At just over 20kg (44lb) and with the frame geometry of a sporty 700c-wheeled racer, Kalkhoff's Pro Connect is one of the lightest and highest quality electric bikes around. It rides fast and goes a ground-breakingly long way on a single charge.
Ride & handling: Motor helps you get up even alpine-style gradients
When you get on the Pro Connect S it's easy to forget it's an electric bike and ride it like a sporty tourer – until you hit the hills, when the motor comes into its own.
Set to power level one of three, you get a small but appreciable assist when even light pressure is applied to the cranks. This is great for easier but nagging gradients, especially if going into the wind and with a touring load. Level two gets you up long hills into stiff headwinds and level three can cope with alpine-style gradients.
It's possible to do well over 40 miles per battery, putting the Kalkhoff way ahead of any other electric bike out there in terms of lightness, efficiency and range. The only downside is rattling from the battery casing.
With a recharge time of about five hours, this would be a great long-distance commuter, while sports riders recovering from injury may also give it more than a passing glance. Anyone looking for a little help over long distances while travelling at speed would find it ideal.
Chassis: Long wheelbase adds stability, fork gives comfortable ride
The Pro Connect looks somewhat ungainly due to its 'stretched' rear end – the chainstays and seatstays have been elongated to make room for the motor, which sits behind the seat tube. This adds stability at speed, without making cornering too much of a handful.
The Kalkhoff's 20kg (44lb) heft is noticeable at low speeds but the bike is well balanced, with a low centre of gravity, and the weight is soon forgotten once the electric pedal assistance kicks in.
The unbranded carbon fork shaves a little weight and gives direct steering with no noticeable flex, but with a welcome hint of compliance over rough ground.
Equipment: High-end Shimano kit helps make bike a joy to use
It`s not just the 250 watt Panasonic motor (fitted discreetly behind the bottom bracket) and the lithium ion 10 amp hour battery that are super-efficient.
The Shimano wheelset with wide flange hubs and nine-speed Shimano Deore XT gear setup are the kind of racing kit that has never previously appeared on a production pedelec. Once electric power is added to this kind of spec, it really is a joy to use.
The powerful V-brakes do a good job of stopping what is quite a heavy bike, and the kick stand is a nice touch.
Our main gripes were the narrow gear range and a rather uncomfy saddle – but both are down to personal taste and easily changed.
The bike will appear in the UK in two incarnations:
Pro Connect Alfine with out-of-the-box top speed of 15.5mph. This can be increased, by changing the number of teeth on the rear sprocket, to approach 20mph. Comes with Shimano's eight-speed Alfine hub gear. Price about £1,495.
Pro Connect S with top speed of 25mph. Comes with nine-speed Shimano Deore XT, magnesium alloy Kalkhoff Verso adjustable forks and upgraded Panasonic motor (with black casing). Due for later release than the Alfine. Price about £1,795.