Riding into the future: My first e-bike experience with NewGen’s 345
The British-made two-wheeler made my regular bike seem archaic in comparison. It’d be a solid choice for anyone looking to make the switch
NewGen Bikes is a British e-bike firm that has quickly made a name for itself in the world of electric bicycles.
The company was founded with the vision of providing sustainable, eco-friendly transportation options that are not only practical but also stylish and fun. The small Somerset-based team of three who build them, offer a range of models for different types of riders, from commuters to mountain bikers.
Prior to being invited to check out NewGen’s bikes at its store in London’s East End, I admittedly had never previously ridden an e-bike before, which I suspect many reading this will be able to relate to.
When I arrived, I was acquainted with the firm's commuter friendly 345, which isn’t just an electric bike that has a random numerical name, but rather one with a significant meaning behind it.
This e-bike happens to be named after a London bus route that runs between South Kensington to Peckham, a nine-mile service that used to be the company founder's daily commute.
Commuting on a bus, day in and day out, dealing with delays and overcrowded journeys is something perhaps we can all relate to, though very few of us actually do much about it, other than to, I don't know, take up driving lessons.
However, the often quite grim reality of relying on the number 345 bus was not something the NewGen founding team was willing to accept, and was determined to find a more enjoyable way to get around the city. And so, the 345 e-bike was born.
With this in mind, I don’t see the NewGen 345 as just another e-bike vying for my attention, but rather as a fun solution to how frustrating public transport can be, and the founder's determination and ingenuity to escape it.
From the moment I saw the 345, I was impressed by its industrial-looking design and wide rubber tyres, while the 345’s long leather seat was giving me some strong Triumph Bonneville vibes, which as a fan of classic motorcycles, I appreciated very much.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the chain and pedals, you’d think this actually was a motorcycle of some sort, and it does a great job challenging your expectations on how an ebike should look. I think this was why I found the 345 to be such a head turner.
The bike delivers a relaxed, cruiser-like ride position, which again reminded me more of a motorcycle. NewGen recommends sitting up towards the back of the seat to give your legs space to straighten out more as you peddle, which did take some getting used to.
Initially, I kept sitting more toward the front of the seat, and often had to remind myself to slide further back for that more comfortable ride. Still, I’m sure that can be remedied with experience. Though wide and spacious, I found the seat to be a little too on the firm side, and would have appreciated a little extra cushioning.
The seat and handlebars are unadjustable and remain in a fixed position. However, the grippy handlebars were easily reachable and everything just felt right, so I was able to just get on and go. Since the seat is also relatively low, I was able to plant both my feet on the ground, which was great when I had to stop at a set of traffic lights, or wait for oncoming traffic. It just made riding the 345 feel more safe, natural and enjoyable.
The 345 provides up to five levels of electric assistance, which can easily be selected via a pair of large plus and minus buttons on the left handlebar. This is where you can also find a digital coloured screen, which displays your speed, an odometer, battery percentage as well as the assistance level selected. As my confidence increased, I found myself increasingly going up and down the levels of assistance effortlessly, and the information on the display was easily readable.
This brings me on to the 345’s rear-mounted Bafang 250W electric motor. Despite it being quiet and unobtrusive, I immediately noticed the difference between the NewGen 345 and my traditional bike from the moment I started pedalling. Honestly, riding an e-bike for the first time is like discovering a secret superpower, where every pedal stroke becomes a surge of exhilarating momentum. It felt like I was experiencing the future of urban commuting, and as a user of a normal bike, I realised how much fun I was missing out on.
Starting with level one, I felt the motor subtly engage, giving me a gentle but continuous push to help increase my speed. Of course, this is limited to 15.5 mph in order for it to be legal on public roads, though should your inner adrenaline junkie seek faster performance, NewGen does offer a more potent 345 S model, which raises the top speed to 23 mph. However, this makes the S model allowed only on private land for now, until changes are made to UK legislation. Still, I found more than enough fun can be had on the standard model.
The bike rides on chunky 20x4-inch Kenda tyres, and coil-suspension can be found upfront (though this can be replaced with air suspension should that be preferred for £240). This pairing did well absorbing the bumps from some of the cobbled side-streets I rode over, making for a smooth and enjoyable ride. Stopping power meanwhile comes from mechanical disc brakes by Tektro, but these can be upgraded to Magura hydraulic brakes for an extra £160.
The bike I used was fitted with the optional hydraulic brakes. Tested from a variety of speeds, they always felt very effective at slowing me down when I needed to, which as an e-bike first-timer, certainly helped me gain greater confidence when it came to taking full advantage of its rear motor. However, NewGen says the standard Tektro mechanical disc brakes provide ample stopping power for most people.
Further parts which can be upgraded include the gears. As standard, the 345 uses single speed gears, though mine had the optional Shimano eight speed gears, which the firm recommend for riding up steep hills or for wanting to gain greater speed. Given I was mainly riding on flat ground around the streets of East London, I personally never found myself using them.
Power comes from a 36V removable battery which takes five hours for a full charge. It is said to provide a range of 40-50 miles, however, I cannot personally confirm this claim as I simply hadn’t spent enough time with the bike in order to test it. However, having ridden around the streets of Shoreditch for around three hours, I still returned the 345 on an almost full charge, and that was having routinely changed the motor’s assistance levels, which is encouraging.
As well as being removable, the 345’s battery also has a nifty USB port, which enables you to charge an external device like a mobile phone. Though personally, I couldn't see myself using that feature that much. Additional on-board features include an integrated rear light, as well as one up front, but mudguards are absent unless you opt for them for an additional fee.
Made in the UK, the bike also features a maple plywood cargo deck which has a laser-etched NewGen logo - useful at giving the bike a little bit of practicality.
Having now experienced an e-bike myself in the form of NewGen’s 345, it makes going back to a normal bike seem like a daunting task, especially when faced with hills or longer distances. Plus, I’m not exactly the fittest person around, so the added assistance from that electric motor was most welcome.
With that in mind, the 345 delivers a fun and exhilarating ride thanks to its powerful electric motor. And its industrial-looking design, wide rubber tyres and motorcycle-style seat give it a distinctive appearance that was found to be a real attention-grabber.
While the seating position may take some getting used to, the grippy handlebars are easily reachable, and everything feels right, making it easy to just get on and go.
All of this doesn't come cheap though, as it starts from £2,490. However, if you intend to use this regularly as your independent, go-to method of commuting around town, it’s going to work out cheaper in the long run than keeping a car on the road. Plus, as I found out for myself, the added benefits of electric assistance makes it a tempting proposition.
Overall, the NewGen 345 is a fantastic e-bike that delivers a supercharged ride and is ideal for commuting and leisure rides. For anyone looking to make the switch to an e-bike, the 345 would be a great choice for any first-timer.