I knew it was a gamble buying an electric bike from an advert on Facebook without actually seeing it first but at that price I thought the risk was worth it！
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had a bike, from Grifters in the 70s, BMXs and making our own mountain bikes in the 80s, participating in a LOT of sponsored rides in the 90s (London to Brighton etc) and even competing in downhill mountain bike races at one point. Unfortunately as I enter my fifties all of my sports injuries from previous hobbies are catching up with me, the end result being that my right knee can no longer be relied on to push a pedal without causing considerable pain.
Alongside my day job as an off-road Segway instructor we also hire out and sell mountain bikes for people to explore the Scottish glens. I realised that I was recommending trails that I hadn’t actually been on myself for years and that I desperately needed to revisit them. We had sold many electric bikes but most of them were unaffordable for me. The Eskute Voyager seemed to offer a reasonably specced bike for a good price. I have certainly seen lesser specced bikes for a lot more money! Reviews were read, money trees were shaken and an order was placed. Just over a week later the box arrived on my doorstep.
Initial impressions were very good – sturdy box, secure internal packaging and no damage to any components. This is a far cry from some packages from mainstream cycle companies that arrive at our shop with boxes torn open and components missing or damaged! Assembly took me about 30 minutes. It would have been quicker but I had to nip over to the garage for an Allen key to fit the hand throttle, although every other tool you need to assemble the bike is included in the tool kit Eskute supply (as well as front light/horn and front and rear mudguards). The battery had some charge in it so I pumped up the semi inflated tyres to the correct pressure and off I went. Having some awesome Scottish hill tracks right outside my front door meant that the initial quick shake-down run turned into a 10km loop. My first thought was that the ride was quite hard but once I realised that the front forks were locked out I adjusted the dial and she rode beautifully. A little tweak of the mechanical disc brakes after a couple of kilometres but apart from that it performed flawlessly. The Voyager is fitted with a cadence sensor rather than a torque sensor found on more expensive bikes but I found the power kicks in nice and smoothly and actually a lot earlier than other bikes I have tried. I currently weigh just over 100kg and the cogs on the Bafang gearbox slip a bit on very steep hills but that is because I was not pedalling hard enough. Under normal use the rear hub motor works very well and actually feels a little more torquey than other 250W motors I have ridden. Although budget components, the mechanical disc brakes and front suspension coped very well with the quite rocky trails I was taking the bike down. I was also quite impressed with the grip the 27.5” Kenda puncture-proof tyres gave (and I am fussy about my tyres!)
As almost all of my riding is offroad on a private Scottish Highland estate, I fitted the hand throttle. A very easy operation to fit but what a difference it has made to the bike’s usability for me! On a bad day, I can barely put any pressure on the right pedal due to a knee injury. This means it can be really difficult to start on a hill from a stand still on a normal bike. The hand throttle on the Voyager allows me to get the bike moving first and then start pedalling which makes a huge difference! I also find it a lot safer to use on tricky narrow paths with tree roots as I can keep the bike vertical with my weight centred rather than having to transfer my weight from side to side as I am pedalling.
I postponed writing this review until I had 400km on the bike, just to shake it down properly. I am glad to say that it has not let me down and has surpassed my expectations… so much so that we have just had delivery of a second one for my wife so that we can explore the Scottish mountain tracks together plus a trailer for our dogs! The trailer seems to attract a LOT of attention when we ride together as it looks great fitted to the Voyager. One thing that you do need to be aware of when you fit a trailer hitch to an electric bike with a rear hub is that you still get good thread engagement on the rear wheel nuts. I had a load of 40 kg in the trailer and even with my 100kg weight the motor still pulled OK.
Would I improve anything? I tend to pedal-out quite easily on the flat so I might change to a larger front ring at some point in the future and may possibly consider swapping to hydraulic brakes depending on how performance is towing a heavy trailer but under initial tests the mechanical brakes are more than capable. Both my wife and myself found ourselves tooting the horn after adjusting the power controls but this was easily minimised by rotating the horn/light switch a little further under the handlebar. It was interesting to see that a couple of minor niggles on my bike were fixed on my wife’s later model: the display is now a lot quicker to power up and the battery lock has been improved making it a lot easier to remove the battery.
In summary, I would not hesitate to recommend this bike or company to others, and indeed I do as I am constantly questioned about the bike wherever I go!
Thank you Eskute for giving me a second chance at cycling!