Electric-assist bikes have been slow to evolve. The problem too often is a battery mounted high, in a bike rack over the rear wheel. That throws off steering balance, killing maneuverability and the instinctive turning response you want — especially in an urban setting. When Specialized debuted its Turbo in 2013, it finally signaled a paradigm shift; the battery moved to the down tube, putting the weight beneath the rider for superior handling.
What the new, Swiss-made Stromer ST2 brings to the category is an impressive 90-miles-per-charge range, and a top speed of nearly 30 mph. As with the Specialized, the batteries live in the bike’s down tube, for quick cornering, and the pack is removable as well, both for security, and so you can juice up at your office, say, while the bike’s locked outdoors. Total battery recharge takes five hours, but your commute probably isn’t 90 miles each direction.
Because the front and rear lights are integrated into the frame, they can’t be stolen; and both front and rear wheels have a unique locking system that’s relatively difficult to defeat as well. Onboard electronics include a touchscreen in the top tube that displays metrics like speed, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity (via the Stromer app), and a GSM SIM card. The GSM auto-updates onboard firmware, and also enables remote locking (via the rear hub motor) from a setting on the phone app, so the bike can’t roll. Even if the bike is stolen you’d have geo-location tracking via the phone app to call the cops on the thief. The app also lets you fine-tune performance (for example, for more boost on hills), see battery status, and the owner’s manual.
To prevent having to register the ST2 as a moped, the 20-speed Shimano drivetrain is only assisted by the motor when you pedal. And unlike other e-bikes, when you use the disc brakes, heat is captured to recharge the battery, as with an EV automobile. True, the Stromer ST2 isn’t light, at 62 pounds, so walk-up apartment dwellers might shy away, and it isn’t cheap. But given how both its range and top speed could eliminate the need for a second car (not to mention, insurance, gas, etc.), it’s potentially a great bargain.