Ebike Tips take the Strada Electric for a spin

Raleigh Strada E - threequarter.jpg

Raleigh have been making their urban Strada bike in a range of builds for a while now, but this is the first time they’ve offered it as an electric bike. For £2,000 you get Shimano’s STePS middle motor system with an eight-speed Alfine Di2 hub, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and a new carbon-bladed fork at the front that’s similar to the one that Raleigh use on the Strada Speed 2.

To fit the middle motor Raleigh have had to redesign the frame, and they’ve take the opportunity to route the cables inside the frame for a cleaner look. There’s no chain case, rack or mudguards so it’s a very uncluttered and classy look with a gunmetal finish and minimal graphics. You do get a kickstand though. Raleigh have opted for a standard dropout at the rear and the Alfine chain tensioner, rather than using a horizontal slot dropout which allows you to get the chain tight without the sprung tensioner. There’s positives to both approaches: a horizontal dropout is neater, but the chain tensioner means getting the wheel out to mend a puncture is easier.

It’s certainly a good-looking urban bike

The Shimano STePS system gives you a mid-motor 250W power unit and three assistance modes. The battery is downtube-mounted and swings out from its mount for easy removal and charging. The Strada E we tried had the new, larger display but hadn’t been updated to include the new automatic mode that shifts gear for you based on your cadence and how hard you’re working. Production models should have that, though.

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The new STePS head unit is a big improvement

Shimano supply the hydraulic disc brakes, and the seatpost, stem and flat handlebar are fairly generic alloy units; there’s a sporty-profile saddle and standard round grips, and the road/bike interface is a set of Schwalbe Energiser Plus tyres.

Dave says: There’s always a demand for good-looking, stripped-down urban bikes and that trend is likely to make the jump to e-bikes as well. Boutique brands like Electrolyte are already serving the top-end of that market, but the £2,000 price point is likely to be an important one as the e-bike market in the UK grows and the Strada is a great-looking bike for the money.

It’s fun to ride, too. The frame and fork is nice and stiff and direct-feeling; it’d probably be a bit harsh with narrow tyres but the Schwalbe Energiser Plus rubber fitted is big enough to smooth through the bumps and it rolls very well too. There’s plenty of grip and the rounded profile means they’re good in the corners. Stopping from the non-series Shimano disc brakes is excellent too, with one-finger stopping even with the extra weight of the battery and motor.

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Shimano hydraulic disc brakes stop you quickly

STePS is a high-quality system and the fact that it’s all designed to be used together makes it a neat solution too. The motor isn’t as quiet as its main rival, the Bosch Active Line, but the power curve feels very natural and in Eco mode you can forget you’re being given a helping hand. Stick it in High and point the Strada uphill and you’ll be in no doubt, though. The twin remotes – one for power mode and one for gear – are easy to use and the new, bigger display is a marked improvement.

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The Strada E is a fun, if firm, stripped down urban bike

If you’re after a leisure e-bike that looks good, this is certainly one to look at. Utility-wise there’s no rack or mudguards but you could easily fit a nice set of low-profile mudguards and chaincase – something from the likes of Curana for example – and still maintain the sharp lines of the Strada E, and make it a bit more UK-weather-friendly.

Find out more about the Strada Electric here >

Raleigh Power bikes make their debut

A University of Brighton power-bike rental service for staff and students took to the streets for the first time (on Monday, 7 March).

The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris, gave the new ‘e-bikes’ a trial run and declared them “excellent and great fun.”

She said: “The issue around sustainable transport and sustainable living is absolutely imperative for not just this nation but for every nation on earth, and the University of Brighton is strongly committed to sustainability.

“If this project in some small way makes a difference to emissions, to healthy living, to transport sustainability, then these are the things we must do. But we must not just practice them, we must research them and to find ways to change our behaviour to a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Associate Professor Anne Mandy, from the university’s Centre for Health Research, was awarded £36,000 to trial a fleet of 10 Electrically Assisted Power Cycles (EAPCs), one of 11 such projects funded by the Department for Transport to “help tourists, residents and workers go further by bike”.

