Author Archives: David Henshaw

Bus Cuts in Rural Dorset

We’re not great bus users at A to B. For decades we’ve used folding bikes with public transport, but that generally means trains and the odd plane. Our only regular bus ride is the Number 31, now confusingly renumbered X51 to integrate better with the X53 Jurassic Coaster. But the X51 is an intercity express amongst rural bus services. It links big places, fills to standing room only in the summer and goes relatively fast (14mph average). It even starts and finishes at railway stations, and connects with trains in a rather loose sense. It is, in effect, a rail service on rubber wheels.

Dorchester South Station

The X51 from Dorchester South station is an intercity express amongst rural bus routes

Mind you, one sees the country buses nipping about. Usually they are little 30- or 40-seater jobs, and they’re generally blue, because our local network seems to be the monopoly of Damory these days. This looks and sounds like a local operator, but is actually part of the Go-Ahead group these days. The buses are either full of little old ladies, or empty, according to the tidal flow too and from market towns. That’s the picture in Dorset, but country buses follow a similar pattern throughout the land, and no doubt other lands too.

Evolution of a Network
The funding for these services is a bit opaque, but it used to be simple enough. Most originated as local buses run by local drivers, often as a useful sideline for the village garage, and the schedules were set long ago to suit local folk. When rural rail services started to melt away in the 1950s and ‘60s, the bus operators thought they were onto a good thing (beautifully played out in the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt), but the loss of rail services tended to push rural folk into buying a car, and bus traffic rapidly dwindled.
Harold Wilson brought in a bus fuel subsidy in 1964, which rose to 100% of the duty payable until 1993, when Ken Clarke froze it, so the rate has effectively fallen since.
Since the 1960s, buses have been (briefly) nationalised, privatised, regulated and deregulated, resulting in endless turmoil. Transport Acts have come and gone, but the crucial one for rural buses was the 1985 Act which enabled local authorities to subsidize bus services where no commercial operator could be found and ‘where they think it appropriate’. This was ‘Toried up’ in the 2000 Act (yes, it was still a nominally Labour government) to stop local authorities from ‘inhibiting competition through subsidy’ and forcing them to apply the creepily Blairite criteria of ‘best value’ when making subsidy decisions.
The real shakeup came in 2001 when the same government introduced a half-fare scheme on local buses for the elderly and disabled, the scheme subsequently becoming free from 2006 and going nationwide from April 2008.

Bus Pass Mania
The bus pass scheme has been phenomenally successful, with some 80% of eligible rural users taking it up, but the annual cost in England had risen to £1.17 billion by 2013/14, or £120 for each of the 9.73 million card-holders. Of course, the political cost of introducing a phenomenally popular freebie is that no political party dares take it away again. There is talk of means testing to weed out impecunious middle class users, but the middle classes are a vociferous lobby group. Meanwhile, free-market types want to dispose of passes and subsidies altogether. Political suicide.
Surely all this free travel is good news for country buses? You’d think so, because the aim of the system is to increase passenger numbers while keeping the operator’s income broadly neutral, but the government doesn’t pay the full cost, and that has resulted in a considerable squeeze on hard-pressed local authorities.
Quite how the cash slithers down to local authority level and thus to the bus operators is a mystery to most ordinary folk. In England, the money comes from the Department for Communities & Local Government and is determined by a complex formula. We won’t get involved in the detail, but it seems the payments generally amount to some 45-65% of the fare, although Dorset is claimed to have the lowest reimbursement rate in the country, at just 36%.
In Scotland, the government pays bus operators directly at the rate of 60p in the pound, and in Wales the funding seems to be tied into the contracts for each service. Then there’s Mr Wilson’s fuel duty rebate, which has become the Bus Service Operator Grant, and again, varies area by area. Fuel accounts for about 10% of operator costs, which isn’t much, but on marginal, lightly used, services it can make the difference between profit and loss.
It’s clearly a complex and imperfect system. Popular routes are doing quite well, but the weaker ones receive very little from Whitehall, and the local authorities just don’t have the cash to top up the subsidies. Everyone seems to have a grumble, from bus passengers losing buses and routes, to local authorities forced to choose between buses and essential services.
Perhaps the daftest consequence of the bus pass/subsidy system is that operators have been deliberately closing marginal commercial services, forcing local authorities to put the services out to tender, then bidding for a subsidy to run something that had previously been profitable. With local authority finances under pressure, some of these routes have subsequently been cut back to one or two buses a day, or even one or two a week. The passengers all disappear, and a once-thriving service withers on the vine.

Inside of busFinding the Weekly Bus
Dorset has quite a network of subsidised buses, but by no means as many as some larger rural counties. Many routes were cut back or lopped off two years ago, and recent funding cuts have put another 27 at risk, resulting in the Bournemouth Echo headline ‘bus services cut to almost 100 villages’. Even if all the cuts go ahead, the impact will be less than the figures suggest, because the majority of these routes are already down to one bus a week, but huge areas will be left without public transport, and bus routes rarely reopen.
Some of these buses have been basket cases for years, but many were popular until quite recently, with a number seeing daily well-patronized services. As with some of the rail cuts in the Beeching era, you can’t help concluding that they have been ‘softened up’ for closure in advance of the coup de grâce.
We set out to try a few of the threatened routes, but catching such irregular buses can be tricky. The nearest to Dorchester is the 323, a solitary Monday bus from Buckland Newton, south to Piddletrenthide, east to Mappowder, west to Duntish (just two miles from its starting point), then north the wiggly way via Holwell to Sturminster Newton. As the crow flies that’s a trip of just over ten miles, taking perhaps 20-30 minutes by car, but the bus winds twice as far, taking 76 minutes, at an effective speed of 8mph. Yes, you could cycle to market much faster.
Why should the county council subsidize this absurd service? Well, Monday is market day in Sturminster, and as all country folk know, Stur does a very good market. A single weekly bus that takes a somewhat zig-zag course to town can be an effective way of reaching the greatest number of passengers for the smallest possible subsidy. It may be absurd, but it is a lifeline for many.
Deadlines being what they are, we couldn’t wait until Monday, so we chose the 368, which runs every Friday from Sturminster to Sherborne and Yeovil via such delightful parishes as Pidney and King’s Stag.
We’ll come back to the 368, because first we have to catch up with it by using one of the more favoured rural services, the X11. This sounds like something that might dock with the space station, but it’s actually a rural bus service from Dorchester to Sherborne and Yeovil via Cerne Abbas and Longburton. This is an important route, with six daily buses, carrying school children both ways, plus the inevitable smattering of blue rinse ladies. There are four buses on Saturdays too, and like all the most important routes it starts at Dorchester South railway station, which has developed into a successful bus/rail interchange.
And so, at 11.55am on a Friday, we buy return tickets to Sherborne from the driver of the Damory X11 at the South station. No-one else gets on the 40-seater bus here, but ten board on the high street, although most are travelling only two or three miles to outlying villages, and by Charlton Down – 25 minutes in – there are only four of us left. This is one of the problems in rural areas. The routes can be long, but the traffic is often very localized, so the bus runs near empty much of the time.Other problems include carelessly parked vans, suicidal lorry drivers, and some very narrow bridges, hence the reliance on dumpy Dennis Darts and Optare Solos, small buses that would normally be found in urban areas.
Leaving Cerne Abbas, there’s only one other passenger, but just the other side of the village at the Castle View Nursing Home (it offers views of the Giant’s whatsit, which must entertain the oldies), two brassy young East European women catch the X11 to get home after an early shift. This highlights another rural issue – there are jobs in the countryside, but unless you’re quite well off, you won’t find anywhere to live closer than Yeovil, a 30-minute bus ride away. If the bus goes, Castle View has to put its prices up.
There are few villages between Cerne and Sherborne, so we get up a bit of speed now, rattling up to 50mph or so on the straight, but indifferently surfaced roads. At 12.58pm we reach Sherborne station, a useful interchange for Exeter, Salisbury and London, and there’s just time to hop out for a cup of tea in the station caf.

One Bus a Week
Unlike Dorchester South, which sees some serious buses and coaches, Sherborne is the epicentre of a network of rural buses, including the busy little 74 that visits such places as Thornford, Yetminster and Chetnole (all with stations too, incidentally), plus a few oddities, such as the 42 (Gillingham to Yeovil, Tuesdays only) and the one we’re hoping to catch, the 368, linking Sturminster Newton, Sherborne and Yeovil on Fridays.

368 bus at Sherborne

The weekly 368 arrives at Sherborne Railway station

This is on the danger list, or at least the Friday-only daytime run is on the list, but it’s not shown as being up for closure, because there’s also a very early daily bus used primarily by students, which runs from Blandford to Yeovil, but doesn’t come back until after 6pm… a bit late for shops, schools or college you’d think. Oddly enough, this return service runs out of steam at Sturminster, so if you were to catch it from Blandford in the morning, you’d have to stop over in Stur on the way home, and wait for the once-daily 310 at 2.50pm the following day. We’re not kidding.
With this sort of frequency, you can’t afford to miss one, but happily a fellow traveller turns up for the 5th February bus and confirms that it’s due. The 368 used to be a busy route, he says, with several daily buses typically carrying 15 passengers into town, but the service was cut back without warning. ‘I turned up one morning three years ago, and it didn’t come’. What will he do if they cut this last tenuous link? ‘I’ll shop online. I already buy a few large items that way. But it’s nicer to get into town’.
The web is an issue of course. With the likes of the big supermarkets delivering cheaply to your door, and the world at your mouse fingertip, is there really any need to go into town? Transport planners and MPs should try living car-free in one of these villages to experience what isolation really means.
In the wilder corners of rural England, village shops, pubs and schools are more likely to survive, but in this more suburban rurality there’s an assumption that everyone has mobility. My fellow passenger lives at Alweston, just three miles from Waitrose in Sherborne. But if this bus goes, he might as well live on the moon. His village shop closed several years ago.
At exactly 1.31pm, the 368 arrives carrying the predicted five little old ladies (unless someone’s had a coronary in Waitrose, you can safely predict how many will be on board), and we’re off. They’re a jolly little crowd, and you get the impression that the bus ride is a key part of the entertainment for people who live alone in rural areas. But they’re all well into their 70s, demonstrating how these bus routes have been closed by stealth. When the last passengers pop off, the authorities will withdraw the vestigial weekly service without a murmur of complaint.
At Holwell we hop off to make a call in the village. There’s plenty of time to walk to King’s Stag for the last bus. It’s two miles as the crow flies, and the 368 from Sherborne went there after leaving Holwell, but it took a 23 minute deviation via Pulham, Duntish and Buckland Newton. Yes, you could beat it at a steady jog.

King's Stag bus shelter

King’s Stag Bus Shelter

King’s Stag is one of those villages whose strategic importance far outweighs its actual population, which can’t exceed 200. There’s a smart block-built bus shelter here, erected in happier days when there were several good bus services. Four routes still converge on the village, but the 368, 323 and 317 are in the one a week category, leaving only the 307, which runs from Sturminster to Dorchester at 07.20 every morning, with a second bus (Tuesday to Friday only) at the more civilized time of 09.40, returning just after lunch. The return scholars bus leaves The Hardye School, Dorchester at 3.40pm and runs as far as King’s Stag, before returning to the county town, and that’s the one we’re catching. Just one schoolgirl is left on the bus as it arrives at this remote outpost, 15 miles from school,  and as she steps off she looks confused, then smiles shyly. Like the bus driver, she’s surprised to see someone getting on.
For children kept back on detention and (in theory at least) commuters working in Dorchester, there’s a final bus home at 5.40pm, which guarantees to go as far as Fifehead Neville, but will go the last few miles to Sturminster if you ask the driver nicely.
The 307 service isn’t dead, but it’s on life support. If the Tuesday to Friday bus were to be nipped in the bud, this would – like many others -effectively become a statutory school bus service.
The bus turns up spot on time, and it’s a smart new Optare Solo, noticeably smoother and quieter than the older buses we’ve caught up to now. In theory, someone might have popped out from Dorchester on the lunchtime bus to visit their auntie in Alton Pancras, but no-one else boards all the way back to the station. The service is advertised as missing the 5.33pm to London by one minute, but it actually arrives ten minutes early, so had we been travelling further afield, we could have made it to Waterloo by 8.20pm.

Any Future for Rural Buses?
It’s actually been a fun day. The country buses are quite slow because of all the village centre deviations, but the views are good (choose a back seat over the rear-mounted engine), and it’s a friendly world, as little old lady fiefdoms generally are. On a wet day, there’s a lot to be said for going into town by bus.Dorset County Council consultation map
Rural public transport needs to be nurtured and encouraged, and by gradually lopping services off, we’ve created bus routes that have little hope of surviving without ongoing subsidy. For a government that is committed to replacing Trident for ‘around’ £100 billion, the cost of maintaining a few rural buses is negligible, but once they’re down to one-a-week, carrying less than a handful of oldies, they’ve more or less reached the point where it would be cheaper to put them in a taxi, and bugger the theoretical walk-on market.
There are other solutions. Some bus companies have taken their weekly market-day buses out of the system altogether, by describing them as ‘tour buses’, which don’t receive grant aid, but are exempt from the troublesome concessionary fare scheme too.
The spider’s web of bus routes in Dorset looks impressive, but outside the urban areas, only the X51, and routes from Bridport to Beaminster and Weymouth, Wareham to Swanage, Dorchester to Portland and Poole to Blandford do better than an hourly service, the level essential to encourage ‘turn up and go’ discretionary travel.
Another ten or so are offer three or more services a day (three is the norm) and of these, all but the Blandford to Salisbury service are safe in the current review. A handful of the remaining 29 routes see a single daily schools service, but most have just one bus a week. And if the council’s plans go through, all will be swept away.

Swiss Train

Europe by Bike – Switzerland

Railways through mountains - the Glacier Express

Railways through mountains – the Glacier Express J & N Forsyth

Europe with Bike – Switzerland

The Swiss are amazing. Their country is not a natural place to build railways, so they build them up and through mountains.
The Swiss rail network is spread evenly on the country. There are 3,787 km of standard gauge tracks spread across the country and 509 km of metre gauge tracks in the south of the country. The main operator is Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS). The other operators such as BLS (Bern-Löschtberg-Simplon) appear to be privately owned but are in fact owned by the cantons and the federal government. There are connections to Austria, France, Germany and Italy, some of which carry bicycles, both DB and SNCF run trains into Switzerland. The only major cross border rail connection that does nor accept bicycles is the narrow gauge Locarno to Domodossola FART (Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi – Regional Bus and Rail Company of Canton Ticino) line over the Centovalli.

switzerland
Some but not all of the distinctive yellow Post Buses take bicycles.
The railway system is cyclist-friendly, but not cheap. The majority of trains carry bicycles without reservation. This does mean that on public holidays problems can arise. You load the bikes yourself. The exception being the InterCity-Neigezügen (ICN) tilting Intercity trains where reservations are necessary between 21 March to 31 October at a cost of 5CHF per bicycle. These reservations can be made online. Short distance bicycle tickets cost half the single second class fare. A day tickets costs 12CHF for passengers with rail cards and 18CHF for passengers paying the full price for their tickets.
Travelling to Switzerland overland with your bicycle is described in “Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe”.

