In the words of Ernest Hemingway, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best…”

This adage proved to be a true reflection of my experience riding the crème de la crème of electric bikes, the A2B Octave Electric Bicycle.

True to cliché, some people feel the rain, others just get wet (thank Bob Dylan for those wise words). Having sometimes felt like the latter, I gave my engine a rest in a pursuit to become more mindful of my surroundings.  And what a refreshing change it was riding the A2B bike from my usual trip through the City involving either a crowded bus ride or steering the wheel myself.

All the times I’ve tripped with a bus I either sat reading or plugged my ears into music to block out mundane conversations, a rant about the latest poor service delivery, and worse: strangers attempting to make small talk.

But it was more than a disconnect from uninteresting strangers, because in turn, I was disconnecting myself from my natural surroundings: watching the world go by – merely seeing – instead of being mindful of my surroundings.

Riding the A2B, I was observing and absorbing.

I was enthralled by the little pleasures: the rays of the sun against my skin (we slapped on enough sunscreen before taking off on our tour from the Mount Nelson. Here’s how to survive a wintry ride), the wind touching my skin (because it refuses to run through my gelled hair), and curious passer-by’s eyeing our rides.

The contrast between old and modern architecture in the City.

Now you must be wondering: what sets this bike apart from the rest?

For starters, its battery pack enables a sensation of lightness – of the body, and automatically – of the mind. And if you’re a rookie like me, it gives you that extra boost to go up the steepest hills, going up to 25km/h. That gave me a broader sense of freedom because I was able to cover greater depths – reaching into the nooks of the City, going up steep hills – without worrying that peddling alone won’t get me up just anywhere.

The seat: unlike many conventional bicycles, its soft, well-formed seat is courteous enough to know not to the ride up your gluteus maximus.

It offers green mobility and let’s face it: hybrid cars are not up everyone’s alley. While it might seem like a blend between a conventional bicycle and a scooter, the A2B bicycle is emission-free compared to scooters and unlike conventional bicycles, it has a battery pack that makes you go faster, for longer. An ideal way of playing your part in reducing your carbon footprint, while working your glutes at the same time, I’d say.

It has a rechargeable battery, which can travel up to 32km on single charge, and up to 70km with two batteries. That means no fuelling up and simply plugging it into a standard outlet as you’d charge any mobile device – reaching about 80% of its capacity in two hours.

The German-engineered green bikes are imported to South Africa by Cycology, costing anywhere between R14 500 to R35 000. The A2B bikes are also available to rent from R150/hour. If you’re in the Mother City, make your way to the Mount Nelson for a test ride and 44 on Stanley, Millpark in Jozi.

– Ashraf Booley