The Raleigh Motus is an electric hybrid bike aimed at urban and countryside users alike. I reviewed the Motus Tour step-through version but there are several models in the range to suit different gearing, frame type and budget requirements. At just under £2,500 for the Motus Tour, it looks to be quite a decent value proposition on paper, with a Bosch Active Line mid-drive motor and plenty of accessories to get you going. Let’s delve into how it actually performs.
The Motus is a mid-range electric bike with urban credentials. My particular test model was the rather long named Motus Tour Derailleur Gear Low Step. Pretty self-explanatory with what you’re getting, but essentially it comes with an 8-speed SRAM/Shimano mix drivetrain, Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, a Bosch Active Line mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Powertube battery.
Aimed at more of the commuter/urban market, it is also listed as a hybrid, so in true thorough reviewer style, I rode it around my local urban populace, some countryside lanes, and took it off the beaten path on some of West Yorkshire’s finest bridleways and cycle tracks gone awry.
Motor and battery
As I mentioned previously, on the Motus Tour you get a Bosch Active Line mid-drive system which provides up to 40Nm of torque - more than enough for most urban excursions you might think, but there was something about this motor that just didn’t quite work for me.
There’s a few ways of looking at the motor – the first, and how I imagine Bosch designed it - is that it offers more of a ‘real ride feel’. The second, is that it's slightly underpowered. You don’t accelerate to 15.5mph straight off the line, nor do you coast easily up hills. You need to put in some effort to get anywhere on this bike, even in Turbo mode.
With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who lives in a very hilly area and is after an e-bike that will help keep their heart rate low. Maybe it’s the fact the temperature has dropped and so I’ve been more reluctant to ride and thus lost fitness, or perhaps the bike itself is just not designed for the Pennines, but in my opinion it’s best suited to a flatter environment.
It’s not to say I ever felt unsafe in traffic. The bike is incredibly smooth – and the power assist also. It’s just not a boost straight off the line system. It’s more of a gentle push, like the highly coveted tailwind so many of us chase on windy days. The only qualm I have with it is that it just simply didn’t feel to me like it provided enough of a boost. However, it is incredibly quiet, and that is most definitely a positive for a mid-drive system.
Even under load - which, let’s be honest, was about 70% of the time with me riding it - it was almost completely silent. Silent enough to the point where I was concerned it wasn’t even on and I had to keep checking the display for reassurance.
You get the usual Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo modes to play around with, and I spent the majority of my time in Sport and Turbo, just to make it from one village to the next.
More often than not I’d find myself hanging over the bars preparing myself for a continuous effort as if I was on an unassisted bike. Many people, particularly those looking at e-bikes, won’t ride like that, unless riding for fitness.
If I was trying to get to work, I’d probably not want to put so much effort in. That said, it’s not gone over my head that the Motus probably isn’t the type of bike you should be riding 20% inclines on and expecting it to be easy. So, for urban riding, filtering through traffic, and general riding, it’s a fluid bike that just lacks a little bit of top end punch – if you want that.
The battery, a 500Wh removable Bosch Powertube, offers up to 80 miles of range, according to Raleigh. I’m reluctant to give an estimate just because of how many factors impact the end number, but for real world reference I dipped down to two bars of battery (out of five) after 30km (18.6 miles) after using mainly Sport and Turbo modes, on very hilly terrain. The Intuvia display reckoned I had 17km left on Turbo mode, and 43km left in Eco, so take from that what you will.
Enough about the tech, how does it ride? I never used to be fond of sit up and beg style bikes, but I’ve come to realise that like most things, if I find one of decent quality, it’ll change my mind. The Motus is not only an aesthetically pleasing bike, but enjoyable to ride as well.
I rode a size S, which at 5ft5in fitted me perfectly. I liked the level of adjustment available, and felt the reach was spot on. Overall, the handling is pretty decent, if a teeny bit twitchy. After arguing with the local bike shop about whether or not the tyres are ‘road’ tyres (my argument being that just because the name of the tyre has road in it, doesn’t mean that they are only useful on tarmac), I found they held up pretty well on some rather tarmac-less ‘roads’ so I’d say the bike is a safe bet to be taken on tow paths or other light off-road sections.
The suspension forks are typical entry-level coil sprung forks, they do the job, and provide 50mm of travel to absorb the worst of the British roads. Raleigh has also included a Lowstep suspension seatpost - something I personally wasn’t a massive fan of. I think I’d have avoided what little extra weight it cost and just kept a regular seatpost, as I felt it made things a little bit more bumpy than they needed to be.
It was most noticeable when taking an accidental off-road excursion on what seemed like (and mapping suggested) should have been a road, where I found myself bumping off the saddle a few times. Overall, however, the whole setup is well thought out, and I appreciated the accessories like mudguards and integrated lights in the Yorkshire autumn.
The Raleigh Motus isn’t meant to be a high-end, super premium urban extravaganza. It’s designed to meet the needs of commuters and leisure riders alike and hit a price point without sacrificing value. The overall ride quality of the Motus is pretty good, and I never felt unsafe setting off from a junction on a hill or riding through traffic in town.
And for under £2,500 you’re getting a pretty good deal with a mid-drive motor and fairly sizeable battery. The only word of warning I’d issue is that it’s not incredibly powerful, and it won’t do the work for you.
If you want an e-bike that looks decent, and will help you some of the way, this should be a consideration. But if you want something with more oomph, look for e-bikes with more powerful motors like the Bosch Performance Line and above.
If you are after something more powerful then consider the Specialized Turbo Como. It's usually a couple of hundred pounds more than the Motus, but it utilises Specialized's own mid-drive system, with 10Nm more top end torque than the Raleigh.
But if budget is important, then there are other options to consider. For the same price as the Motus Tour, you could try the Riverside 540e from Decathlon. It comes with a Shimano STEPS mid-drive motor and 60Nm of torque to play with. The only downside is that you'll have to source your own mudguards, pannier rack and lights if they're important accessories for you.