Category Archives: Electric Bikes

Electric bike prices, reviews and technical advice

Electric Tricycle Price Guide (UK)

electric-tricycleLooking for an adult electric tricycle?
You’ve come to the right place. We like to to road-test an electric tricycle for the magazine before recommending it. But with so many available, our recommendations are sometimes based on spec and price, rather than experience.

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

Electric Tricycles and the Law

Electrically-assisted tricycles 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

Pedelecs are definitely legal (these only work when you pedal). Hybrid (switchable between pedelec and twistgrip throttle) or E-Bike (twistgrip only) are 100% legal if built before January 2016, and remained legal to buy from old stock after this date, so there are still a few about.

In practise, the police have plenty of bigger things to think about in these difficult times. There are thousands of older models in circulation and no easy way to judge the age, so our advice is don’t worry too much.

The Battery

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.

We used to list battery chemistry, but pretty well everything is Lithium-ion now. A shame, because the heavier lead-acid batteries suited tricycles quite well, and were VERY cheap to replace

Direct drive to tyre  
Front/Rear Hub:
Hub motor
Front/Rear Chain:
Separate chain drive
Crank Drive:
Crank-mounted motor
Transmission Drive:
Motor is situated somewhere between the pedal crank and wheels

The trikes we recommend are marked in

Electric Trike Prices (UK)

Make Model1 Control / Drive Battery Capacity Updated
UK Price4 Notes
Jorvik 24-inch Front Hub 374Wh Dec 17 £1090 Great value, stylish and well-equipped. Also 20″ and 26″
Batribike Trike 20 Front Hub 374Wh Dec 17 £1399 Good solid machine, and the 3-speed hub is a big plus
Mission Space Genie Front Hub 396Wh Dec 17 £1399 FOLDING. Fitted with Conv-E front hub motor. 20 or 24-inch
Mission E-Mission 24-inch Front Hub 374Wh Dec 17 £1400
Jorvik Folding 24inch Crank Drive 374Wh Dec 17 £1859 FOLDING. Not quite Di Blasi-size, but better than nothing. Also 20″ and 26″
Cargo Bike Co Tamar Cargo Trike Rear Hub 360Wh Dec 17 £1890 ‘Bakfiets’ layout doesn’t suit everyone and a big price increase
Powabyke Powatryke Cruiser 20″ or 24″ wheel Front Hub 324Wh Dec 17 £1499 Ultra-low step-thru might appeal
Di Blasi R34 20-inch Rear Chain Drive 204Wh Dec 17 £2680 FOLDING More or less unique
Maxpro EcoTaxi + EcoDrive Transmission Drive 528Wh Dec 17 £4200
HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs26 Gearless Rear Hub 558Wh Dec 17 c£5000 28mph and 500-watts – dead cool wheels, but illegal-ish for UK
Cycles Maximus Cargo Van or Media Trike + CM TractionDrive Ebike 864Wh La POA
Cycles Maximus Cab Trike + CM TractionDrive Ebike 864Wh La POA


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

Just ebikes, Old Chapel Works, Valley Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4AQ
tel: 01728 830 817

Boxer, Velo Electrique
Unit 12, 35 Willis Way, POOLE BH15 3SZ
tel: 01202 979 957

Cargo Bike Company
New to us, made in Derbyshire
52 Station Road, CHELLASTON, Derbyshire DE73 5SU
tel: 07903 175838

Cycles Maximus
Long-established, helpful and friendly
Unit 15, Dunkirk Business Park, Southwick, TROWBRIDGE, BA14 9L
tel: 01225 319414

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

Not always easy to contact
E-go Personal Transport, 52 High Street, MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 1HQ
tel: 07974 723996 or 01672 861186 / 512404

Very experienced shop in central London
Bikefix, 48 Lamb’s Conduit Street, LONDON WC1N 3LH

New to us, but spot on the money product-wise
Jorvik Tricycles, Unit 6, Yorvale Business Park, Hazel Court, YORK YO10 3DR
tel: 01904 848988

Industry stalwart
Powabyke Ltd, 3 Wood Street, Queens Square, BATH BA1 2JQ
tel: 0845 6011475

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

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


Cytronex Trek FX

cytronex-trekFor the very latest test of the 2017 C1, published 7th December 2017, please see our Cytronex CAAD 12 review.

This free back-review from September 2008 relates to the previous model, but includes some very useful background.

A to B 67, September 2008

Electric bikes are usually bought by older people, but we think there’s a huge market amongst relatively long distance, fast commuters – the sort of younger men and women who might have sporting pretensions, but currently drive a hot hatchback to work (and, indeed,the gym) because it’s either too far, too hilly, or generally takes too long. We’re told these 30-somethings are part of a more technologically-minded generation, which may or may not be true. They might be interested in leisure cycling at the weekends, but they’re just not interested in riding a bicycle day-to-day. It’s too slow, too sweaty, and too… generally downbeat and passé. Can they be winkled out of their nasty little hatchbacks with something as tempting as the Cytronex Trek FX?

This bike is brainchild of Mark Searles, a designer who has studied the electric bike market with some care, producing an interesting machine, which is unique in several ways, and – crucially – a most appealing bike to ride.

The basis is a Trek 7.3FX, not the sort of machine we come across often,but a nice competent, rideable and light road/trekking bike. Putting a bloody great battery and clanking hub motor on a bike like this would be a mechanical travesty, but Mark has taken an altogether smarter route. The front hub motor is the cute little Nano/Tongxin, slipped unobtrusively into the front wheel. This motor weighs very little, and looks little bigger than a hub dynamo. When in action, it’s almost completely silent.

The battery is NiMH, and secreted in a largish water bottle-style container which sits in a standard bottle clip on the frame. So far, we have what is to all intents and purposes a relatively conventional bicycle, and you’d have to be quite observant to tell it apart from any other sporty road bike of the kind. At 17kg, it weighs a bit more, of course, but in electric bike terms, that’s very light indeed. We’ve tested a lot of ‘em, and unless you can tell us otherwise, that’s the lightest we’ve tried.

Of course, fitting a motor is only half the battle, and many designs have slipped up in the area of control. The Cytronex has a most unusual – and at first sight rather alarming control system. The bike is fitted with bar ends, each of which has a small button in place of the end cap. Pressing the right button turns the motor on, with the left button giving the option of full or low power. Touch either brake lever,and the motor is turned off. The whole thing sounds a bit dodgy, but a quick trial at Presteigne confirmed that it not only worked, but worked smoothly and predictably. How does the Cytronex perform in real traffic and real commuting?

On the road

One would expect difficulties with this system in city traffic,but with a 26″ – 121″ gear range, it’s an easy bike to pedal unassisted, so you generally don’t bother with power in stop-start traffic. But when a gap opens up,  and your hands naturally move from the grips to the bar-ends,the option is there. As with many Tongxin applications, power takes a second to arrive, and when it does it’s more of a gentle surge than a kick in the pants. Coupled with the eerie silence, the effect is delightfully understated, but the effect is there alright, whisking speed up to the 15-16mph zone quite quickly. From this stage,further progress depends on the conditions. If you hit a hill, speed drops to perhaps 13,12mph or a little less, depending on the severity of the gradient. If you’re fighting a headwind, speed hovers around 15mph, with a whisper of assistance, but if the road is clear and the going fairly easy, you accelerate beyond the assisted phase, the final terminal velocity depending on your level of oomph and the conditions, just like an ordinary bicycle.

Mark has experimented with a tiny warning light in the on-off button, but he dropped the idea because he never used it, so there’s no indication of whether the motor is running. We’d like to see some sort of tell-tale, because after a few minutes at 20mph – thinking about whatever it is that cycle commuters think about – you forget whether it’s on or off. That actually doesn’t matter much, because the motor just spins silently using a smidgen of power until speed drops below 16mph,when it gently adds some boost. And there are plenty of times – a switchback road, for example – when this ability to keep the motor idling is useful, helping to speed you over the crest. All the same,it would be nice to know when the motor is on.

Touch a brake lever and the motor stops. With practice,you learn to overcome the pick-up delay after a corner by hitting the ‘go’ button immediately after releasing the brake, putting power down on the way out of the corner, just as you start to pedal.

If any of this sounds annoying,it isn’t. The system is intuitive, and takes very little time to acclimatise to. In practice,on generally flat roads, the power stays off in town, but is engaged for about half the time on the open road, although the motor rarely works very hard, except on hills.

The key to the Cytronex is that – like the Nano-Brompton and one or two other electric bikes – it’s built around a pleasant, rideable machine. A lesson many electric bike manufacturers need to learn is that you have to maximize riding efficiency to produce a really successful design. The Nano wasn’t very quick, but it went a long way, and the Cytronex is blindingly fast,even in strictly legal 15mph trim. Our (slightly less than) ten-mile commuter ride was dispatched in just 30.5 minutes, a speed of more than 17mph.The system doesn’t provide any power at 17mph, of course, but it can maintain 15mph on gentle hills and rather more unassisted on the flat,or downhill. In terms of speed, this overall efficiency makes it by far the fastest legal electric bike we’ve tried, and only three minutes behind the 23mph off-road versions of the Ezee Torq and Forte.

Maximum range is bound to be slightly compromised,because the battery is so small nominally 148Wh or thereabouts. All the same, the Cytronex goes further than you might expect. On our standard hilly course, it managed 18.5 miles before the the power cut out. For the first 15 miles or so, average speed was over 17mph, but the motor slowed noticeably thereafter, giving a mean figure of 16.8mph. That’s slower than the Ezee Torqs of this world, but not by much, and a great deal faster than other Eurorestricted electric bikes.

Small batteries and high speed usually mean poor hill-climbing, but not a bit of it. The technique on steep hills is to work down through the gears, then cut back to ‘low’ motor power when speed drops below 10mph. On this setting, the motor will run happily at 6 to 8mph, which nicely matches the lower gears, enabling the bike to climb quite significant hills at a good pace. Rather surprisingly, the restart on a 1:6 gradient proved surprisingly easy on the ‘low’ setting, the bike accelerating up to 8mph – a cracking pace for such a steep hill.

Overall fuel consumption is around 10.3watt/hours per mile, which is very good, considering the high average speed.

A word on safety. The Cytronex has no safety systems of any sort, so if the brakes are off, a touch on the power button will always set the front wheel spinning. The instructions state very clearly that the battery should be disconnected unless you’re actually underway, and removed when not in use, something that soon becomes a habit. But this machine isn’t foolproof, so you need to keep it well away from fools. If you are personally forgetful, you might want something more user-friendly.

Charging & Accessories

With a battery of only 150Wh, charging is going to be pretty quick, especially as Mark has specified the same man-sized charger used by Ezee and others to charge much bigger batteries. The battery can be slipped out of the bottle holder and taken indoors to charge,a process that takes a shade over 90 minutes. Depending on your routine, you could jump out of bed, put the battery on charge,have a shave, engage with a bowl of Wheety Flakes, and nip off to work with a charged and nicely warmed battery – useful on cold mornings, when leg and battery efficiency may not be at its best.

In classic UK/US style, the standard Trek 7.3FX comes with precisely no accessories, but fortunately, all the lugs and mounting points are there. With the accent very much on fast commuting, Mark has fitted the Cytronex with a state-of-the-art Busch & Muller lighting set – IQ Fly LED at the front,and Seculight LED at the rear. These are supplied from the water bottle, so there’s no need for batteries or a hub dynamo, and they’re very effective indeed. In terms of raw output, the IQ Fly is four times brighter than a typical halogen lamp,and according to our pv tester, almost twice as bright (243mV against 132mV) as the previous top LED, the B&M Ixon, so it’s probably the brightest legal light around. The LEDs draw so little current they will work for up to an hour after the battery is fully discharged. A nice touch is a ‘reading light’ for the speedometer, a rather obvious fitting that other manufacturers have been terribly slow to adopt.

We’re usually a bit sniffy about bikes without mudguards, but we’ll forgive this one, because mudguards really would spoil the looks. If you want to be horribly practical, SKS mudguards and a Tubus Vega rack are options at £19.95 and £64.50 respectively. Both are colour co-ordinated with the bike,which comes in any-colour-you-like-as-long-as-it’s-black. Actually, that’s not quite true. The standard mens bike is black,but the similar ladies, which has ‘woman-specific geometry’ and subtly squirly-whirly graphics, is gold. Both are available in three frame sizes 17.5″, 20″ and 22.5″ for the mens, and 15″, 17″ and 19″ for the ladies. Our 20″ mens test bike fits just about all comers in practice – it’s a neat, compact little bike, giving a low, sporty riding position.

For anyone whose commute includes some modest off-roading (and a surprising number do), Cytronex is also producing a version of the Trek 7300 – very similar, but with suspension forks and hybrid part-knobbly tyres, for £1,045 – an extra £50. The Suntour NEX 4610 forks can be locked out for fast road riding.

Finally, to the spare battery. Manufacturers are often a bit cagey about the price of a spare or replacement battery, and no wonder, because some are terribly expensive. The Cytronex unit is effectively subsidised at £150, a reasonable figure, and cheap enough, one suspects,to encourage many purchasers to go for a second ‘water bottle’ (there are two mounting points on the frame). A spare battery increases the range to about 37 miles.

The reasonable price of the battery, and generally longer life of NiMH,mean running costs are only 7.7p/mile, which is very good for a bike of this performance,and cheaper than most of its competitors.

Big Speed

The Cytronex is supplied with a 175rpm Tongxin motor, giving a maximum assisted speed of a shade over 15mph. But these motors come in a number of guises, from 160rpm, giving a top speed of 14.5mph, and better hill climbing, to 260rpm, pushing maximum speed into the 24mph zone, albeit with weaker hill-climbing. As the wheels take only a minute or two to swap, we decided to try the latter, purely in the interests of research, you understand. Faster or slower wheels cost £195 each.

You can pull away from a standstill and motor along without pedalling if you wish, but the system is not designed to do this, and you’ll overstress the battery and motor if you try. With the high-rev wheel, the need to be gentle on the motor, and work hard yourself is even more pronounced. It’s a good idea to pedal up to 12mph, then gingerly introduce low power, switching to full at 18mph. The effect is magical and quite scary, because speed climbs and climbs, to about 23mph. Even on rolling hills, speed rarely drops below 20mph. If the gradient gets steeper, it’s advisable to kick the motor back down to low power when speed drops below 18mph. Really steep hills might be a problem, but on our fast commuter route, which includes one or two nagging climbs, speed never fell below 16mph.

Average speed – tested at 7am on a Sunday morning by the way – was 24 minutes, for a circular ride of just under ten miles. That average of 21.6mph makes the Cytronex far and away the fastest bicycle we’ve ridden on this course, beating the previous winner, the Ezee Torq and Forza, by a full 3.5 minutes.The 121-inch top gear comes in handy here, allowing quite a pleasant cadence at 22 – 26mph. This sort of thing obviously takes a lot out of the tiny battery, and after ten miles, it’s already starting to weaken, cutting out on a hill at 11.1 miles, and managing just another 1.3 miles on the low power setting.

In practice, we’re not sure a faster speed is possible on a route that includes a proportion of Sustrans path and twisty country lanes. We’re not sure anyone should be allowed to ride a bicycle this fast either (well, of course, they aren’t), but if it was allowed, a 23mph cruise would certainly have its uses commuting town-to-town on a straight, windswept road across the Fens, for example. By the way,the Cytronex at Presteigne was fitted with a slower 235rpm motor, and came a very acceptable 5th.

There have been a few question marks about the reliability of the Tongxin motor and controller. The only failure we’ve experienced was on the Schwinn, where the controller was fitted in a plastic box, and consequently over-heated. On the Trek, the controller is beneath the bottom bracket and barely gets warms, even at this sort of speed, so we’re quite happy on that front.


Will the Cytronex generate many hatchback converts? We certainly hope so.It’s the first really sexy electric bike, and immense fun to ride, either in legal or illegal trim. At £995, it’s also great value, the price being chosen to take advantage of the government’s Cycle to Work ‘tax back’ scheme. Maybe you’re not too worried where things are made now we all apparently live in a global village, but despite the frame and power components originating in the Far East, the Cytronex is very much designed and assembled (or reassembled) in the UK, in a small factory deliberately chosen within easy walking distance of Winchester station, an hour from Waterloo.

This electric bike won’t suit everyone. It shouldn’t be ridden without pedalling, or lent to a mechanical nincompoop, and the battery endurance is quite limited. But for its specific target market – younger folk looking for a fast, hill-busting ride to work, it’s superb. We’ve been criticised for concentrating on electric bikes and speed, but speed is part of everyday life, and anything that gets folk on two wheels has to be good news. For fast commuting, this really has to be one of the best options available. They’re certainly less willing to push a bicycle up a hill, than those of us who still consider three gears to be a bit posh.

Cytronex Trek FX Specifications

£995. Weight Bike 14.9kg Battery 2.1kg Total 17kg (37.5lbs) . Gears 24-spd Shimano Deore derailleur . Gear Ratios 26″ – 121″. Battery Nickel-Metal Hydride . Nominal Capacity 148Watt/hrs . Replacement Cost £150 . Max Range (high power) 18.5 miles . Full Charge 90 minutes . Consumption (high power) 10.3Wh/mile . Running Costs 7.7p/mile . Manufacturer Cytronex . tel 01962 866122 mail

A to B 67 – Sep 2008

Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide (UK)

The complete buyer’s guide to electric bikes.
Independent reviews and the technical bits the manufacturers don’t want you to read!

The A to B Buyer’s Guide is our top eight (the number varies), drawn from the electric bikes we have actually tested in the magazine. Not all electric bikes are listed here, but there’s a full list of prices and stockists in our comprehensive Electric Bike Price Guide. The new Brompton Electric is not on the list, although scheduled for delivery from early 2018. But we do have a review in A to B 117

Some reviews of the electric bikes featured below are available free elsewhere on this site. Others can by found on our back numbers page, by subscription to the digital edition of the magazine, or by individual download at 99p per issue.

A to B Buyer’s Guide – Top Ten Electric bikes

1. Kalkhoff

Price: From £1600   Rating: 5/5   Verdict: “Expensive, but superb German roadsters”

Kalkhoff Agattu, a top recommendation in the A to B Buyer's Guide

Kalkhoff Agattu

Hub motor technology has improved a great deal, but it remains our view that the best system overall is the crank-drive (see Electrical Bike Technical Guide). Most crank-drive systems are made in Germany or Japan, and the leading systems are generally considered to be Bosch, Kalkhoff (actually designed by Daum), Panasonic and Yamaha.

The Kalkhoff Impulse is arguably the best crank-drive. It doesn’t have the sporty revvy appeal of the Bosch, but the batteries are big, the system is reliable, and the new technology for protecting the hub gear during gear-shifts promises to reduce associated gear issues. We won’t get involved with identifying individual models, but there’s a big range, from sensible shoppers to sports class flyers. Whether you live in the flat Netherlands or mountainous Swiss Alps, there’s a Kalkhoff that will suit the conditions. All share much the same technology, and prices are currently very reasonable, starting at about £1600.  With a Kalkhoff you should be able to climb any hill with reasonable effort, and ride for up to 60 miles on a single charge. The Sports class bikes (Shh! Don’t tell anyone!) give more power and speed… up to 25mph in fact.

2. Cytronex C1

Price: From £1450  Rating: 5/5  Verdict: “Exquisitely designed”


Cytronex C1


For years, Winchester company Cytronex made a very practical power-assist kit based on the Tongxin motor used in the Nano-Brompton. But owner Mark Searles was quietly developing something much more sophisticated, finally launched in 2017 to some acclaim. Available ready-built from about £1450, or as a kit for £995. Not the cheapest kit-based solution, but more sophisticated than many quality factory-built electric bikes.
We have an exclusive test in A to B 118



3. Nano-Brompton 2.1

Price: From £1900   Rating: 5/5   Verdict: “Superb power-kit”

A to B Buyer's Guide top recommendation, Nano-Brompton


For three years after its inception in 2007, the Nano was one of our top recommendations, but it later moved down to a 4-star rating following persistent feedback of battery issues and other quality control problems. For 2012, the Nano returned as Nano 2.0, which has proved lighter, slicker, and more reliable, and was later revised as the 2.1. The key change was to Ping batteries, with a promise of a revolutionary fixed price battery repair scheme once outside the 12 month guarantee period, although Nano soon moved on again, and now primarily sells little 144Wh Bosch garden tool batteries. The Nano 2.0 and later variants have the control electronics positioned low down near the front pannier block rather than high up on the handlebars. This looks clumsy if you ride without a front pannier, but you’re unlikely to, because the pannier holds the battery…

Generally, we don’t recommend folding electric bikes, but this one is light (12.5-14.5kg according to Brompton model, plus separate battery pannier), whisper quiet, climbs big hills, and goes up to 45 miles on a charge. Hopefully the battery issue is now sorted, because there isn’t a great deal more to worry about. You aren’t allowed to have a simple twistgrip throttle any more, thanks to Euro-chicanary, so newer models have a movement sensor on the cranks, plus one of three control systems. Please do take our advice and buy the thumb-lever or twistgrip versions, not the push-button power controller, which we didn’t like one bit.

The Nano is starting to look expensive, but it costs a lot less if you have a donor Brompton or can locate a second-hand bike. The 12-month battery guarantee is looking on the low side these days too, but it’s such a cracking machine, it stays near the top of our electric bike wish list.
A nice option is factory fitting of the kit for an extra £90… well worth it for the electrically or mechanically challenged.
The Nano kit can be fitted to any bike for a hundred quid less than the Brompton version.

A folding electric bike that still outclasses all others by a substantial margin.
Full review of the Nano-Brompton. We have also published two follow-up tests (see back issues), a full review of the Nano-Brompton 2.0, and the 2017 spec bike is reviewed in A to B 117

4. Giant

Price: From £1299   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Well worth a look”


Giant E+ 2 Disc

Giant effectively launched the modern electric bike with the legendary LaFree back at the turn of the Century. After demise of the LaFree in 2006, the company rather lost its way, with big, increasingly expensive and rather feeble bikes that had ‘Dutch Domestic Market’ written all over them.
Happily the situation has changed. The cheapest bikes are cheaper, and although we don’t like batteries under the rack, they’re sensible laid out and well equipped.
If you have bigger hills to climb, and a few more pounds to spare, Yamaha’s cheapest crankdrive costs only £1700. It’s fitted with the Yamaha motor (Giant pretends it’s own manufacture), and although the battery is only 300Wh, this is quite a lot of bike for the price – decent lights, disc brakes, and the back-up of a very big manufacturer.

5. Momentum Electric

Price: c£1,000   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Great value and innovative”

Momentum Upstart - an A to B Buyer's Guide top recommendation

Momentum Upstart

Momentum Electric came straight in with an innovative, practical design, combining some nice features such as a two-speed automatic SRAM hub gear (believe us – two gears are plenty on an assisted bike), a believable two-year battery guarantee, and battery-powered lights on the Model T, all combined with economical Chinese manufacture. The result is two sparkling bikes, the sporty Upstart and the practical Model T that are great fun and and great value at £999. The initial pair of bikes were later joined by the 2wenty, a non-folding 20-inch wheeler, which seems to lack the sparkle, but we haven’t tried it yet.
The price of Momentum bikes rose persistently after  the launch, but has gone right back down again.

Full review of Momentum Electric Model T and Upstart

 6. Raleigh

Price: From c£1,000   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Now getting the idea”


Raleigh Motus

Raleigh made a complete mess of the electric bike in the early days, but they’ve gradually got their act together and now present a sensible range, rather like Giant, but with far too many models. The cheapies cost around £1,000-£1,250 and are similar to the cheaper Giant models with a rack-mounted 300Wh battery, reasonable equipment and front hub motor. The really interesting bikes start with the Captus at £1,750. This is one of the cheapest bikes fitted with the Bosch crank-drive, and it’s a handsome, well-equipped machine, but with only a 300Wh battery and no lights. This is pure marketing gumph, enabling Raleigh dealers to steer customers towards the very similar Motus, with 400Wh battery, lights, and more gears for £2,000. Never mind, it’s all good stuff, if slightly over the odds price-wise, and you do at least get back-up from the vast Raleigh dealer network.

7. Gazelle

Price: From £1499   Rating: 3/5   Verdict: “Lovely Dutch roadster”


Gazelle Orange C8 HMS

Gazelle has suffered in the UK in the same way as Giant and Sparta. The bikes sell in huge numbers on their home turf, but the UK demands better hill climbing and greater range than you’ll get with a front hub motor and smallish battery. Nevertheless, they’re well worth looking at if you live somewhere without killer hills and want a really good town bike with power-assist. The bikes are now very reasonably priced – with the proper Dutch roadsters starting at around £1,700 – but watch out for the battery capacity. The good news like range is generally quoted for the bigger batteries (up to 500Wh), but price will be for the smallest option (238Wh on the cheapest bikes).
Just for the record. HFP in the model name means Panasonic Front hub motor (cheap and cheerful), HMB means Mid-mounted Bosch crank drive (more cost, better hill-climbing), HMS means Mid-mounted Shimano crank drive, and so on. You pays your money…

8. Gocycle G2

Price: £2499   Rating: 3/5   Verdict: “Interesting folding electric bike”

Gocycle electric bike

The fascinating Gocycle has a rather lowly 3/5 rating, but that’s more about the price than the performance. Designed (but not made) in Britain, it is bursting with technology, from a magnesium frame, to quick-release wheels on monoblade forks. Range is reasonable from the 300Wh in-frame battery, and it’s a perky performer, but early examples suffered from software and hardware glitches (including rapid wear of the QR wheel splines), and the bike is fitted with a basic 3-speed hub gear and pedal torque-sensor to bring in the power. It’s a uniquely sexy machine, and although folding is a bit slow, it’s light, and can be packed into a small car in five minutes.

