Cycling made easy
- Credit: Archant
Meet the Tunbridge Wells company on a mission to encourage people of all ages to discover the benefits of electric bikes
The last time I rode a bike my now-married daughter was nine and I took her to Longleat Center Parcs. It’s extremely hilly and the only way from A to B is on a bike. Mum was slow and wobbly and a source of great embarrassment.
So what had happened to that kid who used to go on lengthy bike rides with her mates in the Somerset countryside where I grew up, the one who cycled to secondary school every day?
Well, she’s back – courtesy of a retro e-bike with mudguards and a wicker basket on the front that I rode with panache and a big grin on my face around the back streets of Southborough.
Even my guide, the very patient Jim Knight from Cycling made Easy who loaned me my FreeGo Regency, admitted he struggled to keep up with me as I powered up hilly Culverden Down (ok, a touch of throttle did help).
The clue is in the ‘e’ prefix, but electric bikes aren’t what you’re probably thinking (I certainly was before I tried one). Now you’re talking to a convert. It wasn’t just the sunny day I had for my test ride nor the wind in my hair, but the sense that I could literally head off anywhere and arrive invigorated, not a sweaty, exhausted mess.
Cycling made Easy was launched in 2012 by Ray Wookey with a flagship store in Coulsdon, Surrey. Helped by its considerable success and the arrival of Jim Knight as an investor, partner in the business and all-round mechanic, a second branch on St John’s Road just outside Tunbridge Wells was launched this summer.
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Its position on the busy A26 into town couldn’t be a better reminder of why two wheels can be better than four. As the cars crawl by, they not only get a good, long look at the e-bikes on the pavement and in the shop window, but they are also being overtaken by cyclists at every turn.
Cycling Made Easy specialises in power-enhanced pedal bikes with a broad selection of e-bikes to suit all tastes, abilities and budgets, from folding electric ones (from £850) to the highest-spec mountain e-bikes (from £1,850).
You can (and should) have an accompanied demonstration from knowledgeable staff on any model you fancy and it isn’t until you actually try one out that you realise you are chatting away without any breathlessness and really appreciating the surrounding scenery.
Electric bikes have a ‘pedal-assist’ motor and power pack integrated into the frame. As you pedal, sensors in the motor assess what level of effort you are putting in and feed in extra energy, giving you the sensation of powerful legs.
They also look cool and are brimful of clever technology, which enables you to benefit from as much or as little e-assist as you need. Pedal as normal with no assistance on flat terrain then opt for more when you get on a more severe hill. The e-power pedal assist enables you to ‘flatten’ your ride but still get the benefit of exercise.
As showroom manager Rob Montgomery says: “Cycling around Tunbridge Wells is tough as the area is so hilly. However, there clearly is a need here for people to cycle to overcome traffic, parking problems and escalating car costs.
“Having an electric bike taking the edge off the physical strain of cycling uphill really motivates people to choose cycling as a way to get around. In short, it makes cycling fun again, the way it was when you were a youngster.”
It does indeed. I hope Santa is listening …
Did you know?
? The sale of e-bikes is the fastest growing sector in the UK bike industry
? In Germany one in every three full-sized bikes sold is an e-bike
? More than 50 per cent of the bike industry turnover in Belgium, Netherlands
and Luxembourg is attributed to power-assisted bikes
? E-bikes enable people to re discover cycling, reduce commuting cost and get around day-to-day for shopping, visiting friends or popping down to the pub
Get in touch
Cycling Made Easy, St. John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells TN4 9NY
01892 459 551 or firstname.lastname@example.org