It’s my first time riding on an electric bike, and I have three days to test the QWIC Performance. Can this futuristic bike reach a high speed of 45 kilometres per hour? I’m ready to hit a long open road and find out!
While waiting at a traffic light I notice two cyclists and a moped looking at my bike. They were curious, wondering what would happen when the light turned green. As soon as I started to pedal, the electric support kicked in and I instantly flew down the bike path, leaving them all behind. I tried to imagine what they thought of my e-bike as I zoomed ahead.
I began the first test ride from my office in the centre of Amsterdam to my favourite island, Ijburg, which is about 12 kilometres away. When I’m on my Cortina city bike it usually takes me between 40 and 50 minutes. On the electric bike? I was there in 20 minutes.
A yellow number plate, so a helmet is required
I got a lot of attention from strangers intrigued by my speed pedelec, which is a faster model of e-bike. It was also hard to miss with its eye-catching orange colour. Due to its faster top speed, this bike has a yellow license plate, so [in the Netherlands] you have to wear a helmet. Is it difficult to ride? As a regular commuter, it took some time for me to get used to the rearview mirrors, as well as wearing a helmet.
But the trade-offs for the electric bike are worth it: you save time and it’s so easy to go really fast. During my first test it felt like I shouldn’t even be allowed on a bike path. So when I got home I immediately checked out how much my QWIC Performance would cost, and researched all I could about about e-bikes.
A speed pedelec has a yellow license plate and requires that you wear a helmet.
The next day I decided to ride on the public road with the QWIC. Almost immediately, I noticed that motorists were confused about what I’m doing. It’s obvious that I look like a lost tourist. There was a lot of staring, and while waiting for the traffic light another motorist pulled up next to me, yelled and stuck his hand out of the window. But as soon as the light turned green I sped away.
When riding in town I had to be sure that I did not leave the e-bike in it’s highest gear while stopped at a red light. If I did, I almost have to kick myself to get it started. Most people really don’t like slow moving bikes on the road in the city. However, when I started pedalling, I was immediately faster than the average car at a green light.
Acceleration and downshifting became a ritual during my second ride. The biggest disadvantage was that when following the traffic laws, I was basically just like a scooter. I had to line up neatly behind cars at traffic lights, and there are quite a lot of them in the centre of Amsterdam. So, the first test ride, which was 20 minutes, now took me 35 minutes. So I found that if you ride an e-bike on the road it’s only about 10 minutes faster than riding a normal bike.
You’ve got to think like a driver; you have to take longer routes to get places, where on a normal bike you can be flexible. If you want to go through the Vondelpark? Forget it. Diemerpark with its gorgeous, long ,winding paths? Nope.
The world isn’t used to this
It was a challenge to get used to. On the long stretches outside of the city, I could go really fast. When the wind was on my back I got up to 51 kilometres per hour. It was really too fast for me, even though the QWIC didn’t give the feeling I was losing control at any time — the bicycle was relatively heavy and therefore stable, and does not feel unsafe no matter how fast you ride.
It gave the same impression as when you’re around unsafe motorists, though. People are not used to the electric bike phenomenon. The speed in combination with the bicycle-esque appearance is clearly confusing to most.
After three days, I have mixed feeling about the QWIC. Riding it is really outstanding. You can go really fast, glide though turns and have a lot of freedom and control. You quickly forget about wearing the helmet. So, if you live outside the city, the e-bike is great for long stretches to work or to school. For that reason, it’s an extremely good purchase. For the price tag of just 3600 euros, however, it might feel expensive — but it’s really worth it.
It is the yellow license plate that I dislike. If you live in the city, the e-bike is as fast as a car. Which is not an advantage. So, for me, I prefer my helmet-less city bike. Which my girlfriend is pleased about.