Our Chief Mechanic has put together some advice and his opinions about the current technology, some brands you may want to look for and some possible extensions if the budget allows for an E-bike/pedelec.
Electric bikes do come in all forms, most commonly, hybrid, MTB, road and even wonderful cargo bikes; of which there are a few around Winchester. The hybrid is likely to be the most suitable for the terrain around Winchester.
With a hub drive the motor is located within the wheel, either front or rear, and drive power is thrown into the drive like a turbo, everything or nothing.
These are the cheapest option that can either ordered in from China direct or purchased through a local bike shop. The rims and spokes are usually proprietary parts, a branded item only available from the manufacturer, and from experience the heavy motor hub and short spokes on smaller wheels do seem to fail. If you are considering the purchase of a hub drive pedelec it is worth looking for the larger diameter, 700c, wheel.
Freego in Southampton design and develop cheaper hub drive bikes and some fall into the sub £1,000 CycleScheme ceiling. They have a good warranty and spare parts available for quick turnaround and are sold through Portswood Cycles.
There are other brands such as Whisper and Oxygen.
The newer and far superior form of e-bike has the motor set in the pedal area and power is applied through a torque sensor; providing assistance related to the effort applied by the rider.
We have two of crank drive motor type of bike at the bike hub, which are available for hire, should you wish to try one. These often have very good range because of the smart use of power and gearing and the wheels are just standard wheels that can be repaired with off the shelf parts.
The frame itself is specially designed to accommodate the motor and often the battery for a streamline look. Common motor brands are Bosch (premium) and Bafang (budget)
Having experienced both types of pedelec my personal recommendation is for a crank drive in a 700c wheel hybrid version that will accept fenders (mudguards), racks and other accessories for everyday riding with luggage.
Forme is a brand we can supply, with the Peak Trail version being light but tough enough to be ridden on some of the less technical parts of the South Downs Way.
The Cromford is more the kind of town bike I would expect to stay on the road.
Both include all accessories to make carrying loads easier.
Most of the big bike brands out there supply assisted versions now. Many are moving over to the crank drive because of their superiority and reliability.
Hargroves and Peter Hansford sell both hub and crank drive assisted bikes from Cube, Specialized & Giant.
There are other options available that consist of conversion kits for non-assisted bikes. I have built some of these for people recently and am very impressed with the quality of the finished kits. It’s a little cheaper than buying a factory bike some examples I have experienced are:
A Kickstarter project that supplies a battery pack that attaches to the bars and a pre-built wheel of the correct size.
A crank drive set that bolts underneath the Bottom Bracket and most bikes are suitable for conversion. These drive set are sold in the UK by Woosh (one of our customers has bought a few to fit on a few old post bikes) and are easy to fit too.
The kits supplied by Cytronex are similar though they fit the proprietary parts themselves.
I also work with The Hub Cycleworks in Southampton where alternative transport solutions are especially in favour; hence being permitted time there away from Bespoke Biking.
I mention them because they keep a great selection of electric bikes, cargo bikes, electric conversions kits etc on show and for loan demonstration. If you are near Southampton and get a chance, pop in and have a look.
They sell assisted bikes by Trek, Forme and Electra along with some innovative kits.
I am a great fan of Cargo bikes, especially electrically assisted versions that will happily pull 150-200 kgs happily up St James Lane, maybe something else to ponder for people needing to move larger things around, human powered.