E-Bike Gum! – I’ve Only Gone and Done It!

My journey to buying and e-bike has been a fairly short one. I guess it all really started when I hired a Motus Raleigh Tour from Hassop Station in Derbyshire last summer, when I was recovering from what might have been the virus. That would have been early summer 2020, before the availability of testing. We chose to hire e-bikes as it was a much-delayed start to the riding season. Another very good reason was that my friend had been hospitalised with Covid a couple of months previously, so it seemed like a good time to get e-bike assistance and let the e-bike take some of the strain.

I was thrilled with the Step-Thru Motus Raleigh Tour. With a comfortable sit-up-and-beg riding position it was really tuned in to the cadence sensor on the Derbyshire hills, adding extra power and wwwwhhhooooomph! It was just what I needed; reassuring even on tough hills or a long steep incline, especially when using the gears to find a sweet spot. From the start, I was cautious about battery range, but even after a good 4 hours of riding, it still had three bars of battery left when I returned it in the afternoon. I had avoided TURBO on all but the most challenging of hills yet the motor had a fair bit of action on TOUR and SPORT because that extra push quickly became addictive.

My companion’s bike; a heavier, well-sprung Haibike, didn’t fair so well but we were not sure why and it could have been one of 3 reasons: 1) it was an older bike 2) it wasn’t fully charged when we set off 3) it had a heavier rider. My best guess is a combination of the three and I know some downhill mountain bikers (yes, downhill biking is a thing!) who love their Haibikes.

After that, I hit the internet…e-bike porn… I’d saw skinny e-bikes, fat ones, traditional ones, radical modern hybrids, all sorts of different contraptions delivering assistance in a number of different ways… FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES you understand? Cue reading every statistic, trawling through the shops and forums.

One of my friends in Australia who rides a bike for transport was often singing their praises and I’d often run in to seasoned cyclists riding their e-bikes with enthusiasm for their rejuvenating qualities.

So it was that I was becoming convinced. I’m not a purist. I loved the idea of them. They also fitted well with the slow-cycle philosophy: that riding your bike isn’t some alpha-sporty-lycra-compulsory activity, it’s something that you do to enjoy being in nature or for getting to the coffee shop and meeting friends.

At this point I was getting fitter without an e-bike but it was late in the season, very late and I was months behind where I’d usually have been at the peak of my cycling fitness in August. I only got up to fitness in October. when I did a 300 mile challenge for a Cancer charity. By December I had stopped cycling completely as I shopped for Christmas before the annual turkey feast was cancelled at the eleventh hour and everything shut down again.

Bugger it! I WOULD GET AN E-BIKE! Being somewhat over-cautious with money, I ummed and arghed around a price point. Around £2000 is where I landed because there’s an outside chance that at some point in the next 5-10 years, I will do Land’s End to John O’Groats by bike with a friend.

I almost panicked when I looked at availability. It seemed a bit patchy. There’s so much choice but I’d narrowed it down to what’s essentially an electric version of my touring bike. I also decided to go down a frame size as for years I’d been riding bikes which were too big for me. Whilst I very much liked the step-thru style, I went for a trapeze frame and a Bosch battery which drives from the hub. It’s a Cube One 500 and so far, so good.

Despite the bitterly cold winter weather I’ve been out once or twice every week. So far, the battery has outlived my ability to stay out in the cold. And it’s absolutely beasted me. The furthest I’ve been – 68km – has seen the battery drop from 5 to 2 bars and that’s WITH significant battery use. It’s very much looking that it will deliver all the power I can need for a day’s cycling, especially given my tendency to keep routes between 25 and 55 miles.

To test it out, I’ve booked to do the Coast and Castles south in May this year when everything should be open again. It’s a lovely route with 4 fairly long days, 50 miles each but that’s Sustrans miles, not smooth road riding and it’s a holiday so stopping and taking in the views is definitely on the agenda. I’m undecided at present about which bike I’ll take. Electric’s an option. I’m riding in to the future!

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