First proof reading… corrected version.
Second edit Sept 2020 after the first 300km
Was it the urge to get fitter or a desire to be less carbon heavy in my fun, or let’s face it, the pain of the increased fuel prices? Well, a little of everything, probably. Anyhow, I’ve returned to pedal power, but with a bit of help. At a certain age, the hills get steeper, and I’m not the strapping youth I once was. Ahem.
So, for the likely journeys I’m going to do I didn’t feel the need to pay several thousand pounds. Looking around I quite liked the look (and the price) of the new estarli e28. The company has previously majored in folding ebikes, and this is a relatively new classic style machine to the market.
Spec-wise, it’s not too bad. 250W rear hub motor providing 40nm of torque from a 10Ah 36v battery… less than some but also built into a 16.5kg bike – and weight matters too. You can discuss the various benefits of rear hub or crank motors, and unless you’re about to spend a lot more than the £1785* I did, it’s a toss up. (*yes, I maxed out on the options, with mudguards and a rack and integral lights and the fancy ‘burnt burgundy’ paint job). It also has a funky inbuilt display on the handlebars (more on that later)
It was a rocky start, to be sure. On delivery (quite quick really, and some other ebikes are on six month delivery) I found the handlebar top cap to be badly scratched – clearly pre-packing – and on the first test ride I discovered the bottom bracket was loose! A video uploaded to YouTube however and a blunt call to the very friendly office team on the next working day got some fast action, and before long I was on the road at last.
As a motorcyclist I found the lack of a wing mirror made me feel very vulnerable, and my ‘life saver’ look over the shoulder was almost constant for worry about what might be behind me, so a clipon mirror was fitted the next day. I was very dissapointed that a bell did not come as standard, even on the ‘all the options’ standard I chose. As a pedestrian I rail against cyclists who whoosh past me unannounced. So a bell arrived along with the mirror!
On to the actual riding review. I live in Gloucestershire, which is full of steep hills and rolling valleys that had put me off pedal cycling for many years, so I was eager to see if I’d made a terrible mistake. The bike is excellent, by which I mean it does what I need it to do. It assists my pedalling; it doesn’t replace it, and I have to add person power too. I’ve made it up the steepest hills in the area without often having to step out of my saddle, and I’ve just completed my first hundred kilometres… ah, yes, metric.
The funky handlebar display only seems to do kilometres. That’s fine; the numbers are bigger! I can zoom along doing 35 or 40 or even 50… but in truth I’m doing twenty to thirty miles per hour. I did get the 30mph speed alert flashing as I came down the hill into our village, so I’ve been faster still. More importantly, to my mind, I can’t find the trip reset, so my trip and the odometer reading are the same! That makes the trip meter pointless. I’ve asked estarli for clarification… [edit: sorted, simulpress power and down on the controller.]
The twenty-eight inch wheels handle most of the potholes and irregular tarmacking we enjoy… honestly, the South Gloucestershire roads are bad enough for cars and motorcycles, but on a pedal cycle they are really quite unforgiving. I may invest in an air suspension seat post in time, but for now I’m hardening up my backside! I needed to add a water bottle too, but I suppose that’s not an essential and I wouldn’t expect estarli to have provided it. [edit: oh, the air-cushion seat post… wonderful!]
As you can see from the top image, the handlebars are straight and wide. That’s good for a slow road rider like me, as the wide bars give control. The grips are comfortable and the Shimano chainset works well. Again, hard on the arse, but the saddle feels fine too. Only after twenty miles or so did numbness set in… 😉 And by the way, but the time I’d done the hundred kilometres the battery was still reading three of five segments.
The mudguards and rack were an upgrade option, but are both excellent. However, on a tight u-turn the front mudguard end flap fouls the pedalling feet, and the rear mudguard end flap fouls if you stand the bike up on its rear wheel, eg, for parking it in the garage on a wall-clip. The front and rear lights are mounted on frame and rack respectively, and are bright when switched on at the handlebar controller.
The push button digital assist powers the rear hub, and so far I’ve not fully understood the power levels – five of them plus a walking assist. I’m mostly using power level one and randomly increasing and decreasing it to try and work out when I should select one and not the other. In doing so I’ve managed to override the assist speed limiter, so I then had to work out how to re-establish it, or dare to be illegal!
I may revisit this review as time goes on. She’s called Ruby, and I’m slowly introducing her to Morrigan.
- Excellent geometry for my 174cm 71kg
- Lovely matt red paint finish
- Puncture resist tyres
- Good price and fast delivery
- Swift action on remedials
- Manageable weight
And the other things
- Perhaps better quality control
- No bell as standard
Trip meter doesn’t reset?
- The mudguard ends can foul
Ok, three hundred kilometers in and the update is I’m still really happy. A couple of additional points.
Janet wants an ebike now, but she’s not a fan of the wide straight handlebars. I don’t think it’s likely estarli will put out an optional handlebar style because of the integral display, but if they do she’s up for a bullhorn pair, otherwise she loves the bike too. They do seem to have a step through frame available, but in low numbers and they’re not advertising it at this time.
I went for a ride the other day with a family member who owns a removable battery ebike. With a hub motor it seemed they had to pedal harder to keep up with me, and on occasions just moving my pedals back and forth brought my rear hub motor into play sufficiently on the flat to keep up. Nice. But at over 25kg it was a beast to lift. I didn’t try removing their battery, which would be a heavy part of it but still…
The weight of the bike… I’ve restored the bike rack to the back of our VW T4 camper van, and yes, I can lift the 16.5kg estarli onto it. That other bike, that would be a two person lift to get it up onto the bike rack. If you’re camping and riding that’s somethig to consider. The estarli wins hands down.
More as and when.