It is a Sunday morning and I want to get to somewhere that is super quiet and with steps, lots of them! Hence a ride out along the lanes here, in the winter mist and on wet roads – off towards the National Memorial Arboretum (and no, we didn’t cycle on the no cycling paths within this most humbling of paces – we pushed). These same meandering country lanes are where I ride my road bikes. These are the lanes where the feeling of speed on an aero road bike is hard-wired into my brain.
These are the same lanes that I was feeling like I was going slowwwwww…. The reason being that when testing an eBike, I’m trying my best to ride it like an eBike rider might and my brain is confused. I’m keeping to the maximum legal eBike speed and I’m not pushing on. After all, we are dressing for the destination, so to speak, and the idea is not to get to the ‘office’ hot and sweaty. I start to take in the surroundings now, I’m really enjoying the ride. I keep fretting about ‘only going’ at 24.8 kmph and I have to pull myself up short!
When Somerset Maugham was asked what his view was of getting, by train, from London to Paris 30 minutes faster, he was aghast! ‘The point of travel is to enjoy the journey!’ This is the eBike like in a nutshell, travelling and being in the moment and not engaging with the madness of Strava and it’s segments. eBiking to to concern oneself with the next stop and a segment of Terry’s cholate orange.
The purpose of today’s ride was to test three things:
1). As folding bikes are used by commuters, what is the Gron eBike like to carry up and down stairs?
2). The Gron eBike has 5-speed electronic gears and 9-speed traditional Shimano Sora gears. How do they perform, in the context of a commuter/leisure bike?
3). How stable is the bike at speed, down the infamous face-planting roadie descent of Donk Hill in Derbyshire.
Okay, let’s deal with number 3 first. I bombed down the hill (yes eBikes will exceed the maximum motor speed through descending, or pushing on the pedals) and the Gron was super-stable. The Shimano M315 Oil Break F/R1000 R/L1700 hydraulic disc brakes worked as expected and I was totally unflustered, in control and grinning.
Dealing with number 2. Even roadies are seen out around the lanes here pedalling at 60 rpm and and I think ‘change gear ffs!’ With the Gron, using the Shimano Sora 9-speed gears, means the ability to spin along and not mash the pedals and to use these manual gears in combination with the 5-speed ‘BAFANG 36V 250W 138MM Cassette, Motor, Velocity Type, Dual Hall sensor’ e-gears. The electronic gears are easily clicked via the on-board dash and the higher the gear, the faster the assistance comes in. I was also able to compare the climb of Donk Hill (using the dreaded Strava segment) – Gron vs GoCycle GX. The Gocycle was/is 15 seconds faster. What does that matter? What did I do with that extra 15 seconds? I didn’t not sweat with either climb.
Smoothness – it’s probably me as a daily cyclist and me being used to pushing on the pedals, as the motor felt slight jerky at times. Nothing major at all, and this is probably me not just pootling along, and doing what I am supposed to be doing – enjoying the journey.
It’s worth mentioning here that the Samsung battery (with the use of a key), can be detached from the frame and the bike can be ridden ‘Brompton style’ using the Shimano Sora 9-speed system. In the context of a commuter/leisure bike, I really like the combination. Again, an exchangeable battery is a superb feature.
Point 1 – what is the bike like to carry up stairs/steps. It weights circa 14kg and carrying it folded makes it feel heavier than carrying it unfolded. The carbon frame design even has a really handy place to hold the bike. When folded, we have noticed the lack of a means to keep the frame together and a simple bungy does the trick (and it is otherwise kept on the rear rack, which is handy). When folded, carrying the Gron on the chain side was the easiest and the chain oil appeared on my jeans.
Therefore, our tip is, carry a Gron unfolded and store folded. In the photos, we have not dropped the seat post and this was just for the purposes of being, well, lazy.
Our findings so far:
- Solid of the road
- Well balanced to ride and carry
- A carbon frame in this case, is a solid frame and 14kg is heavy, but it’s an eBike and they are heavy! However, a long flight of steps was managed easily.
- A lovely design and even on wet roads, clothes and especially bottom were dry.
- Folds easily but needs a short bungy spring to keep to neat and tidy.
- The dual gear set-up works well together
- Ability to swap batteries over and to ride without a battery is excellent.