LIVING ON THE WILD SIDE
Beyond the legal limit
While we cover all the standard Class 1, 2 and 3 bikes in these pages, as well as electric motorcycles and the fun little scooters, an electric bike buyer’s guide wouldn’t be complete without including those bikes that live outside the traditional realm. We admit, we can’t help ourselves by loving some of the crazier electric bikes that don’t fit into those categories. Many of them are not street-legal because they have too much power and too much speed to be an electric bicycle, but they’re not registrable as a motor vehicle. These can be ridden legally on private property or OHV trails. Many of these are impressive just to look at, and they’re a complete hoot to ride!
Hi Power Cycles makes a lot of great custom bikes for customers. They also make their own production bikes, and the Revolution is their flagship model. It can be customized with a more powerful motor and a bigger battery, and we’ve seen the guys go on rides in the wilderness with solar panels to give them a bit more ride time while they stop for lunch.
Motor: 5000W rear hub motor (option up to 7000W)
Battery: 1290 Wh (option up to 2400 Wh)
Top speed: 50+ mph
Range: 55 miles
Stealth Bikes hails from Melbourne, Australia. Being surrounded by rugged terrain, they make bikes that can conquer the local dirt. The brand was started in 2008 when Stealth’s founder John Karambalis combined his 30 years of engineering, design and off-road experience to create the original Stealth Bomber. The B-52 is an evolution of that bike. You can actually ride this bike almost legally in Eco mode, as it drops the top speed and the output of the hub motor to 1000 watts. We say “almost,” because the legal limit in the U.S. is 750 watts for public roads.
Motor: 6200W rear hub motor
Battery: 2000 Wh
Top speed: 50 mph
Range: Up to 60 miles
Vintage makes bikes that are very beautiful to look at. It’s all in the name; they hearken back to classic motorcycles from earlier in the 20th century, using what appears like an engine to house the battery to completely finish the look. These can be street-legal if you don’t opt for the “race mode” that’s a $149 extra charge at purchase.
Motor: 750W hub motor (3000W “race mode”)
Top speed: 36 mph
Range: 25–50 miles
Talk about an e-bike enjoying some celebrity limelight! The Swind is the infamous bike that TV personality Simon Cowell flipped in his driveway that left him with a broken back. It’s made by British racing company Swindon Powertrain, a company that makes top-secret prototype cars for supercar OEMs and providers. We had one to test and fully understand how it happened. In Mode 1, it’s fairly pedestrian, offering 1000 watts at the back wheel. In Mode 2, it gives 6000 watts at the back wheel, and it’s really difficult to keep the front wheel down. In Mode 3, it offers a ridiculous 15,000 watts at the rear wheel. It is literally the scariest bike we’ve ever tested.
Motor: 15kW rear hub motor
Battery: 1.75 kWh
Top speed: 60 mph (electronically limited)
Range: 15–35 miles