It was withdrawn for a major revamp a couple of years ago, then reappeared in a rather half-hearted way, although the Gocycle G3 does now seem to be more widely available, with more nifty programmable bits, and a lithium-ion battery. Price, however, has been cranked up to £2,499.

We have one road-tests of the original Gocycle in A to B 73 (See back issues). This test was based on a rather brief acquaintance because Gocycle initially refused to let us have a bike, then sent one round for a two hour trial with a chaperone. What did they think we were going to do, eat it? We’re not expecting to test the new bike anytime soon, which is a shame, because it does seem to be a reasonable machine.

9. Woosh & Kudos

Price: From £700ish   Rating: 3/5   Verdict: “Economical Machines”

The Woosh Elios scrapes into the A to B Buyer's Guide at number 10

Woosh Elios

Apologies to these two distinct companies for lumping their products together, but if all the above look expensive, your only option is a generic Far Eastern machine, and these two companies are the best suppliers. There are numerous Chinese electric bikes about, most of them overpriced and under-specced, but some are better than others, some cheaper than others, and some manage to combine both things. Woosh and Kudos are two brands that tend to offer bikes of a reasonable spec at good prices, with good service.




Interesting, but no-longer-available:


Price: Kit from £1,800, Complete bikes from £1,600   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Clever Canadian system”

Bionx Electric Kit

The BionX is a French Canadian system that has been around for many years, first with a NiMH battery, and more recently with lighter, but less reliable, Li-ion. For a long time it looked as though this clever system wasn’t going anywhere, possibly because French Canadians can be a bit prickly with the English-speaking world, and because the Canadian hardware looked expensive in a sea of Chinese imports. BionX finally accepted the inevitable and outsourced manufacturer to China, opening the floodgates to wider adoption of the system, which went on to be fitted by Trek, Kalkhoff, Airnimal, Birdy and no doubt many others, as well as being available as a retro-fit kit from BionX itself.

The essence of the BionX is a completely silent direct drive motor that can provide power or ‘regenerative’ braking on demand. The disadvantage of direct drives is poor hill-climbing, although the latest High Torque BionX motors really have cracked this one. The original BionX had a rather limited range, but it’s an efficient system, and used with sensitivity, power consumption can be very low. That said, the cheaper models have quite small batteries, so you have to go for something expensive if you want 30 miles+ range. And the price of replacement batteries is astronomical. Continued reliability problems meant the loss of UK distribution in late 2012, but a new distributor was soon found, and the kits now come with a three-year warranty, which should help.

We have two road-tests of the BionX system in A to B 45 and 85 (see back issues)



Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Better bikes from China, still tainted by early battery issues”

Ezee Electric Bike

It’s nice to see Ezee back on the ‘best buy’ listings. The company has a long and fascinating history, producing many duds, but some cracking performers too, such as the powerful and effective Forte and Torq – light, fast, but relatively conventional looking bikes. The early Torq was an absolute delight to ride – fast, near silent and sexy. An all-time classic, and winner of the Tour de Presteigne three years in a row, but heavier, more power-hungry and slower, it is now looking a bit middle aged. We thought the new-style Forte and Forza failed to hit the spot too, but you might disagree.

An early adopter of lithium-ion batteries, Ezee suffered more than most from reliability problems, expensive batteries and short guarantees. Sales plummeted, with two changes of distributor in a couple of years, but Ezee never quite disappeared, and after a period in the doldrums, Ezee regained UK distribution in mid-2012. A key element in the rebuilding of the brand was adoption of a two-year battery guarantee, something that has been copied by some (but not all) of the cheaper brands. The range is once again looking good.

Secondhand Torqs and Sprints can be picked up very cheaply, and with a £350+ replacement battery, you have a very acceptable secondhand buy.

Sunstar Electric Bike Kit

Electric Bike Conversion Kits

A to B electric conversion kits - SunstarIf you’re intending to electrify a favourite bike, an electric bike conversion kit might be the answer for you. Electric bike conversion kits usually include a replacement front wheel fitted with a motorised hub. They are available from a wide range of manufacturers at a wide range of prices, from a few hundred pounds to well over £1,000. Kits vary in quality a great deal too. The cheapest tend to be unbranded Chinese or Indian products… OK for leisure use, but with limited warranties and back-up, so don’t expect to use this sort of thing for daily commuting! More expensive electric bike kits are usually kit versions of proprietary electric bikes sold by manufacturers such as Heinzmann, Ezee and BionX.


  • Some electric conversion kit prices include fitting, others do not.
  • Most electric bike kits are supplied with UK-legal 250 watt motors, but many use motors of 500 watts, and a few are rated as high as 1000 watts. Remember that these powerful high-speed conversion kits are not legal in the UK and the fact that you are riding a machine powered by a self-fitted conversion kit will make no difference in the eyes of the law!
  • And as always, watch the battery guarantee. The cost of running the conversion will depend on battery life… nothing else. A long guarantee gives you some confidence. Cheaper kits can conk out in months.
  • If you are planning to commute daily, forget buying a conversion kit and go for a quality electric bike instead!
  • Our current favourites are marked in bold. This is not a scientific exercise, but is based on performance, reliability and price. Do let us know if you’ve had a good or bad experience with any of these kits:

Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Make / Model1 Last A-to-B Test Control / Drive Battery
Battery Size3 LAST UPDATE
UK Price4 Notes
Pedalease for folding bikes hybrid / Front Hub ?? NONE 2017 £199 No battery, but kit includes 80mmOD motor and twistgrip throttle
Smart-pie Dec 12 eBike / Front Hub ?? ??Wh 2017 £320 Lots of unknowns. Seems to be available for 700C wheel only
Pedalease iMortar eBike / Front hub ?? 130Wh 2017 £330 Tiny battery clips onto 700C front wheel. Looks sexy, but best avoided
Pedalease 250 watt eBike / Front hub ?? 370Wh 2017 £385 700C wheel only. There seem to be two versions
EBC 250 watt Hybrid / Front or Rear Hub 12 months 468Wh 2017 £429 Why pay more?
Pedalease 1,000 watt Hybrid / Rear Gearless Hub ?? 375Wh 2017 £440 Spot the issue here? With a 1,000-watt motor and very modest battery it will go for about 15 minutes
EBC 500 watt Hybrid / Gearless Front or Rear Hub 12 months 468Wh 2017 £449  Not strictly legal, but who’s to know? Rear wheel kit may not suit all bikes
Woosh 8FUN 250 watt
Hybrid / Crank Drive 12 months 468Wh 2017 £668 Big price increase. Also with 540Wh battery at £715
EBC 1,000 watt Hybrid / Gearless Rear Hub 12 months 720Wh 2017 £599 Not strictly legal, but who’s to know? Rear wheel kit may not suit all bikes
Smart-Pie Dec 12 E-bike / Front Hub ? ???Wh 2017 £320 Seems to be available for 700C wheel only
Conv-E Oct 11 E-bike / Front Hub ? 360Wh 2017 £749 Now sold by Powabyke
Woosh 8Fun 500 watt Hybrid / Crank Drive 12 months 540Wh 2017 £748 Bit pricey these days
Nano-Brompton 2.1 May 08 E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 180Wh 2017 £780 Light, quiet and discreet
360Wh battery £100 extra
Mojo Mid-motor Pedelec / Crank Drive ? 370Wh 2017 £875 Rare crank-drive kit. Psst… also with twistgrip throttle
Brompton Sparticle Nov 08 E-bike/ Front Hub  12 months 540Wh 2017 £970 Apart from the big battery, it’s nowhere near as good as the Nano version
Cytronex C1
Pedelec / Front hub 12 months or 300 charges 180Wh 2017 £995 Long-awaited sophisticated kit for serious cyclists looking for occasional assistance
Sunstar I-Bike SO3 May 08 Pedelec / Crank 24 months 369Wh 2017 c£1260 Sophisticated Japanese crank motor. Bigger 416Wh battery for extra £190
Heinzmann eBike or Pedelec / Front or Rear Hub 24 months 324Wh 2017 £1326 Starting price for quality German kit, loads of options
BionX P250 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 36 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 317Wh 2017 £1500 Nice technology, but rather heavy, and unreliable in the past. Also with 423Wh battery for £1650
Pendix Feb 17 Pedelec / Gearless Crank Drive 24 months 300Wh 2017 £1649 Interesting, but heavy crank drive kit from Germany
BionX D-series Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 36 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 317Wh Li-ion £1800 Nice technology, but rather heavy, and unreliable in the past. New motor appears to supercede earlier kits.

New subscribers can order a ‘get-started’ six-pack of magazine back numbers covering key electric cycles at HALF the usual price! See the subscription page for details.

All back numbers can be ordered by credit card – call 01305 259998 (+44 1305 259998 outside UK)

Electric Bike Conversion Kit 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

Alien Ocean
AlienOcean European Hub, 1 – 9 Plantation Street, Lochgelly, KY5 9LP
tel: 01592 780528

New distributor, steadily rebuilding trust in the BionX
tel: 01223 911504

Sparticle (Brompton)
Moving away from power kits these days
Electric Transport Shop, Hope Street Yard, Hope Street, CAMBRIDGE CB1 3NA (also in LONDON & OXFORD)
tel: 01223 247410

Nippy and reasonably-priced kits
Powabyke UK Ltd, Trident Works, Marsh Lane, BRISTOL BS39 5AZ
tel: 01761 568085

Very serious player in a market that can be a bit flie-by-night
Cytronex Electric Bikes, 7 Bridge Street, WINCHESTER SO23 9BH
tel: 01962 866122
email: via website

New to us in 2016
Electric Bike Conversions, Unit 9, Pound Farm Industrial Estate, Holly Bush Lane, Datchworth SG3 6RE
tel: 01438 986007

Not always easy to contact
E-go Personal Transport, 52 High Street, MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 1HQ
tel: 07974 723996 or 01672 861186 / 512404

Ezee, Ansmann
New Ezee distributor from 2012
Cyclezee Ltd, 3 Guest Gardens, MILTON KEYNES MK13 0AF
tel: 07962 407799

Freedom Ebike
No UK distribution
10/3 HaMelitz Street, JERUSALEM, Israel
tel: (Israel) +052 500 1309

There’s been a battle between Kinetics and Twike for years for UK distribution. Twike seem to be on top in 2017
Twike UK, Landell, Brick Kiln Lane, Ingham, NORWICH NR12 9SX
tel: 07707 237070

Tony Castles, the expert on all things electric bike!
Mr Motorvator, Harepath Farm, Burbage, Nr MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 3BT

Nano & Nano-Brompton
Well established and consumer-friendly
Nano Electric Bikes, 58 Clarendon Street, LEAMINGTON SPA CV32 4PE
tel: 0845 094 2735

Pedalease, Smart Pie
Very cheap stuff, but unknown quantity
Pedalease Ltd, Unit 1001 Shurguard House, Westmount Centre, HAYES UB4 0HD

We’d be happier if they were more open about their contact details
Electric Bike Conversions, Flynn Row, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2SE
tel: 01782 534727

Sunstar I-Bike
Braking Sunstar – UK OFFICE, 89 Warwick Rd, Leek Wootton, Warwickshire, CV35 7QR.
tel: 01926 863 163

Electric Bikes over £1,300

We’ve finally given up on listing all the electric bikes on a single page, so we now only publish this ‘Over £1,300’ table. 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, electric-bikesbut with so many now available, our recommendations are in most 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 independent comment! We will not generally 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 (switchable between pedelec and twistgrip throttle) or E-Bike (twistgrip only) are 100% legal if built before January 2016, and remained legal to buy from old stock after this date, so there are still a few about. In practise, the police have plenty of bigger things to think about in these difficult times. There are thousands of older models in circulation and no easy way to judge the age, so our advice is don’t worry too much.

The battery guarantee is the most important thing, particularly with the bigger batteries, which can cost more than a cheap bike. Be wary of 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 proving 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, but not necessarily in your favour.

All batteries in this category are now Lithium-ion technology
Direct drive to tyre  
Front/Rear Hub:
Hub motor
Front/Rear Chain:
Separate chain drive
Crank-mounted motor
Power only available when you pedal
Power independent of pedals – usually a twistgrip throttle
Pedelec/E-Bike switchable
The bikes we recommend are marked in

Recently Deleted Entries:

Bikes recently removed from the list (usually out-of-production, but may just have lost UK distribution). 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 Mar 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 Nov 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, Feb 2014 Ezee Dahon Bullet 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 Apr 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 Nov 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, Feb 2014 Ezee Dahon Bullet, Nov 2017 Bronx Sunrunner, Cargo Bike School Run, Kudos Escape, Giant Twist Lite 1W, Volt Pulse, Micro Prism and Micro Prism, Sparta Country Tour, Cargo Bike Co Bench Bike, Oxygen e-Mate City, Kudos Eiger, Urban Commuter UCR-60, Gazelle Chamonix Pure Innergy, Yuba el Mundo, Gepida Bleda, Harrington Classic, Kettler (all models), AVE Bosch Edition, Smart, Polaris (all models), BH-Emotion Neo Carbon and Neo Race, most KTM bikes, Swiss Flyer folder series, AVE SH-1, Koga range, Moustache NuVinci models, Solexity Smart, Heinzmann Atlas eMB, SEV range, Kalkhoff Inegrale S11, Kalkhoff Sports Class bikes, AVE range

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.

1) We don’t recommend machines that fail to meet ANY of the following criteria, other than in special circumstances:

  • Must weigh less than 25kg
  • No bikes with less than a 24-month battery guarantee
  • No single speed machines
  • If it has 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

Electric Bikes Over £1,300 (UK)

Manufacturer Model Control / Drive Battery Guarantee Battery Size Latest  Update UK Price Notes
Giant Ease E+2 Pedelec / Front Hub ?? 300Wh 2017 £1299 Sensible, well-equipped bike, but small battery
EBCO Urban City UCL-30 Pedelec / Front Hub  24 months 396Wh 2017 £1399 We don’t like rack-mounted batteries, but otherwise, well equipped
Powered Bicycles Londoner Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1400 Nasty little thing, completely outclassed at this price
Powered Bicycles Free Spirit 2 Ultralight E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1599 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 2017 £1399 Revamped, but smallish battery and probably a bit weak for UK conditions
Lifecycle Traveller Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 648Wh 2017 £1399 FOLDING. Outrageous price for this, but quite a big battery
Volt Burlington Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh 2017 £1480
Cytronex Bobbin Blackbird Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months or 300 charges 180Wh 2017 £1450 Representative starting price for Cytronex C1 kit fitted to almost any new bike
PoweredBicycles City Mantra Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1459 Horribly expensive for the spec
Volt Pulse Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh 2017 £1499 A bit expensive for the spec. £1699 with 576Wh battery, or £1999 in ‘X’ form for no obvious benefit
Gazelle Puur NL C7+ HFP Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 238Wh 2017 £1499 Love it or hate it – wacky city bike with mega front rack. You have to pay more for decent battery
Powered Bicycles Mantra Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1460 Utterly out-classed at this price
Solex Solexity Comfort Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh 2017 £1499 Rather disappointing spec, but interesting Pininfarina styling. Disastrous UK dealer back-up. 360Wh battery seems to be an extra 200 Euros
Juicy Bike Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 300Wh 2017 £1499 Much too expensive for the spec. Also with bigger batteries for more £££
Fat-E Fat-tyred MTB Pedelec /Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh 2017 £1499 New in late 2017… fat-tyred MTB
Gazelle Orange C7 HFP Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 238Wh 2017 £1499 Classic well-equipped Dutch roadster, but you have to pay more for decent battery. Also C7+ at £1799 with boingy forks, and C8 with 8-speed hub
Mobiky Youri 16 Front Hub 12 months 143Wh 2017 1599 Euro 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 Euro
Wisper 806 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 324Wh 2017 £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 396Wh 2017 £1499 On the way out
Powered Bicycles Galileo Big Eye Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1500 Unsatisfactory MTB. Would be OK at £999
Juicy Bikes Roller Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 380Wh 2017 £1585 Much too expensive for the spec. Also with bigger batteries for more £££
EBCO Eagle Lifestyle LRS-50 or LSL-50 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh 2017 £1599 Bizarre styling and modest battery capacity, for quite big money
Saxonette X Road Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh 2017 £1599 The most boring Saxonette… basically a Chinese bike
Saxonette Beast Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 378Wh 2017 £1599 Easy Rider styling
Cube Cross Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1599 Ill-equipped cross bike, but seems to be entry-level Bosch system. Great value
Kalkhoff Pro Connect 9G or i9 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh 2017 £1695 This is a reduced price in late 2017, and great value for a properly equipped eBike
Heinzmann PAN e-TR-G Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 398Wh 2017 £1749 Quality German bike with good spec, but seem to be struggling in UK. Also e-TR-U with 515Wh downtube battery at £1799
Urban City UCL-40 Pedelec / TransX Crank Motor 24 months 396Wh 2017 £1699 New crank motor – bit of an unknown, be cautious
Mobiky Youri Front Hub 12 months 324Wh 2017 £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 2017 £1699 Good value MTB
Solex Solexity Infinity Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh 2017 £1848 Stylish, but small battery, conventional spec and disastrous UK dealer back-up. 432Wh battery extra £200
Beatbike i7 Suspension Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £1695 Kalkhoff model ‘fine-tuned’ for the UK, and great value. As an introductory offer, you can get two for £3,000. Unbeatable
LifeCycle Alpine Sport or Mountain Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 648Wh 2017 £1799 Dreary Far Eastern spec at premium price, but big battery
Infinium Continental Pedelec / Front Hub ? 234Wh 2017 £1699 Very expensive. The bike has stackable batteries of this capacity, but extra batteries cost £325. Seems to be on the way out
FreeGo Martin Sport Pedelec / Crank Drive 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 418Wh 2017 £1449 Rather dubious crank motor, and this is a seriously discounted price
Wisper 705 or 905 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 592Wh 2017 £1699 Big battery, but fundamentally a conventional bike at a premium price
Giant Entour E+2 Disc Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 300Wh 2017 £1699 Well-equipped and practical, but smallish battery in the wrong position
Raleigh Captus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh 2017 £1750 New Bosch-based Raleigh. Small battery and lacking basic equipment
Kalkhoff Agattu i7 HS
Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £1845 Only 7 gears, but you really don’t need more… it’s an eBike. Well-equipped classic
Giant Entour E+ 1 Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 300Wh 2017 £1799 All-in-all, a well-equipped bike for the money, but battery is small and badly positioned
KTM Macina Cross 8-400 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1799 Yet another MTB with 8-spd Nexus hub.
Cube Access Hybrid One Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1599 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 2017 £1800 Cool styling, interesting transmission: belt drive, 3-spd hub, BionX-based motor, but seems to have failed in the UK and may already be withdrawn
Haibike sDuro HardSeven 4.0
Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1800 Yamaha crank motor, but seems to be discounted, which doesn’t look so good
Spencer Ivy step-thru or top tube Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 208Wh 2017 £1795 Stylish retro-chic bikes. Small Panasonic battery can be upgraded, but does this bike really exist?
Gepida Reptila 900 or 1000 NX8 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Nice East European bike – used to be cheap as chips. SLX10 extra £50
KTM Macina 8 or Fun 9 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1899 Good value, with Bosch 400Wh battery
Haibike sDuro HardFour Kids 2.0 Yamaha Crank Motor ?? 400Wh 2017 £1999 Unusual eBike aimed at children from 8 years or very small adults. Also HardSeven 1.0 for grown-ups
Bergamont E-Horizon 6.0
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Good, but slightly samey e-bike from Germany
Nano Brompton 2.1 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months (activated at >15% capacity loss) 144 to 468Wh 2017 From £1900 FOLDING. Getting expensive, but still our favourite. The twistgrip and thumb-lever versions are best
Volt Pulse X Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 576Wh 2017 £1949 Big battery, but breathtakingly expensive for what it is
BH Emotion Evo (Lite range) Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 400Wh 2017 £1899 Range encompasses two frame styles and numerous bikes, but all technically the same
Mando Footloose iM Pedelec / Chainless Electric Drive 24 months 300Wh 2017 £1999 Folding bike with technically fascinating chainless electric drive. Now much cheaper
Raleigh Motus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £1999 Well equipped Raleigh
LifeCycle Mountain Sport Endurance Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 1008Wh  2017 £1999 Pricey Far Eastern bike – lacking equipment, except for Tecktro hydraulic discs, and mammoth battery gives up to 100 mile range
Sparta R20i Pedelec / Gearless Front Hub 24 months 300Wh  2017 £1999 Quiet, well-equipped Dutch roadster, but weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
Gepida Alboin 1000 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2349 Pricey and undistinguished
Bergamont E-Horizon range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2249 Starting price for vast range, some more expensive. We can’t be bothered to list them all
KTM Macina Cross 10 Plus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Now rather cheaper than it was
Kalkhoff Tasman i8 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £2095 10% discount in late 2017
Sparta F8i Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 300Wh 2017 £2238 Quiet, well-equipped Dutch roadster, but weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
Raleigh Strada Elite Pedelec / Shimano Steps Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh 2017 £2250 Typical MTB with new Shimano crank-drive
Sparta M8i  Accell Pedelec / Crank Motor  24 months 300Wh 2017 £2338 Nice Dutch roadster, and the best Sparta for hills, but you really want a bigger battery, up to £300 extra
Moustache Lundi 26.1 9spd Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh 2017 £2399 Neat French bikes, but you don’t need to pay this much for this equipment!
Bergamont E-REVOX range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2349 Starting price for mind-numbingly big range of MTBs
Giant Explore E+2 Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 407Wh 2017 £2399 Not cheap, but a well-equipped, multi-purpose machine. The E+1 is £200 more for gears you don’t need
Cube Town Hybrid range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2495 Good German bikes, but not the cheapest
Gocycle G3 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 300Wh 2017 £2499 FOLDING BIKE. Not cheap, but they’re elegant machines and reasonably compact
BH-Emotion Evo (standard range) Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 500Wh  2017 £2499 Battery neatly integrated into the frame. Two frame styles and five models, but all technically the same
Gepida Asgard 1000cx Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh  2017 £2499 MTB. Also 1000 FS Comp with smaller 400Wh battery at £2899. Why?
Sparta E-Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2499 28mph SPORT CLASS. Currently the cheapest Sport bike, but battery could be bigger
Riese & Muller Cruiser range  Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor  24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2520 Starting price for Busch & Muller. Numerous models and battery options cost much more!
Koga E-Deluxe Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 300Wh 2017 £2599 Entry level Koga, but rear hub motor is not best suited to hilly UK
Moustache Samedi 28.3 or XRoad Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2699 £300 more than the Lundi for one extra gear and an extra 100Wh on the battery
Swiss Flyer B Series 5-1 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2595 That Swiss branding is adding £500. Is it really worth it?
Kalkhoff Agattu Premium 8G Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £2095 Nice bike, and now £600 cheaper, but still not super value
BH-Emotion (Pro range) Pedelec / Rear Hub motor 24 months 600Wh 2017 £2799 Starting price. Several frames and bikes, but all technically the same. Nice to see a non-Bosch bike at this level, but is the rear hub motor better?
Raleigh Mustang Comp Pedelec / Shimano Steps Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh  2017 £2800 Interesting bike, but no equipment as it’s Raleigh
Moustache Friday 27.3 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2899 We’ve said it before… you can pay virtually half this for similar spec
Giant  Dirt-E+2 Pro Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor  ??  500Wh 2017 £2299 Massive discount on the price. Not sure why
Reise & Muller Roadster Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2925 28mph SPORT CLASS.
Kalkhoff Integrale 10  Pedelec / Kalkohff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £2795 Discounted to £2795
Cube Stereo Hybrid range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2995 Starting price for potty range of expensive MTBs
Swiss Flyer Flyer C-Series and T-Series 8.1 Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh 2017 £2995 Bit pricey thanks to ‘Swiss’ branding
Winora Yakun Urban Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor ? 500Wh 2017 £2895 Somewhat discounted… may not be a winner
Swiss Flyer UpRoc3 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3395 Far too expensive for a 400Wh battery. TX7.0 is £3895 and even worse value
Riese & Muller Charger range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3059 Great bikes from Germany, but are they worth that much more? Three battery options up to 1,000Wh
KTM Macina Race 292 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3099 Very expensive MTB
Moustache Lundi 26.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £3099 This is an awful lot to pay for a nice, but unexciting shopping bike with NuVinci drive
Haibike sDuro 6.0, 7.0 and 8.0 range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3299 Starting price for vast range of Bosch-powered MTBs at chunky prices
Koga E-Nova Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3380 NuVinci or Shimano auto hubs
Bergamont E-CONTRAIL Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3399 Starting price fr ludicrously expensive MTB range
Moustache Dimanche 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2950 28mph SPORT CLASS. There are cheaper Sport class bikes, but not many weighing 18.7kg. Discounted end of line price.
Cube Nutrail Hybrid 500 Fat Bike Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3495 Fun fat bike for those with oodles of spare cash
Kalkhoff Integrale i8 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £3295 Gates belt drive and super lights, but little else to justify the price
Gepida Thoris Tandem Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh  2017 £3599 Claimed to be the only Bosch-equipped e-Tandem
Reise & Muller Packster 40 City Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3599 Cargo or child-carryer bike with Bosch assist. Also 40 Touring and longer 60 Touring
Koga E-WorldTraveller Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3650 Bosch-powered version of classic tough-as-boots touring bike
Reise & Muller Charger Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 1,000Wh  2017 £4295 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Yes, you could buy a small car for that, but with twin Bosch batteries and superlative equipment, this is something a bit special. Also Supercharger trim for £4315
Riese & Muller Homage Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £4675 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Riese & Muller Delite MTB range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £5400 Also with twin batteries at £6025
Stromer ST2 S Syno Drive Sport ?? 983Wh 2017 £5995 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
A limited edition says 50 Cycles, and it’s not surprising but you really do have moped performance and range here
Reise & Muller Delite GX Rohloff HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £6025 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
R&M love to break the price boundary, but it’s not really clear what makes this worth SO much more than the other Sport bikes?

