Electric Mountain Bike vs The South Downs Way: Everybody wins.

Focus Thron Premium Impulse 2.0 Electric Bike
The  Focus Thron Premium Full Suspension Electric Mountain Bike with Impulse 2.0 motor and 17Ah battery pack – also used by the 2014 Kalkhoff electric bike range – picked up ExtraEnergy’s Offroad Award this year. One of them has been sitting in our Shoreham-by-Sea showroom looking menacing and today was the day I decided to take it out on the South Downs Way to see what it can do. “What can’t it do?”, more like!

It was the bike we’d just had returned from the Glastonbury Festival where their head of security used it before and during the event. I’m not much of an off-roader, so it was with some trepidation that I headed off from home up to Cissbury Ring and then along the South Downs Way and less-beaten tracks byways off it.

The public byway up there was bone dry and apparently usually the bed of a stream – very deep ruts and channels, sharp flints, nettles and brambles closing in on all sides. But my word, the Thron was more than equal to all of this. I opted for Power mode and gears 8 and 9 for most of it. No way I would have tackled this uphill section on an unassisted bike. There’s something about the impetus of 250 watts, 70 Nm torque and my own go-for-it mood this afternoon that kept me out of trouble by just riding over and through the various obstacles and hazards – it was easier just to keep going. And of course I could, because despite the punishing gradient, the battery was hardly touched by this ascent.

The track opened up as I left Cissbury Ring behind and this was all new territory for me. There were few other cyclists, walkers or riders around – strange for a beautiful Summer’s day, maybe the weathermen had put people off? I cheerfully greeted the walking couples and lone cyclists coming the other way – so many people riding bikes appear to be having a horrible time, judging by their expression and grim silence, so I decided to buck the trend.

I’m most used to riding in towns and cities, on road and along dedicated cycle routes, so I had a lot to learn, new techniques like keeping straight as an arrow on narrow sections, leaning forward into corners, ducking (branches, more brambles, large flying beasties) and the art of braking on loose surfaces. I’m pleased to report I didn’t fall off once, which was good as my safety equipment amounted to a Bern helmet and pulling my socks up a bit to keep the nettles off my shins.

Focus Thron Premium All Terrain Electric Bike Full Suspension
Focus Thron Premium Full Suspension All Terrain Electric Bike on the South Downs Way near Brighton & Hove

But the view… I did not know until today how many trails and byways there are up in the South Downs. After years of cycling the same routes around Richmond and Bushy Parks, along the Thames, into Central London and back, the sense of space and freedom was exhilarating. I could find a point on the horizon – a hill, what appeared to be a ROC bunker, a wooded section and within a very few minutes, there I was. Anyway, this is my new favourite type of electric cycling – full suspension, high speed along sun-dappled lanes and dusty tracks. We have a couple of these in our Shoreham-by-Sea showroom, between Brighton & Hove and Worthing – if you’re interested, come in for a free test ride.

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