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Dallingridge Malvern review: A budget trekking e-bike with impressive range

Richard Peace
20 Jun 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,249
inc VAT

With the power to tackle hills, plenty of range and few compromises, the Dallingridge Malvern is a star budget buy

Pros 
Solid range
Good hill-climbing ability
Rack, guards and kickstand are all included
Cons 
No hardwired lights
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Dallingridge bikes might be relatively new to the market, but the team behind them has plenty of experience in the electric bike world. As a trekking style e-bike, the Dallingridge Malvern is aimed at those who want a versatile and sporty e-bike that’s as at home on the road as it is on easy-going trails.

Unlike city e-bikes, which favour a more upright and relaxed riding style, the frame geometry and handlebar position on the Malvern make for a slightly sportier riding position, resulting in a bike that feels fun and fast to ride. Add large, free-rolling wheels, a sturdy pannier rack and a front suspension fork and the Malvern is well rounded for both leisure and trekking duties.

Combining budget-friendly components into an electric bike that’s more than a sum of its parts, the Malvern will tick a lot of boxes that even some pricier e-bikes can’t.

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Dallingridge Malvern review: What do you get for the money?

Retailing for £1,249, the Dallingridge Malvern is a budget-focused trekking e-bike. It uses a cheap and cheerful rear hub motor with cadence sensing (meaning the motor springs into life when you move the pedals), a frame-integrated 504Wh battery, which is removable for off-bike recharging, cable-operated disc brakes and six-speed Shimano derailleur gearing.

Like many budget bikes, the frame is one size only, but at 18in it’s about average. There’s a decent amount of height adjustment on the seat post so, size-wise, it should suit all but the tallest and shortest of riders.

At 23.6kg it’s certainly no lightweight, but the weight is reasonable considering the Malvern’s equipment complement and price point. The frame itself looks solid and the battery is very securely locked in place on the downtube, making the weight even more impressive.

The Malvern has a “trekking” or “hybrid” frame with a crossbar, while the Malvern’s “sister” model – the city-styled Dallingride Harlow – shares many of the Malvern’s specifications but uses a more casual step-through frame. The Malvern encourages a more leant-forward, aerodynamic seating position, suiting riders who want a sportier, faster ride.

While sporty, the Malvern wants to be smooth and comfortable, too, hence the SR Suntour front suspension fork and 29in wheels; the bigger the wheel, the smoother the ride. There’s also a plush saddle and ergonomic grips.

Commuters and leisure riders will be happy to hear that the Malvern comes with a pannier rack with 18kg carrying capacity, full-length mudguards and a sturdy kickstand as standard.

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Dallingridge Malvern review: What’s it like to ride?

Under UK law the pedals on an e-bike must be turning in order for the motor to work. On budget e-bikes, this usually means a ring of magnets and a magnet sensor, easily visible on the inside of one of the pedal cranks.

Just how effective this system is can be somewhat hit or miss and, on the worst offenders, the rider can be left to spin the pedals for several seconds before the power arrives. Obviously, this is far from ideal if you want to make a quick start in traffic or perform a hill start.

In contrast, the reasonably even and quick delivery from the Malvern’s 12-magnet sensor is impressive, helping to deliver a pretty smooth riding experience. Once you get the pedals turning there’s only the briefest of delays before the lively motor springs into action. It also cuts out pretty quickly when you stop so you won’t find yourself being powered along when you don’t want to be, which can happen on some budget models.

And, thanks to its dependable power delivery, hillclimbing is a real forte. On e-bikes at this price, tackling gradients can be a challenge, but the Malvern proved a very effective performer. It breezed up most hills and even made it up the steepest 20% gradient during my regular commuting route.

As for range, I achieved a range of 36 miles over the hilly Pennine foothills, which is good performance for a budget e-bike, albeit with a reasonably light rider on board (I am 68kg). During the range test, I toggled the three power levels up and down to give the power needed and turned the motor off when travelling downhill or on the flat with a following wind. It’s a decent bike to ride without power in such conditions. The tyres are free rolling and there isn’t too much drag from the motor when it’s not powered up.

The small LCD display on the handlebars is quite useful for helping to conserve battery capacity, too. It has a little real-time meter that tells you roughly how much power the motor is consuming and can aid in adopting an economic riding style, provided you keep a careful eye on it.

The lively motor performance and sporty riding position make for a fun riding experience, aided by the smooth six-speed Shimano derailleur and the powerful cable-operated disc brakes. The rear brake on my example was rather weak at first but after some adjustment and waiting for the pads to wear in, its performance was transformed.

The Suntour front suspension is a budget steel-sprung fork, but it certainly helps to even out humps and bumps. This allows the bike to be taken on decent-quality unsealed paths with ease – think rail trails, canal towpaths and forestry tracks, although nothing more extreme than that.

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Dallingridge Malvern review: Is there anything it could do better?

Overall, the Malvern is a fun e-bike that lives up to expectations, performing well in the important areas of hill climbing and range. So, lack of hardwired lights aside (many budget e-bikes do have hardwired LED lights), the following niggles are just that, and they are common to many other budget e-bikes.

The three power levels don’t really give more power, just more speed. In practice, this meant I actually spent most of the time using the top power level, turning the motor off completely for easier flat or downhill sections. This isn’t a big deal as it didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the bike’s range, and there are only three levels anyway; many e-bikes offer more power levels but it can become a pain to toggle through them all if you don’t actually need them.

Gear ranges on budget e-bikes tend to be a little limited, but a lower bottom gear for tackling particularly steep gradients would be appreciated here. A good local bike shop may well be able to lower the Malvern’s gearing by swapping out a part if you need to; they would certainly advise if it’s possible.

I’m also not too keen on the display’s battery “meter”, which shows a rather simple icon with bars that decline as the battery’s energy is used up. Pricier e-bikes may offer more accurate percentage readouts but the Malvern’s meter is still a useful enough aid for estimating your remaining battery capacity.

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Dallingridge Malvern review: Should you buy it?

The Dallingridge Malvern ticks a lot of boxes for both performance and equipment and its sizeable battery is certainly a good feature for the price. The budget compromises it does make are ones that a lot of people will be able to live with; in fact, they may not even notice them if they haven’t ridden pricier e-bikes.

You’ll certainly find budget e-bikes out there priced lower than the Malvern but these are likely to compromise on performance, equipment or overall quality.

If you want something a little less sporty, then the Dallingridge Harlow uses the same motor and battery as the Malvern but offers a more upright position. However, for a sporty ride that will perform well on both road and on moderate trails, the Malvern is hard to beat for the price.

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