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
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
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
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.
- joe witherspoon