweight, great specs, too? Or just ride my Vado SL unassisted, or even with the main battery removed?

I would be grateful if you shared your experiences as e-bikers that occassionally ride their traditional bicycles. Do you ride them often? What makes you ride a traditional bike when you own an e-bike? Tell your stories! I will be glad to hear them!
 
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This past summer I did two identical rides-one on my Cannondale Neo Lefty 3 e-gravel bike (Bosch gen 4 motor) and the other on my Giant Defy carbon road bike.
The 75 km ride travels along the coastline and fairly flat, with only a few moderate hills.
I love my road bike, and over the past 5 years I've put just over 10,000 kms on it, but I suspect I won't be doing many more longer rides on it, because the older I get the more I dislike hills.

I don't plan on putting my road bike up on its wall mounted rack and forgetting about it, though. I've been following the development of a DYI kit, made by Boost in the UK, and I think I may convert my road bike to an ebike.
The Boost kit has a hub motor and a small, water bottle style battery. There is only one wire, which connects the hub motor to the battery and the small display is wireless.
With a total weight (bike 18 pounds + Boost kit 9 pounds = 27 pounds) I should be able to ride on the flats without power and only have to use the power for hills.
 
I have been doing less miles on my Vado and more on the Kona Dew Plus I picked up a month ago. Quick backstory which you may find helpful (or not): since my Vado is supremely comfortable (e.g. I did a ride where I did not lift my butt from the saddle for 16 miles, and only got off the saddle to take a quick water break and meet a dog; then rode another 10 mi w/o lifting off the saddle), I finally settled on a regular bike with geometry close to the Vado. I've got the Dew set up as comfortably as the Vado.

Now, I alternate riding them each day - Vado was y'day, today is Dew; tmr is Vado; etc. While we each have our own reasons, I thoroughly enjoy the simplified, dead-quiet rides on the Dew; and the more nimble handling. I tend to not ride it as far as the Vado, yet still putting in 100% of the effort at lower miles just feels... good? And is likely even better for my health.

To be clear, the Vado is still an awesome ride and I smile every time I'm on it. I enjoy the workout, the pace on both of them - so while the bikes have similar geometry, they are very different riding experiences.

All that said, if I had a SL, I might try to stick with that 100% of the time, and see how riding unpowered went before committing to another bike.
 
This past summer I did two identical rides-one on my Cannondale Neo Lefty 3 e-gravel bike (Bosch gen 4 motor) and the other on my Giant Defy carbon road bike.
The 75 km ride travels along the coastline and fairly flat, with only a few moderate hills.
I love my road bike, and over the past 5 years I've put just over 10,000 kms on it, but I suspect I won't be doing many more longer rides on it, because the older I get the more I dislike hills.

I don't plan on putting my road bike up on its wall mounted rack and forgetting about it, though. I've been following the development of a DYI kit, made by Boost in the UK, and I think I may convert my road bike to an ebike.
The Boost kit has a hub motor and a small, water bottle style battery. There is only one wire, which connects the hub motor to the battery and the small display is wireless.
With a total weight (bike 18 pounds + Boost kit 9 pounds = 27 pounds) I should be able to ride on the flats without power and only have to use the power for hills.
Not sure how good a Qiroll is on hills but only adds 1.6kg with the larger battery and cut weight over 5# vs the Boost wt you quote. I'd like to try one, almost bought a used Qiroll pro on ebay but ended up passing on it.

Qiroll on what looks like a carbon frame, from the Qiroll site.
 

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I'd like to own one of the 20-24 lb gravel bikes my brother uses when we do the siblings ride (four or five ebikes and his gravel bike), He buys them used for about $600 and is always showing up each year with something different.
 
I resurrected my early-1980's-to-1990's road bike about a month ago (new tires. Cleaned it. Amazingly the tubes still work fine and hold the needed 110 psi. New saddle as my original was suited to my 25-year-old butt and not my 60-year old one, and Shimano pedals instead of my old Look pedals as even my SIDI Genius road bike shoes from the previous century were switched to SPD), and hooked it up to my vintage back-wheel resistance trainer. Set it up in the corner of my bedroom and now if I am watching evening television, I am doing at least part of it while riding the bike.

For me, cycling with electric assist is a necessity because I ride for practicality and utility, not recreation. The assist makes the bike a viable car replacement usable regardless of rain, shine or mood. The trainer/TV rides are what pass for recreational riding and an analog bike is fine for that.

