And then add in all of the other e-bike parts including motors, batteries, throttles, speed controllers, etc. All of these parts are mass-produced in China. They simply aren’t available in the US and no one is designing them or manufacturing them. The US would likely have to start by reverse engineering the Chinese products and learning how they produce them. How’s that for irony?
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
Dan has a lifetime of experience with bicycles and is a hands-on expert when it comes to converting bicycle to electric. Dan is the person you will most likely converse with on Live Chat. He can assist with diagnosing any issues and he is more than happy to enlighten those who ask on almost any topic related to electric bikes. Dan has been riding electric bikes almost daily since 2008...
Riese & Muller’s Nevo line definitely tops my list for commuting electric bikes. These bikes are premium, custom made bikes for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road price. All Riese & Muller bikes are hand made in Germany exactly to your specifications. The Nevo line specifically is incredibly well balanced and keeps riders in a comfortable, upright position. Riders also get a suspension seatpost (either the Cane Creek Thudbuster or Satori Elegance LT), which is a nice compromise between the full suspension Homage line and a complete hardtail.
“Second, even if you do make bikes in the US, they will be multiple times more expensive than their overseas counterparts and 99.9% of consumers won’t pay that price. When my shop tried selling a US-made bike next to a Chinese bike, with signage that explained why the US-made bike was more expensive, we couldn’t even sell one. Customers would stand there and talk about how they want American-made goods, then they would buy the Chinese bike.”
Is it worth $1700? I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t have a lot of experience with commuter ebikes so I don’t know how it compares. I do know that most of the ebike conversions I’ve seen look like science experiments. The Buffalo could pass for a normal bike, and look a little more accessible to a first time ebike user. So, although I’m not planning on riding this, I am planning on using it. So I’ll keep it around for a while and let you guys know what I think long term.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It's worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.