Everyone wants an ebike these days. While e-scooters may be more compact and cooler, electric bikes have some significant advantages. These include being fully legal, offering the chance to do some exercise, and not leading to almost certain disaster if you hit a pothole. I've been absolutely inundated with ebikes recently, from the cheap Halfords Carerra Impel to the even cheaper Pure Electric Pure Flux One but the Angell ebike is something very different. Designed in France, it is more of a smartphone on wheels and as such is a direct competitor to the excellent VanMoof S3.
The Angell is designed by top style guy Ora Ïto and comes from a brand operated by two men who used to run an online dating agency. Despite this, it's one of the most purely enjoyable ebikes to ride that I've ever tried. Some of its smart features are a little buggy, but if you can live with that and you like the looks, this Angell could be the best electric bike for you.
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Angell bike is available now and costs £2,690 or €2,860. At present it's available in Europe only as far as I can see, although it has been covered on American websites quite extensively so I assume it will launch there at some point.
A lot of the best ebikes I've tried recently keep things very simple and have short feature lists as a result. Not the Angell however, which is closer to an iPhone on wheels than a standard bicycle. It also has some very advanced safety features, including indicators, so you never need to do hand signals again. That's practically worth paying £2,690 for on its own, at least if you are as terrible at doing hand signals as I am. Here are some of the key features, then:
• Built-in lights, front and rear. A lot of ebikes have this, but on the Angell ebike, there are a pair of rear lights that double as indicators for turning left and right. Not only that, they also work as brake lights when you slow down. This is a mind-blowing game changer. It enables the rider to be safer and also to show more consideration for traffic behind them, without having to go to any particular effort. These are controlled by buttons on the right handlebar.
• Light weight. A lot of ebikes claim to be 'light', just because they are under 20 kilos which is reasonably light by electric bike standards. The Angell bike, however, is actually light at just 13.9kg, thanks to a sleek aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork. Okay, admittedly that figure does not include the battery, which is a little disingenuous of Angell. so really it's about 16 kilos – but that is still light by ebike standards – 3 kilos less than the aforementioned Carerra Impel, for instance.
• Maximum range is 43 miles or 70km with a complete recharge possible in just 2 hours. That's on the standard 'Fly Dry' mode – so named because you get where you're going without breaking sweat. You can get up to 90km in the slower Fly Eco mode or 50km in the Fly Fast mode, which is, erm, faster. Angell also helpfully points out that you can get a range of 'infinity miles' by using the non-assisted Fly Free mode. You flick between modes using the buttons on the left handlebar.
• Crash detection. This notices when you have had a spill and, thanks to a built-in SIM card, notifies a relative or loved one. Although perhaps notifying the emergency services might be more useful and less stressful for your loved ones, if I'm nitpicking.
• Wheel lock and anti-theft alarm. Like VanMoof's ebikes, the Angell can be locked and have its alarm armed via a press of a button in the app, or simply by walking away from the bike, since it can detect your proximity using the app and the phone's Bluetooth.
• Built-in GPS. Gives you access to navigation and mapping. This works via on-screen directions but there is also a cunning 'vibrating cockpit' feature that makes the left or right handlebar 'buzz' to indicate when and in which direction you should turn next. Also means you can track your bike if someone steals it.
• 2.4-inch touchscreen. Controls all of the above. This unit has its own power supply, topped up from the main battery, so the smart security features work even if the main battery is unlocked and removed.
• No gears. Like Pure Flux One and the entry-level Halfords Carerra Impel, Angell does away with the seemingly unbearable complication of having any gears, opting for a single speed, chain-driven mechanism. I was a bit surprised they didn't go for an on-trend carbon belt, as found on Pure Electric's ebike and the Hummingbird Electric Gen 2. But there we go; you can't have everything.
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This is, I think you'll agree, an impressive feature list. It brings with it probably more complications than I personally want to deal with while riding a bike, but the lights in particular are superb. The alarm, automatic wheel locking and GPS tracking are a solid security system but I would still recommend using at least one of the entries from our best bike locks list as well.
