Category Archives: Electric Bikes

Electric bike prices, reviews and technical advice

Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide 2015 (UK)

Electric Bike Top 10
  1. *****  Kalkhoff
  2. *****  Nano Brompton 2.1
  3. *****  Momentum
  4. *****  Cytronex
  5. *****  Ezee
  6. *****  Heinzmann
  7. *****  Sparta
  8. *****  Gocycle G2
  9. *****  Bionx
  10. *****  Woosh & Kudos

The A to B Buyer’s Guide is not exhaustive list, covering only the electric bikes we have actually tested in the magazine. Not all electric bikes are listed here, and if you can’t find a brand, it generally means we have not yet been offered a sample, usually because it’s new, of poor quality, or the manufacturer doesn’t want us to test it! For prices and stockists, see our Electric Bike Price Guide.

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.

All the electric bikes below are judged on a star system. This can only provide a rough guide, particularly where one rating covers a range of different ebikes. Best are at the top of the page, and the worst below. Any electric bikes known or thought to have been withdrawn are at the very bottom.

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 Japan or Germany, and the leading systems are generally considered to be Bosch, Kalkhoff (actually designed by Daum), Panasonic and Yamaha (recently returned to the field, with exciting new technology promised for 2015).

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.

If you want a Kalkhoff, but would like to to pretend to be riding a British bike, the better Raleigh machines are ‘badge-engineered’ versions of Kalkhoff models.

Full review of the Agattu Wave, the Pro-Connect was reviewed in A to B 66, the Agattu C8 Impulse in A to B 89, Pro-Connect BS10 in A to B 90, 2014 Pro-Connect and sporty S11 in A to B 101


2. Nano-Brompton 2.1

Price: From £1700   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 has now been revised as the 2.1. The key change is to Ping batteries, with a promise of a revolutionary fixed price battery repair scheme once outside the 12 month guarantee period. If it fails, it will be repaired for £40 and returned to you post free (presumably only in the UK). 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. Our only real worry is that everything depends on the reliability of the new battery, and they just haven’t been around long enough to judge.

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), and a full review of the Nano-Brompton 2.0


3. Momentum Electric

Price: £999   Rating: 5/5   Verdict: “Cheaper, faster, better”

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

Momentum Upstart

Momentum Electric has come straight in with an innovative, practical design, combining some nice features such as a two-speed automatic SRAM hub gear, 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 great value. The competition is sharpening around the £1000 area, but these bikes still stand out.

Full review of Momentum Electric Model T and Upstart


4. Cytronex

Price: From £1345   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Effortlessly Fast and Effectively Disguised”

The Cytronex Trek is a top recommendation in the A to B Buyer's Guide

Cytronex Trek

Cytronex is a small British manufacturer based in Winchester. The bikes are typically mid- or top-end sports machines from such manufacturers as GT and Cannondale, electrified using the exquisite little Tongxin motor fitted to the Nano-Brompton, powered in this case by a water bottle-sized battery. The result is light and unobtrusive, and the Cytronex bikes have acquired a reputation for being superb sports electric bikes – economical, fast, silent and fun to ride. As a rule, they are 100% legal, but Tongxin produce motors of different speeds, so in a matter of minutes you can change the 15mph front wheel for a version that will propel the bike some way above the legal limit for, er, off-road use. The very light battery and motor give Cytronex a real advantage where weight is concerned, and the company claims that its Super Six model is the world’s lightest full-size electric bike.

If you are looking for a sports commuter bike, this should be on your shortlist. The only real disadvantage is a relatively limited range from the small 148Wh battery, one of the very few NiMH still on sale, but you can be fairly confident the battery will last for five to ten years, against rather less than five years for the near universal Li-ion. In any event, these lithe sporty bikes go much further than you might expect. Prices are good for such a high quality product. As with almost everything else, the elements in the Cytronex come from the Far East, but in this case, the power-system really is built in the UK, and it’s nice to know that the people who put it together have a UK shop… not always the case, whatever some of the others might say.

Full review of the Cytronex.


5. Ezee

Price: From £795   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.


6. Heinzmann

Price: From £1895   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Reliable, Sturdy and Sophisticated”


Heinzmann is a big German company, producing all sorts of electrical drive systems. It came to the electric bike market very early, with some stodgy, but reliable products that were later swept away by cheaper, more exciting, but rather less reliable Far Eastern products. The Germans don’t like this sort of thing, and Heinzmann has now made a triumphant return, with a new gearless hub system similar to the BionX, available on its own small range of bikes, or as a retro-fit kit. It’s all jolly good, but with some niggly software issues, particularly relating to the regen brakes (not unusual).
If you want a good electric bike, but don’t fancy a crank-drive, Heinzmann is well worth looking at. They make one of the better power-assistance kits too.
In the fallow years, Heinzmann changed UK distributor twice, then disappeared, and this has done serious damage to the brand here. However, there now seems to be some stability in the supply chain.

We have a number of road-tests of the Heinzmann (see back issues).


7. Sparta

Price: From £1099   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Lovely Dutch roadster”

Sparta Ion

Sparta has suffered in the UK in the same way as Giant and Gazelle. The bikes sell in huge numbers on their home turf, but the UK demands better hill climbing and greater range. 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, the batteries are bigger (with good solid warranties), and the high-torque direct drive motors claim to make mincemeat of hills.

Full review of the Sparta Ion.


8. Gocycle G2

Price: £2499   Rating: 4/5   Verdict: “Interesting folding electric bike”

Gocycle electric bike

The fascinating Gocycle entered with a rather lowly three stars, but we’ve upgraded it as the machine has improved. 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, 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. This is presumably a great improvement on the original on-off switch, but we haven’t had a chance to try it. Minor grumbles aside, 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 G2 does now seem to be more widely available, with more nifty programmable bits, and a lithium-ion battery. Price, however, has almost doubled to a breathtaking £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. BionX

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).

10. Woosh & Kudos

Price: From £500ish   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. 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.





Electric bike prices

Electric Bike Price Guide (UK)

A to B electric bike prices Sparta IonWe prefer to road-test electric bikes for the magazine before recommending them, but with so many now available, our recommendations are often based on spec and price, rather than actual experience. Consult our Electric Bikes Buyer’s Guide for reviews of the top five electric bikes.
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.

Our Electric Bike Recommendations
The only electric bikes we would definitely recommend are those that we have tested and are happy with the performance and UK back-up. A second pointer can be found in our list of Manufacturers and Distributors section below. If we have not had meaningful contact with the distributor, they’re either very new or avoiding an independent test! We will not list distributors unable or unwilling to provide a UK phone number and address.

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

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

Lead-acid battery  
Nickel-cadmium battery
Nickel-metal hydride battery  
Lithium-ion battery
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


Electric Bikes Under £1,300 (UK)

