The wind whooshed through my hair as I effortlessly pedaled uphill through Central Park. Other riders, stuck on their 20th-century bicycles, looked on in sweaty envy as they pumped their legs.
I couldn't help but smirk as I even passed two riders bedecked in professional cycling gear. Yes, they were getting exercise, but I was letting technology do the work for me.
The reason for my two-wheeled top-loftiness was that I was riding Trek's new Allant+ eBike, which uses pedal-assist technology to give you an extra boost while riding. The motor and battery, made by Bosch, have been improved to give the bike a nearly 100-mile range, and it pairs with a smartphone app that not only shows you how fast you're going, but offers turn-by-turn directions too.
This ain't the Huffy from your childhood. Trek's Allant+ series starts at $3,599; the model I rode costs $5,999.
Trek Allant+ Pricing and Availability
The Trek Allant+ Series is available online now, and should be at Trek dealers in October. Trek will offer three models of the Allant+ in multiple configurations.
The Allant+ 7 and Allant+ 8 (starting at $3,599) will each come in four variations, including a low-step version and a Sport version, which increases the pedal-assist speed to up to 28 miles per hour. Both have metal frames.
The Allant+ 9.9S is available only in a sport version, though a low-step model will be available. The 9.9S' frame is made of carbon fiber, which shaves about 4 pounds off the total weight.
All models except the (Allant 7+ low-step version) can be configured with an extra 500Wh battery, which will increase the bike's range to up to 160 miles.
Allant+ Smart Bike Features
To get the most out of the Allant+, you'll need to download Bosch's app (available for Android and iOS), which, when connected to the bike via Bluetooth, displays your speed, direction, and more in real-time. A clip in the middle of the handlebars holds your phone securely in place, and a USB cable from the bike's battery provides extra juice to your phone.
The app can also be linked to smartwatches with heart-rate sensors (such as the Apple watch) so you can view your heart rate on your phone. Other features of the app include turn-by-turn directions using Google Maps, music controls, and the ability to store up to 10 contacts, in case you want to make a phone call during your ride.
You can control most of these functions by tapping your phone's screen or by pressing buttons located on the left handlebar. Here, you'll also find two buttons that let you switch between the bike's four pedal-assist modes: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo. The greater the pedal-assist, the lower the range.
Performance: As Easy as Riding a Bike
I took a 6-mile loop of Central Park on the Trek Allant+ 9.9S and was impressed with how easy it was to zoom up hills. As soon as I started pedaling, the assist motor kicked in, giving me a real boost and making it feel as if I was on level ground. The motor ramps up smoothly, so it's not jarring.
In no time, I was cruising along, hitting speeds of up to 30 miles per hour on downhills and straightaways, and zipping past everyone. The bike itself handled well and felt very stable when taking corners.
It was a real joy to ride, especially on a nice sunny day. I probably could have ridden it until its battery ran out.
Outlook: Great If You Can Afford It
Electric pedal-assist bikes are still a niche product in the U.S. for two reasons: They're expensive, and this country doesn't have roads and infrastructure that are as bike-friendly as those in Europe.
Still, if I had to commute between 10-20 miles by car (and not on major highways), I could see real value in picking up an eBike to save some wear and tear on my automobile and give me a bit of exercise in the process. If you don't have to go as far, an electric scooter might be a more cost-effective option.
With a starting price of $3,599, Trek's Allant+ eBike is an expensive proposition, but it's a fun one.