We wandered over to picturesque Milton Keynes yesterday to have a nose around Icebike*, which is the trade show for UK distributor Madison. Madison are the UK distirbutors for Shimano, and they have three bike brands – Ridgeback, Adventure and Saracen – with e-bikes in the range. Not surprisingly, the Shimano STEPS system is very much in evidence. Let's have a look at the bikes.
Adventure Road Tour £2,249
Adventure is Madison's value bike brand and although the Road Tour, at £2,249, isn't exactly cheap it is the cheapest of the e-bikes that were on display. Like the others from Ridgeback and Saracen it's sporting the Shimano STEPS city motor and it uses the frame-mounted battery, with the frame built up behind the motor to give the bike a slightly more integrated look. The motor is angled to fall in line with the down tube as well. It's a neat frame, with internal cable routing giving the bike a clean look.
The bike gets full mudguards, and a Shimano Acera 9-speed drivetrain, with hydraulic disc brakes. The frame has rack mounts too for lugging your shopping or office gear around town.
The Shimano STEPS mid motor has been around a while now, and it's an excellent system for city riding. The 400Wh frame-mounted battery used here gives a good range for general urban use, or even longer leisure rides.
The bike is available as a diamond frame, and also in a low-step version.
Ridgeback Electron+ (£2,399) and Electron Di2 (£2,599)
The Electron is a traditional low-step city bike with the addition of a Shimano mid motor. Switching to a rack-mounted battery allows the step-through to be much lower. And, of course, means you get a rack as standard.
The main difference between the two bikes is the gearing. The Electron+ gets an 8-speed Shimano Alfine hub. The Electron Di2 gets the slightly cheaper Nexus hub, but with a Di2 controller for electronic gear changing. That means that the gear ratio gets displayed on the head unit, and even means you can get the bike to auto-shift between gears so it's always picking the right ratio for you.
Both bikes come with full mudguards, integrated lighting and good quality Schwalbe Energiser Plus tyres. There's the rack, too, and a chainguard to stop your work trousers getting mucky.
Saracen Juiced £2,699
The Juiced is actually designed for urban use: "Juiced is a bike for your commute but has our trail bike DNA running all the way through it", say Saracen. That's never more obvious than when you've stuck a pair of Continental trail tyres on it instead of the big-chamber Maxxis Re-Fuse slicks it comes with. It looks ready to take on some technical riding.
The bike gets a Shimano Deore/SLX transmission and hydraulic disc brakes, as well as mountain bike finishing kit such as a wide 740mm handlebar and lock-on grips. It's got a Suntour Axon XC fork with 100mm of travel up front, certainly enough to handle some off-roading if you ever tire of the commute. There's no city-friendly mudguards or chainguard here, it's more of an urban mountain bike. It's an interesting machine, and Saracen aren't the only ones that are looking at the faster commuting market, people who'd gravitate towards a sporty hybrid and are looking for something a bit, well, cooler.
Ridgeback E-Flight (£2,499) and E-Flight Di2 (£2,799)
A staple bike among those fast commuters is the Ridgeback Flight, and now Ridgeback are offering an electric version with the STEPS mid motor. Both bikes get a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub but the Di2 version scores electronic shifting; Other than that, the bikes are very similar.
Integrated lighting is included in the form of Supernova's E3 system: they're excellent lights. The front light mounts on a specially-designed stem so it's well out of the way.
The rear is mounted to the seatpost; there's a rack/mudguard mountable version of this light too but here there's no rack, or 'guards. That might make changing the seat height a bit of a faff but you'll probably only need to do that once, unless you're sharing.
Light & Motion Nip and Tuck
A quick mention to finish of Light and Motion's new e-bike lights, the Nip and Tuck. The Nip is the front light and there's a few mounting options, including, here, extended bolts out of the front stem.
The bracket uses a simple ball and socket joint to angle the light. It's pretty neat.
The rear light uses a similar fixing and attaches to your saddle rails. There's enough room left over for a seatpack too, if you like to use one. The light tucks right under the back of the saddle, hence the name.
Like other Light & Motion lights you get orange side visibility indicators too, to help you get seen at night.
* There's no footnote, that's just what it's called. Icebike*.