In the war between cyclist and motorist it often seems like there is no middle ground and yet there must be thousands of people out there who spend a bit of time both behind the wheel and in the saddle. I’m one of those people, as happy to be cycling at full pelt down a muddy forest track as I am to be thrashing a hot hatch down a quiet country lane.
While I don’t spend as much time in the saddle as I would like these days I still have a keen interest in biking and it was this that led me to be intrigued by the new Smart electric bike.
Smart were one of the first brands to cotton on to the city car concept with their SmartCar (later named the ForTwo). They converted the ForTwo to run on electric in 2006 and have now taken the same principles with their first electric bike, the ebike.
This isn’t just a bike with an electric motor that does all the work. You’re still expected to pedal, but the ‘pedelec’ motor gives your thighs some assistance (you decide how much). At speeds of up to 15 mph the electric motor works with your legs to give you a power boost and if you want to go faster you just pedal faster. You choose how the battery charges itself, either when pedalling or freewheeling.
The lithium-ion battery offers 423 watt hours of life on a full charge and could, in theory, cover 62 miles on a full charge. Not only can it charge itself on the move but you can also take it off the bike and recharge it from the mains when you reach your destination.
The design looks good too, resembling a cross between a road racer with a hint of mountain bike. Its available in either white and green or grey and orange and both look great.
Commuting by bike is becoming increasingly popular, especially with Government tax breaks that allow you to buy a bike using salary sacrifice schemes. So could the Smart ebike be a tempting proposition for commuting in crowded cities? In the summer yes, I’m sure it could could, but you’d struggle to get me on any bike in the cold and dark winter months. Mind you, it’d be interesting to try it off road and I wonder how fast it could go down some of my favourite forest tracks … and how would it cope with several inches of mud caking up its carbon-toothed chain?