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:

Ebike Group Takes on Dumbarton Bridge Traffic

Redwood City, March 1, 2016. /Motostrano/ Traffic along the Dumbarton bridge has increased nearly 30% in the last five years and it shows. If you commute from Fremont to Palo Alto by car and back you know that slow moving feeling of being stuck in your car, not moving. 
You may have also noticed people on bicycles moving freely along the south side of the bridge. That's because the Dumbarton is equipped with a user friendly bike path, allowing cyclists a way to bypass the traffic and arrive home fresh and stress-free. But most commuters still go by car. 
As user friendly as the path is, for any one who does not ride a bike daily, or for people with health conditions, getting on a bike for a daily commute can be a chore. The bridge has a slight climb and is notorious for some pretty daunting gusts of wind that can put a damper on any bike commute. 
Enter the electric bicycle. Ebikes take the pain out of a long commute, a steep hill or a brutal head wind. Powered by a small silent motor, electric bikes propel the rider along faster than they would otherwise be able to pedal and with less effort. Ebikes are super-effective tool for short and mid-length commutes such as Fremont to Redwood City. 
To prove this point, the San Francisco E-Bike Meet-Up Group will be hosting an evening e-bike ride from Redwood City Tuesday at 6pm starting at Motostrano, California's largest electric bike store. The ride, hosted by the group's founder, Joe Witherspoon will take place on the busiest day of the week for the Dumbarton bridge and hopes to call attention to e-bikes as a great problem-solver for urban commuter traffic, stress and health issues. The group will ride along side the parked cars on the road and meet for dinner in Fremont before heading back the same evening. 
Average time by car for this 17 mile trip is almost two hours. By electric bicycle it should take less time and involve less stress, without adding traffic congestion. 
In January 2016, Facebook announced a $1 Million donation to help figure out what to do with all the traffic on this bridge. Joe Witherspoon of Motostrano LLC thinks people just need to ride more e-bikes. 
"Electric bicycles are really taking off," said Witherspoon "People are finding out that an ebike can be a great tool for the daily commuter who just wants to get to work and back without the stress of traffic and without sweating. The stretch of road from East Palo Alto to Fremont is the perfect e-bike ride and loads of commuters already go by ebike"
Witherspoon started the San Francisco Ebike Meet-up group last year to organize group rides all around the Bay Area and beyond. Groups range from 5 to 15 riders and riders participate to socialize, to test out their own e-bikes and to promote electric bikes to the world at large. "We just try to show the bikes to the world, while testing them in various conditions. We ride all over, both on and off-road. 
For more information, email or call Joe at joe@motostrano.com 650-863-5143

E-Bike Race Up The Mountain With Carol

About half way up Kings Mountain road I realized Carol, who's 70+, was secretly racing me to the top of this winding trail. "Watch how fast I pass these young girls up ahead" she said with a crazed look on her face, as the girls blinked in bewilderment, grimacing with sweat dripping down their backs. "Its ok Im real slow going back down. Youll pass me for sure coming down the Mountain" she told them. This was for me supposed to be a leisurely ebike ride through the redwoods with some one old enough to be my mom, but the more we rode, the pieces came together with me realizing I'd lose this ebike race to Carol, who, it turns out used to race in all kinds of "atholons" and was a competitive swimmer in her prime and was on the gas today on the Eflow ebike I sold her a few weeks earlier. I took it easy and wanted to save battery. Not Carol. She was in high power and cruising having rode up here a week earlier. A bigger motor and a bigger competitive appetite meant me coming in second but having fun riding up the mountain with Carol.

For the record, I was riding a Haibike RX 29er electric Mountain Bike with a 350W motor. Carol was on her new EFLOW E3 Nitro with a 500W motor. Both our batteries held up equally. Carols bike definitely showed it's power on the steeper climbs 



We Had A Blast @ SaddleCreek courtesy of Salsa Cycles & Surly

When we were invited by Salsa and Surly to ride bikes on mountains we thought we'd died and gone to heaven and in fact that turned to actually be the case. Being in the industry has its perks and this was one of them and we are absolutely stoked by the 2016 models coming from these 2 brands and will have them in our stores as they become available. 

Ogden Utah is home to some abso-freakin-lutely fantastic MTB riding and SaddleCreek is just one of the heavenly spots to engage in this thrilling past time. 

We rode every bike we could get our butts on and one of our favorites turned out to be this Surly Straggler Bike in "glitter dreams" purple . We rode this thing like a mountain bike hitting big river rock boulders by the dozens for long stretches.


 I seriously expected a pinch flat or a bent rim out of the deal. The brakes took a beating on the downhill but over all this was a comfortable bike to ride  when it wasn't too rocky. 

That bike compared to the Spearfish was night and day of course. Big fat tires, a plush suspension perfectly tuned to our weight and height made this the ultimate full suspension bike to own in my view. Light weight carbon frame. Excellent looks. A perfect high end bike in all regards and we'll be showcasing this one in our store. 

A Brooklyn Bike Around Town - Redwood City

Amy came to Suburbanbikes and decided to try out a Brooklyn bike around town and The Willow was her bike of choice. We had a camera follow her around. 

The Willow is a cute around town cruiser with gears and all the accessories you could need for fashionable urban or suburban 2 wheel getting around. 

Brooklyn says: "Behold Willow—our can-do conversation-starter.  With a step-through frame that accommodates everything from your finely tailored suit to your sun-faded maxi, our Willow seven-speed will get you anywhere you need to go—attitude in tow.  Internal gearing means fewer stops at the bike shop, more stops at the coffee shop, and these cream tires will not only delight the senses, but dominate the pavement.  Top it all off with crown fork detailing, a color-matched chain cover and fenders, and dark walnut accents—plus a cargo-ready rack—and you’ve got yourself one photogenic and functional ride."

We agree and Amy was very photogenic on our ride around the latin quarter of Redwood City. Middlefield Road is a kind of suburban Mission District for Redwood City and the area is filled with vibrant colors and latin stores and restaurants. 

It's also home to a great local grocery outlet where some wonderful fresh fruits are to be had. 

Amy is originally from Boston. She came to California originally to be a nanny only to find her career swallowed whole by Silicon Valley and the DotCom arena. She now works for two start-ups and lives with room mates in the hills above Redwood City. 

Amy probably didn't know that Redwood City is famous for its Taquerias. If you don't already love tacos and you come to Redwood City, you soon will. And what's not to like about Tacos? 

Redwood City is not very well known as a fashion center, however. Most of the downtown of Redwood City is filled with wonderful eateries. Along Middlefield however, there are a number of choice stores to shop at, particularly if you're a fan of Converse shoes...

We had a wonderful afternoon riding around Redwood City and Middlefield Rd. Amy loved riding her Brooklyn Willow. In Boston, the window to ride a bike in good weather is quite small compared to Redwood City. 

Fat Tire Bikes Come To California

We typically see the fat tire bike craze outside of California because it's thought to be a snow bike. It's not. Fat tire bikes are a blast on sand and regular old fashioned dirt. Out here around San Francisco Bay, there's tons of muddy gravel marshy places to ride too. Just be sensitive to the local bay habitat. 

On a recent ride, we saw fat tire bikes around Half Moon Bay and the deep sandy shore is a great place for a fat tire bike. You'll see not many bikes on the beach and plenty of wild life, both living and dead. Recently, we've had our share of whale carcass for instance. On my ride I noticed a starving young seal stranded on the beach. It's nature and the local waters aren't very healthy at the moment. Food supplies are down and seals are hungry so they go up on shore out of exhaustion. 

If you want to get off the sand, you can ride for miles on some of the costal bluffs too, over looking Mavericks and up towards Pacifica. Wonderful riding with views of the entire Bay Area if you can make it to the top. 



#ridewithoutpain Cycling + Yoga Are A Great Fit

As part of our ongoing effort to promote riding bikes without pain, to get more people riding bikes and enjoying it, we'll be doing a series of promotions and rides to combine our customer's interest in cycling and health with Yoga. 

The goal with this initiative is to combine a two low-impact activities to enhance the experience of both in a new way for our customers, combining one activity that is stationary, yoga, with another that is mobile, cycling. 

Cycling benefits from yoga through stretching benefits that it generates, and the benefits to breathing and strength building. Meanwhile, practicing Yoga after cycling can help to calm the body, restore the muscles and nerves and bring inner peace after a hard ride. 

We're passionate about cycling and the positive energy that it creates. This passion will transfer to our Yoga offering as well, providing an experience that is beyond the standard yoga experience, that's challenging, exciting and transforming.  

Our Cycling+Yoga programs will help our customers enjoy the benefits of Yoga in conjunction with cycling with a series of Yoga programs that work well for cyclists.

The goal is to offer Yoga instruction to our customers and use it enhance the riding experience through cycling and yoga combined. 

For new riders, yoga training can help support muscle relaxation, breathing and concentration while on a bike. Good breathing, feeling relaxed, with tension released, promotes a better cycling experience overall. Yoga helps out before riding, while riding and after riding. 

Restorative yoga can help rebuild muscle ease, reduce tension and help relieve pain.