All in all, the Angell is rather like a Tesla on two wheels, tech-wise. But what is it like to ride?
The good news is that Angell is a superb ride. In fact it's right up there with any ebike I've ever tried. And I have tried a lot of them, especially recently.
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The reason it's so enjoyable is down to the relatively light weight and the impressively powerful motor. Ebikes all have the same maximum speed of 15.5mph or 25kph.
This is by no means 'fast' by most people's standards, although it is slightly quicker than the average speed of cars in practically all major cities. The important thing is not the speed as such but the acceleration, and whether you can use pedal power to push on past 15.5mph. On the Angell, the acceleration is rapid and very cleverly applied, with more assistance being given if you hit a slope.
Motor-assisted cycling is an absolute breeze, then, but the even better news is that it is perfectly possible to push on past 15.5mph, using good old-fashioned pedal power. For me and probably most people who are used to non-electric bikes, this is absolutely essential, as going along at 15.5mph on a long stretch of straight road can get really quite tedious. As there are no gears, you can't go at much above 20mph unless you have legs like pistons, but you can at least get up to a pretty decent speed for urban riding.
Perhaps it's because I've mainly been trialling cheap ebikes recently but the Angell really felt like a beautifully smooth and zippy ride. London's streets are pothole-ridden highways to Hell and the Angell has no suspension, but there is enough give in the frame and the saddle to make the ride a reasonably comfortable one, even on the city's nastiest stretches of pock-marked tarmac.
Before you head on over to Angell's website to splash the cash, I should note that I had a number of issues with the bike, however.
The battery mysteriously loses connection at times, meaning you have to unlock it, slide it out and then slide it back in again. This is not really acceptable on an ebike costing nearly 3 grand. The GPS is probably fine for tracking in the event of theft but I found it was not accurate enough for navigation on London's more maze-like back streets. Luckily I have a phone that can do a better job, which made me think that perhaps Angell should have done away with the 2.4-inch, built-in touchscreen – nice though it is – and just incorporated a smartphone mount instead. The way the handlebars vibrate in order to tell you to turn left or right I would find massively annoying even if the satnav was 100% reliable.
The other notable failing was the mudguards. As some sort of misguided design flourish these are made of wood (!) and also so narrow that I suspect they would be all but useless as mudguards – fortunately the weather was very pleasant while I was trying the Angell bike out. Not only were they a bit crap looking, they were also poorly mounted, so they rattled – again, this is not at all in keeping with the luxe, futuristic, designer vibe Angell is going for here. You would be better off removing them and getting third-party, frame-mounted mudguards instead.
Aside from this, my main concern with this kind of 'smart bike' is that if you are not a total tech-obsessed hipster, all the bonus features amount to are additional things that can go wrong. For me, the whole point of riding a bike – or ebike – is that it should be simple, and I want the number of things that can potentially fail or cause me irritation to be as near to zero as possible.
However, I appreciate that a lot of people will absolutely love the idea of having indicators and an anti theft-alarm and immobiliser on their bicycle, and so I may be in the minority on this matter.
What I loved about Angell was how much fun it was to ride. On that front it's well out in front of the cheaper likes of Pure Electric's Pure Flux One and up there with ebikes costing considerably more, such as Specialized's Turbo Vado and the Canyon Roadlite: ON range. The look of it is also very eye-catching, which probably makes the anti-theft features all the more worthwhile!
Angell ebike: price and availability
The Angell is available in the UK and most of Europe and costs £2,690 or €2,860. Angell also offers 12 months interest-free credit so you can purchase the bike for about £220 per month. For comparison, the Pure Electric Pure Flux One is just £999 – but that has an extremely short feature list compared to Angell and is less fun to ride.
When and if Angell becomes available in the USA and Australia, pricing would theoretically be about $3,700 or AU$5,100.