Manufacturer Model1 Control / Drive Battery
Battery Size3 Battery UK Price (£)4 Notes
 Woosh Angel Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh La £299 Heavily discounted, great value, cheap to run
Dillinger UK 16-inch Cheetah Hybrid / Rear chain 12 months Possibly 288Wh La £299 Heath Robinson would be proud. 16-inch wheels, weighs 62lb, extraordinary crank-drive, heavily discounted in red or black, but white or blue are still at £499
Tesco Hopper City 1- or 6-spd Pedelec / Front Hub ? 204Wh Li-ion £380 – 400 Small battery, 16-inch wheels FOLDING
Woosh Mono Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 270Wh Li-ion £429 FOLDING
Tesco Hopper Shopper 1- or 6-spd Pedelec / Front Hub ? 204Wh Li-ion £420-440 Small battery, 20-inch wheels FOLDING
Bicycles 4U City Zoom Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 238Wh Li-ion £475 FOLDING
Tesco Hopper Urban Pedelec / Front Hub ? 216Wh Li-ion £490 Too expensive, small battery
Bicycles 4U Evora Explorer Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months ?Wh Li-ion £499 FOLDING
Bicycles 4U Evogue Explorer Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 317Wh Li-ion £499 Quite good spec for the price
Thompson Euro-Classic 2 Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 432Wh La £499 Cheap to run, but let down by guarantee
Bings Mini Ebike Hybrid / Front Hub ? 132Wh Li-ion £499 14-inch wheels. Only good point is 11kg weight
Easyride Life or Lightning Rear Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £515 Cheap, but small battery
B’Twin Bebike 500 Pedelec / Rear Hub ? 192Wh Li-ion £530 Very small battery and old-tech system
Bicycles 4U Esprit or Europa Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 317Wh Li-ion £549
Woosh Zephyr Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 288Wh Li-ion £549 A bit expensive
Woosh Gale Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £549 FOLDING
Easyride Folder Rear Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £549 FOLDING. Cheap, but small battery
Woosh Elios Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £575 Cheapest 360Wh full-size bike
Woosh Sirocco Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £585
AS Bikes Electrobike Mk 2 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 260Wh Li-ion £595 20-inch wheels FOLDER
Powacycle Milan 2 LPX Rear Hub 6 months 288Wh £599 A bit expensive
Woosh Sirocco 2 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £599
Woosh Aspen Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £599
Sustain Caley Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £599 FOLDING
Seems to be out of business
Cyclamatic GTE Step-Through and Power Plus Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £599 Some equipment, but small battery
B’Twin Original 300 E-Bike / Friction ? 192Wh Li-ion £500 Old stock, 1990s friction technology. Not even a contender
B’Twin Original 7 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 240Wh Li-ion £620 Alloy frame, but rather heavy package at 27kg, and a small battery
Woosh Sant Ana Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £625 Step Thru
Cyclotricity Revolver Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months (activated when range falls to 6 miles) 324Wh Li-ion £649 £799 with 500 watt motor or £949 with 540Wh battery and 500 watt motor
Bicycles 4U Elysium Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 238Wh Li-ion £649 FOLDING. Technically interesting: shaft drive, 3-speed rear hub and (rather small) battery in frame
Yachtmail Atlantic Explorer Rear Hub ? 306Wh Li-ion £629 FOLDING
AS Bikes Newton or Tesla Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £645 Well-equipped bikes for the money
Enviro Compact Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £649 FOLDING
Dawes Boost City Pedelec / Rear Hub 265Wh Li-ion £650 Small battery, but quality brand. This is a typical discounted price… retail is £1000
Woosh Gallego Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 270Wh Li-ion £669 Interesting FOLDING bike
B’Twin Bebike 700 Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 288Wh Li-ion £670 Limited battery capacity
Woosh Zephyr CD Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 288Wh Li-ion £675 A little expensive
Woosh Sundowner Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £699 A little expensive
Mozzi Zest Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £699 FOLDING
Thompson Eco Nippy or Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 360Wh Li-ion £699 Too expensive
AS Bikes Electrobike Mark 3 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £695 FOLDING. Too expensive
Sustain Halley Mark 2 E-Bike / Front Hub ? 260Wh Li-ion £695 Small battery for the price
Seems to be out of business
Kudos Safari or Duke Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £695 Excellent value, and the price can’t last. Includes 3-spd (Duke) or 8-spd (Safari) Nexus hub, panniers and lights
Woosh Sirocco 2 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 540Wh Li-ion £699 Cheapest 540Wh bike
Cyclotricity Sahara Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months (activated when range falls to 6 miles) 360Wh Li-ion £699
Bicycles 4U Equinox Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 238Wh Li-ion £699 FOLDING. Big wheeled version of Elysium
Woosh Sport TS Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £725 Small battery for the price
Woosh Sport CD Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £775 Small battery for the price
Cyclotricity Stealth Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months (activated when range falls to 6 miles) 324Wh Li-ion £799 Small battery for the price
Kudos Secret Hybrid/ Rear Hub 12 months 288Wh Li-ion £725 FOLDING. Small battery for the price
Viking Freedom Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 260Wh Li-ion £749 FOLDING. Over-priced and lacking battery. Discounted to £639 at Bikes2U
Powacycle Lynx LPX and Puma LPX Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 338Wh Li-ion £780 FOLDING. Bigger battery, but nasty little things
Powacycle Salisbury LPX and Windsor LPX Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 273Wh Li-ion £780 Lacking battery for the price
Ezee Sprint Primo GTS Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £795 This is the diamond frame version. Also as a step-thru in LDS form
Sustain Swan Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £795 Step thru
Seems to be out of business
AS Bikes Electrobike PLUS Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £795 Full-size FOLDING bike
Byocycles Chameleon 20 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £799 FOLDING
Poweredbicycles E-Runner Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 216Wh Li-ion £799 FOLDER. Very disappointing spec for the price
Mozzi Thunder Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £799 Full-size FOLDING bike
Roodog Bliss Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £799 Very typical FOLDING bike. A bit expensive
Avocet Viking E-go Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 204Wh Li-ion £800 16-inch wheel. FOLDING. Very poor value for money
Dawes Suburbia Pedelec / Rear Hub 468Wh Li-ion £800 Typical discounted price – retail is £1300. Big battery for this price
Batribike Breeze Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £825 20-inch wheel FOLDING. Bigger battery, but a bit expensive
Thompson K-Style 2 Lithium Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 180Wh Li-ion £830 Expensive tat
Kudos Cobra E-bike/ Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £835 MTB
Woosh Krieger Hybrid / Chain Crank Drive 12 months 540Wh Li-ion £849 Cheapest crank-drive system and big battery – good for hill-climbing
Byocycles Chamelion 20 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £849 Expensive tat
Juicy Bikes Original Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £885 Similar Hybrid, Classic and Sport are £985
Kudos Tempo Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £895 For smaller folk – low Step-thru and 24-inch wheels
EBCO Urban Commuter UCL-10 or UCR-10 Hybrid/ Front Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £899 Very small battery for the price
Mozzi City Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £899  –
Powacycle Prague or Riga Hybrid / Rear Hub 6 months 273Wh Li-ion £899 Over-priced, under-batteried and widely discounted
Freego Folder Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £899 Rather over-priced FOLDER. £1099 with 576Wh battery
Roodog Tourer or Chic Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh? Li-ion £899 Very typical bikes. A shade expensive
Avocet Viking Harrier SE Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 204Wh Li-ion £900 20-inch wheel FOLDER Very poor value for money
B’Twin Bebike 900 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £930 Well equipped, including Nexus 7-speed hub, but a heavy rack-mounted battery. Not so good at this price.
ATS 200-48 Ebike / Rear Hub 6 months 576Wh Li-ion £945 Effectively a 15mph scooter
Batribike Diamond LCD or Granite LCD Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £949 Well equipped, but rather over-priced
Kudos Tourer Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £965 Well-equipped bikes. Cheapest to be fitted with Shimano Deore 9-spd
Roodog Explorer Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £969 Rather conventional. Expensive for what it is
Kudos City or Liberty Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £995 Well-equipped bikes. Cheapest to be fitted with Nexus 8-speed hub gears
3E Electric Citylight Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £999
3E Electric Mini E Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £999 20-inch wheels. FOLDING. Over-priced
Roodog Avatar Hybrid / Rear hub 12 months 360Wh? Li-ion £999 Battery in frame
Momentum Model T Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £999 Smallish battery, but now cheaper, and easily the cheapest bikes with pedal torque sensing, and 2-speed auto hub
Momentum Upstart Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £999 Smallish battery, but now cheaper, and easily the cheapest bikes with pedal torque sensing, and 2-speed auto hub
Claud Butler Glide 1 Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1000 Over-priced, trading on quality badge
Freego Wren (step-thru) Hybrid / Rear hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £999
Freego Hawk (step-thru or road bike) Hybrid / Rear hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £999 £1,199 with 576Wh battery
Raleigh Velo XC Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1000 Entry-level Raleigh
Viking Evolution Hybrid / Front Hub ? 364Wh Li-ion £1026 Somewhat overpriced and widely discounted. May no longer exist
Batribike Dash Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1029 Ludicrously expensive
3E Electric Urban Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £1049
Ezee Street Mk 2 Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1075 Small wheeled, non-folding bike. Probably the cheapest with a two-year battery guarantee
Powabyke X-6 or X-6 LS Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1079 Bigger battery at last, but a bit expensive
Juicy Bikes Classic Grande Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1085 Cheapest bike with 28-inch wheels
Kudos Tornado E-bike/ Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1095
Byocycles Zest Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £1095 Big price increase
Roodog Polka Dot Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh? Li-ion £1095 Very typical, and expensive for what it is. Styling aimed at women
Kalkhoff Groove F7 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1095 Nice spec and cheapest bike from European manufacturer
EBCO Urban Commuter UCR-30 or UCL-30 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1099 Rather expensive, limited battery capacity
Bicycles 4U Endurance Fat Boy 250 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1099 Hmm. For exhibitionists only
Freego Regency Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £1099 £1,299 with 576Wh battery
Sparta Original Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1099 Proper Dutch roadster, with plenty of equipment and basic but practical power system
Saxonette Comfort 250 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1099 Good spec including battery-fed LED lights and Nexus 7-spd, but smallish battery
Freego Folding Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £1099 FOLDING £1,299 with 576Wh battery
Smarta GT Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1099 Currently unavailable
Smarta LX Hybrid / Front Hub ? 324Wh Li-ion £1099 Currently unavailable
Cyclotricity Stealth 1000 watt Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months (activated when range falls to 6 miles) 528Wh Li-ion £1100 Legality is a bit unclear, but sounds like fun!
Powabyke X-24 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1129 Big price increase
Volt Metro Black or White Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £1149 Very over-priced FOLDER
Smarta FX Folder Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months, plus 24 months @ 50% 360Wh Li-ion £1150 FOLDING
Class-leading four-year guarantee
Tonaro Enduro or Compy Hybrid / Crank Motor 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1150 Currently discounted to £949. The cheapest crank-drive bike, but the Chinese system isn’t very good
Ezee Forza Mk2 Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1175 Also with 540Wh or 720Wh batteries. All have a two-year guarantee
Ezee Torq Mk 3 Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1175 Also with 540Wh or 720Wh batteries. All have a two-year guarantee
Oxygen Emate Sci Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >35% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £1195 Too expensive
Ezee Sprint 8 Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1195 Chunky, solid bike with Nexus 8 speed hub and now realistically priced
Kudos Typhoon Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1195 Huge price increase
AVE CH-Tour Pedelec / Front Hub ? 400Wh Li-ion £1199 OLD STOCK discounted for 2015. AVE is dropping TranzX-equipped stock
Giant Twist Lite 2W Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £1199 Budget Giant – well-equipped, but modest battery capacity
LifeCycle Classic Purple Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1199 Expensive for dreary spec and no obvious guarantee
Claud Butler Glide 2 Hybrid / Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1249 Big price increase, but widely discounted
Raleigh Forge Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1250 New bike based on slightly dubious TranzX system
Gazelle Orange Pure Innergy Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 252Wh Li-ion £1255 Heavily discounted.Small battery (bigger options available at a price) and not so hot on hills, but currently the cheapest European bike and a REAL Dutch roadster
Kudos Arriba Hybrid/ Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1295  –
Tonaro Esprit Hybrid / Crank Motor 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1290 The cheapest crank drive, but the Chinese system is not very good
Bicycles 4U Endurance Fatboy 500 Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 384Wh Li-ion £1299 Heavy, and 500 watt motor makes it technically illegal, but cheapest bike with 500 watts. 4-inch tyres should give hours of off-road fun
Oxygen Diva Style Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >35% capacity loss) 432Wh Li-ion £1299 Quite stylish, and well equipped for the price. £1399 with 558Wh battery
3E Electric Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 360Wh Li-ion £1299 Too expensive
PoweredBicycles City Runner Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1299 FOLDING. Much too expensive for what it is
Sparta MOJO Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1299 Trendier version of Classic, with 7-spd Nexus hub
City Galileo Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 240Wh Li-ion £1299 Laughably small battery and short guarantee at this price
Freego Eagle (step-thru or road bike) Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 360Wh Li-ion £1299 £1,499 with 576Wh battery
Infineum Extreme Hybrid / Front Hub ? 223Wh Li-ion £1299 Rather expensive for what it offers. The bike has stackable batteries of this basic capacity, but extra batteries cost £325
EBCO Lifestyle LSF-40 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 240Wh Li-ion £1299 A triumph of styling over substance

