test ride: Stromer Electric Bicycle

Suburbanbikes just got in a shipment of the all-new Swiss Stromer Electric Bicycles and though we've only been able to spend a short time in the saddle with them, our initial impressions of this e-bike are very, very positive. We'll do a more long term review in a few weeks after we've put the bike through longer terms tests, but our initial test of the Stromer put it at the top of our buy list as far as Electric bicycles go.

I am always interested in alternative and new forms of personal transportation. Particularly as they relate to commuting and spending less time stuck in traffic. I can't stand traffic, so I tend to do a lot of things to avoid it. I first started to ride motorcycles, not for the thrill of it, but so that I could avoid traffic. A bicycle is a great way to avoid traffic and electric bicycles, it seems, promise to out-do both the bicycle and the motorcycle, with greater speeds and easier pedaling. We have sold 3 or 4 lines of electric bicycles over the years. In that time, I've had the chance to try out some of the best models available, in a variety of price and power ranges. Each of them have their pros and cons and each of them fit the needs of their particular type of customer. 

Until now, the number one issue I've had with electric bikes is their poor power when it comes to hill climbing. Sure, they all do great on flat land, or moderate hills, but throw a serious hill climb at (most) electric bicycles on the market today and you're walking, not riding. 

What happens on a big hill climb with most e-bikes is any combination of the motor bogging down to zero speed, the motor over heating, quick battery draining, rider cursing because he bought a useless machine and rider sweating more than he would had he just pedaled up on a light weight and less expensive road bike.

Enter the Stromer electric bicycle.

I've got the perfect test course for an electric bicycle. My commute home is about 8 miles. 70% of the trip is suburban streets and bike lanes. The rest and last stretch of my commute is a long grueling up-hill climb, about 980 feet and 2 or 3 miles, all up hill. To cap it off, the very last stretch of it just before I get home is the steepest part yet, a pain just to walk up, let alone ride after a long work day and a long bike ride home. 

So, I've been looking for an electric bike that could tackle this kind of map and not leave me with a $2000 burned out motor, or, a burned out me from pedaling all of that and pushing an extra 40 lbs of electrical components after a long day's work. 

The Stromer did it and with flying colors. 

Out of the gate, you can feel that the Stromer's got more power than most other bikes on the market. A 600W motor tucked into the rear hub pushes the bike with a lot of torque. Take one hand off the bars and you can feel it getting away from you.

Not knowing what to expect as far as battery loss on the uphill part of my ride, I kept the power on ECONO mode for most of the downtown part of my ride during this test. Once I got to the straight away that makes up most of the miles, I toggled the power to CITY, which got the average speed up and started to get the bike hauling. I rode pedal-assist the whole way. The bike is fast in power mode.

That's the other thing: hills are one problem, but If Im going to use an electric bike for real commuting, the thing better be a little fast too. I do want to get out of a car. I do want to burn calories on a bicycle, but I'd also like to get home at a reasonable hour. The Stromer pulled in a average speed 14.7 MPH for the 8.8 mile trek. It clocked in a max speed of 29MPH, which would have been on the down hill. I think I can get that up if I turn the motor off on the downhill, to release the inhibitor.

The Stromer rides like a standard modern urban bike. Half mountain. Half road. It's tall. It feels stable, but not bulky.

Components on the Stromer are what you'd expect from a bicycle designed in Switzerland. And I bet you expected me to write that. 

I'll admit, being Swiss-American myself, I was routing for the Stromer a little. Still, it must be hard for the Swiss to always have to live up to the notion that everything they ever do has to be done with "precision".

And route for it I really did. As I got done with the flat-land part of my commute and came on to the first small incline, I actually found myself talking to the bike, as if it were a horse. "Come on, show me what you got". Stuff like that. The life of an electric bicycle tester is a lonely one. 

"Yea, let's go! Come on!" 

The bike has 8 speeds and as the climb started I was amazed that I was pedaling in probably something like 5th gear to keep the speed up and the power I was giving the bike was more like an assist rather than pedaling.

The climb on this part of the road goes up 985 feet in all, in varying grades of steepness. Then it goes back down again and then back up to my house. I don't have the data on the grades, but without a motor, Im totally beat after riding up this road. Most days I have to get off and walk. I'm old. 

The Stromer managed it and, though warm, I held on without breaking much of a sweat.

