ou’ll have heard the cries of the converts by now: E-bikes are the hottest new mode of commuter transport; they’re devilishly easy; and once you’ve gone electric, you’ll never go back – quite the intriguing proposition for a long-time cycle commuter like me.
Having only forayed into the world of e-bikes via the odd Lime and Uber bike hire, I said yes to E-Trends’ offer of their entry-level mountain bike, The Trekker, with interest. As did my cycling-obsessed parents, whose e-bike fanatic friends are desperate for them to join the club.
So was the Trekker the wonder wheels we all needed to be converted? Unfortunately not – although it certainly showed us what all the fuss is about. First, the Trekker reflected its budget price-tag (£1,999, but at the low-end for an off-road electric bike). The bike is impressively lightweight, but the seven-speed Shimano gears lack much range given that the bike is designed for tackling hills. With the extra power boost, you should make it up most London slopes, but you might struggle if you fancy going manual to burn some extra calories when you’re on rougher terrain outside the city.
Our main criticism, however, was the power itself. The downside of the Trekker’s engine boost is that you don’t have it when you need it most: starting off. If you live on a slope (or even if you don’t), you’ll still find yourself having to put your back into the first few pedals until you’ve built some speed up – a drawback if the pull of an electric bike was to commute to work without breaking up a sweat. With other electric bikes I’ve tried, the engine kicks in as soon as you start turning the pedals. Sure, you have to be careful if you’re starting in traffic, but it makes pulling off at traffic lights or on a hill feel like a dream.
When it does come, the extra engine power is a welcome boost. The motor has a capacity of 250W and you can switch between the three pedal-assist modes on the handlebars so when you are moving, you do receive a nice little injection of speed. I can see why e-bikes are so popular among commuters – zipping a few miles down the road feels almost effortless and you’d no longer need to take a change of clothes for fear of working up too much of a sweat. Just make sure you could make it to the office and back: the Trekker’s maximum range is 17 miles so most commuters will struggle to get a full week out of it without a charge (a full charge takes four to five hours).
The benefit it does offer is flexibility. While lightweight enough for commuting, the Trekker is also designed to be taken off-road – a good option if the cycle to and from a day zipping around Epping Forest feels a bit too daunting. Tough 27.5-inch wheels with double-wall aluminium alloy rims mean you should be able to tackle hills, muddy trails and rough terrain easily.
Given the quality and relatively high price compared to the brand’s other entry-level models, I probably would recommend E-Trends’ Fly or City editions as more affordable alternatives. At £699.99 and £899.99 respectively, they’re less of an investment for starting out and perfect for city riding. The City’s basket and pannier rack looks perfect if you’re expecting to carry lots of gym kit, laptops and shopping when the commute returns.
E-bikes to have on your radar now
Angell smart bike
Angell is one of the most exciting E-bike brands in the world and their bikes are packed full of smart features. The integrated display can guide you to where you need to go, and tell you how many calories you are burning on the way. A sister app will also keep you and your bike safe with its fall and theft-detection features.
Smacircle S1 electric bike
The ultimate folding e-bike. Smacircle is brand new to the market and exclusively available to buy at The Bike Shop. With a 13-mile range, it’s ideal for city-dwellers with limited bike storage. It unfolds in seconds and is incredibly lightweight.
Specialized-COMO 4.0 Low Entry 700c Nb Dove Grey
Style and comfort: Specialized’s electric bike is London and environment-friendly, featuring a silent operating design with a Custom Rx Street Tune and a custom Specialized U1-500 battery that seamlessly integrates into the frame, is lockable, and easily removable for simplified charging. Handy and convenient.