Look at a big city from a vantage point and you’ll see chaos everywhere.
The overbearing nature of city life leaves little room for blowing off some steam. In a city that’s too busy to breathe, we provided it some respite from choking on the smoke-emitting exhaust pipes and decided to check out whether there’s scope for a battery-powered future. We took these three hybrid bikes for a spin, mixed aero with electro and saddled up for what was hardly a series of misadventures.
HERO LECTRO RENEW (₹88,900) - The power- packed hybrid
Let’s be honest: Mumbai is no place to ride a bike. On the contrary, we’d certainly leave a far lesser carbon footprint if we did ride more often than we do for our daily city commute. The future needs to be given a serious thought and the way we’re emitting smoke isn’t the most sustainable way forward. We checked out Hero’s Lectro, and its electric assist pedal didn’t disappoint.
This sturdy-looking bike – there’s no way you’d miss the humongous Kenda 10cm wide fatbike tyres – is a workout bike from the word go. Approach this gigantic aluminium alloy monster with caution and get ready to work those calves. It requires muscle strength initially, but stability comes easy once you get a hang of the size … Ahem!
The battery kicks in only when you want a boost and overall, the quality and execution levels are high. The LCD panel tells you the battery life and speed accurately; the hydraulic disk brakes and rechargeable batteries (that last up to 50 kms) make it ideal for longer commutes (maybe you can stretch your limits, use this within city limits and finally ditch those arduous train rides). The gear shifts are smooth and pickup is power-packed.
The bike will charge in less than half the time you spend at work. This multi-tasker takes care of both your fears - of rush hour and delay at the gym. The motor only works when you pedal, so being lazy isn’t an option here, keep it charged enough at all times. An efficient machine for weekend rides to a beach or mountain trail. The grip, stability and power offered are commendable.
BEING HUMAN E- CYCLE (₹57,577): The all-rounder
A few months ago, we got excited over the rumours of Salman Khan’s brand ‘Being Human’ entering into the world of smartphones. But it was actually e-cycles. So, we got more excited because now it’s easier to ride along footpaths without casualties. The e-cycle works on a rechargeable battery and sports an accelerator so you can dash home faster.
Of course, you can pedal your way back but heck, this thing can zip across thanks to that 250W DC motor in the rear hub. It reaches speeds of up to 25 km/hr but we managed to push it to around 30 km/hr as well. Tired of pedalling? By pressing the ‘-’ button on the LCD monitor you can get the pedal assist number down to 0. Twist the throttle and rev away in speed.
The LCD display on the left side of the handlebar shows you speed, distance covered, battery life and the level of pedal assist.
Pedal assist works on the levels of 1 to 5, higher number means easier pedaling. Using the + and - buttons on the side, you can adjust the number or bring it down to zero to use the accelerator to zip across sloths. Four hours of charging will keep this baby brimming with power for a good 30-35kms. But make sure you stick around a plug point.
The disc brakes on either wheels do a good job of bringing the cycle from a trouser-flapping speed to a standstill. Sensitive bums can change the seat to something more comfortable. The seat is not the best when riding for long distances and we’d instantly swap it out for something better and more comfy, or add a gel seat. The seven speed gear system is well suited for intense workout sessions.
ELEKTRON H Y B R I D (₹29,999) - The crossbreed
Here’s a hybrid that is a great ride for the city. Pedal a short distance until calf power switches to e-power. Once you’ve gained enough momentum, the 250W motor generates enough power give your tired muscles a break.
Although this 20-something kilo bike is an easy ride even without the pedal assist, the three modes make for a ride that takes it up a notch from being pure commuter to pure fun. Though it doesn’t go beyond its top speed of 25kmph and covers up to 60km in cruise mode, the battery life is worth noticing.
In case you’re wondering if 25kmph is a good thing or not, if you’ve ever been stuck in one of the legendary Delhi or Mumbai traffic jams, you’d bless the 25 on this thin yet robust aluminium frame. At the very least, it’ll nip in and out of traffic with ease, all smiles, without a nervous breakdown and added eco advantage. It’s 160mm disc brakes on the front and rear wheels will shed speed equally efficiently as well. The shock absorbing saddle and ergonomic pedals with steel spikes ensure the contact points are well kitted out for a long haul. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rubber handle grips which will make your palms start sweating.
The power is through a panel-mounted switch that comes with a handy key. The 7-speed gear shifters complemented with the 36V motor ensure a comfortable ride, and the 160mm disk brakes on the front and rear wheels means you can brake with confidence – comes in handy while covering long distances at high speed.
Rohit Kuttappa: CEO, choosemybicycle.com
Cycling is more of a recreational sport and a good way to stay fit – it’s still not a full-fledged sport in India...Cycling as a sport around the world, has been popular for more than a century. With the prominence of the Tour de France and other international sporting events, cycling has been a dominant spectator sport, which has led to a large number of serious amateur cyclists. The problem in India is that there isn’t the necessary infrastructure for people to take up cycling as a professional sport, due to the absence of corporates backing the sport. Few government bodies still promote professional cycling at the State and National level, but they haven’t been able to popularise the sport to the way it has been done globally. However, competitive cycling does happen at an amateur club level but it is not standardised.
Do e-bikes have the potential to solve the ever-increasing transportation problems?E-Bikes as a concept is very innovative as it gives you the flexibility to cycle, or have electric power assist your ride. It has the potential to eventually be one of the solutions to our traffic woes, but inorder for this to happen, the government must put the necessary infrastructure in place to enable the shift. This will entail dedicated cycling lanes, cyclist friendly traffic rules, parking facilities for cycles in key areas and benefits for companies that promote cycling to work.
Do you see us becoming a country of people who will, at some point ditch their cars and cycle to work?I don’t think India will become a country which will cycle to work. I say this only because of the sheer density of our key cities, and the lack of urban planning to facilitate cycling to work. Indians being primarily riddled with poor health due to their lifestyle choices, will eventually look at cycling as their mode of fitnessand recreation, in addition to the likes of running, yoga and gyms.
Initiatives like ChooseMyBicycle. com – your achievements and your journey in bringing together a community of cyclists so far...At ChooseMyBicycle.com, our core objective and philosophy is ensure that people ‘Keep Cycling’. Over the past few years we have successfully put 22,000+ people from 6 cities, to ride a cycle between 30 to 100 kms. We have now evolved to build an ecosystem around the cyclist, to ensure that they can:a) Buy the ideal bicycle for their needs.b) Ensure they have access to accessories and apparel to improve their ride.c) Organise events to help riders across various categories to be part of the community. d) Content and articles to help them constantly improve their riding experience. e) Gte bicycle service at home. We are learning with every passing day, and we will work towards popularising cycling and enabling the same through our pan India ecosystem.