Including using TRAINS!
e-bikes give you the option of choosing the quietest and most pleasant routes around towns, regardless of the hills, and enable you to travel longer distances for leisure rides. Use your local council cycle map to discover these routes, ask a friend who cycles regularly to show you some or book a session with a local cycle trainer ie to show you a good commuter route to your workplace.
For local journeys and commuting ask if any members of your local cycle campaign group Cyclesheffield can recommend or show you routes. Both local and longer routes can be found on Sheffield Cycle Routes and Resources , or check out the local Cycling UK group.
Sheffield now has a https://su3a.org.uk/u3a_groups/cycling-ebikes/ you could join for rides.
Both for local route options and also for planning longer adventures see the Sustrans network’s excellent new OS based collaboration national cycle routes map , and try an AA style route planner like Cycle Streets for planning and navigating journeys near and far, or check out Google’s bicycle mapping and cycle planning.
A further smartphone based option is an annual £23.99 ish subscription for the Ordnance Survey UK mapping, where you will find the major Sustrans cycle routes clearly marked on the Explorer series.
The Trans Pennine Trail has adopted a policy that welcomes e-bikes and is encouraging businesses alongside the trail to offer charging facilities.
See the steelvalleyproject cycle-routes for interesting varied terrain routes around NW Sheffield.
Distance is no barrier – I recently met a 70 yr old who had just cycled from Lands End to John o’ Groats in less than 2 weeks using an everyday e-bike with no problem.
Trains: Widen your range, go all Inter-City, or give yourself a head start on a day ride by putting your bike on a train. It’s free, but check on the National rail website whether the train operator you will be using requires you to book a bike space ahead or not.
(Choose your train, click on ‘details’ at the end of the line of text for that train, and then on the cycle symbol to find out the cycle and booking policy for that particular train.)
Booking bikes on trains: This is a free service on all longer distance trains, and there are usually 2 or maybe 3 spaces. Once you’ve checked the situation for the service you want on the National Rail website, you can either go to a station and book your bike on, or you can use the same system as them and do it yourself!
To do so go to any of the Train Operating Companies (TOC’s) that offer online cycle booking, select your journey and seat, then click the cycle booking option. If a cycle space isn’t available the spaces are already booked up and you need to try another train time and repeat.
You can book any train journey on any TOC, but not all offer an online cycle space booking function. Some offer phone booking, but that means a delay between you calling and then making a train/seat booking, which is awkward – the online option means you know immediately whether there is a cycle space to match your intended booking.
I use Hull Trains, and I opened a free account so I have a record of bookings – very useful if you’ve booked well ahead and forgotten details, or need to make a claim for a late/cancelled train etc.
Note that Scotrail tends to be more clued up re bikes (many trains have 6 spaces).
Note: e-bikes are relatively heavy, some are quite long, and there is a fashion for chunky tyres and also wider handlebars. All this means it can be awkward to get some e-bikes into the often meagre bike spaces on some trains, and be aware of trains where you have to hang your bike up by its front wheel on a hook ie: Cross Country (XC) voyagers, Class 800 trains in use on LNER, Great Western Railway (GWR), Hull Trains, some Transpennine trains (TPEX) and coming soon to East Midlands Railway.(EMR)
Although the Conditions of Carriage prohibit motorised two-wheelers, this refers to fossil-fuel powered bicycles that are an obvious safety hazard on a train, not to e-bikes.
- You can reduce the weight by taking the battery off the frame before hanging it.
- You may want to take a simple cable lock along to lock your bike to something/the wheels together so you feel confident to leave it unattended. (Provided it is not blocking someone else’s bike in said meagre space!)
Alert: Don’t even think about charging your bike on a train – the electrics wont cope!
All in all, something to think about if you are considering any significant train based usage and so hoiking the bike about and up on to hooks, in which case you may look for a more diminutive or even a folding model, as these are universally allowed.
(Or maybe book ahead for assistance with your bike from train staff??)
Note: You may have seen the recent reports about lithium batteries catching fire in the press, making train companies nervous re carrying them. This is due to an uplift in the number of occasional lithium battery fires of late in e-scooters. This is not however an issue for good quality e-bikes.