Before You Buy an Ebike


Written by: Cheryl



This is just a quick post about my experiences with a class 3 gravel bike -- the Specialized Creo -- that I have wanted to love...but...
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This is a modification of the original post, as I wanted to write something on things to consider before you buy an ebike , but then went on about the two ebikes I had owned (of which I now have neither and have a totally different ebike).

So, I’m starting with a list of ebike purchase considerations, many of them obvious but worth restating, and then going on with the original post which I wrote before getting rid of the two bikes in question. The question is: do I regret getting rid of these? Not really; the one I have now suits me more but keep in mind #2 on the list. I’m trying to replace car trips, when possible, with bike rides and my current bike will never go with me on public transit. So now I find myself constantly dreaming about that next, additional ride…

Any other considerations about purchasing an ebike that I haven’t mentioned here? Feel free to leave a comment.<br><br>Additionally, if you want to discuss ebiking, I started an<a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”> ebike group</a> on this website for people who want to share.

You just saw it: a gorgeous ebike in your local bike shop or online and you think, “this is MY bike!” But, wait! Is it the bike for you?

While I was a one-bike person for a long time, until it got stolen, I’ve since succumbed to bike lust too many times. That bike you’re looking at may be just the thing. Or if you’re impulsive like I can be, you might find that the bike you fell in love with just…isn’t for you. Of course, it’s better to know this BEFORE you buy that bike. These are some questions, many obvious ones, that I am forcing myself to ask in the future before I buy another ebike:

Before You Buy an Ebike, Ask Yourself

  1. What is the purpose of this bike? What is its intended use? This might be the most obvious question…but one that’s very important. You might, like me, see a bike, ride it, love it. But is it the best bike for you? For instance, the ebike I have now has a good rear rack and is CAPABLE of carrying a child seat. I’m past the point where I want to carry children. But if I did, this is not the bike I would want. I would want something with a more easy step-through (though mine isn’t bad) like a Tern HSD or GSD. Similarly, if you’re planning taking bike tours and carrying lots of stuff, something like the Specialized Creo is probably not the thing for you. You’d want something with a bunch of mounts.
  2. Where will you be taking this bike? Another obvious question! Of course, you’re considering whether you’ll be riding on roads or on trails, and what type of trails, whether you’ll need a suspension, what size of wheels and tires you want. But have you considered whether the ebike you’ve just fallen in love with will actually go on public transit? Have you considered whether this ebike you’re enamored with will exceed the weight or size limit for the bus rack or whether it will exceed the 50lb limit for bikes on Amtrak trains? Will you be able to lift it, if necessary?
  3. How far will this bike go? Well, of course as far as you can pedal it? But when will it run out of battery. When you’re thinking about buying your ebike, you’ll likely look at the estimated range for your bike. This is, of course, and estimate. If you’re someone who likes to stick your bike on turbo and you live in a hilly area, you might eat up your battery faster than the estimate. Or if you’re like me and try to save as much battery as you can, turn off the motor on easy flats or downhills, and just use turbo mode if you’re tired, in pain, or encounter a big hill (or perhaps a small hill), you might find, like me, that you constantly exceed the max range quoted for your bike. Of course, this can vary with temperature, wind, etc. So always be aware of your battery use and bring your charger with you if you’re going on a long ride.
  4. Is the battery removable? True, you can charge your bike in many places, but I realized at some point that charging my Creo (not the small “range extender” battery but the bike) meant bringing my bike in with me or charging outdoors. I’ve had an easier time (though I don’t often need to) charging on the fly with a removable battery. It’s easier to remove a battery and go sit in a coffee shop or library than it is to bring an entire bike inside somewhere.
  5. How about those stats? I am not enamored of the metrics on my Bosch ebike. I can get them from their app, but it doesn’t connect with anything that I normally use to track anything. But it’s fine for me now, as I’m not really trying to “train” anymore in terms of cadence, power, etc. I’m just riding. But I loved that the Specialized Creo connected with a Garmin and exported its metrics to the Garmin, if you didn’t want to purchase their own bike computer. It worked pretty flawlessly. Know how your bike will work in this way before you buy it.
  6. What class is the ebike, who are you going to ride with and where will you ride it? Is it a class one ebike that will assist you up to 20mph or a class three that will assist up to 28mph? Or a class two that has a throttle so do don’t even need to pedal? Keep in mind that some trails either ban ebikes — but many where I live only allow class one bikes. I will say that people did not see my Creo as as ebike due to its lack of boxy battery and I took it one some trails, but one cannot complain too much when I’m riding this class 3 ebike at 11-13 mph! And will you be riding your class one ebike with an impatient person who has a class 3 bike? Good luck!
  7. Do I want to get a workout on this bike? Can I? Or will it just be for transport? If you just want a bike for transport, this one isn’t for you. But if you’re getting an ebike for exercise, it may or may not work for you. I hear it said, often enough, in various places, that ebike riders get more exercise then people (on average) than people who buy “analog” bikes. While I don’t doubt this is true because the ebikers maybe are actually USING their bikes and not letting them be garage bikes. You can get a great workout on an ebike. HOWEVER, it CAN take some willpower to not just stick that bike on turbo when the going gets (mildly) tough. Can you do this?

