Cheap electric bike: Currie Ezip Trailz


I just love electric bikes. Whilst I’m still sprightly enough not to need one (I commute each day under my own power on a regular bike), I think they are just great for a whole range of people. Why, I was riding home just the other day and fell into a conversation with a lovely lady who was on an electric bike going the same way. She explained to me that her commute (about twice as far as mine and involving a ferry ride) was simply not possible for her using a non-assisted bike. But with the electric bike she was freed from the tyranny of the car and from the bus timetables. A great solution.

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I really like the look of this one, but I suspect it’ll be a bit more than $500…

I want to start commuting by bike (admittedly I’ve been saying that for years) - but frankly I’m too scared of the roads I’d need to ride on. Half my journey would be safe, the other half would just be tempting fate.

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I already had a nice bike, so I got a Hilltopper. Replacement front wheel with hub motor and a choice of batteries, starting at $400.

Simple on/off control. I tried a bike with a torque sensing force multiplier, didn’t do any better for me.

My aging knees’ best friend!


Before you start getting too excited, keep in mind that some states require electric bikes to be titled, registered, and insured, just as gas-powered mopeds and other “real” vehicles are.

While not necessarily a deal-breaker, it’s an added expense and hassle, compared to people-powered bikes.

What made you choose the hilltopper over the other, superficially-similar kits on the market? Do you know of any good resources discussing the merits of the various kits?

Someone on Twitter recommended this

Of course $2,600 is a bit more than $500… but 48 lbs seems to be about as good as you can do for an electric bike today.

I’m a fan of the Humming Bikes: Cruiser. $1600 and 44 lbs.

Mostly just did a web search for e-bikes, looked through several forums I don’t remember the details of. 8Fun motors were generally recommended, and I have a preference for LiFePO4 battery chemistry: relatively safe, energy density (by weight & volume) not as good as other lithium formulations, but way better than lead batteries and a lifetime of thousands of charge cycles. Hilltopper had those options and the price was quite reasonable.

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I’m for any methods that reduce automobile congestion/pollution/accidents/sedentary enabling etc. Although as a cyclist I winced at the 70 lb figure, it only took a moment’s thought to conclude that even the smallest moped likely weighs more, and probably quite a bit more. Viewed that way, this is a win since the rider also gets exercise and no air pollution.

As long as the traditional bike stuff is above wal-mart “BSO” quality, go nuts.

$500 is not bad. My medium-quality crossover bike costs about that, and the electric may do a better job going uphill.


I started my ebike journey with a kit. It was a wonderful few months until stuff started getting flaky, and I found no sane* person who would work on it (and I’m in the SF Bay Area). After it melted down (not an exaggeration, there was molten plastic dripping off of it), gave up on it until recently.

I picked up the Currie E3 Dash. It’s a full 5 times the price of the Trailz, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had commuting. I literally get airborne twice a day on my commute, and the bike handles it like a champ. I ride to work way more than I did on my leg-power-only ride, and have to develop new safety strategies for passing cars (on the right, since I’m in the bike lane most of my commute).

*I did find one person who took it into his ebike shop and did some troubleshooting. His social skills were clearly not “I work with the public” ready. He cut up my cabling to install new couplings for troubleshooting, all the time pointing out how everything he sold was better than everything I bought (I had made it clear I was glad to pay him for his work, but I didn’t want to buy a new kit). He lost parts of my bike in his pig sty of a shop, and continued a hard sell as he dumped out boxes trying to find my missing parts. When pointed out that he was literally repeating himself in triplicate during his sales pitch, he threatened to throw me out.

I am so, so glad to find an ebike maker (Currie) who gets the concept of “authorized dealer who repairs”

I’ve had the big brother to the trailz, the iZip, for a couple of years now. Be aware, it is noisy. This is due to the drive mechanism, which provides really good torque for the price, but is not very precise. Frequently, it unnerves other cyclists if I approach them from behind due to that noise. Also the battery rattles around in the rack, so it sounds like a bit of a rolling garbage heap.

Currie did provide good warantee support when some of my parts failed prematurely.

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