Comment: When is a product super, not superfluous?

Why has this BikeBiz staffer changed his tune over electric bikes and one in particular?
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It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated this column to a genuinely impressive and groundbreaking product. They don’t come along too often, unless you count electronic shifting, new wheels sizes, dropper posts or headset spacers that open beer bottles as life changing. Okay, the latter is a little.

All of the above, while impressive, are however a little superfluous to requirements, in a way. Crisp and precise electronic shifting is fantastic, a real treat, if you can afford it. A new wheel size, just as good, assuming you have the space for one of each in the garage.

Now I’m going to have to backtrack on my perhaps semi-cynical January comment on electric bike development in order to ‘shout out’ the Kalkhoff Impulse Ergo. Having previously spent several paragraphs trying to make the point of ‘how are you going to justify that price tag’, the comment concluded in the hope that either battery prices would fall, or something significant would come to market to make the often eye-watering figures suddenly much better value for money to the power-assist buying customer.

The argument is of course that you can’t put a price on comfortably cycling into your old age, or gradually declining health. That’s something I’ve long felt is the main selling point of power assist bikes – the ability to keep active longer.

So what’s groundbreaking about the Kalkhoff? For me, it’s simply the fact that it acknowledges its market and has given proper thought into what that demographic may need from their bicycle.

At the time of writing I’m unaware of the price of the Impulse Ergo, though, for once, I’m also unconcerned. This Kalkhoff is special because it combines a heart rate monitor with Nuvinci’s Harmony and Impulse motors – adjusting the motor’s output in line with a pre-set heart rate that the rider, or their GP, recommends as a both a safe and comfortable level for exercise. No chance of overdoing it, the motor will spot signs of stress and increase power accordingly.

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As unfortunate as it may be, there will be few of us out there that don’t know somebody who suffers from health issues that could be aggravated by exercise. This technology is, in my opinion, therefore groundbreaking and hats off to Kalkhoff and Nuvinci for investing in making it a reality.

If the cycle industry were more focused on alleviating the barriers to cycling, as opposed to developing often increasingly expensive luxuries, our streets would soon be busy with two-wheeled momentum.

If you're interested in the Kalkhoff, 50 Cycles are the UK distributor and are contactable on 0333 900 50 50.

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