E-bikes are fun, no doubt. You get the wind-in-the-hair freedom of a regular two-wheeler, but also the bonus of a drivetrain that’s beefed up by electrons. Steep hills and long commutes become an annoyance of days’ past once you saddle up on an e-bike. But most e-boosted machines on the market are a bit dull when it comes to styling. More thought has been put into range and power than panache. Enter retro electric mopeds.
These three electric mopeds exist at the intersection between run-of-the-mill e-bikes and de facto motorcycles, due to their dashing looks and daring performance. Harkening back to the cool, simple lines of two-stroke powered mopeds—which were noisy and polluting, but oh so fun!—the welcome and worthy evolutions of the motorized bicycle are now here and ready to ride, cleaner, quieter, and more powerful than ever.
1. SUPER73 S2
If Steve McQueen were forced to ride an e-bike, it would be this one. That reference might be lost on the hipster demo to which this seems aimed at but, nonetheless, everyone can appreciate the melding of next-gen tech with vintage looks.
This nexus is exemplified by the battery, which, instead of being tucked away on the lower frame, is shaped like a teardrop gas tank and proudly positioned between seat and handlebars. Fenders, fat tires, a long seat, and a full-size headlight further beef up the profile.
So how does it perform? With grin-producing gusto. At 73 pounds, the S2 is no nimble corner carver, but even when relying solely on the pedal-assist function, minimal leg pumping translates to power that conquers most cityscape inclines. Or press the thumb throttle to go total easy rider and let the rear-tire mounted hub motor do all the silent work of zooming around rush-hour-bound traffic.
Set to Class 1 mode, speed tops out at about 20 mph, which makes the S2 legal on most bike paths—and feels plenty fast. An app unlocks additional modes, including “unlimited,” which allows speeds to easily surpass 30 mph.
Such variables can greatly affect battery charge, of course; California-based Super73 claims a full-charge range of about 40 miles using only the throttle and 75 miles using minimal pedal-assist.
The smiles-per-hour reach even higher on electric mopeds such as this. The S2 turned plenty of heads and sparked several envious conversations. Indeed, while riding it may never make you as cool as McQueen, you could soon find yourself the leader of the local pack.[$2,995; super73.com]
2. SWFT ZIP
If you live in a densely populated metro area, there’s a good chance you’ve already spotted this e-bike. That’s because it’s a go-to for delivery guys. Its props are many, including a 20-inch steel frame, a cushy seat, and fat tires paired with a heavy-duty front suspension that helps turn cobblestone streets and speed bumps into a fun challenge. The only other standard feature is a headlight and taillight, which means it costs about half of other, more tricked-out electric mopeds. It ain’t bad-looking, either. Despite the utilitarian, black-on-black design, the Zip exudes a retro, understated Night Hawk vibe.
The 500-watt motor’s top speed holds steady at 20 mph, which is fast enough for whizzing past irked 10-speedsters in the bike lane or weaving through stop-and-go traffic. The battery, which can be removed only with a key, ekes out 37 miles with intermittent pedaling. However, once the full-charge (four bars) on the LED control drop to two bars, max speed drops to around 14 mph.
The SWFT website recommends Zip for any rider taller than 5’5″, but it’s not ideal for dudes over 6’0″ because the seat can’t be adjusted upward to maximize efficient pedaling. That means a reliance on the throttle, which decreases range and the (imagined) sense of getting in a workout. The bike could also benefit from sideview mirrors, blinkers, and a horn. Such basics might not be needed when tooling around the ’burbs, but you become aware of their absence when trying to race the other working stiffs home.[$1,399; rideswft.com]
3. Juiced Bikes HyperScrambler 2
Key ignition. Cruise control. Hydraulic disc brakes. A 2,000-lumen headlight. USB port. If some of its standard features make you suspect the HyperScrambler 2 is not what reasonable people would call a “bike,” wait till you ride it.
Boasting beefy torque and cadence pedal sensors, dual suspension, and super-sensitive throttle twist, the pride of the SoCal-based Juiced Bikes fleet provides the power and responsiveness to, as the company says, “make you feel bionic.” With a motor generating 2,000 watts of peak power and top speeds of 30-plus mph in “Race Track Mode,” this baby begs for bursts of speed—handy when accelerating off the line at congested traffic lights or running late for crosstown appointments.
The real seller is range. Instead of the usual single battery, the HS2 is equipped with a pair of high-capacity batteries that promise a charge life of 33- to 100-plus hours, depending on where you fall between aggressive and economy riding styles. “Aggressive” basically means cruising on throttle only, an easy habit given how simple it is to ride this bike the way you would a moped, albeit without the two-stroke racket. But the rewards of sustained pedal-assist become clear when you discover after a week of riding that it still doesn’t need a charge. Bye-bye, range anxiety.
The trade-off for that stamina is weight. Including those twin batteries, it comes out of the box at a beastly 119 pounds. This isn’t a bike for hauling up stairs or casually chucking in the back of an SUV, at least not without risking a groin pull. Demerits for being cumbersome aside, once on the road the HyperScrambler 2 excels on mad dashes through the urban chaos or on extended, stress-free rides in the countryside.[$2,999; juiced-bikes.com]
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