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

Newly launched scooter-style machine
Around Town Scooters, Flat 4, Plantation Court, 41 Plantation Road, POOLE BH17 9LW
tel: 01202 640264

A S Bikes
Still fairly new
Coppice Close, Leamington Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, COVENTRY CV8 3FL
tel: 024 7630 3228

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

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

Now well established
Fallowgate Limited, Kellaway House, Marton Road, Sturton-by-Stow, LINCOLN LN1 2AH
tel: 01427 787774

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

Cracking technology in theory, but expensive and unreliable.
Correspondence only: BionX UK, 68 Boxworth End, Swavesey, CAMBRIDGE CB24 4RA
tel: 01223 911505

Always friendly, but wow are they expensive bikes
Riese und Müller GmbH, Haasstraße 6, 64293 DARMSTADT, Germany
tel: +49 6151 366860

BH Emotion
No UK Distributor at present

Cheerful purveyors of Chinese stuff
Unit 4, Downley Business Park, 12 Downley Park, HAVANT PO9
tel: 023 92 488300

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

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

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

New to the electric bike world
Sports PLC, Units 3 & 4 Lower Park Farm, Storrage Lane, ALVECHURCH, Worcestershire B48 7ER
tel: 01527 598388

Very serious player in a market that can be a bit flie-by-night
Cytronex Electric Bikes, 7 Bridge Street, WINCHESTER SO23 9BH
tel: 01962 866122
email: via website

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

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

Easy Ride
New and enthusiastic
Easy Ride Bikes, Silver Business Park, Airfield Way, CHRISTCHURCH, Dorset
tel: 01202 490404

New to us in 2016
Electric Bike Conversions, Unit 9, Pound Farm Industrial Estate, Holly Bush Lane, Datchworth SG3 6RE
tel: 01438 986007

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

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

Online sales from new UK start-up
tel: 07793 207 409

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

FreeGo & 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

Extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Cycle Heaven, 2 Bishopthorpe Road, YORK YO23 1JJ
tel: 01904 636578 / 651870 mail:

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

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

Refuses to acknowledge that we exist
KarbonKinetics Ltd, New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, LONDON EC4V 6BJ
tel: 01268 288208

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

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

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

The UK arm doesn’t NOT want to handle electric bikes…
Kettler (GB) Ltd, Merse Road, North Moons Moat, REDDITCH, Worcestershire B98 9HL
tel: 0845 026 5995

New, and pushing hard in the UK market
FLi Distribution Ltd, 62 Quarry Clough, Stalybridge, Cheshire SK15 2RW
tel: 0161 304 8555

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

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

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

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

Lovely people – helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Velospeed, The Old School House, ALDWORTH, Berkshire RG8 9TJ
tel: 01635 579304

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

Seems to be choosing its bikes well
Eco Transport Solutions Ltd, 4 Howmic Court, Arlington Road, EAST TWICKENHAM, TW1 2BD
tel: 0208 4040 782

UK distributor of Polaris stuff seems to have dropped e-Bikes
MotoGB, White Bear Yard, Park Road, Adlington, CHORLEY PR7 4HZ
tel: 0844 412 8450

Industry stalwart
Powabyke Ltd, 3 Wood Street, Queens Square, BATH BA1 2JQ
tel: 0845 6011475

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

Relatively new company and interesting bikes
Joule Bikes, 24 Beechwood Rise, PLYMOUTH PL6 8AP
tel: 0843 218 4762

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

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

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

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

Innovative electric bike from Mercedes Benz, but seems dead in the UK
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

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

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

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

There appears to be no UK distributor for Technium from 2014

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

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

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

Velorbis Concept Store, Peter Bangs Vej 53, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen 2000
tel: +45 31 11 00 30

Rapidly developing a name for itself
Electric Bike Store, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen Street, LONDON SE1 1YT
tel: 020 7378 4728

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

Selling new, neat-looking folding electric bike
Yachtmail Chandlery, Admirals Court, Town Quay, LYMINGTON SO41 3ET
tel: 01590 672784

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

Electric Motor and Battery Manufacturers Worldwide

Electric motor and battery manufacturers







Electric Bike Manufacturers by Motor and Battery System
Compiled by Richard Peace of Excellent Books, and co-author of Electric Bicycles

Crank Motors

Bafang   Formerly known as 8 Fun or Suzhou Bafang. 2015 saw a major launch of their crank drive (Max Drive) with a  European office and major  European brands adopting the drive. Also make geared hub motors and numerous kits.

Bofeili   Chinese maker with distinctive looking circular crank drive. Popular in Canada and the US as eProdigy.

Bosch   European crank drive market leader from the 2010s but rapidly being caught up by Shimano.

Brose   German manufacturer of crank motor initially popular on high end mountain bikes but now appearing on many other design too. Also the basis of the belt drive CeBS system from corporate giant Contitech.

Cevedale   Crank motor housed in the downtube from a company based in Taiwan.

DAPU   Appear to be Japanese designed but with a presence in China. Also make geared and gearless  motors.

Electragil   Unusual disc motor sitting on the non-chainwheel side of the bike. IN LIQUIDATION FROM 2014

Evelo   Easily recognisable by the cylinder under the bike frame. Evelo is US branded but one of the commonest makes of this motor system mass-produced in China. The same motor is also seen branded as Aseako in Austalia.

Greentrans   Taiwanese crank motor.

Kalkhoff Impulse EVO   Version 2 of this high quality German crank drive system has new features, including Shift Sensing for smooth gear changing and Climb Assist for smoothing out power delivery. 612Wh battery also from Kalkhoff. The 2014 version of the Impulse 2 system claimed to be 50% more powerful than the Bosch system and came in 250W and 350W (superfast 28mph rated) versions. From 2015 relaunched system was the Impulse EVO with smartphone compatible display.

MPF   High quality motor used by several high quality manufacturers.

Nidec Copal   Lightweight crank drive from Japan.

Optibike   Website says their crank motors have been ‘designed from the ground up’ and their own branded bikes are ‘hand-built in Boulder Colorado’.

Panasonic   One of the originators of the crank drive, now somewhat behind the game, though they are now venturing into new technical territory with their Multi-Speed Assist crank drive which combines a two speed gearbox with the motor.

Rocky Mountain   Canadian designed e-MTB system with high capacity 48V batteries. 

Shimano Steps   A new relatively light crank motor rapidly gaining ground on market leader Bosch.

TranzX   Part of the JD group which manufactured bike components, TranzX was launched in 1992 to develop electric bike systems.

TQ (Clean Motor)   Claimed weight 4.5kg with pedelec, S-pedelec and e-bike modes. A new 2014 motor now also comes in a 75kmh Race (R-pedelec) version.

Yamaha   PW series new for 2014 and used by Haibike MBs and Batavus.

Gear-less Motors

AEG   Rear transverse flux motor and crank mounted ‘disc’ motor. The AEG brand has been bought by Benchmark who launched these systems under the AEG label, Benchmark being subsequently bought by ContiTech.

Benchmark Neodrive / Xion   High end rear hub system.

Biactron / Klever Mobility   German manufacturer of own brand system for own brand bike.

BionX    Long time gear-less motor maker. Launched the extraordinary D-series in 2015.

Electric Torque Machines   US design and Taiwanese production and used in bikes such as the Swiss Stromer.

GO Swissdrive   High quality Swiss system with smartphone linked display from 2014.

Kappstein   Gearless motor with 2 automatic gears. Also produce a geared motor with 3 manual gears (see below). Designed in Australia & China and made in China.

Neo Drive   Controller and torque sensor integrated into rear hub regenerative motor.

Heinzmann DirectPower   Revitalised range in 2014, with 25kmh/45kmh and 250/500W variants.

Sparta ION   Introduced in 2003 and now used by Gazelle, Ghost and Koga. A high quality pioneer. Now produce an ION branded crank drive system too in cooperation with Yamaha (via parent company Accell).

Stromer / A2B / Syno   Good quality gear-less motor appearing on several makes. Hard to trace who exactly makes it!

TDCM   Gear-less hub motors in 250W and 500W versions from Taiwan.

Twinburst   French company pioneering two-wheel drive transmission with motors in both wheels.

Zehus WIZE hub   Formerly FlyKly, a rear hub system integrating almost all components into it and featuring Bluetooth wireless control.

Geared Motors

Bafang   Formerly known as 8 Fun or Suzhou Bafang. 2015 saw a major launch of their crank drive (Max Drive) with a  European office and major  European brands adopting the drive. Also make crank drive systems and kits.

Eego   Micro 120W motors for micro folding bikes.

Giant Sync Drive   Giant’s rear and front hub gear motors developed in conjunction with Yamaha.

Heinzmann   Very longstanding geared hub motor with a reputation for toughness in applications where weight is not critical eg town bikes and cargo bikes. With the arrival of a gear-less cousin this motor is now branded as ‘classic.’

Kappstein   Geared motor with three integrated hub gears. Also do a gear-less motor (see above). Designed in Australia & China and made in China.

SRAM E-matic   Rear-wheel hub includes a torque-sensor, controller, motor, and an automatic transmission system.

SR Suntour  Geared S-pedelec hub motor

Tongxin   Quiet and quite powerful hub motors relying on friction not gear teeth. Used by Ansmann and Nano amongst others.

Vivax Assist    Tiny seatpost tube housed motor driving directly onto the bottom bracket axle.

Power-assist Kits

Bafang BD S01 (UK version = Mojo and BD SO2 (with torque sensor)   Chinese crank drive system based around a pedal movement sensor (no torque sensor) but a powerful throttle option too. Now rebranded ECO.

BionX   Long time gear-less motor maker. Launched the extraordinary D-series in 2015.

Conv-E   Geared front hub motor made for quick installation. Designed in the UK and made and assembled  in Poland (information in 2014).

Ezee   An early industry presence making a comeback after battery difficulties. No current UK representation.

Heinzmann   Geared and gear-less kits. The geared kits are favoured for heavy duty applications and the gear-less for leisure use.

Sunstar   Japanese in origin, now based in Switzerland. Beautifully-engineered crank motor. Left the electric bike market completely in 2017.

Superpedestrian   Producers of the Copenhagen Wheel, an all in one hub containing all the electric bike elements.

Series Hybrid

Series hybrid’s are chainless designs that use your pedalling action to generate power for the motor. The idea is appealing but the efficiency is limited and the ride quality not always particularly great. 

Bike2   Clean looking design from Denmark

Mando Footloose   Folding design by Mark Sanders

X-PESA   Due to launch on the market in 2014. Developed by German giant bike conglomerate MIFA. Future of company uncertain after insolvency in 2014 but still trading in 2015 under new owners.

In Development

Bikeee   Geared bottom bracket style kit from Italy that has been in development for a while. 

Binova   Bottom bracket replacement style kit from Germany.

Bionicon   Yet another bottom bracket-style motor designed as an almost universal fit to existing bike frames. Motor itself developed in Germany and branded as E-RAM.

Bizmoz   Crank kit claiming unique patented magnet technology. Italian technical design.

BMZ   BMZ started life as a battery manufacturer but are now making moves into the motor market with both crank drive and hub drive components. 

Daymak Beast   Canadian off road ‘Beast’ featuring a direct drive motor with the option of lead-acid batteries.

E-novia Bike +   Milan based research project on regenerative power.

GeoOrbital   US design that looks to place all elements of the system inside a wheel; they remain stationary and the rim revolves.

Hubs Master    Taiwan company developing an ‘all in one’ wheel.

Michelin E-Drive Interesting looking friction drive with bespoke Michelin tyre, supposedly due early 2018.

Neox   Ingenious looking German kit mounting to non drive side of the pedal cranks.

Velocite   A hugely futuristic design, aiming to integrate motor technology into the design of the bike itself. Developed by Lightweight, German carbon fibre specialists

Vinka    Appears to be a Japanese firm with Chinese offices making crank drives and automotive parts. No other info apart from this so these interesting looking motors may or may not have been released onto the market. 

Battery Manufacturers


Bosch   The Bosch system uses 36V 300Wh and 400Wh batteries. Their power tool batteries are also used by Nano and  ARCC.

KULR   Specialists in thermal management of lithium batteries – ie preventing overheating and battery fires

Mac Allister   Now out of production. Small 4Ah 36V (144Wh) batteries manufactured for a range of power tools sold via the UK’s B&Q DIY chain and sold briefly with the Nano-Brompton system (see Tongxin above under kits).

Phylion   Traditionally a maker of budget batteries with a poor reputation for reliability. Has opened offices in the Netherlands.

Samsung   South Korean firm with a reputation for reliability

Sanyo   Purchased by Panasonic in 2009.


Simplo   The second biggest e-bike battery producer after Bosch, based in Taiwan and initially specialising in notebook batteries before diversifying. 


Momentum Model T and Upstart

Momentum Electric Bikesmomentum-model-T-electric-bikeIf we were going to specify a Chinese bike ourselves, we’d go for a light responsive frame with a reason- able size battery mounted low down in the middle of it, a light, efficient motor in the front wheel, a two- or three-speed hub in the back wheel, and very little else.

A few months ago, we had a visit from two young engineers: Ying-Tsao Tan and Andreas Törpsch, who – it turned out – had designed a bike that more or less fitted the bill. If you wanted to design an electric bike from scratch, you couldn’t do much better than employ these two: Ying-Tsao graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Product Design, then worked as an engineering team leader at Hoover, and Andreas left the Technical University of Chemnitz with a degree in Sports Engineering, then spent some time at Extra Energy as head of testing. For those who don’t know, ExtraEnergy is the bigger and much more expensive German version of A to B, testing and appraising electric bikes. Andreas was involved in the testing of over 200 bikes while he was there, giving him a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t, and a picture of what he wanted from an electric bike.

Ying-Tsao discovered electric bikes while on business in China, and found himself wondering why this exciting new technology was growing so slowly in Europe. Andreas, meanwhile, was testing bikes that were either too expensive or badly made, and wondering why no-one had yet produced a workable yet affordable bike. They were to meet quite by chance, when Ying-Tsao approached a friend working at ExtraEnergy to join the electric bike project, but found he was busy with his PhD. He suggested Andreas, who turned out to be the perfect match, bringing good solid hands-on electric bike experience and a great deal of knowledge about the European market.


By early 2012, the pair had a working prototype. It had a few power-control issues, and the frame was a bit small, but it looked good and it worked well. By March, they had developed a much slicker machine, and the project really began to take off.

…there’s no need to stop pedalling, no fiddling with levers, and no nasty noises…

The bike is now in production, or at least, it will be in a few weeks, and we have finally had a chance to give a pre-production machine a proper test. The eventual aim is to develop all sorts of innovations, but for now, they’ve wisely gone for the two most marketable prospects: the ‘Model T’, a well-equipped step-thru aimed, one assumes, at urban ladies, and the ‘Upstart’, a stripped down, sporty roadster, more likely to appeal to men.To keep things simple, both frames come in a single size, and the sizing has been chosen with care, such that just about everyone could live with either bike, although the ladies frame is pretty small and the gents quite large.

The Momentum USPs are SRAM’s new ‘Automatix’ self-changing two-speed hub, and a simple, but reliable torque sensor on the crank. There are no gear levers, no twist grips, and thus no safety issues. And with twistgrip throttles outlawed in many places, the bikes should be future-proofed for most world markets without adaptation.

Only two gears? Really? Yes really. One thing electric bikes don’t need is hundreds of gears, and we’ve been very impressed with some three- and four-speed machines in the past. In urban conditions, the Automatix hub is absolutely superb.You start pedalling, and when road speed hits anything up to 11.3mph (depending on wheel size), the bike shifts up to top gear. There’s no need to stop pedalling, no fiddling with levers, and no nasty noises. Changing down, the shift takes place below 10mph, and it is not quite so automatic, because you need to stop pedalling briefly for the gears to engage. At the moment, the gear range (from direct drive in first, to a 124% overdrive in top) is a bit limited, but SRAM is introducing a 136% model for 2013, which should help matters no end.

At the heart of the Momentum concept is SRAM’s new Automatix hub. It works well and should find many applications

At the heart of the Momentum concept is SRAM’s new Automatix hub. It works well and should find many applications

The Automatix is presumably designed for the enormous Dutch and German roadster market, and as far as we know, Momentum are the first people to try this gear system on an electric bike. The power from the motor doesn’t run through the hub, because it’s in the front wheel, but the oomph from the motor, allied to the smooth step-less gear change results in some very effective acceleration.

Although the Upstart and Model T share the same motor and battery, they have very different characteristics, so we’ll deal with them separately.

The Upstart


The Upstart is best described as minimalist. You’ll have to add a few extras to ride in all weathers

After riding the Tonaro (see page 20), the Upstart seems incredibly light, and at 19.8kg with battery, it just scrapes in below the magic 20kg barrier. That it doesn’t break any records is largely down to the chunky Bafang motor, but everything else is pretty light. Electrics aside, this is a really well sorted machine.You can ride for miles hands free, which is unusual for an electric bike, and the handling is safe and precise. The brakes are neat Tektro calipers, and the tyres are big 700x32C, 28-inch semi-slick jobs, which make this relatively small bike look all wheel, and rather sexy. There isn’t much else to tell you about, because the Upstart has no stand, no rack, no mudguards, no nothing except tyres to grip the road, motor and pedals to make it go, and brakes to stop. But what there is has been chosen with infinite care.

The AUTORQ™ sensor on the bottom bracket is a good example.We’ve never seen one before, because it’s made in the Far East for the Japanese market. The boys from Momentum don’t want to take the credit for designing it, because they didn’t, but they sourced it, and it’s exactly the right component for the job. Unlike many torque sensors, it doesn’t dart off the minute you press on the pedals, which is a nice safety feature, but can be a problem starting on a really steep hill, because the pedals have to go a quarter turn or so before the motor picks up. Power does come in very quickly though, and once you’re away, you’re really away, racing up through the 11mph gear shift, and topping out at 17mph, at which pace pedal cadence is very comfortable.


Pedal torque sensors are generally limited to top-end electric bikes. The Autorq works very well

With only two gears to play with, the ratios are obviously going to be something of a compromise, but Momentum has gone for 66″ and 82″, which is perfect: low enough to give rocketbooster acceleration, but high enough to spin up to 17mph with ease, and on to 24mph or more without assistance if the conditions are right.

In town, the bike is a real point-and-squirt machine. At the lights, it leaves all the clunky derailleur bikes searching for gears, and will outpace most electric bikes too, because the Upstart is damned efficient: you put human and electric power in at one end, and road speed comes out the other. For our money, the upward gear change comes a little early, but surprisingly, the Automatix is non-adjustable, changing gear at a set wheel speed, so the change is fixed at just over 11mph with this big-wheeler, but it would be less than 7mph on a small-wheeled folder. This fixed change speed rather dictates the gear ratios a manufacturer can offer, because if – for example – Dahon was to specify high gearing to give a 16-inch bike a reasonable top speed, first gear would be a bit of a struggle and the bike would change up before your legs had really got going. The hub is ideal for the relatively slow Dutch bigwheelers it’s designed for, and it’s OK on the Upstart, but because it’s quite high geared, your legs never really get up to speed in first gear. This should all be sorted when the wide-range hubs arrive in 2013.

As you ride faster, the motor continues to pull nice and cleanly, before running very gently out of steam at around 17mph, giving a perfect top speed: high enough to add a bit of excitement to your daily commute, but more or less legal (there will always be a few percent of leeway). Compared to the Tonaro, which hunts in and out of engagement at cruising speed, the Upstart never surges or jumps, and on such a free-running bike, it’s easy to leave the motor behind on the very gentlest of downgrades, and pedal on up into the low twenties mph at a surprisingly comfortable cadence.

…we restarted on a 1:6 gradient without standing out of the saddle…surely a first for a 66″ gear?

Range, Battery & Charging

Urban use is all well and good, but what about the open road? On our flat commuter route, the Upstart felt quite at home, knocking off the more or less flat, near ten-mile ride in 31 minutes. That’s blindingly fast for a ‘legal’ bike, and it’s beaten only by the CVTequipped Raleigh Dover – which has a very high top gear, and thus cuts along at quite a rate on the flat – and the Cytronex Trek, which is similar in concept to the Upstart, proving once again that the best electric bikes are the best riding machines, and not necessarily the most powerful, or indeed the fastest. We’ve ridden eight bikes that were faster, including the Tonaro tested elsewhere in this issue, but in terms of efficiency, bikes like the Cytronex and Momentum Upstart are in a class of their own, using about 8 watt/hours a mile at these fairly high speeds. They’re efficient because they roll well, have gentle, but powerful motors, low wind resistance, and are pleasant to ride.

momentum-electric-bike-straight-on-upstart_1On our longer hillier course, the Upstart didn’t feel quite so at home, but for a two-speed machine it was very impressive. The top gear of 82″ allows you to pedal at a fair old pace, but as the hills close in, the bike is soon grinding along at 15mph or less, and at this speed the pedal cadence is low, and thus relatively ineffective. If the hill gets steeper, you need first gear, but the bike won’t change down until you’re down to 9.5mph, and by this time, the motor (which of course, hasn’t changed gear) is grumbling along rather slowly. Despite all these compromises, the Upstart does surprisingly well. Gradients as steep as 1:10 can just about be tackled in top gear, while the limit in first gear is about 1:6, or steeper if you have chunky calf muscles. Believe it or not, the Upstart restarted on our 1:6 test hill, and we climbed a further 200 feet without standing out of the saddle surely a first with a 66″ gear?

There are three power settings, but to be honest we could barely tell the difference, and restarting on the hill was the only time we came out of ‘Low’, which suggests there’s far more power being delivered than the bike really needs. Momentum says the Low setting will be recalibrated, which makes sense, and should help to increase the range. The impressive power in Low resulted in a healthy average speed of 16.5mph for the first hour or so, but it later fell back to 15.8mph – still more than a match for many sportier, more powerful bikes.

Range was a little bit disappointing for a machine that had proved so efficient on the flat, thanks to all that grinding up hills at low motor speed, which is bound to take a toll on the battery. The fuel gauge is a simple voltage-sensing array of four LEDs, and they aren’t terribly helpful. The first LED was permanently out by six miles, and the second at 19.5 miles, suggesting a range of some 40 miles. Not the case unfortunately, because the bike momentarily cut out on a hill at 22.7 miles, losing the third LED at about the same time, and the motor began to baulk at steep gradients at 25.8 miles, and on gradients of any kind at 27 miles.You can go further, but an electric motor obviously serves little purpose if it won’t climb hills.

Fuel consumption came out at 10.8Wh/mile, which is respectable, but not groundbreaking, and could clearly be improved with a spot of recalibration.

The battery is a neat little device with a claimed capacity of 324Wh, which sounds the right sort of ball-park, because we got 292Wh out of one, and 322Wh out of the other. Charging takes about five hours at 70 to 80 watts, which used to be considered quite fast, but is now only average. The charger, incidentally, is the same unit that came with the Tonaro, but at this slightly lower charge rate it only gets warmish, rather than hot.


The speed controller shows three assistance levels on the left, and a rather ineffective fuel gauge on the right. This is the Upstart gauge – the Model T has a light switch at top right

Model T

Momentum Model T

The Model T is well equipped for a mid-priced electric bike, with LED lights, mudguards, a full chainguard and a big chunky rack

Although technically very similar, the Model T has a completely different character to the Upstart. It’s a small step-thru bike with wide, swept back, almost cruiser-style handlebars, a big chunky rack, mudguards, Spanninga LED lights powered from the traction battery and smaller 26-inch tyres. Were we in the habit of using outmoded, gender stereotypical terminology, we might call it a ladies bike, but it’s suitable for anyone who does a bit of shopping and doesn’t fancy getting their leg over a top tube. Interestingly though, the yummymummy panel from the Manor Park First School reception class were very keen on the look of the bike, from the leatherette saddle to the classic 26×13/8″ whitewall tyres, which should please Momentum, although there was one proviso that we shall come to.

The most important difference to the Upstart is markedly lower gearing of 55″ and 68″. The bike uses the same automatic hub, so the smaller wheels mean the upchange point drops very slightly to about 10mph.You’d expect the downshift to drop accordingly but it’s still 9.5mph, with a more audible click, which suggests there may be some variability in the Automatix hubs.

 …the younger, racier yummy-mummies expect a bit more than 15mph from their urban roadsters…

With much lower gearing, pedal cadence is of course, much higher, so you can get up to a reasonable pedal speed in first gear, although your legs will be going round in a bit of a blur above 15mph in top. If you’re in a hurry you can pedal on up to 17mph or more, because the motor keeps pulling for a bit longer. Momentum claims that the motor cuts out at the legal speed limit, but we’re fairly sure it keeps spinning at higher speeds when you push hard on the pedals, as most other systems do.

Once again, ratios are a difficult compromise, and although we thought a 68″ top gear was rather low, it proved exactly right for our friend Mary from up the road, who offered to buy the Model T after the briefest of rides. It did however prove a disappointment to the younger, racier yummy-mummies who expect a bit more than 15mph from their urban cruisers. Fortunately, with a hub gear, ratio fine-tuning is easy and cheap. The bike starts life with a middle of the road 18-tooth rear sprocket, which can be swopped for something bigger or smaller to give a top gear anywhere between 50-something inches and 90 inches.

