Tag Archives: electric bikes

Velo Solex

The famous post-war French moped is still around today- and will cost you less than an electric bike if you can afford the new tyres driven directly by the little engine on the front. When I was a kid, my older brother and his wizard mechanic mate fitted a two-stroke to drive the back wheel of his bike like this. The engine had been salvaged fromwhat is known as a social tandem or social bike, a four wheeler with two seats and sets of pedals. That vehicle was used by the local vicar and his wife on their pastoral duties before they moved on to the luxury of a Bond three wheeler minicar. The reason I mention the Solex is that it is now produced as an electric bike, its folding version described on this site.

 

Then and Now….

              NOTE: The contraption over the front wheel in the above e-Solex is a ‘design feature’. You can store your sandwiches in it.

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Volkswagen Electric Bike

I’m not blind to the wiles of marketing especially when it comes to hyping ‘sustainability’. and general environmental concerns. Nevertheless,  the idea of integrated transportability in cities is important. In any case, this bike looks lovely! I am more than slightly off topic as far as this blog goes but it does make me think as a ‘concerned citizen’  of starting another one!

In any case,  the question of the relevance to sales of electric bikes is pertinent. Other countries such as China – and Germany – seemmore foreward in normalising electric bikes, and the question remains as to why the UK  market has not (yet?) ‘taken off’.

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Getting Real

Electric bikes are consumer goods, and I have to remind myself that under my little boy excitement at the prospect of owning one, I need to establish the base of years of experience. Fortunately, the forum Pedelecs is full of wise, sometimes cynical, comments about the hyped-up claims that some dealers and manufacturers can make. I’ve tonight come across a blog by someone which is dedicated to rubbishing one particular manufacturer/dealer who advertises on Pedelecs. Some of the comments on amazon regarding cheap bikes are worth looking at too, not only as to the quality of a machine but also regarding after-sales. A common refrain I have come across is ‘throw it in the canal’.

You  can buy a ‘mountain bike’ from any big chain store for less than £100, and it will certainly look good in the catalogue. The same would be true of  any cheap consumer goods such as cameras or televisions. Quality cannot, however, be judged by appearance. Product design is a key tool of marketing. Whatever the ‘content’ of an item, the appearance is a key factor in making sales. This is one reason why I think establishing a relationship of trust with a product’s retailers and/or manufacturers is so important. So far, I have been mightily impressed by the honesty and integrity of  some sellers and manufacturers, and this, coupled with a record of genuine user testimonials I hope to detail when I’ve finished my own search for a bike. I will just say now that I am delighted to have come across businesses more than happy to redirect me elsewhere.

One has to consider factors not immediately apparent, such as electrical connectivity and the effects of water (rain and puddles!). I have found that the dealers I respect most do in fact provide pre-ordering advice on such an issue. One dealer who is a strong contender for my custom issues the value that they will strive to respect and support a customer with the same care and attention that customer gives to their bike.

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Growing Shortlist

I’ve divided my ‘shortlist’ into two: bikes over and under £1000. The list is growing, by no means complete. I am very grateful for feedback from dealers and companies. I keep coming across new bikes for consideration such as the mysterious Momentum brand: only two sleek, very simple, light models and not even sure if they are available yet so will be contacting the company.

Implicitly, I am keeping a third ‘shortlist’ which is those bikes which are available to me at dealers near to Liverpool. I have included here Juicy and anything sold by the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative (including Wisper) in Manchester: both of these are easily reached by short train journeys.

I’d emphaasise aadvice which I have seen many times – that there is no ‘perfect’ bike but one which best satisfies and individeal’s requirements (backed by general standards of quality, reputation and customer care).

Eventually, I hope to make a table which shows comparison of many key features between bikes.

 

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Useful brief reviews and more

I cae across this American site, Electric Star,  which has some succinct 2012 appraisals of various bikes available in the UK> It also has some other good pithy advice. There is an interesting observation on the Home page:

 

Buyer beware: there is a lot of “garbage” in this marketplace, as well as a lot of poor information. This is a young and emerging technology which has undergone big growing pains. Many of the products in the past were not ready for prime time. And some of the big box stores carry cheap products of inferior quality that are, in a word, junk. The best of these may serve the purpose of introduction. Unfortunately, most of the cheap electric bikes do not perform properly, break down frequently, and have poor manufacturer’s support. There are also a lot of inflated claims for range, power, and speed, so it is difficult – if not impossible – to understand this industry by surfing the internet. Power ratings of bikes are suspect because it depends on the configuration and design of the motor. Plus, many manufacturer’s think that just because it is electric, it doesn’t need to have decent bicycle components or ride well as a standard bicycle. This is likely the reason why many conventional bicycle shops have a bias against electric bikes.

