Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Charlotte and I look after sales and marketing for I Cycle Ltd. I ride a bike occasionally (getting more and more frequent in recent times) but am not, by any means, a seasoned pro (in terms of technical bike knowledge or riding ability).. however, when I first started working with I Cycle Ltd (about 6 months ago), I took one of our electric demo bikes for a test ride around the Preston Guild Wheel (a 20ish mile route covering lanes, parks, paths and bridleways) and this blog describes my experience of it (and therefore my first proper experience of riding an electric bike)!
So, enough about me... Let me introduce you to the rather attractive chap in the picture above. Here we have the Benelli City Link Sport electric bike... A.K.A. my first (electric bike) love!
In case you didn't gather from my initial gushing, let me tell you now... this bike is absolutely AWESOME!!!!
My plan for the ride was to give every aspect of the bike a thorough testing; with electric, without electric and on a variety of under-wheel conditions.
Although the bike has a 40+ mile battery life (on electric), I wanted to see how I coped whilst riding it unassisted. The battery makes the bike a little heavier than a non-electric counterpart, so I was interested to see how this felt...
So, I started the ride with the electric off and stayed this way - to my own surprise - for the first 8 or so miles of the ride. I say to my surprise because I'd imagined that an electric bike wouldn't be comfortable/easy to ride without the assistance... however, the bike is smooth, nifty and incredibly good to ride on manual mode... the gears are great; providing plenty of flexibility. I made my way up and over a few bumps with little exertion & without noticing the weight of the battery.
After the fist 8 miles, I made my way along a long, straight, roadside bike lane section of the Guild Wheel route. By this stage, it was approaching lunchtime (so hunger had struck), my legs were feeling the effects of pedaling, and the long straight was on a very slight incline; the type that doesn't look like a hill but your legs inform you, quickly enough, that it definitely is not flat! So, I switched on the electric (which is very easy to do with your left thumb) and gave myself a little level 2 boost (the lowest of the 4 assistance levels).
The assistance only kicked in whilst I was pedaling, so the bike didn't suddenly run away with me, and with this small amount of assistance, I continued to feel like I was pedaling away and powering the bike, just with a little gentle push/boost. It was a great relief but didn't feel like I'd completely stopped working. That level 2 assistance spurred me on to reach the nearest cafe!
After lunch, I decided to give all the different levels of assistance a good test. There were a few more gentle slopes where levels 2/3 were much appreciated but when I approached a short, steep hill, I decided to up it to maximum level 5... & WAHEY! I was up the hill in a flash.
I would like to stress that with any level of assistance, the bike never feels out of control. When I stopped pedaling, the electric also stopped - which left me feeling completely in control - and never without some input into powering the bike.
Towards the end of the 20 mile route, when my legs were a little more tired, I maintained a constant level of assistance and felt like I had a helping hand on my back, gently encouraging me along!
In terms of performance over the varying terrain, I purposefully splashed through mud, went over bumps and rocks, sped down hills and twisted around obstacles... and the bike dealt with every aspect comfortably and smoothly. The brakes performed incredibly well, the suspension provided bounce and control and I never slipped, skidded or wobbled!
AND battery-wise, I started the ride with the battery roughly half-charged and there was still power at the end of the day.
As you will have gathered... I truly loved riding this bike... and would THOROUGHLY recommend it to anyone, anywhere!
There are a range of Benelli bikes at the showroom (including this one), so if you'd like to try one for yourself, pay us a visit and take one for a spin!
To give a bit more detail on the bike's specs, it features
- 20" wheels with good, sporty tread (suited to road, track or bumpy terrain)
- A 36v6.6ah Samsung Cell li-ion battery (which takes 4-6 hours to charge, then rides for about 40 miles)
- 8 speed gears: Shimano CS-UG31,8 speed,11-32T
- Mechanical disc brakes
- 4 different assistance levels (on electric)
Finally, here he is again at the end of my fun, muddy test ride! ;-)