New pictures: Halfords go electric

UK’s biggest bike retailers bring pedelecs to the high street

It’s official: electric bikes are going mainstream in the UK. From this month, Halfords – the nationwide chain responsible for a third of the country's new bike market – will stock two electric assisted bikes.

Known as pedelecs, as the power only kicks in to help when you start to pedal, these 'Urbanmover' models will be available at 80 Halfords shops and online.

The UM44L U-Sprite, a Dutch-style townie step-through bike, will cost £649.99, while the mountain-bike-style UM33X will be priced at £899.99. Both use a 200w motor mounted on the rear wheel, with a simple handlebar-mounted controller. The UM44L U weighs in at around 22kg (48.5lb) including battery.

Both models give you up to 20 miles on one battery charge, and can be fully recharged in about four hours. It’s claimed the battery is good for 800 recharging cycles, the downside being that a new battery will set you back almost £300 – something that’s definitely worth factoring into the running costs if you’re likely to use the bike day in and day out, all year round.

The Urbanmover UM33X borrows styling cues from the mountain bike scene

But assuming you ride a 20-mile-a-day round trip commute, and work about 250 days a year, you’re still talking over three years of electrically assisted pedalling. And at roughly 2p a full recharge, this has to be a one of the cheapest motorised ways of commuting.

Add to that the possibility of getting either of these bikes at roughly half price through your company’s cycle to work scheme – with the likelihood of being able to pay for it in monthly, interest-free instalments over a year – and suddenly the maths start to add up.

The 200w rear hub motor kicks in quicker than most to give you a push up to speed

And that's without considering the benefits to your health, state of mind and independence. Some cyclists might say pedelecs aren’t bikes. But you get all the same pedal turning, wheel-spinning fun and independence of an unassisted bike, plus the versatility of easy load hauling – even up hills – not to mention the extra safety of quicker getaways from traffic lights. Sold? We think they will be...

Cycling Plus magazine's Neil Pedoe aboard the Urbanmover UM44L U-Sprite

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