Some bikes don't make much of a sound when they land at road.cc towers, and nestle quietly in the corner until they're sent out to be tested. Not this one though, it's a bike that likes to be centre stage and demands a bit of attention. And when it lands, you'll know.
We tested the Ute back in August 2009 and liked it, a lot. "A brilliant do-anything bike", said test pilot Rob Simmonds, and he didn't just pop down the shops on it a couple of times either, his first outing was a 100mile Devon Audax, the crazy fool. Anyhow, we know it's a big-boned bike with a big heart and lots of rideability, so we were really interested to see that it's been electificated for extra pulling power. We bumped into the beast at Eurobike this year, and here's what we had to say on the subject...
What does this mean in practice? Well, the chassis is essentially the same, it's a long wheelbase Aluminium unit with all the extra length to the rear and plenty of superstructure to keep things stiff. It's not as long as an Xtracycle but it's plenty long enough to carry a passenger on the rear platform, and it comes equipped with a capacious bright orange pannier (now with a backboard) that you can throw an awful lot of stuff into.
The underneath of the platform has been slotted to accept a frankly enormous 24V, 13Ah battery. It's huge. Weighing in at 5.65kg, it makes a pretty significant contribution to the bike's 30kg-plus all-in weight, nearly double the non-powered bike. The battery feeds a pedelec system that has a sensor in the rear dropout and a 250W motor in the front hub, controlled by a black box behind the seatpost. You get a little bar mounted computer to tell you the status of the system, there's three power assist levels to choose from. Range is quoted at between 30km and 100km, depending on which level you're on.
Shifting is by virtue of a mix of Alivio and Deore MTB kit. There's an Avid SD5 V-brake at the front and BB-5 mechanical disc at the rear to stop you, let's hope that's enough when you're barrelling down a one-in-six with the monthly shop. I guess we'll find out, eh.
Money-wise the electric Ute is a fairly pricey beast, weighing in at £1800 which is getting on for three times the price of the standard beast. Whether that's good value for money will likely hinge on whether it's a complete enough solution to urban tansport and load carrying duties that it'll negate the need for a car. Again, we'll see...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.