Since this is the first blog post here at Powerbikes I thought it fitting to start from the beginning with our first customer who bought her bike just as we were starting up. In this post Clare details her experiences, good and bad, in the first few months of buying and riding an e-bike. The bike she bought was a the Raleigh Motus. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to help and pleased we found the right bike for Clare making her the first of many happy customers. Again, thank you Clare for taking the time to write this and thank you for choosing Powerbikes just as we were starting up.
Since moving to Cumbria 5 years ago I have wanted a bike, but with all these hills and me being old, overweight and unfit I realised I was not up to cycling anywhere.
The company I work for joined the cycle to work scheme and I noticed it included e-bikes. E-bikes! Now I wonder if they would be any good for me? So, I did some research – Google is my friend.
I found out that one of the major factors when choosing and e-bike is the engine. The heavier you weigh – the more powerful engine you need. The more unfit you are – the more powerful engine you need. The hillier the terrain is – yes you guessed it – the more powerful engine you need. So being overweight, unfit and living in Cumbria I guess I needed a particularly powerful motor.
I heard about Powerbikes and contacted Richard to see if he could help me out by finding something suitable for me. I must admit I gave him a rather long list of things I wanted: Bosch motor – crank driven, 10 speed Shimano gears, integrated lights, step through frame, rear luggage rack, side stand, LCD display etc….. And boy did he deliver.
A few weeks later Richard called me to go and have a test ride as he had sourced an e-bike that met my long, long list of requirements. I was a tad nervous as it had been many years since I had last been on a bicycle – 40 years to be exact.
Me and Ludo (my dog) arrived at Powerbikes at Sneckyeat and Richard showed me round the bike shop and the bike he thought would suit me. It was a lovely bronze step-through frame by Raleigh. As Richard showed me round the bike I could see it had an LCD display, integrated lights, a rear luggage rack, a crank driven Bosch motor, 10 speed Shimano gears, side stand. I really like the integrated bike lock. Even Ludo approves of it.
Richard said I should ride it up the road, so I carried on chatting, nothing like trying to postpone falling off the bike. As I mentioned I was rather unsure and the bike seemed huge. I don’t remember bikes looking this big when I was a teenager. Anyway……… Richard re-showed me how to change gear, adjust the amount of assistance the engine would give and after a bit he made me get on the bike.
Oh boy! I whizzed up the hill like someone was pushing me – It was so easy. It mattered not a jot that I was wobbling all over the place. I cycled off to the right and then tried to turn around. Okay I had to get off the bike and walk it round in a circle to go back the other way – I’m just glad no-one could see me, so embarrassing. I got back on the bike and wobbled out through the gate and turned right towards the path. Wow! This is fantastic. Time to turn around again, and again I must get off the bike to wheel it round to go the other way – again just grateful no-one could see me.
I wobble my way back to Powerbikes, gaining in confidence with every turn of the wheels. I LOVE this bike. I whiz downhill the Powerbikes and mange to brake to a halt without falling off or crashing into anything, jump off the bike (okay it was more like clamber off), turn to Richard and tell him to take my money, I want one and want one now!
A few days later I get a call telling me my new bike had been delivered and it was ready for me to collect. This time both Ludo and J. come with me. Once all the paperwork was completed I was ready to go. Richard asks if we are putting the bike in the back of the car, but ‘No’ I intend to ride it all the way home – a good 12 miles. Possibly not the most sensible of ideas considering this would be the first proper bike ride in 40 years, but hey ho! I’m all for giving it a go. Before leaving I fit some bright pink and flowery panniers to the rear luggage rack and place in them my bag and waterproofs.
I arrange with James to meet him at the far end of the cycle path and then he can follow me home, just so that he can be assured I’m okay. I put on my helmet and hi-viz, take a deep breath and pedal off, out the gates and turn right to the path. I am clinging grimly to the handle bars and can’t take a hand off to wave goodbye.
Unfortunately, within a few yards I realised the tarmacked path turns into a deeply rutted farm track and I soon begin to feel my teeth rattle. I gamely carry on down the track, doing my best to avoid the deeper potholes where I can and standing up in the pedals when I can’t. Please don’t let me meet anyone as I am a bit out of control. Soon enough though I come to the end of the track and turn onto a proper road. My poor bike, so little time ago it was pristine and both it and me are now covered in mud. J. who had just arrived pulls in behind me and I start the long cycle home along narrow country roads.
I am happily cycling along, practising changing gears and engine assistance and having great fun. I manged to fly up the few hills, although the speed I obtained when going downhill was a tad terrifying. After about 5 miles my poor old arthritic knees are starting to complain. As I am free-wheeling down a hill towards a larger road I see J. parked up ahead, as at some point he took a different route, and I pull in behind him. I must admit that cycling all 12 miles is a bit beyond me and we’d better put the bike in the car to get the rest of the way home.
As we are driving the rest of the way home J. tells me he had his hazard lights on all the time he was following me. Even now I am not sure whether this was to protect me or to tell other road users I was a hazard!
