Until a week ago my only cycling experience in London was on the famous Boris bikes.
They are great value and you don’t have to worry about someone sawing through your lock wherever you leave them. But, if you go longer than 15 minutes, chances are you’ll be VERY hot and sweaty.
So when I got the chance to review the Volt Pulse, a £1,949 hybrid e-bike, I jumped on it.
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They say it can last up to 60 miles on a single charge, and with a 250 watt motor and four different speed settings, the Pulse has a top speed of 15.5 mph.
However, since the bike is a hybrid, you still have to pedal on all of those power-assisted settings, because turning the pedals is what activates the motor.
Immediately, I got worried.
On top of the bike being extremely attractive to would-be thieves and weighing just under 25kg, I also had to put in what felt like a lot of groundwork.
However, all my worries were swept away after I got in the saddle for the first time.
Strolling through the back streets of East London, getting familiar with the surprisingly simple and intuitive controls, I had an instant blast.
Although you have to pedal for the electric to start, you can select whatever pedal speed you like, which means if like me you fancy being a little lazy, you can still cruise at knots speed, while pedaling as slowly as you want.
Transitioning easily from old-school non-electric cyclists, I exuded more smugness than Jeremy Clarkson in his heyday (not that he would ever approve of such a mode of transportation, I’m sure).
I even managed to reach the indicated top speed, at one point reaching 16.6 mph.
In a single evening of racing I had done it all the way from Bethnal Green, both to Leytonstone and then to East Ham and back, racking up 15 miles in just a few hours.
Due to my use of the higher power settings, this also drained about a third of the battery.
Luckily, charging the bike is like plugging in your laptop.
The battery easily disconnects from the bike frame for plugging in, then simply snaps back into place when fully powered.
My fears of locking the bike and never seeing it again were also unfounded, perhaps because my paranoia is unrealistic, but just as likely because of the Pulse’s built-in locking features.
As the week progressed, I found that my need for other modes of transportation faded into a distant memory (sorry TfL).
Unlike the somewhat mind-numbing, but admittedly efficient London Underground, I was actually looking forward to cycling.
It was fascinating to see all the parts of London that you missed when walking through tunnels or sticking to bus lines.
And with a comfortable ride and a supple suspension soaking up the many bumps along the way, the physical toll was next to none.
However, like all dreams, it had to come to an end.
Returned the keys today with a heavy heart, and despite all its goodness, with a price tag of just under £2000, I know I won’t be going back to one of these anytime soon.
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After spilling every one of my concerns at the start of the week, if you can afford it, there’s no way you won’t appreciate it.
However, for now I will stick to my sweaty Boris bike.
You can buy your own Volt bike here.
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