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Electric Road Bike Review

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Introduction

This is going to be a great year in the e-bike industry, for consumers and businesses alike. In this article I will be looking at the latest trend in electric bikes, and doing an electric road bike review on the:

Heavyweight and ugly e-bikes are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There are a new generation of bikes emerging that perfectly integrate the electric motor and battery, making it harder to distinguish an e-bike from a conventional bike.

orbea gain d50 electric road bike multi-colour

This article will focus on Electric road bikes. As e-bike niches go, the electric road bike has been slow to catch on. I started to see a growth in demand a couple of years ago (when I ran my conversion business) .

The great news, is that all the major bike brands have finally realised that there is a significant market for electrically assisted road bikes. These new models are a perfect blend of traditional road bike combined with integrated battery packs and discreet motors.

Watch this great video courtesy of GCN 

Electric bikes – The gateway to a healthier lifestyle.

After many years of not cycling regularly and neglecting my health, I eventually rediscovered the passion I had in my youth.

At the time, I was obese and extremely unhealthy. I used an electric bike for a whole year to gradually build my fitness levels up and lose enough weight to finally realise my desire to get back into cycling.

To put this into perspective, at 43 years of age I had high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and weighed 290lbs. I am now a few months off from my fiftieth birthday and weigh 225lbs with normal blood pressure and no more sleep apnoea.

Electric bikes are cheating!

E-bikes have definitely polarised opinions within the cycling community, and I was always bemused when people made remarks like “electric bikes are cheating” . Incidentally, most of those people weren’t even cyclists!

A good friend of mine who is a lifelong cycling fanatic and has cycled on every continent, gave me great inspiration and encouragement every step of the way on my journey.

He has always been a cycling purist. He never even took his driving test as he believes cars are pointless.

His perspective on electric bikes is that anyone who gets off their backside and goes cycling, regardless of whether they are assisted or not deserves respect.

What if you are a committed road cyclist, but have been recovering from an injury or your knees are starting to suffer on the climbs

I know, that riding an e-bike gave me the confidence I needed to ease myself back into the saddle and helped me a lot with the seemingly endless steep hills where I live.

So where do electric road bikes fit into all of this?

Some die hard road cyclists would say what’s the point? Just go out and buy a hybrid or something.

What if you are a committed road cyclist, but have been recovering from an injury or your knees are starting to suffer on the climbs. Should you just stop cycling with your friends on the weekend?

road cyclists riding in a group

The electric road bike is a great solution to the above problem.

If you find you are getting dropped more and more often on long climbs, maybe it is time to put your ego on hold and accept that your body can’t quite sustain the continued pace that it could when you were younger.

Maybe you could just go cycling with a club that rides at a slower pace. Either way, there is now a viable option.

I have gone from riding an electric bike to being a fully fledged roadie, but I would start using an e-bike again in a heartbeat if I needed to.

I promised myself that I would be cycling for the rest of my days, and if that means when I’m older I need to go back to an e-bike, then so be it.

Below are three electric road bike reviews of some of the latest offerings from Bianchi, Cube and Cannondale.

Bianchi Aria E-Road – Price £4499.99Bianchi aria e-road electric road bike

What can I say? I’m in love! Bianchi have got it spot-on with the Aria E-road. This beautiful e-bike offers genuine road cyclists a solution to the problem they’ve all been waiting for: the look and feel of a traditional road race machine with the additional electric assistance of an E-bike when it is really needed. Bianchi’s Inner Power Drive system accommodates just this.

Powerful Shimano hydraulic disc brakes give you the stopping power required to push yourself in any conditions, safe in the knowledge that you can brake in any eventuality.

This is a very capable road bike on its own, but with the addition of the electric assist, it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you ride it.

The full carbon frame is light enough to give you that extra edge, yet retains the stiffness that ensures none of the energy you’re putting in is wasted.

The sleek aero tube profile of the bike is complemented by internal cable routing and a hidden seat-post clamp, ensuring the most aerodynamic of rides.

This has to be one of my favourite new generation e-road bikes. It has all the style and beauty we have come to expect from the Italian bike manufacturer , with the added bonus of a very discreet electric motor. Despite its hefty price tag, I can imagine this will be one of the more popular models of 2019.

