Pedego finally has mid drives, plus Captain Kirk…

February 1, 2019
8,969 Views

This is news because Pedego sells more turn-key ebikes in North America than anyone else. What makes it strange is that they waited so long to start carrying a mid drive model in their catalogue. When they started out, they became famous by making beach cruisers with a small hubmotor.


Pedego’s early ebikes

Pedego is a company who’s mere existence is a life-lesson in marketing. Let me start by describing something from my own life. When I was younger, I re-roofed my own house (after having worked on a roofing crew for a short time), and by doing it myself, I saved over $1,000. It was hard work, but at the time, my spare time was well worth $1,000 for one weekend.

What I’m getting at is…Pedego products seem a bit pricey for what they provide, and yet they are the largest turn-key ebike company in the USA. Clearly they have a customer base that is willing to pay more for what Pedego supplies, so…what do you get for the money?

The 48V Pedego beach cruiser is the foundation of Pedego’s bread-and-butter

 

Look at the pic above of this orange beach cruiser. It has everything that customers strongly respond to on a test drive, and it deletes anything that doesn’t directly affect a test drive.

Notice the space between the seat tube and the front of the rear wheel. This is a slightly “stretched” frame, with a mildly “feet forward” comfortable riding position. It is comfortable to ride, and you aren’t putting body weight onto your wrists while leaning forward, like a racing road bike.

Suspension is expensive and heavy, so this bike makes sure to have the key feature of a “beach cruiser”…fatter tires. They may have only been 2.4-inches  wide, but sometimes that’s enough (at the time).

 

The Pedego Interceptor in yellow

 

Disc brakes. The early versions had cable-operated units with small diameter discs, but…if your fork has the disc-mounts, each buyer could easily upgrade the brakes if they wanted. And to be fair, many customers are happy with cable-operated 160mm discs, compared to rim brakes. All of their new brakes use a 180mm disc or larger…

Pedego ebikes sold OK at 36V, but when they went to 48V and a larger hubmotor, there was a big bump in sales.

Color…many bicycles (and ebikes) are only available in one or two colors. Pedego has many bright colors from the very beginning, and they were an early adopter when it came to color-matching the rims. That may sound trivial, but…the guys who run Pedego are millionaires, and 99.9% of the people reading this are not. When internet posters made fun of them for selling over-priced beach cruisers, they cried…all the way to the bank.


The Founders

Pedego was started and is run by two friends, Don and Terry. I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry at the 2014 Interbike, and his intelligence and enthusiasm are infectious. Don and Terry were not ebike people who decided to start a business. They were successful automotive-parts businessmen who decided to get into ebikes.

 

Don is on the left, Terry on the right. Look at how small the 36V geared hubmotors were back in the beginning.

 

These guys started big, and stayed big. They placed large bets, and they only bet on a sure thing. The shift to adding mid drives to their catalog is the best endorsement I can think of for ebikes in the USA. Fast-growing companies like Luna Cycles are edgy and take bold risks. Pedego is the type of company that watches Luna Cycles, and then they “copy what works”.

All of these new models listed below use an aluminum frame to save weight, they continue to use disc brakes, and all of them use a torque-sensor instead of the cheaper “speed sensor” to activate the Pedal-Assist-Sensor / PAS option. That is where you are pedaling add add power, instead of using a hand-throttle.

I was struck by how each of these three models use a different mid-drive system. Most ebike companies negotiate to get the best possible price on the motor-system from the supplier, which often ends with the motor supplier demanding exclusivity. Haibike and Pedego are both large enough that no single motor supplier can make such demands, so both have models that use whatever motor the retail company wants for that model.

All three of these models will provide power up to 20-MPH (32 km/h). You can go faster than that if you want, you just don’t get any electric assist over that speed. One thing I have to say about Pedego…over the years, they have continuously added a variety of models to their lineup. They have cargo bikes, fat-tire models, and even an “extra low” step frame.


Pedego City Commuter

This is the least expensive Pedego mid drive at $3600. Ebike reporter Court Rye has stated that this motor is the Dapu MD500. It looks like it has a rudimentary suspension seat-post. I really like the Suntour NCX, but anything is better than nothing when you are riding an unsuspended frame.

The 2019 Pedego City Commuter mid drive

 

The 48V system is reported to provide 95-Nm of torque, which is actually at the higher end of factory mid drives (Bosch, Brose, Panasonic, etc). It uses a square-taper bottom bracket cartridge with a torque sensor. The Shimano 7-speed freewheel is an affordable and adequate gear-set for most street hills.

If the drive is truly providing the rated 500W, then the 48V battery will be limited by the controller to 11A. Doing that and using a PAS means that you should get a very good amount of range from the more affordable 10-Ah battery pack. However, for getting a longer life out of the battery, I highly recommend the larger optional 15-Ah pack (even if you don’t need the added range).

The Brakes are Avid BB7 cable-operated calipers with 180mm diameter discs. This is the clear leader for affordable brake systems. As the pads wear away, the gap can be adjusted by a simple knob on the caliper, no tools needed.

There are three frame options. There is a diamond frame and also a step-through frame using 28-inch hybrid tires, along with an optional cassette (instead of the 7-speed freewheel). The third frame option provides a size for the shortest riders and uses 26-inch tires.

If you want more details about this model, here is a link to the Pedego PDF


Pedego Conveyor

This $5000 model places the weight of the battery and motor in the center, which is widely regarded as the best possible location for the balance of the bike. This is useful when lifting it onto a cars cargo rack. The lack of a welded cargo rack means you can easily swap-in a Thudbuster or Suntour NCX, both of which are highly regarded for un-suspended frames.