We assumed that Momentum has restricted peak power on the Model T, but this is apparently not the case. Odd, because hill climbing is certainly inferior to the Upstart, despite the Model T’s lower pedal gearing, and slightly lower motor gearing thanks to the smaller wheels. Our 1:6 restart proved a bit of a struggle on the Model T, presumably because the riding position makes it difficult to put power into the system with your legs.

As the Model T struggles a bit keeping up with urban traffic, it’s not surprising that it soon looks a bit out of its depth on a long hilly-crosscountry ride. With a maximum pedalling speed of 15 to 16mph, you end up freewheeling quite a bit on the flat. Hills should be easy, but as we’ve said, hillclimbing is nothing special, although the higher pedal cadence in the low ratio is very welcome.

After a dozen or so miles, the handlebars feel a bit uncomfortable on the wrists, but the sprung saddle, and extra bounce in the 13/8″ tyres give a very comfortable ride. Handling is good, but not on a par with the Upstart, and the brakes are merely good (front V-brake) and adequate (rear band brake). On a faster bike we’d consider this device alarmingly weak and lacking in feel, but for the rear end of an urban potterer like the Model T, it’s fine.

The laws of physics being what they are, there has to be a bonus from the lower gearing and modest top speed. On our long hilly circuit, the first LED lasted until 12 miles, the second until 24.8 miles, which once again suggested a lot more to come, although yet again the gauge proved over-optimistic: the bike cut out on a hill at 29 miles, and failed very quickly thereafter, refusing its first hill at 30.6 miles, and more or less running out of steam at 31.7 miles. At 10.2 Wh/mile, consumption is very good, and you’d be hard pressed to find anything better under these testing conditions. Speed fell marginally over the ride, from a modest 14.8mph at 14 miles, to 14.5mph at the end.


The discrete battery is modelled on crank-drives like the Panasonic, but in this case the motor is in the front wheel

Surprisingly, considering how much time the bike spends freewheeling, it used nearly as much power on our shorter, flatter commuter route, but these things happen. The Model T again made surprisingly good time: 36 minutes for a shade under ten miles, which comes out at 14.9mph – comparable to the more leisurely sort of electric bike and about the same as the very fastest non-assisted folders. Two gears are more than adequate for a ten-mile commute if you aren’t in a searing hurry, and the bonus is fuel consumption of only 9.9Wh/mile. It could be even lower, with some gentle recalibration. The Model T would probably benefit from slightly higher gearing and reduced power in Low, because once again, we did almost everything on the lowest power setting.

The lights are a real bonus on a bike at this level. They’re relatively cheap, single LED jobs, and the output and focus is obviously not up to Busch & Muller standards, but they work well enough (especially the neat rear light) and they are powered from the battery, with a convenient little switch on the handlebar nacelle, so there are no fiddly batteries, no dynamo, and lights whenever you need them. It’s the sort of equipment every electric bike should have, but very few do.

Looking elsewhere, the rack is really big and substantial, there’s a full chainguard and full mudguards. Being secured only at the front and back, the rear guard gets into a proper old shimmy on bumpy roads, and really needs either another pair of stays midway, or a bracket to the rack – something that should be sorted by the time the bikes hit the shops. Missing from both models is a stand.We’re in two minds about this – stands are heavy and unreliable, but without one, you have to look for a convenient wall every time you stop. An accessory we would certainly like to see is a rear wheel lock. They don’t weigh much, and will deter an opportunist thief from ‘alfinching your wheels.

…value for money bikes offering similar spec and performance to those costing £1,500 plus…

The accessories add a fair bit of weight to the Model T, but at 24kg overall (21.4kg without the battery), it’s lighter than most comparable bikes costing a great deal more, which will be good news for the design team. Obviously it would be nice if it was lighter, but taking more weight out of a bike begins to add a great deal of cost, and most people should be able to lug 24kg up at least a couple of steps.


We have yet to mention price. Both bikes are expected to cost £1,095, which sounds a lot, but is mid-range these days. It’s a shame Momentum couldn’t squeeze in below the £1,000 barrier, but it’s a pretty good price point all the same. These are attractive, efficient and practical bikes, with five-year frame warranties, and – much more importantly – two years on the electrical parts, including the battery. Most electric bikes at this price are trashy MTBstyle beasts with fail-as-you-watch batteries, dicey gears and other dubious components from the Chinese export bin.

The Momentum bikes really are a breath of fresh air, and the only opposition worthy of the name comes from Raleigh’s budget range, which now apparently starts at only £1,000. Like the Momentum, these bikes have been sourced from Far Eastern factories by people who know what they are looking for in a bike, and they are also pretty good for the price. Crucially though, we don’t think they’re a match for these simple, elegant, effective machines. They’re less well equipped than the Model T, and less peppy than the Upstart, which just goes to show that a small manufacturer can still beat the multi-nationals if if it knows its market really well (and let’s face it – that’s why we’re still here).

Momentum has got off to a flying start with a pair of bikes that are well sorted, carefully specced and great fun to ride. We think, however, that there should be two distinct step-thru models: the sedate one we’ve tried here, and something very nearly as sporty as the Upstart for younger customers. Fortunately, recalibration is even easier than changing sprockets these days, so making these sort of changes should be neither time-consuming nor expensive.

Barring any disasters, the bikes should walk off the shelves at £1,095, because they are far superior to anything else at the price, and it’s not often we get to say that. Momentum’s stated mission was to produce bikes that were both desirable and value for money, with similar spec and performance to those retailing for £1,500 plus. From what we can see, the mission has been accomplished.

Momentum Electric, Unit 9, Cornelius Drebbel House, 5 Empson Street, LONDON E3 3LT
tel 0333 0117777  web email


Momentum Electric Upstart Momentum Electric Model T
Price £1,095 £1,095
Weight Bike 17.3kg Battery 2.5kg
Total 19.8kg (44lbs)
Bike 21.4kg Battery 2.5kg
Total 23.9kg (53lbs)
Battery Li-ion Capacity (As measured) 292Wh . Replacement Cost £345 Li-ion Capacity (As measured) 322Wh . Replacement Cost £345
Maximum Range 27 miles 31.7 miles Gears
Gears 66-inch & 82-inch 55-inch & 68-inch
Full Charge 5 hours 5 hours
Consumption 10.8 Watt-hours/Mile 10.2 Watt-hours/Mile

Professor Pivot

Electric Bike Technical Guide

Electric Bike Technical Guide

Professor Pivot answers your electric bike technical questions

What is VOLTAGE and which Voltage is best?

Voltage can be thought of as the pressure or strength of electric power. All things being equal (see AMPS below), the higher the voltage the better, because high voltages pass more efficiently through wires and motors. Very high voltages (100+ volts) can give you a nasty shock because they also travel through people rather well, but the sort of voltages found on electric bikes (12 – 36 volts) are quite safe. In the early days,12-volt systems were used for low-powered machines, but today the industry norm is 36 volts, with a trend towards 48 volts, especially for more powerful machines. Electric mopeds and motorcycles tend to use 48 or 60 volts.

What are AMPS?

Amps can be thought of as the volume or quantity of electric power. To aid this analogy, the flow of amps is called the current, as in the flow of a river. Unlike a river, though, the speed of the current is fixed – only the volume varies.

The maximum flow of amps in a bike drive system can vary from 10 to 60 or more. A current of 60 amps requires thick wiring and quite substantial switchgear.

What are WATTS?

Once we know the voltage (or pressure) and current (or volume), we can calculate the power, or wattage by multiplying the two figures together. The number of watts in a system is the most important figure of all, because it defines the power output. A few examples of electric bikes:

The Zap motor draws 20 Amps x 12 Volts = 240 Watts
The Giant Twist Lite draws 15 Amps x 24 Volts = 360 Watts
The Powabyke draws 20 Amps x 36 Volts = 720 Watts
The Curry Drive draws 40 Amps x 24 Volts = 960 Watts

Despite having a fairly low voltage, the Curry is the most powerful motor, followed by the Powabyke and the Twist, with the Zap coming in last. It’s impossible to calculate the power without knowing both the number of amps and volts. Large machines, like cars, trains and trucks have their power measured in the same way – usually as kilowatts, or units of 1,000 watts. The old-fashioned ‘horsepower’ unit is the equivalent of about 750 watts.

Well, yes and no. The legal limit refers to the continuous power output, whereas the figures above are for absolute maximum power. Most motors can give maximum output for a minute or two, but they’d melt if asked to do it all day – just like a cyclist. Obviously, maximum power is more useful than continuous power as a guide to the way a bike will climb a hill. Look at the spec of bikes on sale and you may see 200 watts, 250 watts or (illegally) 400 watts. These figures are only a rough guide to the true maximum power output.

How many watts do I need?

As a general rule, a cyclist can produce several hundred watts briefly, and one hundred watts for a reasonable length of time. To be really useful, a motor needs to produce another 100 Watts on a continuous basis, with peak power of at least 400 watts. Just to confuse things, our measurements are of power consumption – losses in the motor and drive system mean that the power output to the wheel can be much lower.

If you expect the motor to do most of the work, especially in a hilly area, you’ll want a peak consumption of 600 watts or more. On the other hand, if you prefer gentle assistance, a peak of 200 watts may be enough. For a moped, power will be measured in thousands of watts (kilowatts or kW) rather than watts. A continuous rating of one kilowatt will just about keep up with city traffic, but two or three are more useful, and motorcycles will obviously need a lot more to keep up with traffic out of town.

How big a battery do I need?

The capacity of the battery is usually measured as the amount of current it can supply over time (defined as amp/hours). However, this is useless on its own, because you’ll need to know the voltage too. By multiplying the two figures together, we get watt/hours – a measure of the energy content of the battery. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple… but you didn’t think it would be, did you? In practice, you’re unlikely to get results that match the stated capacity of a battery, because battery capacity varies according to the temperature, battery condition, and the rate that current is taken from it.

Lead/acid batteries are tested at the ’20-Hour’ rate. This is the number of amps that can be continuously drawn from the battery over a period of 20 hours. However, an electric bike will usually exhaust its battery in an hour or two, and at this higher load, the battery will be much less efficient. So the figures for lead/acid batteries tend to look optimistic.

On the other hand, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries are rated at a 1-Hour discharge rate, so although the stated capacity of a NiCd battery might only be half that of a lead/acid battery, performance on an electric bike will be much the same. Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH) are measured at the 5-Hour rate, so their performance tends to be somewhere between the two.

The default capcity for an electric bike battery in 2015 is 360Wh (36 volts x 10 amp/hours), but capacities are gradually increasing. In the past they have varied widely, from Powabyke’s 504 watt/hour giant (36 volts x 14 amp/hours) to the tiny 84 watt/hour pack on the early SRAM Sparc kit.

It’s best to choose a package that will provide twice your normal daily mileage. It’s difficult to guess the mileage from the watt/hour capacity, because actual performance depends on the bike and motor efficiency, battery type, road conditions, and your weight and level of fitness.

How can I measure the efficiency of an electric bike?

We measure overall efficiency by dividing the watt/hours used by the battery charger by the mileage achieved, giving a figure of watt/hours per mile. This varies according to the terrain, the weight and riding style of the rider and the type of battery and charger, but our figures are measured in exactly the same way for each test, so they should be comparable, bike against bike. The best we’ve seen is 8 watt/hours per mile, and the worst is 32… Typically, an electric bike will consume 10 – 20 watt/hours per mile. So a big battery like the Powabyke’s will give a range of between 15 miles (doing all the work in quite hilly terrain) and 50 miles (a joint effort in flat terrain). This is fine for most uses, although it’s a big, heavy battery. A typical 360Wh Li-ion battery should give a range of about 25 miles.

Do electric bikes recharge when you coast downhill?

With the exception of the Canadian BionX, the answer is generally NO. Taking into account wind-resistance, road friction and so on, there’s surprisingly little energy left over for recharging the battery, even before generator and battery losses are taken into account. In most systems the motor coasts when you ride downhill, but those that don’t (mainly electric scooters) are capable of putting back only 15% of the power absorbed climbing the hill. Regenerative systems do have their advantages though – mainly in reducing brake wear and over-heating.

Which battery type is best?

Lead-acid batteries are cheap and easily recycled, but they are sensitive to maltreatment and have a limited life. They are rare on modern bikes.
Weight for weight, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) gives more capacity, but it’s expensive and the cadmium is a nasty pollutant and difficult to recycle when the battery fails. The life is greater, which tends to compensate, but disposal problems mean that nickel-cadmium has been phased out.
Nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) is theoretically more efficient still, but these batteries are more expensive, and because the capacity is measured at the more generous 5-Hour rate, the advantage is not what it appears to be. Our experience is that NiMH offers little, if any, improvement in range over NiCd. They are, however, easier and safer to dispose of when they eventually fail, and the good ones will last for a considerable time.
But NiMH is now rare, because 95% of modern electric bikes come with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. These are more weight-efficient than the other types, and are very sensitive to abuse, and have a much shorter life even if looked after with great care. Charging and discharging must be carefully controlled to prevent the cells going into terminal meltdown, so either the charger, the battery or both will be packed with electronics. Fires are now rare(!), but initial hopes that costs would tumble proved unfounded, and these batteries are still expensive. Cheaper brands abound, but their life can be very limited. Despite these problems, the Li-ion has become the default battery. Lithium-ion Polymer (usually called Li-pol) doesn’t really offer any performance advantage in terms of weight or range of Li-ion, but it’s safer and can be moulded into interesting shapes. The life of Li-ion batteries is gradually improving, but you’re still doing well to see four years.

Which charger is best?

Swings and roundabouts here. Batteries do not take kindly to fast charging, although NiCd and NiMH are more tolerant than lead-acid, which can start very fast, but prefers a long tapering charge thereafter. A fast (sub four hour) charger makes a great difference to the flexibility of an electric machine. You can, for instance, travel for the full range in the morning, recharge while visiting a friend, and run home in the afternoon. No lead-acid charger can do this, although the best NiCd or NiMH chargers will. Newer Li-ion batteries with the control circuitry on board usually have a very simple charger, but the charge rate with this type will be relatively slow for safety reasons. An advantage is that most 36-volt designs now come with a standard 3-pin battery plug, so the chargers are often interchangeable. For basic commuting, an overnight charger is safest and kindest to the battery, but if you expect to push a high daily mileage, you’ll need something faster.

Should I choose a brushless motor?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of electric motor –

Direct Current motors – simple but comparatively heavy and slightly less efficient, and
Brushless DC (BLDC) motors – smaller, lighter and more efficient over a broader speed range, but with complicated wiring
Sensorless, brushless DC (Sensorless BLDC) motors – even smaller, lighter and more efficient, with simpler wiring, but slightly tricky to start

Direct Current motors have brushes to transfer power into the rotating bit. They are simple and reasonably reliable, but now very rare, fitted to abut 5% of bikes. The vast majority (around 80%) of electric bikes now use brushless DC motors. These are a bit more efficient, because they use electronics and sensors in the motor to do the bit the mechanical brushes do, but the sensors are linked to the control box by tiny wires, so they’re vulnerable to mechanical damage. A more recent development is the brushless, sensorless DC motor, fitted to about 15% of bikes, but the number is gradually increasing. This uses clever electronics to eliminate both the brushes and the sensors, so everything is simpler except the electronics, which are fiendish. Sensorless BLDC will probably take over from BLDC, but don’t rule out Direct Curent brushed motors! They may have mechanical brushes, but they’re mercifully short of complex electronics.

What should I look for in an electric bike?

We’ve put together an electric bike specification wish-list below. At the present time, there are no machines that win in every category, but the closer yours gets the better. If the salesman is unable to provide all the answers, or starts blustering or attempting to blind you with science, we’d recommend looking elsewhere. A good shop should be able to provide most of the figures in a straightforward and honest manner, but some are quite incompetent:

Weight: Less than 30kg (66lb)

Price: Obviously as little as possible, but realistically, expect to pay £1,000+

Maximum assisted speed: Not less than 15mph (legal maximum), and preferably 18mph

Peak power: More than 300 watts

Power consumption: Less than 10 watt/hours per mile

Range**: More than 25-30 miles

Battery type: NiMH or Li-ion (nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion)

Replacement battery price: As little as possible, but realistically, you’ll have to pay £300-£400 for a decent one. Whatever the price, INSIST on a two year guarantee

** You’ll need to verify this for yourself – manufacturers figures are universally dubious

A few other pointers: If you are expecting to tackle very steep hills (in excess of 17%, or 1 in 6), we’d recommend a Crank Drive motor. This type puts power through the rear gear system and can be fine-tuned to suit almost any environment. It’s the best system if you can afford it. The more common Hub Motor effectively has only one gear, and although some are very powerful, it will prove less efficient in a really hilly area. For most other purposes a hub motor is fine, but avoid Friction Drive unless you intend to make light use of the bike. The roller and/or the tyre tend to wear out in a few hundred miles.

Electric Bike Manufacturers Worldwide

Electric Bike Manufacturers Worldwide
Compiled by Richard Peace of Excellent Books, and co-author of Electric Bicycles

For a list of UK based electric bike distributors and manufacturers please refer to Section 6. of our UK Electric Bike Price Guide.


Electric Bike Manufacturers

Name Description Manufacture Design
8 Fun A Chinese Giant now with direct UK sales doing both kits and whole bikes. China China China-China
Aerobic Cruiser A range of semi-recumbent machines from a firm in Memphis, US.
AGOGS Czech-based company with Chinese made hub motor machines, selling in
central and western Europe. Bikes are based on well-known Bafang motor
systems. AGOGS also act as resellers of Protanium bikes.
China China China-China
Aima Apparently Chinas fourth largest manufacturer of electric bikes China China
Akkurad Manufacturer of electric-assist velo mobiles and add-on kits. Various Germany World.Germany
Single speed bikes with a claimed weight of 14-17kg
Various Estonia
Ansmann Maker of batteries, drive systems and retrofit kits.
Stopped making electric bikes in 2015. Concentrating on developing and selling new systems .
China Germany
Antec Hub-motor pedelecs. China Netherlands China-Netherlands
Anthrotech Recumbent tricycle manufacturer with electric-assist option. Various Germany
AS Bikes Budget folders. China China China-China
Ave German-made city-styled pedelecs. Taiwan Germany Taiwan-Germany
Avon Mainly moped style electric bikes and scooters serving the Indian market.
Azor Hub motor systems fitted to classic Dutch style Omafiets or ‘granny bikes’. Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands-Netherlands
Babboe Dutch cargo bikes in the ‘bakfiets’ style.
Bangkok Cycle Industrial Co Ltd Mass producer of more than 1 million bicycles annually. Thailand Thailand Thailand.Thailand
Batavus Dutch style city bikes – part of the Accell group, so extremely similar in style to Sparta. Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands-Netherlands
Batribikes Range of hub motor bikes. China China China-China
Bauer Hub-motor pedelecs plus Bosch crank motor options. Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Bear Print Chinese hub motor machines with a 2 year battery guarantee. China China China China
Beat Bikes Chinese made mini-folding bikes. China China China China
Benelli Unusually have opted for a single road race design with rear hub motor.
Bergamont German based company producing Bosch and Shimano powered machines. Various Germany
BESV Stylish high end city bikes from Taiwanese manufacturer Darfon.
BigFish Folder with the Japanese Sunstar kit added.

May not be in production since 2012.

Multiple Italy Multiple - Italy
Binbike Belgian-based manufacturer of crystalyte hub-motored town bikes. China Belgium China-Belgium
Blix Slimline looking town and folding bikes. Appears to be a US / Swedish concern.
Bottechia Now a mixture of Chinese style pedelecs with hub motors and Shimano STEPS and Bafang crank drives.


Multiple Italy
Bridgestone High quality Japanese pedelecs. Japan Japan Japan-Japan
Bronx Reasonably priced, lightweight UK bikes. Taiwan United Kingdom Taiwan-United Kingdom
Byocycles Range of hub motor bikes. China China China-China
Cleanairbike A highly unusual fuel-cell powered cargo bike.


Claud Butler Hub motor style bikes from a longstanding UK manufacturer. China United Kingdom China-UK
COBOC Sleek German single speed design Germany
Corratec German designed pedelec with Bosch and Shimano crank drive motors. Germany / Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Cube High tech models featuring wireless technology. Storck hub motor technology used under license.
Cutting Edge NO EVIDENCE STILL IN PRODUCTION China China China-China
Cycles Maximus Powered tricycles for heavy duty business style use. Redesigned for 2013. United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom-United Kingdom
Cyclotricity Part assembled in the UK  China / UK China China-UK
Cytronex Using their own bespoke electrics with the excellent Tongxin friction hub motor, these are some of raciest, lightest bikes around. China United Kingdom China-United Kingdom
Dahon Dahon Boost using a Sunstar pedelec system has been replaced by the even heavier Ciao Ei7 with Tranz-X motor system. China China China-China
Ecolo Cycle A range of Asian made machines aimed at the Canadian market.
Eden Bikes Nice simple looking bikes from Taiwan with a Dutch feel. Possibly no longer in existence.  –
Eflow Powerful town bikes from Furth, Germany.  –  –
E-motion Spanish manufacturer using a wide variety of motor systems. Multiple Spain Japan-Spain
Energie  U.S. based firm using Bafang crank drives and quick chargers delivery 7 amp charging China ?
Enzobike US company’s take on a 20″ folder with hub motor
Estelle A range of city, touring and trekking bikes fitted with high-quality Heinzmann hub motors and also ‘specials’ such as the unique Smike with detachable sidecar. Germany Germany Germany-Germany
EZ pedaler US-branded Chinese hub motor machines. China China China-China
Freway US based MTB style rear-hub motor models  
Freygeist Claimed weight of 12kg for a rear hub motor model. 
FST Hub motor design and manufacture.


China Japan China-Japan
Gazelle High quality Dutch bikes. Hub and crank drives. Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands-Netherlands
Geobyev Chinese hub motor machines


China China China-China
Gepida Hungarian makers using Bosch technology plus their own design. Multiple Hungary Multiple - Hungary
Giant 2016 bikes now use Yamaha syncdrive crank motors China Taiwan China-Taiwan
Gitane French take on the Panasonic crank drive. Japan France Japan-France
GoCycle Stylish, unique British design. Demountable, with magnesium frame.
Goericke Pedelecs with hub motors and Bosch crank motors


Grace High end, made to order germanic ‘superbikes’ Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Greens Pedelecs with Bosch motors.
Greenspark Italian branded Chinese style machines
Gtech  From the makers of cordless vacuum cleaners. Single speed with belt drive.   
Haibikes Bosch and Yamaha motor driven with high quality components. Trekking and mountain bike models. Germany Germany Multiple-Germany
Halfords Halfords bikes, sold under their own Carrera brand. Suntour motor Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Harbin Dutch branded Chinese style bikes
Hase Various kits fitted to unusual tandem recumbent. Germany China Germany-China
Hebb Hub motor machines.


Heisenberg Range of crank powered bikes from German based company Various Germany  –
Helkama Finnish-made pedelecs using a range of Panasonic crank drive systems. Japan Finland Japan-Finland
Hercules Using Bosch, Shimano and Suntour systems China Germany China-Germany
Hero Eco Umbrella company from India where it makes electric scooters. Includes Fast4ward, A2B and Ultramotor electric bikes  –  –
Herskind & Herskind Classic city bikes with a designer’s touch.


Multiple Denmark Multiple-Denmark
Honda Single speed lead acid model now in the UK


Japan Japan Japan-Japan
Hongdu Heavy looking Chinese style machines from a former military aircraft manufacturer.
HPVelotechnik Recumbent makers offering models ready fitted with BionX systems. Canada Germany Canada-Germany
IGO Hub motor bikes with interesting fully-equipped Dutch style model
Italwin Shimano Steps and hub-powered machines
IZIP Large US manufacturer with a huge range. Now part of the European Accell group China United States
IUVO Taiwanese hub motor specialist and maker of the Mobiky folding electric bike
Jewel Chinese hub motor machines NO LONGER IN PRODUCTION UNDER THIS NAME China China China-China
JD / TranzX Maker of complete electric bikes as well as various parts used by other firms. Automatic gear changing system for electric bikes sold as OEM. Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Johnny Loco Cargobike offering with Shimano Steps crank drive Netherlands Japan Netherlands-Japan
Juicy Bike Well priced bikes of reasonable quality China China China-China
Leisger Chinese hub motor machines. China China China-Germany
Lohner Austrian scooter manufacturer, now building electric bikes and scooters Germany Austria
Lvneng Chinese moped style machines China China China-China
Kalkhoff Superb range of pedelecs with Panasonic and Daum technology Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Kettler Panasonic and Bosch crank drive pedelecs. Recently filed for insolvency. Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Klever Subsidiary of Taiwanese scooter manufacter, with own entire brand system and design, based in Germany Taiwan / Germany  Germany Taiwan-Germany
Kreidler Bosch, Shimano and Panasonic drives plus hub motor machines Various Germany Multiple-Germany
Koga Miyata High quality pedelecs with hub motors and Bosch crank drives. Dutch city bike style. Various Netherlands
Kona A range of well-priced hub-motor bikes, including a transport bike. MAY HAVE STOPPED PRODUCTION WITH ELECTRICS Taiwan
Kranium Hub motor machines with frame concealed batteries. Information hard to come by. Velorution sell in the UK.  –  –
Kudos ‘Budget’ bikes sold in the UK with reasonable battery prices. China China China-China
KTM Swiss manufacturers offering a large mix of styles and high quality motor systems. Germany, Japan
L.A. Thai company with a range of electric bikes
Lightfoot Cycles Recumbents and cargo bikes with the option of a chain drive or BionX hub motor assist.


