A hymn in praise of a wonderful invention – the simple addition of battery power for the cyclist on the move – the e-bike.

“Ah, but it’s not real cycling”, say the sceptics. “Ah, but it is“, I say.

I have ridden a two wheeler since I was a youngster, not with any pretensions to be a ‘cyclist’, but because it was a pleasant way to get around and see the countryside. Not for me the figure-clinging lycra and drop handlebars (my less than sylph-like figure unable to do the designs or the pose justice), but I always wear hi-viz and a helmet* unlike so many who call themselves ‘cyclists’.

Nearly three years ago I added a new bike to my stable of one ‘normal’ bike, so that I was now the proud possessor of two meticulously maintained bikes – one non-electric, and one electric.

I chose the electric one very carefully after copious amounts of research – affordability, reputation, ease-of-use, weight etc – and landed on a British-built Ribble AL-E as being the one which ticked the most boxes. 3 years on I can confirm it was a good choice, with just a few consumable items needing replacement along the way. My enjoyment is undoubtedly enhanced by a visit to Velo Culture on Team Valley, Gateshead, who ‘fitted’ the bike to my size and shape – totally worth the time and modest investment, and a hearty recommendation for anyone riding any sort of bike.

The bike looks like a normal bike and weighs just over 14kg, which means it’s easy to lift in and out of the car (not the case with most electric bikes).

And back to the title of this piece….in case you don’t know, you still have to pedal the bike as normal. It has three settings when you choose to utilise the battery power, basically low, medium and high which can be changed when riding along to suit the terrain. As a bonus, and to save the battery, you can ride it like a normal bike with the battery assistance turned off – it’s your choice.

In normal conditions, where I might set the assistance to ‘low’ for most of the time, I average about 80 miles’ worth of cycling before needing to recharge the battery. Recharging takes a couple of hours connected to a standard 3-pin wall socket.

Yes, I still have to work when cycling and particularly going uphill, but I no longer need to labour uphill, as I have a friendly electric hand in the small of my back to take the unnecessary sweat out of it.

You can buy e-bikes which look like racing bikes, or gravel bikes, or multi-terrain bikes, so you’ll always have to bike for the job.

  • For the reason why I wear a helmet, please look back at my February 2020 entry On The Rocks”