On a side street of Greenpoint swept with off-river winds, two large flags flapped in the wind advertising the arrival on US shores of new innovation in Swiss bicycles: the Stromer ST2 E-bike ($6,990). Inside a small garage, whose doors were rolled down to dim the light, were rows of slick, glossy white bikes poised to take to the grimy, wet, mud-laden streets outside. If Stromer wanted to mark a stark contrast of their fluid and polished new bike with the dismal March weather of NYC, they’d picked an aptly depressing day to do it.
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The bike pounces on your pedal stroke and gives you that ridiculous e-bike thrill that makes you wonder if your legs turned superhuman.
Stromer’s ST2 arrives with anticipation after winning awards at both Eurobike and Taipei Cycle, a Red Dot Award for design and a handful of nods from gear geeks along the way. The bike updates the ST1, focusing improvements around the brand’s tag words of “More Design, More Power, More Range and More Connectivity”. It gives all four with Swiss reliability, and the ST2 stands to reign supreme in a market that typically impresses (and sometimes disappoints). The ST2 offers 814Wh (watt-hours), 93 miles of range, up to 28 mph of pedal-assisted speed, 500W of engine power and 35 nm of torque — which will get you off the line faster than most cars. It operates off an EnergyBus connector, kind of like a Tesla plug model, and the battery features 78 lithium ion cells. There’s a brushless, direct-current motor located in the rear hub of the bike, along with a torque sensor to control the zippiness of the pedal assist.
What that translates to in the street is a zippy ride that’s fast enough to make the eyes water straight away. In the max assist mode (Mode 3 on the ST2), the bike pounces on your pedal stroke and gives you that ridiculous e-bike thrill that makes you wonder if your legs turned superhuman. Schwalbe BigBen tires (26 x 2.15 inches) give plenty of tread to keep the 57.3-pound beast under control, and the pedal assist flows forth elegantly enough that you’ll forget your ascending speed.
For interface, Stromer’s for full tech-immersion, with a touchscreen on the top tube and a synched smartphone app. All communication goes through Omni, a cloud-based program that connects the bike, your smartphone and the Stromer web app. Users can download the myStromer app, to control bike settings, lock and unlock the bike, engage anti-theft mode, track the bike to its GPS location, and even trigger blinking lights to help locate the bike (if you can’t detect your $7k bike among all the other bikes on the bike rack). The user experience is intuitive, the touch screen — for as hearty and industrial as it looks — is responsive to the slightest touch, and the app layout is clean and syncs with the bike quickly. Your phone “talks” to the bike over a GSM network, so the speed is similar to you sending your friend a photo on text message; it takes a second to send the data, but it’s a negligible delay. There’s plenty of customizable options to optimize the bike’s ride quality (acceleration speed, regenerative braking resistance, power level), and Stromer is also keen on updating software during the life of your bike ownership.
Stromer makes arguably the best e-bikes on the market. The ST2 is now the capstone of their line.
As for ride, the bike handled extremely well on the flat streets of Greenpoint. With max assist the bike leaps off the line, then accelerates steadily while shifting through the 20-speed Shimano gears. Disc brakes slow the whole sled down rapidly, and they’re powerful enough to kick you into a skid if you grab tight. With the 11-pound battery in the down tube and the motor in the rear hub, the bike keeps a low center of gravity and the ride, with the motor assist, is smooth and doesn’t feel like you’re on a 60-pound machine. Walk-up owners beware, though; in attempting to carry the Stromer up a small flight of 10 steps, I stopped and gave up the experiment halfway up. This is a heavy beast.
Theft is a concern with a $7k bike, and Stromer built in a few features to prevent larceny. If the bike is moved while locked, it will engage its “Theft” mode, and the rear wheel will turn the regenerative breaking up to full strength, which almost completely locks the rear wheel. The hijacker won’t be able to pedal through (I tried and failed). More frequent GPS tracking is also triggered in Theft mode, and the bike sends updates of its location to the myStromer app.
Stromer makes arguably the best e-bikes on the market. The ST2 is now the capstone of their line, and the bike’s been highly anticipated and highly lauded. It costs a lot of money. It does a lot of things. It looks good. It lives up to every highfalutin expectation. And, on a cold and windy Saturday morning in the city, even as the pedal assist keeps the heart rate down, the ride is more than enough of a thrill to warm a slow-beating techie-cyclist’s heart.