Luther & Luther Cargotrike and rickshaw specialist.
M55-Bike Bike with impressive video For super-rich jetsetters.
Mando Footloose Highly unusual chainless series hybrid from South Korea South Korea
Matra French take on the BionX system Multiple France Multiple-France
Megamo Italian based firm using hub and Shimano crank motors Multiple China
Ming Shimano Steps powered pedelecs Taiwan
Miyata Quality Japanese pedelecs Japan Japan Japan-Japan
Momentum UK based company and designers of a great value, impressive quality pair of pedelecs China United Kingdom China-United Kingdom
Mondraker Austrian Bosch-powered MTB specialist
Montego Dutch company producing pedelec hub motors The Netherlands
Monty Spanish company with a large number or rear hub-motored bikes, often folders plus an electric tricycle kit.
Moskino Now using Bafang MaxDrive crank motor China China China-China
Motorino Interesting looking 1960s retro design with coaster brake.
Nihola Well-known and respected Danish cargo bikes – produced BionX powered option but information on electric options now scarce Denmark Denmark
Ohm Cycles Canadian designed BionX bikes Multiple Canada Multiple-Canada
Optibike Very powerful and very expensive bikes from the US. United States United States USA-USA
Orbea Bosch and Shimano powered pedelecs Multiple Netherlands Multiple-Netherlands
Ovo French manufacturers of hub motor machines China France China-France
Oxygen Chinese style hub motor machines China China China-China
Pacific Cycles Folding electric pedelec. Taiwan
Panther Pedelecs using Bosch and Shimano systems
Part mobil High quality chair style bikes with Heinzmann motors for those with limited mobility Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Patria BionX powered bikes ELECTRIC OPTIONS NO LONGER AVAILABLE Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Pedego Beach cruiser style hub motor machines China United States China-USA
Peugeot French auto style bought to ebikes Multiple France
Pfiff German company specialising in bikes for special needs
PG Bikes German company offering hugely fast, powerful and expensive bikes APPARENTLY DEFUNCT WEBSITE
PiCycle Unique US design of hub motor bike. HOLDING WEBSITE
Pihsiang Taiwanese based company producing relatively lightweight electric bikes.
Polaris US company inspired by power sports
Porterbike Bikes with carrying capacity within the frame fitted with a BionX kit. Canada Germany Canada-Germany
Powabyke Long-established UK firm of well-priced machines China United Kingdom China-United Kingdom
Powacycle Powabyke’s main rival for budget-priced UK bikes China United Kingdom China-United Kingdom
Prodeco US based hub motor bikes and kits. Two year battery guarantee and very competitively priced. US
Prodigy Unusual looking crank drive system and a variety of bike designs
Promovec Danish pedelecs with hub motors Denmark Taiwan Denmark-Taiwan
Protanium Hub and crank motor pedelec bikes and kits
Puch Shimano, Bosch and hub motor drives motor bikes Japan Austria
Quipplan Folding electric bike from Spain with belt drive. Claimed 18.5kg weight. ? Spain
QWIC Dutch brand featuring hub and MPF crank motors Multiple Netherlands Multiple-Netherlands
Radkutsche German cargo bike specialist Multiple Germany  Multiple-Germany
Raleigh Panasonic crank drive pedelecs and a newer range of hub motor machines. Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Reef Australian-based company selling China made machines and importing a small selection of higher end bikes. China China China-China
Reise & Muller A range of very distinctively designed bikes with Bosch drives Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Rixe Another range featuring Bosch and Kalkhoff Impulse technology. Like Kalkhoff and Raleigh, Rixe are part of the giant Derby cycle group, and all have similar offerings. Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Rose Bikes German based producer of Bosch powered pedelecs
Rotwild e-MTBS from Germany using the German Brose motor
Sachs A good range of styles of hub motored bikes. Taiwan Germany Taiwan-Germany
Samhyun Hub motor kit manufacturers from South Korea who also manufacture electric motors for cars.
Sanyo Developers of the Eneloop bike with regenerative power. Japan Japan Japan-Japan
Saracen Saracen’s first electric bike is a Shimano STEPS powered hybrid.
Schachner Austrian hub motor bikes with kit option.
Scott US firm using Bosch and Shimano systems
Seven Star Chinese hub motor machines China China China-China
Sinner Recumbent trike with hub motor.
Smart BionX powered model from the makers of the eponymous car   Multiple Germany  Multiple-Germany
Smike Highly unusual side car option with Heinzmann hub motor. Germany Switzerland Germany-Switzerland
Sparta Quality Dutch city bikes. Pedelecs with hub motors and the Bosch crank drive Taiwan Switzerland Taiwan-Switzerland
Spencer Ivy German Panasonic drive machines with a peculiarly British marketing slant and a practical looking spec including rack with child seat mount. LOOK TO BE DISCONTINUED Germany Japan Germany-Japan
Storck Trekking style bikes with their own design of hub motor. Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Stealth Electric Bikes Hugely powerful MTBs from Australia.
Steppenwolf Part of the same German group as Grace. Make mainly Brose powered crank drives but also with Suntour hub motors.  Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Stromer High quality Swiss design with direct drive motor and frame-housed removable battery.
Swiss Flyer High quality Swiss bikes with Panasonic crank drive. Includes tandems, a folder and a full suspension model. Japan Switzerland Japan-Switzerland
TDR A very interesting design of crank drive pedelec with a specially enlarged seat tube. NO EVIDENCE OF BEING IN PRODUCTION Netherlands
TDS Swiss manufacturer of their own design pedelec design as well as Bosch and Shimano systems. Multiple Switzerland Multiple-Switzerland
Third Element Hugely powerful mountain bike pedelec. POSSIBLY DEFUNCT
Thompsons Extremely well-priced hub motor bikes. China China China-China
Tonaro Budget crank drive models fitted to standard-spec budget bicycles. Also marketed in the U.S. as Evelo  China China China-China
Tout Terrain German manufacturer of rugged city and touring bikes using GoSwissDrive gearless motor and Pinion bottom bracket gearing.
Trek Shimano Steps and Bosch offerings
Twinburst  French company pioneering two-wheel drive transmission with motors in both wheels.
Urban Mover Mid-priced hub motor machines with strong UK presence MAY NO LONGER BE OPERATING China United Kingdom
Velocab Rickshaws and cargo bikes with 250w electric assist option.
Velocity Unique belt drive system designed for speed


Remaining technical backup companies listed here

Velo de Ville German manufacturers whose range includes Bosch and Shimano drive model
Velomini Electric folding bikes with batteries in the frame
Velonom Longtail style cargobikes with e-power options SEEMINGLY NO LONGER MADE Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Velorbis High quality, built to order Danish bikes MAY NO LONGER PRODUCE ELECTRIC BIKES Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Victoria A wide range of hub and crank drive bikes. Japan Germany Multiple-Germany
Viking China China China-China
Vintage Based in California, manufacturing retro style cruisers with motorbike styling  Various? U.S
Visiobike Croatian based digital tech loaded bikes using a variety of crank drives  Croatia
Vivax Assist Tiny frame housed motor, claiming to be the lightest in the world   Austria
V’lec Based in eastern France and claiming to make the lightest electric folding bike in the world 
Volt UK based company that started with hub motor machines but have headed upmarket with their own Shimano crank motor model  China / Japan
Voltage U.S. styled motorbike / cruiser design. Images and videos on the website but little other info! 


Voltitude Folding electric bike with Swiss army knife style branding!
Vital Bikes Hub and crank drive bikes.
Wallerang Swedish firm making Shimano Steps powered bike
Wattworld A range of reasonably priced hub motor bikes.
Wayel Shaft drive electric bikes from Italy.
Wheeler Large eurpopean based manufacturer using largely BionX
Whyte Shimano Steps hybrid style models for 2016 Japan Various
Wilier Trestina Italian brand using TDCM hub motor and Shimano crank motor Japan / Taiwan
Winora Hub motors bikes using various third party systems, including TranzX, Bosch and Yamaha Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Wisper Hub motor machines China UK China-UK
Woosh Budget machines from the Far East.
X-Streme Scooters 90 days warranty and rock bottom quality
Yamaha Yamaha’s own models fitted with their own PAS pedelec system Japan Japan Japan-Japan
YouMo Swiss cruiser design with gearless GoSwissDrive hub Switzerland & ?

Electric Bike Conversion Kit Manufacturers

Name Description Manufacture Design
8 Fun A Chinese Giant now with direct UK sales doing both kits and whole bikes China China China-China
Ansmann Maker of batteries, drive systems and retrofit kits.
BionX Sophisticated hub kit with regenerative power. China Canada China-Canada
Clean Republic Easy install hub kits China United States China-USA
Conv-e British wheelbuilding, battery case and cables, Chinese motor, twistgrip, battery cells and BMS circuit China United Kingdom China-UK
Crystalyte Long established Chinese manufacturer of powerful hub kits China China China-China
Currie Electro-Drive Powerful kit that drives through the rear hub and spokes from US manufacturers IZIP
Cyclone Variety of mainly crank-drive style kits.  Cyclone USA
DB Revo Motor, controller and battery all in one wheel, controlled wirelessly. Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Dillenger Australian company selling budget eastern made direct into the UK.
EclipsEbikes Unusual belt drive kits
E-BikeKit US spec hub kits China United States China-USA
Ecospeed US kit that drives through the chain Multiple United States Multiple-US
EGO Hugely powerful kits that claim to fit 70% of mountain bikes. Designed for getting you to the top of a mountain for you to hurtle back down…
Eplus Hub-housed motors and batteries. Successor to Wavecrest / Tidalforce. May have ceased
E power mobility Chinese style hub motor kits
Evelo Produce the all in one Omniwheel. Sold via a US based shop. 
Ezee Hub motor kits China China China-China
Falco Lightweight hub motors rated in 250w and 1000w versions China China China-China
Golden Motor Front and rear wheel hub kits.  Alien Ocean (UK) China China China-China
Greentrans Hub motor kit with torque sensor Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Gruber Assist Unique motor that hides in the downtube and drives through the bottom bracket.  Electric Goat Bikes (UK)
Heinzmann German made kits of outstanding quality Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Monty Spanish company with a large number or rear hub-motored bikes, often folders plus an electric tricycle kit.
Protanium Hub motor pedelec bikes and kits
Ridekick Electric trailer designed to push your non-electric bike along. US US US-US
Sunstar High quality crank drive kit.  UK distributors are Sparticle Japan Japan Japan-Japan
TBA Geared and gearless hub motor kits and a crank drive, all keenly priced 
Tongxin Excellent friction drive hub motor – the narrow version is the most common motor fitted to Bromptons. Freedom eBikes (UK)  Electric Wheel (UK) China China China-China
Name Description Manufacture Design
Justwin Single and dual seater electric trikes Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Team Hybrid Specialise in fitting Heinzmann kits to handcycles

Electric Bike Legislation (UK)

Electric Bike LegislationNote: Our legal pages refer to the UK only. Elsewhere, electric bike law varies widely between countries, and even between individual states in the USA, Canada and Australia. If in doubt, always check local regulations.

Electric bicycles are unique machines legislatively, being the only powered vehicles to be treated in exactly the same way as pedal cycles. This means you can ride one while disqualified from driving a car, motorcycle or moped, and you will not be subject to laws aimed specifically at motor vehicle drivers, such as drink-drive legislation. You must, of course, adhere to the rules of the road, and like any other cyclist, you can be prosecuted for riding without lights, riding dangerously, or riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are, in addition, a few key legislative requirements:

Electric Bike Legislative Requirements

  1. The rider must be aged at least 14
  2. The electric bike must not be capable of exceeding 25kph (15.6mph) while under power
    Note: Like any other cyclist, you can ride as fast as you like when the motor is not providing assistance, but you must still obey traffic laws. In practise, power usually fades away quite gradually as speed increases, so a bike that tops out at 15mph with a heavy rider, may give useful assistance at 18mph or above with a light one. In practise, you are very unlikely to be prosecuted for anything other than a wild and reckless infringement of the rules.
  3. The electric bike must not weigh in excess of 40kg for a bicycle, or 60kg for a tricycle
    This might have been withdrawn, but who cares? You’re not going to want to ride a bike or trike that heavy anyway
  4. The continuous rated power of the motor must not exceed 250 watts
    Note: This is the European limit, which the UK signed up to in 2002. The older 1983 UK legislation says 200 watts for bicycles and 250 watts for tandems and tricycles, and this remained in force until very recently, and is still sometimes mentioned. In any event, the whole thing is a technicality, because a measurement of ‘continuous rated power’ is like measuring a piece of wiggly string. You will only get into trouble if your machine has a clearly accessible manufacturer’s plate saying something like ‘500 watt Turbo’ on it.
  5. The motor alone cannot be used to propel the bicycle, so power can only be brought in while the rider is pedaling
    Note: The bicycle MUST be fitted with pedals, but don’t worry too much about the requirement to use them. The 1983 legislation made no distinction between pedaling or not pedaling while under power, although the newer 2002 European legislation does. From 2016, European law was fully ratified in the UK (yes, just in time for Brexit!), but manufacturers are still able to get type approval for ‘twist-n-go’ models, and bikes bought up to 2016 (plus ‘old stock’ bought afterwards), remain legal under ‘grandfather rights’. What this means in practise is DON’T WORRY. (a) Policemen have better things to do, (b) electric bikes are not registered, so no-one can easily prove how old it is, and (c) post-Brexit, all European legislation will (eventually) be reformulated into UK law, with a strong case for going back to the old regs. With so many loopholes, prosecution sounds like a waste of police and court time.

The rules used to apply to bicycles and tricycles, but four-wheeled quads are allowed now too, but it’s hard to see why anyone would bother. The electric bike rules are not very onerous in themselves, but be warned: if you are successfully prosecuted for breaking any one of them you will no longer be covered by the exemptions that apply to electric bicycles, but bear in mind that in three of the five above, the court would have to decide which law actually applied.

In theory, anyone riding an electric bicycle at, for example, 18mph, could be prosecuted for riding a moped without a helmet, insurance, vehicle excise duty, MoT certificate, etc, etc. If caught riding while under-age or disqualified from driving, you would effectively by driving without a license, a serious offence. In practise, prosecutions are extremely rare, as the police really aren’t interested, but it’s worth knowing the rules.

Some electric bikes look very similar to mopeds or scooters, with fairings and motorcycle-style suspension. These machines are perfectly legal, provided they have pedals and obey all the rules above. The problem with riding one is that very few policemen will be aware of this loophole in the legislation, and you are liable to be stopped and cross-examined on a regular basis, unless you take to wearing a motorcycle helmet. In general, ‘bicycle’ styling is a good idea!

Public Transport

Ah, tricky one. Trains first: if you’ve tried looking this up you’ll have spotted that the 2017 Conditions of Carriage say that “Motorcycles, Motorscooters and Mopeds” are banned, but the cycling regs say “Motorcycles cannot be carried on any services”. Years ago British Rail banned mopeds from its trains, and adjusted the wording of the National Conditions of Carriage to the effect that ‘mopeds and motorised bicycles’ were banned, although this wording was subsequently changed. What this really referred to was bicycles fitted with small petrol motors, but when electric bikes came in, some people naturally assumed it meant electric motors – it almost certainly didn’t.

After railway privatisation, some of the more clued-up railway companies did put clauses into their own rules saying electric bikes were banned, but none seem to have clarified things by saying they were welcome!

Our judgement is that electric bikes are not banned from the railways, unless specifically mentioned by an individual train operator. In the eyes of the law, electric bikes are bicycles, and they go anywhere a bicycle is allowed to go. But as with so many railway things, it comes down to the judgement of an individual employee who might or might not have read the old Conditions of Carriage and remembered the Motorised Bicycle clause.

The good news is that there have been very few cases of people having problems on the railways. If you intend to carry an electric bike by train, just go ahead, but be discreet. It makes sesnse to carry the battery separately, so you can at least show that it’s been deactivated, which will probably satisfy a busy guard.

Buses are another whole minefield. As far as we know, electric bikes have never been mentioned in bus or coach bylaws, but buses don’t generally carry bikes anyway. We have carried a fully-folded and covered Nano-Brompton by bus several times without issue, but then the driver had no idea what it was!

Why choose an electric bike?

Why choose an electric bike?

Why choose an electric bike?
Ten good reasons to use an electric bike

Faster Travel

In theory a car can average a high speed, but in practise speed often falls below 10mph in cities. The problem is congestion – motorcycles get around this to some extent, but they’re still confined to the road network. An electric bike can maintain a higher average speed than a bicycle, yet take advantage of the full network of cycle facilities, giving access to routes that cars and motorcycles cannot reach. The result is often a faster door-to-door journey time than any other mode. And by nipping along the relatively uncongested cycle network, but eliminating hills and headwinds, electric bikes tend to be the most consistent mode of travel.

No Sweat!

Sweat may not be a serious issue when you’re out for a leisure ride, but it’s more important if you’re cycling to work, and arriving at work sticky puts a lot of people off cycling. Although some employers are rather grudgingly providing showers and other facilities for cyclists, the vast majority have no intention of doing so. An electric bike eliminates the problem at source. Oddly enough, you won’t sweat on an electric bike, even if you put in the same amount of effort as you do on an ordinary bike. This is a matter of physics as well as exertion – higher road speed and greater air flow mean instant sweat evaporation. In hot weather, it’s possible to maintain a normal schedule by transferring a bit more load to the electric motor. In colder weather – or if you feel in need of exercise – just throttle back, or turn the motor off.


It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But the mathematics is compelling. Think of a steep and busy road, with cars climbing at 30mph. If you previously slogged up the hill at 6mph, but can tackle the same gradient at 12mph with an electric bike, you will see 33% fewer cars, and they will pass you at 18mph rather than 24mph. Or at least, we think that’s correct. Whatever the figures, there’s no doubt that an electric bike helps to keep you out of danger. The same general principle applies to road junctions and roundabouts – the faster your acceleration, the sooner you can get out of trouble. And with no need to rush the hills, you won’t be tempted to ride downhill at breakneck speed… another useful safety feature..

Hill Climbing

That may sound obvious, but it’s the primary advantage. A good electric bike effectively flattens hills, increasing your average speed and eliminating the ‘groan’ factor when a gradient comes into view. Provided you supply a reasonable amount of effort, you can expect to climb hills of 1:10 (10%) on an electric bike with ease, and clear a maximum gradient of 1:7 (14%), or even 1:4 (25%) with the right bike. In hilly country, the effect is nothing short of miraculous.

Electric Bike Running Costs

Purchase cost is a little more than a conventional bike, mechanical wear and tear is about the same, and electricity is so cheap as to be largely irrelevant, but there is an extra expense in terms of battery depreciation. Consequently, an electric bike costs more to run – typically 8 – 12 pence per mile against 3 – 7 pence per mile for a non-assisted bike. [1]. However, electric bike running costs should really be compared with those of a moped, car, or public transport, typically 20-40p per mile by bus, 20-60p by train and 30-150p for a small car.

Motorised, but no Red Tape!

Electric bikes are bicycles in the eyes of the law, so they require no tax, insurance, MoT or licence. You can ride one while disqualified, or after a couple of pints… at your own risk, of course. You CAN get into trouble, but nothing you do will affect your driving licence providing the bike is within the law. You are of course free to insure the machine if you wish, but there’s no compulsion to do anything but enjoy yourself!

Personal Fitness

Surely a conventional bike will keep you fitter? That, of course, depends how much – if at all – you use it. Research [2] has found that 46% of conventional bikes are used only once or twice a week, with a further 30% being used once a fortnight or even less. By contrast, a 2001 survey of electric bike owners reveals that a third ride their bike at least once a day and 81% use the bike at least once a week [3]. The figures confirm our experience that an electric bike typically gets used at least twice as often as a conventional machine. Because riding an electric bike is a great deal more enjoyable in hilly country, into strong winds, or when carrying heavy loads, users tend to make better use of them. The motor provides up to half the effort, but more regular use means more exercise for the rider.

Electric Bike Fuel Consumption

Electric bikes are the most fuel efficient mode of transport in everyday use. Typical fuel consumption is 8-16 watt-hours per mile, or something like a tenth as much as a small motorcycle. In old money, that’s the equivalent of 800-2,000mpg.


This is a bit weird, but the evidence is very compelling. Ride a normal bicycle and you will have to top up with extra calories at Tescos. Producing and transporting that food takes a lot of energy, and it’s typically more than the electric bike battery needs to do the same amount of work. Depending on the source of the electricity and the air-miles of the food, an electric bike is responsible for 5.8-13.7g/CO2 per mile, and a normal bike 10.5-18.5/CO2 per mile [4]. Incredible!

High Resale Value

At £400-£2,000, an electric bike costs more to buy than a conventional machine, but they tend to hold their value, so you get more of your money back when you move on.


[1] A to B test data. Both figures assume depreciation over ten years, and annual mileage of 2,500 (electric) and 2,000 (conventional).

[2] Transport Research Laboratory report: ‘New Cycle Owners: expectations and experiences’ (Davies and Hartley 1998)

[3] Leeds University report: ‘The New Generation of Private Vehicles in the UK. Should their use be encouraged and can they attract drivers of conventional cars?’ (Neil Guthrie 2001)

[4] ‘Electric Bicycles’ 2010, Richard Peace and David Henshaw

Electric Bicycles

Electric Bicycles BookElectric Bicycles covers all aspects of this rapidly growing form of transport and leisure riding. Chapters cover history and classic models and flops, types of electric bike and the technology used (including the low-down on batteries), conversion kits, why and how you might want to use electric bikes, bikes from around the world, emerging technologies, the latest on the legal position and much, much more.
Little known until recently, electric bikes are advancing rapidly, both in terms of popularity and technology.

David Henshaw has edited and published A to B magazine, specialising in folding and electric bikes, since 1997. Richard Peace is founder of Excellent Books, specialising in cycle publishing, and has been writing about cycling for more than 15 years.

Extra information and taster pages available at

256 pages – 170 colour photos, graphs, diagrams and tables.


Raleigh Dover electric bike

Raleigh Dover

Raleigh Dover electric bikeSo there’s now a British electric bike? Well, yes and no, but mostly no. To explain how and why this has come about, we need to blow some dust off the corporate history books.

Raleigh is (or was) a big British bicycle manufacturer that helped to keep the wheels of the British Empire turning for over half a century. It had divisions all over the world, one of the last being established in Germany in 1974. But by the 1980s, the company seemed to have lost its way, like so much of British industry, and it was sold by British multinational Tube Investments to the giant Derby Corporation of America.

This arrangement seems to have worked quite well, and the company even launched some innovations, such as the Select electric bike, produced with Sanyo in 1998. This was one of the first machines of its kind, but it was slow, with limited range, and at £1,000, it was too expensive. This glorious flop lead Raleigh to retreat from electric bikes altogether, and concentrate on MTBs and BMX bikes, the only serious money-spinners in the fickle UK market. As it turned out, they had missed a big opportunity.

Back in 1988, Derby had absorbed a small, near bankrupt German manufacturer called Kalkhoff, ultimately turning it around as Derby Cycles Werke or DCW, trading under the Kalkhoff and Raleigh brands in Germany. DCW seems to have been bursting with ideas, one of which was to pair the excellent Panasonic crank-drive power unit with some decent equipment and a quality roadster frame… this was the Kalkhoff Agattu, now also badged as the Raleigh Dover. By this time in the early years of the new millennium, the wonderful, but commercially unsuccessful Giant Lafree had been and gone, leaving the Agattu to slip quietly into its shoes. A classic had been born.

Bikes like the Agattu helped to kick-start an explosion in European electric bike sales and the Kalkhoff brand was cannily picked up by 50 Cycles in the UK. Having thrown away a lead of nearly a decade, Raleigh UK was blundering around looking for an electric bike partner, and in late 2006 it settled on a marketing arrangement with Powabyke.This was rather bad news, as Powabyke was still producing stodgy lead-acid electric bikes. So for a while, a customer walking into a UK Raleigh dealership would be pointed towards the agricultural Powabyke Shopper, while Herr Schmidt would be offered the svelte, sophisticated Raleigh-badged Kalkhoff. The collaboration did result in the Powabyke X-bike, which put a Powabyke motor in a light Raleigh frame, but it soon dawned on Raleigh UK that it was stuck with the tractors of the E-bike world, while its smarter, more innovative German cousin had control of the Bentley, or of course the Mercedes, as we must now call it, Rolls-Royce having gone the way of the best of British industry.

In 2007, Derby Corporation decided to concentrate on its core markets, selling the German DCW to an investment bank, so it’s now nominally a separate entity, but the Managing Director is still a Raleigh shareholder, and the company is still licensed to use the Raleigh brand in Germany. Confused? We quite understand.

Two years later, Powabyke went into administration (it was bought for a million pounds in October 2009 by Metroelectric PLC) and the hiatus gave Raleigh UK the excuse it needed to escape from the tie-in deal, and go for the much better German bike that already carried a Raleigh badge. A brash young team was assembled with a brief to get a Raleigh UK badge on DCW’s Agattu and set up a UK dealer network.

Yes, it’s a complicated story, but the upshot is that Raleigh has finally got the electric bike it deserves, and – crucially to this global player – it’s better than the eBikes marketed by Giant, Trek and the other big brands. More by luck than judgement, Raleigh has acquired the rights to an extremely good machine.

The Raleigh Dover

The Raleigh Dover As we gave the Agattu a good going over in A to B 63 back in January 2008, we’ll stick to the differences here, although there aren’t many. Kalkhoff was already selling the Agattu as the Raleigh Dover in Germany (embarrassingly, the German Raleigh bikes seem to be named after cities knocked about by the Luftwaffe), so it was a simple matter to bring the bike to the UK. If you’re looking to buy one, it’s almost identical to the Kalkhoff Agattu, but interestingly – and perhaps surprisingly – the Raleigh version costs £1,795, against £1,595£1,645 for the Kalkhoff, a premium of £150-£200. On the positive side, of course, you are paying for the reassurance of a big, well-trained, dealer network and a name that almost everyone will recognise. Mind you, the Agattu is one of the most reliable electric bikes around, so the dealers will – hopefully – have little to do. Meanwhile, the ever-canny 50 Cycles has wasted no time in adding ‘Like the Raleigh Dover’ to its advertising material.