Electric Bikes Over £1,300 (UK)

Manufacturer Model1 Control / Drive Battery Guarantee Battery Size3 Battery UK Price (£)4 Notes
Volt Burlington Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £1309
Cytronex GT Transea 4.0 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 148Wh NiMH £1345 Conventional bike with small, but long-lasting, reliable NiMH battery. This is the cheapest – there are many models
Raleigh Velo-cite or Velo-trail Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 414Wh Li-ion £1350  Almost no equipment. You’re paying for the brand and dealer network
Raleigh Stow E-way Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 144Wh Li-ion £1380 Ludicrously over-priced and under-batteried. Appears to be a badged Izip Urban folder
Bronx Sunrunner Front Hub ? 144Wh Li-ion £1380 Ludicrously over-priced and under-batteried
Cargo Bike Co School Run Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1390 Dutch-style Bakfiets.Mid-drive crank motor version £1460
 Kudos Escape Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1395 Good brakes and gears
PoweredBicycles Free Spirit 2 Ultralight E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 306Wh Li-ion £1399 Much too expensive for a battery of this capacity, and not especially light
Giant Escape Hybrid 2 E+ Pedelec / Rear Gearless Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1399 Revamped, but smallish battery and probably a bit weak for UK conditions
Giant Twist Lite 1W Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £1399 Similar to 2W, but with front suspension and 8-spd Nexus hub
Lifecycle Traveller Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £1399 FOLDING. Outrageous price for this, but quite a big battery
PoweredBicycles City Mantra Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh Li-ion £1399 Quite expensive for the spec
Volt Pulse Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £1399 A bit expensive for the spec. £1599 with 576Wh battery
Joule Micro Prism Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1399 Small wheeled version of Prism. Cheapest bike with NuVinci auto-hub, but heavy and spoilt by small wheels
Gepida Reptila 1000 Yamaha Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months (activated at >50% capacity loss) 208Wh Li-ion £1399 Cheapest European crank drive, but laughably small battery
Juicy Bikes Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1422 Much too expensive for the spec
Sparta Country Tour Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1425 Nice, well-equipped town bike
Cargo Bike Co Bench Bike Rear Hub ? 360Wh Li-ion £1430 Stretched cargo/child carrier. With mid-drive crank motor for £1500
Solex Solexity Comfort Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh Li-ion £1499 Rather disappointing spec, but interesting Pininfarina styling. 360Wh battery seems to be an extra £100
Oxygen E-mate City Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >35% capacity loss) 558Wh Li-ion £1499 Nice spec for the money, but rather quibbly guarantee
Joule Prism S Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1449 Interesting spec, with NuVinci-360 auto-hub, but very heavy
Kalkhoff Sahel Premium i360 Harmony Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh Li-ion £1495 Special discounted price, autumn 2014.
With great equipment and NuVinci auto-hub
 Juicy Bike Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1485 Too expensive for this basic spec
Kudos Eiger Pedelec / TCM Crank Motor 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1495 Interesting spec, including NuVinci auto-hub
Mobiky Youri 16 Front Hub 12 months 143Wh Li-ion £1499 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and tiny battery. You can double the battery capacity for an extra £200
Wisper 806 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 324Wh Li-ion £1499 FOLDING A premium for the brand name – much too expensive for what it is
EBCO Urban Commuter UCR-60 or UCL-60 Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months ??Wh Li-ion £1499 Available summer 2015
 Gazelle Chamonix Pure Innergy Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 252Wh Li-ion £1799 £1879 with 324Wh, £1949 with 396Wh, £2139 with 504Wh
*Test of a similar model
Yuba elMundo or Expidir Hybrid / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1550 Ezee-powered cargo bikes. Well-equipped and reasonably priced, with two-year battery guarantee
Heinzmann Ceres eST Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1595 Great to see Heinzmann back in the UK, and good spec at this excellent new price
 Gepida Bleda Pedelec / Front Hub ? 216Wh Li-ion £1595 FOLDER. Miniscule battery for the price
 EBCO Eagle Lifestyle LRS-50 or LSL-50 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1599 Interesting styling and modest battery capacity, but this is quite big money
Harrington Classic  Ebike / Rear Hub  24 months  Unknown La £1599 Lovely retro styling, but retro battery. Incredibly heavy, and expensive
Saxonette X Road Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1599 The most boring Saxonette
 Saxonette Beast Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 378Wh Li-ion £1599 Easy Rider styling
AVE TH-7 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1599 Heavily discounted. Temporarily the cheapest Bosch system
Raleigh Dover Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1600 Modest battery capacity and basic 3-spd hub. Worth bartering on price
Ecobike Urban Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1650 FOLDER. Very expensive. Pedelec-only, no throttle
Ecobike Adventure, City or Elegance Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £1650 Very expensive. Pedelec-only, no throttle
Kettler HybritechTwin City Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor Prob 24 months (Panasonic guarantee) 260Wh Li-ion £1695 REDUCED to £1185, late 2014. Small battery, but good spec, including Nexus 8-spd hub
Heinzmann PAN e-TR-G Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1695 Quality German bike with good spec, now £200 down in price. Also with 515Wh battery
AVE Bosch Edition Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1699 OLD STOCK. Small battery even at this discounted price
Mobiky Youri Front Hub 12 months 324Wh Li-ion £1699 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and so-so battery.
KTM Macina Force 27 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1699 Currently cheapest package with Bosch 400Wh battery
Solex Solexity Infinity Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh Li-ion £1699 Stylish, but small battery, and conventional spec. 432Wh battery extra £200
Joule Prism 2 S Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 432Wh Li-ion £1699 As for Prism, but batteries concealed in frame
LifeCycle Alpine Sport or Mountain Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £1699 Dreary Far Eastern spec at premium price, but big battery
Infinium Continental Pedelec / Front Hub ? 234Wh Li-ion £1699 Very expensive. The bike has stackable batteries of this capacity, but extra batteries cost £325
 FreeGo Martin Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 720Wh Li-ion £1699 Dreary spec, but very large battery
Wisper 705 or 905 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 592Wh Li-ion £1699 Big battery, but fundamentally a conventional bike at a premium price
Giant Talon E+1 or Roam XR E+ Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1749 Quality manufacturer, and technically interesting MTBs, but gearless hub is not ideal off-road
Raleigh Captus Pedelec / Crank Drive 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £1750 New Bosch-based Raleigh. Small battery and lacking basic equipment
Kalkhoff Tasman City HG or 8G
Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1795 Cheapest of the classic fully-equipped crank motor bikes
Kalkhoff Sahel Compact Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 558Wh Li-ion £1795 Small-wheeled Kalkhoff derivative
 AVE TH-7 Edition
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1799 OLD STOCK. Discounted for 2015, but only the 300Wh Bosch battery
KTM Macina Cross 8-400 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1799 Yet another MTB with 8-spd Nexus hub. Extra £100 with 400Wh battery
Cube Access WLS Hybrid Pro or Reaction Hybrid MTB Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1800 Cheapest Cube, also pricier ‘Race’ and ‘SL’ variants
Smart ebike Pedelec / BionX Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated at >30% capacity loss) 423Wh Li-ion £1800 Cool styling, interesting transmission: belt drive, 3-spd hub, BionX-based motor
Haibike sDuro HardSeven Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1849 2015 model. Good value MTB using new Yamaha crank motor. Watch out Bosch!
Heinzmann PAN eTR-U Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1850 Quality German bike with good spec. Also with 515Wh battery
 Spencer Ivy step-thru or top tube Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 260Wh Li-ion £1895 Stylish retro-chic bikes, but small Panasonic battery
Kalkhoff Tasman Impulse 8HS Pedelec / Crank motor 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £1895 With Magura hydraulic brakes
Kalkhoff Pro Connect Xion 27 Pedelec / Rear Gearless Motor 24 months 558Wh Li-ion £1895 Unusual Kalkhoff with gearless hub motor
Gepida Reptila 900 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1895 Nice East European bike – used to be cheap as chips. 400Wh battery extra £100
KTM Macina 8 or Fun 9 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1899 Good value, with Bosch 400Wh battery
Polaris Rail EV511 or EV503 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £1895 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Giant Prime E+ 2W Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1899 Other Giant models are much better value
Bergamont E-Line C LTD N7 Gent, Lady or Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £1899 Good spec for the price if you can live with the 7-speed Shimano hub
Nano Brompton 2.1 Ebike / Front Hub 12 months (activated at >15% capacity loss) 180 or 360Wh Li-ion £1900 FOLDING. Getting expensive, but works really well (price varies, depending on bike spec, much cheaper as a kit)
Volt Pulse X Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 576Wh Li-ion £1949 Big battery, but breathtakingly expensive for what it is
BH Emotion City Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months 288Wh Li-ion £1949 288Wh battery is not competitive at this price. 476Wh is an extra £200 on the City Plus
KTM Amparo Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 540Wh Li-ion £1995 Well-equipped, including Magura hydraulic brakes, big battery
Kalkhoff Impulse Ergo NuVinci Harmony Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh Li-ion £1995 NuVinci auto-hub is heavy but effective. Not the latest drive system
Swiss Flyer T Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Nicely equipped, but Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Swiss Flyer Folder-Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 FOLDING. Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Swiss Flyer Kompact Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Swiss Flyer C Series Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Drive 24 months 312Wh Li-ion £1995 Nicely equipped, but Panasonic battery looks small at this price
Kettler Layana Hybritech Nexus 8spd Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor Prob 24 months (Panasonic guarantee) 260Wh Li-ion £1995 REDUCED to £1395, late 2014. Nice bike, while stocks last
Gepida Reptila 1000, Berig, Ruger 29er or Asgard 27.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £1995 Some nice equipment, but on the expensive side
Kalkhoff Pro Connect B10 LX Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1995 Well equipped, and cheapest bike with Bosch 400Wh battery
