The Array is Raleigh’s entry level e-bike. It’s great to ride around town and does pretty much what it says on the tin. It is fully specified for the urban rider, with mud-guards, chain guard, lights, rack and kickstand so it's plug and go straight out of the box. The simple LED display is no-frills and easy to use. This bike is definitely built to assist with inclines rather than take you up serious hills, but for flatter riding it has all the power you need.
On paper the Array looks like a well-considered step-through city bike that looks like it's had the money spent in the right places. This is a full-spec urban machine: Lights, mudguards, rack and kickstand are all included, and the power comes from a E-Motion front hub motor delivering 25Nm of torque. There's a 300Wh rack-mounted battery delivering the juice. Control of the system is via a simple bar-mounted LED display that gives you access to the five assist levels and tells you how the battery is doing.
You're not treated to a speed readout or a range guesstimate, or anything like that, but the Array has all the important bases covered at a very good price.
The frame is 6061 Aluminium alloy, with a twin dropped tube design for a low step-through. The frame and matching fork are both finished in a metallic navy, as are the mudguards. The low-step bike is also available in a light blue, and there's a black/red diamond-framed version with the same build for the same price.
It's good to see Raleigh not wasting money and effort on a suspension fork: they're poor at this kind of price point, and the front of the bike doesn't carry much weight anyway, as the riding position is very upright. Instead you get a better-than average Shimano transmission: an 8-speed 11-32 cassette with an Acera rear mech and a Revoshift twist shifter. That should give you a good range of gears for the hills.
We enjoyed riding the Raleigh Strada E when we got the chance. That's a much sportier and more expensive take on urban riding. The Array is a classic city bike, re-imagined with a bit of assistance. It's good to see Raleigh taking the electric bike market seriously and offering good value bikes like this at the lower end of the price range as well.
Caroline says: The riding position is extremely upright, which is perfectly suitable for around town jaunts. The Selle Royal Milo + women’s saddle provides ample support for your bottom and I didn’t notice the lack of a suspension fork or feel the need for one on the type of journeys that the Array was built for.
The rack is very solid and I was able to fit a variety of panniers to it without a problem. The Array certainly feels like a workhorse of a bike and I was happy to carry home a full shop on it, using the assist to help take the strain. The brakes are nothing special but they do the job – important on such a heavy bike. They’re V-brakes rather than disc brakes, which would have been more in keeping with the overall low-maintenance feel of the bike.
Raleigh say they have designed the Array to be “the best looking £1000 e-bike on the market", although the currency fluctuations of the past year have pushed it up £100 since they said that. The positioning of the battery under the rack certainly improves the overall look of the frame. The Array isn’t out of place on the Dutch bike filled racks around the railway station, but I’d not go as far as saying it’s actually a looker. The dropped top tube makes this a very viable option for riders with back or knee problems as the step-through is very low.
With the price increase the Array falls just outside the common Cycle to Work Scheme £1,000 budget, but you won’t have to add anything to it unless you want more powerful lights. The included Galeo front light is perfectly adequate for lit city streets, but if your ride home includes unlit paths you might want to invest in something brighter. The Array is £1,100 from Raleigh’s website, but is down to £900 at Wiggle at the moment, which would mean you don’t have to top up your Cycle to Work voucher.
The E-motion motor system is quiet during use and the transition between modes is smooth. It has five levels of assist and the 25Nm E-Motion front hub easily took me through what passes for hills in Cambridge. I tootled without effort up the Lime Kiln Hill where the average gradient is 4.4%. There is a walk assist feature which for a 21.5kg bike is a necessity, and I did feel the weight on the first half turn of the cranks when pulling away on an incline, before the motor started to kick in.
The battery has a 300Wh capacity, putting it at the lower end of what is available in this budget. That’s claimed to give a range between 22 and 108km on a single charge, and even on full assist, the battery bars decrease at a pleasingly slow rate. The bar-mounted display shows the battery life broken down into 5 bars and the 5 levels of assist available. It doesn’t show speed or distance, which is becoming frequently available on displays in this budget.
I’d say that 100km on the lowest assist level on flat terrain was perfectly possible, although on this type of bike you’re unlikely to want to be going that far as it’s much more suited to the daily commute. The battery can be taken off and charged away from the bike, so even if you’re wanting full assist in a hilly area, and your commute is up to about 20km the Array will take you there without issue and you can charge on arrival.