‘Ride like the wind’ – testing an e-bike

An electric bike in Newborough forest.
Test-riding an electric bike in Newborough forest.

Well it seemed as though I was riding like the wind, which is why this tune wandered into my head as I rode along the Lôn Las Cefni Cycle Track. Ok so it wasn’t an Easy Rider heading for any Mexican Border, just an e-bike, but I felt free again…

Dewi at our bike hire partners, CycleWales had asked whether I wanted to give the Adventure Road Sport, which was fresh into the cycle hire stock, a bit of a test ride.

I had intended to combine two of our routes to pre-ride, and was going to go on my heavier (but comfortable) Specialized Expedition on the 30+ mile route, which include some forest tracks and a few minor hills, so the suggestion of an e-bike was most welcome!

The bike was a ladies hybrid Madison Adventure Road Sport similar to this one: https://leelicycles.co.uk/shop/product/adventure-road-sport-e-bike-low-step-18-19/ They have a Shimano STEPS electric system. 9 speed standard derailleur gear system, hydraulic brakes. and 700 x 32 tyres.

After receiving an explanation about the bike’s range, gears, brakes and speed settings (three- eco, ordinary and high), I set off.

I’m not one for bike technicalities, I just love riding the back-lanes of Anglesey, so this won’t be a technical / spec review, just some of my thoughts and responses.

I felt as though I was speeding along quite easily along the Lon Las Cefni, which passes by CycleWales, just outside Llangefni. The cycle track is a flat route for four miles, and it joins a flat quiet road towards Malltraeth Cob, so riding wasn’t a challenge. This meant that I didn’t feel that I needed much e-assist at the start of the route. I certainly found the bike itself quite light and speedy. The handlebars and seat were comfortable.

Obviously, the e-bike has a battery, which adds some weight, but as it is placed in a fairy low position on the ladies’ cross-bar, I wasn’t really aware of the extra weight. I always have at least one pannier, or a bag on the top of my rack, especially when leading, and carrying extra kit, so I’m used to weight on the frame, so wasn’t really aware of much extra weight.

The main riding difference is that you have the e-bike assist option. On the right of the handlebar, you have hand six click up and down gears working the ‘front’ wheel gears, while the larger gears you’d expect on your left are replaced by the e-bike controls.

It’s simple to switch up and down to turn the e-bike engine on and move between eco, normal and fastest speed on the bike. Of course, holding your feet level to stop pedalling stops the e-assist instantly. The disk brakes give added stopping power- but remember to bear in mind the added velocity of the e-motor when approaching a junction or intending to stop. Moving between gears and between gears and motor-assist felt smooth.

Overall, I had a nice ride without e-assist, however, I soon realised that if you cycle faster than 25 KPH you get no benefit from the e-bike, even when it’s switched on, as it’s limited to that speed.

To enjoy the benefits of an e-bike, you need to get into a slower more leisurely mind-set! (I usually use the pre-rides as a personal training session!)

The point was to sample the e-bike, so I tried different settings and cycling with different levels of energy.

As I rode, I became more adept and could see how you could either use a little support, to give you more speed on the flat, or you could use more support to take pressure off the knees, especially when facing hills- if I’m honest, that was the greatest treat! I hardly got out of breath or broke a sweat on a sunny day!

One of the things I did notice was that the e-power actually makes riding slowly to negotiate pavement ‘furniture’ easier, I felt I had more control.

I got a bit obsessed by the speedometer and recorded a highest speed (while I was watching) of 33 kph (20 mph).

Today, the only major hills were coming up from the coast, as might be expected, and one inland hill, but none of any epic proportions. While Anglesey has no major mountains, it’s not exactly flat. The fold of the rock strata and valleys run approximately NE/SW across the island, and provide rolling hills to be traversed.

My 32 mile ride, using various amounts of assist (on the flat) drained 1 bar of the battery- apparently they have a radius far beyond a day’s leisurely cycle