I’m not normally one for quoting (or probably mis-quoting) biblical phrases, but I’d like to start this post by saying judge not lest ye be judged. You see amongst cyclists e-bike is a dirty word and we’ve just bought one…
As The Roasting House grows, we need new tools and new logistic challenges present themselves. We planned to grow, we are growing but there are certain core principles we will always keep. One of those is sustainability.
Our Coffee Club is our most popular product and for £4.75 a delivery in Nottingham it’s obvious why. It takes us a few miles north of our base in Arnold, NG5 and as far south as Ruddington and Long Eaton. It’s a 50 mile round trip and a long day out. Split between two of us it’s slightly easier but we are human and look for the easiest method so a couple of times, mainly due to weather, we have hired a car – it’s not ideal and our total mileage for using bikes or walking our deliveries stays the same but it’s not an option we’re too happy about using even when the circumstance does warrant it.
So we bought an e-bike. It has an electric assist of speeds up to 15.5mph which won’t break any speed records but does make the hills of Nottingham a lot easier. Its range is ‘up to’ 50 miles on eco and 20 miles on climbing at full charge. The guide says it will cost about 1p per mile when assisting, and since we expect to do about 2000 miles a year on it, this will cost us about £20 – assuming we use the assist all the time. Basically it has negligible running costs.
An electric bike wasn’t really on our radar until we were working out logistics of what to do while the Coffee Club route is taking place on days of mid-twenties degrees temperature and 90%+ humidity which we have had a few times in these mid-summer months. Our first thought was the tram. With phase two near completion the furthest points the tram touches put us within 10 minutes cycling distance of our furthest customers. Mass-public-transport is green because of the amount of people it carries (even if the electric it runs on may be from dirty fuel), the amount of people within a designated space it can get from point to point is higher than other modes of transport other than walking. But walking our deliveries is impractical and the bike is such a wonderful machine not much bigger a human and designed with a human in mind it’s up there with humankind’s greatest inventions.
The tram however, wasn’t to be. Over a year ago we contacted NETTram to ask if they would consider allowing bikes on their trams during off-peak hours like they do on the Overground in London and other European countries.They said the bylaws didn’t allow them and they had no plan to change them. We asked again when Edinburgh trialled allowing bikes on their tram and they seemed open to considering it. Once Edinburgh declared the trial a success we asked again but the response was the trams are too short and they can’t make the special adaptations like Edinburgh can (although Nottingham use the exact same trams as some European cities that do allow bikes on, but anyway).
That left us considering the electric assist bike and we couldn’t be happier. Hills that had us gasping or daunting days in the saddle are no longer. Using discounts we spent £800 on our ebike to buy from new (tram fares would have been about that for the year). The battery has a two year warranty and the frame has five years.
Is it cheating? No. If we used a car for our deliveries then I doubt anyone would say we are cheating. I have never heard anyone say the package they had delivered to them got there by cheating because the vehicle used had a combustion engine run on the remains of dinosaurs dug out of the ground. Our coffee club deliveries are utility cycling rather than sport or fitness cycling (although it does keep us fit) and using the e-bike means we can now get up early, start roasting at 7am, do our deliveries, and then come back to finish the rest of the day’s work without feeling completely exhausted. It also means we can enjoy proper cycling for fun again as we still have legs left at the end of the day!
Our world is built around cars so it’s the automatic choice when choosing a vehicle but we love bikes because they are so versatile, they get to places, get through gaps and park in places no other vehicle can and with electric assist for up to 50 miles it covers more than what most cars do a in a day. If you get chance to ride one, do it; it’s an instant smile on your face. Will people care that you have an electric assist? Maybe. Will they notice? Probably not. Should you care? No.
Since getting the bike we have noticed more electric bikes on the road and we don’t think that is because in the last week lots of people have bought one. It’s because we simply didn’t notice before but now are a little more tuned to notice them. It’s a great leveller in abilities, you can keep up with traffic and other bikes on the road, you don’t arrive at your destination sweaty and you’re using a cheaper vehicle that has negligible running costs and is much healthier. If your reasons for not cycling are lack of fitness, reduced mobility, or not wanting to get to your destination hot and sweaty, an e-bike is the answer.
Without Nottingham Trams refusal to consider a change in the bylaws they wrote then we might never have been introduced to the fun of electric assist and it would have cost us more money. So thank you NETTrams. The first article we read that led us to seriously consider electric assist was this one by Richard Branson. So thank you Richard. The discounts we used to get the bike are the ones detailed here on HotUKDeals. So thank you HUKD. The bike itself is UCR 30 by Ebco. So thank you Ebco.
Right I’m off to whizz up the hill to Sherwood now 😉