I’ve been riding a Sahel Harmony on an extended test for over a year now, ever since unboxing it at last year’s Eden Project electric bike event. It was one of the very first production electric bikes to use NuVinci’s fully automatic gearbox so I thought it important to see how reliable such a sophisticated piece of cycling technology would be in daily use.
Well, it’s been faultless so far, and I’m not one to lavish care and attention on the bikes I ride. In fact it’s taken a bit of a beating since I took the photograph above. It’s regularly transported across the country in the back of one of our company vans. It was left out in torrential rain at last year’s Glastonbury Festival – the only effect that had was to wash off the mud that had caked it on the way in. It’s towed enormous loads without flinching. It’s been left locked up by the sea, in central London and at Surbiton station in wind and rain overnight on several occasions. And it’s still working as well as the day I took it out of the box.
So we can conclude that the NuVinci automatic gear system, far from being fragile and unreliable, is rock solid. Which is great as it brings some serious benefits to any electric bike ride.
For example, the Sahel spends much of its time locked in an underground car park with a steep ramp to street level. On some electric bikes with hub gears this ramp has proved to be a challenge as I sometimes forget to shift down a couple of gears before stopping and waiting for the security gate to open. The inevitable result on these occasions is a laborious climb in top gear which puts strain on both the motor and the gears. But with the Sahel, it’s never a problem. I can cycle to the foot of the ramp in my usual morning daze and it doesn’t matter, the gears adjust themselves automatically when they sense I’m climbing at low speed and I ascend majestically, without a care or any gear-crunching. Then it’s up and out into the fresh air to continue my ride to work, or wherever I plan to go.
Perhaps to the supermarket about 3 miles away. I can load the Sahel up with a couple of panniers full of shopping, hang a third bag off the handlebars and the automatic transmission will work out which gear I need to be in to make the smoothest possible getaway. No wobble, no frantic shifting, just effortless powered cycling.
The Sahel’s NuVinci hub and motor work flawlessly together and its 15Ah battery pack provide strong assistance for around 50 or 60 miles in London. It’s actually one of my favourite bikes to ride in urban areas. The gears cope well with stop-start riding, it looks the part with its minimal, clean, sharp lines and its robust enough to take a few knocks.
Kalkhoff have kitted this bike our with Schwalbe’s puncture-resistant Big Apple tyres that make for a smooth ride, even on poorly-surfaced city roads, towpaths and tracks.
My year-long test has been a great success. I’m still happily riding the Sahel Harmony more than one year on, with no problems at all to report. I ride it to work, I ride it to keep fit with the assistance turned down or turned off completely. I ride it fast and I ride it slow so my five-year-old son can keep up in rides around Bushy Park.
If you’re looking for a well-priced, bang up-to-date, highly capable and reliable electric bike that’s better than almost anything out there, Kalkhoff’s Sahel Harmony is the first bike to consider.
We have the Gents version in stock in both Medium 50cm and Large 55cm versions, with demonstrator bikes in our Loughborough, Shoreham by Sea and Hampton Wick (London) showrooms, plus Medium 50cm step-thru bikes in stock in our Hampton Wick and Loughborough showrooms.