Gear Review: Trek Super Commuter+ E-Bike
Going 28mph up hill past traffic without breaking a sweat is pretty sweet
The very idea of a $5000 electric bicycle is insane. Until you ride it. I’m not saying a single test ride will make it make sense to you, specifically. But ripping 25mph up hill past traffic without breaking a sweat may make it make more sense in general. Because an e-bike of this caliber is best considered a car-alternative, and not a replacement of other sport-specific bikes you may already have in your stable.
Like a full suspension mountain bike of a similar price tag, the Trek Super Commuter+ is specifically engineered for one purpose—allowing you to be less dependent on cars in urban environments and more free to get where you need to go, faster and with less energy expelled. But how? Well, namely by way of the most powerful electric drivetrain and longest lasting battery on the market—both from BOSCH—integrated into a sleek, purpose built frame by Trek’s e-bike specific design team.
Like most e-bikes, the Super Commuter+ employs pedal-assist technology, meaning depending on the “boost” mode selected, the motor either amplifies your own output by a measure of one to 4x. From “Eco” to “Turbo,” the less ride assist lets you ride longer, while the higher levels provide more power for acceleration or climbing hills. And yes, the bike can be ridden in “off” mode, or with a dead battery, though it’s not nearly as much fun—imagine pedaling a 20 lb beach cruiser.
We gave the 11-speed Super Commuter+ a proper go between Brooklyn and Manhattan this past week and can firmly say, it’s damn fun. By integrating the motor and battery into the frame (a key is needed to remove the battery, making theft or vandalism less likely) the bike maneuvers more like a standard bike than those with hub-based motors. And with a max sustained speed of 28mph and impressive range—20-120 miles depending on a wide range of variables like terrain, wind, rider weight, etc—it’s possible to really cover some ground with ease. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes help keep things under control too, even when we got a bit carried away with Turbo mode.
Around the world electric bikes are just another part of life. Stateside though, unless you’re a delivery guy or niche enthusiast, you’re not likely to have any idea they even exist. This is changing though, little by little, as global leaders in bike design and manufacturing like Trek and Specialized have begun to introduce e-bikes like this to the North American market.
It’s going to take some time before the stigma dies off, but as cities become more congested with both people and cars, trading the ball and chain of four wheels for the freedom of boosted two is going to become much more attractive.
available 1 June 2017 for $4,999 from Trek