We frequently receive comments on social media why the Uni Moke electric bike is so "expensive" compared to a moped, motorcycle or low-cost ebikes found on Chinese platforms like Alibaba.
Because our answers are always pretty much the same, we decided to do a blog post on why Uni Moke is actually a very cheap electric bicycle!
In Europe, due to a high load of legislative and certification issues (let alone labour, tax and rent costs ...), e-bikes are more expensive than in China.
That said, if you search Alibaba for cheap electric bikes, you may come across very catchy offers, but you will soon find out that shipping, taxes and import duties will be added to the deal afterwards and that sometimes, you may end up paying a LOT of money for very little e-bike, especially considering the impact of anti-dumping duties for the US and Europe (up to 87 %).
Believe us, you are not the first person on the planet to discover the 'exact same bike' cheaper on Alibaba and most Chinese aftermarket suppliers are amazingly good in making people believe they just discovered the secret behind the electric bicycle industry!
In e-bike business, a cheap electric bike often translates into 'electric bicycle with a cool looking frame and very low quality or B / C quality selection of components.'
Lets look at the basic components of any electric bike:
It is very easy to create a great looking frame with very cheap, low quality material:
A steel frame may be made with super expensive Chromoly or the lowest grade, recycled scrap steel. The same goes for the often quoted 'alloy frame', suggesting lightweight aluminum alloy frames. But with the wrong aluminum grade or processing, you may just as well end up with a brittle, crack-prone frame made of recycled cans that will not last for a year!
Paint it right and you end up with a sweet looking, but otherwise worthless or even dangerous frame.
The only way to make sure you are getting the right stuff is either doing a laboratory test yourself or simply trust the manufacturer of the bike!
In China, there are a lot of bicycle components (brakes, gear shifters, cassettes, hubs, bearings, ...) on the market that are internally called B or C quality, usually material previously rejected by the vigorous QC teams of large brand suppliers. Those components more than often find their way down into "cheap electric bikes" you can catch for 600 USD on large platforms like Alibaba.
The real bad thing about B or C components is: They even sport the logo of mayor brands, suggesting quality, but were simply not meant to ever be installed in an electric bike due to quality issues!
Same goes for electronic components and batteries: Either they are combined of C and B parts that failed QC at large factories or they are already sourced as low-quality components. Especially batteries are regulary labeled as 'Samsung/ Panasonic' but actually contain no-brand recycled or lower quality 1 C cells with very low lifetime.
So, as cheap may get REALLY expensive, you should switch your mind setting to affordable or a decent price-quality comparison instead of just looking at the initial purchase price!
All Urban Drivestyle electric bikes are designed to be a very flexible and versatile platform for everyday riders and we invested a lot of effort, time and research not only to create a true utility bike, but also in accessories, components and extras that let your bike grow with you!
We actually put our own branding on every component we designed to make sure it is understood that we are not simply buying stock-parts somewhere in Asia to cut a few bucks off the price.
We take pride in our quality, design work and QC and we show it by branding our components with our name – No exuses for us!
Oh, we are 100% sure you could – if you own a very well equipped professional frame-makers workshop and the skills to operate a 3D-CNC precision tube bender, high-end WIG welding stations and jigs, CNC lathes and calibration tools, fine thread cutters, hard-soldering equipment and access to all types and diameters of 4130 chromoly tubing.
High-pressure metal stamps, saddlery equipment, an upholstery shop and the design tools and skills to create complex 3D-Models of a bike frame also would come in very handy, just as well as sophisticated electronic component testing equipment and soldering stations.
Honestly, Uni Moke looks a lot simpler than it is, so if you think you can really make it cheaper yourself, why are you even reading THIS?
True! Gasoline scooters and mopeds are 90% asian made and their prices reflect the super-high numbers of them produced annually. They will be banned from more and more cities in the next few years and are a dying species of vehicles, but hey, they actually ARE cheap!
Uni Moke and Uni Swing are license free, tax free, insurance free and do not need to be parked in costly parking spaces for motorcycles or scooters. They are free to use on bike lanes and go through parks just like any bicycle.
To charge it once only costs you about 20 Cents as opposed to 5-8 Euros for a load of gas for your scooter!
With more and more cities actually banning noisy and pollutive gasoline mopeds and scooters, owning a electric bike is the best alternative to those out-dated vehicles.
Yes, you may be able to catch a great deal on a Chinese 50cc gasoline scooter, but just as well you might find yourself banned from inner cities! Using a bike lane is not possible with those vehicles, so you will spend a lot of time waiting at traffic lights along with the car traffic.
All of this considered, a high quality electric bike is a lot cheaper, faster and easier to maintain and operate than any cheap gasoline moped or aftermarket electric bike from unreliable sources.
And with Uni Moke, you even get the cool looks, touch and feel of a vintage moped without the annoyances connected to gasoline powered two-wheelers!
So, although we may not be the the lowest cost vehicle to purchase, riding a Uni Moke / Swing electric bike will very probably be your cheapest and most reliable electric riding experience in your life!