I was very sceptical of the claims made for electric bikes so would like to offer our totally independent findings - we have no connection whatsoever with the company.
However I would stress
that they are not exhaustive results since we have only had the bike a
few weeks (see update at foot of page). The foot and mouth epidemic, poor weather and delays in
obtaining parts have conspired
to hamper our planned trips.
August 2003, just two or three years later! I have received an email from Toby Davies, an Area Manger, telling me that Powabyke are now able to deal with spares enquiries in a much more efficient manner and holding most spares in stock.
I have also
received an email from Roy who is 70 and just bought his first
Powabyke. On his first trip he was really pleased to have managed 28.5
miles with the last mile being almost constant 1 in 6 gradients and
there was still some charge left in the batteries. This is one of the
newer pedal assist type models.
some background material to put everything into context. I am aged 53.
my wife is 48. I enjoyed cycling as a teenager and I enjoy tinkering
with obscure machinery and electronics.
My wife doesn't drive and this was one of the main reasons that I contemplated buying a Powabyke. When she was a teenager her father bought her an Ariel 3. Do you remember them, too slow to escape chasing dogs, too wide for traffic to pass? Awful machines that probably contributed greatly to the downfall of Ariel.
She rode it occasionally and decided to have a windscreen fitted. Unfortunately the mechanic failed to fit it correctly and at the first roundabout the steering locked and my wife collided with some railings, narrowly missing a Jaguar showroom and damaging her fashionable leather coat and kinky white leather boots.
From that moment she declined to be in control of any device supported by wheels. I bought two elderly VeloSolexes (now three!) with one being possibly for her use. Unfortunately the laws regarding learners and mopeds have become so convoluted that this seems unlikely to happen.
I spotted an advert for an electric bike. It was just 15 months old and had covered only about 300 miles. At this point I knew nothing of electric bikes so I rang the vendor and asked if it was a gent's frame. He advised that it was, and so sadly it seemed obvious that the machine would not be suitable for my wife. My wife was quite disappointed. However, I switched on my 'phone the next day to find that the vendor had left a message that it was actually a unisex machine. A date was arranged to view the machine.
It was for sale
in Cardiff, my nearest city just 25 miles away. I plotted a map of the
vendor's area on the computer. The next day we departed with high
hopes but quickly became increasingly frustrated at becoming lost and
mingling with heavy traffic. I was on the point of giving up when the
vendor rang and offered to come and find us. He must be desperate for
a sale, I thought.
I was even more surprised on the first trial run along the garden path to find that the electric motor had quite a kick. I had expected a slow gentle pull but no, it pulled off quite smartly.
That evening was spent checking the bike. The wheel bearings and headset were all fine and only adjustment was required to the front and rear brakes. The paintwork was unmarked, there was something light rusting on the chrome carrier and I was pleased to find that the wheel rims were not chrome but an attractive silver finish, probably alloy. I believe the bikes are of Chinese origin but they appear to be made to a very acceptable standard.
It was the next day before we ventured out. The cycle was transported in the back of our Volvo 340 (it just fits with the rear seat down) to the nearest industrial estate which was quiet on a Sunday afternoon.
I tried the bike first. Pushing off on one pedal and holding the throttle full on the motor kicked in almost immediately and then I could forget about pedalling as the motor provided a good strong pull. In fact, it was just as the vendor had described, virtually an electric moped. There was no feeling of danger; the bike accelerated meaningfully but never was there any fear of accelerating too quickly. Releasing the throttle put the bike back to freewheeling. The brakes were not very powerful, there was no possibility of an emergency stop but were just about adequate.
My wife was next to try the machine. In fact the only time that I could get her off it as she whizzed backwards and forwards was when she fell off it! She was trying to turn in the road, I could do it under full pedal control, but my wife attempted to foot it round - just imagine a child trying to walk with a bicycle between their legs and you get the picture. Over they both went! Fortunately the bike was undamaged! We stayed out for about an hour and it was great fun until it became chilly. On our return the battery was put on charge and took about four hours (total charge from flat is about 8 hours). This would seem to indicate the possibility of almost two hours riding from a fully charged battery.
Just last weekend my wife was keen to get out again. I had, meanwhile, been persuaded to buy a bicycle so that I could accompany her. We headed, early morning, for the Mumbles cycle path. If you don't know the area, there is a cycle path right along the seafront between Swansea and the Gower, in South Wales.
I had fitted a computer, to my bike, to monitor our progress. We set off eagerly with me in the lead position. At just 1.3 miles we had our first break. Well, I hadn't ridden a bike for 30 years! We continued with several rest stops. I had forgotten that even a 1 in 240 gradient is hard work on a bike. I had also forgotten that it helps to speed downhill to make progress up the next one! Meanwhile I occasionally caught the buzz, behind me, of the Powabyke. In fact one rude chap cut my wife up when joining from another cyclepath, forcing her to brake. However, she was not to be outdone and instantly opened the twistgrip throttle and accelerated past him!
We covered almost eight miles. I was exhausted and my wife was refreshed, commenting how pleasant it was to cycle alongside the coast - I didn't get chance to see it I was too busy trying to keep the legs going round!
The battery was once more charged and was full in 3 hours, again suggesting that a 24 mile fairly flat run was possible. I would mention, though, that there were no real gradients and my wife was not using constant power. We are keenly looking forward to the Easter break.
Answers to some FAQs (from our experience)
Note that you don't need road tax, insurance, MOT or crash helmet. They can also be ridden from the age of 14 and they can legally be used on cyclepaths. There are, though, some restrictions; there is a limit on the power of motor which can be fitted and the motor must cut out at 15mph, although you can of course pedal faster if you wish. I think there is also a restriction on the weight of machine allowed. There is also a move (2003) to make it law that new ones can only use motor power whilst you are pedalling ie motor assisted rather then motor driven - I think this is the law in the Netherlands, too.
The most important question -
does it work, do I have to pedal?
Is the motor
Is the bike
What is the
Can the bike be
used as a normal bike?
Are there any
In fact Chris Blount has emailed to say that he carries two Powabykes on a towbar mounted rack from Halfords and our own solution, after being quoted £180, was found locally for £35. Yes, we found a homemade, towbar mounted, removable, wheel support rack just 10 minutes way. It had been made to carry a small scrambler bike and took the Powabyke perfectly. The only slight problem is that it is very heavy - even the mounting plate, which remains attached to the towbar is heavy. I would suggest that you check the maximum carrying capacity of any cycle carrier before purchasing. To some extent this is limited by the noseweight allowed on your towbar and this varies from car to car.
[ELECTRIC BIKE}[VELOSOLEX] [OLD BIKE] [CYCLEMASTER]