Outdoor Focus Spring 2019 - Page 4

www.jonsparks.zenfolio.com THE SCEPTICS GUIDE TO E-BIKES Jon Sparks wonders whether an e-bike is truly a quantum leap forward G uild member David Lintern, editor of Outdoor Enthusiast (OE), fi rst approached me to write about e-bikes in summer 2017. I met a representative of Cube Bikes at the Cycle Show that September. I fi rst got my hands on an actual bike from Cube exactly ten months later. Behind that bald outline lies something of a saga. By the time the bike fi nally arrived, I’d also acquired a second feature commission, this time for Totally Active. I’d also had my fi rst ride on an e-bike. It wasn’t a great fi rst impression, but then it was a cheap conversion, not designed from scratch as an e-bike. It was also, as a little research revealed, not legal (see THE RULES). That wasn’t all that had changed. Something was aff ecting my ability to climb hills, whether on a bike or on foot. It turned out that my haemoglobin was low. This was subsequently traced to a lymphoma. At time of writing treatment is going well and haemoglobin back in the normal range. Back then, it was a mystery, but the e-bike’s long- delayed arrival looked remarkably timely. The bike in question: Cube Stereo Hybrid Pro > 4 Outdoor focus | spring 2019 >>>> ARRIVAL OF THE CUBE Extracting the bike from its box, I was immediately struck by its sheer weight: around 23kg with battery. A comparable bike without a motor is about 10kg lighter. A 23kg bike might be fi ne around Amsterdam, but for a mountain bike it seemed morbidly obese. Even lifting it onto the workstand to tinker with the gears was a struggle. At this stage I was far from convinced I was going to enjoy riding this beast but, right from the fi rst outing, I began to revise my expectations. Even on the streets of Garstang I could feel what ‘e-assist’ means. If I pressed on the pedals, the bike responded, not taking over but sharing the workload. If I stopped pedalling, the eff ect was instant, almost as if I’d put the brakes on. Spinning it up to 25kph wasn’t too hard but, above that threshold, as e-assist cut out, maintaining speed became dramatically harder. Still cautious, my fi rst proper ‘mountain’ ride was on the classic easy trails around Moor Divock, overlooking Ullswater. The climbs still had me