The Stromer ST1 is one of the most exciting electric bikes to be released and one of the best production ebikes I have gotten to test so far.  A complete redesign from last years bike, the Stromer ST1 sports higher quality components than last year’s Stromer, and a price tag of $3,500-$4,000.  For this extra price you are getting a boat load of special features including: Magura hydraulic brakes, regenerative braking, carbon forks, purpose built frame, torque sensor, and all around quality components. I rode last years Stromer, and was not that impressed (read review).  It seems like Stromer, which has since then had an ownership change, has decided to step up their game and take some real gambles by offering a fast and expensive electric bike with some unique features  to the public. Is it worth the high price?  We will take a close look in this review.

Stromer is offering  two new models. I tested both the  “Elite”  and the “Platinum” versions of the Stromer ST1.  Since these bikes are very similar, I will try to cover both in the same review. Let me start by stating the differences between these two models.

 Elite and Platinum…little differences

stromer st1-2838 stromer st1

 

The Elite bikes comes with a 9-speed Shimano Sora, an 11.5 amp-hour battery, and has a top speed of 20-MPH. The Elite has more low end torque and is  a little better for hill climbing. The Elite comes with the carbon rigid fork only. The Platinum comes with a 27-speed Shimano XT, 14.5 amp-hour battery and has a top speed of 30-MPH. The Platinum does not have as much low-end torque, but for accelerates from 10-MPH and up, it’s faster than the Elite.  Their controllers hardware is the same, but with different software for the Elite and Platinum.  Basically the Elite has a power cut off  once the bike reaches  20mph, and the Platinum has no cut off. The motors are wound different for the Platinum and Elite, the Elite is designed for torque and acceleration, the Platinum for top speed.

The Stromer ST1 Elite is $3,500 and the Platinum is $4,000.

9 speed vs 27 speeds

stromer st1 crank

I am a big believer in the idea that an electric bike rarely  needs more than 9 speeds unless the battery dies. The 27 speed on the Platinum requires a front set of derailleurs with three chainrings, an extra shifting cable, and an extra shifter on the handlebars. This adds to the  complexity of  riding and maintaining the bike.

I think the electric bike industry should take  a page from the fixie movement (no-geared bikes)….more gears aren’t always better.

For this and other reasons mentioned later in this review, I actually would advocate saving the $500 and going with the Elite.

Purpose Built Frame

stromer st1 platinum

The most special thing about the Stromer compared to other ebikes is its purpose built frame.  Its expensive for an ebike company to hide the battery pack in the frame this well. The Stromer features a swappable  battery pack in the downtube. It has a key lock to keep it from being stolen. Only a few electric bike manufacturers go the route of a purpose built frame, and it definitely is a big improvement over the most common option of welding a rear mounted battery pack.

The purpose built frame makes  it possible to provide perfect balance, with the weight of the battery up front, and the motor in the rear. Also it makes for ultra clean awesome looking ebike. You will be hard pressed to find an ebike that looks better than this one.  Maybe the Neo Jumper?

The Stromer is offered in 3 sizes of frame, something most ebike manufacturer don’t bother with.  This way you are able to get the right sized frame for your “standover” height, handlebar reach, and the proper pedal-stroke posture. It is attention to detail like this that makes the Stromer ST1 so special.

Both the Elite and the Platinum are offered in a  step-through frame. If you are a short person or a lady, the step through could be a no brainer. I really like step-throughs in electric bikes. Remember, an electric bike weighs a lot more than a traditional bike and you never feel the weight more than when you are stepping on and off the bike. If you do not mind the aesthetic looks of the step through, it is a good option. Both frames are plenty strong and come with a 10-year warranty.

Battery Packs and Range

stromer st1 battery pack

To fit into that  purpose built frame , the Stromer has proprietary battery packs consisting of 18650-format Samsung cells in a unique configuration that fits in the downtube of the bike.  They are offered in both the purple colored  Elite version and the Gold Platinum version.

Samsung offers some of the highest quality cells available for electric bikes, and it shows Stromer’s commitment to quality that they spent the extra money to equip their battery pack with name brand cells. For the end user this will result in a battery pack that will last for years to come. In fact the Stromer battery pack is warrantied for a industry leading 3 years.