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Cheap 3E Urban (2011)

Smart E Bikes have a great offer on the 3E Urban, 2011 model which still carries a two year battery warranty. £749

3E Electric Urban 2011 Electric bike Specification
Range 60 miles with standard battery
100 miles with optional Mega battery
Motor Bafung 250 Watt rear wheel drive
Style Step Over frame
Gears 7 speed Shimano
Battery 36V 10Ah/ Optional 36V 18Ah
Wheels 26 inch
Saddle height 35 to 39 inches
Weight (including battery)22 kg
Battery Warranty 2 years
Assistance modes One level of assist
Throttle Yes
Controls LED battery indicator
Frame Aluminium alloy
Colour Satin Grey
Forks Suspension
Seat Post Suspension
Handlebar Stem Quill Adjustable
Brakes V-brakes
Tyres 26 inch Kenda
OPTIONS 18Ah battery, Pannier bags and boxes

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Free Go Pedelec Handbook

Thanks to the Jeremy Parsons site I came across this interesting 84 page handbook from Extra Energy.org 

It’s useful for the individual and dealers alike, and raises the more general contexts of electric tranport.

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Cycling Made Easy

No apologies for putting up promo material for a company, here a video introduced by Cycling made Easy founder Ray Wookey. As this site develops, I am sure that many companies’ promotional stuff will be featured: after all, I am using the blog to collate for personal use as much information as I can. In olden days if, say, I was looking for a car or a bike I’d be sending off for catalogues etc. It’s a secondary purpose of this blog to bring information to others, although I’d be delighted to think it helps someone by bringing a lot of stuff together and saving them time.

There is another reason for posting this video. Electric bikes are a relatively new feature of UK transport in a raapidly developing market. One thing I have noticed is that many of the companies I have looked at are founded and staffed by genuine enthusiasts who offer a great personal service.A company like Giant whose bikes I admire and whose ebikes I am considering in my purchase goal seem almost arrogant in their publicity, providing minimal information of their own products and a sleek but cold interface with potential customers; of course, I have no doubt that the actual dealerships are excellent, and because Giant are so big one can have trust in their reputation, but for a novice layperson like myself, you cannot beat the effort that smaller retailers and companies have put in to make themselves friendly and approachable at a distance (i.e. on the internet).

Any way, as a bonus, Cycling Made Easy featured here introduces me to other manufacturers such as Eco bikes which I will feature shortly. Their site, by the way,  is eclectic and non-partisan and gives overviews of a very wide range of ebikes,

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Thinking Quality

I put up my introduction to the brilliant pedelecs forums, and have got some good responses. The one from Indalo has given me pause for thought. I had indeed ignored Kalkhoff bikes as being beyond my budget, yet with the current 15% discount from 50Cycles, some of the models fall in to the top range of my possible outlay.50Cycles is a site that, like the Kalkhoff range, oozes quality. Looking at these I meandered to BH Emotion bikes. Again,  the prices are not that exorbitant for quality from a firm that has been making bikes for over a hundred years. I’ll be adding pages on these ranges soon. I think anybody knows that the quality of components is vital for long term reliability, and I’m a bit worried to read of component failure in cheaper bikes after a year or two. Mind you, I have no way of knowing the facts and figures of proper research: I know all bikes or machines will have their occasional rogue singulars. Owners who have voiced dissatisfaction because of faults on popular machines can’t be taken as representative. Still, a converse applies against unknown facts and figures which is that it is reassuring to own a bike made by manufacturers respected for quality of components and build. Still unsure of my future finances but think that whatever happens I will be in a position to go to £1200. I have enough faith in much I have seen between this sum and £800 to look forward to getting one for a few years while seeing how the market goes, and upgrading later.

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Pro Rider e Tourer

Just added the Pro Rider e Tourer to my list of bikes looked at.

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