The main reason for getting the bike was so that I could cycle to and from work about a 5-mile round trip. Mostly downhill on the way there and ALL uphill on the way home. The first day I cycle to work I make an extra early start. I turn on the bike and the bike lights. I turn on the additional light I fixed to the front and I put on a harness that flashes red, on my back. I have also fitted hi-viz reflectors on the spokes and a dear friend had given me some colouring flashing lights for the wheels. I am lit up like a Christmas tree, so well-lit I can be seen from outer space.
I get on the bike and cycle off the drive, down the first hill and I’m into the village. Cycle through the village, not meeting anyone and turn towards the cycle path. Just up ahead I can see another cyclist, so I up my speed as I want to keep him within sight, as I am not sure where I am going. Expending a little more effort than planned I am having a fabulous time. The sun has not yet risen although it is daylight, I have the sea to my right and the fells to my left, I have seen some bats flying around. It is a beautiful morning and I am having a great time, the peacefulness it amazing. Whilst the chap in front is pulling a little ahead of me I am really chuffed I am keeping him in sight.
Oh Dear! What on earth is this in front of me? A cattle grid, on a cycle path of all places. It is not very wide and I am a little nervous, but I slow down and wobble my way through/over the grid only hitting my handlebars on the fencing once. Then, with a sigh of a relief, I am off again. A little further on……….. Oh No! Another cattle grid! I slow down again, but this time make across the grid without hitting anything. The cyclist in front of me has disappeared, but I know where I am and it is not far now till I arrive at work. When I get to the bike shed the grin on my face is a mile wide. I am so pleased with myself. I spend the whole day grinning to myself.
“Deranged Gymnast in hi-viz”
From then on, I’m cycling into work and home again every day. About half way through the 2nd week it is a pouring with rain and the wind is blowing. I chuck on my waterproofs, square my shoulders and brave the autumn weather. Riding in this sort of weather is not quite so much fun, but I am determined. I arrive at the first cattle grid, which I am used to by now. However, as the grid is wet I slow down. I slow down too much and somehow as I cross the grid my front wheel flips to the right and slips down between two of the grids. There I am in the dark, wind and rain, jammed between the fences. I try to get off the bike sideways, but the handlebars are stopping me from getting my leg through. I then try to slide backwards off the bike, but my panniers are blocking my route that way. I’m stuck! The only way I can figure out how to get off the bike is to fling my left leg up and over the handlebars like some overweight, deranged gymnast in hi-viz trying to get off a pommel horse. But off I did get and there is just enough room for me to pull the front wheel out of the gap and wheel the bike back to firm ground. I made it safely over the 2nd cattle grid, although when I arrived at work I found my waterproof trousers aren’t waterproof – luckily, I had some spare clothes at work.
About a month into to cycling and the local farmers are cutting the hedges. The view is improving although there are lots of bits from the hedge cutting on the road. I arrive at the steep hill in the village and realise I have puncture in the front tyre. I hop off my bike and take my helmet off and get ready to push the bike up the hill. Just then two of my colleagues drive by, waving and smiling. I try to flag them down, but no, they just grin and go on their way. Luckily, although the hill is steep the bike has a special button that you press when pushing the bike and the engine cuts in giving me some help to get it up the hill.
I get the bike home. Just as I hadn’t ridden a bike for 40 years, nor had I repaired a puncture. YouTube comes to the rescue and I watch a video clip on how the repair a puncture a couple of times. I flip the bike upside, remove the front wheel. Remove the tyre and inner tube and filling a sink with water I put the innertube in the water. Ahh, nothing. I think I need to pump some more air in the tyre to increase pressure to make the puncture show up. I go get the bike pump I had bought. And nothing. I can’t get any air in the tyre. What am I going to do now. On the phone ‘Richard, please help, I have a puncture and can’t get any air in the tyre.’ After a minute or so’s conversation Richard figures out I had bought a pump with a one type of valve fitting and my bike has a different type……… Who knew????? So, I say I’m bringing the inner tube to Richard to fix. As I’m getting ready to drive to Powerbikes, Richards phones me back. ‘Clare’ he says ‘the bike comes with a pump’. ‘Really’, I ask him, ‘I haven’t seen one’. Richard explains there should be a pump attached to the side of the rear luggage rack. You know the rear luggage rack that I covered with my panniers before I even left the Powerbikes shop. So, I trot out to the bike lift a pannier and whoopee, yes there is a pump – with the correct fitting. I pumped the inner tube full of air, found the puncture and repaired it. On checking the inside of the tyre I found a thorn, which I removed and put the bike back together. I was now feeling rather smug with myself.
Feeling the Difference and the E Bike Grin!
Over the weeks I am noticing that I am needing less engine assistance and my stamina is improving. I am enjoying it every time I ride my e-bike, plus I have lost a few pounds – never a bad thing. I have changed my route as to avoid the cattle grids, although I have since been told the trick is to power through them. I love riding my e-bike from Powerbikes and I find it hard not to grin manically all the time. Cycling in Cumbria was something I never thought I would be able to do, but Powerbikes sourced me the perfect bike for me and I couldn’t be happier.
Thank you Richard 😊 😊 😊