Not everyone needs or wants an e-bike just to do everyday utility duties. An increasing number of manufacturers are offering much lighter weight Road bikes (‘racing’) and Gravel bikes (road+off road capable) with drop handlebars, or more upright seated Urban and fast flat handlebar Commute bikes.
These bikes weigh around 11 – 18kg or so in total, rather than the 20 – 25kg of full fat e-bikes. They are kitted out with differing contact points (saddles/handlebars etc) and different gears, wheels and tyres to suit their purpose – be that fast road use, exploring tracks and bridleways or urban/commuter use respectively.
These lighter models offer you the possibility of choosing to cycle with low levels of assistance or just ‘as and when needed’ rather than dialling in frequent and/or meatier assistance as you are likely to do on a heavier e-bike. Thus they achieve greater assisted range than you might expect from their smaller, lighter batteries.
Most presently use either the innovative Fazua Evation removable ‘mid drive’ motor and battery system, or slightly (1kg) lighter but less powerful Mahle Ebikemotion X35 fixed battery with a rear wheel ‘hub drive’ system.
Early reviews of the Ebikemotion X35 M1 hub drive, clarifying its pros and cons here , of the Fazua system here , the Fazua Black Pepper update, and the very latest ride-50 system , and a good comparison of the original systems here
Examples employing the Mid drive Fazua system are around 16 kg all up – so only 11-12kg ish if you opt to use it without the removable motor and battery. Models like the great value Boardman adv-8.9e road/gravel and hyb-8.9e hybrid look to be pretty multi purpose, having fittings for mudguards, a luggage rack, have sturdy tyres, a good gear range and a removable battery for easy charging or using a second one to extend your range.
Examples employing the Mahle Ebikemotion X35 drive system include the Orbea Gain range, the cannondale treadwell neo and the very high value ribblecycles range, offered in both Road and ? touring suitable Gravel bike and hybrid versions, including the town friendly step-through and the great value, comfy looking and fully kitted out Urban E .
Note however that on the ebikemotion system the main battery is not removable. The charger is small and compact so it’s good to take with you, but on the other hand you’ll need to be somewhere where you can plug the whole bike in as you can’t remove the battery and take it inside to charge.
Either way, with their smaller, lighter motors and batteries and absence of motor ‘drag’ present on mid motors when the motor is off, these systems can more easily be ridden without power, or with lower levels of assistance, extending the range per charge.
Such bikes will suit recreational riders looking to extend their mileage/time out on the bike. They may also better suit older experienced cyclists looking for less overall weight and a judicious level of assistance as and when required, or even those who prefer to be a little covert about their use of an electrically assisted bike!
Range wise, a local user reckons to comfortably get around 55 miles out of his Ebikemotion powered Orbea road bike on a hilly Derbyshire outing. (Derbyshire rides out from Sheffield and back consistently involve a 1000ft of ascent for every 10 linear miles travelled!)
For a good example of a longer ride on this type of e-bike see Laura’s e-bike LeJog , incl a 120 mile day in 45mph headwinds!
Another local rider notes that the same Ebikemotion system on the aforementioned Cannondale Treadwell Neo makes for a nice light leisure oriented e-bike that feels great to ride on moderate terrain with assistance on or off. She isn’t a regular rider, and finds she is short of the level of support she needs on more significant hills.
Whilst great for leisure or maybe commute duties, these systems would make for hard work as serious luggage toting utility bikes around Sheffield, where a mid drive will be more suitable.
Specialized also have a very well reviewed range of lighter e-bikes – in both full fat ‘Turbo’ form, and lightweight ½ fat ‘Turbo SL’ iteration. specialized electric-active-bikes – not cheap but highly developed and often billed as the most intelligent and easy feeling e-bike to bomb around on.