The purple:  36V 11.5-Ah, 414 watt hours, Cost:  $549

The gold: 36V 14.5-Ah, 522-WH, Cost: $699

One important thing to realize is that either size of these battery packs will work in both the  Platinum or Elite. The Stromer battery packs are fairly small and easily backpackable if you want to ride with an extra one, to double your range.

Stromer advertises a 25-50 mile range on the Platinum which seems like a fair estimate. Thank you Stromer for being honest and not exaggerating your numbers.

On the Elite, Stromer advertises a 20-40 mile range.

stromer battery\

New Stickers and New 30-MPH Top Speed!

Pedego Interceptor-2916

 

Pedego Interceptor-2916-2

Stromer lost the Swiss flag stickers it previously wore, and instead has very nice understated “Stromer” stickers. This is a simple but effective upgrade in itself.

And most exciting, where other ebike companies have several cheesey warning stickers plastered on their bikes (wear a helmet, abide traffic laws etc)  the Stromer ST1 Platinum comes with a warning sticker that says  off road use only. (see above)

What an awesome sticker!  That is because its 30-MPH claimed speed breaks the 20-MPH federal limit.

It is so exciting that a big electric bike manufacturer has decided to claim such a high top speed, and openly declare their bike is “illegal” for road use. Pretty ballsy for a bike that is obviously intended for road use.

Now if you plan to ride your illegal Stromer on the street, read this article and peel off that sticker. Stromer claims the sticker is “tamper resistant.” But I found with a little help from my fingernail I was able to peel a sticker right off.

That’s the good news. The bad news is I am not sure if the Stromer Platinum can fairly be considered a 30-MPH bike. I am not even sure if the Platinum would be deemed  illegal if put to a speed test. It is serious work to get this bike up to 30-MPH, and without peddling…forget about it. The federal law says theres a 20-MPH limit without pedaling. It feels like the Stromer Platinum would just barely break 20-MPH without any peddling,

On the other hand, the Stromer ST1 Elite hits its claimed 20-MPH top speed with little pedaling effort.  These two bikes are a lot closer together  performance wise than you would assume from reading  claimed speed numbers. My guess is that under “real world” conditions, the Elite is a 25-MPH bike, and the Platinum a 28-MPH bike. Where as Stromer calls the Elite a 20-MPH bike (low balling estimate) and the Platinum a 30-MPH bike (high balling estimate).

In any case its awesome that a major ebike company has decided to release an ebike that breaks the federal speed limit. Great job Stromer! Now on to the Killjoy:

Stromer, You, and the Police

Pedego Interceptor-03972

So does this mean you can get into trouble with the Police for riding your Stromer ST1 platinum?  Most likely not.  I believe this sticker is put on the bike to protect Stromer as a manufacturer  from liability of  selling a bike that is capable of 30-MPH.  But if you want to be on the safe side, and you plan on riding this bike on the street, the first thing I would do is peel off that sticker. The last thing you want is proof that your electric bike is illegal.

Most police  do not know the law when it comes to electric bikes, and if they did they have no way of telling if your bike is within federal limits (does it go over 20-MPH without pedaling? Does it burn more than 750 watts).  I know several people who ride 6,000 watt plus 50-MPH ebikes, and they put a “750 watt” sticker, just in case they are pulled over by the Police….and just claim they can pedal really fast.

Read our story on how to get away with riding an illegal ebike on the streets

Read our complete story on the legality of Ebikes in the USA.

 

Look No throttle!

stromer st1 handgrip

A 30-MPH claimed top speed is pretty ridiculously cool. The next brazen thing I noticed about this new Stromer is that it has no throttle. That will make many people scratch their heads and make many people opt out. This bike is pedal assist only. No way to cheat this bike, you have to put in your fair share of pedaling if you want to go fast. This appears to be the trend for factory E-bikes from the big manufacturers.

Most high end electric bikes (including last years Stromer) provide both throttle and pedal assist options, and they let the rider choose. Usually, riders will prefer using a throttle because it is less work…and lets face it most Americans are lazy (especially the type of American who spends $4K on an electric bike).

