While the negative effects of the pandemic will be felt for many years, it will also act as a catalyst for the creation of thousands of new businesses across the country. Certainly, there is mounting pressure on the government to rebuild in a greener, more planet-friendly way. WhichEV will be picking up on these local hero success stories, as our way of encouraging tomorrow's entrepreneurs to step up and start implementing their ideas. We begin this series in The Chantry Centre, Andover.
It might seem obvious to you and I, but in the UK a bicycle must be peddled. Electric bicycles are no different. They can assist, but that's it. If you want to ‘twist your wrist' and disappear into the distance – then an electric bicycle isn't what you need. So you will get exercise with an eBike, but you can also go up hills and pull away from the traffic lights a lot easier. They are legally limited to 15.5mph with electric assistance – faster than that and you're exclusively under your own steam.
Hampshire eBikes carries two lines of electric bikes: Mark2 and Batribike. Batribike is a family business that has been selling power-assisted bicycles since 2006 and now has a full range to suit most budgets and requirements. Prices start at £999 for the folding Dart-F and go up to almost £2,000 for the crossbar style Delta Plus 48 and Gamma-X.
The Mark2 range is much simpler right now, with four models – one for each riding style:-
Folding bike with fat tyres, six-speed Shimano gearset and a 48v motor at £1,499
- Step Thru
Hybrid electric bike that offers five levels of assistance for up to 34 miles, also at £1,499
Built in the tradition of the mountain bike with an assisted range up to 62 miles at £1,979
Designed to be flexible with 24-speed Shimano gears and puncture resistant tyres for £1,999
Given that both ranges can be bought online, you might be wondering why have a store. We spoke with Ed Thomas who had the idea in the first place.
“Many people will have never seen an electric bicycle before, so we wanted to give them a chance to get hands-on before they buy,” explained Thomas. “Also, there is a small amount of assembly for a mail order bicycle. Even though it's simple, if you buy in-store then we will do that for you and make sure everything is safe before you leave.”
We asked Thomas how he positions the two ranges side by side.
“In car terms, it's like the relationship between Fiat and Alfa Romeo,” he explained. “The Fiat range is broader and offers solid products for everyday use – while the Alfa Romeo has a sports and leisure pedigree.”
When we asked where the Mark2 products were designed and built, Thomas told us, “The brand itself is British and every product is hand-crafted in Europe.”
The other advantage of buying from a local specialist store is that you know where to go for help. Mark2 bikes are guaranteed for two years and Thomas also told us that most of the bicycle can be serviced in any bicycle store. So if you do choose to buy mail order, then at least you know it's serviceable.
We're told that these bikes can be recharged on a standard socket, that it costs around 3 pence for a ‘full tank' and takes three to four hours. In the case of the Mark2 models that we looked at, you can remove the battery with a security key – giving the possibility of getting a recharge at your desk, ready for later.
If you find yourself near Andover, then consider checking out the range at Hampshire eBikes. There's plenty of parking in the shopping centre car park.
Lastly, if you know of any local electric bicycle specialists opening in your area, please let us know – we will be starting reviews shortly!