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Unless you have the funds for a helicopter or live within walking distance of your workplace, there is perhaps no easier way to get around the city – especially if you’re commuting in London – than an electric bike. They’re generally faster and always more reliable than public transport and, in the long run, they’re cheaper too.
Riding an e-bike also counts as exercise. You have to pedal for the assist to kick in on electric bikes and although it isn’t as much as effort as regular cycling, it’s about the same as walking. This means two things. First, you can expect some health benefits. Second, you can wear normal work clothes.
It all makes for a fine way to spend your time travelling and from the office, especially if you opt for a e-bike specifically designed for commuting like the Scott E-Sub Tour.
The upright riding position is comfortable and the ride is terrifically smooth. The large tyres, overall weight of the bike and front suspension mean you’ll easily roll over any impediment the city streets throw at you.
There are four assist levels available: Eco (the lowest), Tour, Sport and Turbo. I found that Eco was more than enough assistance for almost all riding bar the biggest hills and, given that the assist legally has to cut out at 15mph anyway, the battery-sapping Turbo or Sport levels are rarely required.
The Scott E-Sub Tour is powered by the Bosch Active Line system, which is impressive in delivering a smooth ride and long battery life. The power kicks in rapidly so that even in higher gears a standing start at traffic lights is easy. I also found that when I had to stop on a steep uphill, the assist came in very speedily when I needed to start again. This is important because the Scott is a heavy bike and having to push through the first couple of pedals unaided on a hill start would be tricky.
There was a 400W Bosch battery on the bike I tried and the range was excellent. My standard riding mode was Eco, pushed up into the higher assist levels on hills, and I found the battery lasted past 65 miles reliably. Furthermore, it’s easy to ride the Scott on the flat or downhill with no assist at all if you’re keen on eking a few more miles out of the battery. The official range given is 30 miles in Turbo up to 70 miles in Eco. In between you’ll get about 35-40 miles in Sport mode and 50 miles in Tour.
You control the assist levels on the bike via the nifty Bosch handlebar system. The screen shows your battery level and current assist mode, as well as a range of stats like range left (which adapts as you alter the assist level), speed and distance covered. You can scroll through these and adjust the assistance via a three-button pad on the left of the handlebars. It’s all very clear and requires no instruction at all to get going.
Removing the battery to charge it is simple (you can also charge it in situ on the bike) and it takes about three hours to charge fully. However, you really have to make sure it clicks back into place. One time I thought the battery was in securely – and in fact rode with it for about ten miles – only for it to suddenly fly off after I went over a bump. On the plus side, a thorough if unexpected test of the battery’s robustness was passed with flying colours.
One other slight negative is that while the Scott’s 23kg weight made for a comfortable and secure ride, it was pretty tough to get up and down the stairs to my flat every day. All e-bikes have this problem, though, and the extra weight of useful things like the Scott’s larger tyres and rear pannier are a worthy trade for a 30-second struggle on the stairs twice a day.
The rear pannier with bungee cords is just one of many small features on the Scott that make it an excellent commuter option. The chain is covered to stop it messing up your trousers, plus there are bright, integrated lights powered by the battery and a kickstand. The disc brakes are also sharp and reliable.
There’s really nothing missing that you’d want to have on a commuter e-bike. The ride is excellent and the battery will get most commuters through a week without charging. Even if it doesn’t, it’s very easy and quick to charge. The extra features also mean there’s a minimum of fuss at any point bar tacking stairs.
At £1,999, the Scott E-Sub Tour requires a significant initial outlay, but it’s built to last with little maintenance – even if the battery takes a significant spill on a busy road. The price is also about par for the course for an e-bike with the Bosch Active Line system and this many features. £1,999, buy on evanscycles.com
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.