Full Specification

  • Frame – Aria E-Road Disc carbon, mechanical/electronic shifting compatible, integrated seat clamp, full carbon dropout, flat mount, QR system, OLD 135mm
  • Fork – Bianchi Full Carbon Disc 1.4″>1.1/8″, thru axle 12x100mm
  • Number of Gears – 22
  • Shifters – Shimano Ultegra ST-R8020 2x11sp
  • Chainset – Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000
  • Chainrings – 52x36T
  • Cassette – Shimano 105 CS-R7000 11-32T
  • Chain – Shimano Ultegra CN-HG701-11
  • Front Derailleur – Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000
  • Rear Derailleur – Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 GS 11sp
  • Bottom Bracket – Shimano SM-BB72-41B
  • Pedals – N/A
  • Rims – Vision Trimax alloy disc
  • Front Hub – Vision Trimax alloy disc
  • Rear Hub – Vision Trimax alloy disc w/Ebikemotion motor unit hub
  • Front Tyre – Vittoria Rubino IV 700×28
  • Rear Tyre – Vittoria Rubino IV 700×28
  • Front Brake – Shimano BR-R8070 Hydraulic Disc
  • Rear Brake – Shimano BR-R8070 Hydraulic Disc
  • Brake Levers – w/ Shifters
  • Handlebars – Reparto Corse Aero Compact
  • Headset – FSA Orbit C-33, NO.44E, 1.1/8″>1.1/4″
  • Stem – Reparto Corse 3D Forged alloy 6061
  • Saddle – Selle Royal Seta S1
  • Seatpost – Aria Full Carbon Aero
  • Post Clamp – Integrated

Verdict

I absolutely love this bike. It oozes style from every angle, but its big strength is hidden beneath the surface. This is a very capable road bike on its own, but with the addition of the electric assist, it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you ride it.

I can see many applications for the electric road bike, apart from being used by riders recovering from injury or illness. Let’s just say you have completed a punishing Sportive, and you are eager to get back into the saddle the next day, but your legs are saying NO – just jump on this bad boy and spin away without a care in the world…. happy days!

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Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 – Price £3499.99

2019 Cube agree C 62 hybrid electric road bike

Cube have been producing good electric bikes for a few years now, and this pedigree is apparent with the Agree C:62 hybrid.

As you’d expect from a high end road bike, it is constructed from elegantly designed C:62 carbon. Within the sculpted downtube is a fully integrated,  and removable Fazua Evation drive unit and battery. The design is so good, that it would take a second glance to even realise that this was an E-Bike. Working in perfect harmony with the Shimano 105 groupset, the pedal assistance flattens out those painful climbs, extends your cycling range and just lets you do more. The Agree Hybrid is a revelation!

The Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 is a gorgeous bike. It retains all the character of its non-assisted stablemate without compromising on ridability

Front and rear thru axles combine with the carbon bladed forks to provide the rigidity needed for efficient and instant pedal response, and the tapered headtube tech provides agile and responsive handling whilst cutting down on weight. Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes provide superior stopping power in all conditions, letting you pedal more and brake less.

Full Specification

  • Frame – C:62 Advanced Twin Mold Technology Aero Frame, Flat Mount Disc, Road Comfort Geometry, AXH, 12x142mm
  • Fork – CUBE Agree Hybrid C:62 Race, One Piece 3D-Forged Steerer/Crown, Carbon Blades, 1 1/8″ – 1 1/2″ Tapered, Flat Mount, 12x100mm
  • Number of Gears – 22
  • Shifters – Shimano 105 ST-R7020
  • Chainset – FSA CK-746 Alloy
  • Chainrings – 50x34T
  • Cassette – Shimano 105 CS-5800, 11-32T
  • Chain – Shimano CN-HG601
  • Front Derailleur – Shimano 105 FD-R7000-FL
  • Rear Derailleur – Shimano 105 RD-R7000-DGS, 11-Speed
  • Pedals -N/A
  • Rims – CUBE RA 0.8 Aero Disc, 100x12mm / 142x12mm, Centerlock
  • Front Hub -CUBE RA 0.8 Aero Disc, 100x12mm / 142x12mm, Centerlock
  • Rear Hub -CUBE RA 0.8 Aero Disc, 100x12mm / 142x12mm, Centerlock
  • Front Tyre – Conti Grand Sport Race SL, 28-622
  • Rear Tyre – Conti Grand Sport Race SL, 28-622
  • Front Brake – Shimano 105 BR-R7070, Hydr. Disc Brake, Flat Mount 160mm
  • Rear Brake – Shimano 105 BR-R7070, Hydr. Disc Brake, Flat Mount 160mm
  • Brake Levers – Shimano 105
  • Handlebars – CUBE Gravel Race Bar
  • Grips – Included
  • Headset – FSA I-t, Top Integrated 1 1/8″, Bottom Integrated 1 1/4″
  • Stem – CUBE Performance Stem Pro, 31.8mm
  • Saddle – Selle Royal Asphalt
  • Seatpost – CUBE Performance Post, 27.2mm
  • Weight – 14.9kg

Verdict

The Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 is a gorgeous bike. It retains all the character of its non-assisted stablemate without compromising on ridability. Just like the Bianchi, this bike oozes quality and is a lovely bike even without considering the motor.

Weight wise it is a little hefty at 14.9kg, but to put that into perspective, my old Dawes Galaxy touring bike is about the same weight, and that hasn’t got a motor and battery. The Fazua Evation drive system can be removed, reducing the weight by 3.6kg.

