above: Spot the difference? Colnago's E64 is part of the new generation of performance road e-bikes
For the first time ever I have considered getting a electric car. Three years ago my neighbour got one and I thought nothing of it. I am a petrolhead and thought a fast estate was the coolest thing a cyclist could have...
I certainly didn't want an e-car myself, but thats now changed... progress is rampant and there are some seriously cool cars coming to the market.
All of which has made me reconsider the e-bike market, which is still very nascent in the UK, but is growing and if it follows our European cousins it will be a substantial part of the business within a decade.
There are probably 3 main cohorts; urban riders looking for electric city bikes as commuters to work, e-MTBs which provide assistance on the uphill so you can spend more time and effort on the downhill, and injured/older riders wanting a bike for excercise and the added boost/confidence of electric assistance when needed.
below: Battery technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, the latest tech integrates sleekly into a traditionally styled frameset
In fact Liam, our Operations Director, is a great example of this. He has a Parlee gravel bike and bought his wife an e-MTB and they go out together in the weekends in his house in Suffolk. A solitary ride becomes some bonding time (not saying that's always a good thing mind!).
The newest cohort appears to be riders looking for a normal road bike, but with electrical assistance - the Colnago E64 is a great example of this. It basically looks like a C64. This has of course provoked a lot of rage in bike forums; apparently its ok to have an e-bike but it needs to look different - and pretending to be a normal road bike is somehow cheating. I must admit I dont get this argument...
Recently I was on a group ride and there was a 65 year old man with us - he was on an e-road bike and we did a 150km ride with 1700m of climbing. It was the classic "start off slow and then ramp up the pace on the return leg". The chap was with us the entire way; I assume he modified the assistance level based on the effort/gradient and speed. And I thought it was a fantastic invention - less than 3 years ago his riding options would have been very different but now he can stay with the club. The social aspect of cycling mixed with the sense of escape and adventure is what makes cycling alluring - why should we ban technology which opens this up to others?
below: Specialized's Turbo Creo is at the cutting edge of new e-bike technology
There is another scenario I can see. I have often gone on holiday in a cycling-rich area and planned a ride, but you aren't there long enough, or you need to be back by a certain time for family commitments and you want to cram in as many cols as possible. An e-bike may mean you can do an extra col, or get through the 30km valley floor quicker onto the next section. What people forget about e-bikes is they are not motorbikes; you still need to work... You go up the Galibier pedalling full gas and with assistance and you will still be shagged at the top; you will still have been working at tempo/sweetspot/threshold all the way - it's not a free ride by any means.
I have so many mechanical bikes on my wishlist that it's hard to fit an e-bike into the permanent stable! But I'm glad to have one on rotation, and I think they will be a fantastic purchase for many. There is also the tantalising thought that whilst e-bikes may suit older riders who used to have a normal bike, they may also be an easy first step for newcomers who are scared of all the stories of pain and suffering. And after a year or two on a e-bike they love the sport so much they get a mechanical bike as well; and surely thats a win for us all?
For a closer look at the current e-bike landscape, including the tech and individual models, check out our overview article here
e-Bikes are rapidly gaining popularity for a wide range of cyclists. This is our central hub for information on the tech, the latest models and the news from the e-bike world.Read more
Colnago have launched their first e-bike, the E64, and it's an intriguing combination of C64 design and power assist tech.Read more
The new Specialized Turbo Creo SL is an e-bike aimed at serious roadies. We take a closer look at the tech, and the models available.Read more