Thought I'd give a report after a full year of riding my Stromer electric bike.
The Stromer is a high powered (500 Watt plus) rear, un-geared direct drive hub motor mountain-style bike with an 11 Ah 36 V Li ion battery enclosed but removable in the slanted down tube. The pack can be charged on or off the bike using the included external charging brick. My particular Stromer has the 27 speed gear setup, front suspension fork and f/r hydraulic disk brakes. The rear hub setup also allows for regen, which is invoked by pulling either brake handle or by setting the central digital LCD control to "Recup". The bike uses a torque sensor located on the rear hub to sense the pedaling effort and it adds motor power appropriate to the rider's effort and the power setting that has been selected on the digital control panel. That control allows for one of 4 power settings, plus a zero power setting for unpowered riding, and Recup. There is also a half size throttle on the right handlebar for throttle-only riding, without the need to pedal. The bike is limited to an assisted 20 mph in the US in order to still qualify as a bicycle, but the bike can go faster, though usually downhill. In the low ECO assist mode, with pedaling, I can go about 45 miles on a charge, and I haven't seen any noticeable pack capacity drop.
In the first full year of ownership, I've ridden 2,500 miles on my e-bike and I've enjoyed it immensely. In fact, I'd say it changed my life to some degree.
I had gotten to the point that I was riding my conventional mountain bike rarely as my regular riding partner and I got busier with grand kids and I found it more difficult to keep up with other guys, especially on hills. And since my rides usually took 2 to 3 hours, I'd have to find half a day in order to ride, and I could count on being quite tired and dehydrated by the end of a ride, and ready for a nap. But with the e-bike, I find that I can include an 11 mile, hilly and scenic round trip through the local hills into most mornings (I'm retired), and come back relaxed, fresh, invigorated and upbeat. I do usually get a bit dehydrated, but a couple of glasses of water takes care of that. After a typical ride like that, I can get on with my day without missing a beat.
The bike is a blast to ride. With the weight well balanced by the placement of the battery in the center of the frame, the bike feels like a regular mountain bike. If I want to have a little fun, I'll set the assist level to one of the mid positions, "City" or "Tour" and the bike fairly flies as I pedal. But I'm usually out to get some exercise and to ride safely, so I force myself to keep it in ECO. Riding up steep hills in "Tour" or the top "PWR" mode is still surreal, because you're pedaling along, rising steadily up a steep hill, yet it feels like you're loafing along on a flat trail. Great fun, and you feel like a superhero because it still feels line you are pedaling a normal bike, but conquering steel hills with ease.
I calculate that I'm doing about 60% to 70% of the work that others are doing on skinny tire racing bikes and maybe 50% of the work that I'd be doing on a mountain bike. So that accounts for why I find the e-bike easier to ride. But what's really great is that I can choose to explore really hilly routes or steeper dirt trails than I would otherwise consider, and so I can vary my routes and have more fun on my rides.
Here are a few observations on the differences between e-biking and regular cycling.
- It is fun and relaxing to use Regen on downhills to help control my speed without having to hold the brakes on. I'm particularly careful to keep my speeds within reason for my own safety and the safety of others on mixed-use trails. Using Regen, I can control speed more easily on downhills and actually regain a bit of battery charge (though it's only a little, perhaps 2% SOC on a long moderate downhill).
- I don't feel as compelled to carry a lot of speed on a downhill so that I can maximize my momentum for the coming uphill. Having the motor power always available makes you a safer and calmer rider, since you're much less worried about maintaining momentum.
- I almost always keep the assist in ECO so that I get the most exercise. If I used the next level of assist, "City", I'd really get very little real exercise. But having the higher power levels available is a real psychological boost for those long uphills that are still rather taxing in ECO mode. So I'm never tempted to feel defeated by a hill, even though I almost never use those higher power levels.
- The postings on our local trails state "No Motorized Bicycles" as part of their signage, but I've never had a problem with anyone on the trails. If I get any reaction, it us usually mild interest and a few questions about range and speed.
The bike was an expensive indulgence, but well worth it to me, as you can tell. The good news is that the number of e-bike companies is growing rapidly, and there are styles and features that will satisfy many more potential riders, and some of them at more attractive price points.
If I had it to do over again, I would consider a bike without a hand throttle, because I've barely used it on my bike, though it is nice to know it's there in case I have a broken chain or a leg or foot injury on a ride. I would consider a lower power motor at a lower price point, but not lower than 350 Watts, since I don't use nearly all of the power that my bike has. And I'd look for a lighter overall package. At 62 lbs, my bike is quite heavy. It doesn't feel heavy when I ride it, but I'd like a lighter bike for quicker acceleration and more reponsive handling, as well as ease of moving the bike for storage and transport.
Last edited by Boomer23
on Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.