Yesterday, I took a Stromer electric bike out for a spin. I rented it from Blazing Saddles at the main Hyde Street location. I still don’t own an electric bike, but keep taking them out as rentals or on loan to check out this evolving technology. This is probably the one I’ve liked the best over the last few years of my periodic but infrequent testing.
When I first started trying out electric bikes, I basically wanted a motorcycle experience. I own a BMW R1200GS, and have finally come to terms with the fact that an electric bike is not going to give the acceleration of something like my motorcycle. The Stromer offers two modes of operation: power-assist automatically enhances your pedaling, or power-on-demand lets you use the throttle to operate the motor with or without pedaling. I chose to only use power-assist for the day. Power-on-demand would allow operation of the machine more like a motorcycle, but my past experiences told me that the battery would be quickly depleted.
I’ve read online that the Stromer uses the same motor as the A2B Metro and runs it at 600 Watts. The battery pack is built into the column of the bicycle frame and is rated at 11.5 AH. The bike weighs approximately 60 lbs., and it is evenly distributed front-to-back. The folks at Blazing Saddles were kind enough to give me a second battery pack for my ride. It strapped neatly onto the back of the bike.
Using power-assist mode is really fun. Every stroke of the pedal is matched with some extra energy from the bike. On flat paved roads, it’s easy to get up to an exciting cruising speed. Riding through the crushed gravel near Crissy field, I passed most other bikers without even working hard. Hills are a truly amazing experience. The motor of the bike basically “erases” hills so that they feel about the same as flats.
That “erasing” feeling was also there on the downhill experience too, however. On a gentle downhill that would have allowed my regular road bike to pick up some real speed, I found myself still pedaling on the Stromer. The electric bike claims to have regenerative braking, so it may have been recharging its batteries with the energy I would have liked to have turned into speed. I even tried turning OFF the bike in this stretch and it felt the same. Only a mild disappointment here. It is a heavy bike, weighing 60 lbs. My road bike weighs about 20.
Here is the route I rode. It is approximately 12 miles each way.
I had two batteries with me, but never needed the second one. It took me about an hour from Hyde Street to reach Scott Valley. Construction work on the Golden Gate Bridge was a surprise: I had to navigate some stairs with a 60 lb. bicycle! Once I got over my initial shock, it turned out to not be so bad. Because the weight is pretty evenly distributed in the frame I managed ok. (But I didn’t like it.)
On the return trip there was a stretch from Horseshoe Bay up to the Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian way I was seriously concerned about. The rise is from sea level to the bridge. I don’t know if this is a normal route or one related to the construction re-routing. Here the Stromer really shined. The pedal-assist got me up the hill as I pedaled not much differently from how I pedaled on a flat straight-away. It was pretty exciting. Most exciting was passing other people who were huffing and puffing. Using the battery like this depletes its reserves pretty quickly, and I watched the battery meter drop by 1/4 over the course of this climb.
I really like this bike. At a list price of $3000, it is a little much for an occasional ride, but for city commuting it could be just perfect. The intelligence built into the controller of this bike explains a lot of its smooth performance. The people at Stromer engineered a great all around product.