NWR ebike advice

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
So, a bike appeals, but with an ageing constitution a little assistance on the hills would not go amiss. Absolutely no intention of becoming a triathlete or cycling Land's End to John O'Groats: this would be leisure use only, an hour or so on tarmac or gravel bike routes, but no serious off-roading. Therefore thinking ebike, but a few specific concerns:

Standard bike or folding?
Can I be bothered buying and fitting a bike rack to the car if we want to take them on a drive? Folding bikes would fit in the car without the hassle, but are they any good for my imagined leisure use, and would I, at 6'1", look ridiculous/find them too compromised? And how much hassle is a bike rack anyway?

Storage
We really don't want them cluttering up the hall and don't have a garage. Folding bikes could be accommodated in an outhouse, full size probably could not. Would we then need a bike shed/container thing to protect them over the seaside winter?

Weight
Most I have looked at within a reasonable price range (I.e we are not into spending £3k) are between 18 and 25 kilos. Quite heavy. What are these like to pedal compared to a normal bikes?

Spec
A bit of a minefield, not just motors, power and runtime, but disc brakes vs hydraulic disc brakes vs V brakes, etc. And 'hybrid' as opposed to pure road or off-road bikes is most suitable?

Buying
Amazon, Halford, or a more specialised bike shop?

Bit of a stream of consciousness, but any advice from ebike owners appreciated
 
My wife has an ebike and she adores it. I think they’re great as they get people out on bikes who wouldn’t otherwise ride them.

Personally, I wouldn’t want a folding bike. They’re too much of a compromise. They’re ok for commuting but I wouldn’t consider one for any other purpose.

If your car is fitted with a tow-ball, tow-ball-mounted bike racks are excellent. They’re very quick to fit and easy to load, and secure when in transit. But they do take up storage space when not in use, just as the bikes themselves do.

I do think you’d need some sort of storage facility for them.

The weight of the bike isn’t, of itself, problematical when riding because you have the power of the motor on tap. I did think that the extra weight might give rise to problems handling the bike but Mrs B hasn’t found this a difficulty, even on fairly rough off-road tracks.

The type of bike you need and its specification depend very much on the sort of terrain you’ll be riding on. Which leads me on to you question about suppliers. A bit like with independent wine merchants, you’ll get the best advice from your LBS (local bike shop). There are often deals available at independents that make them competitive with onlIne suppliers. Halfords can be OK but much depends on the quality of the local staff (which actually also applies to the quality of the LBS too).

Have a look at what’s available from the German manufacturer, Cube. They offer good specifications and quality for the money.

I think I’d be heading for a good-sized independent bike shop, with a decent range to offer, to explore the possibilities.
 
I have a Trek Verve+ 1 Lowstep with a 400 Wh battery that I use to bike to work and back (c.26 km round trip). 8km on unpaved and 18km on paved roads and it's good on both. I also use it for all kinds of shorter stuff like grocery shopping. It's so amazing I use it for everything really except when it gets cold and icy.

Performance is better on paved roads obviously but the tires are just fine for gravel as well. In real life conditions I can do three trips to work and back on one charge though the theoretical range is c.100km. But me being overweight, carrying stuff in a bag, not biking on asphalt all the time will all reduce the theoretical max range. It has 4 levels of e-assistance but I only ever need to use the lowest two. It is heavy but the e-assistance means it is not a problem. Last biking season I biked about 500km in total. This year with an e-bike I just passed 2700km. So it certainly has increased the biking I do. And that has had good health benefits. E-bikes are often thought of as cheating but they are good for health, too. I now have lower blood pressure and wear 2 inch smaller jeans at the waist.

