Folding electric bikes are revolutionising the Big Lap experience of an increasing number of grey nomads … and it’s not hard to see why.
Their foldaway portability means they can easily be stored in a campervan, caravan or tow vehicle, and the electric element is delivering travellers an extended exploration range, as well as an insurance against a cycling adventure running out of puff. They are fun, easy, and are currently tempting an awful lot of ‘former’ cyclists to get back in the saddle.
While Australian regulations dictate that 250 Watt electric bikes are pedal-assist only, 200 Watt e-bikes can be powered by using a hand-controlled throttle, by pedalling, or by using a combination of both.
Eager to assess the reasons behind the rise of this grey nomad local transport phenomenon, the GNT recently seized the opportunity to road test one of Australia’s newest folding e-bikes, the VelectriX Foldaway.
The manufacturer prides itself on selling a European-designed device that has been built for Australian conditions, meaning the bike has quality, branded components, is highly durable, and its wiring and electrics can cope with extreme humidity.
It’s a good looking bike which has a ladies-style diagonal crossbar making it far easier to ‘step through’ in order to mount … a fact which will appeal to many grey nomads. By electric bike standards, the VelectriX is fairly light, weighing in at a manageable 19.7kgs, yet its 44cm aluminium frame is hardy enough to boast a carrying capacity 110kg.
The bike folds easily into a very compact unit, making it ideal for space-conscious travellers, and it also packs a significant pedal-powered and non-pedal powered punch. With a top speed of 32km/h, the Foldaway will travel a respectable 25 kilometres when the rider is simply using the throttle, and will go 45 kilometres or more on lesser pedal assist settings. Of course, if the battery does run flat, the opportunity still exists to pedal the old fashioned way and then the range – like traditional bikes – is only limited by your own level of fitness.
I have to admit that on my test drives, I found the temptation to avoid the exertion of significant pedalling to be irresistible. With a simple twist of the wrist, even the torturously long incline known to local cyclists as ‘heartbreak hill’ became an enjoyable breeze.
The VelectriX Foldaway has a 200 Watt 36 Volt Bafang front hub motor with a lithium Ion battery that can be fully recharged from flat in five hours. Even the most technophobic of grey nomads will have little trouble mastering this machine. A display screen lets you know what level of power assistance you are on, and this can be adjusted up and down at the touch of a switch. The three gears are used in the same way that they would be on a ‘normal’ bike.
For grey nomads, the appeal is obvious. As well as the easy transportability in the rig, many are finding e-bikes a less daunting way to explore new areas than a traditional pedal cycle.
And, as I found out, when you don’t have to do it, pedalling (and getting fitter) can actually be fun.
• The VelectriX Foldaway sells for $1,995. It can be ordered online and picked up from a number of retail outlets across the country. Click here to learn more.