IT’LL make you look like Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong on the streets of Hampshire – and you’ll be helping to save the planet too.
A Hampshire inventor is behind a new range of stylish electric bicycles that he hopes will convince more commuters to leave their cars at home.
Mark Searles has launched the world’s lightest – and fastest – range of electric bicycles and the Daily Echo took one for a spin on the hills of Winchester.
Powered by a mini-electric motor, which can last up to 25 miles on one charge, it gives out a maximum powered speed of 15mph.
With a battery disguised as a water bottle and a motor concealed on the front wheel it looks just like an ordinary bicycle.
The sophisticated system, which is fitted to bike brands such as Cannondale, Genesis and Ridgeback, adds about £900 to the cost of a standard bicycle.
Mr Searls – who assembles the Cytronex powered bicycles in his Winchester office – said the premium price effectively pays for itself if riders leave their gas-guzzling vehicles at home.
“A couple of years ago I was cycling through the woods near my house and I was trying to think how I could get more people to cycle,” he said.
“I thought that if they just had a bit of assistance they might be convinced to leave their cars at home. It took me two years to design the system and another 12 months to get to the point where
we are now.
“My idea is to get people out of cars.
If you can sit on a bicycle, have fun and get to work sweat-free and faster then it is a bit of a no-brainer.”
Selling about six of the electric bicycles a week, Mr Sears said demand was far outstripping supply and he had received enquires from as far afield as Australia.
“The electric bicycle industry is getting very big all over the world. In China alone they are producing 22 million units and in Japan about one million,” he said.
“We are a long way behind in the UK. The problem has been that we are not only very car centric, but customers are also more conscious of the aesthetics of the bike.
“With our system you cannot tell it is electric which is important because there is still a slight stigma attached to riding a powered bike.”
Both single speed and multi-geared bicycles can be “electrified” and by the end of the year he hopes to start selling cheaper electric motor kits that can be retrofitted to bicycles by anyone.
Go to cytronex.com or call 01962 866122 for more details.
Pete Law gives it a go
HAVING not ridden a bicycle since passing my driving test ten years ago it was with some trepidation that I took to the hills of Winchester this week.
The Cytronex Powered Genesis – worth almost £1,395 – looked nothing like my old mountain bike gathering dust back in Australia.
Incredibly light, it was hard to believe it was anything other than a perfectly ordinary road bike.
In fact it would be impossible for most people, except perhaps the odd die-hard cyclist, to spot that this bike had been “electrified”.
Pressing a tiny button by my right thumb a red light suddenly switched on and it was go-time. It took just one rotation of the pedals for the motor to kick-in and I was away.
Surprisingly it was incredibly smooth as the onboard computer knows to put out the right amount of power depending on the speed you are travelling at.
By law the engine has to stop as soon as the rider stops pedalling – otherwise it is effectively a motorcycle – it cuts out altogether as soon as the brakes are touched.
Going up hills is absolute doddle, even on a single speed bike, and I barely broke out in a sweat as I tackled the hilly terrain of Winchester.
Going downhill can best be described as terrifying, though I can’t blame the electric motor for that – next time I’m going to wear a helmet.