The bike recently took first place at the Interbike Hill Climb Challenge, a third of a mile sprint up a six per cent gradient hill. Fortune powered in front of professional riders to secure a decisive win in the first of an annual competition especially created for electric assist bikes. The race was sponsored by the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA).
It really is a simple e-bike, and while I could go on about the frame (aluminium), and the weight (very light), the experience of using this bike for a few days is more interesting. While it feels like a less high-tech product than others in this list (no gears; a shorter battery life of 30 miles; two modes not three), it basically retails at half the price as those competitors – and I certainly didn't find it to be half as good.
The F1-trained engineers at William Advanced Engineering assisted with the electrical parts and the result is a 250W motor that provides pedal assistance via the front hub – which is a highly unusual approach – drawing power from a 300Wh battery pack that sits in a bag and goes on the front where the Brompton luggage rack would normally sit. You can also opt for a larger bag that holds both the battery and your spare suit or laptop or whatever.
Whether the terrain is flat or hilly impacts the distance you can travel, as does the weight of the bike, your own weight, the gearing available on the bike, and how much juice you give it. We suggest that a distance of 10 to 20 miles is a realistic expectation. Of course, if you're prepared to do at least some pedaling, you can extend that dramatically.
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This bike is designed for hauling. The Yuba Spicy Curry has a combined capacity of 500lbs (200lbs on the front including rider, and 300lbs of passengers or cargo on the back). To help move this weight, you’d expect a decent motor, and the Bosch Performance Line CX delivers. Normally only found on mountain bikes, the 75Nm of torque makes light work of hills, even with the heavy load.
The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots", in which e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.