Equipment is almost identical. In 2008, the Agattu was fitted with B&M Lumotec Senso lights, a skirt guard, Post Moderne sprung seat pillar and sprung front forks. Sadly, the frame lock and skirtguard have disappeared from the 2010 bikes, but the rest of the equipment remains as good as ever, with an upgrade from a 7- to an 8-speed Shimano hub. The only differences on the Raleigh are Schwalbe Advancer tyres in place of the Continental City Rides on the Kalkhoff, and a plain rather than sprung seat post.

Our Raleigh test bike feels much sprightlier than the 2008 Agattu, but that’s probably because the Agattu and Raleigh now share the sporty Pro-Connect’s 1:1.5 assistance ratio on the ‘High’ setting. It also feels ‘peakier’, meaning there’s less power when pedalling slowly, and progressively more as pedal cadence rises. This may be part of the same changes, or it may be some subtle reconfiguration for the UK, which Raleigh has hinted at. Either way, it feels annoying at first if you’re used to older bikes, but you soon get the hang of changing down sooner on hills and avoiding slogging along in a high gear. The general feeling is of a much sportier and livelier bike, and this is confirmed on our ten-mile test ride which the Raleigh knocks off in 33 minutes 15 seconds – nearly four minutes faster than the 2008 Agattu, and 45 seconds faster than the Pro-Connect.

It feels livelier on the road too, partly because of quick, light steering, but no doubt too because it’s quite light for a well-equipped electric: 21.6kg for the bike, plus 2.4kg for the battery. In reality, the speed is something of an illusion, because like all Panasonic-powered bikes the gearing is kept deliberately low to limit the maximum speed. Compared to the 7speed we tried back in 2008, first is much lower at 27.3″ (helpful for getting you home with a flat battery), and top is slightly higher at 83″ (previously 80″). That’s a touch low, but not low enough for your legs to become a frenzied blur at the maximum assisted speed of 16.6mph.

As regular readers will know, the top speed of crank-drive bikes is usually factory set by fitting a sprocket large enough for the motor to run out of steam at the legal speed limit, so if you like to go slower and/or climb steeper hills, you can easily re-gear it. Conversely, a smaller sprocket will make the bike go faster, which is technically illegal, but we think the police have better things to do with their time. As long as you don’t go mad, of course.

Back in 2008, our Kalkhoff Agattu had a range of 26.7 miles at 13.7mph on High, and the lighter, lustier Pro-Connect managed 31.5 miles at an average of 14.7mph. Today’s Raleigh (and, again, this probably applies to the 2010 Kalkhoff Agattu as well) achieved a median 28.4 miles, but with its higher gearing and peakier power output, average speed was a cracking 15.3mph. So the new bikes are faster and more economic than the 2008 Agattu, and a little faster or more economical than the older Pro-Connect. And all this is on full power. From experience, we’d say that 28.4 miles would equate to at least 31 miles on Normal power, and perhaps as much as 50 miles on Low.

Fuel consumption comes out at 10.9Wh/mile, and again, that’s more or less par for the course against the Kalkhoffs, and a very low figure for such a high average speed.

According to Jane, who knows the Giant Lafree well, the Raleigh/Kalkhoff has a more upright seat tube, which combined with bigger 28-inch wheels, and a relatively high bottom bracket, makes it impossible to get a straight leg riding position, and put a foot down comfortably at the lights. This does seem to be an issue with these big European bikes, and putting the saddle right back is only a partial answer. For now, Raleigh will only be importing the small 45cm (step-thru) and 53cm (diamond) frames, but if you really need something bigger (very unlikely) you can buy the Kalkhoff version.

Running Costs

One advantage of the widespread adoption of the Panasonic crank-drive is that quite a list of bicycles are now fitted with identical batteries, so if you’re in the market for a replacement, you can shop around. The primary brands in the UK at the time of writing are Emotion, Kalkhoff, Kettler, Monark and Raleigh. Raleigh admits it isn’t the cheapest for batteries and other spares, but there’s no obligation to buy from a Raleigh Ebike dealer. Like all other Panasonic bikes, the battery guarantee is two years, something that is gradually being adopted as an industry standard.

As far as we know (do tell us if we’re wrong) 50 Cycles is currently the cheapest for batteries, but be prepared for a shock, because it now costs £400. This is effectively the only running cost, but no one can yet say for sure how long the batteries will last. Pessimistically, we assume failure the day after the guarantee runs out, and on that basis, the Raleigh will cost 10.7p per mile to run. That’s better than average, helped by the high mileage per charge.


Watch out gents, the Raleigh is a big hit with the ladies. One who happened to be passing fell in love with it, Jane decided it was the first electric bike she would consider to replace the venerable Lafree, and Teresa already has a Kalkhoff… We ended up doing more mileage with the Raleigh Dover than anything since the Giant Lafree.

Where the Dover/Agattu really succeeds (particularly with the extra oomph in High power) is that it does the business for most of the people most of the time. It’s a big, elegant town bike, but it’s also fast enough to eat up the miles on cross country rides, and economical enough to go a long way. It has a low bottom gear to tackle Cornish/Yorkshire/Cumbrian gradients, and a high enough top to nip smartly across the big landscapes of East Anglia. The equipment is good enough for all-weather, all-year-round use, but the bike is still one of the lightest in its class.

All design involves compromise, and there are compromises here aplenty, but the Dover has few obvious weaknesses.You have to be a bit careful with gear changes, and without labouring the point, there remains a question mark over battery life and running costs, but for our money this machine really does continue to redefine the bicycle. The Kalkhoff Agattu is almost identical and cheaper, the E-Motion is a touch more efficient but limited by its gear options, and so on. But there remains a degree of loyalty to that Raleigh badge, despite the fact that there’s no British content.We think it will be a hit.


Raleigh Dover £1,795 . Weight Bicycle 21.6kg Battery 2.4kg Total 24kg (53lbs) . Battery Li-Ion . Capacity 270Wh . Replacement £400 . Range 28.4 miles . Gear Ratios 26″-79″ Full Charge 6 hours . Overall Consumption 10.9Wh/mile . Running Costs 10.7p/mile Importer Raleigh T 01773 532680

A to B 79 – Aug 2010

E-motion 700 Deluxe

E-motion 700 Deluxe

E-motion 700 DeluxeThe E-motion is made by B H Bikes in Spain, or more accurately Bicicletas de Alava S.A. Now, we’d never heard of B H, which might be because they’ve yet to make much of a mark in the UK, and they specialise in racy machines.We’re talking skin-tight Lycra and shaven legs here. Dead serious.

However, the company does also produce a few city and commuter bikes, with names like Cambridge and London, and has recently adapted a few of its frames to accept the Panasonic power-assist system, now fitted to city bikes in almost every European country except, er, the UK.Well, we did have a word with Raleigh at last year’s London show, but no doubt they know best.

Once you’ve seen one power-assisted European city bike, you’ve seen them all, or so you might think, but with B H being something of a sporty brand, these are a bit different. As far as we know, these are the first mass-produced crank-drive machines to use a conventional derailleur, and as well as the step-thru and top-tube models one might expect, there’s also an aluminium/carbon fibre sports job weighing a claimed 16.8kg.

You might, at this moment, be thinking that power-assist on a lightweight sports bike would be at best a bit of a contradiction and at worst a travesty, act of vandalism, appalling desecration of this temple to human endurance, and so forth, depending on your strength of feeling. It does seem a bit odd, but there are several of reasons why you might want a bike like this.

The bikes that work best with power-assistance are generally the ones that work best, full stop. So if you want to go a long way at a decent speed, you’re much better off starting with a good European racing bike than a crummy Far Eastern excuse for a bicycle. And then, you might just want to show off, striding into work in your skin-tight Lycra with freshly waxed legs, but absolutely no sweat, demonstrating your remarkable virility.We make no moral judgements on how one might use the bike, merely that it is available for those who want such a thing.

If this bike was fitted with a hub motor, we would also say that the power was merely an add-on for hills, giving assistance up to 15mph, and allowing you to sail off at racing speed on the flat or – more pessimistically – the downhill bits. But the E-motion Sport has a crank drive, so the pedals are geared low enough not to exceed that speed by very much. They’ve ‘detuned’ it thus by fitting a relatively large 13-tooth top gear sprocket, although anyone with a modest technical knowledge will be to fit an 11-tooth sprocket in less than 10 minutes, making the bike much nicer and more practical to ride, yet still barely exceeding the increasingly ludicrous 15mph speed limit.

Obviously you all want to hear about this carbon fibre job, so perversely we’re testing one of the sensible commuter bikes, because we do so love practical machines. The range starts with the City 650 in either step-thru or top tube options, both with 7-speed derailleur and a relatively small 208Wh battery. Next up is the similar City 700 with 8-speed derailleur, followed by the 700 Deluxe, with 8-speed Shimano Sora gears, a better saddle, improved gear shifters, wheel lock, suspension seatpost, alloy pedals, front suspension lock-out, skirtguard on the step-thru and other tiddly differences. The important one is a larger 260Wh battery (as fitted to the Kalkhoff et al).This larger battery is also available as a £65 option on the cheaper bikes, and we’d say ‘buy it’. Our general advice is always to choose a battery capable of twice your normal daily range if possible. A big battery will have an easier life and last longer, and give you a little something in reserve for that deviation to Tescos, longer holiday trips and so on.

All the ‘sensible’ bikes in the range offer battery-powered lights of various kinds, a rack, and full mudguards, but there’s also a broadly similar ‘Cross’ version (you will be when it rains) bereft of all the useful bits, but with nicer gears.At the top end, the Sport models have flat-spoke wheels, Shimano Tiagra gears and carbon forks, plus drop handlebars on the Deluxe variant, which might be a first on an electric bike.All variants sold in the UK come with a Mach 1 speedometer.This is a basic device, without Ride Time or Average Speed, but fitting it is a really nice touch that we’d like to see repeated elsewhere.

Prices are comparatively modest.The 650 or Cross cost £1,350, which is only a shade more than the basic Panasonicdrive 3-speed Monark Eco, or somewhat inferior Giant Express or Ezee Torq.The 700 costs £1,400, and the 700 Deluxe £1,550, undercutting the Kalkhoff Agattu, mid-range Giant models, Kettler, Gepida and – most importantly of all – the Kalkhoff Pro-Connect.The Sport comes in at £1,650, or £1,800, which sounds a lot, but it’s some £500-£600 cheaper than the similar (but allegedly unrestricted) Kalkhoff Pro-Connect. Is this all too good to be true? We’ve tested the £1,550 City 700 Deluxe to find out.

On the Road

The 700 Deluxe is the first electric bike we’ve tested for a while to attract favourable comment from friends, relatives and passers by.We often hear phrases like ‘How useful’, ‘Goodness that’s practical’, or ‘How much?’, but the E-motion had everyone drooling. Like most of the 2009 bikes, it comes in either white or black (fortunately ours was the latter) and it looks and feels like a normal, if slightly heavy, sporty hybrid with some unusual echoes of the 1930s in the handlebars, and frame graphics that wouldn’t look out of place on a BMX.

This model has a suspended seat post, which feels slightly at odds with the sporty nature, and front suspension forks, but these can be locked out on the right sort of road surface, generally sharpening things up. For our money – unless the daily commute involved tracks or city potholes – we’d go for plain forks and a lighter bike, and keep a few quid safe in the bank (well, maybe not).The suspension is the main reason that the E-motion 700 Deluxe weighs 23.3kg, which is a respectable weight, but 2.3kg more than the rigid, but otherwise very similar, Kalkhoff Pro-connect. A definite disadvantage.

Power-assist is the now widely fitted Panasonic crank-drive, but in this case, almost uniquely, power gets to the back wheel via a conventional derailleur rather than hub gears.We were a bit concerned about this at first, but there’s no technical reason why a derailleur shouldn’t be able to handle the extra torque, which is no greater than a serious athlete or a spirited couple on a tandem might produce.All the same, a little bit of extra care is needed when shifting, especially changing up, or at low speed.With High power selected, the change is smoother if you relax pedal pressure briefly when changing gear. Because the motor takes a fraction of a second to disengage, there is still plenty of power there to effect the change, but without any nasty noises, which can happen if you’re standing on the pedals. In the lower settings, or with power-assist turned off, change gear as normal.

Gearing is everything with these crank-drive bikes. As standard, the E-motion bikes come with a 14-28 tooth gear cassette, giving an overall gear range of approximately 41″ 81″ (or just 38″ – 76″ with the 650, which has smaller 26-inch wheels).Without power, 41″ would be ludicrously high for hill-climbing, but power-assist makes this sort of gear viable, if a bit marginal if you live somewhere hilly.Top speed is a shade over 15mph, and that’s all you’re allowed.

Range is certainly something to write home about.As a rule, these Panasonic-driven bikes manage somewhere between 25 and 30 miles depending on gearing, rolling resistance, weight, and so on. Following the same hilly course we ride with all the electric bikes, the E-motion achieved an unprecedented 35.6 miles at an average of 14.2mph in High. In the default Medium setting, the bike ran for 38.2 miles at 13.6mph, not the fastest ride, but a considerable mileage. Both those results are a shade slower than its nearest rival, the Kalkhoff Pro-Connect, but four to five miles greater range.With this standard 41″ bottom gear, the bike restarted on a 1:6 hill, but only just, and a weak rider might well have been defeated.The 81″ top gear is high enough to give assistance up to 15mph, but the general feel is a bit uninspiring. On the positive side, the range in the Low power setting will be quite substantial – certainly in excess of 50 miles.

Our bike also came with an alternative set of cogs, although the distributors are at pains to point out that they wouldn’t dream of suggesting this as a road-going alternative, and what the customer does with it is entirely up to them.An 11-30 tooth cassette hardly sets the world alight, but it widens the E-motion’s gear range to 38″-104″, improving the bike across the board.Top assisted speed on the flat increases to 17mph, but as we’ve made clear on numerous occasions, these are not powerful motors, and typical assisted speed will be closer to 15mph, so the illegality issue is a purely technical one.

With these alternative cogs, the bike feels much more capable, with a reserve for climbing hills, and a tall enough top gear to pedal in comfort up to about 22mph when conditions allow. In High, range is cut to 28.2 miles, but speed bounces up to 15.3mph, so in this trim, the E-motion is faster than the Kalkhoff, but with slightly inferior range. Swings and roundabouts, unfortunately. In the Medium setting, range is 31.7 miles at 14.1mph, and perhaps a little over 40 miles in Low, which isn’t a huge scary penalty. With the lower first gear, restarting on the 1:6 hill is fairly easy in High, but in the lower power settings, you really need that first gear to get up the hills.

On our standard 10mile commuter run, the regeared E-motion made the fastest run of any crank-drive, with a speed of 32 minutes, some two minutes ahead of the Gepida and Kalkhoff ProConnect. Our advice is definitely to go for the wider gear range.The higher speed helps the bike tackle the ups in those annoying short, sharp ups and downs, and if you want economy you can still get it by using a lower power setting, or turning the power off altogether in top gear.

Power consumption is 8.18.7Wh/mile with the 14-28 tooth sprockets, or 9.8-11Wh/mile with the 1130 tooth which is definitely state-of-the-art, and jolly good, considering the high average speed. Interestingly, we were expecting to see a clear advantage over the hub-geared Kalkhoff bikes, but this wasn’t really the case.The E-motion is faster and more economical than the slightly frumpy Agattu, but more or less on a par with the sportier Pro-Connect.As derailleur gears are measurably a shade more efficient than hub gears, we can only assume that the Pro-Connect’s excellent Continental Contact tyres offer slightly lower rolling resistance than the Schwalbe Energizers fitted to the E-motion. In any event, the difference amounts to no more than a percentage point or two. Incidentally, the Schwalbes punctured twice within a few miles after taking whacking great thorns in the sidewall, whereas the Continentals didn’t puncture at all for the period we had the Pro-Connect. That might mean everything or nothing.

Charging and Running Costs

Charging is exactly the same as for any other Panasonic-powered machine.A full charge takes around 51 /2 hours, and the charger is a bit bulky (although much smaller than the Yamaha device). Running costs are kept low by the two-year battery guarantee and the high mileage per charge, but hindered by the £395 battery replacement cost, and we won’t see that come down until the pound perks up.We estimate running costs of 10.8p on the default Medium power setting, rising to 11.1p in High.As ever, our figures rather pessimistically assume the battery will need replacing the moment the warranty expires.

Incidentally, all the Panasonic batteries are interchangeable, so if you own any of these bikes, feel free to shop around for the best battery deal.The other money-saving option is the smaller battery fitted to the cheaper E-motion variants.This 208Wh battery costs £350 to replace, but it offers at least 20% less range than the big ‘un, and may need replacing more often, so the relatively small price differential suggests that the smaller battery would be a false economy, unless you make short trips at low speed.


Unusually, this is quite an easy one to sum up.The E-motion has lots of potential competitors, but the primary one is the Kalkhoff.The E-motion has a clear advantage in terms of price, and the only other real question is whether you prefer hub gears or derailleurs.The Kalkhof’s hub gears are much the best option in town, and changing the overall ratios is easy and cheap by swapping a single rear sprocket.You can make big changes too – very low gears for exceptionally hilly areas, or very high ones for the Norfolk polders.

The E-motion’s derailleur gears provide slightly closer ratios and an arguable efficiency boost, but they can be a nuisance in traffic, and although the sprockets can be mixed-andmatched to produce a custom gear set, the upper and lower limits are strictly fixed. On a normal bike the chainring (or rings) could be swapped, but with the Panasonic crank-drive, this component is not changeable, so your options are constricted by the biggest and smallest rear cogs offered by Shimano: a big 34-tooth or thereabouts to get you up steep hills, and a small 11-tooth for easy cruising in top. So in very hilly, or very flat areas, the Emotion is not quite as flexible, and probably isn’t suitable for hills in excess of 1:6, unless you are quite a spirited rider, in which case it will be fine.

Taking all this into account, it really has be a draw. Competition is a good thing, and the Kalkhoff now has a worthy adversary.

E-motion 700 Deluxe Specifications

E-motion 700 Deluxe £1,550 . Weight Bike 20.9kg Battery 2.4kg Total 23.3kg (51lbs) Gears 8-speed Shimano derailleur . Gear Ratios (Standard) 41″ – 81″ (Alternative) 38″ – 104″ Battery Lithium-Ion . Nominal Capacity 270Watt/hours . Replacement Cost £395 Range (Standard Gearing) 38 miles . Full Charge 51/2 Hours . Overall Consumption 8.1-11Wh/mile Overall Running Costs 10.8-11.1p/mile . UK Importer OnBike tel 01299 251514

A to B 72 – July 2009

Monark Eco electric bike

Monark Eco

Not long ago,crank-motors looked like an endangered species,but suddenly the Panasonic drive is everywhere,doing rather well against more powerful machines on the race track,yet very much a favourite on city bikes too.It’s that flexibility that makes a crank drive so useful.The last three electric bikes we’ve tried have been crank drives,and all have used the same Panasonic Li-ion system.It’s now by far the most popular crank drive system worldwide,and is possibly unique in having a two-year battery guarantee. After the various Li-ion battery problems of the last few months, that’s quite reassuring. The latest machine to reach our doorstep is the Monark Eco.It’s unlikely you will have a Monark in your shed,because they are rare in the UK,but in Sweden the name is synonymous with cycling,rather as Raleigh used to be here. Actually, Monark is more like Pashley, because it produces the Swedish post bike and numerous other practical load-carriers. Raleigh,of course,is run by corpulent suits importing Chinese MTBs,whereas Monark (now part of the Cycleurope group) actually makesthings. With Chinese manufacturing becoming increasingly expensive in terms of wage rates and shipping,the manufacturing ball will soon be very much back in the European court…Bad news for the UK,of course,because we’ve wiped out our industry,but mainland Europe is doing well,and that’s why electric bikes are flooding into a hungry UK market from Holland, Germany,and now Sweden.

Monark bikes are typical North European machines;practical,slightly frumpy,and equipped with back-pedal brakes,wide puncture-resistant tyres and very few gears.The Eco is no exception.It has a one-size step-thru alloy frame,Panasonic powerassist,3-speed Nexus hub gear,and a chunky rack for carrying your girlfriend home from the va?a?rdshus after a few jolly fa?a?rsko?o?ls.

The Monark Eco

On the road,the Monark feels somewhere between the solid and meticulously equipped Gazelle,and the lighter,sportier Kalkhoff.The machine weighs 24.6kg,only 10% of which is accounted for by the tiny Li-ion battery.That’s average for a crank-drive bike – it’s heavier than the Kalkhoff Pro Connect,but lighter than the Gazelle or Kalkhoff Agattu.The 1.9-inch tyres give an unstoppable steam roller impression and roll pretty well, provided they’re pumped up hard enough.If the tyre pressures are low (they’re rated 4065psi) the rolling resistance can rise appreciably and the handling becomes a bit wayward, made worse by some flex in the very low step-thru frame.Even at higher pressures,the Eco has a tendency to wag its tail above 30mph,but,let’s face it,that’s not a speed you’re likely to encounter on a city bike of this kind.

The three-speed Nexus is simple,light, cheap and easy to adjust;a transmission design classic in other words.Three gears and a range of less than 200% is perfectly adequate on an electric bike,even somewhere quite hilly,but the gears are a bit widely spaced for the Panasonic motor, which prefers to buzz along at a fairly constant speed.In a flat city this will matter not one jot, but in Cumbria,the Eco would struggle a bit on awkward climbs.

Monark uses this hub quite widely on its conventional bikes,but we’re a bit concerned about its longevity on a crank-driven electric machine,which produces the sort of torque you’d expect from a tandem.And as the motor can be a little slow coming off the power when changing gear,you do have to change rather slowly and precisely to avoid grunts and bangs from the hub.This sort of thing is OK once in a while,but do it too often,and the hub will fail relatively quickly,a fate that befell some Giant Lafrees.

Generally speaking though,it’s a practical and pleasant machine to ride,the simple hub gears and powerful motor making mincemeat of city traffic queues.Even out on the open road,the Monark nips along pretty well,although the narrow gear range does limit the top speed and climbing ability.Despite the rather high 41-inch bottom gear,we found a restart on our 1:6 hill relatively easy on the High power setting,but only just doable on Medium.If you live somewhere hilly and have limited leg power, you’ll certainly want an electric bike with a lower first gear.At 76 inches,top is just adequate for spinning along on the flat.As we found with the Kalkhoff Pro Connect, the new Panasonic motor is chirpier than its predecessors,giving a smidgen of power up to quite high leg cadence,so despite the low gearing,assistance is available to around 16mph with a fresh battery.This doesn’t sound very exciting,but the bike is lively enough,and the power boost encourages the rider to pedal faster.Odd thing,human psychology.

Range & Charging

We ride all these electric bikes on a fairly hilly course,including a handful of long, steepish climbs and a short stretch at 1:6.On the Medium setting,the Eco managed no less than 34.8 miles,a shade more than the Kalkhoff Pro Connect and the greatest range we’ve seen from a crank drive,other than on the Economy setting.In practice,you would probably get less in city stopstart traffic,but a little more in the wide open spaces of East Anglia,so it’s a realistic figure.Average speed is 13.6mph;significantly lower than the Pro Connect,but only to be expected with the lower gearing.

On High,over the same course (but on a rather blustery day),the bike managed 29.3 miles at a slightly higher speed,but this setting is certainly preferable in the Great Outdoors,as it gives the bike a bit more zing to tackle those demoralising steep little climbs.We didn’t have the bike long enough to find the full range in Low,but as with the Kalkhoffs, we’d guess that 50 miles would be possible in the right conditions.

Obviously,13.6mph is at the low end speed-wise,but the Eco nips along pretty well,completing our shorter,flatter ‘commuter route’ in a very reasonable 36 minutes,which equates to just under 15mph.On longer, slightly more challenging rides,14mph is fairly easy to maintain.So the Eco’s low gearing gives better range and a lower average speed than most, but generally speaking,the performance is typical for this drive system.

Charging is just as for the Kalkhoff Pro Connect,and all the other recent Panasonicequipped bikes.The battery is more or less full after five hours,but it continues to take a trickle charge for a further hour before cutting off.The capacity seems to be a genuine 260Wh or even more,something born out by the fairly impressive mileage figures.Clearly Panasonic’s watt/hours are bigger than most.We’ll say no more about that…


With the Eco’s roadster origins and £1,200 price tag,it’s reasonable to expect decent equipment.The XACT stand is a little lightweight for an electric bike,but it’s the first we’ve seen with an adjustable leg,which can be screwed in and out by hand – useful for fine-tuning the stand angle when carrying shopping,for example.The SNG V-brakes work well enough,but we spent a lot of time getting them bind-free,partly because the wheels were poorly trued,but as our bike is an advance sample,this should improve.In classic north European style,the rack is nice and solid,but beware of carrying a friend wearing floaty chiffon,because there’s no skirt-guard…odd for this sort of bicycle.

The Eco has no suspension,relying instead on those balloon tyres and a Selle Royale saddle with great big springs under it, which make some odd creaks when you pedal hard.By and large,the rigid front forks are good news,but we’d rather see a suspension seat post than a squidgy saddle,although you might disagree.Riding with less air in the tyres will give a smoother ride,but as we’ve already said,the handling and rolling resistance can be compromised.With full pressure,pot holes can be a bit spine jarring,but the bike floats over cattle-grids and the like very nicely.

