Flashback Friday: The 2019 Stromer ST3 Bike Test
February 2019's Most Popular Bike Review
Stromer ST3 Bike Test
Stromer was founded in 2009 by Thomas Binggeli in Switzerland. The company opened its headquarters in Oberwangen, near Bern, and the entire facility’s energy is provided by solar cells. In fact, every battery that ships with one of their bikes is charged first by solar-derived energy.
In the years since they released the ST1 in 2011, Stromer has kept pace in the commuter category with a string of solidly built bikes that embrace levels of cellular connectivity to allow programming and monitoring. Their flagship last year was the ST2 S, a bike that boasts a nearly 1-kWh battery. We recently went to the launch of the ST5, their new flagship, and asked why there was a gap between the ST2 series and ST5. They said there was room for more models in between. Then a month or so later, the ST3 shows up on
The ST3 has a very Stromer-ish-designed aluminum frame. They all look very similar. Where the ST5 has zero exposed wires and all internal routing, the ST3 has a couple that travel a short path externally from the inside of the brake levers to the stem, then disappears never to be seen again.
The stem has an integrated, very powerful headlight with dim and bright settings. Even the dim setting is bright. On the front of the head tube there’s a distinctive LED daytime running light surrounding a flap that opens to reveal a USB port, should you want to charge your phone from the internal battery. That battery comes in one of two options, both huge. One is 814 Wh, or you can pop for the 983-Wh battery.
The frame/fork color options start with Deep Green for the launch, then black and Cool White will follow shortly after.
Our ST3 test bike rolled on 27.5-inch Alex wheels that were wrapped in some incredible new tires developed for Stromer by Pirelli. We tested these on the ST5 briefly, and they are wonderfully sticky on any surface but still provide low rolling resistance. Interestingly, they work in a range from 27–42 psi. Alloy fenders protect you from splashes and your cargo as well.
An LED light is mounted on the back of the rear fender and serves as a bright running light, as well as an even brighter brake light. The daytime running light on the head tube surrounds a port that offers USB power to charge your phone directly from the bike’s battery.
Ergon grips are on the wide bars for comfort. On the top tube, there’s a touchscreen display. From that screen, you can see your speed, power level, battery remaining and more. If you take a deeper dive into the menus, you can program power settings—from how much power and regeneration is used to how fast the bike responds to torque input (Stromer refers to this as “agility”). You can also see your stats, how many miles you’ve ridden, average speed, average ride and more.
The bike has a number of security features. One of them is the ability to lock the rear wheel so it can’t be moved without picking it up (it’s harder to run away with a heavy bike). You can unlock it with a PIN or with the app. There is a cellular connection built in, so it can contact you if it’s moved, auto-lock the wheel, and has GPS tracking built in to help you find it.
In addition to the multitude of rider-friendly features on the bike, Stromer’s Omni app offers even more. You can program the bike, see stats, check battery health, even remotely lock or unlock it. If you have several friends with similar Stromer bikes, you can have yours flash its lights to find it among them. It will alert you if your bike is disturbed and allow you to use the GPS tracking feature.
We like the Venn diagram showing the changes between power and agility when tuning the settings from the app. They’ve even gamified the whole thing a bit by offering badges and telling you how much of a carbon footprint you’ve saved versus driving a car the same distance.
It has a map to show you where you are or where your bike is, and because it’s all through cellular data, not a Wi-Fi connection (within 150 feet) or Bluetooth (within 33 feet) connection, as long as there’s a cell signal, you can connect to your bike. The app even keeps track of your service records.
Stromer has always relied on powerful hub motors. The most recent generation of their TDCM-developed SYNO Drive runs at 48 volts for faster acceleration and more powerful regeneration. The ST3 uses an even newer version with the SYNO-Drive II, which is rated at a massive 600 watts and 44 N/m of torque. It’s designed to get riders up to 28 mph quickly.