Stromer has imposed their  ethics on the people, by deciding that pedal-assist is the “right way” to go, and eliminating the throttle all together from their bike. This reminds me of a friend of mine who runs a popular electric bike store in San Francisco (Brett Thurber) who not only does not believe in throttles on electric bikes, but exerts his will by trying  not to offer  throttle controlled bikes in his store.

For a bicycle purist, pedal-assist makes a lot of sense.

Pedal-assist  (sometimes called “pedelec”), greatly improves range because you have to assist the bike during start up which is the most energy-draining time for a hub motor which is wound for high speed. Most riders using pedal-assist with a good torque-sensing system will get a 50 percent range increase over just using a throttle. They will also pedal a lot less in pedal mode, than they would in pedal-assist mode.

I will be honest…I am a throttle guy. However, the Stromer made a believer out of me concerning the beauty of pedal-assist. Because it does not  use  a throttle, Stromer was able to do away with the cheap hand grips that are synonymous with most electric bikes and instead uses some really nice hand grips that do a great job of softening the ride and adding to the feeling of control. Riding the Stromer with pedal-assist felt liberating and I found myself wanting a pedal-assist bike. I would definitely get in better shape if I rode one of these instead of my throttle bikes.

Also, you can now ride at full speed with no hands! 30-MPH, sipping a drink and waving at gawkers…what a thrill.

Torque Sensor

 

stromer st1 torque sensor

 

The Stromer features a torque sensor built into the rear drop out (most are located in the bottom bracket).  I rode last years Stromer (read review) and it was not nearly as clean of a pedal-assist feeling. It felt jerky the way the power came on and off, and was a constant reminder that you are riding an electric bike. I opted to ride with throttle only on that bike (last years Stromer offered both pedal-assist and throttle). The ST1 seems to have alleviated that problem with some really nice firmware that bring s the power on in a nice and smooth transition.

A torque sensor is an expensive feature, only offered on the highest-end electric bike,s and is different from a cadence sensor which only measures how fast your are pedaling…and not how hard you are peddling. Read our complete  article on torque sensors. 

The Stromer torque sensor feels great the way it applies power. You feel bionic when you ride on this bike, and if you try…you can forget you are riding an electric bike and just feel like a well conditioned athlete.

Carbon Fork and Schwalbe  tires

stromer st1 front fork

Last years Stromer used cheap suspension forks and I was not impressed with the ride or the look.

The Stromer ST1 is the first production electric bike I know of to come with a carbon fork.  Where as most electric bike companies are suck in the 90′s and bringing bikes with cheap front suspension forks and cheesy Chinese suspension seat posts, the Stromer goes with a slick carbon model. The idea of carbon forks is that they provide a little bit of spring. Also they add to the aerodynamic look of the bike.

The Stromer also has nice thick  Big Ben Schwabe tires, that do a great job of absorbing bumps. This, and the before mentioned hand-grips make for a very smooth ride. Not at any point during my test ride did I wish I had suspension, even when going up and down curves. For road riding this is a  helluva sweet package, and leaves nothing to be desired….

It should be noted that all Stromer ST1 Platinum buyers will be offered the option of a SR Suntour front suspension fork at no extra cost. I only recommend this option if you plan to do a lot of off-road riding. As described above, I feel the Carbon rigid fork is too sweet a package to opt out of.

Magura Hydraulic Brakes and Regenerative Braking

stromer st1-2850

I have to say this is the nicest braking package I have seen on an electric bike.  Not only do you get Magura hydraulic disc brakes that have plenty of stopping power, but the brake levers have cut off switches, that when activated not only shut off the motor, but also activate regenerative braking which will add up to 20% range to your ride. (read our article on the low down on regenerative braking). Regen will also add so much to the electric braking effect, that your brake pads will not get as hot on a long downhill, which is a great safety feature.

One bothersome about the Stromer St1 brakes is that they do squeak.  I have experienced this on multiple ST1′s I have ridden, and have heard this reported from other riders.  The squeak is not so bad but definitely audible and on long downhills can be annoying (thank heavens for regen brakes which are silent). I have heard from one bike mechanic  that upgrading to a higher quality brake pad can help.

Proprietary Dashboard

stromer st1 dashboard

The Stromer dashboard is a clean looking package designed just for the Stromer. It offers four levels of assist, shows the speed or the time of day, and also the very important battery charge-level indicator.

