Pinnacle, the bike brand of Evans Cycles, are dipping their toe into the e-bike waters this year. They've decided to start with a city bike based on their popular Lithium hybrid, and they've put together a great value, well-specced city bike with a powerful motor that rides very well.
Finished in a matt blue powder coat with full-length colour-matched mudguards, the Lithium Ion is a very nice-looking machine and practical for city riding. There's no suspension front or rear; Pinnacle have instead gone for a bigger tyre, the excellent Schwalbe Big Ben with a 50mm carcass to take the sting out of neglected city streets. That's as big as you'll fit under the mudguards but there's room for a bigger mountain bike tyre if you remove them.
The Lithium Ion is designed to be an all-purpose machine, and it's well supplied with mounts for fitting front and rear racks as well as the supplied mudguards. The chainstay also has a standard kickstand mount, although it's odd that Pinnacle don't provide one: it's pretty much the only city bike we've ever had that doesn't come with a kickstand as part of the package. You don't get lights plumbed into the electrics here either, so you'll need to add your own after dark.
Shimano STEPS is a good mid-motor option
Shimano's STEPS motor is well-established now as a reliable alternative to the more abundant Bosch system. You get 50Nm of extra push from the mid motor and a 400Wh battery that will give a claimed 100km of range, although in normal use it's somewhere around half that. Either way, plenty for most people's day-to-day city riding: if your commute is near the 5-mile average you'll probably only need to charge the Pinnacle a maxiumum of twice a week.
Pinnacle have chose a 10-speed derailleur transmission for the Lithium Ion, again from Shimano. You get an SLX rear mech with a Deore Rapidfire shifter, and the 11-36T cassette gives a good spread of gears for city and urban riding. The tyres we've covered: they're running on decent city wheels with Alex FR-30 rims and Novatec disc hubs. The brakes are Shimano's M446 hydraulic discs, with a 180mm rotor at the front for plenty of stopping power.
SLX gearing is good quality and will last
Aside from the frame sizing and geometry (we have a small women's frame in for testing) the only difference between the men's and women's spec is the saddle.
Coralie says: The bike felt fantastic to ride. The brakes were really good, so it always felt safe going down steep hills. Changing gear was really smooth and easy and covered a good range of high and low, there was no loss of power between gear changes either. Other highlights were the grippy tyres and the comfortable grips. The ride position was a bit racier than my usual bike; the bars are lower in relation to the saddle, and that causes you to lean a bit more forwards. However I soon got used to this.
The Shimano motor system works really well. It kicks in quickly but doesn't push you further forward than you wanted, stopping as soon as you stop pedalling. Sometimes if your pedalling style is a bit uneven it has a slight effect of a sort of pulsing of the motor where it pushes forward as you push the pedal harder, then cuts out during the part of the pedal push which isn't so strong. However this was very mild, and was overcome by smoothing out my pedalling action!
The smaller STEPS display sill gives plenty of information
The choice of levels of assist was useful. In high power it was initially a bit deceptive when approaching hills, as I'd feel so powerful that I might attempt a hill in a much higher gear than was appropriate and then could still have a fair work out going up. When reaching top assist speed, it made the bike feel really heavy as the motor cut out, but this only emphasises how much work it it's doing for you.
I only had to charge the Pinnacle once a week, using the bike around 4 times per week. It didn't get below one bar of battery power. I very much enjoyed riding the bike, and found it drastically improved my journey time on the way home up the hill. I still found that the combination of bad weather and the logistics of getting the kids to school by car was still enough to put me off cycling to work on several occasions: as the bike is quite heavy I didn't want to attempt putting it on a car bike-rack. But it's a great way of easily getting about town and it made the commute to work and back so much easier.
Rigid fork and colour-matched mudguards make it a good-looking bike
Becky says: I found this a very comfortable bike to ride, although I was a little too upright on it but that was due to the test bike being at the small end of what I'd normally ride. It was a very stable ride and the battery pack didn't get in the way at all or affect the stability of the bike.
The controls were easy to use and the motor was highly effective at getting me up the steeper hills in Bath, even with a full rucksack, it also made cycling in heavy traffic more pleasurable as I felt it was easier to accelerate from junctions with the cars. The handle bar grips were particularly comfortable too. Riding on the flat or downhill without the use of the motor was an equally comfortable ride, the gears were adequate and the disc brakes were great, particularly downhill. Everything worked as expected and I didn't have any particular issues.
Shimano's remote is neat and easy to use
I generally used the high power option up the steep hills and the normal setting in town and high traffic areas. I didn't really use the eco mode very frequently, as it felt a bit underpowered and was insufficient on even quite low gradient hills. I was very impressed with the power of the motor and how easy it made cycling up some of the steepest hills in Bath. It made my return journey from work quick and easy, almost certainly faster than I could make it in the car. Having cycle commuted for many years, the motor makes a considerable difference when cycling uphill with heavy bags.
I found I had to charge the battery once a week in order to cope with a typical week of bike use. This involved a six-mile round trip commute, four days a week, and other incidental use. All of my round trips to work included approximately two miles of climbing, with 140m height gain. Coming back from serious illness, this bike has enabled me to bridge the gap between driving and cycle commuting.