STROMER ST5 ABS
Everything an urban e-bike can be—for a price
Photos: Bill Roberson
We all have a list of the features we’d like to see on a fantasy e-bike, and “fantasy” may be a good description of the Stromer ST5 ABS, a burly, tech-laden e-bike that’s ready to take on all comers in terms of power, features and aesthetics. Making fantasies come true isn’t cheap—at least for e-bikes—and the ST5 ABS will set you back $10,800 for the base bike. But, is it worth it? We decided to find out!
The ST5 ABS is a Class 3 e-bike based on the existing ST5 from 2018, but it adds in actual anti-lock braking (“ABS”) tech for the front wheel, along with some other improvements. From a distance, the ST5 looks like a traditional bicycle with a standard dual-triangle frame, rigid forks and hardtail rear end. But, get close, and it still looks pretty traditional, albeit in a very burly (74-pound), over-built way. It’s only when riding do you get an inkling for how remarkable the ST5 ABS is.
The ST5 ABS is based around a stout 6061 aluminum box-section standard frame. A 983Wh battery sits flush in the lower frame spar, and it is removable via an electronic release on the bike’s touchscreen. The ST5 is powered by a large SYNO Sport hub motor, putting out 650 watts of power, with an 850-watt peak capability. It makes 48 N/m, or 35 pound-feet, of torque, and that output is smoothed by a torque sensor, accelerometer and an incline sensor. A Shimano XTR 11-speed rear cassette and Di2 electric shifter are controlled by two electric push-buttons on the right handlebar. The front and rear 203mm rotors are gripped by ruby-red TPR brakes with four-piston calipers. In addition to a (ridiculously overpriced) $900 suspension fork option, there is also $245 suspension seatpost option also available.
The 2.4-inch-wide Pirelli Cycle-E e-bike tires ride on 27.5-inch DT Swiss rims, and our review bike included metal fenders and a small rear rack. The welds on the frame have been buffed to shine, and there are few exposed cables since everything is routed though the frame or handlebars.
“The Stromer ST5 ABS is that rare vehicle that imparts complete confidence while riding within its expected performance envelope—and then extends that confidence far beyond what is expected.”
Stromer has integrated a pressure-sensitive backlit LCD touchscreen into the frame’s top tube, and most bike settings are duplicated in the OMNI app. The bike’s location can also be tracked via cell networks and GPS. The app allows owners to remotely initiate “electronic motor locking.” If the bike is moved while in lock mode, a text or e-mail is dispatched and an alarm will also sound. Once set up, the ST5 will unlock when you approach with your phone and lock when you leave it. There are no physical keys, and the app also pushes OTA updates of the bike’s firmware.
The ST5 includes battery-power regeneration capability (Stromer calls it “Recup”), and the regen level is settable across five levels including zero. There’s an electric horn rather than a bell, and the left bar-pod buttons for headlight mode and assist level are backlit, which is a nice touch. A Supernova M99 headlight with a 1600-lumen high beam is complemented by a horseshoe of DLR LEDs around a cover on the front of the frame that hides a USB port. A bright five-LED taillight rides out back. Another cover on the top of the stem reveals a cell-phone-mount base—just add the correct holder for your handset.
Last, there’s the ABS system by Brubrake, but it’s only on the front wheel of the ST5 ABS. The system’s brains are ensconced in the frame, and it uses a slotted ring/sensor setup similar to what is found on many motorcycle ABS systems. If the bike is powered off, the brakes will operate as normal but without ABS.
The SYNO Sport hub motor has an output of 650 watts of power with an 850-watt peak capability and 48 N/m (or 35 pound-feet) of torque. The motor also works in reverse and charges the battery when coasting and braking. Stromer says they favor a hub motor format rather than a mid-drive for increased efficiency, low noise levels and overall simplicity.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Stromer ST5 ABS is for the e-bike rider unwilling to compromise on features and performance—weight be damned. At $10,000-plus, it’s not an impulse buy, but that said, the high cost can also be rationalized with use. The ST5 ABS is a viable replacement for a car in an urban setting. Add panniers and a backpack, load it up with groceries and other bits, and the powerful motor and big brakes can easily handle it all, hills included. It will take a lot of riding to offset the gas and vehicle costs for the price of the ST5 ABS, but the good news is that you’ll likely never tire of riding this hugely capable and comfortable e-bike, so the savings can add up.