Adequate bike parking (Romanshorn)

Adequate bike parking (Romanshorn). J & N Forsyth

Popular Cycling Areas in Switzerland
The Swiss authorities have invested heavily in cycle routes over the last twenty years or so with the result that the country now has nine national routes criss crossing the country and a large number of regional routes. Signposting and track quality is superb. Readers can find much more information about Swiss cycling in “Cycle Touring in Switzerland” by Judith and Neil Forsyth, published by Cicerone ISBN: 9781852845261 as a printed book or as an e-book. One can also buy descriptions of individual routes.
On weekends in summer with a good weather forecast, increased numbers of cyclists can be expected between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on trains to Ticino, Valais, the Bernese Oberland, Pays des trois lacs – near Neuchatel, Jura, Grisons and Lake Constance, i.e. much of Switzerland, meaning there may be a shortage of space on these trains.

Wide bicycle access on Swiss doubledecker rolling stock

Wide bicycle access on Swiss doubledecker rolling stock J & N Forsyth

Train Types
This matter is largely irrelevant, because trains that take bicycles are shown in the timetable, allowing cyclists to choose which trains they take. There do not appear to be surcharges or extra charges for certain trains. There is the usual mix of local, regional and express trains. Bicycles are forbidden during the evening rush on Zurich S-Bahn (suburban trains) during the evening rush Mondays to Fridays (4pm-7pm).
One very good idea is that capacity forecasts for each train is shown online and on station indicators which allows route planning to use trains that are not as full.

Tickets
Railway tickets are expensive. Most inhabitants of Switzerland invest in a Half-Fare travel card which gives you half price travel and reduced prices for bicycle transport, but as it costs 185CHF, it does not really pay unless you live there or visit often. We bought two when we wrote the Cycling in Switzerland book as we spent several months there. There are also cards for tourists – the Swiss Pass, etc. but one needs to calculate carefully if cycling and expecting to travel by bicycle with the odd trip by public transport.
Getting you and your bike on the bus, ship or train

Buses
Many but not all Post Buses carry bicycles and E-bikes. Details can be found under: http://tinyurl.com/jsrkftb.
You put the bike on a rack or on a trailer yourself.

Typical ramp on a Swiss station

Typical ramp on a Swiss station J Forsyth

Trains
Tandems are not carried by the SBB. Bike trailers can only be transported if they are no wider than 80 cm.
Select your route and journey time in the online timetable which allows searching in all public transport systems in Switzerland:
•    In the online timetable, select “Advanced search” and then “carriage of bicycles required (Switzerland only)” to see the routes on which you can take your bike yourself.
Bike on train•    Trains that do not have space for bicycles are marked on the timetable and departure boards with a bike logo with a bar across. Cyclists are not allowed to take their bikes on these trains.
•    A bicycle reservation symbol or reference number on the timetable indicates a train or Post Bus for which reservation is required.
•    The capacity forecast is a useful indicator of which trains are likely to have capacity bottlenecks and whether another train or a different route might be less busy and thus better suited to transport bikes.
•    Passengers can check which section of the platform the coaches with bicycle spaces (bicycle hooks, bicycle platforms) will arrive in as early as three hours before departure in the online timetable or in the SBB Mobile smartphone app.
One good feature of Swiss stations is the provision of ramps to the platforms. There is no fiddling about trying to persuade loaded bicycles to get into narrow lifts. You will know roughly where the bike carrying carriages will stop. Go to the correct area of the platform. Take the bags off the bike. Put all the bags together. When the train arrives enter the train through a door with a bike logo. Just prop the bike up and return to the platform to pick up your bags. Leaving your passport and camera on the platform could probably spoil your day. Get back on the train and hang the bike up. Find a seat and collapse.
When you get off the train, push your bike along the platform. It is strictly forbidden to ride bikes on platforms.

Ferries and Steamers
There are ferries and ships on the larger lakes. There is normally no problem getting your bike on board. Just tell the person in the booking office. A bungee or a strap is a useful accessory to fasten the bike to the mainmast or similar, so everything is shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Diversions
Our favourite trip is from Andermatt over the Oberalp Pass and then down the Rhine Valley to Lake Constance with good mountain views all the way.

Bike / Europe - Sweden

Europe by Bike – Sweden

Europe by bike - Swedish trains

The new high-speed rail service from Stockholm to Eskilstuna.

The railways in Sweden have a network of 13,000 km of track. The major operator is the state-owned SJ, but there are other operators such as Veolia, Tågkompaniet, Norrtåg and Inlandsbanan.

Left to itself, the major Swedish rail operator SJ is not very cyclist friendly, although matters have improved greatly recently. The SJ will run a number of mainline and regional trains with accompanied bicycle transport from certain stations and trains from Mondays to Fridays, in the summer in June, July and August, and on some lines from May until December.  On all other mainline routes and at all other times you can take your bike when it is first partially dismantled, packed and stowed as baggage. (Thanks are due to Cykelfrämjandet, the Swedish cyclists association for their help.)

Trains

X 2000
These very popular SJ high speed trains link Stockholm to major Swedish cities. The ADFC, the German Cyclists’ Club, reports on its website that some cyclists said that they could take their bikes in X2000 trains, though it is not officially allowed. Whether these bicycles were partially dismantled and bagged was not mentioned.
More conventional mainline trains:

SJ
InterCity trains are much slower than the X 200 trains. Some of these services offer limited bicycle transport in summer. The company also runs a number of night trains including a useful one for us from Malmö to Berlin, but it too does not take bicycles.

Veolia:
Runs a few trains daily from Malmö to Stockholm and return. If these take unbagged bicycles it will be a very small number.

  1. Runs Lapplandståget/ Lapland train, a weekly train from Malmö to Lappland and on to Narvik from the beginning of July to middle of August – Fridays Malmö – Narvik returning on Sunday. Bicycles are transported on this train. It costs 99 SEK to take your bicycle along to Lapland from Malmö and Stockholm. Only one bicycle and one piece of luggage is allowed per passenger – inventive packing is called for. Space can be reserved online, but only Scandinavian credit cards are accepted on the website.
  2. Runs trains on the Swedish end of the twice daily Mittnabotåget/Nabotåget service between Trondheim (N) and Östersund / Sundsvall (S). Whether the Norrtåg services mentioned below are a replacement or a additional service is not clear.

Regional Trains
Some of these trains are operated by SJ and some by more customer orientated organisations.

The Inlandsbanan from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to Gällivare in the north running through the wilds of northern Sweden takes bicycles from early June to the end of August. How interesting this area is for cyclists other than the purple-legged knotted-muscle MTB types, who wear shorts even in the middle of winter is debatable. The cost is SEK 50 for a single journey between two points on the line. Bikes are only allowed if there is room, but this appears to be the case normally, according to reports we have read from the ADFC. A charming feature of this line is that the FIAT diesel rail cars used on the line do not have restaurant or buffet facilities, but prebooking of meals or snacks in restaurant along the way is organised by the company. The train stops at various restaurants for half an hour or so.

Tågkompaniet, owned by NSB, Norwegian Railways runs trains in the middle of Sweden. Map On all trains in the Bergslagen area and the X-trains, there are two bike places in each train. In Värmland county, bikes are allowed on the trains as long as space is available.

NSB also runs regional trains between Goteborg in Sweden and Oslo in Norway. These trains take bicycles without reservation.

Skåne Commuter Transit in southern Sweden operates the Öresund line into Denmark and the railways for about 100km around Malmö. Services are contracted out to Arriva. An accompanied bicycle costs the same as a child’s single ticket on both trains and buses. Bikes are allowed on the train if there´s room. The train manager decides how many bikes can be taken. In general:

  • Pågatågen: at most 10 bikes/train or section
  • Reginatågen: at most 2 bikes/train or section
  • Öresund line: at most 9 bikes/train or section.

On regional buses with the necessary fittings in this area bikes are carried at the weekend between 04:00 and 23:00 but only if there`s room and for a maximum of two bikes. This applies daily during the summer holidays from 15 June to 15 August .

Norrtåg: The north of Sweden now enjoys a cyclist friendly service by Norrtåg AB a joint DB/SJ company. See the route map for details.

Tickets

Swedish railway tickets are a complex matter. There are inter-company booking arrangements called Resplus. However on some local lines two companies run in competition and then each others’ tickets are not valid, unless you specifically buy a Resplus ticket. Interrail tickets are accepted as far as we can see. There are also discounts for the young and pensioners. Each of the railway companies will sell you tickets for the whole system.

Veolia tickets can be purchased online on their website, but only Nordic credit cards are accepted. For all other credit cards, tickets can be booked and purchased over the telephone: Customer Service +46 771-26 00 00. Tickets are posted home and a small distribution fee applies. It is probably easier to use Raileurope or the major European state railway companies to purchase a ticket. Interrail cards are valid for travel on the Lappland train. Seats can be reserved for 29 SEK and couchettes for 249 SEK.

Getting there and back

We assume that the reader wishes to travel to Sweden to go cycle touring, rather than moving there to live. We would suggest that good places to go touring are Skäne east and northeast of Malmö, the west coast up to Göteborg, the Trollhätte and Göta Canals from Göteborg east or northeastwards from Malmö to Stockholm. Since there is but one train a day from Malmö to Stockholm that takes bicycles early in the morning. it is better to travel to Malmö and start cycling, rather than travelling by train with a bicycle to Stockholm, unless you wish to spend a day and night in Malmö. The best way to get to Malmö from London is via Harwich, Esbjerg and Copenhagen.

Journey Mode Cost Passenger/Bike Comment
Harwich about 17:00
Esbjerg a: next day 13:00
DFDS Ship* £169 for 2 people You will need to eat on the ship dinner and breakfast cost about ?40 pp if booked in advance. This ship sails on three or four days a week.
Esbjerg d: 14:42 Copenhagen :17:49 IC* 46 Euros
Copenhagen d: 18:13 Malmö a: 18:46 RE
Journey Mode Cost Passenger/Bike Comment
Malmö d: 11:33 Copenhagen a:1207 RE
Copenhagen d: 12:30Esbjerg a:15:26 IC 46 Euros pp
Esbjerg d:18:45 Harwich a: 12:00 the next day DFDS Ship £169 for 2 people You will need to eat on the ship dinner and breakfast cost about ?40 pp if booked in advance. This ship sails on three or four days a week.

Putting Bikes on SJ Trains

You need to work out which train you wish to catch, buy a bicycle ticket/reservation for 249 SEK per bicycle (a whopping £25). You then go to the platform from which your train will depart to be there at least 20 minutes before the train departs. You should remove all luggage from the bike and wait for the arrival of the BestXpress personnel who wear bright orange waistcoats. They will load your bike on the train and when the train arrives at your destination they will be present on the platform to unload your bicycle. In case of problems in either phase of the operation ring 0771-71 71 71. It is definitely a gold plated solution, by no means customer friendly and the fact that all over Europe cyclists are loading their own bikes on trains seems to have escaped the notice of the SJ management.

Website

Veolia has a first page in Swedish and then, if you are lucky and you click the right spot you are directed to a page where you can click on a Union Jack to find a page in English about the Lappland train and the Malm? – Stockholm services. However you cannot use anything but a Scandinavian credit card to buy tickets. This is a good encouragement to use the Rail Europe or Deutsche Bahn ticketing services.

Skåne Commuter Transit is useful if you have a working knowledge of Swedish.

Inlandsbanan is a clear and simple website, but don’t send for the brochure, unless you really want to go there. Once you read it you will find yourself packing a rucksack and working out the most convenient way to get there.

Ferries

The ferries from Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Finland all take bicycles, as do the ferries out to the Swedish and Finnish islands.

Diversions

Your authors would dearly like to take the 1300 km long Inlandsbanan from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to Gällivare in the north. From the northern end we could take a train to Narvik on the Kiruna iron ore line. Then maybe the Hurtigruten ship to Trondheim and the Mitnatbotåget back to Sweden.

Bike / Rail - France

Europe by Bike – France

The basic message is that long distance travel with a bicycle by train in France is possible, despite what you might have heard about high speed trains like the TGV, but choice is limited and you need to book early, especially in summer. Regional services that can take accompanied bicycles are sparse but good. The French Railways web site can be found at www.voyages-sncf.com.
Railway lines in France are less dense than in Germany and there are fewer trains on the lines. Out in the sticks, two trains a day appears to be the norm, but services to the regional centres are generally adequate. The SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français or French National Railway Corporation) incorporates TGV, France’s high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of trains for passengers and freight, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure owned by Réseau Ferré de France (RFF).
This is the very French solution to European directives formulated to impose competition on national and pan-European rail networks. Great Britain got a botched privatisation, and the French kept the whole SNCF edifice intact by making it look privatised. Who is to say they were wrong? Recent work by the Office of the Rail Regulator suggests that National Rail is 34-40% less efficient than the nationalised European norm, and as we all know, standard British fares are the most expensive in Europe too.
Harking back to a time when we exported technology to France rather than the other way round, French trains drive on the left, except in Alsace and parts of Lorraine that were German between 1870 and 1918. Trams and underground railways run on the right because of their origins as road transport.
Travelling to various regions of France is described in “Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe”.
You can download a slightly out-of-date map of the SNCF (there doesn’t seem to be anything better) at http://bit.ly/1PDA8RW

 

Train Types and Operators

Brompton_tgv_avignon

Brompton: The Fat Controller’s ideal bike, with a TGV in the background

Long distance express trains
Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)
Literally ‘high speed train’, TGVs are very fast and comfortable train sets. Some of the newer examples of the class are double-deckers. Up to four bicycles are carried on certain TGV services: TGV Atlantique (except Duplex trains), parts of TGV Nord, TGV Est and TGV Lyria (Services to Switzerland from Paris Gare de Lyon).
A few words of warning though: tandems and recumbents (these are almost unknown in France), are only officially carried in trains with guards vans/baggage cars, which are now rare. They do seem to be tolerated elsewhere, although space can be tight.
When travelling on bike-carrying TGVs you will need to reserve bike places. Not only are there typically only four places available on each train, but the bikes block four part-time seats that can be used by travellers without reserved tickets, of whom there can be quite a few. They are unlikely to give up their seats unless you can wave a reservation under their noses and threaten to call the Gendarmes.
There is another class of TGV, the iDTGV which can only be booked online and offers cheaper fares than the conventional TGV trains. It appears to be aimed at the student market, but there are no age limits. This offers three types of accommodation: iDZap, iDZen and iDNight in the usual two classes: first and second class. iDZap is intended as an area where you get to know your fellow passengers. Probably a good place to practise your French chat up lines. iDZen is the public library area. Nobody speaks and you can read “Candide” in peace. iDNight is an overnight or a late in the day train and appears to be a moving disco and bar running more slowly than a conventional TGV. It sounds like a vision of Hell. However these trains cost about half the price of their conventional equivalents. There is, however, a major snag for the cyclist. These trains do not take bicycles unless they are bagged in a similar manner to the Eurostar trains, and you can only take two pieces of luggage on board, which sounds like a recipe for inventive packing.

