On Bicycles

First published 5th October 2021

 You may have read my earlier post on my motorcycling, and my decision to buy a NIU UQI GT Pro. If you have you will have noticed that most of my motorcycling journeys are less than 15 miles. Ha! You say ‘Ride a bicycle for those. You are lazy. Get fit!’

So why an e-moped as opposed to a bicycle or electric bike?
Good question.

I am proud to be a Cyclist. I have always been a cyclist. I am a lifelong member of The Cyclists’ Touring Club (or Cycling UK as the fashion now disctates). I am a member of Audax UK and YACF. I own several bicycles (and a tricycle in a state of disrepair).

Personal circumstances dictate that I can no longer tour by bicycle or take part in Audax events – although I did volunteer at a control for the last London-Edinburgh-London event. I now only do shorter rides lasting half a day or less. I have lost most of my fitness for cycling, and frankly, the local roads are boring!

If I were to attempt to do the ‘motorbike journeys’ by bicycle I would – I am sure – fall out of love with my bicycles. The road to the right degree of fitness would be long, arduous and unforgiving – I would not do it. This says more about me than it does about cycling – remember I am not a young man any more.

Get an electric bicycle – you say.
Good point, why not?

There are two routes into the world of electric bikes – buy a new one or convert an existing bike.

Electric bicycles, e-bikes,  are expensive. Yes, cheap ones are available, but they are cheap for a reason – cheap bike components, and a cheap battery underpowering a cheap motor. Cheaper ebikes are the modern equivalent of The Bike Shaped Object of recent years – they will die in the back of garages and sheds all over the land.

EBike conversions are available, and an attractive alternative. But again they are not as cheap as might be expected. As I write this they are in short supply if required as a kit. I am doubtful about the suitability of my chosen donor as a suitable candidate for electron power using the available kits (it’s a 1970s Raleigh frame, much messed around with) and I don’t trust that after-sales advice would be available. Electrifying a bike from components seems to be minefield of mismatched parts and dubious legality.

I am not a snob when it comes to ebikes. Electric bikes have opened up cycling to a whole new population of riders and kept many older people on two wheels. I even had an electric kit at one time – go Google the Sinclair Zeta ! It was not a success.

Electric bicycles have their place in the pantheon of personal transport, but it’s not a road I want to travel