Pedego bikes are quality eBikes. With hundreds of fly by night electric bike brands out there, this alone is saying something. Only a handful of eBike brands worldwide are what I’d call quality eBikes backed by a company you can count on. Pedego bikes are the real deal. They don’t cut silly corners to hit certain price points. They use quality components. And if you have any problems, they will take care of you. In the quality of product department, and level of customer service you can expect department, Pedego Bikes and Tower Electric Bikes are similar.
A retail eBike brand compared to a direct to consumer eBike brand
Pedego bikes are sold thru a traditional retail distribution channel, so you’re paying retail. For a comparable eBike, you will pay roughly twice what you’d pay if buying from Tower Electric Bikes as Tower only sells direct to consumer. Of course, with Pedego Bikes, if there’s a store in your town you also have the luxury of driving into the store and picking up an eBike on the spot. There are over 100 independently owned Pedego bike dealers across the country that operate retail stores. The problem is that these independent store owners need to make retail margins just like any other retail store to cover salaries, rent, operational costs, and a return on their investment. Then eBikes have to be distributed to each store, so that freight cost is built into the retail prices. Pedego corporate also needs to make their margin as well to cover their costs and get their returns. The result is you get a quality bike in a store, but you are paying retail price points.
With Tower Electric Bikes, we can give you a comparable eBike and level of customer service, but we’ve cut out all the middlemen and passed that savings onto you. Aside from our headquarters in San Diego, we don’t have stores or retail partners that need to make a mark up. Even our showroom doubles as a high-end waterfront event venue in San Diego, so we collect rent instead of paying it, and pass more savings onto our eBike customers around the country. We only ship bikes once, when we ship it direct to the customer. Tower Electric Bikes employs a totally different business model than a retail eBike brand like Pedego, and that’s why we can sell you a quality eBike for $1695 when something comparable at a Pedego shop will cost you about $3600.
Pedego Bikes target is older people
Pedego Bikes has been around since 2009, about the same time we started our sister company, a direct to consumer SUP company called Tower Paddle Boards. They’ve been at this over a decade, which means something. In 2009 however eBikes in the US were perceived a little differently by the public than they are today. Back then, they were primarily being used by older people or people who could no longer ride a regular bike so well. eBikes gave them assistance so it got them moving again. Pedego understood this market well, and so they targeted older people. They even targeted older people to run their stores. This INC magazine article discusses how “all but a handful [of Pedego Bike franchisees] are started by people over 50 years old” and many store owners opened their stores in their 60s and 70s. This is intentional. They want people who can speak the language of their customers. Their product design also follows this target market. They’re not really interested in making cool. They’re making things approachable, easy, safe, reliable, and functional. Older people tend to be better off financially as well and thus a little less price sensitive, so it’s a pretty affluent target market. Selling in stores at retail prices makes sense for who their targeting. What you need to ask yourself though, is if you’re their target market or not. Because if you’re not, and you go with a Pedego Bike, you’re probably paying retail for a bike designed with an older demographic in mind.
Tower Electric Bikes is bringing cool to eBikes
The market for eBikes today goes far beyond an older demographic or people who can't ride regular bikes. We began developing our high-end regular (non-electric) beach cruiser in 2015. We set out to created the world's finest beach cruiser. With classic styling, drop dead good looks in a matte black on black with brown leather accents, a belt drive, a lightweight aluminum frame, and innovative passenger pegs, we think we hit the mark. At a direct to consumer price of $495, this is half the $1000 price tag this quality of bike would fetch in a retail bike store.
At the same time in 2015, we began watching the eBike market very closely for a few years to see what existing brands were doing well and what they weren't doing so well... the good, bad, and the ugly. Three things stuck out to us:
#1: Design and style were afterthoughts - It became pretty clear to us that the design and style of eBikes was a complete and utter afterthought. Most bikes were being cobbled together by engineering types. It was all function, and little thought put into form. There was no sexiness to eBikes. The opposite perhaps.
#2: Most eBikes = Cheap bikes + electrification - Because quality batteries, motors, controllers, displays and other electronics needed to make an eBike were expensive and most people perceived eBikes as just a variation of a bike, the vast majority of brands were using disproportionately crappy bikes and bike components to keep the final eBike price down. Like Walmart quality bikes paired with insufficient electronics to keep the final eBike price under $1000, or $1200, or $1500. Brands like Pedego were actually the rare exception here, but of course their eBikes sell for $3500-$6000. So consumers had the choice of buying a disposable eBike for $500-$1500 (the vast majority of eBike brands), or get a decent quality eBike from a dependable brand for $3500-$8000. Our take away was that this was odd. When someone spends $1000 on a regular bike, they're getting a pretty high-end bike. Sure, you can buy a bike for $100, but not many people do if they're planning to use it a bunch. So why then are the majority of eBike brands putting $400-$500 of factory cost electronics on a $100-$200 quality bike. Seemed ridiculous. If you're going to add that much in electronics to something, may as well use a very high quality bike.
