I’m about to shatter a few illusions, so I’ll apologise in advance. Firstly, video did not kill the radio star – Steve Wright is living proof of the longevity of that format. Secondly, the Kindle did not kill off the book, and finally, and the reason for this blog – the E-bike will not kill off good old fashioned cycling. In fact, it could increase participation, as those unable to crank up Box Hill in Surrey through their own steam, can finally join in the fun with family and friends. The long and technical trails in Yorkshire and the English Lake District, the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains of Romania will be accessible to more people on bikes, and that’s got to be a good thing.
Attending the 2018 EuroBike in Friedrichshafen, Germany last summer, where a large proportion of the biggest bike expo in the world was dedicated to the E-bike. Every time I wandered between halls, I was passed by groups of speeding E-bikers, testing out the newest models from all over the globe. It was clear that the time is now for this innovation, bringing a whole new dimension to the cycling world, and lots more people.
Engineering brands such as Bosch have brought new technology to bare, meaning that the power units can easily be built into technical frames without adding too much bulk and weight; and, when the design is refined, the product becomes an ideal way to get cycling. Long and technical mountain bike trails are a real possibility on one charge, and in terms of commuting, the benefits are phenomenal. In every bike shop, all over the world, the e-bike is now taking centre stage.
Ironically, a few weeks earlier, I’d been cycling. 1100 km route in northern France, from the iconic island of Mont st Michel, to Bourges in the heart of France, and then back via Chartres. On one particular day, heading from Chartres city centre to a nearby village, a wizzing E-biker came past me at a rate of knots, leaving me in their slipstream. Having cycled over 110 km that day, I wasn’t annoyed or jealous. Instead, I wished I’d had one to help me on the hills I’d struggled up – if you’ve seen Chartres Cathedral, you’ll know what I mean!- it sits on the top of a steep cobbled hill. Riding a long and hot day, with a fully laden touring bike, some electrical assistance would have been very welcomed.
Talking about hills, we have a few of these in North Yorkshire where my family and I live. Our closest area for mountain biking is rugged Nidderdale, with windswept heather moorland and hills to scare a peloton. Taking myself for a spin recently, and delighting in the adrenaline packed descent to Ramsgill village – very steep, very rocky, and lots of fun – I was truly gobsmacked however when a very large and rotund cyclist came up the 15% tricky climb, smiling and most definitely not struggling, powered only by the e-technology of their Trek E-mountain bike. He even stopped to chat and to sell me its virtues for the non-athlete simply wanting to get out and to explore.
Yes, cycling is changing and technology is making it far more accessible. EuroBike was a good indicator of the direction that bike shops are now taking. In London and in the rural counties, technology is taking people further than before, with the latest E-bikes having the potential for at least a 35 miles ride out – so you can reach that café where they do that nice carrot cake, which has to be a good thing.
Images courtesy of Trek Bikes