Electric bikes still feel like an insane kind of magic. Start to pedal and an intelligent motor in the wheel hub kicks in to help you accelerate, zooming you up to an EU-mandated speed limit of 15mph. The sensation is similar to being pushed along by your dad, except now your dad is invisible and lives inside your front wheel. Hills become a doddle, and depending on the bike it’s possible to cruise along while putting in hardly any effort at all.
With batteries and motors becoming increasingly small and discreet, e-bikes like the X-Ride have become harder and harder to tell apart from regular road bikes too, which is good news for anybody who fears their ingenuity could be mistaken for laziness. Typically e-bikes – which have been around longer than most would realise – cost thousands, but at £799 the X-Ride is one of the more affordable. It achieves this by dialling down the battery capacity (the most expensive component of most e-bikes), though with a range of 30 miles it’s more than capable of covering most daily commutes.
The X-Ride is identical in weight to the slightly more expensive Gtech eBike (£995), and looks a little sleeker with its narrower frame. But it’s also clunkier at low speeds: the motor is slow to kick in from a standing start and the heavy, motor-bearing front wheel the bike can feel wobbly when pulling away from traffic lights. Once you get going it’s a smoother ride, and just the barest pressure on the pedals will keep you coasting along at 15mph; perfect for those early mornings when you really can’t be bothered exerting yourself.
If you’re after an e-bike for under a grand and plan on blasting around London roads on a daily basis, I would recommend the Gtech for its ability to launch itself away from junctions. The X-Ride feels zippier at top speeds, but if your route is dominated by stopping and starting, that sluggish motor will quickly become a frustration. Still, the X-Ride positions itself at the vanguard of an affordable e-bike revolution. Cheating’s never been this cheap.