Kalkhoff Endeavour BS10 400Wh Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1995 Well-equipped, and cheapest bike in the 25mph SPORT CLASS
AVE SH-1 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 New for 2015
Bergamont E-Line C N8 FH Gent or Lady Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 Entry level Bergamont with outrageously long name
Raleigh Motus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh Li-ion £1999 Well equipped Raleigh
LifeCycle Mountain Sport Endurance Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 1008Wh Li-ion £1999 Pricey Far Eastern bike – lacking equipment, but Tecktro hydraulic discs, and twin batteries give up to 100 mile range
Koga E-Xtension Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 317Wh Li-ion £1999 From same stable as Sparta bikes. Basic price – there are many options
Sparta RX+ Pedelec / Gearless Front Hub 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £2030 Quiet, well-equipped, but a little weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
SEV Velix 700 Classic Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 310Wh Li-ion £2045 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class. 418Wh battery, extra £150
Gepida Alboin Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2095 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
Kalkhoff Pro-Connect Impulse Alfine 8G Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2095 The biggest Kalkhoff battery. Good value at this price
KTM eCross P Pedelec / Panasonic Rear Hub Motor 24 months 414Wh Li-ion £2050 Crank motor and more compact battery suit MTBs better
 KTM Macina Sport 10 Plus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor  24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2100 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
KTM Macina Dual Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor  24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2099 Bosch 400Wh battery, but pricey
SEV Velix 700 Premium Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 310Wh Li-on £2125 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class. Belt drive and Nexus 8-spd hub. 418Wh battery, extra £150
Solexity Smart Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2149 Upgrade with Bosch system coming 2015. Stylish but expensive
BH-Emotion City Plus Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 476Wh Li-ion £2149 A little pricey for the spec, but big battery
Heinzmann Atlas eMB Pedelec / Geared Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh Li-ion £2150 MTB now reduced in price
Kalkhoff Pro-Connect Impulse 10 Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2195
Moustache Samedi 28 Black Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2199 Relatively conventional variant of stylish French bike
Bergamont Revox C7.0EQ or Roxtar C7.0 EQ Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2199
Bergamont E-Line Sweep Deore Ladies or Gents Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2199
BH-Emotion NEO Volt Sport Lite Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 324Wh Li-ion £2199 Breathtakingly expensive FOLDER
BH-Emotion NEO Cross or Evo City Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2199 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
KTM Macina Cross Plus 10 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2250
Sparta ION-E Speed Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £2278 25mph SPORT CLASS.  500Wh battery in frame, or 1,000Wh version £3127
Moustache Samedi 27/9 White Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 Cheapest of a range of MTBs, stretching up to £4949
Haibike sDuro HardNine Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 2015 model. Technically interesting 20-spd derailleur with new Yamaha crank motor
Kalkhoff Jarifa Impulse 27R 3.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2395 Good value top-end eMTB with whacking great battery
AVE SH-5 Roadster or Comfort Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299  –
AVE MH-7 or MH-7LE Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2299 Compact, but only the handlebars fold
BH-Emotion NEO Race or EVO Street Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2299 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Moustache Lundi 26 9spd Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2349 Neat French bikes
Haibike SDuro Trekking RC Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 2015 model. New Yamaha system
Bergamont E-Line C N360 Lady Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 Relatively modest price for Bergamont
Bergamont E-Line C-Deore Performance Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399
Bergamont E-Line C-Deore  Sweep N8 D12 Lady or Gent Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 Shimano electronic hub and much else
Cube Delhi Hybrid Pro Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2399 NuVinci auto gears and Bosch-powered roadster. Also as ‘SL’ variant, or Elly Cruiser
Kalkhoff Agattu C11 Premium Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh Li-ion £2495
BH-Emotion NEO 29er or 650B Pedelec /  Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £2499 Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Polaris Course EV512, EV504 or EV505 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £2499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Polaris Urban Assault Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £2499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Sparta Double-E Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £2541 TANDEM – not common!
Electric Transport Shop Cargo L Hybrid / Front Hub ? 240Wh Li-ion £2410 BAKFIETS LOADCARRIER
Basic price, there are many options
Riese & Muller Blue LABEL Transporter Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2415 Bicycle with extended rear load carrier for freight or children
KTM Macina eShopper Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 Nice spec, but you really don’t need to pay this much!
AVE SH-9 Roadster or Comfort Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 New for 2015. NuVinci hub
AVE MH-9HD Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 New for 2015. Odd compact bike with folding handlebars, carriers front and rear, plus NuVinci hub
Moustache Friday 26 Black Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2499 Stylish French bike with balloon tyres
Moustache Samedi 28 Silver Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 £300 more than the Samedi Black for an extra 100Wh on the battery
Bergamont Roxtar C8.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2499 eMTB
SEV VeliX 700 Speed Pedelec / MPF Crank Motor 24 months 418Wh Li-ion £2585 Interesting French design, upgradable to SPORT class
Bergamont E-Line C N360 Harmony Gent or Wave Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2599 NuVinci model in ridiculously over-complex range
KTM Macina Race 29 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2600  Not a lot of bike for this sort of money to be honest
 KTM eRace P650 Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months or 500 charges 413Wh Li-ion £2600 Panasonic hub motor system
Moustache Lundi 26 NuVinci Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2749 Neat French bikes, but expensive
Moustache Dimanche 28 Silver Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2749 Road bike weighing a claimed 17.9kg. Nice, but not cheap
Cube Elite Hybrid HPC Race Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Also as ‘SL’ and ‘SLT’ variants
Haibike X-duro Trekking Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
KTM Macina Race 27 or 29 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
Bergamont Roxtar C9.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price
Bergamont E-Ville C Urban Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2799 Bit hard to justify the price. Also with NuVinci hub for an extra hundred quid
Haibike X-duro SL RX Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £2850 We expect a bigger battery at this price!
Moustache Samedi 28 Titanium Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2899 A lot to pay for a NuVinci variant
Kalkhoff Endeavour S11 Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £2999 25mph SPORT CLASS. Cracking good bike, but a barrel of cash
Bergamont Contrail C6.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 eMTB with lots of trick stuff, but hard to justify the price
Bergamont C MGN Ladies or Gents Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 Lots of stuff, but whacky price
Moustache Friday 26 Silver NuVinci Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £2999 Nice stylish bike, but you can buy all this for a lot less!
Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3000 Getting a bit expensive for a 400Wh battery
BH-Emotion NEO Carbon Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 432Wh Li-ion £3099 Light, but not astonishingly so. Battery neatly integrated into the frame
Koga E-Special Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 500Wh Li-ion £3099 Light, but not really worth this sort of money
Moustache Samedi 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3249 25mph SPORT CLASS. Nice, but there are cheaper Sport class bikes
Bergamont E-Ville C MGN D12 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3299 Shopping bike at breathtaking price. Wins our award for pottiest name
Moustache Dimanche 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3299 25mph SPORT CLASS. There are cheaper Sport class bikes, but not many weighing 18.1kg
Mando Footloose Pedelec / Chainless Electric 24 months 300Wh Li-ion £3349 FOLDING. Fascinating spec, series electric transmission
Riese & Muller Culture Hybrid DualDrive Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £3375 Starting price – scary!
Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Riese & Muller Kendo Hybrid Alfine Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3385 Starting price – scary! Absurdly expensive small wheeler – doesn’t even fold
Riese & Muller Avenue II Hybrid City Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3465 Starting price – scary!
Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Polaris Nordic EV506 Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 264Wh Li-ion £3499 New from the USA. Laughably small battery
Kalkhoff Jarifa Impulse S27 Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £3595 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Cracking bike but what a price!
Kalkhoff Thron Impulse Premium Pedelec / Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh Li-ion £3595 Special price £2995, Autumn 2014.
If you have this much to spend, spend it on the SPORT class!
Bergamont Contrail C8.0 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3599 eMTB with lots of trick stuff, but the usual 400Wh Bosch system
Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 Pro Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3600 As above
Riese & Muller Homage Hybrid Touring Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3725 Starting price – scary! Absurdly expensive small wheeler – doesn’t even fold
Riese & Muller Load Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh Li-ion £3895 Starting price – scary! But an interesting and effective load carrier
Riese & Muller Delight Hybrid DualDrive
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3985 Starting price – scary! Effectively a hand-built conventional bike
Haibike Xduro AMT RX 27.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £3999 Top-end MTB, but hard to justify this sort of price
Haibike Nduro RX 26″ Gen 2 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £4499 Top-end MTB, but even harder to justify this sort of price
Bergamont Contrail C MGN Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh Li-ion £4499 As above

