Raleigh Motus Electric Bike Review
It is hard to provide a completely unbiased review at the best of times, but when the product you are reviewing saves your bacon it’s virtually impossible to. So, full disclosure, this e-bike turned a first-world nightmare into a dream. The first time I rode the Raleigh Motus crossbar, the cheapest of the three-bike Motus range each available in crossbar or low step versions, I had been turfed out of my office thanks to a power cut and I was faced with a seven-and-a-half mile ride home during the height of the heatwave at the hottest part of the day.
Yes, I did sweat – the sun was beating down mercilessly – but I breezed through the ride. It even felt like I was coasting up the two steep inclines that are the final hurdles of my commute.
It was even more surprising given how I strained to carry all 24kg of bike up a tight stairwell from my desk to the door. And that contradiction is why I like to think of the Motus as a penguin. When you’re off the bike it’s like the flightless bird on land – ungainly, awkward, struggling to cover any ground. Once you’re in the saddle, though, the Motus glides around like a penguin in water – it’s practically effortless. The bike even corners far more smoothly than I expected. It’s no racer, but the somewhat bulky looks are certainly deceiving.
A lot of that smooth ride is down to the Bosch Active Line Motor and its placement in the middle of the bike between the pedals. The motor adds power in line with the amount of force you put through the pedals so it avoids the jerkiness that can afflict cheaper motors, while the positioning means you avoid the feeling of being pulled or pushed by motors mounted on the front or back wheel.
The smooth ride is about more than just the motor, though. The sweep-back handlebars help by putting the wrists in a more natural position, and there’s an adjustable stem which should help everyone find a comfortable fit.
There’s also a suspension fork that can be flicked on or off easily, even mid-ride if you wish, making life a little easier on roads that are in disrepair while speeding things up when you hit a cycle superhighway or want to conserve energy when tackling a hill. The tyres are also wider than you’d expect on a hybrid, which contributes to a smooth ride. All that does mean the seat was noticeably firmer and more uncomfortable than the rest of the set-up, which is crying out for a gel seat. Or at least my arse was after 30 minutes of riding.
On top of that, Raleigh has also gone out of its way to add details that make it a pimped-out urban ride, from fixed front and back plastic mudguards, a pannier rack, reflective strips on the puncture-resistant wheels and a bell. Despite all this, I’m still not convinced by the urban commuter bike act.
This may be because I was riding it in London and was not prepared to leave a £1,650 bike locked up in my garden overnight or even in my office’s bike store during the day, meaning I had to lug it up and down stairs, and then perform a merry dance at home every evening – locking it up outside at first, bringing it in when the kids were in bed, then putting it back outside in the morning before they get up so they didn’t pull its hulking frame down on top of them. For me, an urban bike should be the most flexible transport option, not the most restrictive.
That said, it may suit people who live in a city that offers affordable properties with secure garages. Especially if that city has some landscapes worth exploring on its doorstep; the Motus feels more like a light touring bike to me, and I’d gladly take it out of town for day trips of a weekend. Raleigh styles the other, more expensive, Motus bikes (the Tour and Grand Tour) as better for touring – thanks to the bigger 400w battery, giving them greater range – but the distance the Motus can cover is quoted as 90 miles, which feels like more than enough for the casual rider. I managed to wring 40 miles out of it exclusively using the top turbo setting (I still can’t understand why people would use anything else).
There are other reasons to upgrade from the entry-level Motus, like integrated front and rear lights, a better display and, on the Grand Tour, an improved motor. Still, at £1,650, Raleigh has put together a compelling package with the most important components – the battery and motor – being of seriously high quality. If you are purely out for an urban commuter bike, though, take a look at Raleigh’s Strada range, while Halfords’ Carrera Crossfuse e-bike offers similar features minus 5kg and £50.
Buy from Raleigh | £1,650