The 2019 Pedego Conveyor

 

This particular model uses a Gates belt (instead of a chain), and also a Shimano Alfine 8-speed IGH (pronounced al-FEE-nay). That particular combination is unusually quiet, whether you are pedaling or just coasting along.

The Conveyor uses the well-known Brose-S drive. It has a high reduction with an internal belt-and-pulley set. This version of the Brose is programmed for 250W of input, and it’s efficiency is revealed by it’s ability to turn the modest 36V X 7A = 250W into a surprising 90-Nm.

250W means that this model is not a hot rod, but it will provide a significant range from only 13-Ah of battery. There is only one size of aluminum frame, which uses Schwalbe “Super Moto” 27.5 X 2.4-inch tires. Tires this fat work well to smooth-out common road irregularities.

One interesting feature is that the battery uses the Rosenberger RoPD magnetic connector for charging. The brakes are Tektro 2-piston hydraulic calipers, using 180mm diameter discs, which is definitely appropriate at this price range.

If you want more information about this model, here is a link to the Pedego PDF.


Pedego Elevate

I am certain this is a rebadged mountain ebike that is made by someone else. That being said, this is not actually bad. One of the things that Pedego has going for it is that they have a deep and wide dealer network, and the highest level customer service (good CS costs more). In fact, that is exactly why many of their customers will buy a Pedego instead of simply adding a kit to an existing frame (in order to save $1,000). I have no doubt that they will sell plenty of these, even though they are priced at $5,500…(not me, of course. I am talking about rich customers here…)

The 2019 Pedego Elevate

 

This full-suspension aluminum frame comes in two sizes. I scanned the specs to find something that I can recommend as an upgrade, but…it looks like someone did their homework. The Shimano STEPs mid drive motor has a small chainring (which enhances torque and limits motor heat). The gear-set is a Shimano SLX M7000 11-speed cassette, which is an awesome number of gears once you add a motor.

The bottom bracket (BB) is a Shimano Hollowtech-II, and my off-road friends tell me that this is the good $h!t…movin on to the brakes, it uses a Shimano Deore Hydraulic caliper set, with 203mm discs. I haven’t test-ridden anything that is considered “better”, but this is definitely a wonderful choice.

The tires are Maxxis “High-Roller-II”  27.5 X 2.8, and this is firmly in the recent “mid fat” category that is proving to be popular. Forget the numbers and reviews, go for a test ride on mid-fat tires.

Finally, let’s talk about the motor. The Shimano STEPs E8000 is not a hot rod, since it takes a modest 36V and only converts it to only 70-Nm or torque. but…it is well-engineered, and has a reputation for running very quietly, and very reliably.

The Shimano torque-sensing is as good as anything that is available. That means that it has a smooth power-up and power-down when you begin pedaling or when you stop. The power is also available instantly, instead of the slight delay that we find when using a cheaper “speed sensor”.

If you want more details about this model, here is a link to the Pedego PDF.


Lets wrap it up

I have to mention this again. Why would someone pay so much for an ebike, when it is cheaper to add a kit to an existing bike? Pedego has a 2-year warranty that their customers trust. Also, I have to mention that Pedego dealers have rentals, which means a potential customer can take a test ride without having to talk to a sales-person. I apologize to any sales staff who are offended to hear this, but…many customers HATE talking to you about anything.

Also, they sell many ebikes to mainstream customers, but…Pedego also has focused advertising to women and older customers. These are two groups that are often overlooked, and Pedego did not miss a single step when faced with this opportunity. Speaking of older customers, their website uses large print. It’s a small feature, but older customers appreciate the small details that show some effort went into the pitch…

Finally, they are part of the increasing number of companies that are providing financing for their products.

$153/month for the City Commuter

$231/month for the Conveyor

$249/month for the Elevate


William Shatner

When the classic “Star Trek” TV series came out in the 1960’s, it was very ground-breaking. By modern standards it may look low-budget and retro (especially the first season), but words can’t describe what a huge hit it was. Famous Canadian actor William Shatner played “Captain Kirk”, and somewhere along the line, he bought a Pedego. Pictures began circulating of various celebrities riding Pedegos, and recently, Pedego signed Shatner to be an official spokes-person.

 

Here is a recent ad from Pedego with William Shatner (age: 87)

 

Clearly, there will be more of these ads on youtube, but…here is the first in a series of videos…


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, February 2019

Grew up in Los Angeles California, US Navy submarine mechanic from 1977-81/SanDiego. Hydraulic mechanic in the 1980's/Los Angeles. Heavy equipment operator in the 1990's/traveled to various locations. Dump truck driver in the 2000's/SW Utah. Currently a water plant operator since 2010/NW Kansas


7 Comments

  1. I can’t justify the prices pedego is asking for on their bikes. There are so many products out there just as good and half the price. I’ve been looking at Rad Power, Blix, and Wing Bikes and I’m sure they can all have equal quality to a pedego.

  2. Court Rye’s review said the motor is a Dapu MD500 Source: https://electricbikereview.com/pedego/city-commuter-mid-drive/

  3. Shatner just got my home county to admit they are lifting their ebike bike trail ban this summer! Source: https://mobile.twitter.com/WilliamShatner/status/1110950688635260928

  4. very nice… i really like your blog…

  5. nice post , Great .

  6. I’d take Scotty’s advice on this one over Kirk!

  7. Sorry it took so long. I was interested but not in a rear hub. Bought something else instead.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: