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. 






Other articles:

The iZip Dash Electric Bike Might Be Our Favorite Ebike Ever

The iZip E3 Dash from Currie Tech might be our favorite eBike ever. NOT ONLY does it look great, ride great, go 28 MPH and handle like butter, but at $2600 retail this bike is something you can bring home to the wife or husband and they won't look at you like you are insane because you just spent $6,000 on a bicycle. This is a bike that will take you long distances, quickly, doesn't make you look like a German design project from University and is backed by a great dealer network. 

The iZIP e3 Dash has nothing to hide. It has a style that any one can enjoy and that isn't afraid to show that it is an e-bike. It's unassuming design makes it really look like a regular bike even though its battery isn't hidden like other e-bikes. It says that it's not trying to hide its e-bike-ness. 

But, the most exciting thing about the DASH is its top speed. This e-bike cooks. We took the dash on a lunch run through heavy San Francisco traffic at noon time and we were able to cross town in just minutes. Once down on the Embarcadero we walked our bike into our favorite Salumi shop, grabbed a sandwich and headed back to the store to sell more ebikes. The getting around part was a blast. The DASH is light weight, has a predictable and usable suspension and its wide tires are great for San Francisco's crappy asphalt. 

At this feature set and top speed, the DASH is going to appeal to any one considering any of the higher end $4,000 ebikes such as the Stromer, eFlow, A2B and others. 

 

 

A Pair Of Ebikes For Him and For Her

If an ebike is on your horizon because you want to get more exercise, or not be bothered by traffic and parking, among the more stylish his and hers ebike combos we offer - we think - the BH Easymotion Neo Cross combined with the BH Neo Street ebike. Each bike fit the same needs of urban or suburban riding, or, take them on trail for light duty off pavement fun at the coast side or by the bay. These bikes will get you from your home in the lowlands of Atherton or Menlo Park, to the highlands of Woodside and beyond. 

 

 

Or, when the weekend is over, leave your car at home and hop on your bike. These are transportation devices that take you effortlessly and easily 20-30 miles at 20 mph. They are fun, healthy and inexpensive ways to get around. 

Charge it over night for pennies. Spend less time and money at the pump and our electric bikes will in fact pay for themselves in just a short few months. 

It's money in your pocket for better things. 

The two combined look well together. They match in power and style and look great in town going shopping or parked outside restaurant. 

BH Bikes are a Spanish bicycle company, one of Spains largest. The BH Easymotion line is their ebike line-up and known for their quality in components and design. Each bike uses a 300 watt motor with both pedal assist or power on demand (throttle) power. 

Visit our show room to test and buy one of these great bikes. 

 

 

Too Much Parking In Downtown San Mateo

Letter to San Mateo City Council members about planned increase in parking in downtown San Mateo.

 

Hello Mr Matthews and Mr Lim

I read about the recent parking meeting in the SM Daily Journal and wanted to contact you with my thoughts as a resident, father of 3, driver and cyclist. I think the idea of adding even more parking and more cars to the down town area is the opposite direction San Mateo needs to go. A city our size should be looking at reducing access to cars down town and bolstering it's walkability and rideability. 
We live in the Highlands, so visiting downtown usually, not always, involves a car drive. We also ride in by bike from time to time, during less peak times only, because it's unsafe otherwise. 
There is too much parking in downtown San Mateo already. There are too many cars in downtown San Mateo. Not enough pedestrian and bike friendly access. The sidewalks are narrow. Adding yet more parking to San Mateo isn't going to make the area more attractive for couples or families to linger and enjoy the downtown area. It will simply add more cars to the downtown area, making it even more unpleasant for people looking to do more than an in-and-out of one shop and go home. 
Less parking and more pedestrian space means a better sticky reason to stay in the area, rather than zoom in park and leave. There's already plenty of parking in the surrounding area of the downtown that goes empty during peak hours. 
San Mateo downtown is unsafe to walk around due to all these cars. It's also unbearably unsafe to ride a bike around unless you are an experienced commuter and an adult. During the evening I would never feel safe taking my family into town in the evening by bicycle to have dinner and see a movie and possibly do some shopping later and yet I would LOVE to do this and I know other families would also love to be able ride in to downtown and explore rather than have to get into a car, find a parking spot and so forth. 
And- there are actually cities who enable this and promote this. Let's follow their lead and get out of our 'car brains' for a bit. 
 
To become an actual destination where people will want to shop and linger, downtown needs a larger pedestrian area, more bike lanes and more out door activities. Look at what is going on in Redwood City and other towns where they've created a reason to actually get out of a car, shop and enjoy a downtown area. 
 
Instead of a downtown flooded by cars between 6 and 8, try to imagine a down town with families and couples streaming in by bicycles during these times, because they are want to really enjoy an evening. Let's see some bands playing out doors in the square in front of the theater. This is what I see in Redwood City around those times and on weekends. Let's promote and build that. 
We have great weather in San Mateo. Rather than pay nearly $4 million on 400 new parking places in the next ten years, put that towards building and promoting a walkable and rideable downtown. So what if we have to walk a little further to get to a restaurant or the movies. The end result is so much more healthy for people and the town itself. 
Joe Witherspoon 
San Mateo, CA 

Urban Arrow Electric Cargo Bike Makes It Easier Not To Own A Car

Wild, young, America is losing interest in the automobile. Once a symbol of speed and freedom, the car now signifies a nagging monthly payment, another thing to maintain, another mouth to feed, with gallons of expensive earth-polluting fuel each week. Traffic jams. Circling city blocks looking for parking or spot-hunting in giant soul-less parking lots and so on and so forth. 