By the time I got up and over the highest part of my trip and then back down to the bottom to get ready for the last and steepest part of my commute I was already pretty satisfied that the Stromer was THE bike to own if you're looking to get an electric bicycle to help you tackle large, long hills along your commute. 

It's about a half a block up the final stretch. But it's a good solid grade. Not the kind of climb you want after an 8 mile ride, after a 9 hour day, after a 6 day work week.

So, I was completely blown away that the bike actually managed to climb up the last part of my commute without straining me or the motor, without stopping, without over heating and with ease. I even did some of it one-handed, shouting "yea baby" much of the way.

Now, if you've never ridden an electric bike before, note: this isn't like being on a gas powered scooter, or motorcycle. You can't just ride up a hill like this without pedal assist. The motor will bog down to a crawl (though I didn't actually try this on the Stromer (yet)). For that kind of riding, you'll need a motorcycle. You have to give the bike a hand, or a foot or two. Still, it's a major bonus to be able trudge up hills with the help of a motor and not get flattened in the process. 

Suburbanbikes.com has the Stromer available for sale right now. We have demos in the store for testing and buying and we'll even ship you a Stromer in a box straight to your door. 






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E-Bike To & Through The Redwoods

The weather outlook for this Saturday is clear skies. Let's take advantage of the break in the rain and some great weather and ride through the redwoods to the top of Skyline and back on e-bikes. You can do it! 

BOSCH e-bikes are not required, but recommended (we have many for sale if you are interested). If you have one, bring it! Let's make a little buzz up the mountain and see what these bikes can do. 

This ride will start sharp at 7AM from the Motostrano/Suburbanbikes shop at 926 Broadway in Redwood City 

It's about 13 miles each way and very beautiful. The ride itself should last about 3 hours and we'll ride up 2000 feet of elevation and back down it so make sure your battery is well charged. 

 

We'll start off in Redwood City and make our way up to Woodside, through Huddart park and up the winding King's Mountain Rd. At the top we can stop to rest and take pictures and have a snack.  

What to bring

You: have a clear head and be ready for a good ride on a quiet country road

Water: one or two bottles of water

Snack: energy bars for the ride

Tools: spare tube

Rain gear: Just in case 

Camera: for the beautiful wet Redwood Forest. 

Note: This is an all paved ride up to the top of Skyline and back. The roads will be wet and full of slippery leaves. It's not a race and safety is first. The road itself is normally quiet but expect a car or motorcycle to pass you respectfully. 

E-Biking For Health Reasons

We like to brag about how our e-bikes are for going faster, having gobs of fun and beating traffic and hills and so forth - and they are great for that - but many people are picking up e-bikes for health reasons, to get on a bike with some help, to get healthy, to stay healthy or to avoid serious pains from previous injuries or conditions and getting some assist. With an e-bike, many of our customers would just not be able to ride a bike where they want to, or at least not have much fun doing so. These bikes are enablers and they keep the fun in cycling for many who need it.

We have sold e-bikes to people with lung problems that prohibit them from putting full power down the pedals, as well as numerous other types of fatigue related problems. We have also sold e-bikes to people with various knee and leg issues that cause pain to them when they ride without a motor. Older riders, many of whom have been riding all of their lives, turn to an e-bike as they get older because they find they are losing muscle power in their later years. 

It's great to have your health and biking is a big promoter of health, but many riders are dealing with health issues currently that just make riding a bike a pain to begin with. The latest e-bikes are wonderfully enabling these riders to get on a bike where otherwise they would not be able to. 

Felt Electric Bike Demo Day October 25

Join us for our Felt Bicycles E-bike Demo!

Test, explore, ride and learn about the Felt range of e-bikes  on Saturday October 25. Find out how an e-bike can change the way you get around town, avoid traffic congestion, improve your health and skip the cost of car commuting. We'll be exploring the all new BOSCH powered mid-drive electric bikes built by Felt Bicycles. 

Felt Bicycles and Felt Electric will be on hand to field your questions, and educate you about the full line of  Felt Electric bikes

In Europe BOSCH powered e-bikes are the dominant drive system. Introduced in the States only months ago, Motostrano is one of the pioneering stores featuring the BOSCH system in conjunction with  Felt Bicycles . We are a certified BOSCH store and during our demo you can learn about these great mobility tools from our staff and Felt official staff will be on hand to guide you. You can also compare this system against 10 other brands of e-bike that are part of our main store of e-bikes. 

