Rob Greenland runs Leeds-based social enterprise Zero Waste Leeds (or you an find him on Twitter – @TheSocBiz) and took a demo Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B Move electric bike out for a couple of days. Here are his first impressions:
“It’s probably happened to all of us. You’re quietly minding your business, steadily climbing a hill. And then out of nowhere someone passes you. Effortlessly pedalling, whilst you’re digging in. They’re past you in no time.
The first few times it happened to me, it was noticeable because it was rare. Not any more. Whereas I might have seen one or two people a week on electric bikes a couple of years ago, I now tend to see 3 or 4 a day.
What’s all the fuss about? Only one way to find out.
I picked up a Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B Move electric bike from my local Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative on a January Sunday afternoon. And off I went. Straight to the biggest hill I could find, naturally. I pressed the button to go to Turbo mode. And I slowly ground to a halt – as I hadn’t cottoned on to the fact that gears – nine of them on this bike – still matter. I turned back down the hill, got into a lower gear, and set off up the hill again. I zoomed up. And my love affair with the e-bike began.
I live in Leeds – it’s not the hilliest place in the world but there’s pretty much always an incline wherever you go. Enough to put a lot of people off cycling. And that is very much the beauty of the e-bike. It genuinely flattened out my journeys – so even the most difficult of hills felt pretty much effortless.
After my initial hill-fail, I soon got the hang of it. It’s all very simple – just one button to press and four different modes of pedal assist – depending on how much assistance you feel you need. I found myself mostly in Eco – which as you’d imagine will help to extend the range – and I went up to Turbo for that extra bit of oomph on hillier sections. It’s easy to switch between modes, and as the assistance kicks in it offers a noticeable but smooth boost rather than a jolt.
What I use my bike for
I mostly ride a bike for work and for getting around Leeds. The real test of the bike was always going to be whether I could turn up for a meeting – in my normal clothes – without breaking a sweat. And the bike 100% passed that test. That for me is a game changer – as I do get a bit fed up having to have a change of clothes or needing ten minutes to cool down before I go into a meeting.
Alongside commuting, my main other use for my bike is shopping. Again, it performed well, easily (on a higher power mode) coping with the extra weight of a couple of full panniers. On the downside, that was a time when I became more aware of the bike’s weight, as I wheeled it through a tight spot in the supermarket car park. The extra weight of an e-bike can feel a bit cumbersome, when you’re handling it yourself, rather than riding it.
I felt more conscious about the bike’s security whilst I was out and about. My much loved and well-ridden Revolution Courier doesn’t look that attractive to thieves these days, whilst this lovely e-bike certainly caught the eye. That’s less of an issue if your journey is from home to a workplace with secure bike parking – but it would be something I’d need to consider for the journeys I make around town.
Seventy-two hours later, I handed the bike back. I pretty much knew I’d love it, as I’d had so many conversations with e-bike evangelists in recent months. And it didn’t disappoint.
For now, I’ll be sticking with my Courier. For a few reasons – one being that I can’t justify the cost at the moment – and the other being that on balance I do like the extra effort that I have to put in on an unassisted ride – at least for now.
But I have no doubt that in the next few years I’ll be making a switch. Having spoken with several e-bike owners, I’m sold on what people say about it being more of a car replacement than a “normal” bike replacement. I can totally see how people who would never see themselves on a conventional bike would happily ride an e-bike – if there were decent, safe routes for them to get from A to B.
And that’s what excites me about e-bikes. Combined with investment in networks of protected cycle lanes, I think they could offer a real alternative to cars for lots of our journeys in cities. That’s something that could bring all sorts of benefits.”
If reading Rob’s Kalkhoff Endeavour electric bike review has got you interested, take an electric bike out for a demo and see for yourself what it’s like.
Or browse our range of hybrid electric bikes:
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