Electric Bike Manufacturers or UK distributors

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

3E Electric
Still quite new
3E Ltd, 2 Field End, BARNET, Hertfordshire EN5 3EZ
tel: 033 3355 1840

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

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. Now with another UK distributor. It can’t last.
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

Helpful, pleasant and knowledgeable
Modern Times Ltd, 5 Red Deer Court, Elm Road, WINCHESTER, SO22 5LX
tel: 01962 866122

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

Helpful, knowledgeable and Friendly
Cycling Made Easy, 18 Chipstead Valley Road, COULSDON CR5 2RA
tel: 0208 660 8823

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

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

Freedom Ebike
Very nice people, quite new to electric bikes
10/3 HaMelitz Street, JERUSALEM, Israel
tel: (UK) 0871 284 5225 tel: (Israel) +052 500 1309 tel: (Australia) +02 8004 5039

FreeGo, R&M & Solex
This new grouping, brought together Freego and the long-established Wisper, but they’ve gone their seperate ways again, so it’s FreeGo only, but they may still be trying some expensive European brands
FreeGo Wisper Group, 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 go-ahead 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

Appear to have gone as quickly as it arrived

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

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

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

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

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

New manufacture and even newer UK distributor
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
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
New Dorset-based distributor, but seems 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 in late 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

New, but 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

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

Electric Bike Battery Refurbishment

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

eBikes Recently Deleted

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Description – Bold text indicates other types of motors made
Electragil Unusual disc motor sitting on the non-chainwheel side of the bike. IN LIQUIDATION FROM 2014
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.
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.
DAPU  Appear to be Japanese designed but with a presence in China. Also make geared and gearless  motors.
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. 612 Wh battery also from Kalkhoff. The 2014 version of the Impulse 2 system claims to be 50% more powerful than the Bosch system and comes in 250W and 350W (superfast 28mph rated) versions. From 2015 relaunched system is the Impulse EVO with smartphone compatible display.
MPF High quality motor used by several high quality manufacturers
Nidec Copal Lightweight crank drive from Japan
Panasonic  One of the originators of the crank drive, now somewhat behind the game.
Piaggio In-house developed crank motor for electric bike launched 2014
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

Gearless 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 gearless 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  Hi 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 New 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 gearless motor appearing on several makes. Hard to trace who exactly makes it!
TDCM   Gearless hub motors in 250W and 500W versions from Taiwan
Twinburst  French company pioneering two-wheel drive transmission with motors in both wheels.

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 gearless cousin this motor is now branded as ‘classic.’
Kappstein Geared motor with three integrated hub gears. Also do a gearless 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 gearless 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 in   assembled  in Poland (as informed in 2014).
Ezee  An early industry presence making a comeback after battery difficulties.
Heinzmann Geared and geraless kits. The geared kits are favoured for heavy duty applications and the gearless for leisure use.
Sunstar   Japanese in origin, now based in Switzerland. Beautifully engineered crank motor.
Superpedestrian  Producers of the Copenhagen Wheel, an all in one hub containing all the electric bike elements.

Series Hybrid

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

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
Hubs Master  Taiwan company developing an ‘all in one’ wheel
Neox Crank drive system with inbuilt gearing from Italy
Pendix Ingenious looking German kit mounting to non drive side of the pedal cranks
Zehus WIZE hub Formerly FlyKly, a rear hub system integrating almost all components into it and featuring Bluetooth wireless control

Battery Manufacturers

Bosch The Bosch system uses 36V 300Wh and 400Wh batteries. Their power tool batteries are also used by ARCC of the UK on their Moulton conversions.
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


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

ezee-sprint-7-speedElectric 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
Akkurad Manufacturer of electric-assist velo mobiles and add-on kits.
Ansmann Maker of batteries, drive systems and retrofit kits.
Antec Hub-motor pedelecs. China Netherlands China-Netherlands
Anthrotech Recumbent tricycle manufacturer with electric-assist option.
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’
Babboe Dutch cargo bikes in the ‘bakfiets’ style.
Bangkok Cycle Industrial Co Ltd
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.
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
BESV Stylish high end city bikes from Taiwanese manufacturer Darfon
BigFish Folder with the Japanese Sunstar kit added. Multiple Italy Multiple - Italy
Binbike Belgian-based manufacturer of crystalyte hub-motored town bikes. China Belgium China-Belgium
Bottechia Chinese style pedelecs.
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 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
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 The folding Dahon Boost uses a Sunstar pedelec system. China China China-China
Dawes Budget models from a UK company that outsources manufacture to the Far East.
Diamant Bionx and Bosch based bikes
Di Blasi Electric folding trike! Italy Italy Italy-Italy
Dillenger Australian company selling budget eastern made direct into the UK.
DK City ExPro Taiwanese hub motor machines. Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Drag Bicycles East European company with a couple of Sanyo hub motor powered models
Dreirad German designer and maker of taxi-tricycles, with power assist options Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Dutch ID Quality urban and touring crank drives Taiwan
Easybike Machines with Chinese hub motors, designed and finished in Holland China Netherlands China-Netherlands
EcoBike Spanish retailers of Asian made bikes.
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
Eflow Powerful town bikes from Furth, Germany
E-motion Panasonic pedelec system Japan Spain Japan-Spain
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
Everest Bikes Chinese hub motor machines
Ezee High quality, powerful hub motor bikes. Add on kit available too. UK distributor Cycle Ezee
EZ pedaler US-branded Chinese hub motor machines. China China China-China
Focus Bikes Small range of Kalkhoff and Bosch powered bikes Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Freego UK branded Chinese hub motor machines China China China-China
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 Twist range of pedelecs with hub 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’
Greens Pedelecs with Bosch motors.
Greenspark Italian branded Chinese style machines
Gruber Assist Innovative electric drive housed in frame, powering through the bottom bracket.
Haibikes Bosch motor with high quality components. Trekking and mountain bike models. Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Harbin Dutch branded Chinese style bikes
Hase Protanium kit 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 the outstanding Panasonic crank drive system. Japan Finland Japan-Finland
Hercules A range of hub motor pedelecs, including a folder. 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
Italwin Range of hub motor machines, some with lead-acid batteries and some Ducati-branded electric bikes too.
IZIP Large US manufacturer with a huge range China United States China-USA
Italwin Italian branded Chinese style machines
IUVO Taiwanese hub motor specialist and maker of the Mobiky folding electric bike
Jewel Chinese hub motor machines 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 Fashion conscious Dutch bikes with pedelec options. Includes cargobike option. Netherlands Japan Netherlands-Japan
Juicy Bike Well priced bikes of reasonable quality China China China-China
Leisger Chinese hub motor machines. China China China-China
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 Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Klever Subsidiary of Taiwanese scooter manufacter, with own entire brand system and design, based in Germany Taiwan / Germany
Kreidler Mainly Bosch powered pedelecs
Koga Miyata High quality pedelecs with hub motors and Bosch crank drives. Dutch city bike style.
Kona A range of well-priced hub motor bikes, including a
transport bike
Kranium Hub motor machines with frame concealed batteries
Kudos ‘Budget’ bikes sold in the UK with reasonable battery prices.
KTM Swiss manufacturers offering a large mix of styles and high quality motor systems. Germany, Japan
L.A. Thai company with distinctive semi-recumbent design and passenger seat on rear rack.
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
Ming Giant pedelec clones
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 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 Specialists in international box shifting. The Electric Bike Co. (UK) China China China-China
Motorino Interesting looking 1960s retro design with coaster brake.
Nihola Well-known and respectedc Danish cargo bikes – BionX powered option available
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 Pedelec using Gazelle Innergy technology 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.
Panther Pedelecs using Panterra, Bosch and TranzX systems
Part mobil High quality chair style bikes with Heinzmann motors for those with limited mobility Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Patria BionX powered bikes 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
PiCycle Unique US design of hub motor bike.
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
Promovec Danish pedelecs with hub motors Denmark Taiwan Denmark-Taiwan
Protanium Hub and crank motor pedelec bikes and kits
Puch Austrian hub motor bikes Japan Austria Japan-Austria
QWIC Dutch brand featuring hub and MPF crank motors Multiple Netherlands
Radkutsche German cargo bike specialist 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 including several electric options, including BionX, Bosch and TranzX. Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Rixe Another range featuring Panasonic 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 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
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.
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. Germany Japan Germany-Japan
Storck Trekking style bikes with their own design of hub motor and now a Bosch crank drive option. Germany Germany Germany-Germany
Stealth Electric Bikes Hugely powerful MTBs from Australia.
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. Also a 2013 model with the new Panasonic hub motor. Japan Switzerland Japan-Switzerland
TDR A very interesting design of crank drive pedelec with a specially enlarged seat tube. Netherlands
TDS Swiss manufacturer of their own design pedelec, available 2011. Multiple Switzerland Multiple-Switzerland
Third Element Hugely powerful mountain bike pedelec
Thompsons Extremely well-priced hub motor bikes. China China China-China
Tonaro Budget crank drive models fitted to standard-spec budget bicycles. China China China-China
Tout Terrain German manufacturer of rugged city and touring bikes using GoSwissDrive gearless motor and Pinion bottom bracket gearing.
Trek Joint venture with BionX
Twinburst  French company pioneering two-wheel drive transmission with motors in both wheels.
Urban Mover Mid-priced hub motor machines with strong UK presence China United Kingdom China-United Kingdom
Velocab Rickshaws and cargo bikes with 250w electric assist option.
Velocity Unique belt drive system designed for speed
Velo de Ville German manufacturers whose range includes a hub motor pedelec plus a Bosch drive model
Velomini Electric folding bikes with batteries in the frame
Velonom Longtail style cargobikes with e-power options Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Velorbis High quality, built to order Danish bikes Multiple Germany Multiple-Germany
Victoria A wide range of hub and crank drive bikes. Japan Germany Japan-Germany
Viking China China China-China
Visiobike Croatian based digital tech loaded bikes using a variety of crank drives
Volt UK based company that started with hub motor machines but have headed upmarket with their own Shimano crank motor model  China / Japan
Voltitude Folding electric bike with Swiss army knife style branding! In the early stages of development as at 2011.
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
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, Schacener and Protanium/Tongxin. 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
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
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