DB RE meets TER in Wissembourg

DB and TER trains at Wissembourg station. Judith and Neil Forsyth

Intercité
These are conventional trains hauled by a locomotive. The trains run not only between major centres, but also important regional settlements. They are slightly slower than the TGVs, but fares are cheaper. Some are sleeper trains running at night.These are couchette rather than sleeping car trains, but on these trains one compartment has been modified to act as a bike garage. (See Table in the Onward Travel chapter.)

Bikes in TER

Bikes in TER. Judith and Neil Forsyth

Regional Trains – Transport Express Régional (TER)
SNCF operates local railways and buses under the name TER. These services are heavily subsidised by the French taxpayer, with 72% of the cost being borne by the State and the regional councils on average, so travellers only pay about a third of the full cost of provision. TER trains consist of single or multiple-unit diesel, electric or dual-mode rail cars, as well as some Grandes Lignes rolling stock that has been ‘cascaded’ from intercity routes.

Popular Cycling Areas in France
Brittany, the Atlantic Coast: La Vèlodyssée, the Jura, the Loire Valley (Eurovélo 6), the Pyrenees, the Canal de Midi and surprisingly the Rhine Valley between Basel and Lauterbourg where the French bank of the river offers much better cycling than the German side which uses a maintenance road for the river authority as acycle track.

Tickets
SNCF services are divided into two groups: Grandes Lignes (main line) and TER (regional services). Although nominally separate, the two groups work together and in practice there is no difference between them. If you use the SNCF home page this will also show TER services where appropriate. Not all, but some of the main line services will take bicycles, including some of the high speed TGVs, whereas the vast majority of regional trains do. You can find out which mainline trains carry bikes by checking timetables on www.voyages-sncf.com and seeing which trains display a bicycle logo. If there is room on your chosen train you can turn up, pop your bike on the train and away you go. You can however reserve bike places on long distance trains before travelling, and it is highly advisable. The local TER trains do not accept reservations and bicycle transport is free. Folders are welcome everywhere, provided they do not exceed 120cm x 90cm x 60cm.
There are a number of possibilities in Britain, and you can now book bike tickets online from www.captainetrain.com (see ‘Bike Tickets’ below).
1. By Phone – Voyages-SNCF: 0844 848 5848 Mon-Fri – 09:00-19:00 Saturday – 09:00-18:00
2. Online at https://www.capitainetrain.com.. The voyages-sncf.com site doesn’t seem to offer a simple way of booking a bike ticket online whereas the capitainetrain website lets you book bikes on French trains online, but not on Eurostar. It is probably better to sort out Eurostar and SNCF by phone.

Railcards
SNCF offers several rail cards: For the old, the young, the very young, families and normal people. These only really pay if you live in France or are intending to travel extensively in France.

Bicycle Tickets
Your bicycle will cost ten Euros on long distance trains within France, but you MUST book early to get space on some Intercite and all TGV trains. A trailer probably costs the same amount, but this could be awkward in a TGV where there is limited bike space. Cycling for the French either means road bikes with violently coloured Lycra à la Tour de France or rusty pre-WWI ladies’ bikes used by farm workers in the country. Neither of these ever pull trailers. In our experience if you can show willing and partially dismantle the trailer it does help. Bicycle transport on local TER trains is free.
International bicycle tickets cost €10 – 15 and include a reservation for a bicycle. These are valid from your starting station to your destination. Recumbents (even short wheelbase recumbents) and tandems seem to cost double, even though they are technically banned from most trains.
To arrange bike transport on Intercité or TGV trains in France, it is now possible to book both your seat reservation and bike reservation at the same time by using the Capitaine Train online booking service: full details in English at https://blog.capitainetrain.com/6555-take-bike-on-train-france

The Composteur

The “Composteur” By Judith and Neil Forsyth

Getting you and your bicycle on the train
If catching a train from a station with more than two platforms, the departure platform is announced only ten minutes before the train arrives. In Paris Est for example the departure platform of the TGV/ICE to Frankfurt is announced ten minutes before departure, causing an almighty stampede. The same is true in Germanically drilled Strasbourg, even though the train has been waiting empty for half an hour or so (If you have to wait in Strasbourg in winter use the northern concourse. It’s a lot warmer and there are more seats.). Way down south in Nice things are fortunately more casual and the departure platform of the sleeper trains is made public a good hour before departure.
You may have to hang (accrocher) your bikes on hooks anchored in the compartment ceiling. Unless you are built like Atlas, remove the panniers first. Avoid trying to lift the bikes up once the train is moving and take them down (deccrocher) in good time before your destination.
When you are on the way to the platform to catch your train, you will see small yellow pillars labelled ‘Compostage’ with a slit. Stick your ticket/s for the journey as purchased from ticket machines or the ticket office in this slit. You will hear the machine whine and print the date on your ticket/s. They are then valid for that journey but cannot be used again. If you do not do this you could be fined €50 or so by the conductor on the train.

Diversion
We normally cross France in the dark to or from Paris and then take a night train south, though we did enjoy running into Nice along the Mediterranean coast early on a winter morning. We did enjoy a three week trip cycle partly along Eurovélo 6 from Breisach to Bordeaux some years ago, but if I was to do it again we would cycle upstream with the prevailing wind on our backs.

Bike / Rail - Finland

Europe by Bike – Finland

A to B Finland - rail networkWe will not write much about Finnish railways, although the organisation is very cyclist-friendly. Finland lies well to the north and east in Europe. It is at least a three day journey from Britain by train and ship to get there, so travelling to the country on the ground is only of interest to the railway or shipping enthusiast, or the seriously green. We think it would be quite an interesting trip.
Finland is lightly populated. There are long distance lines connecting the main centres of population with Helsinki. The proximity to Russia means that the railways in Finland have a network of 5,919 km of 1,524 mm (5 ft) gauge track which connects the major towns and cities mainly with Helsinki. Effectively the only operator is the state-owned VR.

Getting to Finland by train and ship
The easiest surface route for bicycles and their owners from the UK to Helsinki is the three-night trip (Hull – P&O or Harwich – Stena) via Europoort or Hook of Holland, then train via Rotterdam, Osnabrück and Hamburg to Travemünde or Rostock, and ship to Helsinki.
The only international passenger trains in Finland connect Helsinki with St Petersburg, Vyborg and Moscow. The Finnish gauge is similar enough to the Russian gauge at 1,520 mm to allow running trains backwards and forwards into Russia without changing bogies. There is a link westwards to the standard gauge Swedish system in Tornio in Lapland that does involve a bogey change system, but this is only used by goods trains. Bicycles can only be shipped to Russia if packed in a bag or box.

A to B Finland

Tickets
There are first (Business) class tickets available on long distance trains. These cost at least 50% more than normal second class tickets.
Family tickets offer free travel to children between 6 and 16 accompanied by a fare paying adult.
Pensioners can purchase their tickets with a 50% discount.
Tickets can be booked on line, from VR station booking offices, VR sales agents, ticket vending machines and train conductors. The ticket may be delivered as an e-ticket (printed by the customer or sent in text message and multimedia format to the customer’s mobile phone, but not all phones are supported), or as a ticket sent to the customer by post, but only in Finland. The ticket may also be picked up at a ticket vending machine or a station booking office. Tickets to Russia cannot be booked online.

Website
Excellent and easy to use. Tickets may be bought online every day between 6.00-23.30 and paid for by a range of credit cards. www.vr.fi/en/index.html

A to B Finland - EDM Sleeping Car

Finish EDM sleeping car

Putting bikes on trains
Express Trains
The following train types take bicycles: Regional Trains, Express Trains, InterCity, InterCity2 and night trains.
Tandems and cycle trailers can be transported in those day and night express trains which transport luggage and in some other trains marked with a suitcase in timetables.
•    In express and regional trains, customers should bring the bicycle to the conductor’s van as with large luggage and collect it at the arrival station.
•    Customers should transfer their bicycle to another train themselves when changing trains.
•    Groups should make arrangements concerning transport of bicycles in advance.
Paying for your bicycle in advance at a VR station costs €5, a bicycle and trailer cost €10, and a tandem, booked in advance at a VR station costs €18. If you pay the on-board conductor it will cost €20.

InterCity Train
Bicycle spaces must be booked in advance from VR Customer Care or a station booking office, i.e. not online.
Customers should bring their bicycle to the bicycle space in the double-decker wagon of InterCity trains. It is possible to lock the bicycle with a 50 cent coin as deposit. The coin is returned when the bicycle is removed from the stand after the journey.
InterCity trains do not take tandems or cycle trailers. A bicycle booked with a passenger costs €9.

Overland bus and coach
There is an extensive network of overland buses in Finland run by a number of different, cooperating bus companies under the umbrella Expressbus. These buses will take bicycles as long there is room. It is necessary to reserve places in advance and charges may apply.

Ferries
It is possible to reach Finland by ferry from Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden.

Diversions
We have never been to Finland. One of us is allergic to mosquito bites.

 

Bike / Rail - Denmark

Europe by Bike – Denmark

A to B Denmark - rail networkEurope by Bike – Denmark

Two-thousand six-hundred kilometres of railways link the major towns and cities in Denmark. The major operator is De Danske Statsbaner (DSB) and there are a number of smaller private operators of which the biggest is Arriva. Danish railways are cyclist-friendly, with special spaces for bicycles on trains. Both Denmark and the Netherlands are sensibly investing in their cycle networks and it shows.

Trains
High Speed Trains, ICE
DB/DSB jointly operate international ICEs from Hamburg to Copenhagen via Padborg or Puttgarden throughout the day, but there are the usual restrictions on bicycles: Partially dismantled and bagged seems to be allowed.

A to B Denmark - DSB IC3

DSB IC3 train at Frederikshavn, Denmark

InterCity (IC), EuroCity (EC), InterCityLyn (ICL), X2000
The three EuroCity pairs from Hamburg to Kopenhagen and the X2000 fast train to Stockholm do not take bicycles, except the usual bagged and partially dismantled variation. There are hourly trains from Hamburg to Copenhagen which take bicycles where it is necessary to change in Flensburg and Fredericia
Domestic InterCity and InterCityLyn trains take bicycles outside of the rush hour (06:00-09:00 and 15:00-18:00). Bicycles are not transported free. The cost varies with distance. Reservation of bicycle places is essential. Pre-book at stations or call  +45 70131415. You can stand anywhere but your bike can’t!

A to B Denmark - Avedoere Station

Avedoere Station

Regional and Local Trains
Bicycle transport within Greater Copenhagen is free on the S-Tog (Suburban Rail).
RØ, RV, ØR (Öresund Trains) regional trains, at least in Denmark and InterRegional (IR) trains carry bicycles (see note below). Reservations are not required.
Öresund Trains cross the Öresund bridge and tunnel every 20 minutes. Travelling time between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden) is about 35 minutes. These trains run the whole way round Öresund from Helsinger in Denmark via Copenhagen and Malmö to Helsingborg and other cities in Sweden. The Öresund service across ‘The Bridge’ to Malmö has been affected by the influx of refugees, and passengers must now change at Kastrup Airport Station and show ID to travel on to Sweden. The latest information we have is that the trains across the bridge do not take bicycles. If you wish to travel to Sweden from Copenhagen, travel to Helsingor and take the ferry to Helsingbor. There is a frequent service (www.scandlines.com/). It is cheaper to book the ferry in advance.

Getting to Denmark
Until the replacement for the DFDS service from Harwich to Esbjerg arrives, the only surface route by public transport to Copenhagen from London is via Harwich and the daytime Stena Line ferry to Hoek van Holland, and then via Rotterdam, Amersfoot, Osnabrück, Hamburg, Flensberg and Fredericia to Copenhagen.

Tickets
DSB offers first (DSB1) and second (Standard) class tickets which are refundable. There are also non-refundable Orange Tickets. Children travel for about half the adult fare and grey haired over 65 year olds receive a 50% discount on their tickets. Tickets can be bought at stations, online (but see below) from DSB; online from Voyages SNCF; by phone +45 70131415 or in case of difficulty by emailing kundenhenv@dsb.dk.
There are also clip cards that will save you money as long as you use the whole card. These might make sense with a group. One good idea is that you can reserve seats in one of three zones:
 •  Standard
 •  Standard Stillezone  Compartment/Area where you need to be silent, and mobile phones should either be turned off or in silent mode.
 • Standard Familiezone  As its name suggests there may be children present in this area and therefore it could be noisy.

The Website
The website is not the ideal place to buy Danish railway tickets, unless you speak Danish with the fluency of Hamlet. It is in Danish, although there is an explanatory page in English: www.dsb.dk/om-dsb/in-english/. These English pages also contain a guide to how to buy a ticket online, but the pages referred to are in Danish.
There are various pop ups that occur from time to time offering you cheaper transfer to first class and similar. The DSB suggests that English-speakers cut and paste the pop up to a translation program. At this point your internet-friendly or even addicted researcher decided life was too short for this type of fun and games. We would suggest you either join a queue at a station or use the French or German railway’s British agents, Voyages SNCF or Deutsche Bahn, if you wish to buy your tickets beforehand.

Putting Bikes on Trains and Buses
Bicycles but not tandems and bike trailers are transported on most DSB services and on private regional trains. DSB trains that do not take bicycles are shown in the timetables with a crossed out bicycle pictogram. You are expected to load your bicycle yourself onto Danish trains. There are bicycle pumps in the existing bicycle compartments on suburban trains in Greater Copenhagen.
Having written this, our experience some years ago on the Copenhagen-Flensburg service was not as we would have wished. The train was 12 carriages or so long, and split up at various points en route, with two or four car sets going off to somewhere else. We made the mistake of travelling from Roskilde, west of Copenhagen. There was no indication where one should stand to find the part of the train with a specific destination, and no members of staff on the platform to tell us. This meant that rather than being able to take our bags off our bicycles and putting the bikes and bags on the train separately, we needed to climb up steep steps with heavily laden bicycles.
When the train arrived, we got into a carriage due for Odense just to get on the train. We were directed at Ringsted station to change to a carriage further forward. When we ran almost the length of the train and got on at the point where a conductor was standing, we discovered that we were now in the train to Esbjerg. At the next station we had to repeat the procedure and finally managed to get to the correct portion of the train.
We now realise that we should have joined the train in Copenhagen where it started and where we would have had time to walk down the train to find our carriage. However one does wish that DSB could invest a bob or two in indicating where carriages are likely to stop. Most continental railways manage this, even British operators who are not high in the customer satisfaction stakes manage to make things a reasonably clear.
Country bus services in Denmark can take two or three bicycles, if there is room and the driver agrees.

Ferries
Denmark is an archipelago, consisting of the Jutland peninsular and a number of islands. Due to the country’s geography, the road system in the Danish archipelago makes frequent use of ferries. Local car ferries link most islands to the road network. All the car ferries and many regional excursion ships take bicycles. There are regular international ferries to and from the Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK. The good news is that even when a car ferry is ‘full’, there is always space for another bike.

