Guest Post by Alison Bailey
When accepting the invitation to take part in an active trip to Liguria, Italy the stand out activity was the opportunity to ride some ebikes; I was curious.
I’m now of a certain vintage where my mail consists of exotic cruises for the more mature and health care plans! However, slowing down is not an option….yet. Cycling around the countryside of Cheshire and Derbyshire is still a pleasure I’m not ready to give up.
Anything which makes it easier however, is very welcome. So it was with some enthusiasm I climbed aboard my semi-electric steed for the day.
The bikes we used were produced by Moustache Bikes and they are quite fascinating pieces of technology. So the first question to answer is, what IS an ebike?
Simply put, an e-bike is a bicycle with additional functions that make riding simpler and more enjoyable. Small differences, but with big results: no more hard climbs, no more problems riding into the wind, no more sweating during your commute…
I’m liking it already!
Ebikes come fitted with clever little motors from Bosch, which weigh less than 4kg and the speed at which it rotates links to the pedalling speed cadence). It’s still necessary to pedal but ebikes go further with less effort than a standard human-powered bike. The motor simply provides a “boost” The amount of boost is controlled by a simple button on the handlebar. Where there would normally be shifters on the left bar for the front mechanism, there is a “boost button”. This makes operating the bike very intuitive for anyone who has ridden a bike before. The rear gears work exactly as normal, so fine tuning the ride is easy.
It’s extremely simple to use and the digital display in the middle of the bars informs the rider of speed, and how much “boost” is being received. There are five levels to choose from, ECO through to Turbo , simply press the buttons for more or less assistance depending on the terrain.
Of course the more “boost” used, the more depleted the battery becomes, but the bikes are capable of a mixed use range of 30-100K. Only those venturing out for many days without facilities to recharge are likely to risk of running the battery flat.
Our ride took us down narrow, cobbled streets and the bikes remained well-balanced, easy to control around pedestrians. Moving to open roads, I decided to try the bike without any assistance. Despite the extra weight of motor and battery it remained a decent ride, without too much difficulty, riding at 15km/h, it couldn’t be described as hard work. However, set the motor to ECO, to provide a little juice and it was possible to glide along at 19km/h, no problem, probably taking 10-20% less effort to do so.
I’m liking this! I’m liking this a lot!
As the road kicked up a bit, I just dialled in a little more power from the motor, easy! The attached video clip demonstrates the gradient, yet none of us are even out the saddle! It’s all very smooth. Even on a much steeper gravel track, full boost wasn’t necessary until near the crest of the hill, enabling us to fly up with surprising ease.
An ebike is especially perfect as a commuter bike. Arriving for work, quicker, with less effort, and not sweaty, but ready to start, what’s not to like?
The range of ebikes available takes the concept further; commuters, urban, touring, road and mountain bikes are all available. Planning a cycle tour, but unsure of the off-road elements or gradients? There’s an ebike for that! Enjoy riding mountain bikes downhill, but don’t enjoy riding up the mountain first? There’s an ebike for that! Cycling partner is fitter and quicker, forced to slow down while you’re pedalling like a demon to keep up? Yes, there’s an ebike for that too!
These bikes open up a whole new world of cycling to many people. The ability to ride a bike and use one as a mode of transport is no longer the preserve of the young and physically fit. We can all do it, and yes, we should!
We should all like this!
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, yen for yen, an ebike has the best price/weight/range of any electric vehicle now available.
Personally, when old and frail, unable to pedal my human-powered bike, one of these bad boys has my name on it! They’re not cheap compared to a pedal bike, so a little saving maybe in order . However, used for commuting, it probably wouldn’t take long to pay for itself; saving money on fuel, and parking costs or train tickets.
My bike in Liguria was a bit special by the way; the Starckbike Sand. It’s only designer Mr Starck’s personal bike…. though the organisers only informed me of this after we’d finished the ride.
What do you think, are ebikes the future or cycling, or a fad soon to fade?
Thanks to Enrico Guala at 4Guimp for arranging use of the bikes, in such a wonderful setting, however all opinions are my own.
About Alison Bailey
I started as a photographer at the tender age of three when my Dad gave me my first camera, a Kodak Brownie. I crawled around ‘taking pictures’ of everything, even though there wasn’t any film, and I’ve been taking pictures ever since.
I’ve worked as a Lab Technician specialising in Pathology to the promised land of Olympus cameras, and even a spell in law enforcement. I’ve returned to my first love now however, specialising in wedding photography. I predominantly use digital today, but the traditionalist in me still loves film, and the skills required to develop it.