One evening this week I was offered to take the Haibike – an electric off road bike for a spin across the common.
I don’t think I stopped grinning! To get to the common was a doddle, shooting up tracks and roads with ease. The bike’s electric motor is limited to 15mph – to go faster than that you need to use gravity or your legs to go faster. Once you are on the tight, muddy, rooty singletrack trails of the common this feels easily fast enough – especially on the climbs. At these speeds you have to treat the climbs the same as the downhills, picking a line, shifting your weight and leaning the bike to keep your momentum.
At first, the bike felt a bit cumbersome, but no more than any large full suss bike does compared to the light hardtail I normally ride. Pretty soon you get a feel for the bike and can chuck it about as normal. The power is controlled in a couple of ways – firstly you can select on of 5 modes from Eco (pretty slow) to Turbo. I rarely left Turbo mode, except on slow, technical bits where the bursts of power came a bit unexpected leading to a few slides of the front wheel! The bike coped really well with the thick mud that was all over the common, easily ploughing straight over that and other obstacles you might normally avoid.
I thought the weight of the bike would be more obvious on the trails, but they do handle well and it is only a problem trying when you’re lift the bike over obstacles. On steep downhills, the extra weight means the bike feels really grounded, but I wouldn’t want to ride it far without the motor going still!
For many people, electric bikes have still got a way to go before their viable, but I think these bikes show they’re already there. A good 2 hour thrash only used a quarter of the battery – so I’d guess it’d be good for a full days riding. They’re not cheap, but they do seem really well built, and with all the components and features of a high end bike you’d expect.
IF you’re interested – head over to Bike Motion’s site and arrange a test ride. You won’t regret it!