I ordered a commuter bike with a big enough battery for my daily commute, which is around 17km each way. The unit, listed as the Valk Vista, was just under $900, including delivery. The bike arrived in a few days, and looked easy enough to put together, although I confess I asked a friend for help anyway; using tools is not my forte.
At 23kg this bike is heavy, so you’d never want to ride it without the assistance of its motor. It has a sturdy frame, smooth Shimano gears and a responsive motor, and the battery does indeed last my daily commute, but the brakes never felt right. I contacted the seller and they immediately sent a canned response asking for video proof of the fault. After a few emails back and forth, I never felt a human was replying, so I took the bike to a local servicing centre. The mechanic agreed the bike was fine but for the brakes, which she immediately replaced, adding another $120 to the cost but making me feel a lot better about the purchase overall.
Since then I’ve used this ebike most days for my commute. After months of service it has been back to the workshop once for a burst inner tube, which seems understandable when you consider I ride more than 30 kilometres a day at about 20 kilometres an hour, with a combined weight of 100 kilograms, over poorly sealed gravel paths.
If you buy online and partially assembled, I would recommend immediately booking in a service at a friendly bike shop, just to make sure everything is roadworthy, so factor the cost of a service into your overall purchase.
Coming from Sydney, it boggles my mind that I can ride such a long commute across the city and spend almost all of it on bike paths. But the state of some of Melbourne’s dedicated bike paths makes for a winding, long and bumpy ride.
The same journey by road is almost five kilometres shorter, but the roads in question are far too busy, and Melbourne drivers still too inhospitable toward bikes, that I’ll take the longer path. Dedicated, unbroken bike paths along every major arterial are needed to really make Melbourne a city that is safe and welcoming for bike riders.
In Victoria, RACV also offers a roadside assistance for bikes. For $53 a year you can get help with a puncture or flat tire pretty quickly, and if there’s something more serious you’ll be given cab fare to make it to your destination. Considering how annoying replacing an inner tube looks, even to experts, I was more than happy to pay this fee, and the cab fare is added peace of mind that an accident won’t mean a missed day of work.
Overall I’m happy I took the plunge on this bike. I have so far saved just over $500 in public transport fares, so I’m on track to save money this year from the purchase.