With a background in gym fitness machines, Daum no doubt felt well-placed to enter the electric bike market in 2009. The system they came up with is entirely of their own design and is assembled in their factory in Germany. This is quite a remarkable achievement, not to say a brave investment of money and time, when you consider the crank-drive market has been dominated by the excellent Panasonic system for the past decade, almost to the total exclusion of all other models.
Visually, the Daum’s most striking feature is the sizeable electronic dashboard, which displays a host of information including the estimated range of the bike at your current power consumption (updated every few seconds) and a gauge showing how hard the motor is working. Both of these features are unusual for an electric bike, despite the fact they're hugely useful in helping you get the maximum range from your battery and preventing you running out of power before you arrive at your destination.
The large display screen and the sizeable rack-top mounted battery don’t do the bike any favours in the looks department, but a close examination of the build quality of the machine is much more pleasing to the eye, with solid engineering and a sturdy spec including an eight-speed Shimano Nexus Premium hub gear, Suntour suspension fork and Schwalbe Marathon tyres on solidly built 700c alloy rims.
Busch & Muller lights are also fitted (Fly IQ at the front and Toplight Flat Plus at the rear) and these are powered by a hub dynamo, as demanded by German law – despite the fact that running them off the battery would make more sense and help reduce weight. The same motor system and high spec components can be found on two different alloy frames – a Comfort step-through model (44cm & 52cm) and the Trekking hybrid-type frame (women’s 44 & 52cm / men’s 48 & 56cm) tested here.
Ride & handling: Smooth and responsive ride for the more sedate rider
This is a smooth riding pedelec, without a doubt; Daum’s electronics background means that as soon as you begin pedalling the magic box of tricks housed around the crank area translates your pedal pressure into responsive yet evenly delivered power via the chain to the rear wheel. That smooth and quiet assistance is still quite a feat of electronics engineering and, up until now, one that only Panasonic and the less well known Sunstar had managed to pull off successfully. Daum have come up with a system at least their equal.
In the tradition of pure pedelec riding, you switch on, choose low, medium or high power settings, and away you go. Acceleration is smooth and quick, though this being a feature-packed and sturdy bike, aimed primarily at middle-aged and older German folk, the Daum is never going to break any speed records. Comfortable and sedate leisure riding and touring are more its forte, though it does ride quite nicely without the power on. It also features a ‘walk and push’ motor-assist feature – handy if the terrain becomes too rough and steep for riding.
The Premium version features extra electronics tricks which do rather smack of information overload, including an SMS text messaging function that will tell you if your bike has been stolen and a GPS facility allowing routes to be imported (though this is rather wasted on the single tone LCD screen). The Classic version, which still has the excellent display feature showing the percentage of battery capacity left and how far that will get you at your current rate of consumption, really has everything all but the most ardent technophile should need.
Although it’s at the higher end of the price scale, the Daum represents very good value for money when you consider the quality of the crank-drive system and the sophisticated electronics. These bikes will appeal to those who are always on the lookout for the latest technology. Older leisure riders in particular will like the large LCD display and the easy and comfortable riding style. A lightweight, racier version with a battery mounted lower down on the bike to improve handling would certainly widen its appeal, though.