Electric bikes: the future of cycling

19 November 2010

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love cycling. There’s nothing that warms my heart more than whizzing past commuters waiting at the bus stop and arriving at work before them.

So, when a timely email from Biscuit PR dropped in my inbox, titled ‘the journalist commuter challenge’, I was intrigued. The challenge was to ride an electric bike to work for a fortnight, courtesy of UK-based electric bike company Wisper.

Naturally, I agreed. I like cycling but dislike matted hair and a sweaty back – both of which the electric bike promised not to give you.

Moneywise has kindly been lent the 906xc Tourer – “the last word in electric bike excellence”, according to its website. But it ain’t cheap. This Wisper comes with a hefty price tag of around £2,500, although cheaper models can be bought for around £800.

In spite of being the price of a used car, the bike is a work of art. It’s modelled as a manual bike, but with a rather large dynamo on the back to power you up hills (or just along the flat roads, in my case.) It’s pretty powerful – the 250W motor can keep going for 70 miles without a charge.

The motor kicks in when you start to cycle, so, to silence its critics - it’s still a good way to keep fit. I’ve now ridden it to and from the office to my flat a few times, but I’m not exactly a convert. For starters, it weighs an absolute ton and lugging it up three flights of stairs to my flat has meant me and my bemused neighbour have to grab one wheel each. Oh, and even when it’s locked up safely I worry constantly about it as if it were my child.

However, for a non-cyclist, the electric bike is a great way to ease yourself in to the real McCoy. I didn’t groan while puffing up a hill, and streaking past cars made me feel quite smug. Still – at £2,500 it’s going to take years before it starts to pay for itself. 

It has taught me one thing, though. I thought there was nothing better than cycling past disgruntled commuters – I was wrong. There’s actually nothing sweeter than cycling past disgruntled CYCLISTS who peddle madly while I sail on past, barely moving my legs.