The projects were chosen by Carplus, the non-profit environmental transport non-governmental organisation, which is investigating whether electric bikes are the answer to congestion, transport and health problems. Southern Railway and Eastbourne Borough Council are collaborating with the university’s research which will explore the uptake of electric bikes.

The launch, at Eastbourne railway station, was attended by Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell and Eastbourne Mayor, Councillor Janet Coles. Both trialled the bikes and gave them the thumbs up.

The Eastbourne EAPCs will be available between the university’s campus in Eastbourne and the town’s railway station. Staff members who have completed e-bike training will be given access to an e-bike booking system which will enable them to book one of the ten e-bikes based in Eastbourne station to use while on university business. Staff and students will also be able to sign up to a separate rental scheme enabling them to rent an e-bike for various periods of time.

Associate Professor Mandy, the project lead, said sustainability was one of the university’s core values: “The university’s Travel Plan shows that 43 per cent of staff and 21 per cent of students travel to university as single drivers in their cars. The strategy is to reduce single occupancy vehicle transport by 10 per cent for staff and seven per cent for students by 2016

“This project will demonstrate the value of EAPCs for linking rail and university locations, and will lead to more understanding of the role of storage solutions and innovative support services.”

Paul Best, Southern’s Project Manager which hosted the launch, said: “We are committed to promoting more sustainable ways of getting to and from the station and these bikes certainly fall into this category.”

The e-bikes will be stored at the station and will be able to move to and from campus, to be returned to the station by the end of the day. The scheme is also supported by Blacks Bikes bike shop at Eastbourne station car park. The shop will assist with charging and e-bike maintenance. Eastbourne campus estates and facilities department have also assisted with the initiative.

Earlier research into and trials of electronically-assisted bikes by the university in Brighton showed they encouraged more people to cycle. Dr Frauke Behrendt, Principal Lecturer in Media Studies and who helped initiate the project, said:  “This project will demonstrate the value of EAPCs for linking rail and university locations, and will lead to more understanding of the role of storage solutions and innovative support services.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “Electric bikes are a great way to encourage new people to get into cycling and I hope this interesting scheme encourages more people to take it up. Cycling helps cut congestion and is a healthy, affordable transport option.

“We want to double the number of journeys made by bicycle. That is why we are also investing over the next five years in cycle training and infrastructure.”

 

MP Caroline Ansel said the power bikes could revolutionise cycling in Eastbourne: “It’s an excellent pilot and I commend the University of Brighton for bringing it to Eastbourne – where we lead, others may follow. It’s good for the environment, good for finances, good for lifestyle – in every way, it’s a real winner.”

Anna Stefanaki, from the university’s Environment Team, said the team was hopeful the scheme could be the first of e-bike initiatives across university campuses in future.

For more information about renting an e-bike here: http://goo.gl/forms/xFxM3Doa7H and for more information on the university’s e-bike research, go to: https://www.brighton.ac.uk/healthresearch/research-projects/university-campus-e-bikes.aspx

To view a video of the launch, go to: https://mediastream.brighton.ac.uk/Play/3239

NEW! The Raleigh Captus colour now in stock

Raleigh have bolstered their best selling range of eBkes with today’s launch of the Captus Colour.

The Captus Colour shares the same specification as the current Captus but with an emboldened blue colour scheme.

“Electric Bikes are leading a quiet revolution, gaining respect from enthusiasts and encouraging both the young and the less able to enjoy the freedom and health benefits of cycling.  The Captus Colour is available in both light blue low step frame and electric blue cross bar frames and will appeal to the fast growing younger eBike target ” commented Pippa Wibberley, Sales and Marketing Director for Raleigh.

Raleigh have seen its electric bike sales double year on year and are now the biggest electric bike company in the UK.  With a broad range of eBikes from Raleigh, complemented by specialist town and mountain eBikes from Koga and Haibike, Raleigh stockists have an eBike for everyone.

To find out more about the new Captus colour click here >>