E-bikes are the #1 selling Electric Vehicle worldwide and it's easier to understand why: they are fun! and they move you too. They are cost effective! and they improve your health by letting you enjoy exercise while you scoot around. 

If you live in the hills, have a commute of 5-15 miles each way or just like the latest gadgets, an e-bike could help you out. 

See you there!

Brooklyn Bicycles are Chic and Affordable

We like simple urban bikes that do the job of getting around town while also looking good for the rider. Bikes are beautiful and they also make a fine fashion accessory, just like a car, or a hat or a great bag. Women and men like to look good on their bikes. After all, riding around on a bike you are far more visible, present and seen than you are in a car - gotta look good on your bike. 

Which is why we like Brooklyn Bicycles. They are instantly like-able by any one who likes bicycles and the freedom and style that bikes communicate. You just want to get on one and ride and look at yourself in the reflections of windows as you dart around town.

Brooklyn Bikes have class, while still being affordable and comfortable. Fixies have class too and they're affordable, but they're not comfortable. They are more athletic than a Brooklyn. A Brooklyn Bike has great subdued colors, that aren't too fruity and fake-happy. Components are all above average parts and the accessories available round out the package for a great look. 

Visit our store to see and buy and try a Brooklyn Bike!

BOSCH E-Bike System = Game Changer

We've been living with the BOSCH e-bike system now for all of two months or so - without counting the year prior to the official release in which we worked with the Urban Arrow GEN 1 system. As expected, the BOSCH system is changing the landscape of e-biking in the US in a big way.

If you can afford it, we highly recommend buying a bike with the BOSCH system on it, over any other system on the market. If you can't afford it, figure out a way that you CAN afford it and come back and get the BOSCH system when you're ready. It's that good. If it's simply a matter of adjusting your budget to be able to jump into a BOSCH system, go for it. 

We want e-biking to really take off in the United States and one of the best ways for that to happen is if the systems themselves prove to be worth the money spent, are reliable, have great range, are easy to use and last a long time. The BOSCH system promises to deliver on all these fronts and, barring any major problems, we expect the BOSCH system to become the benchmark of quality for e-bikes. 

E-bikes promise a lot, but they also cost a lot compared to a normal bicycle. But until now that high cost has not also meant high quality. The reason so many traditional bike shops haven't jumped in on e-bikes is that, unlike traditional bicycles, e-bikes are more prone to unsolvable problems that bike shops aren't used to dealing with. This is a fact and e-bikes tend to suffer more and larger warranty issues than regular bikes of equal cost across the board.

The BOSCH system promises - or at least we are hoping for it - to solve all that by first coming with great parts that don't break. We can't say that about a lot of other brands because, firstly, BOSCH is the only brand that actually owns it's own manufacturing for it's motor, battery and control parts. As it does, so it owns the systems in place to check quality standards, ensuring that the end product is on par with BOSCH's other consumer products that you find at a hardware store. 

While costing upwards of $1000 and even $2000 more than many other models available - including ones we sell -we do think that the price difference is worth every penny. This isn't to say that other lessor priced models are 100% crap. But, going with a BOSCH could ensure you have a longer lasting, trouble free and more rewarding e-bike experience over all. 

E-Bikes Are Changing People's Lives

10 and 20 years ago, Europe buzzed everywhere with the sound of mopeds and motor scooters, as Europeans battled high gas, parking and insurance prices in urban and rural areas. During the past 3 - 5 years, this buzz has been almost completely replaced by the silent elegance of e-bikes. People of all ages, from grannys going to the market, to students and workers getting to work have all adopted the e-bike as their primary tool for getting around town. 

In California, people are also undergoing this change right now, though most people adopting e-bikes are making the leap not from a moped, or scooter, but directly from the automobile. Our urban areas are congested seemingly beyond repair. The monetary cost of owning a car is more and more seen to outweigh the benefits, while the physical health costs of constantly relying on a car to get from a to b even for short trips is making us all unhealthy and uptight.

The E-bike is changing people's lives by providing a mode of transportation that's more than just transportation. It's a way to travel from a to b quicker, healthier, cheaper and in a way that makes an improvement in our communities. 

Recent advancements in small electric motors and lithium batteries have finally made the electric bike viable. It's what we've wanted and the e-bike making cycling viable for people who would otherwise find cycling an impossibility. 

Suburbanbikes has sold e-bikes to people for 5 years now. But only recently are we seeing non-early adopter types come in, buy an e-bike and ride off, only to return and explain that their new e-bike has changed their lives in so many ways.