Bristol based Temple Cycles was founded in 2014, and is largely known for its hand-built steel frame bicycles. The brand has however expanded its horizons from urban to road, then to gravel - and now it’s moved into electric bikes. There are currently two e-bikes on offer: the Classic, and the one I was sent to test, the Step Through Electric.
After an informed discussion between the staff here at ebiketips, we concluded that we actually prefer the look of the Step Through over the Classic, and that was great news for me, because it’s the only one that would fit someone 5ft5in in height.
At £3,395 it’s not ‘break the bank’ territory, but it’s also not the cheapest urban offering out there. Overall it’s a pretty smooth ride, but let’s dive into some of the details.
The drive system
For your money you get a Bafang M420 mid-drive motor, which puts out a maximum of 80Nm. I’d imagine that for most urban applications that’s probably enough torque – it’s not like you’ll be lugging a lot of cargo around with this bike.
I found the motor to be quite smooth and raring to go – sometimes a little too keen, in fact. If you stand and wait at traffic lights or a junction for a little bit and tend to keep your foot on the pedal, make sure you don’t apply pressure or you might find the bike wants to lurch forward a little.
Otherwise, I found it to be smooth with enough power to get me up some nasty little climbs at around 15% without bother. It’s also quite quiet - just a slight whirring - so you’re not going to be disturbing sleeping sheep or the like on your travels.
The motor comes with five levels of assistance - no bizarre names for each level, just simply 1-5 with 5 being the most powerful, and 1 the least. They, along with the lights and walk assist, are controlled via a small handlebar mounted screen. The buttons feel a little cheap but the tactile response is good so you know when you’ve pressed something.
The only other thing I’d say about the control pad is that if, like me, you run your lights all the time, the screen dims to a point where it’s quite difficult to see in bright sunshine. Some may argue, ‘why bother with putting your lights on then?’ It’s personal preference, and something I’ve always done just to highlight my existence on the road.
The Samsung-celled battery is reasonably large for an urban bike at 504Wh. It is also removable, which is great if you don’t want to bring your bike inside to charge or to keep it from would-be thieves.
Temple Cycles suggest the range sits between 60-120km or 37-75 miles roughly. I’d say that’s fairly accurate, as I rode the bike over varying terrain including some monster hills and headwinds to try and drain it as much as I could and managed over 40 miles on one charge. That was using a range of assistance levels, with a couple of thousand feet of climbing as well. It’s also worth noting that a lot of my rides were done in quite low temperatures, which will reduce a battery’s effectiveness.
As great as that all sounds, there were two little niggles that I feel are worth mentioning to would-be buyers. First up is the fact the battery rattled in my bike. I decided against my mother’s ill-advised suggestion of stuffing cotton wool behind it and instead used a strap wrapped around the downtube to dampen the noise. It worked (and as an added bonus had enough material left over to strap a sausage roll to the bike from the local bakery).
The second note is that the motor seems to throttle the power when the battery dips below 20%. It’s not unusual for drive systems to do this, but 20% seems a little high. I wouldn’t say it’s ridiculously throttled, but it is certainly noticeable when you’re already tired and suddenly hit a headwind.
Spec and ride quality
The Step Through Electric is equipped with a Shimano Altus 9-speed drivetrain. It’s an entry level groupset more commonly seen on mountain bikes but it does the job. It required the occasional tweak just to keep the gears changing smoothly during my time with the bike but once it was set up properly, I had no complaints. With a range of 11-36t on the cassette, there are some big jumps between gears, but I never felt like I was spinning out or didn’t have a big enough cog to get up climbs.
The hydraulic disc brakes also worked well. They’re not the best or bitiest in the world but for a mid-level e-bike, do you need four-pot beefed-up brakes and 200mm rotors? The finishing kit is where the bike starts to stand out. The saddle is either a Temple Comfort (on mine) or a Brooks B17, and you also get Temple premium leather ergo grips. I found the saddle to be a tad on the stiff side but I imagine after a good settling in period it would soften up nicely.
The rest of the accessories on the bike are what you’d expect from an urban mid-range bike: mudguards, integrated front and rear lights, a bell, and a kickstand. The only thing one might consider to be ‘missing’ is a rear rack, but beyond this, it’s a pretty neat package overall.
Let’s talk about ride quality. It comes with 38mm Panaracer Pasela tyres, which offer plenty of comfort – although not a great deal of grip in colder or slippier conditions. The wheels appear to be on the cheaper side of things, but they do add to the sleek aesthetic.
The ride quality is very good, and I genuinely enjoyed my time with this bike. It’s a comfortable, smooth and well balanced ride, although the higher I put my saddle the more twitchy it felt. So if you’re in between or on the edge of sizes, I’d recommend trying the bigger of the two.
As I’m writing this, as usual I have the product page open on my laptop just so I can check a few things and I note something unnerving. The lovely matte blue colourway that my test bike came in is being discontinued. So, if you’re keen enough to go out and try the Step Through Electric, I’d do it soon… There are three other colours to choose from, of course, but the matte blue is a timeless colour that really adds to the elegance of the bike.
Overall, the Temple Cycles Step Through Electric is a rather classy e-bike. It’s not a bike I’d restrict simply to the city, as it’s relaxed but powerful enough to take into the countryside and everything in between. If they could fix the battery rattle and maybe add the option for a rear rack, it would represent an excellent package.
At £3,350 it is however relatively expensive compared to other brands. Competitors include the Raleigh Motus Tour, which admittedly uses a significantly less powerful Bosch Active Line mid-drive, but also costs significantly less at £2,399. The Specialized Turbo Como 3.0 might be another to look at. It's usually £2,500 and utilises Specialized's own mid-drive system with 10Nm more top end torque than the Raleigh. It's also discounted to just £1,999 at the time of writing.
At a similar sort of price point to the Temple is the Merida eSPRESSO City400 EQ we recently reviewed. Another step-through with mid-drive power, the issue our reviewer found was the weight balance meant it was a bit of a handful when turning.
If money is no object, the urban offerings from Riese & Muller are always worthy of consideration, including the UBN 5 Touring, another powerful mid-drive offering which is priced at £4,909.