Electric Special Needs Bike Manufacturers

Name Description Manufacture Design
Justwin Single and dual seater electric trikes Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan-Taiwan
Team Hybrid Specialise in fitting Heinzmann kits to handcycles
Sunstar Electric Bike Kit

Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Sunstar Electric Bike KitIf 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.

Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Make / Model1 Last A-to-B Test Control / Drive Battery
Battery Size3 Battery UK Price4 Notes
Woosh 8FUN Hybrid / Front or Rear Hub 12 months 540Wh Li-ion £499 Why pay more?
Juicy Bikes Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £495
Smart-Pie Dec 12 E-bike / Front Hub ? ???Wh Li-ion £??? There seems to be no UK distributor in late 2014
Magic-Pie E-bike / Front Hub ? ???Wh Li-ion £??? There seems to be no UK distributor in late 2014
Saddle Soar Hybrid / Front Hub 12 months 360Wh Li-ion £695
Conv-E Oct 11 E-bike / Front Hub ? 324Wh Li-ion £699 Still very much in business apparently
Nano-Brompton 2.1 May 08 E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 180Wh Li-ion £780 Light, quiet and discreet
360Wh battery £100 extra
Ansmann Type A Pedelec / Front Hub 36 months 324Wh Li-ion £799 Superb guarantee. Option of 418Wh battery at £899
Sparticle V.5 E-Bike / Front Hub 12 months 390Wh Li-ion £800 Much improved
Brompton Sparticle Nov 08 E-bike/ Front Hub  12 months 390Wh Li-ion £930 Much improved
Ezee Hybrid / Front or Rear Hub  24 months
(activated when capacity falls by 30%)
360Wh Li-ion £895
Sunstar I-Bike SO3 May 08 Pedelec / Crank 24 months 90Wh Li-ion £1070 Bigger 396Wh battery for extra £499
Heinzmann Pedelec / Gearless Front or Rear Hub 24 months 302Wh Li-ion £1160 Regenerative braking. Bigger batteries and more powerful motors available
Falco Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub  24 months 324Wh Li-ion £1355  –
BOSS Overdrive Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub ? 518Wh Li-ion £1500 Outrageously illegal in terms of speed and power
BionX SL250 DL Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 317Wh Li-ion £1600 Nice technology, but rather heavy, and unreliable in the past
Ansmann Type C Pedelec / Gearless Rear Motor 36 months 314Wh Li-ion £1699 Superb guarantee, regenerative braking and wireless control
BionX SL250 RL (rack-mounted battery) Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub  24 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 317Wh Li-ion £1650 Nice technology, but rather heavy, and unreliable in the past
BionX SL250 DX Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 423Wh Li-ion £1800 Nice technology, but rather heavy, and unreliable in the past
BionX D-series Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated when capacity falls by 30%) 317Wh Li-ion £2000 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

Cambridge, Smarta, Sparticle (Brompton), Sunstar
Well established and a pleasure to deal with
Electric Transport Shop, Hope Street Yard, Hope Street, CAMBRIDGE CB1 3NA (also in LONDON & OXFORD)
tel/fax: 01223 247410

Nippy and reasonably-priced kits
WAW Associates Ltd, Trident Works, Marsh Lane, BRISTOL BS39 5AZ
tel: 01761 453198

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
Very nice people, quite new to electric bikes
10/3 HaMelitz Street, JERUSALEM, Israel
tel: (UK) 0871 284 5225
tel: (Israel) +052 500 1309
tel: (Australia) +02 8004 5039

Whatever the official position, Kinetics appears to once again be the de facto UK outlet for Heinzmann
54 Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1AE, UK
tel: 0141 942 2552

Juicy Bikes
Now well established. Helpful and knowledgeable
Busy All Year, 83 Park Road, BUXTON, Derbyshire SK17 6SM
tel: 01298 214040

Nano & Nano-Brompton
Well established and consumer-friendly
The Electric Wheel Co, Unit 18, Manningford Bohune Estate, PEWSEY, Wiltshire SN9 6NL
tel: 0845 094 2735

Diavelo, Euro-Ebike, Zap
More serious player of late, but hard to pin down
PowerScoots, Unit 5F, Wilmer Business Park, Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington, LONDON, N16 OLW
tel: 020 7254 9225

Fairly helpful and friendly
March Motorcycle Spares Ltd, 3 Nene Parade, MARCH PE15 8TD
tel: 01354 656150

Saddle Soar
New to us, but the kits seem to be winning friends
Saddle Soar, Annexe to Hanger One, Car Park 16, Blue Zone, Shoreham Airport, SHOREHAM-on-SEA, Sussex BN43 5FF
tel: 07957 887826 or 01903 816173

Smart-Pie, Magic-Pie
Unknown to us, and a bit thin on contact details
Golden Motor Electrobikes

Sunstar I-Bike

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


Electric Bike Legislation (UK)

Electric Bike LawNote: 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
  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 also appears to be in force. 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, as there is considerable debate about whether this applies in the UK. The 1983 legislation makes no distinction between pedaling or not pedaling while under power, although the newer 2002 European legislation does. From 2016, the European law will be fully ratified, but manufacturers will be able to get type approval for ‘twist-n-go’ models, and bikes bought now will 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) the most popular bikes will probably get type approval pretty quickly anyway.

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!

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


Cytronex Trek FX

Trek 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, an entrepreneur 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) tenmile 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 hillclimbing,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 alwaysset 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 towork 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-theart 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 171/2″,20″ and 221/2″ 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 lowpower,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 31/2minutes.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 allowedto 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 (371/2lbs)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

Kalkhoff Agattu Wave electric bike

Kalkhoff Aggatu Wave

Kalkhoff Aggatu WaveNot 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 B61,and mentioned in A to B62that 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,wellequipped 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 at121/2mph,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 partsof a journey where full assistance isn’t needed, and you can easily switch back to the higher settings for hills ad 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 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 & Mu?u?ller 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 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 seea 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

£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 ReviewLithium Polymer, as readers may recall from the chemistry lesson in A to B57 ,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

Giant Twist 1.0 Electric Bike

Giant Twist 1.0

Giant Twist 1.0 Electric Bike

When Giant announced that the Lafree Twist (hereafter referred to as the Lafree to avoid confusion) was to be replaced,we were somewhat sceptical. Despite a few quirks, the old bike was light, efficient,and much loved – clearly it would take some beating.

