Just over a month ago I participated in an electric bicycle trial that I thoroughly enjoyed. My good intentions were to write a series of blog posts during the trial, I got two out, one here and the other here – but other pressing concerns got in the way of writing any more – so I told myself that I would write post trial follow-up, but the Sunday after the trial I came off my bike and broke my collar bone which put a bit downer on typing!
Anyway, I thought that today I should give it a crack and at least close off a few thoughts and report back on memories of the trial.
The bike performed very much as I anticipated. For what it was it was very good – not too heavy, comfortable to ride and good value for money. However, this style of power assisted cycling is not for everyone. My main frustration was with the bike was the lack of top end power. The bike is speed limited – which means that if you are a relatively strong cyclist you will run out of power at about 25kph forcing you to then ‘drag’ the bike and motor to maintain speed. Hence, the bike did not really help me in getting anywhere faster than I would have on one of my ordinary bikes – simply because it was not fast enough! At low speeds, the bike was excellent, the power assist when taking off from lights and getting across crossing points really useful and noticeable. So, great for riders who are new to cycling, recovering from injury, or to equalise strengths between different riders. An example of this last point was the to school commuting with my 11 year old. She sometimes finds it hard to keep up with me, and I get frustrated at the pace of our rides when we are ‘dawdling’ along. On the electric bike, Chrissy was able to keep up and accelerate away with me to a much greater degree – she REALLY enjoyed it.
Build specification seemed reasonable – pretty entry level gears, derailiurrs and shifters, would be nice to see slightly higher spec’ed gear on the bike – but one must remember that it is built to a price, and this gear fits that price. My main gripes concern the seat post (way too short and pointless suspension) coupled with a massively uncomfortable saddle (I ripped both of these out for the duration of the trial and added my own – 1. to get the length I needed and 2. to actually use a decent saddle). The pedals could be a bit better, during my trial the weather was very wet, and the supplied pedals are quite slippery. My only other gripe is lack of a water bottle mount – for the cost of a few cents this seems like quite a silly oversight.
My biggest concern, however, is the lack of ability to easily disconnect the rear wheel from the battery / controller wiring loom. For the sake of a waterproof plug system this seems like a pretty major design flaw. While the tyres that come with it are puncture resistant, and the tubes are filled with slime – one day you will need to fix a flat or change a tyre. The other issue is that I have no idea how one would replace a spoke or even rebuild the rear wheel should this ever be a necessity. Also, the wheels are an ‘odd’ size for the Australian market 26x 1 3/8 – not all that common, though Clarks Cycles on Magill Road does stock these.
During the trial I rode the bike with my daughter to school and work several times, my partner Sophia also used the bike, my work mates took it for a ride – it went shopping several times with the very groovy shopping trolley that I also had for the trial. I got lots of questions and talked to a lot of people about it. Overall and despite its shortcomings I was very impressed. For me, I would want something with a bit more pulling power, smooth power transfer and higher top end speed. If I were specifying it for myself I would also spend a bit extra on components and quality of finish – but like I said, for what it is, it is very good.
I would be keen to trial a few other electric bikes to see how they perform, and to do something similar in summer rather than a cold, wet and windy winters week.
Some photos below from the trial..
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