There used to be an old joke about mopeds: They’re fun to ride, but you don’t want to be seen on one. Electric bikes (e-bikes) have a similar stigma in this country. Sure, these emission-free vehicles are popular in Europe, but they haven’t found any traction here in the U.S. because they look, well, moped-adjacent. If there's one bike that's going to change the way Americans view e-bikes, however, it's the Swiss-made Stromer ST2. Powerful, sexy, fast, and high tech, it can get you around town quickly, can travel 90-plus miles per charge, hauls uphill, and its anti-theft tech is a thief’s worst nightmare.
Clocking in at almost $7,000, the ST2 is more Tesla Model S than Prius, but with time this cutting-edge technology will come down in price—and, believe it or not, maybe even make the most hardcore of hardcore cyclists into believers. Maybe not users, but believers, and even that’s a huge leap. Sometimes, especially when it comes to e-bikes, you have to go one pedal stroke at a time.
First things first: Hardcore cyclists are their own breed. Many identify themselves as cyclists before they identify as a citizen of a particular nation, of a particular descent, or even believing in a particular religion. In other words, the Slovak-American Buddhist might consider himself a cyclist before any of those other identifiers.
He will not want to ride an e-bike because he’ll see them as non-bikes by virtue of how they’re powered. But, if he’s been in Vegas for too long at a bicycle trade show, riding road and mountain bikes for two long days in the desert and walking said bicycle trade-show floor for another two, he may try one, hella reluctantly, while killing time before his flight out of Vegas. He may try a bunch. And if he tries the ST2, he will think it could change cycling in this country—much in the same way that, a decade ago, a lot of futurists and tech geeks thought the Segway would change transportation as we then knew it. And he’ll wish there were a way to get the bike in the hands of successful urban execs who want to get to work quickly, sans sweat, and have fun along the way.
Ride report on the ST2? It’s a blast. The brushless, direct-current motor produces 500 watts of power and a hefty amount of torque. Even bigger riders like myself, well north of 200 pounds, discovered cruising up hills painless and void of panting thanks to the motor's three levels of assistance, ranging from Level 1, optimized for long distances (about 90 miles), to a tunable Level 2 (tweak it for speed and torque), to Level 3, which is all about maximum speed and torque, long distance be damned and hello, 30 mph, which some bike folks even believe to be too fast.
The rider toggles through the different levels with up-down arrows on the handlebar. Thankfully, the battery is locked away in the down tube. Charging it from 0 percent to 100 percent takes about five hours.
As fun as the ST2 is to ride, Stromer just may have done the impossible: created an anti-theft device that works and doesn’t go off willy-nilly and make your neighbors want to throw your fancy bike in the nearest body of water. If your bike is stolen, you can put it into “theft” mode with the proprietary smartphone app. This locks the rear wheel and puts the integrated lights into flash mode. Sure, the thief could pick up the ST2 and run with it, but that’s where the bike’s heft (about 57 pounds) becomes a benefit. Most thieves will leave it, and the GPS will help you find it. (It sure did for one of the first guys to buy one Stateside, Bill Kiriakis.)
If you’re one of the few people who have recovered a bike that’s near and dear to your heart, you know it’s a feeling short of witnessing the birth of your first child, but better than watching your fave team win a national championship.
Rounding out the package, the ST2 includes fenders, a USB port, a rear rack, and integrated front and rear LED lights.
Want one? Hop to it. About half of the domestic shipment is already spoken for. The ST2 retails for $6,990—a small price to pay if you’re going to replace your car—and is available in 20- and 17-inch frame sizes, in both traditional and step-through frames. Colors? Matte black and gloss white.
Stephen Krcmar rode a Segway well before it came to market, and the same goes for the ST2. He’s no futurist, but he knew the latter was a better and more important form of transport. And, to totally switch gears, he spotted his Ibis Hakkalügi more than a year after it was stolen from his backyard. Riding through L.A. with his recovered cyclocross bike slung over his shoulder was one of the best rides of his life.
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