Electric Bikes in Kent and Sussexby Alexander on February 19th, 2014
Yesterday, during a gap in this hideous weather I went out, on an electric bike. I borrowed a Spencer Ivy from my local bike shop Blue Door Bicycles.
At the moment my cycle commute is around an hour. I typically cycle from Crystal Palace to Hammersmith. This takes me about an hour and its 11 miles each way or a 22 mile a day round trip. There are times when I work 10 minutes further on at the BBC in Shepherds Bush. When I am contracted there I find by the end of the week I have physically cracked and can’t get into work on the Friday by bike, so I take the train. I have often wondered if an e-bike would be the solution.
“Drive till you qualify”: means that when you are house hunting, you get in your car and drive away from where you work until your income allows you to afford a house big enough for your needs. At the moment Hayley and I are very happily living in a 2 bedroom flat in Zone three, which we own. I don’t own a car, so to get this place I pedalled till I qualified. That has some quite interesting effects.
Cycling saves me about £1472 a year. It’s not masses, but I wouldn’t want it taken out of my net income. I know, physically I am on the edge of my daily range. I wouldn’t want to cycle any further to work. When we need a bigger place, I will tip over and have to change my mode of transport. This will mean, cycling to a station and getting the train the rest of the way into town. But what if an electric bike can bridge the gap? What if an electric assist will give me the extra range I need to buy that house I have always wanted, keep cycling, stay fit and perhaps hang onto some of my £1400 pocket money?
Well, they are pricey, the one I had a go on was reduced from £1800 to (I think) £1200. So in the first year that only leaves you with £270. Mind you that will get you a door mat and a few tins of paint at B&Q for the new house: At least enough to paint one or two impact walls behind the beds in your new bedrooms, though not enough for the extra beds, this dream house will require.
Straight away, I could see that this electric bike would not fit into my current life. I live on the top floor of our building. It was big and heavy and the Brookes saddle dint sit on top of my shoulder, so I couldn’t just throw it up there and walk up the steps like I can with my road bike. If you don’t live on the ground floor, this particular e-bike might not be for you, it weighs 20kg.
The next thing is getting used to battery anxiety. There are three speed settings. High, Medium, Low. I ended up forgetting a lot and leaving it on high. This did run the battery down quite quick but I have to be honest. I don’t know when it would have run out of juice completely. I would love to do a dead run and see how far I could get before it totally ran down. It would definitely have got me into work and I expect back. But I haven’t worked out how far out I could have gotten from my office.
On the flat the Sit Up and Beg style of this bike, wasn’t what I was used to. I did love sideling past other guys going up steep hills on what appear to be an old school shopper. And in the final analysis, I did the seven hills of crystal palace, in less than an hour without breaking a sweat. So there are massive benefits. I am also always surprised how much I like bikes with step through or Lady’s frames. It is so much better than doing the splits in mid-air to get your leg over a bike. You can see why post men have that style.
I do hope to get one at some point. I think when we have kids an e-bike will be a good addition to our transport mix. I can also see how they would be a massive help to anyone who has space for one on the ground floor. The one I road was big and heavy and I am sure some of them are less like this. But the biggest benefit I can see is that they make a greater number of journeys cycleable.
The key to using exercise to stay healthy is to do a little and often. As e-bikes still have a significant exercise component, but they mean you can get further without breaking a sweat, so they should help increase your general fitness and well-being.
I imagine that the early adopter could benefit the most. If there is a big enough transport saving compared to a car, and the range increase is big enough to get me into a cheaper part of London then being one of the first people to adopt this technology will be a huge help. But the trouble is they still seem to be very expensive compared to a normal bike.
I think before I bought one for myself, I would like to live with it for a while. That’s why with the Help of Blue Door, we are going to rent two out on wine rides at £100 each. This compares with the £42 it cost to rent a normal bike from us for the weekend. I won’t make any profit on this but it will give me a chance to see what they are like to live with. It should also give some of our guests who worry about their fitness some comfort as they will know that even if they are a little slower than the others on the flats, when the hills start they will be able to zip up them like they aren’t even there.
If you are interested in e-bikes and want to try one out, why not book on one of our weekends and add the e-bike to your order. For an extra £58 you can have an amazing holiday and see if one of these bikes is the right machine to whisk you into work?