Where it startedI went to pick up the Haibike Trekking RX from E-Bikeshop in person. After payment I was shown to a nice shiny bike and given a few useful pointers on details of using and riding one of these bikes e.g. how to keep the (optional) battery cover in one piece, battery charging tactics and the difference between the SRAM shifters on this bike and the Shimano ones I am used to. One thing I had not been warned about were the four prominent e-bike store stickers stuck on the bike on delivery. They are arguably louder than Haibike's own branding. Whilst I am quite happy to recommend Martin and his business I would rather do so verbally than by riding a two wheeled billboard. The stickers are removable but because you have to do it letter by letter it takes 20x longer than it takes Martin to stick them on!
How's the eBike?
The Haibike Trekking bike is - as advertised - a very nice machine. The Bosch motor is more than adequately powerful to help propel bike, rider (80kg+) and two well loaded panniers up a several percent incline at 15mph with no more than an ordinary brisk pedalling effort. Initially the effect seems magical as the intervention of the motor appears to suspend the laws of physics a little.
The build quality of the electric bike seems as good as I am used to from more conventional quality bike manufacturers. Given that this is a bike with with mudguards, lights, etc. you do get the occasional period of amusement hunting down clicks, creaks and cracks but no more so than usual in my experience.
Bosch assistance modes
Of the four support modes I tend to use "Tour" which gives noticeable support but (like the other modes) cuts off above 15mph leaving a bit of space for exercise. "Eco" more or less negates the weight of the bike and little more so it largely feels like riding an ordinary bike this size. "Sport" adds a little more zip, I use it when feeling a little weaker or more tired when going up a bit of incline. "Turbo" is borderline silly powerful and I only use it when going up larger and significant hills or (on one occasion) when riding into a gale force wind and rainstorm. Martin kindly did the Bosch Nyon upgrade on this bike and it was well worth it. The mapping and navigation works well but for me the ability to configure to display to show speed, cadence and power (among other things) displayed how I want them is invaluable. It allows me to pace myself as well as the battery in an efficient way.
In practice the battery has never run out on me but in order to make this so I have used the electric support a little more sparingly on a couple of longer rides.
All the conventional touring electric bike accessories do the job as intended. SKS mudguards are among the best. The pannier rack with a black powder-coat finish carries even heavier loads well but is somewhat prone to scratching and scuffing where the pannier bags touch/rub over time. This is easily rectified (jot of Hammerite) and/or prevented (black tape on contact area).
The BOSCH eBike battery powered light is more than good enough for commuting along lanes that have no street lighting whatsoever. Finally the kick stand works very well indeed both when the bike is loaded with bags and when it is not. It is extra handy when inconsiderate fellow cyclists have taken all the slots in the bike rack at work and I can just park next to it with decorum and grace (and a really heavy steel chain lock).
Accessories which I have added to the xDuro Trekking RX and which give me pleasure are: + Ergon handlebar grips: I find these the best of their kind and I have them on most of my bikes. + Suntour NCX suspension seatpost: works remarkably well. I clean and oil it every 500km and it works smoothly and quietly. It does not do what a full suspension setup does but it handles inferior road surfaces and the occasional speed bump with ease and it even makes a reasonable attempt at smoothing gravel tracks. + Altura Morph Backpack Pannier: a "convertible" pannier backpack that actually works. There are slight compromises in that it is not the biggest pannier bag and not the very best backpack but it remains a very usable pannier bag and it is more than good enough to be used as a backpack on days when I don't cycle.
Health benefitsAs for the effect on health I do not doubt that riding an electric bike is not the best way to train for the Tour de France! Having said that, if you don't overuse the electric support you most definitely do get exercise (and with the Nyon unit you can quantify it). Personally I also find the electric support is a great excuse remover even if you only use it sparingly. On days when a little sniffly or feeling a little less well the temptation to skip the bike is much less. You know that if you really shouldn't feel up to it you can always cheat and let the bike do the work but in practice (so far at least) that never happens and you pedal away anyway, feeling better on arrival as you so often do when cycling.
What's the verdict?When reading about eBikes you see a number of comments over and over again. Two common ones are that they allow you to commute without sweating and that they will have negative impact of health and fitness because the electrics do the work. I feel both of these observations need a little nuance.
I am happy I bought this bike. It feels like money well spent & I use it as often as I reasonably can.
I expect I could do my commute without sweating at all if I put the bike in "Turbo" mode and stayed under the 15 mph motor cut-off limit. In practice I much prefer to push it over that limit a little from time to time and I use the lower support levels. This means I do sweat a little now and then but not to any extent that a half decent clothing base layer can't handle and a shower on arrival at work is not required at all. The good and the bad points summed up:-
With thanks to Roger Francis for this long term review on the Haibike xDuro Trekking RX eBike.