Fast e-bikes can reach up to 45 kilometers per hour. For commuters such a bike can be great. But who wants to go with it in a big city, sometimes finds: It is difficult to behave legally.
The horn is loud. The driver of a Mercedes GLE coupe wants the e-bike before him to give way from the road. Alternatively, he could just pass by, but he would rather let me know that I belong on the bike path. Because I do not react as desired, the Mercedes driver pulls up tight. So dense that I could easily lay my seat directly from the saddle on the hood of the vehicle, whose shape resembles a tortoise turtle.
Well, it does not mean that I react in defiance so, but I have no choice but to drive on the road. The Mercedes driver probably does not know that, especially since it would be difficult for him to recognize the license plate hanging on the mudguard of the wheel in the face of the great proximity.
The sign would tell him that the bike is a so-called S-Pedelec, a fast e-bike that can drive up to 45 km / h by virtue of its electric motor. And if something carries a license plate or better: insurance plate, it is just not a normal bike, but must be a moped on the road – even if it looks like a normal bike.
Incidentally, just like the Mercedes, the bike transports a person at this moment, but weighs only 28 kilograms (Mercedes GLE Coupé: around 2300 kilograms), including the rearview mirror is 70 centimeters wide (Mercedes: 2.12 meters). Correspondingly low is the energy requirement of the wheel – the charging of the battery costs only a few cents, it also produces no pollutants in operation. So a fast e-bike seems to be a good vehicle compared to the car to make it to work. So far, so personal.
Battery capacity is important
Two wheels were tested: the ST5 from the company Stromer, which is offered for an amazing 9500 euros, and an X-Speed from Klever, which costs 4900 euros – that is almost half as much money. Stromer is based in Switzerland, Klever is the daughter of Kymco, a Taiwanese manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters.
The Klever X-Speed has an original design.
(Photo: André Silva / Klever Mobility)
What makes wheels of this kind so expensive? Above all, it's the engine and the battery that drive the price up to highs, where you already get a well-equipped Vespa. Both manufacturers use drives that sit in the rear hub. This is worth mentioning, because the industry now tends to favor the engine in the middle. This is justified, for example, with the more favorable weight distribution and better power transmission, especially when things are uphill. On a straight line but the rear engine should have more power and also wear the chain less. You may also like to believe that after the first rides: The engines are very agile, accelerate quickly after a stop and – unlike the mid-engine – work silently. Both manufacturers emphasize that the motors are self-developed, produced by TDCM in Taiwan.
Formally, the power of the ST5 engine with 850 watts is higher than the Klever bike (600 watts), but at least when driving over flat land, the difference is barely noticeable. Both wheels reach the top speed of 45 km / h quickly, the Klever engine jerky when starting only sometimes something.
The differences between the two wheels are noticeable first and foremost in the capacity of the battery. With the Klever test bike this is an average of 570 watt hours, whereas the ST5 has almost 1000 watt hours. On the nearly flat test track of about 38 kilometers, the Klever did not quite survive in the highest level of support, while the ST5 still had plenty of capacity. The manufacturer indicates the range at X-Speed with 30 to 60 kilometers. Optionally, there is a larger battery that creates 45 to 90 kilometers. The Stromer battery is said to provide 60 to 180 kilometers. The tests show: Who is traveling quickly, should orient themselves with such numbers at the lower end, especially as the batteries lose their capacity with increasing life. By the way, if you want to replace the rechargeable batteries, you'll pay a lot more money after buying the bike: the larger Klever battery costs 1250 euros, the Stromer battery just under 2000 euros.
Visually, S-Pedelecs get used to, because the powerful battery has to be stored somewhere and details like the prescribed rear-view mirror do not make the wheels more elegant. Stromer tries to counteract this with a very tidy design, Klever, however, with a rather original design.
The ST5 got an impressive physiognomy. Everything looks like a piece, cables have been largely hidden in the frame, as well as the cute horn, the S-pedelecs instead of a bell have. The circuit works electronically and also the lamps glow expensive looking to itself. The headlamp, of course also integrated in the handlebars, even adapts automatically to the brightness conditions. This is unexpectedly convenient, especially when the lighting conditions are changing – for example when driving through partly wooded areas on evenings. A conventional lock is not available on the ST5 – the bike and battery compartment can be unlocked on the display or via mobile phone.
Cities can open bike paths for S-pedelecs
The design of the X-Speed, on the other hand, is reminiscent of a cross between women's and men's bikes: the upper and lower tubes run parallel downwards, with the battery in between. The equipment is kept simpler with the Klever, starting with the light up to the display. But you do not miss anything. On the contrary: The display sits directly on the handlebar and is therefore easy to read while driving – the Stromer is more difficult because the display is housed in the top tube. It is also gratifying that the Klever has a fork, which is congratulated at the latest after the first pothole crossing. The Stromer is the only optional – it costs then 990 euros again.
But these questions take a back seat when you're riding bikes like this one in a big city right in front of a Mercedes GLE Coupé and wondering where you could alternatively and legally drive by bike. On low-traffic roads, this is not a problem, on multi-lane busy routes already. 45 km / h are fast, but not enough for the flowing traffic. The wheel becomes an obstacle for the cars to meander. In such situations, S-Pedelec drivers like to make way for bike paths, and even make number plates and rear-view mirrors disappear. But it threatens not only a warning or fine, but in case of an accident also problems with the insurance.
If these wheels could regularly ride on the bike path, as in Switzerland, for example, the ST5, X-Speed and all the other S-Pedelecs could make the journey to work a pleasure and at the same time relieve the strain on the road.
After all, maybe in some places something will change about this situation. According to information from the Ministry of Transport, locally responsible road authorities have the possibility to "open cycle paths for mopeds in individual cases by means of additional signs". The additional sign makes clear by means of symbols and text that it is about e-bikes and not about mopeds. The signs are so far so rare to see, that hardly anyone knows. Maybe not the authorities in the cities.
The test e-bikes were provided by the manufacturer.
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