Kettler e-bikes. It's good to be authentic


There is a deep and lasting beauty that comes from owning and using a thing, a machine, that has been carefully engineered, designed, crafted and assembled. With the hard-earned money that we use to invest in a thing, the things we own represent a certain chunk of our own lives. Are our lives disposable or solidly built? Are our lives poor reproductions of other lives, or are we each unique, designed better in our own way, different than others. 

If a thing is well-crafted and we know the thing was made with care, by people who enjoy their work, it gives us greater joy. We share the pride that went into the object and enjoy it all the more. To know that great thought and learning went in to making the thing is more enjoyable than understanding that a thing was made with the cheapest materials, using the cheapest methods. 

Well-made things grow roots. They become heirlooms and things to keep with you in your life.

The Kettler bikes are made this way. In an industry where so few bicycles do not come from either China or Taiwan, it's refreshing to see a company, a German company, designing and manufacturing a line of bicycles and the engineering and care put into them show throughout the product itself.

If you are there in your home or office shopping the web for an e-bike on your iPad and you come across a Kettler in your searches, it's going to be difficult for you to scan this bike and see what value you get from it over a less expensive bike. It just is. In a little 3x4 inch GIF image on your laptop, the Kettler looks like any other drive-motor e-bike only a lot more expensive. It's only when you see one up close and in person that you realize that for a little more money, you're getting a LOT more bike.

These are commuter bikes, not high end race bikes. But still, with the Kettlers you're getting a better frame, better wheels, better tires, better brakes, better handlebars, grips, better seat, better fenders, cables, screws, nuts, bolts, better grease, better levers, pedals and cranks.  

And you can feel all this betterness. The frame is aluminum, but compared to other alu frames it feels balanced, strong, steel-like. Front to rear wheel weight too feels balanced and secure without being bulky or heavy. This is a light weight e-bike. That is a phrase you won't come across much. Light weight and e-bikes don't mix normally.  

There's a lot of stuff you just get with this bike that you have to buy as extras with other bikes, be they e or regular bikes. Do you like adjustiability? Forks, steering stem, kickstand (yup, it even comes with a kickstand!) and seat post (which by the way is a suspension seat post) are all adjustable. And the seat is comfortable so you don't immediately have to take off an unusable seat and buy a comfort seat. The bike comes with its own welded on rear rack. Wow! Most bike makers don't give you a rack, plain and simple. Those who do, give you a bolt on kind with no spring loaded stay, so you still have to figure out how to secure your thing to your bike rack before you can actually use it. The Kettler comes with a tail and headlight, so you don't need to buy that stuff extra. In fact, you don't even need to buy batteries for your lights - they are powered by the dynamo front hub. That's so brilliant it's dynomite

The Kettler e-bikes aren't speedsters. They're not power mega hill climbers either. The Kettler is a pedalec bike. The Stromer and A2B are power e-bikes. You can ride those bikes on most terrain and never pedal. The Kettlers require rider pedaling and the motor is there, almost like an extra set of legs helping you crank the pedals. The motor meets you half-way. It takes a lot of the resistance involved in pushing you and a 60 pound bike around the planet, in wind and up hills. As a result, the Kettler is a very safe bike.

Traveling around town at speeds up to 22 mph without pedaling, on a Stromer or A2B, can quickly get you into some trouble with other vehicles. The Kettler is tame by comparison and you feel that your grandma would be safe riding this bike, as much as a 42 your old man might. 

The Kettler is a traditional, european-style classy commuter. It's a bike that you would ride to the Zentrum, or the Universitat, or the Biblioteque. It's smart. It's conservative. It's mature. All in the best of ways. It's a bike that will likely last 20 years, well into the time when the motor is a relic from the past.

Nice bike. Suburbanbikes, in Redwood City, California is stocking Kettler dealer.


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  • joe witherspoon