With just a single frame size,the fit of the machine will be a bit of a compromise for the short and tall.The saddle spans a height range of 92cm to 106cm, the low end being just adequate for a rider of 5′ 3″ and the top somewhere in the six-footsomething region.The bars start at around 92cm and are adjustable for both height and reach,thanks to one of those stem adjustment-thingies.

The front dynohub is a SRAM ILight D1,which looks the part,and works well,but appears to offer a little more resistance than some,although that shouldn’t matter too much on a power-assisted bike.The dynamo works the front light,a rather plasticky Basta halogen,which gives out plenty of yellowish light,but is not a patch on a good modern LED lamp.The rear light is a simple auto LED device called an H-Goggle Auto…yes,another brand we’re unfamiliar with. A Trelock rear wheel lock and chunky steel mudguards make up the package.By British standards,the Eco is equipped to the gunnels,but in Germany or Holland,the lack of a pump,skirtguard and LED headlight might be considered a bit mean.


As we’ve said more than once,the Panasonic drive system and battery come with a twoyear warranty,which is good news if you’re nervous about modern battery technology, and in this case the bicycle is also guaranteed for two years.Incidentally, our machine threw its chain within a few minutes,something the Kalkhoff Pro Connects have done,both on our test and during the Presteigne Tour.A brief investigation revealed that the chain tensioner pivot needed lubrication,and a few drops of oil cured the problem – a useful tip if it’s happened to you,because these units should be100% trouble-free.Hopefully someone in Osaka will have their bottom smacked,because this small error must have caused numerous warranty claims.

Elsewhere, there isn’t a great deal to go wrong, apart from that question mark over the durability of the Nexus hub.These bikes are designed to be simple and rugged,like the post office bikes they’re loosely based on.


Once upon a time,we thought £900 was a lot of money for a bicycle,but we’ve got accustomed to four-figure price tags,and with petrol at £5.50 a gallon,the public seem to be catching up with the idea too. Yes, you can buy an old car, or a new Chinese moped, for less, but a quality power assisted bike brings all the attributes of the bicycle with the bonus of assistance.

At £1,250, the Eco is currently the cheapest of the ‘quality’ bikes, undercutting the Giant Twist, Kalkhoff Pro Connect, Gazelle, Heinzmann, and Sparta.The only competition comes from the Kalkhoff Agattu,currently also £1,250,but only in the medium frame size. The Eco is not as well equipped as some,but it’s reasonably light,sportier than you might expect and has the makings of a rugged and reliable town bike,capable of longer journeys when asked.If you have discounted shopping by roadster because of hills,look again!


Monark Eco £1,250.Weight Bike 22.1kg Battery 2.5kg Total 24.6kg (54lbs)Gears 3-spd Shimano Nexus hub . Gear Ratios 41″ – 76″ . Battery Li-ion Manganese Nominal Capacity 260Watt/hours.Replacement Cost £295.Max Range 29.3-50 miles Full Charge 6hrs . Consumption 6.4-10.9Wh/mile. Running Costs 9.0p-9.7p/mile Manufacturer Cycleurope Sverige AB UK distributor IDASS tel 0844 8009310 mail

A to B 67 – Sep 2008

Kalkhoff Agattu Wave electric bike

Kalkhoff Aggatu Wave

Kalkhoff Aggatu Wave - A to B reviewKalkhoff Aggatu Wave. FIRST PUBLISHED IN A to B 63, January 2008

Not long ago, when the innovative Giant Lafree was discontinued, we began to wonder if the electric bike had any future, other than as a rollerskate for lazy leisure riders. When Giant replaced the Lafree with a crude hub motor system, it looked as though the wonderful Panasonic power unit was dead, and with it the dream of quality, economical power-assisted machines. Why is this system so wonderful? If you live somewhere like Cornwall or Cumbria and you’ve tried a Giant Lafree, you’ll know why. The Panasonic, almost uniquely amongst electric bike power systems,assists at the pedal crank, which makes it very good at climbing hills: when you change down to a low gear, the motor automatically changes down too. The result is a bicycle that’s more or less conventional in every way. It weighs little more than a non-assisted roadster, and feels similar on the road, but come to a hill and the bike gently swishes up at something like double the normal speed. When you’re faced with a steep hill with two heavy panniers of groceries, the bike will chug sedately up.

The Aggatu

Fortunately, the reports of the death of the Panasonic were exaggerated, and for that we must thank our cycle-friendly cousins in Holland and Germany, whose factories kept the faith when the Taiwanese had moved on to building other, tackier, things. We tested the Gazelle Easy Glider in A to B 61, and mentioned in A to B 62 that Raleigh-Univega in Germany had introduced a range of equally well presented electric bikes using the same system,much to the confusion of Raleigh UK, where the suits had just signed a deal with Powabyke.

It turns out that the Univega is actually a ‘badge-engineered’ version of the Kalkhoff Agattu. All these brands were once part of the Derby Cycles mega-corporation, but when that pyramid collapsed a few years ago, some some seem to have gone their own way, while others remained under a reformed Derby umbrella. So we think that Kalkhoff and Raleigh Germany are the same thing, but distinct from Raleigh UK, which is something different, but seems to share a logo. Anyway, who cares? All that really matters is that the Agattu is lovingly handcrafted in Germany with most of the technical bits coming from Japan, and in engineering terms, that’s jolly good parentage.

The Agattu is a typical sensible European roadster,available in two forms; the step-thru Wave and the diamond-frame Diamant. The electric option is new for 2008 – a stock Agattu fitted with the latest 260Wh version of Panasonic’s lithium-ion power unit. The bike weighs a reasonable 23.3kg (51lb),plus a battery of 2.5kg, giving overall weight of 25.8kg (57lb). That’s lighter than the Gazelle,a shade lighter than the Schwinn Transit, but heavier than any of the Lafree variants, which goes to show that the technology hasn’t moved on that much.

Like the Gazelle, which shares similar technical bits, the Kalkhoff is practical, well-equipped and capable – in short, it’s about as good as a bicycle gets. The machine is fitted with Shimano’s Nexus 7-speed hub, which is ever so slightly disappointing, because the Nexus 8-speed is demonstrably better, but gears are less important on an electric bike, so you’d have to live somewhere very hilly to miss the extra gear. Like all Panasonics, the power-assist is simple to use. Jump on the bike, pedal off, and it rides like any other, but press a button on the small handlebar switch and the fuel LEDs and power meter light up. From your next pedal stroke until the battery is exhausted, progress will be assisted.

Unusually, there are three levels of assistance. Default is Medium, giving 1:1 assistance (in other words, the bicycle exactly matches your leg power), but you can choose Low (1:0.5) or High (1:1.3) if you prefer. On this free-running machine, Low is more than adequate for a flattish town, the effect being somewhat akin to a normal bike with a gentle tailwind. Medium is more like a typical power-assisted bike, but a little weak at low pedal/motor speed, so you have to make good use of the gears to get the best out of the system. High power is basically the same, but with increased grunt at low speed.

In all cases the motor assists up to about 15mph (more like 16mph with a fresh battery), and like all crank-motor machines there is the disadvantage that the top gear is capped by the manufacturer to prevent the motor assisting beyond this speed. However,crank motors are easily tuneable by simply replacing the rear hub sprocket. The standard sprocket has 22-teeth, giving ratios more or less evenly spread between a lowish 33-inch and a highish 80-inch. A larger sprocket (not easy to find) will give lower gears for hills, and a smaller one will enable the motor to assist you up to an illegally high top speed, but don’t get too excited, because these are low powered machines. Experience with the Lafree suggests that 17 or 18mph is about top whack. The optimum gearing depends on rider weight, fitness level and topography.

Riding our largely flat 10-mile commuter route on High power gave a time of 37 minutes, which is noticeably faster than the similar Gazelle Easy Glider, but broadly typical for an electric bike. On our hilly test circuit, undulating between sea level and 500 feet, the motor feels quite meaty on High, pulling well from low speed, and hanging on to the high gears for longer (typically two gears higher than on the Medium setting, if that makes any sense). The bike gallops up hills in a most satisfactory manner, giving an average speed of 13.7mph, which is on the high side,but not spectacularly so. The Agattu walked away with the 1:6 (17%) restart,and easily changed up into 2nd gear after a few metres. The maximum gradient is hard to judge, because we don’t have anything steeper to try it on, but like the Gazelle, we’d guess the bike would climb 1:4 (25%) without giving the rider a heart attack. Overall range on the High setting is 26.7 miles.

On the same circuit, Medium feels a bit over-stretched. In easy conditions, the bike feels quite chirpy, but the motor has a lot less torque at low speeds, so when the gradient really bites, you find yourself changing rapidly down through the gears, using 2nd,or even 1st on quite modest hills. A restart on a 1:6 hill is possible, but you really need that 33-inch 1st gear, and you won’t progress into second without strong legs. The trade-off is a battery range of 30.2 miles; one of the best results we’ve seen, even under these quite trying conditions. Average speed is a rather leisurely 12.7mph, which is almost identical to the Gazelle Easy Glider on its Low power setting, albeit over a greater range.

In typical Panasonic style, the battery has a stack of five fuel warning lights, but you can’t see these on the move unless you hop off and press a button on the casing. In this case, there’s also an array of three LEDs on the handlebars. These give an accurate indication of the power left in the battery, but they’re not very linear. Typically, the first light pops off at 71% capacity (Kalkhoff claim 40-70%), the second at 36% (claimed 10-20%), and the last light begins to flash at 27%. According to the manual there should be less than 10% capacity left at this stage, but there’s enough juice for another eight miles, so no need to panic. When the battery really is down to its last 10% a battery-saving mechanism cuts the power right back, so if you’re planning to climb a steep hill 28 miles from home, you probably won’t make it. That said, a range of thirty-odd miles is pretty good, especially from a battery weighing only 2.5kg.

We normally ignore Low or Eco power settings because as a rule they don’t do anything you can’t do with your legs alone. But when we tested the Gazelle,we felt the lower power setting was genuinely useful. And Low on the Agattu is even lower…

According to Radtouren magazine, three Kalkhoff engineers achieved a record 101 miles on Low back in August 2007, but this was at 12.5mph, on a level track, under carefully controlled conditions. In the real world, mileage is much less exciting, hill-climbing rather feeble, and average speed a bit uninspiring (much the same as a conventional bike, albeit for less rider effort). But as we clocked up the miles, we really began to value this gentle power option. It’s valuable for parts of a journey where full assistance isn’t needed, and you can easily switch back to the higher settings for hills and headwinds. It’s also useful if you, a weaker cycling partner, or an elderly relative needs a small boost to keep up with other cyclists. On this free-running bike, the very low assistance level really is useful. For the record, we achieved a range of 47.6 miles at 11.2mph – reckon on a bit more in warm weather, or a bit less if you ask for extra power on the hills.

Economy is excellent, but disappointingly, the bike doesn’t break any records on the higher settings, consuming 11.8Wh/mile on High, and 10.3Wh/mile on Medium (a shade more than the Gazelle which managed 9.9Wh/mile). On Low the Agattu hits a new low of 6.5Wh/mile, but as the rider is putting in two-thirds of the effort, this isn’t a very meaningful record. All the same, these are pretty much state-of-the-art figures. In layman’s terms, it will run all day on the energy Jeremy Clarkson consumes boiling an egg for breakfast.

Equipment & Charging

Charging is a touch slow. Importer 50 Cycles reckons the battery should be fully charged in four hours, but it actually takes between five and six hours. This misunderstanding probably arose because the handbook suggests the battery is full when all five charge lights are illuminated, but our test equipment showed that there was more than an hour to go at this point. As there’s no other indication of a complete charge (the falling temperature of the charger gives a clue) it makes sense to leave the battery on a bit longer, but don’t over-do it, because Panasonic says battery life may be compromised if it’s left connected for more than 48 hours.

The charger is rather large more of a docking station really, so it’s not readily portable – but a compact travel charger is expected in summer 2008. Bearing in mind Panasonic’s troubles with UK-issue Lafree chargers, will all this new technology prove reliable? It’s certainly a neater, lighter, more weather-proof battery/motor unit than the original one. We can’t guarantee it will be reliable, but the signs are good, and a company like Panasonic has a lot to lose if it doesn’t work.

Other equipment is excellent, and almost as classy as the Gazelle Easy Glider, but not quite.The Kalkhoff Agattu comes with an Abus wheel lock, pump, skirt guard, long-legged ESGE stand, Post Moderne sprung seat pillar and Verso sprung forks. These are rather good, giving a well-damped, but resilient ride. Cattle grids just disappear, as do small kerbs, although the big ones can give you quite a jolt through both the forks and the sprung seat pillar. The forks are adjustable,and on this very rare occasion the adjusters demonstrably do something, but there’s little point in stiffening up the ride too much with an electric bike.

Unusually, for a bike equipped with Nexus hubs, the Agattu has V-brakes, also by Shimano and excellent: squeal-free, powerful, and progressive, but not as weather-resistant as the rather spongey Nexus roller brakes one expects on this sort of machine.

The lighting system is in the 9/10region: Busch & Muller Lumotec Senso Plus headlight and Selectra Standlicht at the rear. Both have a standlight function, which is not only a safety bonus, but extremely useful, the front light being strong enough to guide the bike into a dark garage or find a house number. Both work on a sensor system, which cuts in and out unobtrusively at dawn and dusk, but the hub dynamo absorbs so little energy, there seems little point in turning it off, in the winter at least. The road illumination is good, although not quite up to the standard of B&M’s LED headlight. We also had an intermittent problem with the rear light, which always worked perfectly at home or in town, but would sometimes cut out on country roads…

The big chunky Continental CityRIDE tyres (42 x 622mm) inspire great confidence and despite being rated at only 65psi, they roll pretty well too,with a roll-down speed of 14.7mph. That’s fast enough to give the bike a light, rideable feel, something very few electric bikes achieve.

Like all good European designs, the Kalkhoff comes in no fewer than five frame sizes: 45cm, 49cm, 53cm (our test bike) and 57cm for the step-thru, and 49cm, 53cm, 57cm and 61cm for the ‘gents’. For former East German shot-putting ladies, a ludicrously large XXL version of the Wave will be available in a few months with a stronger 61cm frame.

Running costs depend very much on how you use the bike,varying between 8.7p/mile for gentle shopping trips to 10.2p/mile riding hard on High power. The difference, incidentally, is a matter of battery depreciation and range per charge. A spare battery costs £305 and we work on the basis of 350 charges in a lifetime (Panasonic claim 500 charges).


Transport decisions are not always logical. In a perfect world, everyone would do their shopping with a bike like this Kalkhoff and traffic congestion would melt away. It can be ridden day or night, summer or winter, wet or dry, tail wind or head wind, and it will always carry your groceries home. But relatively few people will buy an Agattu, which is a real shame, because if you haven’t ridden a well-equipped power-assisted European roadster, you are missing a seriously top-draw experience.

And so to price.The 2008 Gazelle Easy Glider has better spec and the same motor and battery for around £1,600, whereas the Agattu is being introduced at £1,195, albeit rising to £1,250 in the spring. It may not be quite as classy as the Gazelle, but it’s an excellent price for a competent European machine – similar to the most expensive Chinese electric bikes and cheaper than the Lafree in its final form. Not so long ago, you had to travel hundreds of miles just to see a brand like Gazelle or Kalkhoff, but both manufacturers are busy setting up dealer networks in the UK… Are we witnessing the much-prophesised roadster renaissance?

Kalkhoff Aggatu Wave Specifications

Price £1,195
Weight Bike 23.3kg Battery 2.5kg Total 25.8kg (57lbs)
Gears 7-spd Nexus hub
Gear Ratios 33″ – 80″
Battery Li-ion
Nominal Capacity 260Wh
Replacement Cost £305
Range 26.7-47.6 miles
Full Charge 6 hours
Running Costs 8.7-10.2p/mile
Manufacturer Derby Cycle Werke GmbH
UK distributor 50 Cycles tel 01509 266656

A to B 63 – Jan 2008

Gazelle Easy Glider

Gazelle Easy Glider

Before its untimely withdrawal last year,we considered the Giant Lafree a jolly good electric bike – arguably the best you could buy.The magic ingredient was the Panasonic crank-drive unit,which placed the motor ‘upstream’ of the hub gears,so the motor worked via the gears:Whenever your legs felt the strain,you’d change down a gear,automatically easing the load for the motor too. Bio-feedback,if you like.This very efficient arrangement made the Lafree a superb hill-climber that was also one of the most economical electric assist bikes on the market.The only real downside was stress on the gear system,which had to deal with tandem-plus power levels.

For various reasons – chiefly cost – Giant axed the Lafree,and dropped the Panasonic system too.The replacement ‘Twist’ model (see A to B 58),was equipped with a conventional hub motor.This bike had its strong points,but against the lightweight,free running,hill-climbing Lafree,it was rubbish.Panasonic was already marketing a new crankdrive unit, utilising a lighter,more compact lithium-ion battery,which Giant had used briefly on the Revive semi-recumbent (A to B49),but there weren’t many other takers outside Japan,and it began to look as though this excellent crank-drive system was dead.

Fortunately,Dutch manufacturer Gazelle had the faith to incorporate the Panasonic mechanism into its Gazelle Easy Glider,which was released a couple of years ago,rapidly becoming one of the best selling electric bikes in the cycle-friendly markets on the Continent. This is the bike that Giant could,and should,have made,but it’s made in Holland – is the Gazelle the new Lafree?

The Easy Glider

As a general rule – and generalities can be dangerous – cyclists of the non-technical kind love bikes with the Panasonic drive system.There’s no twistgrip,and no awkward power adjustments or scary flashing lights to worry about.You either don’t turn it on and ride a normal bike,or you turn it on,and the bike magically adds hidden power to your pedal strokes.If you don’t know what that feels like (and don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) it’s a bit like riding with a tail wind.Not a gale,but the sort of pleasant summer breeze that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.Come to a hill and the whole character of the machine changes.The speed gradually drops as you change down through the gears,but the level of assistance increases,so although hill-climbing speed is generally quite modest, the bike feels as though it can climb anything,and with the right gearing it will.

We have to slightly qualify this,because the new system fitted to the Gazelle Easy Glider is not quite as powerful as the old one.For reasons possibly linked to the demands of the domestic Japanese market,Panasonic has gone for quite a low-key power system on the new crank motor,with a choice of relatively small batteries.Wisely,Gazelle has chosen the biggest 187Wh version for the Glider,but it’s still a bit mean in terms of output.On the other hand,the battery weighs only 1.9kg,a mere handbag against the weight of a typical Dutch roadster,the Easy Glider weighing a total of 28.2kg,including motor, battery and numerous accessories.For transport boffins,and collectors of facts and figures,the battery weighs less than 7% of the gross weight of the bike – a remarkably low figure,and the equivalent of a full tank of petrol in a 1,000kg car.

On the Road

Power assist is launched via a push button on the handlebars.First impressions are that the bike is heavier and slightly weaker than the Lafree,but not by a great deal.It also seems crazily low geared, but that’s a side-effect of the crank-drive system and Euro regulations.With a crank motor,maximum assisted speed is proportional to the gear inches in top,set in this case at 78″ to make the motor run out of steam at 15mph.The downside is that it’s difficult to pedal faster than about 18mph without your legs going round in a frenzy,but the good news is that first gear is very low indeed.As with the Lafree,you can fine tune the characteristics of the bike by fitting a different rear sprocket,and a smaller sprocket will raise all the gears slightly.This is technically illegal,but the motor really isn’t powerful enough to pull a speed much above 15mph,so don’t worry too much about getting a blue light on your tail.Slightly higher gearing will give the bike a more relaxed laid-back feel that should suit it better, and have little negative effect on hill climbing.

Once up to the jaunty 15mph cruise,there’s not much to say about the way the bike rides,which is good news. There’s our usual grumble that gears 7 and 8 on the Nexus are almost identical,but with eight rather low gears,and power assistance,you tend to miss most of them out anyway in normal riding.On the flat,the bike pulls away best in gear 3,followed by 5,possibly 6,then 8.As the hills close in,it’s much the same in reverse – the bike copes with many inclines in 6th and quite steep ones in 4th.We found a restart easy on a 1:6 gradient and even managed to get up into 2nd.In 1st,given a spare battery,this bike should grind up any hill in the British Isles,from long Scottish 1:8s through the short sharp 1:4s of the North Yorkshire Moors,to the switchback 1:6s of Devon and Cornwall.If you live at the bottom of one of the these,the Gazelle really is your best option.More powerful electric bikes can storm up steep hills with a bit of careful planning,but riding the Gazelle you can stop and talk to Mrs Johnson halfway up,or pause to look at the scenery,then pull cleanly away again.With this sort of bike,hills might slow you down,but they won’t bring you out in a sweat,and you won’t be walking.Riding our largely flat 10-mile commuter route,the Gazelle achieves a comfortable 14mph,completing the course in 381/2minutes. That’s up with quite fast conventional bikes,but only average for a power-assisted machine.Against its top end electric bike competitors,it’s muchslower than the Ezee bikes, slightly slower than the Sparta Ion, but notably quicker than the stodgy Giant Twist,the replacement for the Lafree.

The ride is very good,with adjustable front suspension forks that really are adjustable for damping (not enough in our opinion),and a suspension seat post under the derriere. This combination is compliant enough to more or less eradicate cattle grids and small kerbs,which is an odd feeling,but suspension only has so much travel,so don’t go mad.If you ask too much – particularly of the seat post – the result is a nasty bump and a crash.In general,the Easy Glider rides extremely well,with an air of solidity,and rock-steady handling at speed,even hands off.Not quite Rolls Royce stuff,but amongst the best.

Brakes are Nexus roller,front and rear.Shimano has done a good job of answering the criticisms of brake fade on long descents,and a lack of ‘feel’,but they’re still a bit of a compromise.Slightly unsettlingly,the roller brakes don’t seem to do anything when first applied,as it takes a few microseconds for the brake force to reach full strength.In an emergency,you squeeze a bit harder,resulting in an over-fierce application when the brakes do come on.We managed to briefly lock the rear wheel at 30mph when the car in front braked suddenly at the bottom of a steep hill (twit), resulting in the Glider giving a momentary wag of the tail.Having experienced roller brakes before,we can only say that they should get better with age,so don’t worry too much,but bear it in mind.


Although the battery is small and light,it has a nominally bigger capacity than the Lafree 187Wh against 156Wh.But it’s a demonstration of just how unscientific (or,indeed, meaningless) these battery ratings are,that the range is about the same at 19.5 miles (our various Lafree tests gave averages of 18.5,20 and 22.9 miles).Similarly,the Gazelles’s 13.2mph average speed is right in the middle of the Lafree figures of 12.8,13.2 and 14mph. So whatever our initial impressions might have suggested,the performance of the Gazelle is very much on a par with the Lafree.And with a battery weighing only 1.93kg and measuring a compact 25cm x 10cm x 9cm,carrying a spare will not be a serious issue.In fact,you’d hardly notice the weight or bulk of two spare batteries,giving a total range of 60 miles.

We repeated our mileage test on the ‘MIN’ setting,engaged with another stab at a small handlebar button.Normally,we ignore these low power settings,but this one works rather well,and we’d like to see a ‘super-minimum’ as well.As far as we can tell (the effects are subtle) you have to pedal a bit harder before the motor will cut in,and the power is limited when straining at low pedal/motor speed.In practice,this encourage you to ride in a more economical way – spinning the pedals faster in lower gears,and generally making better use of the gearbox – and that’s where the extra mileage comes from.In MIN,you really do need to use all the gears for best results,but the bike isn’t much slower overall (12.6mph against 13.2mph) and range increases by nearly a quarter,to 24.1 miles.For such a small speed penalty,that’s an attractive trade-off. Incidentally,the handlebar control unit is supposed to flash an LED light at you when the battery capacity drops to 10%,but it comes much later than this – typically anything from a few hundred metres to a kilometre before the thing conks out.There is a five-LED array on the battery,but you can only see this by hopping off and pressing a button, so it’s only a guide.

If maximum range is important to you,Gazelle will be releasing a larger 260Wh battery early in 2008.On the basis of current performance,that should give a range of 27 to 33 miles.

Overall efficiency (including charging losses) is similar to the Lafree,but without breaking any records.On full power,consumption is 12.3Wh/mile,and on MIN the Gazelle just breaks into the exclusive single-figure club at 9.9Wh/mile.If you’re still sceptical about the green credentials of these machines,bear in mind that a gallon of petrol contains around 41,000Wh of energy,and will only heave a Nissan Patrol 25 miles or so. On the MIN setting,the Gazelle Easy Glider achieves a little over 4,000mpg

A more topical comparison is carbon dioxide emissions.Generating one kilowatt/hour of electricity in the UK results in emission of 0.43kg/CO2.So if you recharge on a conventional mains tariff,the Glider will average 2.7g-3.3g CO2per kilometre,or zero if you produce your own power (a typical 4×4 emits 300g/km).Running costs – mainly depreciation and the £209 replacement cost of the battery – come out at 11.5p per mile.

The charger is the same pattern as the old Panasonic charger,but now clips onto the battery with a sort of clumsy cassette thing.Charging is pretty typical,taking 4 hours and 40 minutes for a complete refill.Like the Lafree, the battery has to be removed for charging, but in this case,the battery key is the same as the rear wheel lock key.This means you have to lock the bike in order to release the key and remove the battery,which you may or may not consider a good thing.More positively, the key is (or should be) always to hand when you need it.The key itself is a delightful folding affair,which – like almost everything else carries the Gazelle brand.