One thing I had to get used to again was riding both on the brake hoods and down in the drops. After a few decades of MTB-style bikes, I hadn't realized there is so much difference then vs. now. My first ride around the neighborhood on the bike (in at least 20 years) before mounting it on the trainer was downright harrowing and, for that ride at least, damned uncomfortable.

After I lose more weight I'll ride it on the street again, at least briefly for the sake of the experience. I was 70 lbs less than I am now so not willing to risk it.

Don't know what the hell I would do if I wear out drivetrain parts on this thing. Its a 7 spd straight-block freewheel. Can't be too many of those around anymore. Cassettes were newfangled oddities when this thing was built. I don't even have the removal tool although its a 4-tooth Suntour so thats got to be available somewhere. I still have a bottle of Phil oil so it would not be a bad idea to pull the thing off and oil it. Glad I wore out my magnesium Maillard and replaced with a steel Suntour as I'm certain that French part is a unicorn in 2023.

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Been thinking about this a lot lately.

An SL like the Creo 2/expected Vado 1.2 update/Skitch would be great for the hills and high temps we have to contend with. I could ride it unpowered most of the time, or on turbo when commuting around. Having a motor means I will ride it more often.

Something like the Diverge or other very light full suspension XC bike (e.g. Epic) is also very appealing. I vastly prefer not hearing a motor, and want a bike that's comfortable out of the box (bad wrist due to accident). I'm fit and in my 30s so a bike like one of those would probably be fine. My wife and I both experience a level of joy on our acoustics that we don't get from our heavy ebikes ('23 Gazelle C380). Of course, the ebikes are do-it-all machines so that makes sense.

Acoustics are Trek 8000* and Emonda carbon. What I love about them is the lightness, simplicity, quietness, handling, and somehow they seem to have a little less vibration to the wrists. I love how they coast for what seems like a lot longer. Hills though..
 
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All that said, if I had a SL, I might try to stick with that 100% of the time, and see how riding unpowered went before committing to another bike.
That is probably the best reassuring advice, Joe. If I indeed ride my Vado SL unpowered for most of the time and only use the assistance whenever really necessary, I'm losing nothing but gaining fitness. The time for an analog bike may come yet when I feel really ready for it!

An SL like the Creo 2/expected Vado 1.2 update/Skitch would be great for the hills and high temps we have to contend with. I could ride it unpowered most of the time, or on turbo when commuting around. Having a motor means I will ride it more often.
A good point AR! I see scenarios such as climbing the rare hills we have with some assistance. Or, riding against a strong wind assisted. My general rule should be not to engage assistance where a regular rider would ride easily. There are however some hills I would not be able to ride unassisted! (And I cannot really walk).

I vastly prefer not hearing a motor
That sensation of riding in total silence was the most convincing factor for me to ride unassisted. My Vado SL is as well maintained as it is totally silent without the motor. A great pleasure to ride it silent.

Now, I alternate riding them each day - Vado was y'day, today is Dew; tmr is Vado; etc. While we each have our own reasons, I thoroughly enjoy the simplified, dead-quiet rides on the Dew; and the more nimble handling. I tend to not ride it as far as the Vado, yet still putting in 100% of the effort at lower miles just feels... good? And is likely even better for my health.
Another good point! I own a Vado 6.0, which is "dangerously tempting" in the sense of having a silent mid-drive motor (a rarity!) and being pedalled at pretty high speed with ease. Now, I think is is the ideal machine for grocery shopping and really long rides in relatively short time. I used to ride it with multiple batteries. Now, it looks doable to ride it at very low assistance, single battery rides.

I gave my local Specialized LBS a call regarding availability of Sirrus X models: nothing in my size available right now just to check the size and body fit. My nearest LBS is a Cannondale dealer: Why couldn't I try a Cannondale in some future?
 
I ordered a Co-Motion Siskiyou last year and over this winter got it all dialed in. While the Siskiyou is a heavy beast of a bike (it is a steel-framed touring bike) and riding it took a bit of getting used to, I feel it was well worth it.

IMG_1149.jpeg


For one thing, I am probably in the best shape of my life pushing that thing around. In fact, yesterday I rode a 125km day on that bike over varied terrain and godawful headwinds.

In spite of the weight, it is far more comfortable and far more stable than any e-bike I've ridden.

And best of all, it has opened up a world of possibilities for adventures that just weren't practical on an e-bike or would have been contrived if I did them with an e-bike.