I'm sorry I don't know about all the folding stuff etc. because I'm a luddite and I just want stuff to work and this Trek does work just fine.


bike.jpg
 
Are the areas you're planning on cycling in definitely so hilly that you'd simply not contemplate them without assistance?
Just that for the price of (or less than) a mid-range electric bike, you could get a really splendidly light and comfortable traditional bike, which might possibly cause you to revise your fitness self-assessment upwards! Or a Moulton, they go like the wind but then split in half for transport/storage.
But otherwise, I'd go Brompton e-bike on finance - provided you're staying on Tarmac.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Thanks all. I think Saina's point is the main one for me - an ebike upped cycling by almost 6x. The reason for considering any sort of bike is exercise and fitness along with leisure, as I work from home so don't need it as 'transport'. I'm guessing the fact that an ebike would take the strain on really steep hills, or allow me to explore further on longer rides, are it's main attractions. I don't have a towbar currently and I think the Volvo is too high to mount and dismount bikes on the roof. Maybe I need a van!
 
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Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Re folding bikes, they do solve storage and transport problems which are fairly important concerns. Amazon has a cheap one with 20" inch wheels at £700 that gets a lot of positive reviews, but of course buying from Amazon not ideal. There are a couple of folding bikes with 24" wheels on the market that look almost like standard bikes, but can't find much info/reviews. I do note Halfords has a 14 day no hassle refund if not satisfied policy, and their non-folding Carerra Crosscity hybrid gets good reviews and is sub £1000.
 
Re folding bikes, they do solve storage and transport problems which are fairly important concerns. Amazon has a cheap one with 20" inch wheels at £700 that gets a lot of positive reviews, but of course buying from Amazon not ideal. There are a couple of folding bikes with 24" wheels on the market that look almost like standard bikes, but can't find much info/reviews. I do note Halfords has a 14 day no hassle refund if not satisfied policy, and their non-folding Carerra Crosscity hybrid gets good reviews and is sub £1000.
I don't like the way that some companies don't let you try the bike before you buy, but pull the "return it if you don't like it" ploy. If you're emotionally strong enough to say the two are the same, then I'd take up the Halfords offer on the folding Carrera eBike and return it!
 
Just one warning. I am not a cyclist, how do I know this? I only have one bike. I am about to become a cyclist, how do I know this? I am about to buy another bike. This is what happens. The number of necessary bikes to own is N+1, where N is the current number of bikes owned - this is rule No 12. It will happen, so better order a "bike box" thingy now ( ours took 6 months to arrive ). Also check out the rules, rules 10 and 25 will give you some indication of the trouble you are getting into. For some reason lots of people mumble something about rule No 5 when I am on a bike ( my trusty brompton ). Enjoy the cycling ! :) :)
 
I'm not sure I'd write-off folding bikes quite as quickly as Colin. I've got a Brompton and they're remarkably good. However, an electric Brompton is very expensive, so it might fall at that hurdle.

Would you not be able to try one of the cheaper (approx £1k) models out?

Folding bikes are a great feature if you’re taking the bike in the car, but there is little point to the compromise in design if you’re not going to use said feature.
 
Folding bikes are a great feature if you’re taking the bike in the car, but there is little point to the compromise in design if you’re not going to use said feature.
Or on some types of train, but Tom raised the storage issue. I can see that might affect some, eg those who live in flats with no provision of cycle storage. I'm surprised that Cannavan Towers would be like that, though!
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Or on some types of train, but Tom raised the storage issue. I can see that might affect some, eg those who live in flats with no provision of cycle storage. I'm surprised that Cannavan Towers would be like that, though!

Hah! Bikes will be kept at our seaside place, which though reasonably large with a lot of outside space, is also in a 17th century row of fishermens' cottages, so no chance of a garage or large shed anywhere. That leaves us the option of inside the house (which has been ruled out on aesthetic grounds) or some sort of bike store in the rear courtyard. The one outhouse building is crammed already, so definitely no space for two regular bikes.
 
I’ve thought about this quite a lot in the last 24 hours.
Since I assume you don’t want to go custom and have a lead time…
I think the best choice is Colnago C64, rim brakes and mechanical Super Record. I’d probably go Bora WTO 33.

If you ask me tomorrow it might be a different answer.