The AAA says that it costs about $9000 per year just to operate/own a car in the United States. Young Americans don't want to be a slave to their cars, or the auto industry. They want effective, cheap transportation that's good for them, is low-impact and low-maintenance.  

Many wild, young Americans are looking at the cargo bike as a viable car replacement and the new Urban Arrow Cargo e-bike is one the most advanced example of its kind on the market. 

Imported direct from Amsterdam - the capital of bicycle transportation - the Urban Arrow is a joy to ride and to utilize. 

Considering that a car costs $9000 per year just to operate, using the UA as a car replacement pays for itself in just 6 months. 

Suburbanbikes / Motostrano is the California importer for these great bikes. 

Our first deliveries have been well received. 

The Urban Arrow cargo bike uses the famed BOSCH pedal assist mid-drive motor system to offer a smooth and powerful ride that takes the weight off starting the bike and climbing hills. 

This is a cargo bike of the highest order, well thought out and engineered as a real transportation and carrying solution, not a novelty. This is bike you can safely carry 3 small children to school with on a daily basis in good or bad weather. 

The Urban Arrow cargo bike takes a lot of the sting out of pushing a cargo bike around by pedal power. The electric assist makes it a little easier to get started and to climb hills. It also can extend the range of your cargo bike by getting you further, faster. In a place like San Francisco, for instance, you can easily get around the entire city with an Urban Arrow and never need a car. 

Mom's really like the idea of an electric cargo bike. You get exercise and fresh air. You get a safe vehicle to transport kids and go to the store. You get money savings and you get to park just about anywhere. Which makes the Urban Arrow a solution for progressive moms who want to do things a different way than lining up at the pre-school in a minivan. The Urban Arrow makes getting out an adventure and an exercise in exercising, as it were. 

 

The Urban Arrow cruises at speed around 16 MPH but we recommend keeping the speed down. Get there safely and calmly. As a bike, it's equipped with a front and rear light to keep you visible at night. 

There's a sturdy center stand meant to keep the bike upright whenever parked. 

The seat is a comfortable gel touring seat and it's a standard bike seat you can also swap it out with an even more comfortable. There are many accessories available for the bike.  

The Urban Arrow is in high demand. Right now there is a lead time of 5-10 weeks to get an order shipped. To find out more, contact our sales people.

 

A Beach Cruiser Electric Bike - IZIP Zuma

 

One of the best buys in electric bikes right now is the super slick ZUMA electric bike from Currie Technologies. For just around $2000 this bike gets you a 500W motor mounted to a solid beach cruiser frame with big balloon tires and a big battery for long distance travel by ebike. 

The rack on this bike is heavy duty, welded to the frame itself and can easily take a small passenger or lots of gear. For all practical purposes it's a cargo bike without the chunk of a real cargo bike. 

Simple 2 button operation lets you select between throttle power or pedal assist power for quick control and no fidgeting with fussy display modules. Just turn it on and go. 

The batter is removable too so you can charge it at your desk, bedroom or workshop. 

This is last years model so look for good buys on this bike right now. 

 

 

A Beach Cruiser Ride On Ocean Beach

Here's a great idea for a bike ride the next time you want to get out and have a great ride, get some better than usual exercise and enjoy the beach like never before.   

Beach Cruiser riding in Northern California isn't the same as it for our friends in So Cal. We don't have the miles of long flat giant beach coast that they have down south. It's harder to get that So Cal beach feel up here, even though we have great surfing and some times pretty good weather. Don't get me wrong- it's easier for us than, say, the Danes of Copenhagen, to get into the SoCal beach bike vibe, but I think I speak for all Californians when I say that we all like to go for a beach ride on a beach cruiser at sunset. Our weather is more prone to fog and chill than it is at the South, so not only do we have a more frigid beach culture, we don't have the surrounding amenities at the beach normally either: the babes in bikinis, the great beach shacks, cafes, bars and food stops. Up here it's more often an encounter with nature than it is a dance floor. Up here it's about sweaters, bon fires, beer and beanies and huddling under fog, surfing with thick wet suits, whale watching and kayaking and checking out the ocean from a mountain bike on a trail overlooking the ocean. 

But, there IS Ocean Beach. 

Ocean Beach is the perfect spot for dreamy, slow bike rides right at the ocean's water front, away from the cars and away from the confines of a narrow trail. The beach is miles long, scenic and full of friendly people. It's a great place for a bike ride. 

The weather is not always the greatest, but so what. Throw on a warm wool sweater, beanie and a scarf or wrap yourself in a great blanket and just cruise. 

More than likely you'll be the only person on the beach on a bike.  

Beach cruising isn't a favorite past time in the San Francisco area. Our hills and rocky beaches and weather are to blame for this.  With all of our attention on performance road and mountain biking, it's easy to forget about the simple pleasures of hopping on a fat tire beach cruiser and softly cruising along the beach absorbing the scenery and Vitamin E. 

The length of Ocean Beach is a little over 3 miles from Sloat to Pt Lobos. Round trip that's a 6 mile ride in the sand on a cruiser, which makes for a good ride. To extend things, do the same on the paved trail adjacent to the beach and if you have even more time, ride up and down Golden Gate Park for the full monty. 

Enjoy a ride along the beach and the park and then set your bars in the direction of a great pub or cafe or eatery. This ride is one of the safest rides in the city and it's also the least populated. Great views and great coastal air.

This ride goes great with a great micro beer or wine afterward. Pop into a fish restaurant, or stumble on some hard core ethnic authentic place to remind you of San Francisco's far reaching culture. You're in The City.