Diversions
The most interesting trip we can recommend, unfortunately, without your bicycle, unless it is bagged etc., is the ICE-TD trip from Hamburg or Lübeck to Copenhagen. The train travels via the Vogelfluglinie (Bird Flight Line) and is shunted on to a Puttgarden-Rodby ferry for the 50 minute trip across the Baltic.

 

Bike / Rail - Belgium

Europe by Bike – Belgium

Europe with Bike – Belgium

The railways in Belgium offer the full range of rail services, from high speed international trains to slow moving local trains. Prices are low. The nationalised company is very cyclist friendly, even tandem friendly, and the majority of trains take bicycles, but not always very many. Belgian Railways are known as NCMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen) in Flemish or SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges) in French, in this country divided by language. Oddly enough the railway company does not seem to have a name at all in Belgium’s third official language, German.
The system has about 3,300 km of standard gauge track, mostly electrified. Trains in Belgium normally run on the left, showing the British involvement in building the rail network in the nineteenth century. How times have changed.
Belgium has a policy of cheap rail travel. Citizens in Belgium, especially students and the elderly, are offered incentives and cheaper fares to alleviate road congestion. Public sector employees and many private sector employees receive subsidised season tickets. The great majority of trains, except high speed trains, offer bicycle transport, which means these facilities are not mentioned in official information. An unfortunate side effect is that it is almost impossible to pinpoint those trains which do not carry bikes. These however are few in number. On some domestic IC trains there may only be room for two bicycles. We have discussed matters with a German cyclist living on the border with Belgium who regularly transports his bicycle on Belgian trains. He wrote that outside of rush hours one can store the bike in the entrance area of a carriage. His advice was then to stay near your bike and act friendly when the conductor-guard comes around. (Thanks to the ADFC Aachen for this information.)
Travelling to Belgium is described in ‘Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe’.

Train Types
There are a number of international High Speed Trains: Thalys, Eurostar, SNCF TGV, DB InterCity Express (ICE) which can whisk you across Europe at high speed and in great comfort, but these trains do not accept bicycles except bagged folding bikes or partly disassembled bikes in a bag. Bagged bikes going to France must have a label showing the passenger’s name and seat number.

Bike Europe, Belgium. Thalys

Thalys traction unit at Aachen Hauptbahnhof

Thalys
On board the Thalys, a bicycle is only allowed if its front wheel has been removed and if the bicycle is packed in a special bicycle cover (maximum measurement: 120x90cm).

TGV Brussels – France
Your bike can be carried free of charge as ‘hand luggage’, on condition that it is dismantled (wheels removed) and placed in a special cover for bike transport with maximum dimensions of 120x90cm. When it is packed like this, your bike can be stowed in one of the spaces available at the ends of each carriage.

InterCity/EuroCity (IC/EC)?
IC
The domestic ICs which extend into Holland and Luxembourg do carry bicycles. Older stock (carriages) carry two bicycles per train, but there is more room for bicycles in the more modern double decker trains. However it is not possible to find out which type of train will be used on any one particular journey. Early morning trains from Luxembourg to Belgium are normally double decker trains. It is not possible to reserve bike slots on these trains. You will need to buy a bike ticket in Belgium when travelling to Luxembourg or an International Bicycle Ticket in Luxembourg when travelling to Belgium. Bicycles travel for free in Luxembourg. (Thanks to the Letzelbuerger Velo Initiativ for the information)

EC
Two EuroCity trains circulate daily between Brussels and Switzerland via Namur, Luxembourg and eastern France. Both of which accept bicycles. Bike slots must be reserved and International Bicycle Tickets bought.
•    Vauban (EC 91/90)
•    Iris (97/96) to Zurich (via Basel)

bEurope by bike, Belgium, Brussel Zuid

Suburban train in Brusel-Midi

Regional trains
There are a number of local lines. Most of these carry bicycles, though it might only be two or three. Timetable information can be found on the Belgian Rail domestic website: www.belgianrail.be/.
A map of the rail system (PDF).
For dealing with the guard, follow the advice given by our German contact in the second paragraph of this section.

Popular Cycling Areas in Belgium
The most popular cycling routes in Belgium are:
•    Vlaanderen Fietsroute (Flanders Cycle Route) a circular route, which can be picked up near Zeebrugge and takes about two weeks to cycle comfortably. There also extensive networks of shorter cycle routes in Flanders, including World War One routes around Ypers and Pop (Ypres and Poperinge) which make for sobering cycling… Navigation is easy because of the use of Knooppunter (Navigation Nodes)
•    Not to be outdone, the French-speaking Belgians have set up the Ravel network of cycle routes, one of which starts in Lille with good access from Eurostar trains and ends in Wiltz to the north of Luxembourg, a day’s ride, or an hour or so on the train from Luxembourg city, with access to TGVs, ECs and ICs to Paris and/or Brussels. Two other ways into the network start in Brussels.
Interestingly both of the websites mentioned above profess to give information about cycling in Belgium, but do not offer any information about the other website.

Tickets
SNCB/NMBS offers an excellent range of special low price tickets. As mentioned earlier there are many incentives offering cheap travel by train in Belgium, some of which can be used by foreign tourists. Examples include:
•    Children’s tickets: Children from the age of 0 to 12, accompanied by a traveller over the age of 12 who is holder of a valid ticket (max. 4 children per person) can travel free of charge in 1st and 2nd class without any time limitation. Children from the age of 0 to 12, unaccompanied, can travel in both classes at a 50% reduction in the price.
•    Under 26 year olds can use the Go Pass 1 to travel anywhere in Belgium for €6, except Brussels Airport which is surcharged to pay for a new airport link.
•    Anybody can travel on a Weekend ticket outward and return, 1st or 2nd class, and receive a 50% discount. Decide what day you want to leave (Friday after 19.00, Saturday or Sunday) and you return when you want on the Friday (after 19.00), Saturday or Sunday of the same weekend. In addition, you can return from a station other than the one where your outward journey ended, as long as you mention this when you’re buying your ticket. (Only possible for Weekend tickets purchased in a station and on the train, but not online). You needn’t do this if the return station in question is one of nine seaside resorts.
•    The Senior ticket costs €6 for a day return journey in 2nd class and €13.00 in 1st class to any destination in Belgium. The Senior ticket is valid year round:
•    Monday through Friday: after 09:00am
•    Saturday and Sunday: no timetable restrictions
•    Except in July and August when it is not valid on Saturday and Sunday.
•    Between two Belgian stations (frontier points excluded) on IC, IR, L, P, CR and ICT domestic trains as well as on conventional EC international trains. What frontier points seem to mean is that if travelling across the Belgian border you book to the station before the border and buy standard tickets for the trip across the border.
Buying a ticket for trains in Belgium or on an international train leaving Belgium?, you can use the Belgian Railways website: www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx
The website is divided into two parts, domestic and International.
The Belgium Railways International website is programmed to push you towards high speed trains, so if you are taking a bike – unless you have a folding bike or you are prepared to partly dismantle your bike and pop it in a bike bag – it is better to use www.voyage-sncf.com by phone: 08448 484 064 (in the UK), Mon-Fri, 09:00-19:00 Saturday, 09:00-18:00, as bike spaces can’t be booked online . Up to date information can be found under the online link: https://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en/#/
Once in Belgium you can also buy tickets from ticket offices and ticket machines on stations.

Bicycle Tickets?
There are two domestic bicycle tickets:
•    a one way trip using the €5 ‘cycle card & tandem card’ for a bicycle/tandem (plus a trailer).
•    a ‘one-day card’ (libre-parcours d’un jour), which lets you take your bicycle/tandem (plus a trailer) on the train for €8 all day long anywhere in the country.
You can buy the former online from the domestic website, but not the latter. The tickets should be purchased before getting on the train. They can be bought from Belgian Rail ticket offices and ticket machines. There is one exception: Aachen in Germany like many border stations counts as a domestic station for Belgium, but is not possible to buy Belgian bike tickets from the machines in the station. One needs to buy one on the train and pay a small extra charge.
International bicycle tickets valid in more than one country cost €12 for a bicycle and €24 for a tandem.

Getting you, your bike and your gear on a train
It would appear that Brussels Midi and Brussels Nord stations are convenient places to unload or load your bicycle in Brussels. Unloading and loading at Brussels Central, Brussels Chapelle or Brussels Congres is very difficult, if not impossible according to SNCB/NMBS.
Some years ago we spent some time in Mechelen on a round trip through Flanders and because we’d lost half a day due to a broken spoke, we decided to take a train for 50 km or so. We bought tickets for ourselves and the bikes and then waited on the platform for our train. We stood roughly at the ideal spot on the platform, i.e. where we expected the middle of the train to arrive. The train arrived and when it stopped, a hand appeared out of a door at the head of the train and waved us on. We ran up the platform and realised that the entrance was at chest height. Neither of us are dwarfs but we are vertically challenged. The conductor helped us lift the bikes on to the train and we fastened them to the wall. There was room for a few bikes. Obviously the space available is dependent on the rolling stock.

Europe by bike, Belgium - Maas ferry

Schelde Ferry on the kind of day when you want to ring in sick and go cycling

Ferries and river steamers in Belgium
There are small ferries on the Schelde offering transport across the river for cyclists.

Diversions
We enjoyed the Flanders Route some years ago. Eastern Belgium is hillier than one imagines. The food, especially the chips and the chocolate are superb. They give you enough calories to climb the hills.

 

 

 

Europe by Bike – Austria

Europe with Bike – Austria

The Austrian standard gauge network is about 5,700 km in length. Map The OeBB – Österreichische Bundesbahn, Austrian Federal Railways, runs several hundred mainline passenger trains and goodness knows how many regional and local trains daily, and it is bicyclist-friendly. Bicycles can be carried in practically all trains including ‘railjet’ high speed trains too (see below). Tickets can be purchased from the usual agents and online: http://www.oebb.at/en/index.jsp.
Travelling to Austria is described in ‘Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe’.

Train Types

A to B Austria - Railjet High Speed TrainRailjet
The ÖBB railjet high speed trains now connect major centres in Austria, as well as its neighbouring countries with high speed trains running at top speeds of 230 km/h: Vienna via Salzburg, Innsbruck and Bregenz to Zurich, via Graz and Klagenfurt to Villach or Budapest – Vienna – Munich. Some of the latter trains run on to Stuttgart, Mannheim or Frankfurt/Main. The railjet trains have also run from Graz via Vienna and Brno to Prague at two-hourly interval since December 2014.
There are three classes: Economy, First and Premium (25 Euros plus First Class fare*). Until now, no bikes have been allowed except folders and even then only in a bag. Each of the 51 Railjet trains is being modified to take five bicycles. At the moment several railjet trains a day on the Austrian services and also to Zurich in Switzerland offer bike slots. By the end of 2016 all of these trains will take bicycles, but probably not the trains running into Germany. Deutsche Bahn which has fought and still is fighting tooth and nail against putting bike slots on the ICE German high speed trains does wish to demonstrate that high speed trains and bicycles are compatible.
* For the extra cost you not only get leather seats and more legroom, but more importantly, you are addressed as Herr or Frau Doktor or even Herr Professor. The Austrians are big on titles.

A to B - Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train

Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train © ÖBB

InterCity Trains
EC and IC trains link major centres. The majority carry accompanied bicycles. Reservation is necessary.

REX/R/S-Bahn
Local and regional passenger trains always take bicycles, but reservation is not possible.

A to B Austria - ÖBB IC

ÖBB IC © ÖBB

Westbahn
Westbahn is a private railway company running trains from Vienna to Salzburg via Linz. There is an hourly service for much of the day. Standard fares are often cheaper than OeBB fares. The single passenger fare on Westbahn from Vienna to Salzburg is 24.90 Euro. A bicycle costs 5 Euro, if pre-booked, and 10 Euro for a ticket bought on the train. The equivalent OeBB fares are between 24 and 52 Euro + 10% surcharge for a bicycle. Tickets can be bought in Trafiken (tobacconists) in Austria, online from www.westbahn.at and on the trains. As usual tandems are not carried. OeBB and other state railway companies’ tickets are not valid. Travel times are similar for both OeBB and Westbahn.
If one wishes to travel onto Munich using a Westbahn train, bear in mind that it is necessary to change in Salzburg to a German regional train. It is not possible to buy these tickets on the Westbahn train, and it is better to buy them before you join the Westbahn, as the connection in Salzburg is only ten minutes. The cost of a Salzburg – Munich standard ticket is 30.70 Euro plus 5 Euro per bicycle at the time of writing. The combined cost of these two tickets Vienna-Salzburg and Salzburg-Munich is much higher that the Sparscheine Europa tickets offered by OeBB and discussed below. However Westbahn has a number of special offers which can be found on the company’s website.

Popular Cycling Areas in Austria
The most popular cycling route in Austria is the Danube Valley. It is very popular, so be warned. The Austrian section of the Danube starts in Passau in Germany on the Austrian border and runs down to Vienna and a little way beyond.
A particular favourite of ours is the Tauern Route from the Krimml waterfall near Zell-am-See to Salzburg and on to Passau. It is a pleasant week’s cycling on well signposted tracks with good Alpine views but little climbing, just as we like it.

Tickets
Tickets can be purchased from the usual agents and online: www.oebb.at/en/index.jsp. ÖBB’s ticket pricing policy has all the clarity of a discount airlines’ marketing policy.
ÖBB offers a cheap ticket similar to the DB (German Railways) Schönes Wochenende ticket called Einfach raus. Most of interest for cyclists will be the Einfach raus Radticket which includes bicycle tickets. It costs 42 Euro for two persons and 54 Euros for up to 5 people, valid for local and regional trains, after 09:00 until 03:00 the next morning from Monday to Friday,  and all day weekends and public holidays.
Lower price special offer ticket with restrictive conditions are available for foreign destinations. There are a limited number of Sparscheine cheap tickets for internal and international travel starting at 9 Euro for some internal trips and 19 Euro for international trains. These tickets limit travellers to a specified train, but are a bargain if one can plan ahead.

Getting you and your bike on a train
This service does not come free of charge. Bicycle tickets on inland trains cost 10% of the second class fare, at least two Euro. In long distance trains cyclists will also need to reserve a bike slot which costs 3 Euro if booked online and 3.50 Euro if booked from a ticket office. An international bicycle ticket costs 12 Euro. As usual, tandems, recumbents and bicycles with 29” wheels and larger can only be carried in special luggage vans. These cannot be booked online.
It is not possible to reserve a bike slot on local, regional or suburban trains. Bicycles can only be carried on these trains if enough room is available. Although dismantled or folded bikes packed in box or bag travel for free, they must fit into the luggage space. However in our experience it is often better if travelling for say an hour or so within Austria to take local trains as opposed to long distance trains as they often offer low level loading rather than the ‘Eiger North Wall steps’ on many Austrian long distance train carriages.

Ferries and Ships
ÖBB run ships on Lake Constance west of Bregenz. These take bikes by the container load.
There are not as many services on the Danube as on the Rhine, but Brandner (www.ms-austria.at/partner/brandner/) does run trips from Melk to Krems through what the company describes as the prettiest part of the Danube.

