Eleglide T1 Step-Thru
- Excellent city ride
- Nice screen
- Lockable suspension
- Soggy brakes
- Comes in bits
How familiar are you with the way bikes fit together? If the answer is ‘very’, then roll your eyes and dismiss the beginning of this review as newbie moaning. If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of active transport, and haven’t built anything apart from Lego and Ikea furniture, then this might be an important point.
You see, the Eleglide T1 Step Thru city bike arrives in bits. Lots of them. We had to attach the front wheel, saddle, pedals, handlebars, front mudguard, rear light and all other electronics, as well as remove a lot of padding and wrapping attached with a supply of cable ties that wouldn’t embarrass someone who ties cables for a living. IT engineer? Electrician? This metaphor is going well.
Assembly is not exactly hard, but might be daunting for a first-timer. All the tools you need are provided, though we’re not sure we can forgive the person who signed off on using quite so many different sizes of Allen key, and important things like the brakes and chainset are already attached to the frame. The instructions could be clearer, and it took us about an hour to build without the aid of a clamp stand, much of which was spent clipping cable ties off and unpeeling the masking tape used to attach polystyrene sheets. The Eleglide T1 is certainly well protected in transit, and the decision to package it this way at least means it can come in a smaller box, for efficient shipping.
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Eleglide T1 Step-Thru
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Once you’ve built the bike and pumped up the tyres, the Eleglide T1 turns out to be a nice looking step-through hybrid e-bike, with seven Shimano gears, five levels of assist, lockable front suspension, a luggage rack, disc brakes, lights and quite a nice screen (with a USB-A port to charge your phone). It also claims 100km of range, though this will vary based on the weight you carry and how many times you go up hills. Assembling it yourself also means you can choose where the controls go on the handlebars, which is nice for left-handers.
There's a throttle lever in the parts bag, but make sure this is legal in your jurisdiction before attaching it – leave it off, and the 250W motor and 25km/h maximum speed (although we never saw it rise above 21.9km/h) mean it’s compatible with UK law. The electronics are colour-coded and plug together nicely, and while leaving the throttle connection flapping can look untidy, you can always hold it in place with a cable tie if you can bear to look at one again after the unpacking process, or there are spiral cable binders in the box.
The step-through, or universal, nature (there’s a standard-framed version too, but it’s not sold in the UK) of the aluminium alloy frame means the main tube is nice and thick, so the battery can slot into it instead of sticking up. There's a key to unlock it, though you can also charge it on the bike. This style of frame means you can ride in jeans, a suit or even a skirt without worrying about what your legs do upon mounting or carrying a spare lower body covering in your bag.
It is, however, tricky to attach to the double-pronged type of bike carrier you can strap to the back of your car, and at 26kg it’s fairly heavy, so might not suit someone who has to carry it to a third-floor flat every day – especially as it has no top tube to put over your shoulder. The welds holding the whole thing together are also very prominent.
What really marks the T1 out, however, is its extremely reasonable price. At the time of writing you can get one for £850 with free shipping. That’s not bad, and is less than some e-bike conversion kits.
Designed for city riding, the T1 accelerates nicely on flat terrain, but the rear hub motor struggles when you get to the steeper kind of incline, demanding more of the rider. The 27.5in tyres are not fat or bobbly, and while the suspension is nice to have, it could have been removed to save weight. Many people will lock it off when riding on smooth roads anyway to avoid losing energy when compressing it unnecessarily. A nice touch is that the rear light comes on when you brake, and the saddle is broad and comfortable.
Your initial riding experience will depend very much on the skills of the person who built the bike. Make sure everything is tight, and you’ll be fine. Our first ride was marred by a loose hex nut in the stem and the quick release catch for the saddle refusing to stay tight. The former was easily fixed with the multitool provided, the latter less simple. Finding a point at which the catch was able to be pushed home, yet also tight enough to hold up the rider, was trickier than it at first seemed.
The brakes are also soft, lacking the sharpness and immediacy we’ve come to expect from discs. As we were riding the T1 in brand-new condition, it’s possible this will improve as they wear in.
Otherwise, it gives a good ride, the controls are responsive and the motor powerful enough. The gears change with a satisfying clunk, and the screen is large enough that you’re never in any doubt of how fast you’re going, your remaining battery charge, or what level of assistance you have set.
As long as you’re handy with an Allen key, the T1 looks like a bargain. It’s well made, nippy up to a point, fine on flats and moderate inclines, and with suspension to even out bumps if you venture onto something like a canal towpath or country lane. If the soggy brakes improve once they’ve had the bloom rubbed off them, then this looks like a decent choice for a city runaround.