Silent Running


Chris Northover explores rugged countryside without waking the wildlife...

The smell of a small, two-stroke engine and the sound of it ring-ding-dinging into life still sends a little excited shiver down my back.

As kids, even if we couldn’t get out to ride, my brother and I used to love starting our little dirt bike up in the shed, reveling in the smell and dreaming of the next opportunity to kit up and go charging through some puddles. And then the neighbours would come knocking, wondering why their washing now smelled like a garage full of old chainsaws.

We’d ride in the field behind the local pub on a Sunday, but not everyone likes the sound of an engine so much as us, and we were moved on from there too. Gradually there were fewer and fewer places where we could ride without being an inconvenience to someone. Riding was restricted to the occasional competition or event when Dad was off work and could take us out. We lived for those days.

It’s a story shared by many involved in off-road motorcycles, the blame often being handed out to people being intolerant or miserable. But the fact is, motorcycles can and do make noises and smells that aren’t to everyone’s taste. Well, conventional ones do. In the last decade, the rise of the electric motorcycle from weird concept machines to viable production bikes has been meteoric.

Now you can buy an electric bike that has the range to get you to work. Now you can buy an electric off-road bike that can hang with its dinosaur-burning counterparts. OSET started out as a small family-run firm, born from the want for a kids’ electric motorcycle that could compete with the petrol bikes on both price and performance. A decade and a half on, and trials events are filled with kids on OSET bikes.

These electric off-road bikes have spawned a generation of riders who can practice or play every evening and weekend, riding in their gardens and local parks without the negative impacts that a petrol bike can have on neighbourly relations.

This OSET 24.0 is all that, but in a package that adults can enjoy. Lightweight, tough and with enough power to get you up the side of a mountain, it’s fun pure and simple. From whistling through a cave, to exploring the countryside you’re greeted with a smile by everyone you come across, often followed by a list of excited questions about the bike itself.

No, it doesn’t make an inspiring noise that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. But in terms of enjoying riding, without worrying about who my fun impacts on, electric bikes cannot be topped.

More riding, more places, more of the time, that’s what an electric bike means to me.


Images: Oli Tennent Photography