Diversions
We went to Toblach/Dobaccio one winter’s day and were most impressed by the run from Munich to Innsbruck and then the climb up the Brenner Pass. This is followed by the high speed descent down the Brenner and the bar on Franzenfeste station, but that is another story and in Italy.

 

Electric Bikes over £1,300

smart-brabus-electric-bike

We’ve finally given up on listing all the electric bikes on a single page, so the ‘Over £1,000’ table has been moved here. As with the cheapie bikes, please contact us if you see any errors or omissions on this page. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, we can only accurately list your products if you keep us informed. Remember, this page is used by thousands of potential customers.

Our Electric Bike Recommendations
We prefer to road-test electric bikes for the magazine before recommending them, but with so many now available, our recommendations are in some cases based on spec and price, rather than actual experience. If you are thinking of buying a bike, check our comments about the manufacturers too. If we have not had meaningful contact with the distributor, they’re either very new or avoiding an independent test! We will not list distributors unable or unwilling to provide a UK phone number and address.

Electric Bikes and the Law
Electrically-assisted bicycles can be ridden by anyone aged 14 or over, provided the bicycle weighs 40kg or less (60kg for a tandem or tricycle), has pedals, a motor of less than 200 watts continuous output (250 watts for a tandem or tricycle), and a top speed of less than 15mph. However, the situation is currently a bit confused – see Legislation Update
Those marked Pedelec in the tables are definitely legal.
Those marked Hybrid are almost certainly fully legal.
Those marked E-Bike remain slightly in doubt, but no one has yet been prosecuted for riding one.
Please don’t worry about this legality issue – these are regarded as technicalities at the time of writing (late 2014).

The battery guarantee is the most important thing to look for, particularly with the bigger batteries, which can cost more than some of the cheaper bikes. Be wary of any odd stipulations, because there are many loopholes a manufacturer can use to refuse to honour a battery guarantee. Where the warranty is marked with a question mark, the manufacturer does not provide clear guidance, but you have certain statutory rights.
As a guide, a 24 month battery guarantee is now the norm, but unless the battery has actually failed, you’ll have problems measuring how weak it is, because voltage and capacity are imprecise things, so it’s often your word against the dealers. More expensive bikes have diagnostic plug-ins, proving battery condition, and lifetime usage. This should settle warranty disputes.

NOTES:
La:
Lead-acid battery  
NiCd:
Nickel-cadmium battery
NiMH:
Nickel-metal hydride battery  
Li-ion:
Lithium-ion battery
Friction:
Direct drive to tyre  
Front/Rear Hub:
Hub motor
Front/Rear Chain:
Separate chain drive
Crank:
Crank-mounted motor
Pedelec:
Power only available when you pedal
E-Bike:
Power independent of pedals – usually a twistgrip throttle
Hybrid:
Pedelec/E-Bike switchable
The bikes we recommend are marked in
bold

Errors & Omissions: Please contact us if you see any errors or omissions on this page. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, we can only accurately list your products if you keep us informed. Remember, this page is used by thousands of potential customers.

 

Electric Bikes Over £1,300 (UK)

Manufacturer Model1 Control / Drive Battery Guarantee Battery Size3 Battery UK Price (£)4 Notes
Volt Burlington Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £1309
Momentum Upstart Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 325Wh Li-ion £1350 Excellent bike, with 2-speed auto-hub and torque-sensing, but big price increases leave value-for-money less clear cut
Momentum Model-T Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 325Wh Li-ion £1350 Excellent bike, with 2-speed auto-hub and torque-sensing, but big price increases leave value-for-money less clear cut
Cytronex GT Transea 4.0 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 148Wh NiMH £1345 Conventional bike with small, but long-lasting, reliable NiMH battery. This is the cheapest – there are many models
Raleigh Velo-cite or Velo-trail Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 414Wh Li-ion £1350 Almost no equipment. You’re paying for the brand and dealer network
Raleigh Stow E-way Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 144Wh Li-ion £1380 Ludicrously over-priced and under-batteried. Appears to be a badged Izip Urban folder
Bronx Sunrunner Front Hub ? 144Wh Li-ion £1380 Ludicrously over-priced and under-batteried
Cargo Bike Co School Run Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1390 Dutch-style Bakfiets.Mid-drive crank motor version £1460
Kudos Escape Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1395 Good brakes and gears
PoweredBicycles Free Spirit 2 Ultralight E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 306Wh Li-ion £1399 Much too expensive for a battery of this capacity, and not especially light
Giant Escape Hybrid 2 E+ Pedelec / Rear Gearless Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1399 Revamped, but smallish battery and probably a bit weak for UK conditions
Giant Twist Lite 1W Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £1399 Similar to 2W, but with front suspension and 8-spd Nexus hub
Lifecycle Traveller Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £1399 FOLDING. Outrageous price for this, but quite a big battery
PoweredBicycles City Mantra Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh Li-ion £1399 Quite expensive for the spec
Volt Pulse Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £1399 A bit expensive for the spec. £1599 with 576Wh battery
Joule Micro Prism Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1399 Small wheeled version of Prism. Cheapest bike with NuVinci auto-hub, but heavy and spoilt by small wheels
Gepida Reptila 1000 Yamaha Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months (activated at >50% capacity loss) 208Wh Li-ion £1399 Cheapest European crank drive, but laughably small battery
Juicy Bikes Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1422 Much too expensive for the spec
Sparta Country Tour Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1425 Nice, well-equipped town bike
Cargo Bike Co Bench Bike Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1430 Stretched cargo/child carrier. With mid-drive crank motor for £1500
Solex Solexity Comfort Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh Li-ion £1499 Rather disappointing spec, but interesting Pininfarina styling. 360Wh battery seems to be an extra £100
Oxygen E-mate City Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >35% capacity loss) 558Wh Li-ion £1499 Nice spec for the money, but rather quibbly guarantee
Joule Prism S Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1449 Interesting spec, with NuVinci-360 auto-hub, but very heavy
Juicy Bike Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1485 Too expensive for this basic spec
Kudos Eiger Pedelec / TCM Crank Motor 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1495 Interesting spec, including NuVinci auto-hub
Mobiky Youri 16 Front Hub 12 months 143Wh Li-ion £1499 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and tiny battery. You can double the battery capacity for an extra £200
Wisper 806 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 324Wh Li-ion £1499 FOLDING A premium for the brand name – much too expensive for what it is
EBCO Urban Commuter UCR-60 or UCL-60 Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months ??Wh Li-ion £1499 Available summer 2015
Gazelle Chamonix Pure Innergy Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 252Wh Li-ion £1799 £1879 with 324Wh, £1949 with 396Wh, £2139 with 504Wh
*Test of a similar model
Yuba elMundo or Expidir Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1550 Ezee-powered cargo bikes. Well-equipped and reasonably priced, with two-year battery guarantee
Heinzmann Ceres eST Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1595 Great to see Heinzmann back in the UK, and good spec at this excellent new price
Gepida Bleda Pedelec / Front Hub ? 216Wh Li-ion £1595 FOLDER. Miniscule battery for the price
EBCO Eagle Lifestyle LRS-50 or LSL-50 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1599 Interesting styling and modest battery capacity, but this is quite big money
Harrington Classic Ebike / Rear Hub 24 months Unknown La £1599 Lovely retro styling, but retro battery. Incredibly heavy, and expensive
Saxonette X Road Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1599 The most boring Saxonette
Saxonette Beast Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 378Wh Li-ion £1599 Easy Rider styling
AVE TH-7 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1599 Heavily discounted. Temporarily the cheapest Bosch system
Raleigh Dover Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1600 Modest battery capacity and basic 3-spd hub. Worth bartering on price
Ecobike Urban Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1650 FOLDER. Very expensive. Pedelec-only, no throttle
Ecobike Adventure, City or Elegance Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1650 Very expensive. Pedelec-only, no throttle
Kettler HybritechTwin City Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor Prob 24 months (Panasonic guarantee) 260Wh Li-ion £1695 REDUCED to £1185, late 2014. Small battery, but good spec, including Nexus 8-spd hub
Heinzmann PAN e-TR-G Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1695 Quality German bike with good spec, now £200 down in price. Also with 515Wh battery
AVE Bosch Edition Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1699 OLD STOCK. Small battery even at this discounted price
Mobiky Youri Front Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £1699 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and so-so battery.
KTM Macina Force 27 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1699 Currently cheapest package with Bosch 400Wh battery
Solex Solexity Infinity Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh Li-ion £1699 Stylish, but small battery, and conventional spec. 432Wh battery extra £200
Joule Prism 2 S Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1699 As for Prism, but batteries concealed in frame
LifeCycle Alpine Sport or Mountain Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £1699 Dreary Far Eastern spec at premium price, but big battery
Infinium Continental Pedelec / Front Hub ? 234Wh Li-ion £1699 Very expensive. The bike has stackable batteries of this capacity, but extra batteries cost £325
FreeGo Martin Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 720Wh Li-ion £1699 Dreary spec, but very large battery
Wisper 705 or 905 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 592Wh Li-ion £1699 Big battery, but fundamentally a conventional bike at a premium price
Giant Talon E+1 or Roam XR E+ Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1749 Quality manufacturer, and technically interesting MTBs, but gearless hub is not ideal off-road
Raleigh Captus Pedelec / Crank Drive 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £1750 New Bosch-based Raleigh. Small battery and lacking basic equipment
Kalkhoff Agattu 7G
Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1795 Cheapest of the classic fully-equipped crank-motor bikes
AVE TH-7 Edition
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1799 OLD STOCK. Discounted for 2015, but only the 300Wh Bosch battery
KTM Macina Cross 8-400 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1799 Yet another MTB with 8-spd Nexus hub. Extra £100 with 400Wh battery
Cube Access WLS Hybrid Pro or Reaction Hybrid MTB Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1800 Cheapest Cube, also pricier ‘Race’ and ‘SL’ variants
Smart ebike Pedelec / BionX Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated at >30% capacity loss) 423Wh Li-ion £1800 Cool styling, interesting transmission: belt drive, 3-spd hub, BionX-based motor
Haibike sDuro HardSeven Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1849 2015 model. Good value MTB using new Yamaha crank motor. Watch out Bosch!
Heinzmann PAN eTR-U Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1850 Quality German bike with good spec. Also with 515Wh battery
Spencer Ivy step-thru or top tube Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 260Wh Li-ion £1895 Stylish retro-chic bikes, but small Panasonic battery
Kalkhoff Pro Connect 9G
Pedelec / Crank motor 24 months 540Wh Li-ion £1895 Very well equipped and a big battery
Gepida Reptila 900 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1895 Nice East European bike – used to be cheap as chips. 400Wh battery extra £100
KTM Macina 8 or Fun 9 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1899 Good value, with Bosch 400Wh battery
Polaris Rail EV511 or EV503 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £1895 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Giant Prime E+ 2W Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1899 Other Giant models are much better value
Bergamont E-Line C LTD N7 Gent, Lady or Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1899 Good spec for the price if you can live with the 7-speed Shimano hub
Nano Brompton 2.1 Ebike / Front Hub 12 months (activated at >15% capacity loss) 180 or 360Wh Li-ion £1900 FOLDING. Getting expensive, but works really well (price varies, depending on bike spec, much cheaper as a kit)
Volt Pulse X Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 576Wh Li-ion £1949 Big battery, but breathtakingly expensive for what it is
BH Emotion City Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months 288Wh Li-ion £1949 288Wh battery is not competitive at this price. 476Wh is an extra £200 on the City Plus
KTM Amparo Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 540Wh Li-ion £1995 Well-equipped, including Magura hydraulic brakes, big battery
Swiss Flyer T Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Nicely equipped, but Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Swiss Flyer Folder-Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 FOLDING. Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Swiss Flyer Kompact Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Panasonic battery looks small at this price
NEW!
BeatBike Toba
Toba Stepthru Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Drive 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £1995 50 Cycles Kalkhoff model ‘fine-tuned’ for the UK. Special introductory price of £3,000 for two
Swiss Flyer C Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Nicely equipped, but Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Kettler Layana Hybritech Nexus 8spd Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor Prob 24 months (Panasonic guarantee) 260Wh Li-ion £1995 REDUCED to £1395, late 2014. Nice bike, while stocks last
Gepida Reptila 1000, Berig, Ruger 29er or Asgard 27.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1995 Some nice equipment, but on the expensive side
AVE SH-1 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 New for 2015
Bergamont E-Line C N8 FH Gent or Lady Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 Entry level Bergamont with outrageously long name
Raleigh Motus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 Well equipped Raleigh
LifeCycle Mountain Sport Endurance Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 1008Wh Li-ion £1999 Pricey Far Eastern bike – lacking equipment, but Tecktro hydraulic discs, and twin batteries give up to 100 mile range
Koga E-Xtension Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1999 From same stable as Sparta bikes. Basic price – there are many options
Sparta RX+ Pedelec / Gearless Front Hub 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £2030 Quiet, well-equipped, but a little weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
SEV Velix 700 Classic Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 310Wh Li-ion £2045 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class. 418Wh battery, extra £150
Gepida Alboin Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2095 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
KTM eCross P Pedelec / Panasonic Rear Hub Motor 24 months 414Wh Li-ion £2050 Crank motor and more compact battery suit MTBs better
KTM Macina Sport 10 Plus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2100 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
KTM Macina Dual Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2099 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
SEV Velix 700 Premium Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 310Wh Li-on £2125 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class. Belt drive and Nexus 8-spd hub. 418Wh battery, extra £150
Solexity Smart Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2149 Upgrade with Bosch system coming 2015. Stylish but expensive
BH-Emotion City Plus Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 476Wh Li-ion £2149 A little pricey for the spec, but big battery
Heinzmann Atlas eMB Pedelec / Geared Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £2150 MTB now reduced in price
Moustache Samedi 28 Black Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2199 Relatively conventional variant of stylish French bike
Bergamont Revox C7.0EQ or Roxtar C7.0 EQ Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2199
Bergamont E-Line Sweep Deore Ladies or Gents Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2199
BH-Emotion NEO Volt Sport Lite Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £2199 Breathtakingly expensive FOLDER
BH-Emotion NEO Cross or Evo City Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2199 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
KTM Macina Cross Plus 10 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2250
Sparta ION-E Speed Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £2278 25mph SPORT CLASS. 500Wh battery in frame, or 1,000Wh version £3127
Moustache Samedi 27/9 White Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 Cheapest of a range of MTBs, stretching up to £4949
Haibike sDuro HardNine Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 2015 model. Technically interesting 20-spd derailleur with new Yamaha crank motor
AVE SH-5 Roadster or Comfort Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299
AVE MH-7 or MH-7LE Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 Compact, but only the handlebars fold
BH-Emotion NEO Race or EVO Street Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2299 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Moustache Lundi 26 9spd Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2349 Neat French bikes
Haibike SDuro Trekking RC Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 2015 model. New Yamaha system
Bergamont E-Line C N360 Lady Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 Relatively modest price for Bergamont
Bergamont E-Line C-Deore Performance Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399  
Bergamont E-Line C-Deore Sweep N8 D12 Lady or Gent Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 Shimano electronic hub and much else
Cube Delhi Hybrid Pro Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 NuVinci auto gears and Bosch-powered roadster. Also as ‘SL’ variant, or Elly Cruiser
BH-Emotion NEO 29er or 650B Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2499 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Polaris Course EV512, EV504 or EV505 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £2499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Polaris Urban Assault Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £2499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Sparta Double-E Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £2541 TANDEM – not common!
Electric Transport Shop Cargo L Hybrid / Front Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £2410 BAKFIETS LOADCARRIER
Basic price, there are many options
Riese & Muller Blue LABEL Transporter Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2415 Bicycle with extended rear load carrier for freight or children
KTM Macina eShopper Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 Nice spec, but you really don’t need to pay this much!
AVE SH-9 Roadster or Comfort Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 New for 2015. NuVinci hub
AVE MH-9HD Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 New for 2015. Odd compact bike with folding handlebars, carriers front and rear, plus NuVinci hub
Moustache Friday 26 Black Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2499 Stylish French bike with balloon tyres
Moustache Samedi 28 Silver Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 £300 more than the Samedi Black for an extra 100Wh on the battery
Bergamont Roxtar C8.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 eMTB
SEV VeliX 700 Speed Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 418Wh Li-ion £2585 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class
Bergamont E-Line C N360 Harmony Gent or Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2599 NuVinci model in ridiculously over-complex range
KTM Macina Race 29 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2600 Not a lot of bike for this sort of money to be honest
KTM eRace P650 Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months or 500 charges 413Wh Li-ion £2600 Panasonic hub motor system
Kalkhoff Agattu Premium 8G Pedelec / Kalkhoff Cran Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2695 Nice bike, but the 7-speed is much better value at £1795
Moustache Lundi 26 NuVinci Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2749 Neat French bikes, but expensive
Moustache Dimanche 28 Silver Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2749 Road bike weighing a claimed 17.9kg. Nice, but not cheap
Cube Elite Hybrid HPC Race Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Also as ‘SL’ and ‘SLT’ variants
Haibike X-duro Trekking Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
KTM Macina Race 27 or 29 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
Bergamont Roxtar C9.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
Bergamont E-Ville C Urban Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price. Also with NuVinci hub for an extra hundred quid
Haibike X-duro SL RX Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2850 We expect a bigger battery at this price!
Moustache Samedi 28 Titanium Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2899 A lot to pay for a NuVinci variant
Kalkhoff Integrale 10G Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2995 Also discounted to £2795 in similar spec. And inflated to £3195 for similar XT version
Kalkhoff Include Premium Belt Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2995 Why would you pay all this money for a chain-guard AND a belt drive?
Bergamont Contrail C6.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 eMTB with lots of trick stuff, but hard to justify the price
Bergamont C MGN Ladies or Gents Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 Lots of stuff, but whacky price
Moustache Friday 26 Silver NuVinci Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 Nice stylish bike, but you can buy all this for a lot less!
Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3000 Getting a bit expensive for a 400Wh battery
BH-Emotion NEO Carbon Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £3099 Light, but not astonishingly so. Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Koga E-Special Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £3099 Light, but not really worth this sort of money
Moustache Samedi 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3249 25mph SPORT CLASS. Nice, but there are cheaper Sport class bikes
Bergamont E-Ville C MGN D12 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3299 Shopping bike at breathtaking price. Wins our award for pottiest name
Moustache Dimanche 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3299 25mph SPORT CLASS. There are cheaper Sport class bikes, but not many weighing 18.1kg
Mando Footloose Pedelec / Chainless Electric 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £3349 FOLDING. Fascinating spec, series electric transmission
Riese & Muller Culture Hybrid DualDrive Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £3375 Starting price – scary!
Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Riese & Muller Kendo Hybrid Alfine Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3385 Starting price – scary! Absurdly expensive small wheeler – doesn’t even fold
Riese & Muller Avenue II Hybrid City Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3465 Starting price – scary!
Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Polaris Nordic EV506 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £3499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Kalkhoff Endeavour S11 Premium Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £3295 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Cracking bike but what a price!
Kalkhoff Integrale S11 Belt Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £3595 If you have this much to spend, spend it on the SPORT class!
Bergamont Contrail C8.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3599 eMTB with lots of trick stuff, but the usual 400Wh Bosch system
Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 Pro Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3600 As above
Riese & Muller Homage Hybrid Touring Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3725 Starting price – scary! Absurdly expensive small wheeler – doesn’t even fold
Riese & Muller Load Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £3895 Starting price – scary! But an interesting and effective load carrier
Riese & Muller Delight Hybrid DualDrive
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3985 Starting price – scary! Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Haibike Xduro AMT RX 27.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3999 Top-end MTB, but hard to justify this sort of price
Haibike Nduro RX 26″ Gen 2 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £4499 Top-end MTB, but even harder to justify this sort of price
Bergamont Contrail C MGN Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £4499 As above