The Charger still gets ridden, but probably for about ten percent of my miles. Right now I don't see an e-bike that checks all the boxes for me so I'm probably not going to purchase another one until something comes along that can. The Specialized Creo 2 comes very close, though.

The bike that intrigues me and might get added to the quiver a few years down the road is the Otso Fenrir. Although more specifically I'd start with the Fenrir frame and do a complete build as a gravel grinding shred sled.
 
I ordered a Co-Motion Siskiyou last year and over this winter got it all dialed in. While the Siskiyou is a heavy beast of a bike (it is a steel-framed touring bike) and riding it took a bit of getting used to, I feel it was well worth it.

View attachment 164342

For one thing, I am probably in the best shape of my life pushing that thing around. In fact, yesterday I rode a 125km day on that bike over varied terrain and godawful headwinds.

In spite of the weight, it is far more comfortable and far more stable than any e-bike I've ridden.

And best of all, it has opened up a world of possibilities for adventures that just weren't practical on an e-bike or would have been contrived if I did them with an e-bike.

The Charger still gets ridden, but probably for about ten percent of my miles. Right now I don't see an e-bike that checks all the boxes for me so I'm probably not going to purchase another one until something comes along that can. The Specialized Creo 2 comes very close, though.

The bike that intrigues me and might get added to the quiver a few years down the road is the Otso Fenrir. Although more specifically I'd start with the Fenrir frame and do a complete build as a gravel grinding shred sled.
I know that place (!), although I've only been there a couple times to ride from Orting to South Prairie (now extended to Buckley) and parked at that park. I used to know of some closed road, closed due to damage from a flooded Carbon River (?), open to hikers/bikers, at a park near Carbonado that I wanted to ride but don't recall where that is. Or do a partial RAMROD ride - not in one day, not the event. My wife used to have an apartment in Des Moines when my kids went to a private school up near there (170 miles from where we live). Those were the days, I don't miss them.

PS
you are only ~50 miles from Rattlesnake Lake so you must have ridden some of the Cascades to Palouse trail, right? I wanted to do that this fall but my wife had orthopedic surgery and I couldn't take time away from home.
 
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I've almost clicked buy on this full carbon 1x11 a few times.

View attachment 164310
What brand/model is it? I'm afraid the bike might be unavailable in my area.

I had a look at Cannondale offering. While the brand is trying hard with lightweight e-bikes, all their gravel bikes are drop bar, and there is nothing in the flat bar department that would look convincing to me. Canyon has nice Roadlite bikes but I would not buy from an online company...
 
'Your biggest mistake Stefan was you got used to a pretty high speed on your e-bikes but didn't understand the process of getting fit starts from very slow rides...' was a friendly remark of my cycling friend on our group ride of yesterday -- 'When you were demo riding a Diverge EVO, you started from expert level terrain; that's why you failed your test' -- he added. After we completed our group ride, the friend could complete his ride on the leg power only, making 142 km on the day.

Yesterday has turned out to be a breaktrough day for me. Confronted with two very slow riders in the group, I switched the assistance OFF on my Vado SL and was happily pedalling on my own leg power for 60 km in a mixed terrain consisting in 50% of gravel roads. Despite my medical condition, I found I was capable of pedalling better than two other riders in the group even if the dry weight of my Vado SL was 17 kg, and the fully loaded e-bike was far heavier than that! That has opened my eyes: Could I buy a good pedal bike and be successfully riding it at lower speed? My calories burnt on the 60 km ride were the same as if that were a 100 km assisted Vado SL trip!

There was an important factor that made me happy riding my Vado SL unpowered: the bike is perfectly fit to my body, and I can assume ideal riding position on my bike. It is still a heavy bicycle.
----------------
Yes, I was demo riding a Diverge EVO. The bicycle rode in the rough terrain as a dream. It was comfortable with the regard to the compliance (no vibration whatsoever!) It held on very rough surfaces perfectly. Yet... My riding position felt weird: very upright with arms spread on very wide handlebars. It was not my bicycle. It was not for me. I came back from a relatively short ride totally exhausted. While I had a big grin on my face on the return from my unassisted Vado SL ride.

