On a recent mountain bike trip to the alps, two walkers looked at our bikes in an amazement. “Wow, they are not electric” they said as we struggled past them. In France, home of the Tour de France, cycling’s most gruelling race, electric bikes are becoming more and more popular and no longer viewed as cheating but simply as a way to get out and explore the stunning surroundings.
The e-bike market is growing rapidly across Europe, in the Netherlands, for example, revenue already outstrips traditional cycle sales. Their popularity in the UK is also growing rapidly and in cities such as London they are becoming increasingly popular for commuting to work. But is British pride limiting their recreational use as e-bikes are viewed as an easy way out? They shouldn’t be even, Fabian Cancellara one of the world’s greatest road time trialler sees the benefits; “E-bikes are fantastic. I use them all the time. You can take the kids up mountains. You can arrive in your good clothes at a meeting. It’s so easy.”
For us at Serre Des Ormes, it is all about getting out, enjoying the fantastic countryside, the sunshine and that sense of freedom. The more people on two wheels the better, even if a little bit of battery power is needed to help boost moral and the enjoyment. We have had a number of guests now stay with us who have rented or brought their own electric bikes. For couples of different cycling levels they provide an opportunity to spend more time together on the bike and enjoy longer rides. Non-cycling partners come back from a ride grinning from ear to ear, for once it is not them suffering to keep up.
In Europe the bike’s battery cuts out at 25km/h and it is all leg power which does mean a little bit of awareness is needed when cycling together. Hit a hill and that is when the e-bike comes into their own, even iconic mountains such as Mont Ventoux are no longer limited to the super fit. On a recent group trip to ride through the stunning Gorges de La Nesque and then up the much feared Bedoin climb of Ventoux, Kate accompanied 3 guests on electric bikes and 2 on road bikes. It’s one of those special days on a bike but 80km in length and with 2000m of climbing, it’s beyond many riders capabilities. Everyone came back that day with big grins on their faces.
By using less and less power assistance e-bikes are also a perfect way to build both confidence and fitness and riders can feel than sense of progression. For keen cycling partners, by having your very own derny to chase around they can provide training motivation. My quickest time up the top half of Ventoux was achieved trying to chase an e-bike!
At Serre Des Ormes there are so many fantastic routes on quiet roads for everyone to enjoy and we can suggest routes suitable for all types of bikes and riders. E-bikes can easily be rented from Albion Cycles which has a simple to use online booking system. Booking in advance is highly recommended, particularly in the peak summer season.
Some of our top tips on riding e-bikes :
• Remember the assistance is limited to 25km/h, this can be particularly important when riding with others on road bikes.
• The battery will last most people at least a full day’s riding but remember not to be too over ambitious when planning a route. E-bikes are heavier than normal bikes due to the weight of the battery and would be very difficult to get over that final hill without battery assistance.
• If riding with others on road bikes we would suggest renting the E-Road Bike from Albion cycles. These are more efficient at keeping up with road bikers on gradual downhills when the battery assistance cuts out.
• Remember to charge the battery overnight! Also look out for charge points on route, the café at Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux has an arrangement with Albion Cycles to allow battery recharging whilst stopping for a quick coffee.
• E-bikes are generally more expensive than equivalent road bikes and therefore unfortunately theft is not uncommon, therefore don’t leave your E-bike unattended.
Happy E-Cycling 🙂
Paul and Kate