Walking down the Greenwich foot tunnel and pushing the bike into the lift at the end, the operator clicked and pointed his finger. “Ebike”. He proudly shouted out. I nodded confirming his keen observations. “That’s cheating!”
We’re not yet at the stage of having our small island invaded by eBikes. Perhaps the feeling that you’re cheating has something to do with it. The poor quality of the initial electric bikes that arrived in the UK market may also have put people off. However, a number of companies are banking that eBikes have a big role to play in our transportation future. Riding around London on Spencer of Spencer and Ivy I can see why they might think this.
Hopping on the bike and pushing your foot down slightly on the pedal instantly kicks in the motor. Unlike the GoCycle, another electric bike which I’ve tried out in the past, you need to be pedalling to benefit from the electric motor. This definitely feels more natural as a cyclist.
Using the bike for the first time I observe that it handles well. I point my wheels in the direction of Canary Wharf. It’s time to impress my friend with my new toy.
The bike certainly fits in well with the banking crowd but I soon hit upon my first challenge. To get the bike to where my friend is I have to go up a flight of stairs. No big challenge for most light, modern bikes. However, Spencer weighs a ton. I lift it up and can’t avoid pulling that horrible face you get when you’re lifting a huge weight. I imagine the owner of this bike will soon be building some serious muscle if they have to lift it down a set of stairs every morning to get to work.
Arriving at the top my friend is instantly impressed: “Wow, that is nice!”. I count that as the first of many compliments I’ll be clocking up sporting this bike. Excitedly, I explain to him how fun my short first test ride was and what a great looking bike it is.
At this point I hit upon the second challenge. Locking the bike. With the cost of Spencer being understandably high (£1,895) you feel a little scared to lock it up. No doubt many owners will be opting for bicycle insurance. I use my Kryptonite lock and a chain lock and head in for some lunch hoping the bike will still be there when I return. Fortunately my fears prove unfounded.
Encouraging you to cycle more
I set the power to full and ride in the direction of Regents Park. It’s a far more comfortable and effortless ride than normal. Stopping and starting at traffic lights is when you really notice the benefit of an electric bike such as Spencer. I arrive home without having broken a sweat.
I’m soon out of the house again running various errands. Using the bike I found myself cycling more often. This is partly due to the reduced effort require to pedal but also the way the bike is setup. A chain cage means you don’t need to worry about your trousers getting caught in the gears and a pannier rack proves very useful on a trip to the post office to deliver some Proviz helmets to lucky London cyclist winners.
VA Hua, the owner of Spencer and Ivy a new company that sells this bike, has lent me it for five days so I have plenty of time to test it out. I decide to take it with me to Birmingham as I’m visiting family anyway to really put it through its paces.
“Wow, that’s nice!”
Showing off the bike has really become my favourite activity. Taking it home once again everyone comments on the appearance of the bike. A few test rides by various members of the family and they’re converted to eBikes.
To prove I’m not lying about the family here’s my Grandad sizing it up!
In fact someone like my Grandad or for that matter your Grandad may be one of the ideal target markets of the bike. According to VA Hua, director of Spencer and Ivy, the company is targeting mothers who need to carry their shopping, commuters to get to work without having to sweat and anyone who just wants to wear their normal clothes to go cycling.
Overall review of Spencer
By default I’m not exactly in the target market of this bike. Therefore it’s difficult to pass a final review. Personally I’m happy with a smaller, lighter bike that I can pedal around town in. With a motor that cuts out at 15.5 mph (EU regulations) I found it very difficult to reach serious speeds. This is because as soon as the motor cuts out you’re on your own and with the heavy weight of the bike you’ll have to pedal furiously to get any speed.
However, if I was to assume for a moment I was the sort of person that would buy an eBike then I would be hard pressed to beat the offering by Spencer and Ivy. The bike rides beautifully, the battery life was plenty and it’s a stunning design that’s guaranteed to turns heads.
I think there’s definitely a market for electric bikes and I would assume they will seriously grow in popularity. Bikes such as this one by Spencer and Ivy are proof that eBike manufacturers have moved on from the early offerings. Now I just have to gather £1,895 together to buy one for my grandad!
What I liked about Spencer
- Looks that make people say “wow, that is nice!”
- Quality components that will last ages and won’t have you going back and forward to the bike shop
- Well designed, comfortable bike that offers a great ride
- Panniers and chain cage make this a great utility bike
- Makes cycling accessible to people who previously may only have been able to travel around in a car
What I didn’t like about Spencer
- Heavy – although this can be said for most electric bikes
- I can’t afford one – £1,895!
Where you can buy Spencer or Ivy (The female version)
Head to the Spencer and Ivy web page: http://www.spencerivy.com/
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.