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To someone who has never ridden an e-bike, the prices you’ll find at the premium end of the market can be hard to fathom. Given that most regular e-bikes already cost somewhere between £1,000 and £1,500, the step up to £2,500-plus seems like a steep price for a bike where the assistance remains capped at the same 25km/h speed limit as all e-bike motors in the UK.
However, when you ride a premium e-bike like the Raleigh Mustang Comp Electric the difference quickly becomes clear. It’s similar to the joy of jumping aboard a £1,500 regular bike having only ever ridden £200 models. The ride is smoother, less effort is required, and it’s simply more enjoyable. Is the difference enough to justify the extra outlay? That’s a question that can only be answered by the individual, but I loved riding the Mustang Comp.
There are three levels of assist available – eco, normal and high – and whichever you choose, the Shimano Steps E6000 motor delivers a ride that’s free from jerks. The assistance is delivered according to how hard you are pedalling, so it’s always the right amount – in fact, it doesn’t feel like you are getting any assistance at all, just that cycling is easy. You can see on the handlebar display how much assistance you are getting within the chosen setting, with a bar that fills up as the motor provides more.
As well as making the ride smoother, this variable assistance can extend the battery range. With a motor that delivers a fixed level of assist depending on the mode you select, you can be getting a boost you don’t really need (or indeed not enough of a boost, but it tends to be the former), which uses up battery life unnecessarily.
The impressive range I experienced on the Mustang Comp Electric certainly suggested that it was not wasting a single watt. I rolled through the 100km mark easily, riding mostly in eco and normal, with one 10km journey ridden in high throughout because it was raining and I was late. By the end, the e-bike’s display estimated that I still had 9km of riding left. If I’d stuck in eco the whole time, I’m sure the 125km mark Raleigh give as the top range of the Mustang would have passed pretty easily.
If you stay in high assistance mode the whole time, the battery life is listed at 40km, but I found that high was rarely, if ever, needed when riding in the city. Even when I turned to it in desperation on that rainy ride, I wasn’t really moving any quicker than with the bike in normal or eco.
The Mustang Comp Electric is also comfortable to ride without any assistance – it’s the first e-bike of the eight I’ve reviewed where I didn’t even notice the motor cutting out at the legal limit, I just carried on riding. So if you do run the battery down mid-ride, getting to your destination won’t be all that painful.
The range is not only convenient because you have to charge it less, it also makes the Mustang a great bike for touring or heading off-road, where you do want to be able to use the high assist mode for uphills without fearing that your battery will run out. Given that the long-term life of e-bike batteries is generally determined by charge cycles, that range should also mean you don’t have to worry about buying a replacement battery for a few years.
If you do want to take the bike off-road, the 42mm-wide tyres will handle most terrains comfortably and I didn’t find they slowed me down on roads.
The Mustang Comp Electric has disc brakes – useful for stopping its considerable 18.5kg weight when flying downhill – and gears controlled by one shifter, which completely threw me for longer than it should because I’d never used gears like it before. You move the shifter (which is behind the right-hand brake) one click to the left to change up, and two clicks to change down. Just like with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, it’s easy once you know the answer.
On the handlebars you have the Shimano display, which shows the mode you’re in, how much range you have left, your speed or distance covered. You also have three buttons: two change the assistance up or down, the other changes what stats are displayed on the screen. What you won’t find on the handlebars, or on the back of the bike, are lights that run off the battery – always an annoying omission with e-bikes. There is also no kickstand on the bike, so you’ll probably want to fit one – at 18.5kg, the Mustang Comp Electric is on the lighter end of the e-bike spectrum, but it’s hardly a featherweight and a kickstand would definitely be useful.
I used the Mustang Comp Electric almost entirely as a commuter bike, and with its smooth, comfortable ride and huge range it excelled, but it’s also a bike that can handle long rides and off-road cycling. It’s pricy, but it’s a superb all-rounder e-bike that you’ll love riding, whether it’s five miles to work or 50 on the weekend.
£2,800, buy on raleigh.co.uk (opens in new tab)
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.