This bike is also excellent value, at a £1000 cheaper than Bianchi’s offering, it really is a good buy, especially when you consider Cube’s electric bike pedigree.

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Cannondale Synapse NEO SE – Price £3300

Cannondale synapse neo electric road bike

All three of the e-road bikes I have reviewed in this article are fantastic, but for me the Cannondale Synapse NEO SE is the one that ticks all the boxes.

For starters it uses the excellent Bosch Generation 3 Active Line Plus mid-drive unit that delivers seamless power when you  need it, and does so in a way that makes you feel like you have bionic legs!  The mid-drive design is ideal for road bikes, thanks to its lightweight, smooth and silent power delivery, and most importantly the drag free pedalling beyond the cut out threshold.

There are plenty of design cues, that place this bike firmly in the adventure / gravel bike category

For handling that manages to be both confidence-inspiring and exhilarating, the NEO uses Cannondale’s OutFront Steering Geometry. Pairing a relatively slack head angle with a long 55mm fork offset, OutFront Geometry increases stability at speed, while maintaining a quick, agile steering feel. Perfect for the increased weight and speed of an e-road bike.

Adding to the Synapse NEO’s versatility, an elegant removable fender bridge lets you add protection when the weather turns foul, without cluttering the looks when it’s nice.

To provide nimble handling, comfort, and wide-range gear options, the Synapse NEO was engineered around our Ai offset drivetrain. By moving the drivetrain 6mm to the right, Ai allows for very short chainstays, without compromising tyre clearance and makes it possible to run a double chainring crank. And as a bonus, its creates a stiffer, stronger rear wheel. Proper road speed meets real comfort and serious rough terrain capability, thanks to 650b wheels and high-volume 47c tyres.

Full Specification

Frame ALL-NEW Synapse NEO, SmartForm C1 Alloy, SAVE, Ai, flat mount brake, 142×12 thru-axle
Fork ALL-NEW Synapse NEO Disc, BallisTec Carbon, 1-1/8″ to 1.5″ tapered steerer, 55mm offset, flat mount, 12×100 thru axle
Rear Derailleur SRAM Apex 1, Long cage
Number of Gears 11
Shifters SRAM Apex 1 HRD, 11-speed
Chain set Bosch Gen3 w/ custom Ai offset spider, 44t
Cassette SRAM PG-1130, 11-42, 11-speed
Chain SRAM PC-1110, 11-speed
Pedals Not Supplied
Front Brake SRAM Apex 1 HRD, 160/160mm Centerline rotors
Rear Brake SRAM Apex 1 HRD, 160/160mm Centerline rotors
Handlebars Cannondale C3, 6061 Alloy, Compact
Stem Cannondale C3, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, 1-1/8″, 31.8, 7°
Headset Integrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5″, sealed angular contact bearings
Grips Cannondale Grip Bar Tape w/Gel, 3.5mm
Rims WTB STi29 TCS 2.0, 28h, tubeless ready
Front Hub Formula RX-512 12×100
Rear Hub Formula RX-512 DC-142 rear
Front Tyre WTB Byway TCS, 650b x 47mm, tubeless ready
Rear Tyre WTB Byway TCS, 650b x 47mm, tubeless ready
Saddle Fabric Scoop Radius Elite, cro-mo rails
Seatpost Cannondale C3, 6061 Alloy, 25.4X350mm
Motor Bosch Active Line Plus 250W
Battery Bosch PowerTube 500Wh
Display Bosch Purion
Maximum Road Speed Assistance up to 25 km/h or 15mph

Verdict

As much as I love the Bianchi and the Cube, the Cannondale wins the day for me.  If I was going to spend over £3000 on a bike, it would most definitely need to be versatile. Most of my cycling is done on the back lanes of Cornwall, and I frequently cycle across Bodmin moor, where there are plenty on rough gravel tracks to explore.

There are plenty of design cues, that place this bike firmly in the adventure / gravel bike category. The 650b 47c WTB tyres, the frame geometry and of course, the SRAM APEX 1 x 11 drivetrain with hydraulic brakes. This really is a ‘go anywhere’ e-road bike… Iceland anyone??

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Conclusion

Well, what can I say? The Electric road bike is definitely here to stay, and I would rush out tomorrow and buy one, if I developed a health issue that made riding a regular bike difficult. And although a lot of road cyclists probably wouldn’t admit it, I believe that most would rather ride an e-road bike than no bike at all.

The latest breed of e-road bikes are the perfect fusion of an age-old design with modern technology. My next electric road bike review will be of the latest offering from Ribble – the Endurance SLE. I was fortunate enough to have a ride on Ribble’s new bike recently, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Read my full review here.

For an amazing choice of electric road bikes click on the links below.

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