OK, now for the rest of the post. This was the original post and just goes on about my (now former) bikes:

My bike story…

Several years ago, I had a road bike I loved. The analog kind. It wasn’t pricey, but after doing some triathlons and long cycling events, I felt “at one” with this cheap bike.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t careful enough with it on a road trip and it was stolen. Slightly after that, I started having some jaw/neck/shoulder issues and, at some point, decided that I road style bike was no longer for me.

For a bit, I was bikeless. But I am not long without a bike of some sort. I’m usually not the type to get a bike and let it sit in the garage. Finally, during the pandemic, I took the ebike plunge and after falling in love during a test drive ended up buying that weird little-wheel Tern HSD.

This bike was terrific for hauling groceries, letting me haul a full load of groceries uphill into my neighborhood. I took it on the Olympic Discovery trail and found that, after the 26 miles or so, I’d used less than half the battery and could have easily have gone back the same day.

My biking style that used to be focused on being fast changed to poking around locally, stopping at free little libraries. But I was having fun until…

Blue Tern Bike By Bagley Creek Bridge on Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles Before you buy an ebike

My husband decided he also needed an ebike. Enter his large-wheel Class 3 ebike ((If you don’t already know, the Tern is a class one ebike which will assist you in pedaling up to 20mph and a class three ebike will assist you in pedaling up to 28mph)).

We rode together and he was just annoyed at my slowness. I pointed out that, it used to be I that had to wait for him when we rode together.

Oh, those little wheels on the Tern. Suddenly I wanted to be fast again. And I love most everything on the Tern except for the tiny wheels.

Enter the Specialized Creo SL Comp Carbon


Suddenly, I was having less fun on my Tern, except for grocery getting runs, and decided it would be fun to do cycling events again AND keep up with my spouse. I ended up, even though the price was a stretch, spluring on a 2021 Specialized Creo SL Comp Carbon.

Specialized Creo Pros

What I liked about this bike, other than that I was sure it could keep up with my spouse’s bike was that it had a non-obvious internal battery with a long range, it weighed around 28-29 lbs, making it easy for me to lift onto a bike rack, and if I DID run out of charge, it would still be usable. My first “real” bike shop bike many years ago weighed more than that.

It also had the option of a range extender battery that could fit into a water bottle cage and extend your ride.

And the Creo IS a snappy ride. It got me up the hills and feels good to pedal on flat surfaces without any assist from teh battery.

The battery range is pretty good — but I’m not in the best cycling shape right now and I went on an EXTREMELY hilly ride recently of 33 miles (Bainbridge Island’s Chilly Hilly route, though not on the day of the event) and was able to ride the entire thing, but found I’d used 75% of the main battery’s charge.

Specialized Creo Cons

On the Creo, the battery assist level gets changed by a control on the top tube, requiring you to take a hand off the bars and fiddle with the control while you’re riding.

Specialized offers a “road remote” option that you can install on your handlebars and, of course, it costs extra. I quickly had these installed as a safety option and didn’t regret it. I think Specialized should include these as standard on their bikes.

I also swapped out the skinny tires for 38 gravel kings so I could try the bike out on gravel. It was fun to ride on less-bumpy gravel roads but on big, loose chunks of gravel downhill, I found it to be a jarring ride. Specialized does make an “Evo” model that has large tubeless tires, a dropper post (that only drops 50mm) and flared handlebars.

For me, however, I am finding that now that I’m taking longer rides again with the Creo, road bike bars are not working for me. I’ve had a professional fitting. I’ve tried handlebar adjustments, but now that I’m taking some long-ish rides with the Creo, I’m still having neck/hand issues that I do not have on an upright bike. I still might be able to keep riding it with a few more modifications, but here’s my big issue with the Creo — it’s not about the bike, or about my physical issues…it’s about the type of riding I want to do and with local laws.

Before You Buy an Ebike (at least a class 3 one) Think About Ebike Laws!

The Creo is a gravel bike. I’ve loved the ability to go onto gravel if necessary and have tried it on gravel trails…but I was being sneaky, as it’s not obviously an ebike.

I am longing to ride more on local trails and — which we have in abundance — and to try some bikepacking trips. However, for most trails in NW Washington State laws designate which type of bike can be ridden on the trails.

I want to argue that my style of riding this class 3 ebike generally amounts, in reality, to going about no more than 12 mph as I mostly only use the battery if I’m very fatigued or get to a hill. But, still, it is a class 3 bike. So for most of the trails I want to ride — which either don’t allow ebikes at all or allow class one bikes — I am riding illegally.

Hmmm…to switch out bikes?

So, I am thinking of, perhaps, not doing long bike events but, simply, enjoying cycling. I used to love bike events, but now I’m just loving it for fun, fitness, and transport.

That being the case, I may just get a lower-priced “analog” flat bar gravel/mountain bike for the trails that don’t allow ebikes, but stick with an ebike for cargo. The Tern is a great bike but, darn…a test drive of that Surly Skid Loader I saw in the bike shop is calling me….eeek!

Any other considerations before you buy an ebike ?

Feel free to leave a comment.

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