A motor on a bike? That’s cheating isn’t it?
This is a typical response when discussing e-bikes with those who have yet to try them and I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical about the advantages.
However as a regular commuter by bike to work it made sense to test the new Trek Super Commuter+ 9 e-bike for its intended purpose and see how it compared with a regular road bike for the same journey.
The integrated Bosch motor provides power only as pedal assistance and so boosts the bike along meaning less effort from the rider. The assistance is limited to 15.5 mph by EU law and so once at this speed the motor cuts out leaving the rider to pedal the bike along.
Overall this bike has been incredibly well thought out. Integrated daylight running lights, integrated mudguards, pannier rack, wide and stable handlebars, a neutral geometry giving responsive yet stable handling, wide tyres to absorb bumps with great rollover capability and finally internal rear hub gears to keep shifting out of the weather and cleanly out of reach of a commuter. Every detail has been scrutinised and every solution provided for the express purpose of a commuter bike.
But does it work as a package?
Simply – yes, incredibly well. The bike rides very comfortably and with good poise and stability whilst cornering. The pannier rack is perfect for commuters who don’t want a rucksack making their back sweat or creasing their clothes. Always on daylight running lights are essential for all road riders, particularly those in towns.
What about the motor?
So for the first ride I treated the Super Commuter+ like any other road bike I would ride and road hard everywhere. The motor boosted my acceleration from traffic lights and roundabouts with such ease to get me back up to the magical 15.5 mph. However once past this speed there was a tough job of keeping this quite heavy bike rolling at an average of over 20mph. When faced with the 20% hill however the bike let me fly up with ease, breezing past two other riders who looked pretty puffed whilst I was feeling fresh!
With this experience as a benchmark I treated the next journey firmly as the commuter ought to – with respect and as a journey to work (not a workout!). So I let the motor do all the hard work and get me up to speed and hold me there with ease. A very stable average speed of 14 mph was maintained with such comfort and so little effort that I arrived at work quite cold as I had dressed for my regular road bike commute but had worked so much less that I had not generated the usual body heat. 12 miles covered with comfort and style yet no hard work so a nice fresh start for the working day.
This bike could really replace the car for many people’s journeys and should be tested to be believed. The motor is not cheating – it’s the perfect tool for the job.