Bicycles

Review: Hitting the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike

Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
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The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres
1/7
The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres
The battery can be monitored via a large backlit LCD display mounted on the handlebars
2/7
The battery can be monitored via a large backlit LCD display mounted on the handlebars
The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres
3/7
The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres
Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
4/7
Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
5/7
Taking to the streets with the Dyson Hard Tail electric bike
Priced at AUD$2,000 (US$1,457), the Hard Tail is certainly on the cheaper side for an e-bike, and is not a world away from what could easily be spent on a high quality road bike or commuter
6/7
Priced at AUD$2,000 (US$1,457), the Hard Tail is certainly on the cheaper side for an e-bike, and is not a world away from what could easily be spent on a high quality road bike or commuter
The Hard Tail's pedal assist engages pretty much instantly and intuitively, giving it great acceleration off the mark
7/7
The Hard Tail's pedal assist engages pretty much instantly and intuitively, giving it great acceleration off the mark

I'd always been hesitant to make the switch to an electric bike. Would that little nudge along eat away at my poor but hard-earned fitness base accumulated through cycling with nothing other than leg power? Would I be able to return to those grueling two-block city ascents without the luxury of an electric motor? Putting these concerns to one side for a couple of weeks, I climbed aboard the electrified Hard Tail, the flagship model from Australian company Dyson Bikes. And though it wasn't a dramatic enough leap to make a return to a conventional two-wheeler entirely unpalatable, the well-polished bike perfectly demonstrated the benefits of a little electrical assistance while whizzing around city streets.

For the most part, electric bikes conjure up images of freaky frames with bulky batteries conspicuously latched on, resembling more a quirky DIY project than your regular pushbike. Dyson was very conscious of this in building its top-of-the-line model, aiming to offer commuters an easier transition to powered cycling.

"Looking at the Hard Tail it seems just like a normal bike," Dyson Bikes co-owner David Metzke tells Gizmag. "It's a minimal design, so it doesn't look like you are riding a science experiment."

It is kind of hard to disagree on this point. Aside from the sizeable girth of the downtube aside (this is where Metzke and his team have placed the removable Sony 36 V 11.6 Ah battery), the Hard Tail looks and rides much like a normal mountain bike. Its aluminum alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tires. There's also Suntour NEX front fork suspension for when the streets get a little rugged, and a Shimano Alivio 9-speed gear set. These are parts not normally associated with high-performance bicycles and as such, we wouldn't recommend gearing up for serious off-road endurance racing, but they performed just fine in moving around the city.

The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres
The Hard Tail's aluminium alloy frame is painted black with a satin clear coat finish and rolls on 26-inch alloy rims with Kenda tyres

The law in Australia means that the legal maximum power output for an electric bike is 250 W, as it is in much of the world. Some countries and states in the US allow for electric bikes of up to 1,000 W, but these would be considered motorbikes Down Under, bringing on a whole other set of regulations. Motor assistance on the Hard Tail therefore cuts out at 25 km/h (15 mph).

The pedal assist engages pretty much instantly and intuitively, giving the bike great acceleration off the mark. In two full weeks of riding it in place of my regular bike, and commuting around 10 km (6 mil) up and down hills everyday, I never once had to really exert myself physically. And in a pleasant departure from my typical arrival at the office in the mornings, I entered entirely free of sweat, something that didn't go unnoticed by my colleagues.

The battery life came in just shy of the claimed 60 km (37 mi) range, though taking into account the hills and frequency of traffic stops this wasn't all that surprising. The battery can be monitored via a large backlit LCD display mounted on the handlebars, which also displays speed, power output, power consumption and allows you to flick between the six levels of motor assistance.

The battery can be monitored via a large backlit LCD display mounted on the handlebars
The battery can be monitored via a large backlit LCD display mounted on the handlebars

On the negative side, 25 km/h just ain't that fast. The easy acceleration of the Hard Tail will bring you to this speed very quickly, possibly after just a few pedals depending on which gear you're in. I quickly came to realize how regularly I travel faster than this – pretty much any time I am going downhill or on uninterrupted stretches of road with time to build up momentum. So although the Hard Tail required much less energy to get me to my destination, it also actually took a little more time. And while you are free to keep pedaling beyond this point, it becomes progressively difficult after the motor cuts out, where the direct drive creates a small but still noticeable drag.

This is of course completely out of Dyson's hands, as the company is simply adhering to the laws surrounding street legal electric vehicles. But for those that like to ride in the fast lane, something lighter might be more to their liking. Electric bikes come a lot heavier than the Hard Tail, which tips the scales at 23.2 kg (51.14 lb), but lighter options can be sniffed out. The US-based ProdecoTech offers 31.8-lb (14.4-kg) titanium-framed options, while English e-bike builder Cytronex offers modified Cannondales weighing as little as 28 lb (12.7 kg).

Made from more expensive materials, these will come with a higher price tag (or more bizarre shapes) than the Hard Tail, but this is where Metzke believes he has found a sweet spot. Priced at AUD$2,000 (US$1,455), this e-bike is certainly on the cheaper side, and is not a world away from what could easily be spent on a high quality road bike or commuter. So for people who aren't in a rush and looking for a gentle, super-comfortable way to catch some fresh air on their way to work, we reckon the Hard Tail from Dyson Bikes might fit the bill just nicely.

Product page: Dyson Bikes

7 comments
Jason Pase
Check out the Sondors E-Bike for $649 it's top speed is 32 km/hr
JakeSeliger
Have you seen GenZe bikes? I've been reading through reviews, and it appears to have (relatively) good ones so far.
morongobill
Actually the price is $1999 US per their website.
Rustgecko
The author may be happy arriving at the office less sweaty, but he is losing lots of time, in that he now has to spend 45 minutes a day at the gym to maintain fitness.
nick172172
The Gocycle is lighter at 15.5kg and by the looks of it a bit better made http://www.fullycharged.com/gocycle-g2
Abby Normal
for that amount of money it needs a suspension.
montereyjp
As an avid cyclist for most of my life I never thought I would be interested in E-bikes but now with the latest innovations I am very interested.. Mid drive with PAS is what I want and I want it on a fat tire because although fun they are to heavy and slow to ride long distances..But once the Bafang releases their mid drive Fat tire version with the 100mm crank then they will be easy to pedal and I think a lot of people will want one then. Yes I know there are fat tire mid drive kits available but they all have custom conversion kits which basically doubles the price of a standard unit. A fat tire with a mid drive will be the next best thing to a motorcycle and once the kids catch on to that I predict fat tire e-bikes sales will be very good.. Imagine how much fun you can have racing fat tire e-bikes on motocross tracks and trails.. You will get more exercise then you would with a motocross motorcycle , plus they are much lighter, a lot easier to maintain and everyone can keep up with each other thanks to the pedal assist system.... And they can be easily customized to look like a very cool retro motorcycle..