Starting off pedaling with assist power set to level one (of four), we were immediately impressed with the power emanating from the rear hub. Again, this is a Class 3 e-bike with no throttle for free-wheeling, so when it came to the first steep hill, a quick click to level three, and downshift powered the bike up the hill at 24 mph—nearly the same speed as the car traffic. It didn’t feel, or sound, like the ST5 was even breaking a sweat. The bike is essentially silent save for a slight whir, which is quickly smothered by tire noise. Riding position is mountain bike aggressive, with wide handlebars and a sporting gel seat.
The Stromer gave us our first chance to test the ABS brakes from Brubrake when cut off by a car in traffic. After dropping anchor on the brakes, the rear wheel locked instantly, but the front wheel kept turning despite my death grip on the brake lever. Impressively, the ST5 squealed and skidded to a controlled stop literally inches away from the car’s door, the occupant clearly bracing for impact. But, that’s what ABS brakes are designed to do—save us from ourselves when we instinctively pop into self-preservation mode while at the controls of a vehicle. Kudos to Stromer and Brubrake for offering riders this next step in cycling safety.
Changing gears on the ST5 is the bicycle equivalent of using dual-clutch paddle shifters in a sports car. The Shimano Di2 electric shifter is blink-fast, very accurate and nearly silent, even ratcheting through multiple gears. Eleven gears on an e-bike may seem unnecessary but it affords many advantages, especially on steep hills where I wanted some out-of-the-saddle, granny-gear climbing action with minimal assist, and then some high-speed top gear cranking on the downhill side.
Going 40-plus on most bicycles would result in some serious twitch, but not on the ST5, which tracked straight and true. The ST5 has a solid, controlled feeling at speed, more like a lightweight Supermoto-type motorcycle than a bicycle. The plump Schwalbe tires had good grip, and aired down a bit it provided some “suspension” over small pavement irregularities.
The ST5 ABS feels like it could do freeway speeds even on steep-enough hill. Despite the high speeds, the ST5 ABS only gives pedal assist within the Class 3 parameters, topping out at 28 mph (in the U.S.). But, it can get there in a big hurry, with acceleration and power on par with some other perhaps not-so-legal-minded e-bikes we’ve tested. The key difference is the rock-solid composure and seemingly military-spec precision of every system on the ST5 ABS. The Stromer ST5 ABS is that rare vehicle that imparts complete confidence while riding within its expected performance envelope—and then extends that confidence far beyond expectations.
The proprietary handlebar and stem limit customization options, and if the LCD panel was located on the handlebars instead of the top tube, it would help keep riders’ eyes on the road.
The Stromer ST5 ABS is an e-bike most anyone can ride in comfort every day, whether it’s a fun neighborhood jaunt or a trip to the store to fill panniers with groceries. It works very effectively as a car (or motorcycle or scooter) replacement in town. Sure, it would take years for it to “pay for itself,” but riders can also expect years of enjoyment from this stout, stylish and highly capable e-bike. At over $10,000, the ST5 ABS is undeniably expensive. This is not an e-bike that is pretending to be a regular bicycle or some lightweight electric miracle. It’s big, fast, strong, heavy and unapologetically capable, yet it’s also very clearly not a wanna-be electric motorcycle. Stromer has literally checked every box a serious urban e-bike rider might have for their dream bike (and in case you might have some leftover cash) and still left some options open for upgrades.
STROMER ST5 ABS
Rear shock: Hardtail
Motor: SYNO Sport, 650 watts nominal, 850-watt peak, 48 N/m (35 pound-feet) of torque
Battery: 983 Wh as tested
Controls: 4 assist levels, 5 regen levels, hi/lo beam headlight, LCD touchscreen, app
Charge time: 5.5 hours to 100% from empty
Top speed: 28 mph with assist
Range: 110 miles/180 km with minimum assist
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR 11-speed rear cassette, Shimano Di2 electric shifting
Brakes: Stromer HD944 4-piston hydraulic, 203mm discs, ABS on front
Saddle: Ergon SMC40 with sport gel, made custom for the ST5
Dropper post: Suspension post is optional
Rims: DT Swiss 27.5in. Branded for Stromer
Tires: Pirelli Cycle-E 57-584
Weight: 74 pounds
Color choice: Granite Grey only
Sizes: Medium, large, extra large