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a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Rolling back the years ... with electric assistance.

My most popular blog post ever is one from 2017 and it's called 7 Winter Days: What an elite rider did and why he did it. The post details the training undertaken by my son Jack in a typical winter week in December. I did part of that week's training with him, I say part because even back then holding his wheel had become a bit of an issue. As I have got older training at the level of someone who races at the highest level has, not too surprisingly become increasingly challenging. Our approach now is for me to only train with Jack when the prescribed efforts are deemed suitable (by Jack) and even then I usually end up doing a somewhat diluted version of the plan, although it still hurts ... a lot. Getting old is definitely not for the faint hearted that's for sure. However, on a more positive note I can still do the cafe rides and a solution to the training problem (or at least a partial one) is thankfully now available. 
On one of the last rides that Jack and I did together before lock down I was riding a Ribble SL E and what a difference it made. It was like going back in time while at the same time seeing in to the future - and the future looks very encouraging. 
Before the bike riding could commence we had to have coffee, obviously and we met Joe and Jackson from Ribble at our usual cafe the Mockingbird Deli in Yarm. The plan was to shoot some video (that you can see here: youtube) of the new bike in action side by side with the Jack's  Ribble SL Team Edition Jack had proposed a tough route that would take us up on to the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. This is a loop that we have ridden together many times but not really one that I would consider training on with Jack these days, it's way too hard.
We rolled out from the Bird fully caffeinated and with some some strategic shoot locations on the way to the hills agreed. As we headed towards the moors I couldn't help thinking about the last time I had ridden this route with with some of the Ribble Weldite lads. On that day I was unceremoniously off-loaded half way up the first climb and the next time I saw the boys it was back at the 'Bird' ... they were just leaving ! (you can read the full story HERE Power2)
Press the button for three levels of power assistance.

My first impression of the SL E was that it didn't look or feel like an 'E' bike and apart from the discreet button on the top tube (above) there was nothing to suggest that it was anything other than a high end lightweight race bike. I have ridden an 'E' bike once before and I enjoyed it, it was a mountain bike with a pedal assist system where the motor delivers the extra power straight to the cranks, effectively doing the pedalling for you. The SL E adopts a very different approach and consequently provides a completely different riding experience. The extra watts on the SL E are delivered through a power hub at the back wheel, precisely where you want them. For those with an interest in the techy details it's a Mahle ebikemotion X35 250W hub ... apparently.
It's so easy to forget the the SL E is actually an electric bike as the power delivery is really smooth and for want of a better word, sophisticated which makes the riding experience feel really authentic. The power produced at the pedals and transferred to the back wheel by the chain is supplemented by the power hub at the press of a button, so you get the extra watts exactly where you need them, when you need them.
After taking the shots on the flat roads, the plan was to then do the drone content before getting some action stuff from the back of the van. 
The top of the Clay Bank climb and Jackson is getting down to the serious business of Jack's profile shot. How did the effort up the the climb go ? well, one of us pressed a button and made a devastating acceleration just as we got  near the top, causing the other one to loose the wheel and be left for dead. I'm not going to name the looser as that wouldn't be fair so to find out you are going to have to watch the video ... it was Jack.
One of the most advanced and lightest E road bikes available the stealth look of SL E is helped by having a fully integrated battery (I haven't got a clue where it is) and further emphasised by the all new Anthracite colour scheme incorporating some subtle silver accents, this really is a nice looking bike, I want one. 
Final task of the day was to record the voice over in the warmth of the van. You will hear my dulcet tones if you view the video, described, very accurately by someone who's judgement on these matters I trust implicitly as, sounding like a 'Boro Morgan Freeman' ...  I'll settle for that !
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