Dear Bike Industry, make this e-bike

by 47

As a bike reviewer in 2023AD I am unsurprisingly asked the same question quite a lot. The question may vary slightly in the words used but essentially it is always: “so, which e-bike is best then?”

And now is the time of year when everything is gearing up for Best Of 2023 lists and stuff, so I am ‘officially’ being asked to come up with what I think the bestest.

My answer varies depending on what side of the bed I’ve got out of. Sometimes I do actually name a specific bike (if I know enough about the person who has asked the question and what they’d get along with). But usually I say something along the lines of: “all of them… and none of them”.

Much like with any type of bicycle, any bicycle is better than no bicycle. The same holds true with e-bikes. I can’t think of a single e-bike that I’ve ridden that wouldn’t be good to ride somewhere/somehow for someone.

But. There’s always a but with e-bikes. But, there’s always something wrong with e-bikes. All of them. Not in the broken or going wrong reliability stakes (although that aspect of them is a real concern) but in the actual operation and performance of them.

Sometimes it’s a motor that is either too jerky or too weary feeling. Sometimes it’s unhelpfully garish displays. Sometimes it’s batteries that are too small, or too big. Whatever. There’s always something.

With this is mind, I thought I’d try to come up with my particular wish list for the Perfect E-Bike. Am talking e-MTBs here by the way. Pedal assist mountain bikes.

Maybe this e-bike already exists and I’ve just not yet to come across it yet. I doubt that though; My Perfect E-Bike is a theoretical mix of different brands’ bits. It could not actually exist in the real world.

Consider this Wish List a (no doubt in vain) request to the ebike designers out there about who they should be taking inspiration from when they next go to put mouse pen to graphics tablet.

My Perfect E-Bike Wishlist

  • 60Nm torque.
  • 500Wh battery.
  • Optional piggyback batteries available in multiple sizes (250Wh and 500Wh, at least).
  • 20kg overall weight.
  • Three power modes called Eco, Trail and Boost.
  • Long-press accessible Limp Mode setting for crawling your way back home with a near-flat battery.
  • Battery level displayed as a numerical percentage (‘blobs’ of power remaining are not acceptable).
  • Simple 2-plus-1 button remote near the left grip (up, down and a scroll through info button).
  • Display that sits next to the stem. Top tube displays are too far down in my line of sight.
  • Graphic equalizer-style display that shows you your current instantaneous assist level.
  • Genuinely customisable modes inc. things like overrun.
  • Current battery level on show when charging up the bike.
  • USB charging port for phone/Garmin/lights etc.
  • DInky integrated ‘be seen’ LED lights front and rear.
  • Some sort of alarm and/or tracking and/or remote disabling feature to help deter/find thieves.
  • Motor that can be removed and simply upgraded to the new one.

And… I think that’s it. If I think of any more wish list items, I’ll stick ’em in the comments section.

What would your wish list look like?

I doubt my Perfect E-Bike is going to Your Perfect E-Bike. Comment below wish what your ideal set-up would be. It would be really interesting – and helpful – to hear what you all think about the current state of e-bike design.

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 47 total)
  • Dear Bike Industry, make this e-bike
  • stwhannah
    Full Member

    Heatable down tube storage spot for pies or dry gloves?

    wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    At a price point that doesn’t make you feel ripped off? Mind you that applies to normal bikes and replacement component’s too – brake pads that cost more than for my motorhome, tyres that are two thirds of the price for a car tyre, the list could go on but it’s probably been covered before at some length!

    Kramer
    Free Member

    I’d like an Ebike that weighed less than 20kg, had about 150-160mm travel, and had the ability to do 70 mile, 3000m days with 100kg on board, without having to put it in ultra-eco mode. Currently it would have Bosch electrics, and Shimano Link Glide eleven speed or an internal gear box.

    In fantasy mode, it would do that, weigh 4kg less, and have decent in frame storage and space to fit an 800ml fidlock bottle too.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    USB-C PD charging port (for charging the bike away from home, not for charging accessories).

    b33k34
    Full Member

    Battery level displayed as a numerical percentage (‘blobs’ of power remaining are not acceptable).

