Whoosh Karoo


Just Joined
Feb 1, 2009
I bought a Karoo around February this year and to date I have covered 4000km. I bought it to get back into cycling after a lay off due to knee injuries and use it as my main method of commuting.
My commute was originally 20 miles each way so I bought a spare charger which I keep at work although I don't think I really needed it as I rarely see one bar disappear off the screen to say I'm using up the battery.
My initial thoughts when the Karoo arrived were ''flippin' eck, that's heavy'' compared to my road bike. I bought a rack to fit panniers rather than commute with a pack on my back and mudguards; rack, mudguards and better battery from Whoosh....all in all for less than £1000
My first journey out was a pain....first of all a puncture on the original tyres and then the battery fell off the bike when I hit a pot hole and split the plastic outer. (My fault, I thought if the key can be removed it had locked but the key can be removed whether locked or not).
So, I fitted the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres to avoid a repeat of day one's ride and found these tyres to be superb. Only trouble with the Karoo and the Marathon Plus tyres is that the front mudguard provided cannot be used... there is simply no clearance at all under the top of the forks. I've fitted a crud catcher for the front wheel to try to keep spray off the battery and my feet but it isn't brilliant so I am looking for a way to fit a proper mudguard (Does anyone know of a front mudguard that comes in 2 pieces with no part going under the bridge of the forks?)
I clean the bike as often as I can. It generally rides really smoothly. After 4000km I had the headset greased and checked, a new chain fitted and that's about it. The brake pads are still fine, all the cables still working smoothly and, apart from one spoke breaking on the rear wheel the wheels have stayed pretty much true. The motor runs really quietly and I honestly look a right goon cycling to work because I usually have a big grin on my face as I enjoy riding the Karoo so much. I did remove the throttle grip as I found the width of the hand grips was reduced and the plastic 'chrome style' ends dug into my palms and to be honest I couldn't see the point in the throttle when, the moment I start to pedal the motor kicks in. I added bar end extensions to give me an extra choice of riding positions to rest my hands/forearms etc. I think the frame is bomb proof, the components have lasted well from riding in all weathers and the wheels have been strong enough to cope with the pot holes and cycle tracks on my commute.

I said the commute was originally 20 miles because, although the main road is fairly quiet on the way into work (Cardiff), I find road users to be just about blind to cyclists on the way home after 4pm so I've found quieter routes which do add on a further 10 miles or so. Again though, I enjoy riding the bike so much that I prefer finding the longer, quieter routes home. (I even wake up 30 mins before my alarm and cycle longer routes into work).

Cycling with the Karoo has helped build up the muscles, tendons and ligaments around my knees so much that I've been able to start cycling on my road bike again. Even when I was cycling a few years ago, I found that it was too much to cycle to and from work more than twice a week as it left me too tired to do any other training. I now cycle to and from work at least 3 times a week, usually 4 and occasionally 5 days a week and now also including using my road bike.

All in all, I think the Karoo is the best thing I've bought in a long time. It has allowed me to ease back into cycling and I save money commuting on the bike. I hate it when I do have to drive to and from work because I feel it's time wasted...I still have to find the time to train when I get home and the roads are horrendous (A4232 if anyone lives around here).
Cycling on the Karoo is not a breeze though. I still end up breathing out of all orifices when it comes to hills and headwinds as the bike is not that powerful (Whoosh do advertise it as a bike for riders who do like to pedal a lot).

Now that I am stronger my intention is to commute on my road bike and do a harder session on 2 days per week and use the Karoo for my easier, recovery rides. If I had a choice I would try to get the motor or controller to provide me with that bit more oooomph up hills and into headwinds to ensure my recovery rides were still that much easier. (I tried a mate's legal electric bike, a Trek I think it was, and I only had to twiddle the pedals to get me up a steep hill at 15mph whereas on the Karoo I have to put a lot of effort in and the speed drops right off). I would also consider changing the forks (or filing away beneath the bridge) to provide more clearance for the Marathon tyres and a proper front mudguard.

Would I recommend the Karoo? Well, I regularly sing it's praises to people at work but I would emphasise that it is a bike that needs a lot of input from the rider. If like me, you are struggling to get back into cycling after a lay off (for example, trying to do too much, too soon, like when we were in our 20s) then the Karoo may well be right for you.

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