#3: eBikes were seen as cheating for older or disabled people - The perception of people who bike in the US was that eBikes were cheating... for lesser people who couldn't just peddle like the rest of us. They kind of despised eBikes. There was a real hatred. Of course, eBikes aren't really a variation of a bike at all. They're not primarily for exercise and recreation. They're more for transportation with a side of recreation.
From those three observations, Tower Electric Bikes was born!
We decided there needed to be a company bringing cool to eBikes. If you want eBikes to explode in popularity and for them to really alter how people get around, that's what needed to be done. Tower's brand with the beach lifestyle background was the perfect fit. First objective, we set out to lead every decision with design and style, as if we were making a luxury car company. Second, we're building an enduring brand, so the only viable option was to only go high-end on both the bike and the electronics... and the end result would cost what it cost. Of course, we'd sell it direct to consumer only and cut that in half with our direct business model. Lastly, we saw eBikes as cool transportation. We weren't trying to make a better bicycle. We weren't making a product for handicapped people. We were making cool, stylish eBikes we love... wind in your hair transportation so beautiful that it exudes heart and soul.
Pedego Bikes "Interceptor" versus the Tower "Beach Bum"
To get an apples to apples comparison, you have to compare like products. The Pedego Bikes "Interceptor" is what they refer to as the best selling eBike in America. It's a premium aluminum beach cruiser, and can be configured to have a similar electrical components to the Tower "Beach Bum". They are by no means identical bikes. The Tower bike is a clear winner when compared on some features and the Pedego bike is a clear winner when compared on others. But they are close if you configure Pedego's Interceptor correctly.
To get comparable models, you have to select the 26" version of the Pedego Interceptor with spoke wheels and a 48v 15Ah battery pack. At this configuration, the Pedego bike will cost you $3595 plus sales tax. If we're assuming it's purchased in California, with 7.75% sales tax you are looking at $3873.61 and you'll have to figure out how to get it home from the shop if you're not close enough to ride it. But it comes fully assembled by a professional.
A Tower Beach Bum bought anywhere in California at $1695 with tax added is $1826.36 and it ships free to your door. So basically half the price of the Pedego Bike for a very comparable quality product, and frankly superior in many aspects. You have to assemble or take the box to a shop to pay them to do it. It's not difficult at all to assemble yourself, but we do recommend you get it professionally assembled and tuned. Your choice. Tower charges tax is about 1/2 the US states, so in many states, you can purchase one tax free.
Takeaway - $3595 versus $1695. The Tower Beach Bum wins by a landslide.
When many people look at an eBike's performance the first thing they ask about is top speed. We think that's a little foolish, because after a certain point more isn’t always better. More importantly, hill climbing ability should be your first question… and you’ll know that after you’ve owned an eBike for a while. On the speed front, first, going 20 mph on a bicycle is pretty fast. Going 25 mph is really fast. In terms of top speed, you should really be asking yourself does it go “fast enough”. If an eBike only goes 12 mph or 15 mph, that might be limiting. If it goes 20-25 mph, that’s plenty fast. If you find a bike that goes 28 mph or 35 mph or faster, that’s not really a bike we’re talking about anymore. You have yourself a motorcycle. On an eBike, there’s zero benefit in anything beyond about 25 mph.
On Tower electric bikes, we intentionally set a top speed limiter of 18 mph out of the factory, which is sufficiently fast. The user can change that top speed setting to be anywhere from about 8 mph to 23 mph, and then password protect it so other people cannot modify it without the password. Pedego bikes have a similar top speed, which they factory set to 20 mph, but the user can modify if they like.
The real measure of an eBike’s performance is its hill climbing ability. This is the #1 spec you should look at on an eBike because it determines whether your eBike is useful or useless. Imagine a car that couldn’t go over certain hills. That’s exactly what the reality is for regular pedal bikes. Certain hills are just too much work so you don’t go there. eBikes have the potential to solve this problem, which opens up your world… but only if you get an eBike that can climb hills well.
The majority of eBike brands don’t really talk about “hill climbing ability” precisely because it’s hard to measure, and perhaps more so because it’s expensive to make a bike that climbs hills well. You can’t cut corners. Instead, many eBike brands tout motor wattage (350w, 500w, 750w, 1000w, etc) and system voltage (36v, 48v, 52v, etc.). But the reality is these are only contributing pieces of a larger puzzle including what type of motor (mid-drive, rear or front hub motor, etc.), what the motor is tuned for (top speed or high torque), quality of power (is the motor paired with a quality high-capacity battery or a crappy battery, and what battery level are you usually riding at), the controller capacity, etc. There are a bunch of elements.