    It’s absurd that MTBs are still getting fitted with 5 segment displays – so I’ve got somewhere between 20 and 40%? or between 20 and nothing at all?

    Shimano’s motors give out percentage info that shows up on Garmin devices in the Garmin e bike field but as a 5 segment block in their ‘shimano steps’ display on Garmin (and in their own iPhone app…)

    binman
    Full Member

    Removable battery (like Trek exe) to reduce weight for transporting 3 bikes on bike rack.

    Options in the bike range / models to buy one with preferred drivetrain / suspension rather than factoring a swap over.

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Be otherwise indistinguishable from a normal bike (looks, sounds, weight) save for a 250w kick up the arse.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    Interesting article, in as much as it doesn’t actually talk about the things you’d want for the ‘bike’ bit of an ‘E-bike’ and is all about the features associated with the ‘E’ bit…

    Is that what eeebs do to people, turn them into “that person” who recites the spec sheet for the car they just bought and all the other comparable ones on the market, but couldn’t give you a qualitative description of how it corners or rides?

    I suppose I wouldn’t understand I’m not an “e-Bike guy”

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Maybe they just attract ‘that person’.

    vinnyeh
    Full Member

    heated grips.

    a removable battery which can be straight swapped for 1 or more airline acceptable lower capacity batteries. Or just make 160 batteries, and stack them up in the downtube

    vinnyeh
    Full Member

    Maybe they just attract ‘that person’.

    Maybe this article attracts ‘that person’ who likes to comment negatively. Isn’t it implicit that we want the desired riding characteristics to mirror or better our leg powered bikes?

    deus
    Full Member

    Lower speed limit, and power that tapers off as you reach the limit.

    Scrolling through Strava and the average speed for an MTB ride for the people I follow (my friends, some pros, some other good riders) is 7-10mph depending on the weather, the amount of climbing/descending and how technical the trail is.

    So limited need for 16mph on an MTB, set to 12mph with power tapering off from 9mph 100% to 12mph say 40-50%. Plus it’d save e-riders having to wait for so long when riding with regular bikes.

    That said 16mph for e-commuting is probably a bit too slow, I’d bump that up to 18-20mph.

    dovebiker
    Full Member

    How about some degree of standardisation/ open standards for batteries, chargers and plugs etc to encourage after-market producers, repair and recycling? This would making the option of air travel more viable with it being easier to hire. No doubt manufacturers will provide some bollox about proprietary technology, performance optimisation etc. Given the cycle industries pleas about being ‘green’ E-bikes must be one of the worst products for environmental sustainability.

    Bruce
    Full Member

    A smugness filter which automatically administers 500 volts to the nether regions of any e bike rider who cruises past you on a hill and suggets you get an e bike.

    I don’t want a ebike while I can still pedal uphill.

    nickc
    Full Member

     in as much as it doesn’t actually talk about the things you’d want for the ‘bike’ bit of an ‘E-bike’ and is all about the features associated with the ‘E’ bit…

    Of course it does, The differential between a regular bike and an e-bike, is the E bit. That’s the bit that newer technology, that has fewer commonalities, and has manufacturers grasping around in the dark without really knowing what the public want or care about. I’ve ridden precisely 2 e-bikes for a combined time of about maybe 5 hours, but in that time, I didn’t think once about the bike bit, they were largely “just bikes” But even with my limited experience, I recognise a lot of those irritations.

    olly2097
    Free Member

    My frustrations with my new haibike:

    4 lights for battery level. 25% increments. Not good.

    Lack of an app so no idea what health my motor or battery has. No display on controller which is fine but at least put an app with it.

    Controller has a usb port but can’t charge anything off it.

    julians
    Free Member

    agree with a lot of that list, but very much disagree with these ones:-

    1. Display that sits next to the stem. Top tube displays are too far down in my line of sight. – nope, have had an ebike with a display like this, its clumsy, damage prone in a crash, looks ugly etc, much rather a display integrated into the top tube, or better still no display at all, except may a few lights to indicate battery level and assist mode, as long as it sends all the good data to a garmin (other watches/bike computers are available)

    2. USB charging port for phone/Garmin/lights etc – nope, dont care about this either, just something else for water/mud to get into and cause issues.

