Puff… Gasp… just got off the bike after 18 gruelling laps of the one hour electric bike endurance rally round the streets of the Welsh Border town of Presteigne. The sun shone, the crowds cheered as we sailed over the finish line and my stepson caught a wing mirror with his handlebars, then nose-dived into a parked Skoda. Puff… Aah, the agony and the ecstasy.
Puff… Gasp… best to play down the fact that David Henshaw from AtoB magazine, riding an eZee Torq and some guy on £2,500’s worth of Swiss engineering, got into a serious battle for first place and were probably hitting 40 miles an hour with big grins on their faces as they swept through the factory part of the course. Must commend the bloke down the road who built his bike for £12.50 out of a tractor battery, a starter motor and a folding bike from the auction, not to mention the guy who was going like a rocket despite being 75 years old, wearing an old 1950s motorcycle helmet, driving an electric shopper he had bought for his wife.
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The Electric Bike Festival took place in May, in the town of Presteigne, in Wales. It was part of Eco Event 2006, a week long festival with workshops, demonstrations and trade stalls. This year’s eco-theme was Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources. Manufacturers, riders and the editors of AtoB magazine, as well as members of the Wasteless Society, attended a conference during the festival, which discussed many issues surrounding the future of the electric bike. Statistics show that the average UK car journey is only nine miles, so the conference looked at how car drivers can be encouraged to make the switch from cars to electric bikes. ‘A new form of ecological transport has finally arrived,’ announced David Henshaw, editor of AtoB. ‘These bikes can do much higher speeds than ordinary ones, particularly up hills, yet they only sip fuel.’ On average an electric bike can travel up to 3,000 miles for less than the cost of just four litres of petrol. They hold a battery and small motor and can go as fast as 15 miles per hour. They require no road tax or MOT testing and they are treated the same as ordinary bicycles from a legal point of view.
‘I noticed there wasn’t a decent electric bike event anywhere,’ said organiser, Pete Mustill. ‘People always ask me questions like how fast can they go?’ and this event has answered them. People could look at the bikes and even have a go on them.’
In the UK electric bikes are fast becoming as popular as motorcycles and with many new models appearing all the time, sales are most definitely on the rise.
Contact: Pete Mustill, [email protected]
David Henshaw, AtoB magazine
Left: riding through Presteigne. Photo: © Alex Ramsey
Above: winner, David Henshaw. Photo: © Philippa Wheeler. Below: spectators. Photo: © Alex Ramsey
Report by Alex Rankin