If you’re into riding you will have seen the almost exponential growth in ebikes. Not just on commutes but on technical and twisty trails. These machines have been providing a boost, an assisted effort to turning the cranks, through popular systems from the people at Bosch and Shimano to name a few. And now they have upped the ante by adding real technical capability, so that you can have a bike, like Specialized’s Kenevo SL, that marries near downhill bike descending performance with your own, personal, in-built uplift.
With our Bike Van Co vehicles we have accommodated this surge in popularity of ebikes with charging points. In the rear of the Ford we have four sockets available, the VW provides two, linked to the leisure battery via an invertor, so that you can charge as you transfer between destinations.
eBikes can be a polarising topic, however there is little doubt that they are here to stay. An ebike can be considered as a tool for a very specific purpose; often that means allowing people to venture out on the trails when that might have been considered impossible due to an injury, or the daunting prospect of building enough fitness to enjoy riding with your super keen friends. eBikes have allowed more people to get back into biking or to get back out on their bike. By getting on a slightly different one.
eBikes have also allowed families to have more adventures together, whether that is by levelling the pedal power playing field or towing younger kids back to the top of the trailhead. I saw plenty of parents maximise their precious time out on their bikes by adopting assisted power, meaning they at least doubled the distance in the same amount of riding time as me on my acoustic, or analogue, bike. And for those into the gravity nature of modern MTB, that meant more runs.
There is a growing group of riders who have an ebike as part of a larger bike quiver. Fair play, but with prices starting at £7,400 for the base level model of the aforementioned Kenevo SL, you’d better have either deep pockets to join them or full on commitment to the cause.
I was lucky enough to try the Kenevo SL at the Ace Bicycles Monmouth demo day based at Pedalabikeaway. This was my first ebike excursion and actually a trip I had been avoiding to be honest because I was worried as to how impressed I’d be and how much I’d want one!
I had two real takeaways. The first was that you have to adapt your riding style to get the best out of the motor. I expected to leave the bike in a big old gear and use the extra battery power to help grind away without down shifting. This is not how to climb on an ebike. As soon as I clicked down and spun in circles the bike lept forward, cadence was rewarded. And with eco through trail and into boost modes to choose from you never ran out of power.
The second, unexpected factor was the sheer descending capability. The bike could just hold a high line effortlessly. This could have been down to several factors, this bike was rocking some seriously good suspension from Fox, but the extra weight slung low in the bottom bracket just seemed to help it track across off camber sections with ease. It stayed on line.
So as an addition to my bike quiver (quiver current value: 1 bike) then it would be great. It would work for me as it would allow me to enjoy riding with Kate a bit more rather than averaging about 50 metres behind all the way round. I might even be able to chance a conversation on the climbs and not keel over.
I haven’t tried a full fat ebike, as opposed to the superlight version, and I’m not sure that would suit my requirements as much. It seems to me riding an ebike in a group when others aren’t requires real self control or as with me, a lack of fitness.
My conclusion then is that I would love an ebike, I’m target audience especially married to a racer but I have two worries to match those benefits. Maybe I want one because I know the effort required in getting fitter. But getting fitter should be the goal while I am still just about physically capable. And two, if the whole crew wants an ebike that would require several mortgages.
But at least the vans are future-proofed, just in case.