High Quality components

One thing I notice is that many ebike companies have a few name-brand components, but then really cheap out when it comes to random components such as pedals, stem, crank set etc. I was impressed with the Stromers component choices. This bike has quality components all the way around including the FSA stem and crank set, nice pedals, nice hand grips, good rims, etc. You can tell that Stromer was taken over by a bicycle company (BPM) because this bike is build with quality bicycle parts.

Gearless Hub Motor

stromer hub motor

Where as most of the newly designed electric bikes are using geared hub motors, the Stromer has decided to stick with a gearless hub motor…a  500 watt hub motor. Notice this motor is fairly large, compared to the geared motor on the Neo Jumper for example. The direct drive hub motor on the Stromer is larger and slightly heavier than a geared hub motor but offers the advantage of  being more reliable, quieter, and offers regenerative braking.

The motors on the Elite and the Platinum are wound slightly differently. The Elite is wound for torque and acceleration, the Platinum is wound for speed.

Usually a direct drive motor is super reliable because it has only one moving part. However, the Stromer motor has the controller built into it, greatly reducing its complexity and also its chances to fail.  This seems to be  the same motor (Ultra Motor) which is used on the A2b and does not have the best track record when it comes to reliability. However, a new Stromer owner will be relieved to know that the motor is covered by a 3 year warranty.

The direct drive motor has the advantage that it is extremely quiet.

Accessories

Stromer accessories

Stromer is offering accessory kits and option like the “City Package” pictured above which includes  front and rear fenders, custom rear rack and a B&M or Super Nova front and rear light system.

The City package cost $200-300 depending on how bright you want your lights to be.

 

Ride Report

stromer st1

Riding this bike on the street, knowing it is  a law breaker, I was a little nervous that it would give me that familiar thrill ride associated with fast built home bikes I have ridden. Not so. The acceleration on the Stromer is very mild, and if anything, maybe even…disappointing? However it is definitely an ultra smooth experience.

What can  I say, you put together all the components listed above, and this bike just rides great.  I was very impressed with the ride quality, like night and day compared to last year’s Stromer. It accelerates fairly slowly and takes a minute to get to top speed, so it doesn’t have the feel of speed that some electric bikes do, where you can just peg the throttle wide open. But it does have that bicycle feel going for it, where you feel like a well conditioned athlete riding a well tuned performance bike. I heard no annoying jankiness or squeaks while test-riding this  bike, even when going up and down curves. The Stromer ST1 is built solid.

Everything together, the braking system, the torque sensors, the geometry, nice tires, and the quality components all the way around, really make this bike a pleasure to ride. Of course I wish the acceleration was faster, but this bike will be fast enough for most everyone else, and is faster than most every other production bike on the market. To get faster than this you will have to go with an expensive Stealth Bomber or Optibike.

Stromer Warranty and Replacement Parts

DSC03994-2

Stromer is now offering a 10-year warranty on its frame, and 3-year warranty on all other components including battery. This is an industry leading warranty and on an electric bike, the warranty is extremely important. For example the replacement cost on the Platinum battery pack is $750.

One contingency to consider: Stromer has not yet established itself as a big player in the USA market…yet. The only reason for this is the high retail price of their bikes, in a less than stellar economy. One possible contingency is that Stromer could bite the bullet and end up in the ebike graveyard if these high-priced bikes fail to sell. Very few ebike companies are prospering in the USA market and more are failing than are succeeding.  Stromer seems solid, especially now that it has been bought out by a major bicycle company (BMC), but…you never know.

Because the Stromer has many proprietary parts (custom battery pack, etc), if they did go out of business down the road, it could be a big problem to get replacement parts. When you spend this much money on a quality electric bike, you probably plan on keeping it for many years, even decades. Getting replacement parts when you need them is critical.

Competition Comparison

easy motion stump jumper

There is only one bike that I know of that compares to the quality (and high cost) of the Stromer and thats the Neo line up by Easy Motion especially their Neo Jumper (read review). If you are considering the Stromer ST1, take a look at the Neo Jumper, which offers many of the same features plus full-suspension for the same price as the Stromer ST1 Platinum. The general quality of components and the speed of the Stromer beats out the Neo. So its really just a question if you are into full-suspension or not.

