Q: I know this is seriously cheating but my partner wants to go on long bike treks and I would like to go with him but find the hills a bit daunting (we live in the Highlands). I remember reading somewhere that there are small engines available for mountain bikes.
Ideally I would not want one that runs on fuel, so wondered if you could tell me if there are dynamo-type engines out there, and if so where I could start looking!
A: As an electric bike enthusiast I’d say not cheating at all Alison. And I’d certainly recommend an electric, battery powered add-on motor as the answer to your hilly woes. No need to feel guilty when such devices, if theoretically run on petrol, would give several thousand miles per gallon and have no emissions. Also, most give the option to pedal without power if you want a bit of exercise.
Which is the best electric motor for your needs? For steepish off-road tracks the only one I’d really recommend is the Currie electro-drive.
This looks rather cumbersome and adds several kg to the weight of your bike – around 9kg overall if you choose a decent size Nickel Metal Hydride battery, which I think are worth paying extra for as they give many more miles per kg than the horribly heavy and short range lead acid batteries.
The upside of this is plenty of torque (power on demand on steeper hills) which you’ll probably need for Highland trail riding – power is applied using a throttle so you only have to use it when you really need it.
The bike is still a perfectly legal road bike once the motor is fitted. You might need to buy a new rear wheel to have it spoked into, as it will only fit 36 spoke, 3-cross pattern wheels with derailleur (so not hub) gears. Cost is between £325 and £550 depending on which battery option (size and type) you go for.
Go to www.electrodrive.co.uk or call 07974 723996.
There are much lighter options that will fit a wider range of bikes but they are not quite as powerful as the Currie. Electric Bike Sales of Cambridge stocks a new model weighing less than 5kg (motor and battery!).
See www.electricbikesales.co.uk . Tel: 01223 247410.