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Cycling is one of those great win/win/wins you get some exercise, feel healthier and more in touch with your environment and it is by far the most energy efficient form of transport. Energy efficiency in transport is all about the power to weight ratio so it seems crazy that we design cars that weigh over a ton to move a person weighing 80 kilos.
OK there is a problem, Malvern is too hilly I hear you say and anyway I am too old to cycle. Not if you have an electric bike, when the sensor detects it is getting harder work for you the motor helps you pedal. The same with head winds. This means you are able climb hills easier and faster, none of that walking up hills, standing on pedals or puffing and panting
I live in Colwall Green and am 73 years old it takes me on average 15 mins to get to the middle of Malvern 4 miles away in a car and 20 minutes on an electric bike. I arrive feeling fresher but not sweaty. With paniers I can carry some shopping and of course park anywhere. There is something very satisfying about cycling, for me it is the combination of choosing my pace, sedate or thrilling, experiencing my surroundings and a warm glow of self-satisfaction knowing this is good for me and the planet.
It was this good for the planet Carbon Footprint saving associated with electric bikes compared with cars, particularly for the shorter journeys, that got us to start our Electric Bike Loan Scheme 6 years ago. Now you see many more in Malvern. We wanted local residents to experience the tremendous benefits of a good electric bike. With the motor assisting you as pedalling gets harder. Our idea was to give local residents the chance to have a real trial over a 2 week period, so they could try some of their regular trips to see if it works for them. We have 4 mid-range bikes for a free 2 week loan. I also have 2 folding bikes of my own that can be tried when visiting me, one is a converted Brompton an amazing machine if you need a small folder. I use this when ferrying the car club cars about.
There are two main systems of providing the power by either a motor in the wheel hub or a motor driving the crank/pedals. The later tends to be smoother and have better range and hill climbing ability with a smaller motor. There are also different power outputs of motors and batteries. We can help you figure out what is likely to be best for you depending on your use pattern, location, budget and fitness.
Our scheme has also been very helpful to people recovering from illnesses, operations and injuries. It has also helped people who have lost their licence to stay mobile and get to work. Many people have not cycled for years and are amazed at how well they can get back into it. Several parents have taken up electric bikes so they can ride with their children to school a great way of keeping them fit and helping children to see that car travel doesn’t have to be the default way to be mobile.
Using an electric bike in combination with our Car Club (Car Share 12 vehicles and 70 households in the Malvern area) can work very well. This way you have access to a car when you need it for those longer journeys or big shopping trips all at a fraction of the cost of running your own car (or second car).
Good bikes are expensive so sometimes people prefer to hire from us on a long term basis and we also sell our bikes after 3 years for less than half price. Malvern Cycles now stock and sell Electric Bikes and we can help you decide on the best electric bike for you. We strongly advise avoiding cheap ones on the internet as they often suffer from poor performance, reliability, early battery failure and no spares or service backup. The exception might be if you are going to be a very occasional user but then we would suggest buying from a dealer who will give you service and near enough so you can return the bike easily.
This post is by Robin Coates and is based on an article by Robin in Malvern Hillistic.