It’s clear that Raleigh are making a significant investment in e-bikes with an ever expanding range of their own brand e-bikes and an increasing choice of designs.
The range now covers just about all bases for urban and leisure e-biking, from budget folders through to models with the latest Bosch Active Line Plus motors and 500Wh frame-integrated Power Tube battery. With the backing of parent group Accell, Raleigh’s Nottingham base in the UK has seen past expansion on the back of a huge growth in e-bike stock and it’s clear Raleigh see e-bikes as the bedrock of their current and future success.
New in the 2019 range is the Motus Kompact, an unusual design in that it is styled like a compact e-bike (many of which don’t fold) yet it’s mid-frame hinge means it folds in two quickly. Raleigh have gone with a fairly modest combination of Bosch’s Active Line mid-drive and a frame-mounted 300Wh Bosch battery, so this is an e-bike aimed at leisure riders rather than those looking for out and out performance.
It’s the frame that is the real eye-catcher however. With its upright geometry, 20” wheels and short wheelbase it doesn’t take up much space, even when not folded. Folded down it occupies a space of around 85cm x 99cm x 61cm. Certainly not compact when compared to the likes of the Brompton Electric and the GoCycle GX, but a useful and very quick fold nonetheless, that could allow you to squeeze it into the corner of a crowded train or mean it finds a home in a bijou flat.
At 21.9kg (according to my Park Tool scales) it isn’t going to be lifted very high, but I lifted it over small steps onto a local train both folded and unfolded and I found the high seat and bar height meant it wasn’t a problem just to tilt it sideways slightly, so it rests on the front wheel only and wheel it along for short distances whilst you keep a hold of bars and seat. The double-legged central kickstand is a real boon too making the folding process a doddle, taking just a few seconds. The inframe electrical cable that is exposed when folded is nicely protected with a steel spring housing. My only real disappointment with the fold was there is no ‘Quick-Park’ style stem to fold the bars quickly in line with the folded package, something that would immediately knock around 20cm off the folded width.
Practicality also stands out; the alloy frame itself looks very well-built, with a chunky hinge in a very solid looking bottom frame member plus reinforcement between the bottom of the headtube and the mainframe. The bike is fully equipped with solid looking mudguards mounted on very solid-looking stays and the pannier rack is rated to carry 27kg, one of the highest ratings I have seen. The chain and the whole of the chainwheel is enclosed by a chainguard to keep oil off anything it comes into touch with and hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes and Schwalbe Marathon tyres feature Greenguard puncture protection (Greenguard isn’t the strongest of Schwalbe’s puncture protection systems but it means the tyres stay reasonably fast and the puncture protection is a welcome feature anyhow). There is a very neat looking little Axa LED light above the front mudguard powered from the main e-bike battery whilst the rear LED houses its own batteries (the only blemish on the otherwise hugely practical spec – why not go the whole hog and power them from the main battery?).
This is a super little bike to ride around town – its low step-thru height mean its super easy to hop on and off, great for shopping errands for example, and the adjustable height bars mean you can adopt any position from sporty to upright Dutch style. Allied with a good length of seatpost height adjustment this means the one size unisex frame will fit a wide range of heights, though the ‘cockpit’ does remain relatively small. The wide gel saddle with elastomer supports also helps make for a comfy ride.
Add in all the features you would expect to find on a continental town bike, like Nexus 7 speed hub gears (that can be changed when stationary, unlike a derailleur) and a chainguard, lights and a strong rack and you have an unusual but very practical combination of compact folder that operates in many ways as a Dutch style town bike. I was particularly pleased I could fit my panniers on the rear rack; on such a short bike I was afraid my heels would catch the front of the panniers, but with the mounting rails actually extending quite a way back this proved not to be the case (though larger riders should check it is not a problem if they want to ride with panniers)
The only downside of the small wheels and a lack of any suspension was the fact potholes and kerbs present rather more of a jolt than on a bigger wheeled bike with some kind of suspension. Still, on the nice new cycle lanes of Leeds centre this was never really an issue and you would need to live in pretty poorly maintained town or city for it to be so. At rush hour I take it for a spin through the centre of an often gridlocked Leeds and it weaves in and out of traffic easily and quickly, just as you would expect from a 20” wheeled e-bike with a short wheelbase.
The assistance from the Active Line motor is fine on Eco most of the time for this stop-start riding as the city centre is pretty flat. The motor itself is quiet and with the power off still feels pretty easy to pedal – both advantages of the newly redesigned Bosch Active Line motor which is both much quieter and smaller and lighter than it’s previous iteration. My only gripe here was that once you have tried the next Bosch motor up in the range, the Active Line Plus, the Active Line can feel just a little lacking in pep until you get into the top Turbo mode (comparative stats are 40Nm torque and a max 250% assistance vs 50Nm and 270%). However Bosch say the Active Line is around 300g lighter than the Active Line Plus.
The minimalist Purion display is a cinch to use, the two big push buttons by your left hand meaning you can toggle through the four power settings and by keeping the minus button pressed in you also get trip, odomoter or range stats display. The plus button also controls the front light but you need to dismount to put the rear LED on as it is controlled with its own button.
The Nexus 7 hub gears give around 244% range and combined with the Tektro T285 hydraulic disc brakes and 20 inch, 36 spoke wheels mean you have a very agile and nippy e-bike but also one that has strength, durability and low maintenance written all over it.
After a few day’s riding my 70kg frame around the range calculator on the Purion display gives estimates of about 20-60 miles in Turbo and Eco modes respectively; this is probably a bit conservative and my at the plug recharging readings of power consumed suggest I would get a little more, but it’s certainly in the right range. So the 300Wh battery will give a good practical commuting range for most riders in most situations. Once back home charging is quick and easy with the 4 amp charger.
This is a great bike all year round low maintenance commuting, shopping chores and shorter leisure rides too. If Raleigh wanted to make it standout value the Active Line could have been upgraded to an Active Line Plus mid-drive and the gears similarly upgraded from Nexus 7 to Nexus 8 and a bigger battery thrown into the deal too. In practical terms though, for most around town riders who the bike is aimed at it probably doesn’t make that much difference and the lower power output of the Active Line will no doubt give you some extra range.
The price of £2500 looks to be at the top end of what you’d expect to pay for the spec – for example it is £200 more than the much more compact-folding Tern Vektron D8 (though that does feature a Bafang motor and derailleur gears) and the new Cube Compact city bike due in 2020 (though that doesn’t fold).
Despite that, if you are looking for an ultra-practical, compact folder the Kompact should most definitely be on the shortlist; it has the pedigree of Winora manufacturing (based in Germany and one of the largest manufacturers of quality e-bikes in the world) and you get a 2 year electric system guarantee, a 5 year frame guarantee and the confidence that a motor from the leading maker of mid-drives brings.