There’s a word, "snarge", which means the gunky pink residue deposited inside and around a jet engine in the aftermath of a bird strike.
Aeroplanes are so massive and fast, and birds are so tiny and slow, that the most basic rule of physics transmutes the animal into a kind of blood mist. This transformation kills the bird, who becomes irretrievably splooged all up the innards of an Airbus, like an Innocent Smoothie poured down the back of a sofa cushion.
While riding the Trek Super Commuter+ 8, I feared for the bodily integrity of London’s pigeons. This bike is big and red and gets you to work on chunky Motocross tyres that look like they could ride over the traffic rather than through it. Given its speed and mass, as well the slow reaction times of pigeons, I’m confident that each bike will accidentally snarge a flock or two in its operational lifetime. Trek should throw in a complimentary box of wet wipes with each sale.
Electric bikes work by providing some additional “push”, multiplying your pedal power and boosting you up to the EU-mandated limit of around 15mph before the motor stops assisting.
On this bike’s highest assistance setting, called Turbo, you bolt away from traffic lights like a slapped horse. The initial acceleration is so ferocious, in fact, that reaching the motor’s speed limit is like hitting treacle. On saner assistance settings, it’s a smoother and less thrilling ordeal, as you’re eased up to top speed and able to coast along with a bit of gentle pedalling.
On this bike’s highest assistance setting, called Turbo, you bolt away from traffic lights like a slapped horse.
The result is a breezy ride on which you’ll struggle to break a sweat. Hills that were once drawn-out, low-gear slogs become leisurely ascents, propelled by the beefy Bosch battery between your legs. Your mileage will vary greatly, depending on a number of conditions, including how much effort you’re putting in, the road quality and the frequence of stopping. My daily round commute of about ten hilly miles (using maximum assistance, because my legs are precious and I am so often hungover) is easily covered several times over by a single charge.
Other electric bikes place the motor in either the front or rear wheel hub, which can make them feel oddly balanced and, when storing them, difficult to carry. With the Super Commuter the motor is positioned between the pedals in a shielded box, to provide direct torque, which leaves room on the wheel hubs for more important stuff like hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano gears.
Subtly convenient too is how the front and rear lights are powered by the bike itself, rather than from a USB charge or an endless supply of poundshop batteries.
There are some drawbacks, depending on your personal circumstances. Those with especially pothole-besmirched routes might want to consider a bike with some suspension. Once you’re zipping along at electrically assisted speeds, bumpier London roads can take their toll on the tootsie, in some extreme cases snarging the gooch beyond recognition.
Misanthropes and the socially awkward should also be warned that your giant red electric bike will attract the attention of other cyclists, who’ll want to stop and ask questions. The bell is also pretty pathetic considering the £3,800 price tag, producing a rather plain “ding”, rather than the more upmarket “br-r-r-ing br-r-r-ing”.
Those minor points aside, the Trek Super Commuter+ 8 is an outstanding electric bike and – now that the city is finally emerging from the coldest depths of winter like a huge sleepy bear made out of buildings and roads – a serious alternative to driving a car in London.
Despite looking like a pigeon-crushing tank, it glides like a pigeon-crushing angel, and sets an incredibly high standard for the competition to follow.
Frame: A high-performance hydroformed e-bike frame with integrated battery and Motor Armour
Fork: Rigid Carbon with integrated mudguard mount and RockShox Maxle Stealth axle
Wheels: Shimano XT hubs, 15 mm front; double-walled rims with eyelets
Front Hub: Shimano XT, 15 mm thru-axle
Rear Hub: Shimano XT
Rims: Double walled with eyelets
Tyres: Schwalbe Super Moto-X with GreenGuard puncture protection, 650Bx2.40, ECE-R75 certified
Shifters: Shimano XT Rapid Fire
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus
Crank: RIDE+ aluminium, 18T
Cassette: Shimano M8000 11-42T, 11-speed
Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2
Seatpost: Bontrager Race
Handlebar: Bontrager Lowriser
Grips: Bontrager Satellite Elite ergonomic, lock-on
Stem: Bontrager Elite 7-degree w/Blendr adapters
Brake set: Shimano M615 hydraulic disc
Battery: Bosch PowerPack 500 (500 Wh)
Controller: Bosch Purion
Motor: Bosch Performance CX, 25 Km/h, 250 Watt
Extras: Motor Armour, bell