Electric Bike Manufacturers or UK distributors

The comments relate to our own experience with manufacturers or distributors. As a general rule, a company that supplies a good product can afford to be open and helpful with the press, and will give good service and back-up. The others are something of an unknown quantity, but if you think we’ve been unfair, do let us know. For a global list go to Electric Bike Manufacturers Worldwide

3E Electric
Still quite new
3E Ltd, 2 Field End, BARNET, Hertfordshire EN5 3EZ
tel: 033 3355 1840
email: info@3eelectric.com

Alien Ocean, Synergie
CEASED TRADING
Alien Ocean European Hub, 1 – 9 Plantation Street, Lochgelly, KY5 9LP tel: 01592 780528
email: jim@alienocean.co.uk

ATS
Newly launched scooter-style machine
Around Town Scooters, Flat 4, Plantation Court, 41 Plantation Road, POOLE BH17 9LW
tel: 01202 640264
email: kevindavies.kd@gmail.com

A S Bikes
Still fairly new
Coppice Close, Leamington Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, COVENTRY CV8 3FL
tel: 024 7630 3228
email: contact@asbikes.co.uk

AVE, Bergamont, EBCO
Cheapie EBCOs and pricey but good AVE and Bergamont
Electric Bike Corporation, 5 Pegasus House, Olympic Way, WARWICK CV34 6LW
tel: 01926 437700
email: info@electricbikescorporation.co.uk

Avocet Sports Ltd
New to the electric bike world
Unit 7-9 Shield Drive, Wardley Industrial Estate, Worsley, MANCHESTER M28 2QB
tel: 0161 727 8508
email: sales@avocetsports.com

Batribike
Now well established
Fallowgate Limited, Kellaway House, Marton Road, Sturton-by-Stow, LINCOLN LN1 2AH
tel: 01427 787774
email: info@batribike.com

Bicycles 4U
Helpful and Proactive
Kaitek Trading Ltd, c/o Sterling Power Products, Unit 8 Wassage Way, Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, DROITWICH WR9 0NX
tel: 01905 778751
info@bicycles4u.com

BionX
Cracking technology in theory, but expensive and unreliable. Now with another UK distributor. It can’t last.
Correspondence only: BionX UK, 68 Boxworth End, Swavesey, CAMBRIDGE CB24 4RA
tel: 01223 911505
email: bionxuk@gmail.com

Birdy
Always friendly, but wow are they expensive bikes
Riese und Müller GmbH, Haasstraße 6, 64293 DARMSTADT, Germany
tel: +49 6151 366860
email: team@r-m.de

BH Emotion
No UK Distributor at present

Byocycles
Cheerful purveyors of Chinese stuff
Unit 4, Downley Business Park, 12 Downley Park, HAVANT PO9
tel: 023 92 488300
email: sales@byocycles.com

Bronx
A growing company
Bronx (UK) Ltd, Unit 4, Crusader Industrial Estate, Stirling Road, HIGH WYCOMBE. HP12 3ST
tel: 01494 529980
email: sales@bronxcycles.com

B’Twin
Outdated friction drive
Decathlon UK, Canada Water Retail Park, Surrey Quays Road, LONDON SE16 2XU
tel: 0345 450 7936

Cambridge, Smarta, Sparticle (Brompton)
Well established and fairly knowledgeable
Electric Transport Shop, Hope Street Yard, Hope Street, CAMBRIDGE CB1 3NA (also in LONDON, OXFORD & BRISTOL)
tel/fax: 01223 247410
email: sales@electricbikesales.co.uk

Claude Butler
New to the electric bike world
Falcon Cycles Ltd, PO Box 3, Bridge Street, BRIGG DN20 8PB
tel: 01652 656000

Cyclamatic
New to the electric bike world
Sports PLC, Units 3 & 4 Lower Park Farm, Storrage Lane, ALVECHURCH, Worcestershire B48 7ER
tel: 01527 598388
email: help@sportsplc.com

Cytronex
Helpful, pleasant and knowledgeable
Modern Times Ltd, 5 Red Deer Court, Elm Road, WINCHESTER, SO22 5LX
tel: 01962 866122
email: sales@cytronex.com

Di Blasi, Justwin, Transmission
Long-established traders
Mission Cycles & Components, Unit 3, The Alders, Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth, MAIDSTONE, Kent M18 5JG
tel: 01622 815615
email: info@missioncycles.co.uk

Dahon
Still run by Mr Hon Senior after departure of nearly everyone else to Tern. Now represented in the UK by Raleigh
Raleigh UK Ltd, Church Street, Eastwood, NOTTINGHAM NG 16 3HT
tel: 01773 532680
email: ebike@raleigh.co.uk

Easy Ride
New and enthusiastic
Easy Ride Bikes, Silver Business Park, Airfield Way, CHRISTCHURCH, Dorset
tel: 01202 490404
email: info@easyridebikes.co.uk

EBC
New to us in 2016
Electric Bike Conversions, Unit 9, Pound Farm Industrial Estate, Holly Bush Lane, Datchworth SG3 6RE
tel: 01438 986007
email: enquiries@electricbike-conversions.com

Ezee, Ansmann, Heinzmann

New Ezee distributor from 2012, and now distributing Ansmann and Heinzmann too
Cyclezee Ltd, 3 Guest Gardens, MILTON KEYNES MK13 0AF
tel: 07962 407799
email: john@cyclezee.com

Electro-Drive
This is Tony Castles, the most knowledgable man in electric bikes, and thoroughly charming, but not always easy to contact
E-go Personal Transport, 52 High Street, MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 1HQ
tel: 07974 723996 or 01672 861186 / 512404
email: sales@electro-drive.co.uk

EV-Solutions
Probably never heard of A to B
Thorrington Cross, COLCHESTER, Essex CO7 8JD
tel: 01206 308054

Freedom Ebike
Nice people with a Brompton-shaped niche
10/3 HaMelitz Street, JERUSALEM, Israel
tel: (UK) 0871 284 5225 tel: (Israel) +052 500 1309 tel: (Australia) +02 8004 5039
email: andrew@freedomebikes.com

FreeGo, R&M & Solex
This new grouping, brought together Freego and the long-established Wisper, but they’ve gone their separate ways, so it’s FreeGo only. Very unfriendly and helpful with us!
FreeGo, 3 St Deny’s Road, SOUTHAMPTON SO17 2NG
tel: 02380 465977
email: david@freegowisper.com

Gazelle
Extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Cycle Heaven, 2 Bishopthorpe Road, YORK YO23 1JJ
tel: 01904 636578 / 651870 mail: info@cycle-heaven.co.uk

Gepida, Swiss Flyer
Good bikes distributed by a rather aggressive bunch in Taunton
Reaction Electric eBike Distribution, 84 Priory Bridge Road, TAUNTON TA1 1QA
tel: 01823 27444
email: ride@nationwideebikes.co.uk

Giant
Helpful in the past, but they never contact us today
Giant UK Ltd, Charnwood Edge, Syston Road, COSSINGTON, Leics, LE7 4UZ
tel: 0844 245 9030
email: info@giant-bicycles.co.uk

Gocycle
Refuses to acknowledge that we exist
KarbonKinetics Ltd, New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, LONDON EC4V 6BJ
tel: 01268 288208
email: customerservices@gocycle.com

Greenedgebikes
Came and went very rapidly, but now seems to be a brand owned by E-Bikes Direct
E-Bikes Direct, c/o MTF Enterprises Ltd, Unit 6 Midicy Oast, Bodiam Business Park, BODIAM TN32 5UP
tel: 01580 830959
email: info@e-bikesdirect.co.uk

Izip
There appears to be no UK distributor for Izip in early 2015

Juicy Bikes
Really lovely people
Busy All Year, 83 Park Road, BUXTON, Derbyshire SK17 6SM
tel: 01298 214040
email: uksales@JuicyBike.com

Kalkhoff, BeatBike
Long-established, helpful and friendly
50cycles Ltd, Unit 9, Prince William Road, LOUGHBOROUGH, Leicestershire LE11 5GU
tel: 0844 800 5979
email: 50cycles@50cycles.com

Kettler
Doesn’t take the electric bike thing very seriously…
Kettler (GB) Ltd, Merse Road, North Moons Moat, REDDITCH, Worcestershire B98 9HL
tel: 0845 026 5995
email: sales@kettlerdirect.co.uk

KTM
New, and pushing hard in the UK market
FLi Distribution Ltd, 62 Quarry Clough, Stalybridge, Cheshire SK15 2RW
tel: 0161 304 8555
email: UKsupport@shopatron.com

Kudos
New, but innovative and keen to develop the electric market
Kudos Cycles, Unit 4, S Augustine’s Business Park, Estuary Way, SWALECLIFFE, Kent CT5 2QJ
tel: 01227 792792
email: sales@kudoscycles.com

Halfords
Major High Street brand selling own Carrera label and some other bikes

Harrington, Lifecycle
New, brash and full of beans
Electric Bike World, 54 Bedford Place, Southampton, SO15 2DT
tel: 02380 236 540
email: Info@electricbikeworld.co.uk

Mobiky, Ecobike
New, but helpful and friendly
Cycling Made Easy, 18 Chipstead Valley Road, COULSDON, Surrey, CR5 2RA
tel: 0208 660 8823

Meerkat
There appears to be no UK distributor in early 2015

Momentum Electric
New, young team, but helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Momentum, Unit 9, Cornelius Drebbel House, 5 Empson Street, LONDON E3 3LT
Tel: 0333 011 7777
email: hello@momentumelectric.com

Moustache
Lovely people – helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Velospeed, The Old School House, ALDWORTH, Berkshire RG8 9TJ
tel: 01635 579304
email: info@velospeed.co.uk

Nano & Nano-Brompton
Under new management and much more organised
Nano Electric Bikes Ltd, 58 Clarendon Street, LEAMINGTON SPA CV32 4PE
tel: 01926 334050 or 0845 094 2735
email: lynda@nanoelectricbikes.co.uk

Oxygen
Seems to be choosing its bikes well
Eco Transport Solutions Ltd, 4 Howmic Court, Arlington Road, EAST TWICKENHAM, TW1 2BD
tel: 0208 4040 782
email: sales@oxygenbicycles.co.uk

Polaris
New manufacture and even newer UK distributor
MotoGB, White Bear Yard, Park Road, Adlington, CHORLEY PR7 4HZ
tel: 0844 412 8450
email: sales@motogb.co.uk

Powabyke
Industry stalwart
Powabyke Ltd, 3 Wood Street, Queens Square, BATH BA1 2JQ
tel: 0845 6011475
email: sales@powabyke.com

Poweredbicycles
Previously used a confusing variety of names, now much simpler
Powered Bicycles, 50-52 Main Street, Long Eaton, NOTTINGHAM NG10 1GN
tel: 01159 727201 or 728251
email: sales@poweredbicycles.co.uk

