D-Cycle Downtown Review

SotonJB

New Member
This is my first electric bike, and wanting one which could buy with the cycle to work scheme (which has a maximum spend of £1000, I had limited options. I opted for the D-Cycle Downtown/Downton 7 (depending on where you buy it from). I couldn't find a review online so I thought I'd share my thoughts.
The bike is heavy. I haven't actually weighed it, but I would reckon the standard electric bike weight of about 25kg is about right. This is much heavier than my racing bike and when I forgot to charge it once I found out how difficult it is to push up a hill! It is also huge - both longer and taller than most bikes. It isn't easy to navigate through the inside lane of a traffic jam. It is a 'sit up and beg' style so your head is probably 50cm higher than those on a racing bike.These attributes actually have a bonus though: it makes you have more of a presence on the road, which makes it easier to cycle defensively and own your space in the road. Much like, I imagine, the bike equivalent of being in a Range Rover rather than a Toyota Yaris.
It is quite speedy - the front hub motor kicks in after the first couple of pedal rotations and is like having a rocket pack on your back. There are four power settings - the top one for going up steep hills, and I can quite comfortably go at 10mph up a steep hill, despite its weight. As the motor cuts out at 15mph due to EU law, you might think you wouldn't get much faster than that, but it's quite possible to go up to 20 on the flat, although due to the gearing, you can't really go much faster than that or your legs will be going round like the clappers. This is a bike for cruising, not racing. There are three internal hub gears which are perfectly adequate for normal-hilly terrain. Probably not mountains. If the electric cuts out, it's fine cycling it on relatively flat terrain, but hills are difficult.
Being a 'pedelec', you have to pedal constantly, but if you don't want to pedal, buy a scooter. You don't really have to apply any force to the pedals to keep the motor going, just keep them moving. Because you aren't using as much energy as when on a normal bike, bear in mind that you might get colder and wear clothing appropriately.
You are supposed to keep it in a garage or shed (the salespeople might not tell you this). So far, I've kept it outside under a a tarp, but some of the bolts are already beginning to rust. This is at the cheaper end of the electric bike price range, so I suppose these things are to be expected, and so I'm going to replace these. The handlebars are chrome, so this may rust in time if left outdoors.
The range is supposedly 50 miles. This certainly seems optimistic, and must have been tested just on the flat. I have done 26 miles on it, via hilly terrain, but it was flashing at 0 battery at the end of the cycle.
The battery takes about 8 hours to charge from flat. I charge it every night and while i'm at work. Apparently it works better if the battery's warm when starting off.
Being a European bike, it has some lovely features that you don't get on bikes usually. It has a kick-stand and a frame lock, which is very convenient (although I usually use a D-lock as well). If you turn the pedals backwards, it applies a brake, although it has a hand-operated brake too. A Dutch friend of mine told me that this kind of bike is often bought by parents, because you can have one child on the front cargo shelf and one on the back pannier. It's very stylish and I do feel rather smug when cycling along.
I have had some problems with the electrics. I don't know whether this is common for this bike, and certainly the people in the bike shop didn't say so from their experience. In the end, they sent away for some new parts, and since then it's been absolutely fine.
Overall, a really good bike for cruising around town or doing your shopping, although it will tackle hills and longer distances too. Great for 'fair weather cyclists'. If I could give it a star rating, I'd give it 4/5, only marking it down because of the problems with the electrics and the rusty bolts.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Jenny
 
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SotonJB

New Member
Have you had any problems with your bikes? I experienced numerous electrical faults so eventually had to return her to the manufacturer and get a different brand (EBCO UCR30), which I have had no problems with so far.
 

Epipeman

New Member
When the bikes were delivered it became clear just how huge they are. Having been assured that they would be fine for two 5' 7.5 " people we tried them, but simply couldn't stay on. We now have a Freego Hawk and a Freego Wren which are great.