Thursday, March 26, 2020

Daymak Vermont Review

One of Daymak's most popular electric bike models because you get power, range and comfort for a reasonable ~$2k price
I like the addition of fenders but the front isn't long enough to protect feet and shins, the bottle cage bosses and rear rack bosses could come in handy and the lights are nice but run on their own batteries vs. being integrated
The suspension fork and larger knobby tires improved comfort but with only seven gears it's more of an on-road ebike
The plastic fenders are a bit basic, you have to leave the key in the battery when riding and the brake levers don't cut power to the motor which could be dangerous in pedal assist mode

The Daymak Vermont is a mixed bag for me… I love the high power motor and extra large battery for improved zip and range but am concerned by the lack of motor inhibitor on the brake levers (you can end up fighting the motor or struggle stopping as quickly in pedal assist mode especially). Throttle mode is awesome and the inclusion of an on/off button helps you avoid accidental activation, of course I also enjoy the efficiency of pedal assist but with a more basic five magnet cadence sensor it’s just not as responsive. You get a nice suspension fork which includes rebound adjust and lockout but the fenders are pretty basic and the front one especially just isn’t long enough to protect feet and shins while riding. The battery pack is an older style that doesn’t blend in as nicely with the frame and may require you to take the seat post out (to get the light and saddle out of the way when removing the battery) so it’s not as convenient and I dislike that you have to leave the key in to activate the bike because it’s easier to snag or even forget to take out when parking in a public space.

For around $2,000 there’s a lot to appreciate with this ebike but you’re going to pay more if you don’t live near a Daymak retail outlet (or a store that carries their brand). I believe shipping in Canada is $200 and that jumps to $400 in the United States. A couple of other highlights for me were the color choices (black, blue or red) and the ergonomic grips… though they’re a bit more basic and do not have lockers to stay straight if you really bear down.

This would make for a solid commuter platform and I love that there are open bosses along the seat stay. You’d do well to work with your local shop in finding the best rack however because of the battery position again, the fact that this ebike uses disc brakes (which usually require wider racks) and the lower bosses being mounted up along the seat stays vs. down near the dropouts at the rear axle. When you get to the level of $2k for an ebike a lot of options begin to open up. There’s probably a specific group of users that appreciate the powerful 500 watt internally geared motor but it’s a generic part vs. 8Fun or some other brand name I’d recognize and yes the battery is large but it also adds weight and doesn’t fall under the year long warranty, you only get six months and I’m not sure of the cell manufacturer so just like the motor it could be more generic. I like the variety of products that Daymak offers but the Vermont is feeling a bit outdated. I would especially like to see the safety improved with fancier brake levers from Tektro and perhaps an official year long warranty for all parts as I know the company regularly supports customers beyond six months and is one of the longest standing and most well stocked ebike companies in Canada.

Pros:
While the included mud flap style fenders aren’t the highest quality offering in my opinion, they are useful for back and upper body and protection in water or mud (the front fender is too short to really keep your feet and shins dry)
I love that the Vermont ebike comes with lots of extra threaded eyelets on the seat stays and chain stays for adding a compatible rear rack (note the higher mounts vs. down by the dropouts) and that you also get bottle cage bosses to carry along a lock, pump or other accessory… like a water bottle holder :D
The battery on this bike is quite powerful and large, it lets you climb better when paired with the 500 watt motor and should also extend range, nearly doubling it vs. standard sized batteries, I like that most of the power cables are internally routed for improved aesthetic and fewer snags
The suspension fork adds comfort and pairs with the knobby tires to make this a trail capable electric bike but it also locks out for more efficient commuting (reduces energy loss from bobbing as you pedal)
For ~$2k MSRP you get a pretty solid offering here with some nice creature comforts like the shock, ergonomic grips, front and rear lights and disc brakes along with a year warranty
I like the bash guard on the front chainring as well as the metal derailleur guard at the back, the derailleur itself is closer to mid-level in terms of performance from Shimano
It’s nice that you can turn the throttle completely off if you want to (using the red button on the right side), this could be useful on bumpy terrain or when you’re maneuvering the bike into a rack once you arrive to your destination, I’ve accidentally activated throttles before while loading bikes and nearly lost control (best to turn the bike completely off if you’re moving it I suppose)
Not only do you get disc brakes here but they’re hydraulic for easier actuation, the 160 mm rotors are sort of average in terms of size and the brake fluid might gum up in extremely cold environments but overall I like this upgrade
Cons:
Only available in one standard “medium” size so it might not work for taller or shorter riders, the top tube is pretty standard and creates a higher standover height vs. some that angle down more
The battery pack isn’t integrated so the overall look is compromised a bit… but you get extra power and the weight distribution is pretty good if not a bit rear-heavy
Unless you live close to a Daymak outlet (which are mostly located in Canada) there will be extra shipping charges ranging from $200 to $400 and you’ll have to tune up the bike on arrival
Somewhat limited gear selection with just seven speeds, it’s enough for urban riding, commuting and a bit of trail use but this really isn’t a mountain bike and might be difficult to pedal up very steep terrain
They key has to be left in the battery while riding which makes it easier to snag or bounce around (if you have more keys connected to it) and nick the paint, consider a small carabiner for easy removal from other keys
The cadence sensor only uses 5 magnets vs. 6 or even 12 on some other models, this makes it less responsive (though it actually performed alright during the review)
It’s nice that the battery is removable but to get it out you might have to twist the rear light to the side or use the quick release to completely remove seat tube + light + saddle which is a bit less convenient, consider using a permanent marker on the seat tube to mark the height you prefer so putting it back on is faster and more accurate
No motor inhibitors built into the brake levers, this could be a safety issue with a heavier more powerful electric bike like the Vermont
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