Ever since my foray into e-bike blogging started in 2017, I have wanted to write a listicle – to distil everything that I’ve learned during my experiment into bitesize chunks that you can take away with you on your own e-bike journey.
The result are these invaluable nuggets of knowledge that I wouldn’t have known had I not decided to spread my wings into the e-bike life. So, these are the ten things I’ve learned from riding Nellie, a Bosch-powered Scott E-Sub Tour.
1. Going uphill can be fun too
On an e-bike the road is flatter and the phrase “blowing out of your arse” is for other people. With careful management of gears, boost and effort, even long steep ascents can be achieved with the aplomb of a Victorian lady who used to ‘glow’ rather than ‘sweat buckets’.
2. There might be something in the whole ‘bike fitting’ malarkey after all
I’m not sure what ‘saddle fore and aft’ might be or how it differs from ‘saddle level’ and I don’t have a clue how the hood position might affect ride comfort but I do know that Nelly has a lot of adjustable parts. I have tinkered with a few but, as with finding the optimal position going downhill and the best coffee to order when out on a ride, I think I need the input of a cycling expert.
3. E-bike technology has yet to come into its own
Riding an e-bike is fun; getting it into cars, onto trains or up on the bike rack in the garage less so. As a matter of priority, dear e-bike designers, please do something about the weight! (in fact that's just started to happen, with the launch of various e-road bikes weighing as little as 11kg last year).
4. E-bikes are a route to better physical and mental health
Whether it’s a short-term injury or a long term, limiting condition or disability that prevents you taking up pedal-only cycling – or, like me, getting back to it – e-bikes are a life-saver. As an ‘expert by experience’ I know the barriers (real and imagined) to getting and staying involved in physical activity and the e-bike busts so many of them. However, they need to be lighter.
5. The Levellers had a point
Not the Brighton-based neo-Folk Band who were such a hit at Glasto in 1994, of course, but the 17th century radical political movement who espoused equality of opportunity and had a really cool name.
E-bikes create ‘level playing fields’ and allow people of very different abilities to ride together. Don’t take my word for it, check out this piece by a woman whose husband survived a heart attack and couldn’t exercise outdoors. E-bikes, bought as a Golden wedding anniversary present, meant the couple now get out and about regularly and join their children and grandchildren on bike rides.
6. Black is the new black
Nellie is beautiful. She’s like a stealth pushbike. Why anyone builds bicycles in any other colour I do not know.
7. The car really is king
But not like a King Arthur kind of king, more like the Jonathan King kind; the kind which had a spurious attraction a couple of decades back but whose true nature is poisonous and destructive. Unlike the singer/producer/child abuser, the car is still with us, still clogging up the streets, still ruining children’s lives, and stealing their futures.
8. Not all drivers by sociopathic cyclist haters
This was a revelation to a man who follows a lot of cycling folk on Twitter, but when I shared it with a ‘proper cyclist’ his philosophical response was: “No. Not all of them. But some are.
“Some car drivers are considerate and some are just complete morons. Some drivers start off being careful but then lose patience and, having slowed down to follow you around a couple of corners then hare past you on a straight and squeeze you into the gutter as – highly predictably – traffic comes the other way. You can really get to hating motorists, but then again I hate certain cyclists, so it evens out I suppose.”
9. Cycling is for the summertime
Sorry. I know we’re supposed to go out there, rain or shine, but let me quote a tweet from Tom Staniford of Cycle Engage UK – a ‘proper cyclist’ – who on Christmas Eve said, “long intervals on the turbo today as I can’t summon the enthusiasm for spending 40 minutes of my day getting dressed/undressed in winter gear.” That.
10. An e-bike is for Christmas, for New Year and for life
If you’re short of a resolution for next year, make it this; “I will get myself an e-bike and let it change my life”. Nellie changed mine. I’m lighter, fitter, more active and my wellbeing is firmly on the up. Try it.