Trek Pedelec

Trek e-bike

Last summer, having spent many years chasing younger or fitter cyclists, I recognised my need for help. I bought  a pedelec (an electrically assisted bike) made by Trek. My intention was to use it to continue regular day trips with friends at the 12-13 mph I had been used to, and use my other Birmingham Big Bike for 'every day' journeys. In reality I now use the Trek for virtually all my cycling because it is so convenient and flexible, and I am becoming more dependant on the assisted power. I have confidence in tackling any hill, accelerate if in a tricky situation, and start off impressively at hazardous crossroads.

The power enables me to cycle without worry of becoming breathless, using up to 4 levels of assistance (20/50/100/200% of pedal pressure) up to a speed of 15mph. The bike has a wide range of gears but I (perhaps wrongly) tend to use the choice of power level in preference to changing gear. Starting off on a steep hill I choose 100% (a real joy!) and reduce when I can. On the flat I use 20% and rather than brake going downhill I switch to regeneration mode that makes me feel so much better! Recent authentic research has shown that users of electric assist bikes still significantly exert themselves, not far below 'normal' bikes. I can still work as hard, or as little, as I like. But now I have a worry free choice.

The controls are simple and immediately effective. Only finger tip pressure is needed to index the power up or down, including  regeneration options. The display shows speed, average speed, odometer, and indicates the level of assistance being consumed. The bike has built in lights and, of course, a carrier rack. The battery is recharged in about 4 hours from flat and is locked in position in the rack. Maintenance should be similar to any bike; the brushless motor, according to the handbook, 'requires no maintenance'. There is a 2 year warranty.

There are, of course, downsides; the additional weight of the motor, battery and the heavier frame, wheels and tyres is considerable. My bike weighs 22kg. This means that in unassisted mode it requires more effort to pedal. You probably need the 20% assistance to compensate for this sluggishness. It's range is limited between charges to 40-50 miles, and considerably less on high levels of power. More recent models may be lighter, and have longer battery life, but basically they are not 'road bikes' in design or speed.

So, what conclusion would I infer? For anyone who wants to limit their exertion but retain the freedom of cycling consider acquiring an electric bike. You should be able to have the same enjoyment without the stress (at least that element of stress due to riding a bike). There are lots of new models and a wide range of specifications and price.