    3. DInky integrated ‘be seen’ LED lights front and rear – nope, just something else to go wrong/add complexity/cost etc

    4. Some sort of alarm and/or tracking and/or remote disabling feature to help deter/find thieves. – nope, just something else to go wrong add complexity,cost etc. The motor manufacturers struggle enough with the basics, I can imagine some antitheft feature enabling by mistake mid ride.

    Keep it simple – add a motor and the bare minimum required for a bike with a motor*

    * This is my opinion for a mountain bike, I can see why this stuff might be useful for a commuter bike /bikepacking bike etc.

    nickc
    Full Member

     except may a few lights to indicate battery level

    If they can have a monitor to do this, then then can have a smaller one with a number on it. Illuminated bars (especially just the 4/5 that e-bikes use now) are woeful, if one goes out does that mean I have 75% left or just, less than 100%?

    desperatebicycle
    Full Member

    A smugness filter which automatically administers 500 volts to the nether regions of any e bike rider who cruises past you on a hill and suggets you get an e bike.

    Can mine administer a friendly scrotal tickle? I always say “sorry, I’m cheating”

    mashr
    Full Member

    That long list yet still happy to have a mech hanging off the back instead of matching the motor up to a gearbox?

    joefm
    Full Member

    It’d be cheating if you went the same speed as a normal bike…

    I think the gearbox motor (the other article on the main page) may be the next great thing for them.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I think the gearbox motor (the other article on the main page) may be the next great thing for them.

    Gearbox e-bikes certainly make sense, but also at the expense of weight, complexity, and less user serviceability, but then I’ve never really understood the hate-on that some folks have for derailleurs.

    mashr
    Full Member

    Pinion reckon there’s only needs touched by the user after 10,000 miles. And that will just be an oil change. OTOH we’ve all (I’m sure) seen ebikes exploding mechs out on the trails, and Shimano have even had to come up with a new groupset to try and help them survive ebike use. Gearboxes make more sense than ever in this application

    jameso
    Full Member

    Maybe they just attract ‘that person’.

    Bikes, or e-bikes? Both, right?

    jameso
    Full Member

    How about some degree of standardisation/ open standards for batteries, chargers and plugs etc to encourage after-market producers, repair and recycling?

    Agreed. Should be mandatory in time, standardised (ha..) like AA and AAA sizes – pick the pack, 250-1000Wh dep on what fits and it should connect up, the BMS built into the bike reads battery size and adjusts settings accordingly.

    There are city bikes that use power tools packs, that’s good thinking.

    nickc
    Full Member

    we’ve all (I’m sure) seen ebikes exploding mechs out on the trails,

    Not really, no, and TBH, I’ve very rarely seen any mech on any bike “explode” out on the trail. In 25 years of riding in some pretty popular locations, I’ve maybe seen one or two, and they’re normally things like a jockey wheel bolt falling out, and it’s certainly never happened to me personally. I mean I’m sure it happens, but not nearly as frequently as some folks would have us believe.

    dangeourbrain
    Free Member

    OTOH we’ve all (I’m sure) seen ebikes exploding mechs out on the trails

    Nope.
    That said I’ve only seen a handful of rear mechs destroyed on the trail in the entire time I’ve been riding bikes.
    I’ve seen them go baggy, pivots go sloppy, rendered useless because you can’t mount a suitable shifter to your non leaking brakes. I’ve seen them rusted to death, eaten to death following the jockey wheels no longer having teeth/bearings.
    I’ve seen them destroyed by ham fistedness*, badly installed, b screws lost, limit screws stripped the list goes on but they’re almost all things picked up “at home” not on the trail.

