There’s something slightly surreal about doing moped speeds on something that looks, sounds and feels just like a bicycle. But that’s the Ezee Torq all over – despite being the fastest e-bike you can buy, it doesn’t look like one. If you look hard, there is a motor in the front wheel, but there’s no massive battery (as in the Powabyke) or sensible chain guard and step-through frame (Giant Lafree). It’s quiet too, the motor giving just a subtle whine when working hard, so it doesn’t give away it’s electric credentials too easily.Which is why it’s so much fun to ride.
I’ve been using A to B’s Ezee Torq test bike for the past two months, and though I haven’t covered a huge distance in that time (just over 300 miles), it’s been out and about regularly, on everything from short shopping trips to a 40-mile round trip that I would usually make by motorcycle, although that run did necessitate a battery top-up on the way. It has also had a hard life, u n d e r going the usual A to B test regime and carrying an injured charity rider from London-Paris last year.
The best thing about the Torq of course, is its sheer speed. People have an odd reaction to this, once they know that our prototype Torq will exceed the legal e-bike maximum by a whole 7mph (production bikes are, apparently, restricted). ‘How do you get away with it?’ is the usual response. That is the perfect time to point out that the market is also awash with cars and motorcycles capable of twice the 70mph legal limit, and which are freely promoted in the mainstream media. In any case, although that 22mph top speed is what grabs the headlines, the real point of the Torq is its strong hill climbing, and ability to maintain 20mph+ on the flat, giving it great long distance stamina.
Take the 141/2 miles between my front door and A to B Towers. A nice ride on a conventional bicycle, say 90 minutes, plus a good pub stop on the way. On our Giant Lafree, we’d expect to take just over an hour, with a five-minute stop.The Ezee does it in 49 minu t e s , without stopping, and that really bring home how the extra margin of performance pushes the range of cycling well into car territory.
Here’s another example. I had to make a business trip 14 miles away.The obvious choice was train, with a five-mile cycle ride, but the Ezee actually worked out quicker, though it did run out of puff a mile from home. On another occasion, I covered 37 miles between the office, car dealers and various errands, though the bike did get a 30-minu t e top-up en ro u t e, and didn’t quite make it back under its own steam. But the point is that I wouldn’t have contemplated a day like that on my pedal cycle, and getting the motorbike out would have seemed like overkill.The Torq re a l ly does extend the range of electric bikes.
Of course, all this grunt has to be paid for, and despite the latest Lithium-Ion battery, I’ve sometimes had the yellow light come on (there are three of them, traffic light style) at 21 miles, with the red following two miles later and a complete cut-out soon after. Fortunately, at 24kg, the Torq isn’t too much of an effort to pedal home manually. And there is more mileage on tap, if you can resist using all that power. Riding with a Giant Lafree, keeping below 15mph and putting in some leg work, I’ve had 41 miles out of a charge.The trouble is, riding the Torq at those speeds isn’t easy.Very little happens until the twistgrip is about 3/4 through its travel, and all the action takes place between there and 7/8. So keeping pace with a 12-14mph e-bike takes the form of a series of lurches.
Letting the Torq loose in town concentrates the mind wonderfully, because you’re travelling faster and looking further ahead, much as you would on a 30mph moped, which shows up the deficiencies of having no suspension and bicycle brakes.The V-brakes are adequate by pedal standards, but repeated stops from the 15-20mph zone doesn’t do much for block life. Something else you need to be aware of in town is that twisting the grip doesn’t deliver instant power. For safety reasons, the manufacturers have engineered a throttle lag of about a second, followed by a smooth It’s and gradual increase in urge. Still, at least you do those boots get power from zero mph, which is a real help again! (No, when pulling out of busy junctions, honestly, it’s the especially uphill. Some e-bikes refuse to only photo we had).The Torq give any help until you’re up to walking looks quite pace, and it’s surprising how long conventional those two seconds seem when edging into a busy thoroughfare…
But to be honest, the Torq feels more at home on the open road. It’s a bit like a racehorse with very long legs; only really able to get into its stride when faced with a long stretch of good going. In fact, the long-legged analogy fits the test bike quite well, as it has sky-high gearing (slightly reduced on production machines).As the December 2005 A to B test showed, top was an astronomical 133 inches, and this is the first bike I’ve ever ridden with a comfortable cadence at 30mph! The tall gearing and high speeds give the Torq an unstoppable express train sort of feel, something underlined by the 28inch wheels and long wheelbase. At least it seems long, but at 118.5cm is only 15mm (about half an inch) more than that of a mediumframe Giant Lafree. It feels long, anyway.
Now mention the Ezee brand to one or two bike dealers, and there’s much regretful inward sucking of breath.And it’s true that the Sprint did go through a bad patch in the early days, thanks to a supplier switching to plastic gears in the motor.These failed rapidly, and the company moved back to steel gears almost as fast. But A to B hasn’t been inundated with failure reports from Sprint owners, and so far, the long-term Ezee Sprint has been completely reliable.
So there it is. The world’s fastest electric bike is also a useful day to day machine, and it’s certainly extended my range before I get the motorbike out. The revolution continues!
Ezee Torq £1,200 . UK distributor 50 Cycles tel 01223 844166
A to B 54 – June 2006