I’ve long eyed up E Bikes from afar and felt that I would hold off till I was 60. I was put off by the cost, and the slight aura of wimpishness that possibly surrounded them (is too weedy to bike a ‘real’ bike).
Now 61 I bought an E bike back in March. Completely transforming! I did a small amount of research and went for a recommended shop and had an idea of the make and model I wanted. This is an entry level model – very heavy, looks like a Dutch bike, and comes from China. It was affordable-ish (750£) and came with cheap fixtures and fittings (light/bell).
My advice would be spend a bit more. It’s fine – but there were teething problems. The saddle flew off one day, and the bell soon broke. I had to have the seat post replaced, and have had quite a few brake upgrades.
But I’m very happy with the whole experience – what was a bit of a hefty commute (14k there, 14k back) four times a week has become a pleasure. I pass easily by lycra-bummed racing bikers from time to time huffing up the hills on the way home (I live surrounded by glacial moraines which make for stiff climbs).
I used to sometimes jump on the train with my pushbike to make the journey easier. No longer. I used to eat stacks all day because the cycling was hard. I eat less! I can now think of taking it on the train to Cornwall later in the year and pootling round the safer lanes. To and fro Central London is easy, and is much pleasanter now the CS cycle lanes are beginning to happen properly.
Recently on a trip to Holland where bikes rule, I noticed a lot of people on electric bikes, where they seem more streamlined and more like ordinary bikes. Batteries are getting more discreet too. I saw tourists in the South of France pottering up really steep bits of the Cevennes on rented e bikes without much ado.
The plugging in can be a drag if you forget, and heaving it in and out of the house is a bit of a chore, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Most of my pushbiking journey was literally pushing the bike up hills – that is a mere memory! You have to be careful when the battery is running down – it happens quickly, and I sometimes limp home with a winking battery light.
The biking experience is not very subtle – a bit like biking a Boris bike when you have the battery turned off. But the e biking becomes easier with experience – such as starting off with turbo and then pedalling after a bit. It’s no good trying to linger without putting your foot to the ground. I fell off early on doing this. I also fell off when some luggage got caught in the back wheel. My fault entirely – but it’s a heavy bike to have fall on one.
Give it a go!
It has opened up vistas journey-wise that I had never contemplated before, or else had felt I would not be able to complete. Epping Forest, Waltham Abbey, Lea-side rides – all become doable.
I would thoroughly recommend the e bike. I get quite a lot of exercise daily with not a huge amount of effort. And I’m in the air (though not always fresh, it’s good for the soul). Have a look online and see what’s there, and how heavy the bikes are. The battery on mine lasts about 30 miles, but you can adjust the settings and make it last longer (you have to work harder).
Written by Polly Mortimer – you can find her on twitter @IntervalThinks
At CycleFox we believe the bicycle has a big role to play in building happier, more vibrant and connected communities. Our mission is to help more people enjoy the fun and freedom of cycling.