Introducing “Electric” Alex :)

The other Alex on here (alexoldman) has very kindly asked me to contribute here. I am a 38  year old young(ish) man living in Ipswich, who has been a regular commuter cyclist since 2001, who does not currently drive/own a car.

I am relatively new to East Anglia – being brought up in London/SE England.

I  always enjoyed cycling as a child, and got reintroduced to it in 2001, in some curious circumstances.  I was built a bicycle in payment for wiring up a group of impoverished friends’ electric cooker!

I then lived in Reading (4o miles west of London). Economic and global political events in the subsequent years served as a slow awakening to myself about being wary about overdependence on oil and larger motor vehicles, and choosing stability over hedonism in my life (I was also then enthusiastically involved in the electronic dance music scene, and still occasionally party).

Then economic decline in SE England from 2001 to 2005 led to my current job being downsized, but a job opportunity in Ipswich brought me to East Anglia in 2006. A positive move – there is less traffic than in SE England and not as many bad drivers. However, East Anglia is big – and not entirely devoid of hills!

I purchased a Raleigh Hybrid in ’06 and didn’t mind the 7 mile commute on it from Ipswich to Mid Suffolk (where I work) – but when I learned in 2008 that electric bikes had matured to the point where they no longer looked like an old clunker of a shopping bike more suited for Nan and Grandad (e-bikes are already popular with the older generations), my interest in technology encouraged me to try the newer models out.

I now own two, (and still don’t own a car and am in no hurry to get one!) and would encourage everyone to at least try an e-bike.  They have become affordable, more reliable and better looking (more like your traditional MTB or hybrid). Whilst of course unpowered cycling is just as fun, the extra assistance can stop a daily commute becoming a chore, even if you are tired or there is bad weather (you get away from it faster).

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4 Comments

  1. Nice article Alex!

    There are some great choices for electric bikes out there. I love the British GoCycle, which is the iPod of the electric bike word: http://www.gocycle.com. Not sure how practical a 15 mile range or the push button power switch is though.

    I also like the idea of converting a conventional bike. Kit prices vary dependong on power and wheel size http://www.alienbikes.co.uk

    Lastly, I hired some elctric bikes for my wife and I last year at Shottisham, near Woodbridge. They were Dutch Sparta Ion’s featuring pedal assist. They are pricey at £1,500 but much less through a bike to work scheme: http://www.electricbikehire.co.uk

    Are there any places to buy or hire electric bikes in Ipswich?

  2. unfortunately Ipswich is currently fairly devoid of e-bike dealers, though it appears Elmy has started selling a medium price model, albeit one of a style which would appeal more to the older generation!

    Electric Bike Sales in Cambridge is our nearest dealers, but they only open 3 days a week which can delay resolution of any after-sales problems. Unfortunately this means it is often quicker to purchase a machine from London or SE England, but you have to be fairly self-sufficient with regard to maintenance.

    My main e-bike is a 2009 Wisper 905SE City, which I am very happy with. There is a forum called http://www.pedelecs.co.uk where a community of e-bikers assist each other with maintenance and service issues, and keep the manufacturers and dealers under strong scrutiny to ensure they provide acceptable customer service on this growing market!

  3. Would you be able to give me some advice on electric motor conversions? I will give you further information as to the requirments if the answer is yes.
    Regards Bob

  4. Hi Bob.

    TBH the best place to get more advice on the conversions is the forum I mentioned above – http://www.pedelecs.co.uk

    there are various ways of doing it, depending on your engineering skills, how much you want to spend, and how much time you are willing to wait for things to arrive/problem solving.

    conversions are a niche of a niche market and although feasible, require a substantial investment in time and effort. Also some of them are in a legal grey area (an ebike which is too powerful is classed as an unlicensed moped – there are penalties for riding such!)

    Depending on what your requirements are and what else you do with your time, it might even work out cheaper and less hassle to buy an entire ready made bike!

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