More performance and style at the same price (still high)

On the streets of West Los Angeles, e-bikes are now joining the fleets of Teslas, Priuses and Polestars as the efficient and eco-friendly mode of transportation of choice. The expanding market for affordable e-bikes that offer a solid lineup only makes a potential purchase all the more appealing to anyone traveling less than 20 miles, as e-bikes allow all traffic by skipping a motorcycle’s lane with less path of regulation and insurance as barriers to entry. Plus, compared to traditional bikes, riding an e-bike to work or the store results in sweaty clothes much less frequently.

Big names in the motorcycle and electric car industry clearly recognize the emerging trend, which is why I recently received a Shelby-branded e-bike from Vintage Electric to test. Of course, anything with a Shelby logo commands a slight price hike and this electric bike has arrived without exception, pretty much maximizing the price of anything on the market. But Vintage Electric also offers a range of diverse models, most recently crowned by the new 72-Volt range that somehow offers more power without sacrificing range, all in attractive beach bike frames that turn heads. wherever they go.

Upgrade to 72 volts

After returning the Shelby, Vintage Electric sent me a 72 Volt Roadster. Sure, some Shelby badges on the classic metallic blue paint look great, but the Roadster arguably arrives in more style thanks to a set of gold forks up front and brown leather for the wrapped handles and leather seat. , all on a black frame with silver detailing that matches the Vintage Electric battery mounted in the negative space of the main triangle.

Similar to the Shelby, Roadster pricing starts at $6,995. But the newly improved performance potential offered without a big price increase is truly mind-boggling. Somehow, the new 72-volt system triples the torque output, resulting in a peak 4,000 watts from the rear hub-mounted motor and a top speed of 40 miles per hour. (with the illegal maximum assist on the road that Vintage Electric calls ‘Race Mode’ activated). The bike still weighs the same, though, at 86 pounds all-in.

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Adjustable gold shock absorbers

Considering the weight that adding a battery and powerful electric motor to a beach cruiser creates, those gold shocks up front handle some serious work – adjustable preload and damping help 60 millimeters (2 .32 inches) of travel, although a padded seat also makes a big difference given the hardtail rear end. Where some competitors offer rear suspension, like the Super73-R Brooklyn that occupied my garage at the same time as the Roadster, Vintage Electric seems confident that the fat bike tires and front forks will create a ride that’s comfortable enough and most of the time , the combination works well. Unlike the Super73, on the roughest roads or when going over speed bumps at full throttle, standing on the Roadster’s pedals sometimes becomes necessary.

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More power with better autonomy?

The Roadster uses the same thumb throttle and gauge display as the Shelby. In the name of science, I decided to perform a controlled experiment with the Roadster and take a quick hop into the same local bike mecca, Mandeville Canyon, where I’ve ridden the Shelby before. At almost exactly five miles long and almost exactly 1,000 vertical feet of elevation gained during a slow, steady incline, Mandeville took the Shelby 11 minutes and nine seconds to finish at average speeds of between 28 and 30 miles. per hour. Keep in mind this also carries my 165 pounds up the hill which is pretty impressive.

On the Roadster, I encountered traffic and a downed tree, which resulted in a slower overall time of 11 minutes and 17 seconds. But in reality, this new 72-volt transmission got me full throttle up the hill to speeds closer to 33-35 miles per hour.

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Disc brakes required

Descending Mandeville, the disc brakes and adjustable shocks also showed their worth. The rear brake even allows regeneration, although of course I went full throttle down the hill trying to get up close to that 40 mph top speed. If I got into a tuck (no supertuck, UCI rules apply in Mandeville) I would easily hit 40 miles per hour.

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Variable charge rates

Unlike the Shelby, this Roadster arrived with a charger that allows for variable charge rates. We know that fast charging significantly degrades the potential life of electric vehicle batteries. Owners of EVs and e-bikes should therefore keep their chargers on the lowest setting whenever possible. But Vintage Electric’s new charger allows for a quick boost, if needed. During the full trip to Mandeville Canyon and home totaling just under 20 miles with just over 1,500 feet of elevation, where the Shelby’s battery was using around 60% charge, the Roadster only needed it. only about 40%. Somehow, Vintage Electric managed to create more power while becoming more efficient – explain that, science!

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Vintage electrical refinements

Besides the obvious performance upgrades, the Roadster also felt a bit more refined than the Shelby. Full throttle off the line always ramps up to max throttle to prevent rear tire burnout, but Vintage Electric has also smoothed out the modulation between thumb throttle, pedal assist, and no assistance. I still wish the front and rear gears had better ratios than 39T and 16T, respectively, so that starting to pedal at higher gears produced less excessive wheelspin. And the exposed wiring connections under the cranks, while a little cleaned up on the Roadster, still made me a little nervous about puddles and wet spots on the road.

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Driving the roadster

I just got my motorcycle license and with a few rides under my belt, I’m confident the Roadster offers much the same feel despite the lower top speed. Priced even higher than most entry-level motorcycles, all Vintage Electric e-bikes should also come with a key or locking system to prevent easy theft, even with a start. keyed for the assist function, pedaling or just picking up the bike still seems easy for thieves, so I guess I’d always carry a sturdy bike lock similar to my Abus chain.

I’m also wondering about the distinction between motorcycle safety equipment and the technical requirements of official California Class 2 e-bikes. Whether these rules will change as extremely powerful models like the 72 Volt Roadster become more mainstream remains a serious question – wearing a helmet while riding an e-bike with such performance potential should definitely be mandatory. To some extent, I even felt more comfortable flying in traffic while wearing the lightweight body armor built into my Spidi Moto Jogger Tex pants and Rock leather jacket in the photo above.

Getting around with only active pedal assist feels safer, but anyone riding a 72-Volt Roadster will definitely feel the old need for speed. And apparently for customers who purchased earlier models, Vintage Electric is even offering free upgrades to the new 72-volt architecture, exactly the kind of customer service and consideration that helps justify such a high price for one. of the most impressive electric bikes. available today.

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