Hi! I want to give a big THANK YOU to Ivy Wang and the rest of the team from Frey who I met at Sea Otter Classic on Sunday. Ivy was very welcoming to all of the ideas I shared about customizing e-bikes. She definitely knows what she's talking about - at one point in our conversation, she pointed to the "T6 - 6061" on my Jamis Dakar and explained that getting to T6 strength in the 6061 aluminum alloy requires two stages of heat treatment. And she immediately made the connection from that to economies of scale, factory versus individual frame makers. Needless to say, I was impressed!
And she wasn't just pretending to listen to my ideas; she actually pushed back on my idea that the FAT1000 or AM1000 could be customized to be a comfort bike with different handlebars and saddle, correctly pointing out that there are two completely different markets for a mountain bike with high end components and a comfort bike to ride around on the beach or flat areas. It made me stop and remember why I thought there was overlap in the first place. When my friend first told me about the 1000 watt BBSHD, he recommended a "donor bike" with full suspension and disc brakes. At that time, in Colorado, that almost always meant a used mountain bike with some better than average components. I never intended to use the resulting converted bike as a mountain bike, so I looked for comfort handle bars, gel seat, fenders, lights, etc.to make the mountain bike into a daily commuter.
Now, the inclusion of the motor in the frame design makes e-MTBs much more, well, MTB-ish. I saw them all over the mountains when I visited northern Italy last year. They were actually the norm, not the exception. But I knew the 250 watt motors were not going to have the same appeal in the USA. Frey is among the first to actually offer a frame designed for the latest high power torque-sensing Bafang motors, which is how I first stumbled upon this discussion.
But I do still think that there are many of us who are looking for a frame that can be customized to both our intended use and our budget. And, related to budget, many of us who would like a bike that can have multiple uses. Obviously, the FREY AM1000 will never be a little urban 20 inch wheel folding bike, that's a different animal. But the growing interest in 27.5+ and 29+ tells me that people want a bike that can be both a fat tire bike and a mid-fat bike just by changing the wheels. Swapping out a few different parts can allow you to have a mountain bike one day, a bike for riding on asphalt the next, and even a beach cruiser the next day, and they all benefit from the high end components that go along with Frey's core frame design. Some days you need a large battery for long trips, some days a lightweight battery.
If the customization is done in the country receiving the frame, then the cost of shipping should theoretically be less. And customers who want an IGH hub, for example, can choose whether they want an expensive model (Rohloff), something in the middle like a Nuvinci, or something very inexpensive like a 3 speed IGH off ebay. We also talked about belt drives vs chains. And the Sur-Ron style ebikes and the mini-bike e-bikes with seats for two people.
So I just wanted to say how nice it was to have someone like Ivy who actually listens to what we're saying. And I know my ideas don't represent everyone's opinion, so I'm sure people will disagree with some of my crazy ideas, but it's great to see all the new developments in electric bikes. One guy at the event did come up to me and say "I don't ride e-bikes. E-bikes are cheating. I want to earn it." And went on to explain that he was from Oregon, but I wasn't sure what the relevance of that was. He was buying an e-bike for his boss, but prior to that his boss's company had only sold Kona bikes. So there are still people who will always think e-bikes are for people who can't ride regular bikes, and I had to learn the Chinese word for "cheating" to explain his attitude. Ironically, his last words to us were, "But I really do like this throttle feature!" (the most cheating aspect of an e-bike IMHO haha).
Thanks again to Ivy and her team from Frey, it was an awesome day in Monterey!
Orinda, East Bay, California