No reason to buy a new bicycle now with the Winter approaching fast. I could think of buying a pedal bike for the Spring. Now, will I feel good on a new traditional bike?
  • A bike type - gravel capable, lighweight, flat handlebars
  • Bike geometry - issue
  • Bike size - issue
Now I know the Diverge Evo is a no-go for me. Two demo rides and I hated that bike. Specialized Sirrus X 5.0, carbon, promised compliance? A Sirrus X 4.0, more traditional, still lightweight, great specs, too? Or just ride my Vado SL unassisted, or even with the main battery removed?

I would be grateful if you shared your experiences as e-bikers that occassionally ride their traditional bicycles. Do you ride them often? What makes you ride a traditional bike when you own an e-bike? Tell your stories! I will be glad to hear them!
There is many a time riding when I realise I can easily pedal at the same speed as the motor, I now try this as often as possible to extend the range.
But I still get most of my exercise from burst extreme climbs where I push myself to failure.

Which these days isnt far 😂
 
There is many a time riding when I realise I can easily pedal at the same speed as the motor, I know try this ss often as possible to extend the range.
I was trying that trick with my heavy Vado. Accelerate it to a good speed and then pedal in the OFF mode. However, the e-bike is as heavy as I cannot continue riding it for a longer time. Vado SL is just a 17 kg bike, many traditional cyclists ride bikes of a similar weight...
 
What brand/model is it? I'm afraid the bike might be unavailable in my area.

I had a look at Cannondale offering. While the brand is trying hard with lightweight e-bikes, all their gravel bikes are drop bar, and there is nothing in the flat bar department that would look convincing to me. Canyon has nice Roadlite bikes but I would not buy from an online company...


 
PS
you are only ~50 miles from Rattlesnake Lake so you must have ridden some of the Cascades to Palouse trail, right? I wanted to do that this fall but my wife had orthopedic surgery and I couldn't take time away from home.
While I live on the Other Side of the mountains, yes I've ridden the Palouse to Cascades trail (well, at least to the Beverly Bridge and sections E of there). What I'd say is that the quality of the trail surface and track rapidly drops off just E of Ellensburg. From Rattlesnake Lake to Easton there are abundant camping options.
 
While I live on the Other Side of the mountains, yes I've ridden the Palouse to Cascades trail (well, at least to the Beverly Bridge and sections E of there). What I'd say is that the quality of the trail surface and track rapidly drops off just E of Ellensburg. From Rattlesnake Lake to Easton there are abundant camping options.
My wife is cleared to drive as of this week but with the wet forecast (love the rain, not complaining) and short days (meaning long nights in a backpacking tent) I'm not inclined to try it this year. Maybe in the spring when the Snoqualmie tunnel opens, although my wife might be having surgery again in the spring so I'll have to wait and see.
 
My wife is cleared to drive as of this week but with the wet forecast (love the rain, not complaining) and short days (meaning long nights in a backpacking tent) I'm not inclined to try it this year. Maybe in the spring when the Snoqualmie tunnel opens, although my wife might be having surgery again in the spring so I'll have to wait and see.
The section(s) from Hyak East to Cle Elum and Ellensburg are nice and you can plausibly credit card tour them. Which if we had some sunny fall days would be really fun...

Also, the old train station in Cle Elum serves good barbecue but is closed on Mondays so try to schedule your trip to not be there on Mondays.
 
This website does not inspire confidence. Ever heard of Dengfu carbon frames? (Just asking - I would not spend my hard earned money for an inexpensive Chinese carbon frame -- saw them broken). If I buy a traditional bike, it has to be from a major brand bought locally with local service and warranty.

For instance, Specialized offers carbon e-bikes made from FACT 9r, 11r or 12r carbon fibre. Now, I might ask what makes the 9r frame different from the 12r frame? The difference in the price is astonishing!
 
I do not feel confident with this website. Ever heard of Dengfu carbon frames? (Just asking - I would not spend my hard earned money for an inexpensive Chinese carbon frame -- saw them broken). If I buy a traditional bike, it has to be from a major brand bought locally with local service and warranty.

For instance, Specialized offers carbon e-bikes made from FACT 9r, 11r or 12r carbon fibre. Now, I might ask what makes the 9r frame different from the 12r frame? The difference in the price is astonishing!
Dengfu is a well known name in the DIY ebike community. They are pretty much at the top tier for carbon fiber frames that can be used with built-in motors. If you look at the technically well-regarded Luna mid drive ebikes, their frames are made by Dengfu. Also Watt Wagons contracted with them for frames. Dengfu is an oem for others so you don't see their name on the bike but they made the frame on contract.
 
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