    I like the idea of a gearbox motor but that’s not because derailleurs aren’t a good solution it’s because it’s a nice idea (that’s as much potential to be a really bad solution as a really good one)

    There are city bikes that use power tools packs, that’s good thinking.

    It is but its a shame they picked something no more standardised than ebikes mind!

    *oddly the same people who can’t be trusted with an allen key are the same ones who’ve smashed them mid ride.

    joefm
    Full Member

    Gearbox e-bikes certainly make sense, but also at the expense of weight, complexity, and less user serviceability, but then I’ve never really understood the hate-on that some folks have for derailleurs.

    I’m probably feeling sore about my XT mech exploding at the weekend. It had an interaction with a stick that pushed the cage onto the wheel so nothing caused by the type of bike.

    But then Gearboxes should need less maintenance and wont be so vulnerable. Motorbikes manage but they’re less fussed by weight

    Kramer
    Free Member

    I’ve seen mechs break off, I’ve had to replace derailleur hangers a few times, and years ago I had a mech go through the rear wheel and ruin the mech, the wheel and the chain stays.

    I’ve also noticed that the more I push my riding, the more bashed my mech gets.

    So, yeah, I can see the problems with rear mechs. I don’t think that gearboxes are the answer for leg power, but for ebikes I think they’re much better.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I like the idea of a gearbox motor but that’s not because derailleurs aren’t a good solution it’s because it’s a nice idea (that’s as much potential to be a really bad solution as a really good one)

    Some my thoughts up as well, I’ve never really understood the need by some folks for gearboxes to be an urgent replacement for something that works, is cheap, largely repairable, and easy to service at home – or on the trail.

    Aye, either a gearbox or an AXS system that runs off the bike’s power with a supre drivetrain.

    HoratioHufnagel
    Free Member

    I’d like a motorised seatpost, I get tired of having to stand up every time I want to raise the seat.

    Also, I’d like a reverse mode for when I have to turn around on the trail, preferably with a beeping noise.

    Also, I’d like a reverse mode for when I have to turn around on the trail, preferably with a beeping noise.

    Complete with reversing camera?

    jameso
    Full Member

    It is but its a shame they picked something no more standardised than ebikes mind!

    True, it’s not a perfect solution. Just along the right lines since power tool batteries are more readily available and widespread.

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    An open API/communications protocol that allows any third party GPS/Phone App/Watch to speak to it and let on how lazy I’m being in real-time. Things like instantaneous current draw, torque and power would be actually useful. While they’re at it a USB port so I can download firmware and install it myself. Locking this to dealers is crazy. Looking at you Bosch! Your motors are great, your closed ecosystem is not.

    convert
    Full Member

    They exist but are very hard to find….and this is for me only in so much as it would get my wife out to ride with me….

    A mountain bike (not a hybrid), with mountain bike angles (esp head angle) and clearance for proper mountain bike tyres but with a step thru frame. Obviously this is not a gnarcore bike request – but a bike that could handle something a bit more than canal paths with the angles to inspire confidence off road but for a bit broken people who’d like the assistance of some E but (because they are a bit broken) are better off not swinging their leg over a bike and would rather step through and on to it.

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    A single standardised battery and battery interface. So the bikes aren’t obsolete when the battery is **** I 3 or 4 or 5 years time.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Options in the bike range / models to buy one with preferred drivetrain / suspension rather than factoring a swap over.

    I was looking at Trek Fuel Exe a while back, there was so much stuff I’d want replaced at every spec level, that the most sensible option would have been to buy the base model.

    Frame only please!

    fettlin
    Full Member

    Frame/motor/battery only sales, i’ll decide what groupo to put on the bike to suit my needs. Almost always built from a frame up for the last 15years, i’d like to do the same for an eeb please.

     

    Saying that, the Rise i’ve just got is pretty close to all i need an eeb to be, i’m not Gnarr enough to need a gearbox/170mmtravel/massive range. Some built in serviceability would be nice though please…

    kelvin
    Full Member

    I’d also want to buy frame only… I don’t see it being offered much though, as the battery and motor manufacturers will really want to know that the build was 100% if they have to back up any warranty.

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