Edinburgh Just Eat Cycles' new electric bikes - first review

With Edinburgh's horrendous road surfaces and some lawless and pushy drivers, you'll need your wits about you on a bike in the capital - but also power to your elbow.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 6:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 7:53 pm
Alastair Dalton tries out one of the brand new Just Eat Cycles electric bikes. Picture: The Scotsman

For would-be cyclists yet to pluck up the courage to try Just Eat Cycles' hire bikes, the scheme's latest addition could be just the ticket.

Next spring, the capital is due to become the latest Scottish city to offer effortless pedalling with a fleet of 168 electric bikes, after Stirling three months ago and with Glasgow expected to follow shortly.

Their electric motor provides the key extra push to boost riders' confidence, such as moving off at traffic lights, signalling as you turn, and keeping up with the traffic.

The Pashley-built electric bikes have three gears and a 50-mile range between charges. Picture: Serco

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They are not scooters - you have to keep pedalling - but the e-bikes get you to a maximum 15mph without the need to break a sweat.

Hills are where e-bikes come into their own, effectively levelling them out, which is a big bonus on Edinburgh's terrain.

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Far more taxing was having to dodge the many vans and private hire cars double parking across bus and cycle lanes, as well as avoiding skateboarders almost taking out pedestrians on crossings, and drivers trying to undertake me as I waited to let buses pull out from stops.

The Pashley-built bikes are simple to use, while offering a degree of control.

You can't alter the power level, unlike most e-bikes, but there are three gears, which easily change by twisting the right handlebar.

They are said to have a range of 50 miles, with Serco able to track battery levels remotely so they be swapped over between hires.

The cycles are a little heavier than the regular Just Eat bikes, but still feel easily handle-able, with a kick-back stand for parking.

They will be spread among the scheme's current 74 docking stations for its 500 regular bikes, which are due to increase to around 100 by next March.

There's a small pannier at the front, big enough for a handbag or laptop-size bag, but only a slim or small backpack.

So, easy to use and fun to ride. My only concern is will there be enough to go around?