BIKE TEST: STROMER ST1 x
Is it the best commuter bike in the world?
Last year, after we rode the Stromer ST2 S, the pinnacle of Stromer’s e-bike development, we thought the bike was so good that it deserved an award. So, we voted for it as the Electric Bicycle of the Year award at the Interbike trade show. It was an amazing bike, but it was also lavishly expensive at $10,000.
Stromer has now debuted the ST1 X, a bike that offers much of the same performance, range and even connected features for half that price. We wanted to know how it performs next to its rich sibling.
First of all, it’s called the ST1 X because it is a cross between the more affordable ST1 line and the connected features and longer range of the ST2 line. It’s $2000 less than the ST2, and a full half price of their flagship ST2 S. Does it feel like they’ve cut too many corners to get to that price? The answer may surprise you.
At first glance the bike looks identical to the ST2 line with its very angular profile and clean front and rear triangles with a large downtube to hold the battery. The geometry, too, is the same. The fork also matches the look of the frame, with the one difference being that it is made of aluminum instead of carbon.
Looking closer, you find other place where it’s not the same. Unlike the ST2 line, there’s no daytime running light built into the head tube, nor is there a hidden USB charge port.
“We then tweaked the torque sensor’s sensitivity to a higher level, and, oh, what a difference that made! It went from good to great!”
Where it’s the same is pretty spectacular. This is the only bike in the ST1 line to offer the Omni controller with the top-tube-integrated touchscreen and app-connected controls. This opens up a world of options—from fine-tuning the torque characteristics to locking the rear hub to finding the bike if it’s stolen. All features are built in, so there’s no fee for the connectivity. These are features we’ve come to love from late-model Stromer bikes.
The motor is their new Cyro drive. Like the Syno drive in the ST2 and ST2 S, it is a 500-watt, 48-volt, direct-drive rear hub that offers plenty of power and speed up to 28 mph, as well as several levels of regeneration for better braking and a little extra energy savings. It comes in at 35 N/m of torque to the Syno’s 40. It’s a small difference, but those little things go into the price difference of the bike. The 48-volt system is normal along the ST2 line versus the 36-volt system of the ST1.
The ST1 X uses the same batteries as the ST2 line. The base model comes with a 618-watt-hour battery and can be upgraded to an 814-watt-hour battery for another $400. Ultimately, the monster 983-watt-hour battery will fit the bike if you want extreme range on one battery. They color code their batteries—the 618-watt-hour battery is magenta, the 814-watt-hour battery is gold and the 983-watt-hour battery is blue.
The bike comes with a Roxim X4 EP headlight. At 400 lumens, it’s plenty efor safety and good for casual night riding. If you’re going to ride near the 28-mph top-assisted speed of this bike at night, you’ll override its range. It’s rain-proof and offers 200-degree visibility. Rear safety lighting is via a Busch & Müller Toplight Mini taillight.
There’s a sturdy rack on the back for attaching cargo, along with front and rear fenders to help keep the puddle splash away. All of this is standard on most Stromer bikes. Normal and step-through frames are available in various sizes to fit riders from 5-foot-4 to over 6-foot-2.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
The ST1 X is a perfect commuter bike. If you’re going to ride in traffic, the 28-mph speed pedelec is safer in traffic and will help you get to your destination quicker without sweating. The Kevlar-belted tires will help prevent you from getting flats from all the stuff you’ll encounter on the road.
The ST1 X has great range, and with the largest battery option, it has epic range, so you’d think it’d be a great touring bike; however, the lack of any suspension can make for a very harsh extended ride, unless you ride on perfect roads.
Throwing a leg over, it feels like any other Stromer—straight, comfortable bars fitted with ergonomic grips with nicely laid-out controls. It looks and feels like a Stromer—well made and solid.
The bike accelerates very well in the factory setup mode. We rode that for a while, as the performance was good and range was incredible. We weren’t being conservative, and the battery used about 1 percent per mile at 90 percent in level 3 (the highest assist level). We then tweaked the torque sensor’s sensitivity to a higher level and, oh, what a difference that made! It went from good to great! Yes, range was affected, but we’d trade that range for more fun factor. If you were riding this bike to work, you’d definitely get there without a sweat. You could absolutely turn off the electrics on the way home, or even turn on regen mode for an even greater workout.
Gearing is perfect for this bike. The big 52t front sprocket combined with 11 gears in the rear (11-42t) Shimano SLX set means it can climb hills or race across flats and you never run out of gears. It does love to cruise in the 25–28-mph range and gets there quickly. Another plus for commuters, you can go nearly the same speed as traffic for safety and visibility. In some large cities, you’ll be able to go faster than traffic.
The Omni touchscreen display makes it easy to see remaining battery power, current power level, additional controls and settings. Some riders complain that having the display down on the top tube instead of on the bars takes your eyes away from the road too long. If done safely, it’s at-a-glance easy and shouldn’t pose a major issue. Further adjustment can be performed via the app, as can tracking the bike via GPS and remote-locking the rear hub. Imagine someone stealing your bike and you being able to lock out the rear hub remotely so they have to carry a 57-pound bike.
Conversely, there’s a walk-assist function that will help you push the bike up hills or across places you can’t ride, powering the bike along at walking speeds.
This bike is great as a commuter; however, as a touring bike, the ride can be pretty rough. The aluminum frame and fork have little flex, so you can feel every gum wrapper you ride over. Lowering the pressure of the ample Schwalbe Big Ben balloon tires helps a little, but also affects performance. Stromer used to offer a suspension fork to help on the front end. That, paired with a suspension seatpost, would make this into a better tourer. We’ve gone on long rides on this bike, and without suspension, you’ll start feeling the pain.
The ST2 model comes with Magura brakes that are so good that we found we only used the rear most of the time. The ST1 X comes with Tektro Dorado brakes, though. They’re plenty enough to stop the bike and offer the control and modulation you need in traffic with a heavy, fast-moving bike. But, we did use both brakes. The levers come with cutoff switches that not only cut power to the motor, but switch it while actuated into regenerative mode, allowing some motor braking as well.
We were surprised at how close this is to the ST2 line in quality, performance and ride quality. This doesn’t feel like it should cost half of what the flagship bike does. Impressive features, ample power, good looks and great build quality make this a bike worth a look if you want a commuter that will perform well for years.
Though it has impressive range, we’d suggest the standard battery over the upgrade, unless you’re going to add some sort of suspension for longer rides. You simply won’t need the larger battery for commuting, and you’ll save $500.
SPECS: 2017 STROMER ST1 X
MSRP: $4999 ($5499 as tested with 814 Wh battery)
Motor: Cyro drive, 48V 500W rear hub
Battery: 618 Wh (standard), 814 Wh (optional)
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 28 mph (with assist)
Range: 25–75 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano SLX 11-speed, 11-42t
Brakes: Tektro Dorado
Fork: Stromer ST1 X aluminum
Tires: Schwalbe Big Ben Puncture Guard 26×2.15”
Weight: 57 lb.
Color choices: White, charcoal, copper
Sizes: Comfort 17” (up to 178cm,) Sport 17”, Sport 20” (175–188cm), Sport 22” (from 185cm)