The new bike was launched first in The Netherlands and Germany last year,and information has been oozing out ever since.It seemed the motor was a derivative of the Sanyo front hub motor we’d rather disliked on the cut-price Giant Suede,and there were two battery options heavyish,cheapish NiMH on the Twist 2.0, and state-of-the-art Liion on the Twist 1.0.In both cases,the bike carried two batteries, and the range was claimed to be phenomenal – ‘up to’ (we see that phrase a lot) 100 miles.There was also a suggestion of regenerative braking. Finally,we have a sample.Is it all true?

The Twist 1.0

Giant may be based in Taiwan,but it’s a truly global company,and where models are aimed at a specific market,the big cheese in Taipei wisely opts to use local knowledge. This wasn’t true of the original Lafree,an ugly, brutish creature,but the ‘classic’ Lafree and the new Twist have both been designed in The Netherlands,and it shows.

The Twist is a huge machine – high in the saddle and even higher in the handlebars.Ours has a medium frame,and most people can ride it,so the three options should cover one and all. Handlebar height is taken care of by a Tranz-X adjustable stem,giving adjustment from 110cm to 123cm on our bike.

And in true workaday Dutch style,it’s well equipped:suspension,full lights (battery LED at the rear and traction-battery powered halogen at the front),mudguards,centre stand,panniers,chain guard,wheel lock,and the latest Nexus 8-speed hub.In The Netherlands,this spec would be nothing special,but it’s rare in the UK.And,of course,this one has assistance too – behind the panniers (and sort of inside too,but we’ll come to this) are twin 27 volt Li-ion manganese oxide power packs of 270 watt/hours each.If that sounds like a chemistry lesson,the total 540Wh capacity is nearly three and a half times that of the superseded Lafree,and one of the biggest electric bike packs around.In other words,it should go quite a long way.These batteries are high-tech stuff,weighing only 2.6kg apiece.In terms of weight efficiency,the NiMH battery on the 2006 bike offered a reasonable 40 watt/hours per kilogram,but the new ones pack 104 watt/hours per kilogram.

The bike itself is a bit heavier than the Lafree,weighing 24.9kg,against 18 – 22kg.Add the pair of batteries,and the 2007 model weighs 30.1kg (66lb),against a class-leading 22kg (48lb) for the old Lite model.The good news is that it’s more rigid.The chunky,but beautifully finished alloy frame making the Lafree look a bit spidery.Oddly,the main tube is made to a ‘U’ profile,being open underneath,but there’s plenty of strength there.

First Impressions

The Sanyo front hub motor is based on the Electric Wheel,designed by O J Birkestrand of the Rabbit Tool Co,Illinois (see A to B15 ).This design showed great promise,but the road from prototype to production can be rocky,and the production version is not quite so clever.It’s an AC motor that’s permanently engaged,which enables it to provide power to get you up hills,and reabsorb power down the other side,but unlike a direct drive motors fitted to the BionX or Ion,the Sanyo has internal gears.To work quietly and without friction,these gears have to be very well engineered,and in practice we found the Suede’s Sanyo motor noisy and aggravatingly slothful.This one is much better,and actually quieter than the Lafree,but by modern standards it’s noisy,with a shade too much drag. We could forgive this if it offered regenerative braking,but as we’ll see,it doesn’t.

…the Nexus 8-speed is one of the best… the gear range is better, the number of gears is increased…

First impressions are that the crank feels strangely ‘cushioned’.This is caused by the sensing mechanism,which judges how hard the rider is pedalling.Like the old Lafree,this bike is a pure pedelec, meaning that the motor will only function if you’re putting in a reasonable amount of effort,so it isn’t suitable for those who don’t want to,or are perhaps unable to,turn the pedals.You get used to it,but in this area the Lafree won hands down,because it had a superb sensing mechanism – the best and most ‘conventional’ we’ve come across.

Another slightly odd sensation is of the front tyre ‘tram lining’ on the road surface.In fact,this is quite harmless and caused by a return spring,biasing the front wheel to the straight ahead position.It’s a useful feature when the bike is on the stand,protecting the motor cable from being stretched,but some people may be unnerved by the handling quirks.

The Nexus 8-speed hub gear is one of the best around,and certainly an improvement on the 7-speed Nexus fitted to the cheaper Twist 2.0.It’s usually possible to pedal right through upward changes,as you would with a derailleur – something you can’t always do with the Sturmey 8 or SRAM 7.But,human nature being what it is,you end up pushing the technology by doing it every time, and once in a while the hub gets caught out,producing a nasty clunk. We were also a bit disappointed by the gaps between gears,which vary wildly.We have no objection to a 22% gap between Gears 1 and 2,but are less keen on 14% between Gears 7 and 8, where a big gap can be useful. The hub is adjusted by lining up two yellow pointers in Gear 3, but they’re under the hub,and in this case,inside the chainguard which has to be partially removed.

The old Lafree Lite was fitted with a 3-speed Nexus,which didn’t give a wide enough range,and the more expensive models came with the 4-speed Nexus (more gears,same range),and later the 5-speed and 7-speed SRAM.On the new bike,the gear range is better,the number of gears is increased,and as the motor output takes a different route to the road,hub life should be improved definitely a plus point.

Gearing is about right for a bike of this kind.At 29 inches,first is low enough for most eventualities,even without assist,and at 89 inches,top is just up to fast riding,although another few gear-inches would be welcome.As usual with a Giant electric bike,power melts away at precisely 15mph,but the squidgy pedals and the constant drag mean you’re unlikely to voluntarily pedal any faster.The extra drag is little more than a dynamo,but it’s annoyingly noticeable,and several people observed that the Twist felt slower than the Lafree.It isn’t,but the drag makes it feel as though it is.Strangely,the resistance seems to melt away at very high speed,and the bike thunders down steep descents – we saw 40mph on two occasions.

On the Road

Giant Twist 1.0 Electric Bike

The high handlebars are very typical of a Dutch roadster. The batteries are effectively hidden

Generally,road speed is not high.We averaged 12.4mph on a hilly route,which is a little slower than the Lafree,but identical to the Sparta Ion.It’s worth pointing out that the Lafree’s crank motor could be tweaked with higher gearing to give ‘longer legs’,or with lower gearing to improve hill-climbing – all for the cost of a little sprocket.Although technically illegal,higher gearing only increased the average speed by 1mph or so,but gave nicer ratios for pressing on,with or without power,particularly useful with a following wind.On the new model,this sort of fine-tuning isn’t possible,or at least it is,but a change of rear sprocket will only increase the gearing for your legs , because the motor drives the front wheel.So in terms of adaptability,the old bike was much better.

With the slight motor drag,the extra weight,and that sharp cut-off at 15mph,journey times will not bring forth oohs and aahs from your friends.Our largely flat,but somewhat exposed 10-mile ‘commuter’ circuit took 41 1 / 2 minutes (an average of 13.2mph),where 35 to 40 minutes would be the norm for a good electric bike,and even a decent non-assisted folder (see Moulton in this issue) can better 40 minutes.

Tyres look jolly good.They’re designed in Holland (or so it says on the sidewall) and made by CSR,which turns out to be our old friend Cheng Shin Rubber,manufacturer of almost every bicycle tyre on the planet.Being generally slick,but with a handful of groovylooking swept back grooves,they look distinctly sporty.In practice,it’s hard to tell how effective they are,because the motor drag limits the rolldown speed to 10.6mph,which is bad news for a big-wheeled bike like this.Anyway,the tyres certainly look the part.

Brakes are a bit of a mixture.The front V-brakes are a bit too powerful,easily achieving a stable,safe emergency stop of .68G.It’s easy to go a bit too far – we saw .72G,but at this point the rear wheel is starting to lift off. In marked contrast,the Nexus roller brake at the back is a bit feeble,scraping up to .2G a long way from locking the wheel.From experience,we know these brakes improve a bit when properly ‘run in’,and they can easily go on to outlive the bike,but they’re not really strong enough to control a heavy trailer,and can overheat on long descents.

The ride is a bit hard,certainly compared to the Sparta Ion.Like the 1960s Moulton, the Twist front suspension uses a single spring hidden within the fork tube,but it doesn’t work half as well,being stiff and unresponsive,with limited travel.

…Giant claim up to 100 miles… 40 miles seems a safe overall figure…

Hill Climbing

The old Lafree was a slow but able hill climber, chugging up more or less anything.Putting the motor in the front wheel is easier and cheaper for Giant,but it does put a limit on hill climbing,because as road speed falls,the motor begins to lose interest.This makes it a bit difficult to put a figure on the maximum gradient,because so much depends on the strength of the rider. We found gradients of 1:8 relatively easy,and even managed a restart on 1:6,but that’s about it. This sort of thing is only possible because of the low first gear – something the cheaper Twist 2.0 won’t have.

As for going down the other side,the Twist does technically have regenerative braking, but it’s extremely limited.You have to find and press a rather fiddly button to make it work, it only cuts in above 10mph,and when it does,it’s so weak as to be almost unnoticeable. Only on a couple of long fast descents did we feel any retardation,and then only for a few seconds. Our bike may have been faulty,but the regen braking is too weak to be of any practical use. Disappointing is the word.