With a good finishing kit you should get it under £10,000. It doesn’t have a motor though. Or fold down. But apart from that.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
I’ve thought about this quite a lot in the last 24 hours.
Since I assume you don’t want to go custom and have a lead time…
I think the best choice is Colnago C64, rim brakes and mechanical Super Record. I’d probably go Bora WTO 33.

If you ask me tomorrow it might be a different answer.

With a good finishing kit you should get it under £10,000. It doesn’t have a motor though. Or fold down. But apart from that.

Russell, I think you've mis-read the brief. But thanks for your input! :)
 
Hah! Bikes will be kept at our seaside place, which though reasonably large with a lot of outside space, is also in a 17th century row of fishermens' cottages, so no chance of a garage or large shed anywhere. That leaves us the option of inside the house (which has been ruled out on aesthetic grounds) or some sort of bike store in the rear courtyard. The one outhouse building is crammed already, so definitely no space for two regular bikes.
So a bike store seems to be the answer, then!
 
Just one warning. I am not a cyclist, how do I know this? I only have one bike. I am about to become a cyclist, how do I know this? I am about to buy another bike. This is what happens. The number of necessary bikes to own is N+1, where N is the current number of bikes owned - this is rule No 12. It will happen, so better order a "bike box" thingy now ( ours took 6 months to arrive ). Also check out the rules, rules 10 and 25 will give you some indication of the trouble you are getting into. For some reason lots of people mumble something about rule No 5 when I am on a bike ( my trusty brompton ). Enjoy the cycling ! :) :)
I thought the most important rule in Londaon anyway, is never race anybody on a clown bike -sorry, Brompton - they're always fitter than I think.

But Holloway Road is useful for surprising e-scooterists.
 
I'm 52 and not very fit but a keen recreational cyclist. Quite a few of my friends have folding bikes and from waht I've learnt:

- Brompton are the market leaders for a reason. If you are going to use the bike regularly, you should get a Brompton
- 6'1" isn't too tall for a folding bike. Several of my friends are taller and look fine on their Bromptons.
- What appears a daunting hill the first few times you try it becomes easy after a while. Unless it is really hilly where you are, just get a standard bike and pratcice for a few months. If you still want to, you can buy a swytch to give electric power
 
I'm in the process of buying an e-bike. Some people ( inc. Sean Hardon) say I'm fit enough for a proper bike but he misses the point that I have a acoustic bike and don't use it enough because it is hilly where I live and I get put off by the wind or the heat.

The two advantages of an e-bike are that they allow you to ride routes that you wouldn't normally attempt and they allow you to cycle for longer.

Those advantages are almost diametrically opposed to the advantages of a folding bike. Which is storage and transport to and from the bike ride. I have a van, which allows me to put a full-size bike in, so I can go places and cycle when I'm there. I tend to choose flat rides. So I can drive up the mountain, cycle around a lake on a relatively easy ride or drive to the coast and cruise along the seafront for 2 hours without having the 1 hour ride back home. That may well be the best solution for you and in which case I wouldn't bother with a motor on a 1-2 hour bike ride that you have planned ahead. The motor is there to get you up the daunting hill or make the last hour of a 4 hour ride comfortable on the knees.

The e-bikes will be significantly heavier when loading them in and out of transport or carrying up stairs.

I would not buy a bike from Halfords or off Amazon. I would always go to a bike shop. Test riding the bike is essential IMO because geometry is important for old blokes like us.
I'd pick either an gravel bike or "fitness" bike with a more upright riding position. You have to choose between roll or straight bars depending on your choice. I don't like straight because they give me hand-cramp. I don't think you need any suspension for road and gravel. Just good wheels with offroad tyres and a flexible fork (not 100% aluminium).

Disk brakes are the way to go today.

I'm going for a custom-made e-gravel bike with a Polini motor but that's because I have a mate who builds them. I'll keep my old bike too. E-bikes are very attractive to thieves.
 
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