Yesterday I tried an E-bike for the first time. It was an absolute pleasure and I’ve been thinking about my ride ever since.
How an E-bike Works
An E-bike works by sensing the amount of power you put on the pedals and supplying an extra boost to that power via an electric motor on the rear axle. The Stromer E-bike I tried will magnify your own pedal power up to 300%. It’s a complex computerized system that results in a seamlessly intuitive ride for the cyclist.
Riding an E-bike is exactly like riding an ordinary bike except that you feel like a superhero when just a bit of pressure is magnified several times to rocket you up the same hills that you would struggle up on an ordinary bike.
The Stromer E-bike
The E-bike will charge its high-capacity Lithium Ion battery in about 3 hours. On a full charge it will propel you forward 100 kilometers, or 60 miles. That’s well within most commutes, which is where I see bikes like this winning their largest user base.
At 52 pounds, it’s heavy but just light enough to be carried up a small flight of stairs. For a standard-bike comparison, my brother’s steel frame mountain bike weighs about the same.
The guys demoing the Stromer told me that its design looks “the most like an ordinary bike” of all the other E-bike designs out there. I have to agree that that it looks very much like an ordinary bike, other than the significantly thicker down tube housing the battery and the hefty rear axle where the engine lives.
The Stromer’s motor can be set to one of several drive modes. Eco is the mode that provides the minimum assistance, adding just 50% to your pedal power. Early on in my journey I set it to offer the maximum assistance, 300%. I would have gone higher if I could have – the extra power is addicting. I know that if I used Stromer as my main bike, I would quickly lose strength in my legs because the 300% assistance is offers makes biking so wonderfully effortless, especially up hills.
My E-Bike Journey
After surrendering my government-issued ID as collateral and signing away my rights to sue Stromer if I had an accident, I started on up the hill with my head protected by the biggest helmet they had. The test track began at the Stromer tent at the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver and went “up the hill.” My plan was to take the bike 1 or 2 blocks up but the ride was such an otherworldly experience that I went all the way up the hill and was disappointed when it came to an end.
I most noticed the motor’s power when accelerating from a stop sign. One easy pedal rocketed me forward through the intersection with such velocity that my body shifted backwards on my seat. I easily maintained a speed of 28 kph, completing a journey that google says should take a bike 11 minutes in 4 minutes or less. The kids I passed near the top could tell something was off, staring at me as I raced past them going up rather than down.
Stromer E-bike Conclusions
Riding the Stromer was an unforgettable experience even though that experience only lasted 15 minutes.
So will I be buying an E-bike? Short answer: no. This bike absolutely shines for commuters and I work from home therefor don’t commute. But I live up a mountain, and if I did work downtown, the Stromer E-bike would be an absolute no-brainer.
But there’s also the ever-present threat of bike theft which has yet to be taken seriously in Vancouver, one of the worst cities for bike thefts in the world. The bikes I ride now are 5th and 6th bikes I’ve owned in this city; all my previous bicycles had their locks cut and disappeared into the shady underground where hundreds of Vancouver bikes go every year. At 4000$, a stolen Stromer is a serious blow to most people’s finances, and I don’t think you can insure yourself against bike theft.
With that said, merely the option of an e-bike has changed my outlook on working downtown. Next time I see a job come up that I think I’d enjoy, I would hesitate less to extend my candidacy for it simply based on the option to commute by Stromer alone.