Giant claims a range of up to 100 miles for the Twist,but that’s on the flat,with no headwind,using the lowest ‘Eco’ power setting,and subject to almost a page of caveats.No doubt this is possible in ideal conditions, but for the averagely tubby Westerner,in late for work mode,on a miserable cold and wet January morning,forget it.To be fair,Giant is realistic about this worst case scenario,claiming a more modest 25 to 38 miles.Using the highest ‘Power’ setting in near freezing weather and with some icy headwinds gave a figure of 18.5 miles per battery,which is more or less in line with expectations. Further trips yielded 20 to 23 miles per battery,so 40 seems a safe overall figure.

The battery capacity is indicated by a line of five LEDs.The first two are pretty inaccurate,popping off at the first sniff of a gradient,and very often coming back down the other side (no,that’s not regen).Then there’s a long pause until somewhere around 10 miles,when light three goes out.Once light four has gone (15 miles or so),power starts to sag,warning you that the final act is not far off.Normally, a slightly vague gauge would be a problem,but with two batteries,you simply flick a switch…assuming,of course,that you charged the correct battery last night.This reminds us of a friend with a Jaguar 420G who took out a second mortgage to fill both tanks,drove until the first tank was exhausted, pressed the button…and found the second fuel pump wasn’t working.There’s a moral there somewhere.

Is it fair to test the Twist only in ‘Power’ mode? We think so.We’ve used the setting that gives the closest approximation to the performance of the old Lafree in the same conditions.Ridden hard,that would do about 20 miles,or a fair bit more with care,but with twin batteries,the new Twist beats it hands down in terms of range.It’s actually rather less economic,drinking 15 watt/hours of juice per mile,against 10 or so for the old bike, but that was – to be fair – exceptionally frugal.In any event the Twist has so much more battery available,economy isn’t a major issue.


Things fall down badly here,but it’s a new design,so Giant should be able to sort things out before they hit the shops.The batteries are hung either side of a special rack,and they’re neatly encased by a pair of equally special panniers.The idea is that you turn a key with one hand,open the pannier and reach in with the other hand,then swing the battery down,unfurl a handle and lift it free.Ha! The man from Giant couldn’t do it,and we couldn’t either. In the end,two of us removed the panniers, and after quite a bit of head-scratching and pushing and shoving,we had a battery out.Once it’s out,be very very careful. On the front face,and serving no particular engineering purpose,are four plastic plates,as sharp as razor blades. We received a nasty cut on Day One,and a guest was bitten the following day…

Unfortunately,the charge socket is under the battery handle, and the handle cannot be folded down until the battery is most of the way out.Catch 22:you can’t grab the batteries without removing the panniers,but if you remove the panniers,the battery has to come right out or it will fall on the ground.And when you pick it up,you cut a finger on the nasty projections.Some people simply will not be able

…The battery problem sounds suspiciously like Computer Aided Design disease…

to charge the Twist batteries unless this lot is sorted out.Something else you could never predict is that with two identical batteries, your typically muddle-headed A to B tester soon forgets which is charged and which isn’t. ‘A’ and ‘B’ labels would help a bit here,and give us some free publicity.

Once the battery’s out,the charging process is straightforward.At 1.2kg and 20cm x 10cm x 5cm,the charger is rather large,but reasonably quick.It runs at full power for two hours,bringing the battery to 70% capacity,then at a slower rate for another hour and three-quarters,before shutting down – exactly the same as the old model.You can leave the battery connected for the rest of the night if you wish,but no longer,says the manual. Unfortunately,the batteries have to be charged independently,so a commuter travelling more than twenty miles a day will need to get the body armour back on and brave another battery swap late in the evening,leaving the second battery on charge overnight.

The whole battery problem sounds suspiciously like Computer Aided Design disease. In this sadly all too common scenario,some bright,spotty-faced young thing creates a wonderful 3D object d’art on a computer screen,but no-one actually finds out whether it bites until tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on tooling and it arrives at Manor Road,Dorchester.Amazing. Yes,the old Lafree battery was an ergonomic delight to whip in and out.Sometimes we used to do it just for the hell of it .


Good and bad news here.Starting with the very minor things,the bell is superb wonderful clear note,nice action,clever bit of design.The nice big centre stand looks a great advance on the puny side-stand fitted to the old Lafree,but it (literally) falls down in practice by not going far enough ‘over-centre’,leaving the bike vulnerable to rolling forward off the stand.This tends to happen as you finally and triumphantly wrestle a battery out. Gravity being what it is,removing one battery causes the rear of the bike to bob gently up, and if it’s on a slight slope,the stand will fold slowly away,leaving you open mouthed as the S S Twist launches gently forward to roll away into the flowerbed.A change to the stand geometry will cure the problem,and it needs to be done.

The lights are good,but again there are minor niggles.The rear light is a batterypowered LED,with a top-mounted switch that can be easily prodded on with a gloved hand.Unlike the Lafree Comfort,this is not automatic,and ours failed within a week.This could happen to any bike,of course,but for £1,400 you rightly expect the best.

The Spanning a Radius halogen light is controlled from a fiddly little push button on the handlebar ‘dashboard’. This probably looked fine spinning around in 3D too,but with gloved hands,riding on a dark country lane,it’s all too easy to turn the light off as you grope for something else.To get it back on,you have to steer your finger by the little constellation of LEDS and make a stab in the right place.If you’re blinded by car lights,this is near impossible,and quite a dangerous operation.The headlight will also go off if the systems shut down for any reason.This happened to us a couple of times pulling out of junctions, when the motor stuttered then returned,but the light stayed out.The same is true if you change ‘tanks’ on the move – the motor only goes off for a second,but the light stays off until you hit that little switch.Annoying,and potentially dangerous.

In most respects,the light is an improvement on the old dynamo system.Drawing power from the traction battery means it’s always available,so there are no worries when stationary and turning right.Even if both the batteries are flat,Giant reckons there is enough power left to run the light for ten hours.A good system,but the switch needs a rethink.It would be safer to put a nice big chunky light switch safely out of reach (see Sparta).So mixed fortunes here – the new lights are better than the cheapy dynamo lights fitted to the old Lite model,but not as good as the wonderful Busch & Müller automatic lights on the Lafree Comfort.

Elsewhere,it’s nice to see a pump (neatly hidden under the panniers),the wheel lock is great,and the chainguard is functional,but a bit fiddly to remove.The panniers themselves are futuristic sculpted affairs,but as Jane immediately points out,compared to the capacious Bling Bling panniers that have been fixtures on her Lafree since we tested them in A to B54 ,they are too small,and fiddly to use.A4 paperwork fits neatly inside,but you have to scrunch the papers through a letter box slot to get them in.Stylish maybe,but the capacity just isn’t there,and the unusual rack means that normal rigid-backed panniers,such as Carradice or Ortleib,will not fit.If this bike is going to be truly practical for nipping to the shops or commuting,a rethink is needed.


That’s our technical analysis,but most cyclists aren’t interested in whether the battery is a Nimby or a Lion;they just want something that will work and keep working at a reasonable cost.There’s no escaping that the Twist 1.0 will be expensive to run.A £1,400 purchase price,plus an estimated £300 per replacement battery (don’t forget there are two) gives a scary running cost of 12.1p per mile.

We rounded up four Lafree owners to try the new model – would they swap their tired old machine for this shiny new one? The rigid frame and build quality of the bike were much admired,as was the handling,but it was also described as ‘slow’ (this,of course,is somewhat illusory),heavy (again,not entirely fair),and boring.Some came round to it,but grumbles persisted about the small panniers,and problems with upgrading them,the pedals being too far back,the lack of a handle to lift the bike onto the stand,and the price,which was considered way over the top for a Chinese machine,albeit a good one.The fact is,the Twist is closely related to the Giant Suede,but it costs more than twice as much.

It should be a matter of some concern to Giant that only one was willing to swap his old model for £1,400 worth of shiny new bicycle,and he was very unsure.Of course,in some respects,a focus group in love with the old model is bound to be biased from the start.Giant is delighted with the bike’s reception in The Netherlands,where 5,000 are reported to have been sold since November.

The new Twist has some good features,and one or two excellent ones,like the 40mile range,which is more or less unbeatable.But we have a hunch buyers will opt for the 2.0 model instead.This has most of the same features,but is fitted with a pair of (arguably more reliable) NiMH batteries instead of lightweight Li-ion.This means a more reasonable £1,100 for the bike,with running costs of around 8.4p per mile.


Giant Twist 1.0 £1,400. Weight bicycle 24.9kg batteries 5.2kg total 30.1kg (66lbs). Gears Shimano Nexus. Ratios29″-89″. Wheelbase116cm. BatteryLi-ion. Capacity2 x 270Wh Range40 milesFull charge 7hrs 30min . Fuel Consumption overall 13.5-16.8 Wh/mile Running Costs 12.1p per mile. Manufacturer Giant Bicycles  UK distributor Giant UK Ltd tel 0115 977 5900 mail

A to B 58 – Feb 2007