Prism
Relatively new company and interesting bikes
Joule Bikes, 24 Beechwood Rise, PLYMOUTH PL6 8AP
tel: 0843 218 4762
mail: info@joulebikes.co.uk

Raleigh
Made some effort for a while, but doesn’t really get electrics
Raleigh UK Ltd, Church Street, Eastwood, NOTTINGHAM NG 16 3HT
tel: 01773 532680
email: ebike@raleigh.co.uk

Roodog
New player, conventional bikes, but the web photography is lovely
Roodog Ltd, Brockholme Farm, Seaton Road, HORNSEA, Yorkshire East Riding, HU18 1BZ
tel: 01964 536570
email: talktous@roodog.co.uk

Sachs, Saxonette
Obligatory sideline for unwilling motorcycle distributor
SFM, Three Cross Motorcycles, Unit 8, Victory Close, Woolsbridge Industrial Estate, Three Legged Cross, Dorset BH21 6SP
tel: 01202 810100
email: sales@sachsbikes.co.uk

Schwinn
UK dealer, but is not handling Schwinn electrics
Reece Cycles, 100 Alcester Road, BIRMINGHAM B12 0QB
tel: 0121 622 0192`

Smart
Innovative electric bike from Mercedes Benz
Daimler AG, smart/MM, H336, Mercedesstr 137, 70327 STUTTGART, Germany
tel: 0808 000 8080

Sparta, Babboe, Haibike, Mando
Fairly new, but seems to be doing everything right
Just ebikes, Old Chapel Works, Valley Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4AQ
tel: 01728 830 817
email: info@justebikes.co.uk

Spencer Ivy
Had a new Dorset-based distributor, but they seem to have disappeared very quickly
Chalmington Farm, Chalmington, DORCHESTER DT2 0HB
tel: 020 7099 1130

Sparticle (see Cambridge)

Storck Raddar
New UK distributor for top-end German bikes, but seems to have dropped electrics
Storck Raddar UK Ltd, 10 Keel Row, The Watermark, Gateshead NE11 9SZ
tel: 0771 5005626
email: ian@ian-hughes.com

Sustain
Cheerful cheapies from Harrow. Seems to be out of business (Oct 2014)
Sustain Cycles, Unit 121, State House, 176 Station Road, HARROW, Middlesex HA1 2AE
tel: 0800 0432453
email: info@sustainproducts.co.uk

Team Hybrid
Specialises in wheelchairs and hand-powered electrics
Team Hybrid, ‘Silverstone’, Chapel Road, SOBERTON HEATH, Hampshire SO32 3PP
tel: 01329 830117
email: silverstone@ntlworld.com

Technium
There appears to be no UK distributor for Technium in late 2014

Trek
Now out of electric bikes, we think
Unit B, Maidstone Road, MILTON KEYNES, MK10 0BE
tel: 01908 282626

Thompson
Long established and reliable electrical wholesaler
Thompson Electrical (Wholesalers) Ltd, Perrywood Trading Park, Wylds Lane, WORCESTER WR5 1DZ
tel: 01905 763376

Velix
New entrant, but very helpful so far
e-motion Electric Vehicle Company, 373 Cricklade Road, SWINDON SN2 1AQ
tel: 01793 251200

Velorbis
Velorbis Concept Store, Peter Bangs Vej 53, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen 2000
tel: +45 31 11 00 30
email: sales@velorbis.com

Volt
New, but rapidly developing a name for itself
Electric Bike Store, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen Street, LONDON SE1 1YT
tel: 020 7378 4728
email: info@electric-bike-store.co.uk

Woosh
Low-end brand, competitive prices, some good products
Woosh Bikes Ltd, 42-46 Queens Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1NL
tel: 01702 435566
email: hatti@wooshbikes.co.uk

Yachtmail
Selling new, neat-looking folding electric bike
Yachtmail Chandlery, Admirals Court, Town Quay, LYMINGTON SO41 3ET
tel: 01590 672784
email: info@yachtmailchandlery.com

Yamaha
(No longer supports the early series machines, but spares and repair contact as below)
Andrew Fudge, Action Bikes, 21-23 Upper High Street, EPSOM KT18 8AH tel: 01372 744116

Electric Bike Battery Refurbishment

A few specialists exist, but not many that know electric bikes. We keep coming back to BatteryBay of Cannock, West Midlands

eBikes Recently Deleted

Bikes recently removed from the list (usually out-of-production). If we have made a mistake, please let us know: Aug 2007 Bliss City, Touring, Extreme & Townrider, Classic Elebike, City Cruiser 6-spd, Commuter, Diavelo Oja velo Jun 2007 Ecobike Tornado and varients Aug 2007 ElectroPed Number One, Europed ED-1, Europed THD-3, Infineon Stingray ll, Oxygen Atala Avenue, Oxygen Atala Distance, Panther, Power Cruiser 6-spd Nov 2007 ElectroPed Roadstar, Eco-Bike Mistral Jul 2008 Schwinn (all models) Aug 2008 Sakura (all models) Nov 2008 Bright Bikes (all models) Jan 2009 C V Leisure Bikes (all models) Apr 2009 Nano Brompton, Giant Suede March 2010 Ridgeback Cyclone April 2010 Quiet Bikes, Strongman July 2010 Batribike Buzz & Lite, Izip X-cell & Trailz Enlightened, Powabyke Shopper 1-spd, Euro 6-spd, Folder, Commuter 24-spd, Velospeed November 2010 Powablade, E-Bike Retro, Sustain Edison, E-Pegasus Z-1, E-Bike Cruiser, Izip MTB Trailz, Powerscoots, Giant Twist Express RS1 24spd derailleur, Giant Twist Freedom CS Lite 8-spd Nexus, Giant Twist Freedom CS 8-spd Nexus Apr 2010 Optibike, Swiss Flyer, Swizzbee, February 2014 Ezee Dahon Bullet,

NOTES & RUNNING COSTS

1) We have decided not to test machines that fail ANY of the following criteria, except in special circumstances:

  • Must weigh less than 30kg (the legal limit is 40kg and some cheap machines actually weigh more than this)
  • No bikes with less than a 12-month battery guarantee
  • No single speed machines
  • With multiple gears, top gear must exceed 60-inches
  • No tyres of 305mm or smaller
  • Must have mudguards and lights
  • No scooter-style machine with vestigial pedals
  • No micro-scooters

2) Running costs are an approximate guide per mile, and are based on a number of assumptions (please note that extras such as insurance are not included). Note also that the actual energy costs are very much lower – typically 0.2p per mile! Most of the cost of running an electric bike is depreciation:

  • Depreciation of purchase price over ten years
  • Depreciation of battery, assuming a battery life of 500 charge cycles (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), or 250 cycles per guarantee year (lead-acid or lithium-ion)
  • Consumables, such as tyres and chains @ 2.5p per mile (annual mileage of 2,500 miles)
  • Electricity cost @ 15p per kWh

NOTES: Annual mileage of 2,500 miles. Mileage per full charge is based on the A to B test performance. All bikes are ridden at maximum speed. Economy will benefit from more gentle use! 3) This is the capacity of the battery measured in watt/hours. Please note that the three main types of battery are graded in slightly different ways, so capacities are not directly comparable. For example, a lead-acid battery of 400watt/hours would give similar performance to a nickel-metal hydride battery of 250watt/hours, or nickel-cadmium battery of 225 watt/hours. 4) Prices and specifications relate only to the British market and may change at short notice. Prices are either the recommended retail price or a discounted price if regularly available.

Lohner LEA

Lohner LEANovember 2015:
Austrian company Lohner intends to introduce an electric retro-styled scooter, the LEA, from October 2015. Battery is 3.6kWh Lithium-ion, and the 6kW motor is claimed to give a top speed of 53mph.
There is no suggestion of British distribution as yet.

www.lohner.at

Electric Tricycle Price Guide (UK)

A to B magazine electric trike price listWe prefer to road-test electric trikes for the magazine before recommending them, but with so many now available, our recommendations are sometimes based on spec and price, rather than actual experience.
Errors & Omissions: Please contact us if you see any errors or omissions on this page. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, we can only accurately list your products if you keep us informed. Remember, this page is used by thousands of potential customers.

Electric Trikes and the Law
Electrically-assisted tricycles, like bicycles, can be ridden by anyone aged 14 or over, provided the tricycle weighs 60kg, has pedals, a motor of less than 250 watts, and a top speed of less than 15mph. However, the situation is currently a bit confused – see Legislation Update
Those marked Pedelec in the tables are definitely legal.
Those marked Hybrid are almost certainly fully legal.
Those marked E-Bike remain slightly in doubt, but no one has yet been prosecuted for riding one.
Please don’t worry about this legality issue – these are regarded as technicalities at the time of writing (late 2014).

The battery guarantee is the most important thing to look for, particularly with the bigger batteries, which can cost more than some of the cheaper bikes. Be wary of any odd stipulations, because there are many loopholes a manufacturer can use to refuse to honour a battery guarantee. Where the warranty is marked with a question mark, the manufacturer does not provide clear guidance, but you have certain statutory rights.
As a guide, a 24 month battery guarantee is now the norm, but unless the battery has actually failed, you’ll have problems measuring how weak it is, because voltage and capacity are imprecise things, so it’s often your word against the dealers. More expensive bikes have diagnostic plug-ins, proving battery condition, and lifetime usage. This should settle warranty disputes.

NOTES:
La:
Lead-acid battery  
NiCd:
Nickel-cadmium battery
NiMH:
Nickel-metal hydride battery  
Li-ion:
Lithium-ion battery
Friction:
Direct drive to tyre  
Front/Rear Hub:
Hub motor
Front/Rear Chain:
Separate chain drive
Crank:
Crank-mounted motor
Pedelec:
Power only available when you pedal
E-Bike:
Power independent of pedals – usually a twistgrip throttle
Hybrid:
Pedelec/E-Bike switchable
The trikes we recommend are marked in
bold

Electric Trike Prices (UK)

Make Model1 Control / Drive Battery Capacity Battery UK Price4 Notes
Mission Popal Ebike / Front Hub 374Wh Li-ion £1090 Why pay more?
Mission E-Mission 24-inch Ebike / Front Hub 374Wh Li-ion £1250
Cargo Bike Co Tamar Cargo Trike Rear Hub 360Wh Li-ion £1370 Cheapest practical trike, but tadpole ‘Bakfiets’ layout doesn’t suit everyone. Mid-drive crank motor version £1440
Batribike Trike 20 Ebike / Front Hub 360Wh Li-ion £1399 Nice 3-spd hub
Powabyke Powatryke Cruiser 20″ wheel Front Hub 324Wh Li-ion £1400
Boxer E-Transporter Ebike/Front Hub 360Wh Li-ion £1455 Tadpole ‘Bakfiets’ layout
Mission Solo 20-inch Ebike / Front Hub 324Wh Li-ion £1499
Powabyke Powatryke Cruiser 24″ wheel Front Hub 324Wh Li-ion £1500
Bronx SunRunner 24-inch Hybrid / Front Hub 130Wh Li-ion £2100 Very big price increase
Bronx SunRunner 20-inch Hybrid / Front Hub 130Wh Li-ion £2160 Very big price increase
Babboe E-Curve Pedelec / Rear Hub 350Wh Li-ion £2449 ‘Tadpole’ Bakfiets layout
Boxer E-Shuttle Hybrid / Rear Hub 410Wh Li-ion £2800 Smart, but pricey new ‘tadpole’cargo trike
Di Blasi R34 20-inch Pedelec / Rear Chain Drive 204Wh Li-ion £2580 FOLDING Big price increase, now slightly reduced
Maxpro EcoTaxi + Heinzmann motor Ebike / Front Hub 1,056Wh La £3990
Boxer E-Cargo Hybrid / Rear hub 410Wh Li-ion £3990 Smart, but pricey new ‘tadpole’cargo trike
Maxpro Street Flyer + Heinzmann Motor Ebike / Front Hub 1,056Wh La £4790
HP Velotechnik Scorpion+ Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 558Wh Li-ion c£5000
Boxer Rocket Hybrid / Rear  Hub 410Wh Li-ion £5500 Smart, but pricey new ‘tadpole’ child-carrier trike
Cycles Maximus Cargo Van or Media Trike + CM TractionDrive Ebike 864Wh La £8394
Cycles Maximus Cab Trike + CM TractionDrive Ebike 864Wh La £8298

New subscribers can order a ‘get-started’ six-pack of magazine back numbers covering key electric cycles at HALF the usual price! See the shop for details. All back numbers can be ordered by credit card – call 01305 259998 (+44 1305 259998 outside UK)

Electric Trike Manufacturers or UK distributors

Some of these companies only stock  trikes occasionally, or have shown willingness in the past to adapt existing trikes. The comments relate to our own experience with manufacturers or distributors. As a general rule, a company that supplies a good product can afford to be open and helpful with the press, and will give good service and back-up. The others are something of an unknown quantity, but if you think we’ve been unfair, do let us know.
For a global list go to Electric Bike Manufacturers Worldwide

Babboe
Fairly new, but seems to be doing everything right
Just ebikes, Old Chapel Works, Valley Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4AQ
tel: 01728 830 817
email: info@justebikes.co.uk

Boxer, Velo Electrique
New trike manufacturer, started out as Velo Electrique, but seems to use the name Boxer too. Full of ideas
Unit 12, 35 Willis Way, POOLE BH15 3SZ
tel: 01202 979 957
email: info@boxercycles.com

Bronx
A growing company
Bronx (UK) Ltd, Unit 4, Crusader Industrial Estate, Stirling Road, HIGH WYCOMBE. HP12 3ST
tel: 01494 529980
email: sales@bronxcycles.com

Cargo Bike Company
New to us, made in Derbyshire
52 Station Road, CHELLASTON, Derbyshire DE73 5SU
tel: 07903 175838
email: info@cargobike.co.uk

Cycles Maximus
Long-established, helpful and friendly
Unit 15, Dunkirk Business Park, Southwick, TROWBRIDGE, BA14 9L
tel: 01225 319414
email: info@cyclesmaximus.com

Di Blasi
Long-established traders
Mission Cycles & Components, Unit 3, The Alders, Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth, MAIDSTONE, Kent M18 5JG
tel: 01622 815615
email: info@missioncycles.co.uk

Electro-Drive
Not always easy to contact
E-go Personal Transport, 52 High Street, MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 1HQ
tel: 07974 723996 or 01672 861186 / 512404
email: sales@electro-drive.co.uk

HP
Very experienced shop in central London
Bikefix, 48 Lamb’s Conduit Street, LONDON WC1N 3LH
email: sales@bikefix.co.uk

Powatryke
Industry stalwart
Powabyke Ltd, 3 Wood Street, Queens Square, BATH BA1 2JQ
tel: 0845 6011475
email: sales@powabyke.com

Team Hybrid
Specialises in wheelchairs and hand-powered electrics
Team Hybrid, ‘Silverstone’, Chapel Road, SOBERTON HEATH, Hampshire SO32 3PP
tel: 01329 830117
email: silverstone@ntlworld.com

MTF Enterprises
No exclusive products, but a good contact for trikes
MTF Enterprises, PO Box 335, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 9DS
tel: 01892 515110

Electric Tricycle Battery Refurbishment

A few specialists exist, but not many that know electric bikes. We keep coming back to BatteryBay  of Cannock, West Midlands

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A to B 91 Blog, August 2012 – Electric Bike Special

atob91-electric-bike-special

 

 

 

 

FIRST PUBLISHED August 2012
Electric Bike Special

The British do love to back the underdog, something we have much experience of here at A to B. In the early days of electric bicycles, we fought against profound scepticism from the likes of the Cyclist Touring Club, whose officers hooted with derision that the heavy, cumbersome machines then available might be the future of cycling.
Eventually a few ‘serious’ cyclists began to come round, and today there’s a specialist electric bike magazine funded entirely by industry advertising, and electric bikes make occasional appearances in the Sustrans, LCC and CTC in-house magazines.The general view in 2012 is that electrics are a GOOD THING, even amongst those who wouldn’t dream of riding one if both their legs fell off.
Watching a new industry unfold has been a bit like watching the first stirrings as a volcano rises out of the ocean. First a nasty smell of sulphur, then a remorseless rise, then a more relaxed consolidation phase.You
might think that twenty years on, we pioneers would be sipping metaphorical pina coladas on the sandy shores of this tropical island, but in 2012, the industry is far from secure, and – in the UK at least – the whole
edifice is threatening to gurgle back under the sea.

