Written by Nick, university professor, Bike Co-op fan and electric bike convert
After a lot of soul searching, I bought a Whyte Coniston electric bike from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative 10 months ago. Since then I’ve clocked up about 3,200 miles on it, mainly on my daily commute, a round trip of 20 miles. For those who like data, here they are:
3,157 miles; average speed 15.0 mph; 51 full charge cycles, giving an average range per full charge of 61.4 miles. The Coniston has reduced my commuting time from between 45-50 minutes each way to 37-42, and although I ride quite briskly I don’t arrive breathless. The bike has been faultless. It needed new brake pads at around 2,700 miles and last week I changed the back tyre. Apart from three punctures, that’s it.
Before buying it, I had doubts about having only a 10 speed. I fretted that the benefits of the electrical boost on hills would be cancelled out by not being able to go so fast on the flat or down hills. Not an issue at all as it turned out. What I realized was just how much nicer cycling is when you take out the bits that involve straining up hills or into a headwind.
Yet after a few months with the Coniston, I found myself hankering after something more. If an e-bike could transform my commute, what, I wondered, would one be like off road? Although the Coniston could deal with light trail use, mine is fitted out for daily commuting with mudguards and a rack, so off-road was out of the question. So it was down to the Bike Co-op’s January sale and I became the proud owner of a Haibike Xduro Hardseven.
As I write this, I’ve only covered 200 miles on the Haibike, but this included what, on a normal bike, would have been a very gruelling day at Glentress. I’m surprised at how different the two bikes feel. The Haibike has much more grunt, you can really feel the power and it just romps up the steepest of slopes. It handles itself well off the road (although I am certainly not an extreme mountain biker) but it is also very well-mannered on the road as well and could easily be used to commute. It has a huge grin factor and it’s so different to the Coniston in terms of how it feels and what it can do that I don’t feel at all guilty about having them both.
I’ll close with one benefit of e-bikes that I hadn’t foreseen. My partner and I cycle quite a lot together and although she enjoys cycling, we often had that issue that you get when two people who have different preferences with respect to speed, duration, style and so on do something together. You know; one ends up feeling pressured, the other a bit frustrated, usually both. When we’re both on e-bikes our pace converges. We’ve started to do rides that are faster and further than we would have ever done before and no-one is either having to stop and wait or complaining that the other is going too fast.
I know that converts are the worst, and I’m clearly a convert, but I’d recommend anyone to give an e-bike a go. And couples, test ride a pair of bikes – you’ll be amazed at the difference they can make!