Reading time: 2 minutesPublished: August 6, 2017
I decided to buy my wife an electric bike. For the first time in our married life we would be evenly matched whilst cycling. What joy! I would be on my carbon racing bike having a training ride, she would be next to me on her electric bike giving me loving words of encouragement as she effortlessly climbed next to me whilst I dug deep to reach the summit. This was the idea in my head but sadly not the reality.
Problem number 1: which bike should I choose? You can spend thousands on electric bikes, and there are loads of rules if you want to use it on the road. If you have one that is too powerful then you could be caught committing a road traffic offence, which would affect your motor vehicle insurance premium. Since insurance providers seem to use any excuse to increase premiums, having the wrong electric system on a bicycle would feel like a particularly crazy reason to allow them to sting you for even more money. Let's not even mention the fine from the Police.
I managed to resolve this potential problem by doing a little research. In order to be road legal in the European Union, where the bike will be used, the motor must be 250 watts or below. The maximum speed with power assistance needs to be restricted to 15 miles per hour. This got me thinking along the following lines.
All road bikes have the same restriction - so why buy an expensive one? The performance won't necessarily be any better so you night as well go for comfort.
My wife already knows her most comfortable bike, and I know it too. It is the one I have changed the saddle on 10 times to find the best fit for her. I have spent hours adjusting it to stop aches and pains. Even the pedals have been changed for various different types of cleat until the perfect solution was found. Oh yes, I know that bike well, very well indeed; every bolt, every chain link and every adjustment.
Problem number 2: I decided to buy a kit. What a simple process, the kit arrived with clear instructions on the net, and everything fitted first time. Ok I admit it, I was dreaming. Of course nothing fitted! I spent a whole day altering and adjusting the bike and I got so fed up that when I finally installed the motor I put it in the wrong way round. So, accidentally I made a bike that reversed at 15 miles per hour. Luckily, that was easily remedied, so off I went for a test drive. It was like having somebody gently push you along as you pedalled; I loved it. I got straight back in to my the workshop to decide on the best ways of camouflaging the electric kit so that it could only be spotted with a close examination. A day later, new panniers, and a few well placed accessories and the entire electrification was out of sight. I was a happy man, and spent a few hours overtaking lycra louts and MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) with ease. It was great fun.
Problem number 3 : All my mates wanted to have a go and guess what? They love it too. I am now the go-to man for fitting electric kits and I have already fitted 5 for friends and family. I tell them how easy it is, but I am now the most experienced fitter they know.
Problem number 4 : My dream has not come true. My wife never supports me, she just overtakes shouting "Now you know how I felt for years". She stops at the top of big hills laughing at my struggling efforts. What have I done in response? I have fitted an electric kit to one of my old bikes because if you cannot beat them you might as well join them.
Written by: Brad