I’ve been test riding e-bikes since my beloved EZee Sprint was stolen in January. Many people have asked me about the differences between them. And of course, which one(s) I like the best.
To clarify, an e-bike is a bicycle that has an electric motor. The motor drives either the front wheel (hub-drive) or the cranks (mid-drive) where the pedals attach. All have rechargeable batteries. I tend to charge batteries daily. It’s a good habit to get into with an e-bike. The motor stops at 25km per hour as is required by law. You power the bicycle alone after reaching this speed.
I use the e-bike primarily to commute to work. It’s especially useful in the summer here in Sydney. I can wear a dress and heels and go straight to my desk or to a meeting. No need to change clothing or have a shower because my “sweat factor” is reduced because of the boost that the motor gives me when pedalling.
What’s my personal preference? It depends upon a number of factors. Body position and comfort are important on the bicycle. Consistency of power delivery can also vary between e-bikes. For me, the attractiveness of the e-bike directly influences how much I want to ride it. My husband Justin pointed this out to me several years ago. Lastly, as a woman with two children to feed and educate, value for money is extremely important.
I’ve tested the following e-bikes and have included motor type for ease of reference:
My preference for stance on a bicycle is sitting upright. The advantage in an upright stance is visibility and comfort. I can see and hear what is going on around me. My preference in the category of stance is the Lekker E-Jordaan. I found that the alignment of hips and shoulders to be Pilates-instructor-worthy.
And for that reason, it’s extremely comfortable while riding. Also, the seat is wide and cushiony. Also noteworthy in this category are the Gazelles, the EZee Sprint and the Merida Espresso City. Again, my preference is for a more upright stance. However, I did find that after 3-5 days, I adapted to the “sport” stance of the Focus Aventura and the CityZen. The only thing tricky about a more forward leaning stance is the possibility of greater skirt-hem-lift. As a woman, managing this relies on the attitude of “don’t care” versus “care” with regards to the possibility of “flashing.”
Surprisingly, consistency of power delivery is another important factor. By far, the EZee Sprint delivers the most consistent power of all the e-bikes that I have trialled. It also has a throttle. The throttle helps to close the gap between the initial downstroke and the motor kicking-in. This delay is typical of all e-bikes. The throttle is also extremely useful for hill starts, in heels or not. Also, the EZee Sprint’s larger hub motor makes it possible to “laugh at hills” as one of my team stated at Gear Up Girl. The power delivery of the Sprint is incomparable. Consequently, after five happy years with my own Sprint, my preference is for an e-bike with a hub motor.
Interestingly, I found that when I switched from the Sprint to the E-Jordaan, it took me a few weeks to adjust. The E-Jordaan has a smaller hub motor and a slightly longer delay in its motor-start. In the rain, during the first week, I used the kerb for a hill-start. After a few weeks, I was able to balance and pedal in the lowest gear until the motor kicked-in a few seconds later.
However, we are all adaptable. I have found it easy to adjust to either mid-drive or hub-drive. The one important factor for riding a mid-drive e-bike is that it’s necessary to stop pedalling when shifting gears. I have found that for most mid-drive systems, there is a drop in power when shifting. The motor shuts off momentarily to protects the gears and the chain. I’m demonstrating this technique while riding the Merida Espresso City with ultra-endurance cyclist Kristof Allegaert in Centennial Park. I pedal until I need to shift gears. I stop momentarily and then double-click the gear shift. Then I resume pedaling until I need to shift again. It’s counterintuitive but it’s a small adjustment.
My choice for the most stylish e-bike is Lekker’s E-Jordaan. Some people might consider its style to be “vintage.” I find it to be the most beautiful for both men and women, especially the step-through version. Style is important to me in addition to functionality. Looking at a beautifully designed bicycle compels me to want to ride it more. The feelings that it invokes are of happiness and an itchiness to ride when I’m not (and sitting in a meeting or at my desk). Runners up for style are the EZee Sprint and also the Gazelle Orange and Chamonix.
Recently, a man questioned whether I wore “high street” clothing or designer brands. When I told him that my dress was from J.Crew not Chanel, he swallowed in shock.
With two children to feed and educate, value is important to me. As a result, my preference is the Lekker E-Jordaan. For less than AUD$2,000, it’s possible to purchase this e-bike with a battery that takes you close to 60km with judicious use of power. A close second is the EZee Sprint. The choice of battery affects the price of the Sprint. I found that the 19ah was sufficient for my needs (the 11ah wasn’t enough) and was happy to pay an extra $1000 for it. But sadly, it was stolen after just a few weeks of use.
The utility of e-bikes is still not well known in Australia. But they make it possible for more people to ride. Case in point is an episode from my book How to Bicycle to Work – A Guide for Women.)
“I was waiting at the bottom of Wenworth Avenue for the light to change. I pulled up next to a cyclist who was dressed in lycra. He had his fast helmet, gloves, sunglasses, clip-less shoes and cool socks. I asked him if he was heading up College Street. I asked him because because I had been harassed by drivers on that street after the Cycleway was demolished during the winter of 2015. I prefer to ride with other people on College Street now. But I was running late and instead of my usual circuitous and calm route through the eastern part of the city, I thought I would try this route instead.
He said that he was. I asked if I could ride with him. He started laughing. I’m not sure if he knew that I was riding my e-bike and had it on full pedal assist. “If you can keep up!” he said. “I race.” I said, “I know. I can tell. But I have my e-bike today.” He said, “I don’t think you can.” I explained that I had had trouble on College Street previously and yet he was unswayed. I wasn’t surprised by his reaction at all. But when the light turned green, I raced ahead of him on the ascent on Wentworth Avenue. It took him 2 minutes to catch up to me at the next major intersection. After that he started making polite conversation. He asked me where I was going and wasn’t it nice that the weather had cleared. Together, we rode quickly to the next intersection and the next until I waved when I turned off.”
It’s possible to change people’s minds and perceptions, even one’s own. It just has to be done in the right way. Try an e-bike today and thanks to at Lekker Bicycles, Omafiets, Glowworm Bicycles and Shimano Australia.