Regeneration is actuated by simply applying the brakes. The level of regeneration can be set in the menu, and higher levels mean greater braking. It helps save your brakes and can put some power back in the battery, but don’t get too excited. We’ve rarely seen a palpable amount of energy regenerated, even on really big descents, using regeneration.
The included charger can charge the battery in 4–5 hours. One of our favorite features about this is that it has Stromer’s name on it. Most consumers won’t care, but when you have 10-plus bikes at a time, the various chargers can be harder to discern.
The stock battery is 814 Wh, with an option for a 983 Wh battery at a $900 premium. The range on these is huge, with claimed and observed range of around 100 miles at the top end.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This bike is designed to be good for commuters or touring who want the best technology and desire a high level of security and connectivity. Commuters will like the range for the fact that they can likely charge the bike once a week, and distance riders will love that they can use as much or as little power as they want and still go far. As an added security feature, it can be remotely locked and/or tracked if stolen.
For our first ride, we didn’t adjust any of the settings. We left it bone stock and set off down the road. The assist is really subtle at first; it doesn’t feel like you’re going to be able to push this thing easily to its top speed. That’s deceiving, though, because when the torque sensor feels you push harder, the bike accelerates like a supercar! It feels like the acceleration will never end. With most speed pedelecs, it’s easier to cruise at 25 mph than it is at 28 because the power drops off so severely. With the ST3, it was so subtle, and there was really no drag when it fully stopped assisting that we didn’t notice.
Overall power delivery is so well-set that you really don’t notice it coming on or cutting out. Stromer has done an amazing job with programming this bike. We did try the different power and torque sensor settings, and we think the factory settings are the best.
Owing to the aluminum frame and fork set, bumpy roads are less forgiving. Even with the high-volume Pirellis, which offer some relief from the cracks in the pavement, plenty of energy still makes its way to you.
The spartan Ergon saddle is no help in this department. It’s comfortable enough if you have a short commute to work, but for anything longer, it will give you a sore butt. We’d suggest a suspension seatpost, which you’d want to factor in to frame sizing if you’re going to buy one. While you’re there, consider being properly fitted with a saddle.
We tried the walk mode, which helps if you have to walk the bike up a hill. It’s easy to get to in the menus (Stromer calls it “Move”), and it propels the bike at an almost brisk walking pace, less brisk on a steeper hill.
We liked geeking out on all the controls and telemetry, but we’re not sure all Stromer customers will be as nerdy or even need all those controls. If you’re like us, the combination of the app and the menus on the bike are a lot of fun, but at the end of the day we always reverted to the factory settings. The stats, on the other hand, can be useful.
As for the Pirelli Cycl-e tires, they’re our new favorites on pavement. We hear they’re made partly from recycled car tires. They went through quite a bit of prototyping to get them just right for Stromer. They should be out soon for other bikes too. At about $100 apiece they aren’t cheap, but they’re definitely worth it for the ride quality and handling. We tested it on dry pavement, wet pavement, slippery beach paths and anything else we could find, and they make the bike corner like it’s on rails!
Overall, we love this bike as a commuter. It has long-distance capabilities, but we’d suggest putting a suspension seatpost and a comfortable saddle that’s been fitted properly. With the impressive range this bike has with the “smaller” 814-Wh battery, we’d recommend saving the $900 over the bigger powerplant unless you really travel long distances. If you love high-tech devices with lots of controls and connectivity, this is a great choice. If you lean more towards the Luddite end of the scale, you may find this bike to have an overwhelming array of options.
2019 STROMER ST3
Price: $7500 (814Wh), $8400 (983Wh battery)
Motor: Stromer SYNO-Drive II, 820W
Battery: 48V, 814 Wh or 983 Wh
Charge time: 4–5 hours
Top speed: 28 mph
Range: 30–110 miles
Drive: Shimano XT, 1×11, 11-42T
Brakes: Stromer HD942 by TRP, hydraulic disc
Tires: 27.5” Pirelli Cycl-e ST for Stromer
Weight: 66.4 lb.
Color choices: Deep Green, black, Cool White
Sizes: M, L, XL (sport), M (Comfort/step-through)
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