E-bikes for commuting make sense, and here Tony takes you through the reasons he switched from road bike to e-MTB for his commute.
“So, you need a bike for your commute to work:
– It’s 18 miles each way – a 36 mile round trip.
– You need to carry your laptop/luggage/sandwiches.
– It’s hilly in places and you have been on your feet all day.
– The road surface is pretty terrible, it’s not seen this many potholes since the blitz.
– And speaking of roads, you have to share yours with Chelsea Tractors and a fleet of Addison Lee Galaxies!!
– You also have a few short-cut options that take you along towpaths and bridal ways – the pretty route.
What bike do you choose?
This was the dilemma I had when I was working just the other side of Richmond.
I would normally ride a road bike with drop bars, but the riding position wasn’t suitable for seeing over the increasingly heavy traffic. The tyres were also a little too narrow. The last thing I wanted was a puncture on the way to work and riding with high pressure tyres you could feel every slightest imperfection in the tarmac. Not what I wanted after a stressful day.
It had to be fun…
So, something with fatter, sturdier tyres and a good, upright and commanding riding position was in order. Oh, and it had to be fun too.
A flat bar hybrid was my first thought, but although it was a practical solution it just didn’t tick the big box marked FUN.
At this point it was all clear, an electric hardtail mountain bike.
Simple really, MTBs are normally slow and laborious when riding on the road. Adding a motor makes them just as fast as a hybrid but with all the comfort you need from the fatter tyres. Add in 100-120mm of front suspension travel and you feel like the tarmac is giving you a big warm hug.
Another advantage of e-bikes for commuting is the ability to hard wire a decent front light to the motor (see below). In my case I opted for the neatly compact Light and Motion Nip 800. With 800 lumens available, it’s more than bright enough for the winter commutes and a bit of off road night riding.
Why a hardtail and not full suspension?
For mainly road use the hardtail makes much more sense. It feels more planted, more agile, more nimble and much more responsive. It just feels more! It’s also a lot easier to fit a pannier rack for carrying your luggage.
With a few small adjustments to the specification (saddle, seatpost and grips), the riding position was ideal, allowing me to see over the sea of cars and giving me plenty of time to react to incoming hazards.
I also changed the tyres for something better suited for tarmac and with plenty of puncture resistance. My tyre of choice was the excellent Schwalbe Supermoto X which has proved faultless both on and off road, with very little signs of wear in the 850 miles that I have, so far, ridden the bike.
Another advantage of an MTB for commuting is the awesome stopping power from the hydraulic disc brakes front and back. Just what you need for when cars and pedestrians suddenly appear out of nowhere.
The commute home was quicker by 10 minutes
The Bosch Performance CX motor is just superb. It knows when you are tired and throws a whole heap of torque at you when you need it most – uphill and pulling away from junctions and traffic lights. My commute in was the same time as on the road bike. The commute home was quicker by 10 minutes.
The bike has recently seen several 20 mile off road rides and has performed beyond expectations, holding its own against two of my friends on full suspension e-mtbs, but then that could just be down to the rider.
Take home message: So if it’s an e-bike for commuting you’re after, go for a hardtail e-MTB. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s practical.”
Ultimate Guide to Electric Bike Commuting: