Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Testing an interesting electric bike

Soon after we bought our electric SmartMotion bikes, John did a detailed, technical write-up about them on his website. He sent the link to Daryl Neal, the owner of Wellington Electric Bikes in Upper Hutt, where we had bought them. Daryl liked the write-up, and asked John if he would be interested in testing another electric bike. John said yes, and so, on Tuesday 31 March, we headed to Upper Hutt to take another model in the SmartMotion range out for a test ride.

Daryl introduced the bike to be tested – the SmartMotion eMetro electric bike. It is a “comfort bike”. Regular size, not a folder, with a nice low step through, a comfortable sprung saddle, and a curved handlebar. It has just three gears, and three levels of electric assist. The motor is in the hub of the front wheel and the battery is at the back, under the carrier. That’s as far as my technical details will go.

The SmartMotion eMetro Electric Bike (photo by John)

John had worked out a 17 km ride from Upper Hutt, up Wallaceville Road, along some of the Mangaroa Valley, and looping back to Upper Hutt.

We set off along the flat first. John, on the test bike, beetled off, while I followed on my own e-bike. John was testing the e-assist levels, and what speeds they would go up to. The eMetro does not have a speedometer, so at intervals, I had to call out the speeds that we were travelling at. The eMetro’s three assist levels seem to have more oomph (nice technical word!) than our bikes. I had trouble keeping up with John.

When we went up the fairly steep Wallaceville Road, I had to use quite a high level of assist (4) to keep up with him (but that might just be me, not the bike). Once we got to a level place in the Mangaroa Valley, John stopped to take photos of the eMetro. Dozens of photos, every detail, from every angle. He’s a very thorough scientific man, is John.

John took photos of every detail of the eMetro

Riding through the Mangaroa Valley was rather pleasant. We will come back to bike here some other time, and do a longer loop. It’s a quiet country road, gently undulating. We stopped for John to take more photos, and meanwhile, I talked to a big Clydesdale, with hooves the size of buckets, which was observing the antics of these humans.

A gently undulating road (photo by John)

This large Clydesdale had our initials, JD, branded on his flank! (photo by John)

After John had tried out every combination of gears and assist levels, and taken more photos, he suggested I might like to ride it, and tell him what I thought.

It was very nice to ride, easy to step though, very responsive, and the gears were easy to shift. What I liked best was the shape of the handlebar. With the handles curving towards you, it is more comfortable to hold, I felt. Because I have painful thumb joints, I found the handlebar easier to grip at that angle than on the straight handlebar, where I have to hold my thumbs on the top, rather than around the bar.

I also like the fact that the height of the handlebar can be adjusted so that you can sit a bit more upright. In fact it is rather like a Dutch sit-up-and-beg style of bike, with regard to the height and the shape of the handlebar.

After about an hour we returned the eMetro to Daryl, and went home for John to do his write-up. The next day, John went back to Upper Hutt with his tape measure, calipers, iPhone (to measure angles – yes, there's an app for that!) and camera, to have another look at the bike, and to take measurements and more photos. As you can see, his write-up is very thorough.

John enjoyed testing this bike and doing the write-up, which, he stresses, he did purely for interest's sake. 

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