Hill climbing ability is all about torque. Torque is measured in newton meters (NM), but the torque profile of an eBike is a curve with different torque at different speeds and under different work loads. Bike A may jump off the line, but its mid-range torque may be limited. Bike B may have significantly higher mid-range torque than bike A, but it could be beat off the line by bike A.
Pedego bikes are quality eBikes as I’ve mentioned so they have decent torque. The stated torque of the 48v 500w Interceptor is 45 NM. With throttle only, it can climb a decent hill. Tower’s 48v 500w Beach Bum has torque of 65 NM. Note they are both 48v 500w systems, but with a significantly different torque profile. You can see in the video on this page how with a 200 lb rider using throttle only both bikes get off the line about the same but the Tower Beach Bum starts pulling away pretty quickly and then really runs away once they hit the hill. Don’t misunderstand. The Pedego bike is what I’d call a very good hill climber. Most eBikes on the market can’t even get up a hill like this on throttle only. The Tower Beach Bum is just optimized for hill climbing. It can eat the lunch of many 48v 750w eBikes that sort of mislead people into thinking it’s all about the watts, when it’s not. Not by a long shot.
Takeaway – While comparable, Tower outperforms the Pedego bike
The Pedego Interceptor eBike has great components top to bottom, very similar to the Tower Beach Bum. Both bikes have top of the line Schwalbe tires as well. For the most part, the components are comparable.
Three nice includes that come stock on the Pedego bike are: a 3 amp charger (versus a 2 amp charger on the Tower, so takes a little longer to charge), a tool kit, and a suspension seat post. Some people don’t like the suspension seat posts, and at Tower we like to keep things simple so we opted for a normal seat post. You can add one aftermarket easy if it’s important to you, but 99% of people don’t really care or actually prefer a regular seat post. Tower doesn’t include a tool kit at all, so you’ll need to have your own tools for repairs and assembly. On the charger, faster is always better but there’s a cost. With a big 14Ah battery, most people only need to charge it once in a while so it’s not a huge deal. We went with 2 amp stock, they went with 3 amp stock. We’ve considered selling a 4 amp charger for our battery sold separately if anyone has a strong desire for one they could upgrade.
Two nice includes on the Tower Beach Bum are: barefoot friendly pedals, and added flat resistant tire liners. Flat tires are the biggest problem eBikes have, and the vast majority of eBikes have cheap tires on them so you're going to get a LOT of flat tires. On an eBike, changing a rear flat is a horrible experience as you have a motor and cables to deal with. Tower's added tire liners and premium tires give this issue the attention they deserve.
Takeaway – It’s neck and neck with a slight edge to the Pedego Interceptor
Weight & Ride
The Pedego Interceptor is 62 lbs, while the Tower Beach Bum is 49 lbs. That’s a pretty significant difference, especially if you’ve got to hoist the bike into a car or truck on occasion. In high-end bikes, they do crazy expensive things to shave ounces wherever possible. eBike companies, by and large, have missed the memo on this. While the Pedego Interceptor uses quality components, there is a bit of bulk to it all. More importantly, with the battery in a rear fender position and with a rear hub motor, the bulk of the weight is way towards the back. Ideally, you want your weight centered on a bike. The Tower Beach achieves this better with the battery mounted on the backside of the lower portion of the seat post tube.
Takeaway – The Tower wins hands down here.
One of the big perceived advantages of the buying an eBike in a retail store like a Pedego shop is that you can always take it back there for service if anything goes wrong. Well, you can also take any other eBike to a Pedego shop. Their service center is a profit center. They're happy to work on your bike, as are other bike shops and more and more service eBikes everyday as eBikes are becoming omnipresent.
In the bike shop industry, the little secret is that they make a lot more money servicing bikes then they do selling bikes. Same will follow for eBikes, so regardless of where you buy an eBike, you can likely find someone to service it locally.
Tower customer service is very helpful and the Beach Bum eBike is made in a modular manner so if you have an issue with the motor, we will just send you a whole new rear wheel fully assembled and you can swap it out. Same thing with the battery or the controller. Parts are pretty easy to swap out.
Takeaway - Pedego wins here for sure, but it's not as black and white as many assume.
As I’ve mentioned, Pedego targets an older demographic so they aren’t overly concerned with style. Nonetheless, the Interceptor is a decent looking beach cruiser. The battery on the back looks a little goofy, but at least it’s not a tack-on battery like many eBikes. You have whatever choice of colors your local shop has in stock or you can order one custom online. The Pedego bike comes standard with a chain guard.
The Tower Beach Bum comes in matte black on black, with brown whitewall Schwalbe Fat Frank tires, and brown leather seat and grip accents. It’s a striking looking bike that most people won’t even notice is an eBike. This was done by design. The battery is neatly tucked behind the seat tube so it’s largely hidden as the bike lines flow naturally. The matte black with glossy black graphics screams style and sophistication.
Takeaway - We think it's pretty clear, but judge for yourself ;)