By Richard Peace
Saturday, 30 March 2019
Cycling UK’s e-bike expert Richard Peace takes a look at electric bikes at The London Bike Show 2019.
Bike commuting is big in London, so it’s not really surprising that this year’s London Bike Show at Excel, running from 29 – 31 March, gives the public the chance to try out a wide of range commuting, road and leisure style e-bikes.
In particular it’s noticeable that folding e-bikes were at the forefront when I visited the show on the Friday. Gocycle have chosen the show to launch their fully folding GX model, which hinges in the middle of the monocoque style frame. It’s a unique piece of innovative design with practical features like side-mounting ‘pitstop’ wheels and a fully enclosed drivetrain and a host of optional accessories including integrated lighting, front and rear luggage racks and mudguards. It has a removable, in-frame battery and the company’s own design of front hub motor.
The Brompton Electric appeared last year in relatively small numbers but it now appears the bike is being rolled out to a much bigger audience with a steady supply of the electric version of one of the UK’s most famous exports appearing on the test track. You still get one of the quickest and most compact folding bikes in the world, as their electric version folds to more or less the same dimensions as the non-electric. Like the GoCycle GX it uses a front hub motor but Brompton have cleverly mounted the battery on the front where the luggage bag sits, making it easily removable for added portability (though at the sacrifice of some luggage space).
For a real lightweight, low maintenance option the Hummingbird Electric is also worth a look, not least because Hummingbird claim to be the lightest folding bikes in the world. Hummingbird have neatly sidestepped the complexity of adding wire runs to folding bikes by using a Zehus ‘all in one’ rear hub, which contains all the elements needed to power the bike, including the battery. The claimed weight is an incredible 10.3kg.
There were also plenty of sleek and desirable urban e-bikes (this being London, cycling has a large element of looking fashionable about it – and why not), plus some designs that looked oh so practical.
Headline news was Ribble’s launch of four lightweight electric bikes. As you would expect from a company known for quality but value-for-money racing bikes, drop handlebar models were present in three out of the four models launched, the Endurance Sle and the CGR Ale (Road and Trail options) with the flat bar Hybrid Ale completing the range. The rear hub motor and in-frame batteries common to all models are very discreet and, allied with a single push button power control on top of the top tube, it’s very hard to tell these are electric bikes. Similar style models were on display from the likes of Orbed.