What’s Gone Wrong?
Batteries have to be the primary issue. Since the arrival of lithium-ion technology in 2003, or thereabouts, the things have proved expensive and unreliable.At first A to B followed the line spun by the importers: it was new technology and within a decade the batteries would cost pennies and last for ever. Ah, one feels so foolish now! Nine years in, the batteries cost from £300 to well over £1,000, and the vast majority fitted to cheaper bikes fail within two, or at most, three years. Do the maths, and you’ll appreciate why the industry has stalled.
But we keep hearing that electric bicycle sales have exploded in Germany and the Netherlands? Well, yes, but these are very different markets.The Dutch in particular have always been prepared to invest in decent, well-equipped bikes and pay accordingly. For our pragmatic Continental cousins, baggage about ‘cheating’ from Lycra-clad sportsters is unknown – an electric bike simply makes day-to-day chores like commuting and dragging five children to school easier and faster.The Dutch have never balked at the concept of paying 2,000 Euros for a fully-equipped bike, and the German or Japanese batteries on these quality bikes have been less troublesome.
In the UK, where transport means ‘car’, and bicycle means ‘leisure’, decent bikes have never sold in any numbers. Electric bikes did start to take off here (although never in Dutch volumes), but the primary market was and remains cheap-and-cheerful clunkers, fresh from the China Sea.These were mostly heavy and crude, with batteries that failed within months, rather than years.
Most of these bikes lasted until the first battery conked out, although a few brave (or gullible) purchasers soldiered on until the £400 replacement bit the dust. A few far-sighted distributors offered two-year battery guarantees, and some subsidized the cost of replacement batteries, but most took a short-term view and hoped for the best.
Current sales are very hard to judge. According to the electric bike trade association BEBA, sales hit a record 15,000 units in 2009, with a prediction of 50% growth for 2010. Did it happen? We may never know…
BEBA has provided no figures for 2010, 2011, or indeed 2012. One suspects – on the rickety evidence that few manufacturers are willing to discuss numbers – that sales have dropped dramatically in the current recession.The only clear evidence comes from the electric motorcycle world, where figures are compiled by the MCIA. Electric motorcycles are currently in freefall, having peaked at over 550 units in 2009, before falling back to a pitiful 402 in 2011.

Bottom End
Paradoxically, for those looking to purchase a cheap and reliable electric bike, the best advice is to go really cheap, and spend no more than £300 to £500 on a lead-acid battery clunker.Your neighbours won’t be casting covetous glances over the fence at your  Woosh Angel, Thompson Euro-Classic or Alien Ocean Tornado, but it won’t have cost you much, and when the battery fails in a year or two, you can replace the cells yourself for less than a hundred quid.A bike like this may be single-speed, and it will certainly be heavy and crude, but it will keep grunging from A to B for many years, without any nasty financial surprises. Sadly the classic Powabyke 6-speed, in production since the early 1990s, has been quietly deleted.Very sad – a bit like waving farewell to your favourite hippo.
More problematic are the great mass of low-end Chinese lithium-ion bikes, on which the battery clock will
already be ticking before you take it out of the box. Oddly enough, the bargains of 2010 and 2011, including such brands as Byocycles, Juicy Bikes and AS have mostly gone up in price by 10%-30% in the past year or so, which is hard to explain with the market so weak. It may be a side-effect of the weakness of the pound against the US dollar, but if so, how have other importers kept prices down?
The de facto standard Li-ion battery these days is 10Ah x 36 volts, giving a capacity of about 360 watt/hours… for the first few weeks at least. If you insist on buying a cheap Li-ion bike, go for this relatively large battery on the basis that if you start with 360Wh, the battery will have reasonable oomph for a bit longer, whereas if you start with 200Wh, it could all be over by Christmas.With last year’s cheapies painting themselves out of the picture, the bargain brands for 2012 seem to be Woosh (again) and Sustain.
It makes sense to steer clear of folders, which tend to be heavy, under-batteried, poorly geared, and shod with rubbishy 12-inch or 16-inch tyres. If you must have a folder, the £399 Tesco Boost looks solid enough, and is so cheap it may be worth a try. Otherwise go for a good quality electric conversion on a decent folder, like a Dahon or Brompton, which will cost the best part of a grand more than the Boost, but should work well and fold well.The Nano-Brompton is back, and very good it is too, but there are signs that the reborn Electric Wheel Company is already overwhelmed with orders, resulting in frustration and delay. Brompton itself has gone strangely quiet on its long awaited factory machine, suggesting either technical issues or nervousness about sales.
Dahon’s factory-built Boost is already with us, but it seems to have failed miserably, and is now being heavily discounted from its £2,000 retail price (48% off at Cycle Sense!). If you want to pick up one of these rather heavy, but otherwise well thought through folding electric bike, move quickly, because discounts at that level can’t last for long.
Mind you, David Hon may well keep it in production, if only to score a few points over his son Joshua, whose rival Tern folding bike company has yet to produce an electric-assist, despite early promises that there was one on the way. Maybe Josh should wait and see… on current form most of the folders appear to be heading for disaster.
In August 2010 Avocet Cycles asked very nicely if A to B could remove a website reference to a long expired Viking electric bike, because Avocet was launching an electric range under that brand name. Just two years later, the range has become a single folder, the EGo, now knocked down to £699.
Mobiky has substantially discounted its folders too, but the little bikes have tiny 120Wh batteries and are still listed at £1,200-£1,300, which just doesn’t add up in the current climate. Even the Pininfarina-styled Velosolex can be found for £999, a discount of some £250, giving a one-off opportunity to buy a design classic for a knock-down price.This interesting bike really does deserve better, and with distribution now in the hands of EBCO, it might yet pull round.

Mid Range
Several l familiar names have simply disappeared. Remember Ezee? Once regarded as the fastest growing electric bike brand, it has effectively disappeared from the UK. Izip, the odd American machines with
chain or spoke drives, have disappeared too for now, after being dropped by distributor Moore Large, but they’ve come and gone before, so may well be back. Gone for good one assumes is Green Edge Bikes, which started full of enthusiasm, then disappeared again. Others have actually gone bust: Ultramotor has disappeared, taking junior partner Urban Mover with it.The brand has since been bought by Indian company, Hero Eco, so the best bits may come back, but for now they’re gone.The Technium Privilege, a badge engineered Kalkhoff was imported from Germany by Wiggle for a year or so, but has now quietly disappeared.
Another bit of hardware that seems to be on the way out is the innovative BionX system.
This high-tech electric bike drive was chosen by Trek and others, attracted by the cache of silent power and regenerative braking, but the BionX-equipped machines have not been very successful, and you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce why. The Li-ion batteries have been troublesome, and replacements cost
£700 to £1,900.Trek has soldiered on into 2012, but with unsold 2010 and 2011 bikes being discounted far and wide, we’d hazard a guess that the company is planning a stealthy (and expensive) retreat.
Raleigh is in a similar position for very different reasons. Having made the smart decision to badge-engineer the excellent Panasonic-powered bikes produced by its cousin Kalkhoff, Raleigh found itself sold off to Accell, and Kalkhoff suddenly became a competitor. Kalkhoff/Derby have now moved from buying in the Panasonic crank-drive to producing their own Impulse power unit, leaving Raleigh selling a basic 3-speed fitted with last year’s Panasonic. If ever there was an argument for British manufacturing to have some manufacturing
capability, here it is.The British company has been sold by the Americans to the Dutch, and lost the right to put its badges on German bikes. Raleigh retains its Far Eastern Velo-Cite and Velo-Trail brands, but the growth and profits were at the top end, and Raleigh, with its vast dealer network, is now short on bikes to sell.As part of Accell Group it will have access to other electric bike technologies, but most of this is Dutch, and there are no hills in the Netherlands. Once again, the message is clear: keep some development and manufacturing expertise at home…
Several other big ‘manufacturers’ such as Claud Butler have dipped a cautious toe in the electric bike waters by buying in Far Eastern systems, but in most cases the bikes are being discounted in the shops, a situation that can’t go on for long. Another brand widely discounted in 2012 is the East European Gepida, which promised to do battle with the Panasonic-equipped West European brands, using the reborn Yamaha power unit.
Apart from a rather small battery, it’s a decent package, but sales are disappointing and Gepida prices have fallen to £1,400, which is mighty good value.
As at the cheaper end, despite the gloomy, nay catastrophic picture, some manufacturers are cheerfully piling on the £££’s and bumping up prices.The City Free Spirit, a nothing special Chinese brand, is now £1,300, and similar Far Eastern bikes, the Byocycles Ibex and Oxygen E-mate Race, are being advertised for £1,500, well into European roadster territory, while the Lifecycle Mountain Sport Endurance – albeit with a ginormous 1kWh battery – costs £2,000.

Top End
The £2,000 electric bike is now quite commonplace, and the £3,000 barrier has long been breached.At this luxury end, prices are less volatile, but German manufacturer Heinzmann is once again without a UK distributor, presumably because things  didn’t work out with Twike maestro Dr Andreas Schroer.The Electric Transport shops claim to be making direct imports of the Heinzmann Estelle, but with prices starting at a hefty £2,300, one assumes there won’t be many takers.
Others seem to have fallen by the wayside too. The power-assisted versions of the Velorbis Victoria and
Churchill (‘Elechic’) looked interesting when they were launched in 2010, but the bikes simply failed to make an impact.
Kenneth Bødiker of Velorbis insists the Elechic bikes are available to order from 2,045 Euros, but when pressed about where and how a UK customer might get one, he remains silent. The Velorbis failure might have something to do with the company’s decision not to market the electric models using its trademark of sophisticatedly underdressed young ladies.This failure to properly target and market electric bikes seems to be a general issue, particularly where women are concerned, and women should be a key target. Electric bikes are rarely photographed with a rider on board, and when they are, the victim is usually a tubby man, going a bit grey round the edges. Not very aspirational imagery.
A to B’s advice used to be that the better electric bikes started at £1,250, with the 3-speed Swedish-made Monark Eco.This has now gone, and if we ignore the slightly range-challenged Gepida, the cheapest
European crank-drive bicycle now seems to be the Spanish BH-Emotion Xpress 650 at £1,450.To get a decent-size battery you need to shell out £1,700 for the BH Street 650, Kettler Hybritech or Raleigh Dover 3- speed, which of course may not last, depending on the ins and outs of Raleigh-Kalkhoff contractual
arrangements.The Kettler is a Panasonic crank-drive machine, similar to the Raleigh, but with 8-speed hub and halogen lights for the same price. It is nominally promoted by a company in the Midlands, but one gets the impression that electric bicycles are not the most profitable part of the Kettler franchise, so they remain hard to find. Another quality option is Cytronex, the British company making a name for itself by putting power-assist equipment on conventional fast road bikes. Uniquely, Cytronex has stuck with a heavier, but more reliable NiMH battery, which should give at least four or five years service. This conservative stance and modest pricing strategy (prices start at £1,345) may explain why Cytronex is weathering the current storm.
Gazelle’s electric bikes used to be stratospherically expensive, but they too have dropped in price this year, thanks in part to the economies of scale brought about by explosive sales at home in The Netherlands. Sales in the UK remain slow, but with prices for these quality European roadsters starting at £1,485, they will undoubtably pick up.
The award for biggest price fluctuations has to go to Kalkhoff. Four years ago, the Kalkhoff Agattu cost
£1,195, yet earlier this year the range started at £2,095, albeit for a very different machine, with double the battery capacity and a more sophisticated power-assist system.The classic 8-speed Kalkhoff Agattu is now back to £1,895, and 50 Cycles hopes to keep the whole Agattu range below £2,000 for the rest of the year.
The real bargain is the Panasonic-powered Pro Connect S10, now discounted by a breathtaking £800, putting it at a shade under £2,000. A lot of bike for the money.
Should we be paying £2,000 for an electric bike with still unproven battery technology? Yes, if the guarantee is right. Kalkhoff, like most of the bikes in this rarified zone, offers a two-year guarantee, which is adequate if not  spectacularly generous. Other winners at the top end include Bosch, whose excellent power system can now be found on a number of expensive and exclusive bikes, and quality Euro-brands Koga, Sparta and Haibike, which are all distributed by newcomer Just Ebikes of Suffolk. At this end of the market, if you have to ask the price, you should really be looking at something else. All these bikes are reassuringly expensive, although price increases have been relatively modest.

Tricycles
By far the biggest retrenchment has been in the world of electric tricycles. A year or two back, 15 trike manufacturers were selling 25 or so models, half of which cost less than £1,000.Today there are seven brands, 14 individual models, and prices start at £1,040 for Powabyke’s venerable Tryke. As Powabyke has now abandoned lead-acid technology in its bicycles, the Tryke can’t last long, and if it goes, the cheapest tricycle will be the £1,200 Mission Trilogy with a battery half the size of the Tryke’s chunky battery… not good on a heavy tricycle. Quite why the trike market has been so decimated is unclear, but some manufacturers seem to have pulled out altogether, while others have simply given up on the UK, and the remaining handful have bumped up prices in an attempt to stay profitable. Of these, the Di Blasi R34 is a fascinating and unique folding trike, that really will fit into a smallish car, although it now costs £2,470.The best of the rest is probably the tilting Veliac Three at £1,400.We haven’t tried it, but it’s quite light, with a decent sized Li-ion battery.

Bursting Bubble
Has the public really lost confidence in electric bikes, or are the manufacturers simply retrenching under the same recessionary pressures we’re all living with? A bit of both probably.Will the market survive in its current form?
Hard to say. Riding a bicycle with a permanent tailwind is a seductive thrill, but market forces are at work. The worst may not be over.