We recently carried a report on Ian Seager's charity ride from London to Paris. The ride was unusual in that rugby player Ian had suffered a severe knee injury but was still able to complete the course on an Ezee Torq electric bike.
The Torq is now available in the UK and this can only be a good thing. In what was once a niche market, this electric bike will surely help the genre take a step forward into the mainstream of cycling.
Singapore-based firm Ezee have made a concerted effort to disassociate Torq from the traditional image of heavy, unstylish electric bikes that weren't always the best quality. The spec of this hybrid-based bike isn't bad: a brushed aluminium and black coated frame (6061 alloy), a headset, adjustable Zoom alloy stem, Weinmann 622x20 double-wall alloy rims, eight Sora gears (with slightly disappointing range of around 208 per cent and lacking a granny gear), and ubiquitous Tektro V-brakes on the front with excellent Shimano roller brakes on the rear. Add this unusual pick and mix of components together and it looks as if you have a bike with an identity crisis.
It's undoubtedly a hybrid, but there's a nod towards a fully specced touring bike with mudguards and a 25kg- rated rack. Also thrown in are a functional-looking Sanyo bottle dynamo and a 2.4w front light, a handy CatEye Velo 5 cycle computer. My test bike weighed in at just above 25kg, without the chain and pump which are supplied as standard with the bike, which isn't bad in electric bike terms and with plenty opportunity for minimalists to make it lighter if they want.
Those who follow developments in electric bikes will get really excited when they look at the motor and battery, and the performance figures these superb bits of kit produce. A 4.4kg lithium ion battery powers the excellent and, in terms of electric bikes, physically small 200w front hub motor. Setting off, the motor sounds a little whiny and seems to be struggling for power. Above a few mph it quietens down and, as you twist the throttle grip, the power winds up until you're at the legal limit of 15mph. The limiter can be disconnected for off-road use giving speeds of over 20mph, proving this is a true mini- powerhouse of a motor. This gradual application of power makes the bike best suited to longer rides over extended gradients rather than stop-start town riding. Perhaps the best feature is the range of more than 30 miles on a single charge, with a recharge time around five hours. For this weight of bike that's truly groundbreaking.
If Ezee sorted out a few very annoying niggles, such as the massive cruiser-style 47-622 Kenda tyres (the bike would ride a lot better, especially without power, on thinner tyres), the fact the ignition key gets caught by your heel while pedalling and the strangely short mudguards, this would be an unusual but hard to fault bike. It would also be nice to have a true pedelec option, rather than the current arrangement of a switch that, in off mode, means you have to be pedalling to use the independent throttle. Switch it on and you can use the throttle on its own, moped fashion. The first three gripes are nothing a competent home mechanic couldn't sort themselves, though you don't expect to have to tinker with a £1,000-plus bike.