I’ve been trying to persuade my wife for a while that she wants an electric bicycle. In my mind, this is the only way that she and I could ever go on a bike ride together. Most e-bikes are limited to 15 mph, which just happens to be my top (average) speed on a good day. I figure she could pace me up the hills and freewheel down the other side.
There are three problems with electric bikes, though.
- They’re ugly
- They’re heavy
- They’re expensive
The ugliness is very hard to get past.
Take the Dimanche, there from Moustache bikes, one of the trendier brands. I don’t like the bike design to start with, nor the tyres, but my opinion matters not. I know my wife wouldn’t like the looks of this. Leaving that aside, the elephant in the room is the great big chunk of motor attached to the bottom, with a big battery glommed onto the down tube (and no room for a drink?). And even if you can get past all that, the Moustache would set you back (sit down for this) £3250. Yikes! What you’re paying for is quality: Shimano 105 gearing (what you get on a £1000 road bike, basically), a 350w motor that can manage up to (an illegal) 25 mph, and an extended range (up to 80 miles, if you dial down the assistance) for longer rides.
It weighs 18.1 kg, though, about twice the weight of a half-decent bike.
At the low end of the market, you get something like the B’Twin (Decathlon) 7E, which is just €1000, but weighs even more (26.5 kg) and with a 250w motor is less powerful, with a reduced range (30 miles, maybe?) and can only manage 300 or so charge-discharge battery cycles.
It turns out, of course, that both these high-end and low-end machines are dinosaurs, because the future of electric bikes is surely going to be in the form of something like the Copenhagen Wheel or the Flykly (pictured at the top of the post).
The FlyKly comes as a trendy hipster bike ($1800 is the US price, all in), or a replacement wheel ($800) that you can put on just about any bike. It comes in a range of colours, and adds just 3kg of weight. It’ll give you a push up to 15 mph, and recharge itself as you go downhill. It works with a smartphone app which allows you to customise how it works, lock it, and trace it should it be stolen.
Flykly is on its way to Europe. It means that bike you’ve got in the garage that nobody rides can be given a new lease of life. Or it means you can pick a bike you like the look of and just replace one of the wheels. It means being able to ride to work without breaking a sweat, and it means being able to join your family on a pleasant ride in the countryside without it becoming an ordeal.
This tech can only get better, and lighter, which means you’re always going to be in the position of wondering whether you should wait before spending your money. I’d say we’re no more than a year away from the technology being good enough.