Conclusion

stromer St1

Stromer has really raised the bar, and has come to market with a potential game changer. The only draw back to this bike is the price. Offered at $3,500 for the Elite  and $4,000 for the Platinum, I feel this bike is well worth the extra money instead of  the $2,500 generic Chinese-made bikes which are currently flooding the USA market. The day before I test rode this bike, I test rode the Pedego Interceptor (read review) and really, there is no comparing these two bikes…not even in the same ball park. The Stromer is designed in Switzerland and made in Taiwan. As bicycle people know there is a big difference between China-made and Taiwan-made in terms of quality. Whether you are spending $2,600 or $3,500 you want your electric bike to last a lifetime. The Stromer ST1 is so high quality, it could stand the test of time and be a prized possession for decades to come.

If money is an issue, I actually prefer the $3,500 ST1 Elite over the $4,000 Platinum. The only big difference between these two models is the slightly larger battery pack, and you can always add the bigger battery pack later. I prefer the 9 speeds on the Elite over the 27 speeds on the Platinum. And I do not see a big performance difference when riding these two bikes side by side.

The Stromer ST1 ( Platinum or Elite) is probably the best electric bike I have reviewed so far under $5,000.  It is simply a super sweet package and leaves little to be desired. I will list its stand-out features, many of which are not offered in any other electric bike:

  • Purpose-built frame offered in 4 different sizes, and 2 styles (standard top-tube and step through)
  • Ultra clean looking bike
  • Proprietary battery pack, consisting of quality Samsung cells.
  • Industry leading braking system, which includes regenerative braking and Magura hydraulic brakes
  • Slick looking carbon fork
  • Schwalbe Big Ben tires, the nicest tires I have seen on a production ebike
  • 30-MPH top speed on the Platinum
  • torque sensor with improved software programming that provides a smooth power delivery
  • Industry leading 3-year warranty
  • Obvious quality of components all the way around on this bike

Now let me struggle to come up with a list of cons:

  • High Sticker Price
  • Relatively heavy at 62/65  pounds.
  • No throttle will be a big turn off for some buyers.
  • Motor and controller are built into the hub, which is not as bulletproof as keeping the two separate.
  • Proprietary battery will be hard to replace if company goes under
  • Direct drive hub motor is larger, heavier and less stealthy than a geared hub motor
  • No suspension on base models

 

Manufacturer Specifications:

 Motor  36V / 600W Brushless Direct-Drive (Gearless) Hub Motor
 Battery  36V / 11AH Li-Ion Battery (36V / 14.5AH for Platinum) w/ Patented Removable Battery System (In-Frame)
 BMS  Smart Battery Management System (BMS) providing SOC indication, cell balancing, and over heat protection
 Charger  UL listed Smart Charger w/ LED Status Display
 Controller  Variable 36V Controller
 Top Speed  Up to 20+ mph w/ Elite
Up to 30 mph w/ Platinum
(dependent on rider weight and terrain)
 Range  Up to 40 miles in PAS, or up to 20 miles w/ Throttle on Elite
Up to 60 miles in PAS, or up to 30 miles w/ Throttle on Platinum
(dependent on rider weight, terrain and input)
 Drive  Rear Hub Motor, 9-Speed (Elite) or 27-Speed (Platinum) Shimano Sora w/ Thumb Shifter
 Brakes  Magura MT2 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
 Wheels  26″ Double Walled Alloy Rims
 Tires  26″ x 2.15″ Schwalbe Big Ben Tires
 Fork  Stromer Carbon Fiber Fork
 Crank / Pedals  Wellgo Dual-Compound Pedal
 User Controls  LCD Dash – battery life, speed, distance, odometer, etc. (optional throttle)
 Saddle  Stromer Saddle
 Frame  Aluminum 6061 Hydro-formed w/ Internal Battery Compartment
 Frame Size  16.5″ or 20″
 Net Weight  62 lbs (Elite) 65 lbs (Platinum)
 Warranty 10 years frame 3 years everything else

 

Check out the photo gallery below, click on a pic for a high resolution image. My adventures with the Stromer St1.

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Written by Eric, April 2013