If you live in Germany, Scandinavia or The Netherlands,you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, because most bikes there are sold with essential equipment, but here in the mid-Atlantic MTB-orientated UK,this level and quality of accessories is almost unknown.The Easy Glider has Continental Contact tyres,a Selle Royale gel saddle,a skirtguard, long rack with shock cords,a Power Click stand that looks as though it would support a Harley-Davidson,‘Switch’ handlebar quick-release,giving instant adjustment for height and reach,a full chainguard,tool kit,saddle bag,pump,a smashing rotary bell,rear wheel lock,auto lights,trip computer,and the Nexus 8-speed hub and suspension we’ve already mentioned.Phew.

The bell looks like a gearshift,but rotating it produces a lovely tinkly shop bell noise. The lights are rather nice – a Power Vision battery 5-LED rear light with auto option,and Power Eye front light.This remarkable device fits into a sculpted plastic housing,integral with the forks,with power supplied from a Nexus hub dynamo in the front wheel.As this short section of wire is fully enclosed,the system is effectively cable-free.Output is excellent,as one might expect from this state-of-the-art job,and the auto functions are less sensitive than some,and generally unobtrusive.Our only grumble is that when you first start off,the front light doesn’t get going until you reach 10mph or so,presumably because it’s charging the standlight.On the other hand,after you’ve ridden a mile or two,the standlight gives full output for a couple of minutes when you stop.

Typical of Dutch roadsters,the Easy Glider has quite a large frame.Gazelle offers small,medium and large step-thru models and a gents,only in large.But as our small stepthru sample gave a saddle height from 91 – 105cm,which suited pretty well everyone who tried the bike,that’s the one to go for,unless you’re safely over six foot.

On the saddle,a neat quick-release gives instant adjustment of the saddle angle,while another adjusts the bar reach and height (112cm – 118cm on the small frame).The speedometer offers only mileage,trip miles and average speed,which is mildly disappointing,but it’s adequate for most purposes.As with the ride,there isn’t much else to say – the bike is equipped for mud,rain,snow,darkness,minor repairs,and of course, getting the shopping home.And you can wear whatever you like without getting wet, muddy or oily.Every home should have a Dutch roadster.


This is undeniably one of the best machine we’ve seen. It has it’s faults: the weight might be a problem, it’s low geared, and the battery is small. But these really are minor niggles. The Easy Glider may weigh 28kg, but there’s not a gramme of flab on it,and indeed, for a bike so laden with accessories,it’s really quite light.The gearing is easily fixed for a fiver,and a second battery solves the mileage problem,although bear in mind that higher gearing will tend to use more power,reducing the range even more.

Would we pay £1,400 for the Gazelle? Not long ago we thought £900 was a lot for a bicycle,but if you want a machine with this level of equipment,plusthe ability to climb hills, you do have to pay a bit more.It isn’t quite as lively as the Lafree,but it’s better equipped, better made,and not that much more expensive.Against the competitors in this price bracket,it does extremely well.If you want speed rather than equipment,go for the Ezee F-series or Torq.Otherwise,apart from a few specialist imports,it’s Giant Twist 1.0, Heinzmann Estelle and Sparta Ion,all at around £1,400.The Giant we would tend to dismiss on all counts except range,the Heinzmann is good,but not Gazelle-good,leaving only the Ion:a faster,prettier bike,but without the equipment or hill-climbing capabilities. For our money,the Gazelle is best of the bunch.A new 5-star electric bike,in other words.

Gazelle Easy Glider Specifications

Gazelle Easy Glider £1,460. Weight Bike 26.3kg Battery 1.93kg Total 28.2kg (62lbs) Gears 8-spd Shimano Nexus hub .Gear Ratios 25″ – 78″ .Battery Li-ion Manganese Nominal Capacity 187Wh. Replacement Cost £209 . Maximum Range 24 miles Full Charge 4 hrs 40 mins. Consumption 9.9Wh/mile. Running Costs 11.5p/mile Emissions <3.3gCO2/km. Manufacturer Koninklijke Gazelle . UK: Electric Cycle Co (stockist) tel 0131 553 4900 mail Cambridge Dutch Bikes (to order) tel 07772738899 mail

A to B 61 – Sep 2007

Ezee Liv Electric Bike

Ezee Liv

Ezee Liv Electric BikeBack in the summer of 2003,a slightly odd-looking electric bike called the Ezee Forza landed on our doorstep. It was reasonably light,and some of the equipment was a bit dubious,but it came with everything a regular cyclist might need,plus a gutsy power-assist system that offered a decent range at an enjoyably nippy pace.The prototype Forza was a bit rough around the edges,but we liked it,and the production version (known as the Sprint) sold in droves. It wasn’t the prettiest machine in the world,but it promised to get you up the hills and generally got you to work on time,even when something went wrong, which it occasionally did.

Four years later, Ezee has become a respectable brand,and the Sprint has been extensively revised,using that early experience.Loaded with extras,it now commands a price tag of £800-£900,but with the market for electric bikes expanding rapidly in the £500-£600 zone,Ezee has gone back to basics,introducing the Liv.This new bike is broadly the same as that early Forza:similar equipment,with a similar bare alloy frame,but without the ‘unisex’ 45cm step-thru (the Liv top tube is 67cm high – almost the same as the Torq). The bike was launched a few weeks ago at a distinctly eye-catching price of £545,complete with NiMH battery.

Things move fast in this business:following some dramatic increases in the price of NiMH batteries (reportedly due to a shortage of nickel),it has been decided that the Liv will sell for £595,equipped with the latest lithium-ion battery.So the bike still squeezes into that ‘economy’ banding,but apart from the tiddly little Powacycle Lynx,it seems to be the only bike under £1,000 to be fitted with a lithium-ion battery,and it’s the biggest battery of its kind on the market.

On the road

So the Liv started life as a back to basics model,but has become a high-tech commuter.It still holds true to the Ezee philosophy of simple,practical everyday transport, but with superb spec where it counts.Equipment-wise,the bike comes with full mudguards, a dynamo lighting set (not the best,but it works well enough in dry weather),and – where other cheap brands are fitted with nasty cheap derailleur sets – a Nexus 3-speed hub gear. This light,simple hub is ideal for purpose – changes up or down are very slick,and the gear range (46″,62″ and 85″) is limited,but sufficient on an electric bike.

The DC motor is the same simple reliable unit fitted to the Low-tech Ezee Rider.It’s not as efficient as a brushless motor,but it pulls cleanly and powerfully to 16mph,or even 18mph with a fresh battery.You can cover a lot of ground by spinning fast in that 85-inch top gear,and with reasonable assistance from the noisy,but willing little motor,the Liv will climb quite steep hills at a good speed.The result is an impressively fast bike,completing our 10-mile commuter course in 33 1 / 2 minutes.That’s about the same as the Sprint,and second only to the Ezee Torq,a much more sophisticated (and expensive) machine.It just goes to show what you can do with three hub gears, sensible ratios and some modest power assistance.In hillier country,the bike does equally well,recording an average of 15.7mph with NiMH and 16.9mph with the Li-ion battery over our new 14-mile course.That’s much faster than the other budget electric bikes,and a hefty three to four mph faster than the Giant Twist or Sparta Ion (see A to B 58 ), which cost nearly three times as much.Speed isn’t everything,we hasten to add,but as with a car,it makes sense to have something in reserve.Sooner or later you’ll be climbing a gradient into a headwind with a bad leg.

With only three gears,the maximum gradient is a bit limited,but we found 13% (1:8) easy enough, and climbed 17% (1:6) at a steady pace.Restarting on that sort of gradient is feasible,but with a 46-inch bottom gear,this obviously takes a bit of legwork. Maximum motor output is similar to the Sprint,at a shade under 600 watts,so there’s plenty of oomph for most situations.

More for you money

If you’re searching for a budget-priced,practical electric bike,it’s the battery that counts, and the Liv offers no less than 370Wh of lithium-ion power – exactly the same battery fitted to its more expensive cousins.With the older NiMH battery,range in hilly country is 23 miles,but with the new battery we recorded a range of 27 miles,still averaging 16mph, despite plenty of hills and some town work.Remember,that’s at quite a high speed – if you keep speed down,30+ miles should be well within its capabilities.

When the battery does conk out,the Liv is a pleasant bike to ride unassisted – not quite up to Lafree standards,but perfectly rideable.At 28.5kg,the Liv weighs the same as the Sprint,give or take a few grams.That’s 4kg heavier than the new breed of lightweights like the Windsor,but 10kg lighter than most £600 electric bikes.And this is a solid machine, offering more range and a great deal more speed than most,particularly on hills.

Fuel consumption of 15Wh/mile is a little on the high side,but extremely good for an electric bike with this sort of performance. The charger is a quality fan-cooled device (two speed,no less!),and quite rapid,reaching half capacity in two hours and full in just over five.A few words of warning,as we’re still slightly suspicious of Li-ion technology.Our battery refused to charge at first,and although it settled down quickly enough,it would still occasionally turn off early.Switch the mains power off and back on,and it runs to full charge,but if you’re commuting some distance,we’d suggest doing this as a matter of course before going to bed…With Li-ion,both the battery and charger contain a mass of complex electronics,and one theory is that ‘spikes’ in the mains supply cause the charger to ‘trip-out’.On the other hand,we’re not hearing negative reports from consumers,so they must be working well enough out in the field.Running costs are 7.1p/mile.That’s quite high for a budget bike (replacement batteries cost £250),but as cheap as you’ll see for a performance machine with a Li-ion battery.


At £595,the Ezee Liv has a lot of competition,but most of these machines (and quite a few costing £700 or more) can be dismissed.Against such single-speed,overweight monsters as the Powabyke Shopper,Sakura Cruiser and even more horrible things,the Ezee Liv is light years ahead.The only real competition comes from the Giant Suede and the new LPX versions of the Powacycle Windsor and Salisbury,but (apart from arguably looking nicer and providing a step-thru frame option) their performance and equipment just doesn’t come into the same ballpark as the Liv. Things may change,but at the moment,this is the best all-round machine we have seen:it offers astonishing value,and with saddle height of 86cm-101cm,it fits almost anyone.If you want an electric bike on a budget,don’t hesitate – the Liv is a great buy.

Ezee Liv Specifications

Ezee Liv £595 . Weight Bicycle 24.1kg Battery 4.4kg Total 28.5kg (63lbs) . Gears 3-spd Nexus hub . Gear Ratios 46″, 62″, 85″ . Battery Li-ion . Nominal Capacity 370Wh Max Range 27 miles . Full Charge 5hrs 15mins . Consumption 15Wh/mile inc charger losses Running Costs 7.1p/mile . Manufacturer Ezee Kinetic Co UK Distributor 50Cycles tel 01509 266656

A to B 59 – April 2007

Powacycle Lithium Polymer Battery Review

Powacycle LPX Lithium-Polymer Battery

Powacycle Lithium-Polymer Battery ReviewFIRST PUBLISHED April 2007 in A to B 59

Lithium-Polymer, as readers may recall from the chemistry lesson in A to B 57, is a safer variant of the increasingly common lithium-ion battery. Polymer batteries have been used for a while in mobiles and the like, but big examples are still rare, so we think Powacycle is pretty brave introducing the first Li-pol battery on a budget bike at a budget price (Urban is close on its heels, but at a rather higher price). All the experts agree that these batteries are safe and user-friendly, but there’s no consensus over how long they will last in this sort of environment. The LPX battery can be retrofitted to the Windsor and Salisbury (price to be announced), or specified on either of these bikes from new for an extra £100.

The LPX weighs 2.4kg,against 3.7kg for the old NiMH unit, so it’s easier to carry, and it knocks the overall weight of the bike down to 22.4kg, which is more or less as light as a full-size electric bike gets.

The lithium-polymer battery is claimed to have capacity of 273Wh, against 192Wh for the old version. We only had a few days to try it, but our results of 20.6 miles on a hilly ride (including the notorious 1:5 Ham Hill), and 29.5 miles in easier going, was an improvement, but not the 42% claim. We have to be cautious,because batteries vary with temperature and conditions, but the Li-pol battery went 11%-19% further than the new NiMH and some 40% further than the old one, which has deteriorated quite a bit in 1,000 miles. Despite the larger capacity, the Li-pol charges a little faster than the NiMH unit, taking 4hrs 30 minutes, against 5hrs 10 minutes. And the Windsor felt perkier at 14mph, although this effect seemed to wear off after a few miles.

Is it worth it? If carrying the battery is a problem, it certainly will be,as long as you’re comfortable with the role of technology pioneer. The lithium-polymer battery might fail relatively quickly, or it might last for years – no one really knows. If you’re less concerned about weight and showing off your techie credentials, a spare Powacycle NiMH battery costs only £100, giving a slightly heavier machine,but a range of up to 50 miles. That’s the common sense alternative, but we still suspect the LPX will outsell the NiMH. Powacycle Windsor or Salisbury LPX £599.

A to B 59 – April 07

Sparta Ion Electric Bike

Sparta Ion M-Gear

In The Netherlands,as any small boy will tell you,there are no hills (or very few),but they do get some nasty headwinds out on the polders.Being a great bicycling nation,it is perhaps no surprise that the Dutch are also big manufacturers of power-assisted bicycles. And as a general rule,they design bikes with Dutch conditions in mind – endless,flat, windswept bicycle paths,rather than steep Cornish lanes,for example.

Typical of the genre is the Sparta Ion,a power-assisted roadster which has been selling fiendishly well in its home market for a year or so.Who,you may ask,are Sparta? As in the UK,mainland Europe once had many bicycle companies.Ours were mostly gobbled up and turned into meaningless brand names by Raleigh,while the Continental brands were eaten by something called ATAG, which appears to major on kitchen appliances these days.

In the late 1990s,ATAG ‘hived off’ its bicycle interests under the group name Accell: Sparta is one of the key brands, but Batavus is the biggest,and the group also produces Hercules,Koga-Miyata,and several others we’ve never heard of.Headquarters are in The Netherlands,where the Accell group has nearly 50% of the market,and in marked contrast to the British slash & burn approach, manufacturing plants have remained open in five European countries.Most of the frames are made in the Far East these days,but unlike the ‘British’ Raleigh,an Accell machine can reasonably be described as European.The brands seem to have considerable autonomy,but they benefit from shared technology.Thus,the Sparta Ion power system is also available on the similar Batavus Padova,Koga-Miyata Tesla and Hercules Emove.

Last summer,the Sparta rep visited us at the start of a UKwide dealer tour,and was fully expecting to have the bike on sale here within a few months.Maybe the UK market didn’t seem worth the effort,or perhaps Sparta took on board our dire warning about gradients in the Celtic fringes.Whatever the reason,the project to build a dealer network went quietly onto the back burner.This is still the case,but the Ion is now available through longtime Sparta specialist,Drakes of Cambridge,and Amsterdammers,a small shop in Brighton specialising in secondhand Dutch roadsters.

The Ion is available in several variants,from the steel-framed,single-speed Comfort at £1,250,to the matt black alloy Style,with derailleur gears,no suspension and a £1,720 price tag.The one you’re most likely to see in the UK is the mid-range M-Gear: alloy frame,seven-speed derailleur,suspension and drum brakes for £1,429.This is the bike we’ve tried.Just for the record,this bike (and most variants) also comes with a stand,rack, fitted lights,pump,wheel lock,full chain guard,decent mudguards,Continental City Contact 42 x 622mm tyres,and – very rare in the UK – a skirt guard.

Motor & Controls

Like the BionX,with which the Ion shares a few similarities,the Ion has a direct drive motor,so it’s virtually silent – even quieter and smoother than the BionX,which makes a few gentle noises at low speed.And although the motor spins all the time,it isn’t geared like the new Twist,so there’s no discernable drag.This low-key motor,coupled to an invisible battery pack (it’s in the frame) make the assisted element of the machine very hard to spot.To all intents and purposes,this is a normal Dutch bike,and at 28kg (there a lighter single-speed too),not even precociously heavy.If you want your power assist well disguised (and customer surveys suggest that buyers do ),the Ion is the bike for you.Direct drive motors are also well suited to providing regenerative braking,but the Ion doesn’t have this facility.No hills in The Netherlands,of course.

Lack of regen is a bit disappointing,but the bike is otherwise laden with technology. What the Ion does very cleverly is to make good use of the various sensors,computer capacity, battery and motor that make up the power-assist package.For the first time, these elements are integrated into the bike rather than bolted on as afterthoughts,just as electronics have become an integral part of the modern car.On the handlebars is a round control unit,featuring a speedometer, odometer,battery meter,power switch and light switch.To prevent tampering and keep it safe from the elements when you’re not riding,the control unit simply twists off – the idea being that you take it with you,even if you’re just popping into the corner shop.Removal of this master display will not stop a passing thief half-inching the bike, but the integral wheel lock will,and without the display,the systems are unusable.Each unit is programmed with a unique code,so a potential thief won’t be able to make it work without access to Sparta’s diagnostic plug-in whatnot. Incidentally,we were told that removal of the rear wheel may also make reprogramming necessary – something to think about if you get a puncture.

It’s becoming the norm on electric bicycles to take a feed from the traction battery to run the lights (front,rear and speedometer on the Ion).And in this case the system continues to function when the battery is flat by using the motor as a generator.

The controls are nice and ergonomic.The smaller bits of the liquid crystal display can be hard to read in sunlight,but at night it’s backlit in a sexy blue and much improved. Unlike the Giant Twist,the Ion has just two well separated buttons,one for the lights,and another which clicks through a menu,including a mileometer (kilometre-ometer in this case) and three power levels.There’s also a diagnostic function that tells you when something has gone amiss.The bad news is you can’t do anything about it,but the good news is that your jolly local Sparta dealer will plug it in to his whatnot,reboot it and away you go.In the UK,this means a trip to Cambridge or Brighton,but people have dreamt up stranger excuses for a long weekend.

When the nice man in the Sparta shop plugs in his diagnostic whatnot,he will be able to tell you how far you’ve been,how much effort you’ve used,how far you get on a charge,and much more besides.It’s all a bit Big Brother,but useful in terms of keeping the bike in tip-top condition.Some say the dealer can tweak power levels up or down to suit your riding style,but others deny it.

On the Road

The Ion is available with ladies or gents frames in no fewer than five sizes.Ours is the smallest (46″) ladies frame and it fits more or less everyone,so size should not be an issue…First impressions are of a lithe and lightweight bicycle,which is somewhat illusory, because at 28kg it certainly isn’t light.Nevertheless,it’s reasonably light by electric bike standards,and it feels lively,which is all that really matters.With no appreciable drag from the motor,rolling resistance is more or less conventional for a bike of this type – we recorded a roll-down speed of 14.7mph,which is slightly off the pace,but adequate.Rolldown speed might seem unimportant on an electric bike,but it’s a surprisingly accurate guide to the ‘IT factor’ – whether a bike makes you grin,or grumble.

If you choose to dial in some power assist,you simply set a power level and keep pedalling.With a very gentle surge,the bike then accelerates a bit faster.There’s no noise, no vibration,indeed no suggestion of any kind of intervention.Stop pedalling,and the assist melts away.Lean on the pedal at a junction and nothing happens,but start turning the pedals and the gentle surge returns.With such a quiet motor and unobtrusive assistance, it’s hard to judge the cut-off speed.Sometimes the power has gone by 15mph,but at other times the bike seems to pull to around 17mph or so.Whatever,there’s very little indication of the motor starting or stopping.The only indicator is a ‘fuel’ gauge consisting of a ring of little bars (3% increments) around the speedometer.Like everything else on the bike,this is well thought through,and pretty accurate.

Should you be getting terribly excited that the Ion might be all things to all people, there are a few downsides.With the motor in the back wheel,there’s no room for hub gears,so the Ion has to make do with a cheapish Shimano Nexave derailleur.This limits the gear range,resulting in some rather unhappy compromises.At 37”, first gear is too high for hill climbing,and the 81” top gear is too low for comfortable The Ion is a pretty bike,and with the battery hidden in the curved frame tube,few people would even realise it was assisted cruising.What the bike really needs is something like the Megarange – we don’t know whether this can be shoehorned on,but it would help sell the concept no end,because direct drive motors tend to be weak on hills.

Now,you may be saying,if a motor is no good on hills,what’s it for? A valid point,and the usefulness of this sort of bike depends very much on where you live and how big the hills are.In undulating country,or into modest headwinds,the Ion is great fun.It’s basically just like any other bike,but it goes further and faster for the same effort.Hit a hill,and you’re soon slogging up in that 37-inch gear,which sounds like hard work,but you only have to turn the motor off to prove that it’s still doing a fair bit.Maximum gradient? As with the Giant Twist,it’s hard to put a figure on this,but the Ion is certainly a little weaker. Interestingly,Sparta has promised a more powerful motor for 2008,with sales to the UK and other hillier markets in mind.For now,though,it’s just about up to 1:7 (14%),but it isn’t keen on restarting on this sort of hill,and it won’t climb for long.After a sustained 700 foot climb – not all of it particularly steep – the bike flashs error message E21,which means the motor is overloaded.You don’t need to do anything – the Ion simply backs the power off for a while,but it’s a clear message that this isn’t a hill-climber.Having said that,it still managed 12.4mph in hilly country (the same as the Twist) but it certainly felt less able.

Back in gentler country and you’re soon smiling again.On our largely flat ten-mile test route the Ion did much better than expected,completing the course in 37 minutes – slightly behind the similar BionX,but about as fast as you can go with an 81-inch top gear over that sort of distance.Average speed comes out at 14.7mph (yes,it’s not exactly ten miles),which is pleasantly fast,but not wildly so.

At night,the ‘push of a button’ lights are very welcome,as is the illuminated speedometer – why has this simple innovation taken so long to arrive? Rear light is a typical Busch & Muller LED and the front light a Spanninga Radius with halogen bulb and – nice touch – a Sparta badge.In 2005,we’d have described the Radius as state-of-the-art,but since the arrival of the single LED B&M DLumotec,halogen front lights are merely ‘good’ in our book.

Brakes on our bike are Sturmey Archer drums front and rear.Stopping the bike from high speed takes a mighty heave,but the brakes are powerful,progressive and consistent – just what a cyclist needs.Cheaper models have V-brakes all round,and some others have a Nexus roller brake at the front and Sturmey drum at the rear,but despite the small weight penalty,the double drum package seems the best.The only slight grumble is that the rear drum (made by Sparta,not Sturmey) has a tendency to squeal when cold.

Most Ion models have suspension front forks and a suspension seat post.We’re usually a bit dismissive of this combination,but the components really do work here,giving a supple,comfortable ride.

Range & Charging

Sparta claims an exciting 44 miles in idea conditions,but it’s best to leave these sort of figures to the fairies.In practice,we returned a range of 22 miles in mixed use,falling to 19 miles on a hillier route.The Ion has three power levels – Eco,Normal and Power.We generally rode on the Power setting,but Normal is virtually indistinguishable,and the bike is light and agile enough to be used on Eco for long stretches,provided it’s not hilly,so with care,it would be possible to go a lot further.For all it’s worth,the handbook suggests a range of anything from 7 to 44 miles,which is really hedging their bets…The fuel gauge seems pretty accurate,but it descends a little slowly at first,then more rapidly,the last quarter disappearing in a few miles.This last bit should really be treated as reserve capacity, because after 15 miles,the already gentle motor is rapidly losing oomph.At 14-16Wh/mile,fuel economy is fairly typical for this sort of bike.

When your 22 miles are up,and the power pops off,the display helpfully flashes the code E01,meaning flat battery,but you don’t need the Sparta man to tell you that,because it’s back to muscle power alone.The Ion is quite a pleasant bike to ride unassisted,but with the limited gearing, hills are bound to be a problem.Range can be extended with an optional 168Wh battery pack that slots onto one side of the rear rack,pannier-style. This costs £265,and by our calculations,should extend the range to 32-37 miles.

The standard Ion has a 24 volt NiMH battery of 240Wh,which is a typical sort of size.Replacing the cells will cost £265,which is reasonable,but the main expense is depreciation of the bike,and on such an expensive machine,that pushes up running costs to around 9.6p per mile overall.

The charger is a delight.It’s small (16cm x 12cm x 6cm),light (700g) and with a fast rate of charge,refilling the battery in a little under three hours.A nice touch is that the fuel gauge works it’s way back up,giving a precise indication of the state of play.

With such a compact charger and speedy charge time,this is one of the few bikes you really could top-up over a relaxed lunch.The only problem with the batteries being in the frame is that you need to get the bike to within 3.1 metres of a power point – no carrying the battery into the pub unless it’s the sort of place that lets the bike into the lounge bar. In The Netherlands,this needn’t be a problem,because Sparta has established a network of charge stations at cafes and other public places.Civilised lot,aren’t they?


We are sometimes accused of falling too firmly for or against a particular bike,but there’s no escaping the fact that this is a good ‘un, and thousands of Dutch cyclists have already voted with their wallets accordingly. In Dorchester, the Ion proved something of a surprise hit with just about everyone who tried it.The only grumbles were with the lack of hub gears – unavoidable unfortunately – and the limited hill-climbing ability. Yes, it costs an arm and a leg, but it’s one of the nicest electric bikes around.

Sparta Ion M-Gear Specifications

Specification Sparta Ion M-Gear £1,429 . Weight inc battery 28kg (62lbs) . GearsShimano Nexave Ratios37″-81″ . Wheelbase110cm . BatteryNiMH . Capacity240Wh . Range>19 miles Full charge2hrs 45 min . Fuel Consumption overall 13.6-15.7Wh/mile . Running Costs 9.6p per mile . Manufacturer Sparta B.V. . UKagents (Cambridge) Drakes Cycles tel 01223 363468 . (Brighton) Amsterdammers tel 01273 571555

A to B 58 – Feb 2007