Issue 213
May/June 2020

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Aug 11, 2020

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Pedal power – (with a little bit of help)

LONG BEFORE cars clogged the roads, and traffic jams, and road rage and air pollution, people travelled from A to B on the humble bicycle. With the latest situation discouraging both car use and public transport, the bike is fast becoming the new favoured form of transport, in particular the electric bike, the 'e-bike'.

Back 20 years ago when e-bikes first appeared, they were powered by heavy, inefficient lead-acid batteries and heavy motors, making them rather awkward affairs. Today's e-bikes have been revolutionised, and have taken off, largely due to advances in battery and motor technology. Several members of the ArtWork team are now e-bike enthusiasts

Raleigh Stow e-Way

Nick Jones, our North-East of Engand correspondent, bought his first e-bike, a Raleigh Stow e-Way from Berwick Cycles. "We live at the top of a very windy hill, and with the nearest shop four miles away the round trip is not much fun in a howling gale without a little help from the electric motor!

"I'm delighted with my e-bike. It's a robust bike that can cope with the poor rural roads in my area and it is good off-road too with wide, grippy tyres, e.g. to bump across a field to check farm stock.

"It's pretty heavy though and quite awkward to lift into the back of a car so not great for commuting if you have to lift on and off buses and trains, or for anyone negotiating long flights of stairs."

Tim Astley, owner of Berwick Cycles, says e-bikes are increasingly popular.

"E-bikes open up cycling to a huge number of people who would otherwise either choose an alternative form of transport, e.g. commuters, or not cycle at all, e.g people with joint or health problems which prevent them from cycling unassisted.

"E-bikes comprise the fastest growing part of UK bike sales which have really only taken off in the last couple of years. There are now e-bikes for mountain biking, trekking, commuting or just cycling around town. The Coronavirus situation has highlighted the value of cycling as a way of exercising and the appeal of e-bikes as part of that."

Maxwell MacLeod, celebrated ArtWork columnist, bought his first e-bike 20 years ago, but found it cumbersome and limiting. His latest one, a Rad Rhino, has been more successful.

"The Rad Rhino is a great bike for flat cycle path and canal tow path riding, being robust and at £ 1000 for the basic model, remarkably good value. True, both the brakes and the gear system are hardly top of the range, but at least they work and can be relatively easily maintained. This is more of a bike for rural areas than the town, but well worth considering."

Our elusive publisher, Bill Williams, favours fold-aways. "As a folding bike freak I was a sitting target for the MiRIDER. Lurking in the back of my local bike shop, I had to have it.

"It's quite fun to ride, although the riding position isn't brilliant and the lack of gears not really compensated for by three 'speeds' on the controls (possibly improved by choice of five speeds on the current 2020 model, which I was not offered at the bike shop!).

"When, as must happen after Covid, city centres are progressively made traffic-free, this will be a practical solution – leave your car in a peripheral car park and e-bike the last lap into town."

Eleanor (from accounts!) reports:
"Husband John bought his bike, a Focus Jam2, to be able to follow son Matthew on his mountain bike trails, perhaps not really wanting to admit that middle age is proving that he's maybe not quite ready for the roughest of the trails without a bit of assistance, as Matthew headed off into the distance."

Peter Butterworth set up his business, CycleScotland (modestly described as "the grooviest bike shop on the planet!") in Edinburgh in 1995 to offer rental bikes so people could explore, enjoy and escape the city.

He was soon offering cycling multi-day tours and holidays in the Highlands & Islands. "The majority of our clients were keen leisure cyclists and most opted to use traditional bikes with a range of gears to cope with the varied terrain of the routes we planned," says Peter.

"In the late 1990s we started to sell electric bikes but only sold a few. Now, with improved e-bike technology, more clients want them once they realise how hilly riding in Edinburgh is, as the e-bikes take the strain of cycling up hills or against strong winds.

"I like Dutch style e-bikes, particularly the Gazelle & Sparta models. The low step through frames and higher handlebars let you ride with a straighter back, allowing for a better view of the road when used in town and for enjoying the scenery in the countryside.

"Since the Coronavirus outbreak all our cycle tours are cancelled, however we are still renting and selling bikes, and more people are now interested in e-bikes as there is a greater awareness of them as a means of both transport and exercise.

"We offer new, used and ex-rental e-bikes for sale and rent in our Edinburgh shops. The e-bike is definitely on the ascendancy."

So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike – your e-bike that is!


CycleScotland: 29 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NB
T: 0131 556 5560/07796 886899

Berwick Cycles:17a Bridge Street, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1ES
T: 01289 331476/07730 735396


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