One main draw of #vanlife is the pursuit of unbridled exploration. But customized vans and RVs appropriate for prolonged off-grid residing are inclined to be hulking monstrosities that can be tough to maneuver in tight areas. That means bringing alongside an alternate mode of transportation like an e-bike to scout the viability of unpaved roads and to discover close by cities unsuitable for giant autos.
I lately took a brand new $2,195 / €2,699 (a price that includes the tax) “Agave Green” Super73-ZX house for evaluate from the corporate’s European HQ in Amsterdam. I examined the e-bike as each a metropolis bike and scout for the Fiat Ducato campervan I had rented for a three-week kitesurfing journey with my household by northern Europe. The Ducato is small by RV requirements however nonetheless measures 6 meters (virtually 20 ft) lengthy and weighs practically three tons. Since most of my locations required journey down poorly mapped dust roads, I had loads of alternatives to check the Super73-ZX on quite a lot of terrain.
My 13-year-old daughter was significantly stoked regardless of seeing dozens of the perfect e-bikes on the earth move by our house for evaluate. But solely the Super73 elicited an precise squeal of enjoyment, so profitable has the corporate been in advertising its California-cool mystique to her highschool demographic. Not even my subsequent demonstration of the “poop shovel” we’d be sharing on the journey might dampen her enthusiasm.
I took supply of the Ducato, drove it house, and shortly realized the bike rack fitted to the again doorways wouldn’t maintain the heavy e-bike and its tremendous fats tires. And thus started my difficult relationship with the Super73-ZX.
I love the Super73-ZX, however I additionally hate it for quite a lot of causes I’ll get into later.
Super73 as a model has simple swagger, and I admit to being swayed by the mysterious forces that dictate vogue. Super73’s aesthetics start with firm co-founder and CEO Legrand Crewse. I met “the great cruise” at a commerce present again in April, the place we commiserated on the challenges of promoting e-bikes into the extremely regulated EU market. He’s a strolling speaking SoCal vibe with lengthy unkempt hair, a blinding white smile, broad shoulders, and an off-the-cuff demeanor. No surprise Justin Bieber, Casey Neistat, and different celebrities and influencers turned such keen ambassadors for the model.
But Super73 was sluggish to embrace Europe. And as soon as it did arrange store, the corporate bumped into pandemic-related provide points that allowed manufacturers like Doppio, Knaap, Urban Drivestyle, and numerous different imitators to fill the void. Anecdotally talking, I’ve seen an enormous inflow of Super73-style e-bikes flooding Amsterdam streets during the last 18 months or so, ridden largely by teenagers. In truth, once I went to choose up my evaluate bike from Super73’s European HQ throughout city, I observed that every one three buyers required the accompaniment of a father or mother. Teenage ladies dictate traits the world over, and my daughter says that Super73 is by far the popular e-bike model amongst her buddies in Europe’s bicycling capital.
From a distance, there’s one thing completely nostalgic about that lengthy banana seat and low-slung body that speaks to me, or least to my inside 10-year-old and his sparkly green Schwinn Stingray. Those fats sturdy tires and aggressive stance attraction to the adventurous man-child I’ve turn out to be.
The giant and supremely comfy seat is actually a significant motive for Super73’s attraction. The ZX can accommodate riders between 4 ft 11 inches and 6 ft 7 inches (1.5m and 2m) tall and simply handles two full-grown adults so lengthy as their mixed weight is lower than 147kg / 324 kilos. My daughter loves using buddies round on the again, legs splayed to keep away from transferring elements since my evaluate bike wasn’t fitted with the elective rear foot pegs. I particularly loved using with my spouse sitting facet saddle on the seat in entrance of me, cradled safely in my arms (it’s extremely romantic and very Dutch).
For years I’ve watched in surprise — and sure, envy — in any respect the fuss being remodeled Super73 e-bikes within the US. Here in Europe, corporations like VanMoof, Cowboy, and Stromer have been slowly perfecting the commuter e-bike constructed round conventional diamond frames. So I got here into this evaluate anticipating the identical stage of refinement from Super73, which has been round since 2016.
Unfortunately, that’s not what I discovered in any respect.
Hate is a robust phrase, however Super73 is an emotional model, so I believe it’s becoming to explain the ZX’s many disappointments.
The ZX appears to be like unbelievable from a distance, however the phantasm is shattered upon nearer inspection. The mess of exterior cables routed alongside the surface of the aluminum body and held in place by cable ties is among the first issues I observed. I can overlook such brute-force design on a $1,000 white-label Chinese e-bike however not from such a longtime, fashionable, and well-funded model as Super73! A number of cables ended up getting snagged through the journey, inflicting among the ties to snap creating a good higher danger of cable snags. Not good.
The ZX can also be fitted with Tecktro mechanical disc brakes, not pricier hydraulic brakes, that are extra dependable and present higher modulation. That’s shocking given how simple the corporate makes it to override native US and EU legal guidelines by placing the bike right into a so-called “off road” or “unlimited” ride mode by way of a easy slider within the Super73 app. The rider should faucet the display to just accept legal responsibility for selecting the extra highly effective modes, which is a poor substitute for higher brakes.
In the US, the ZX ships within the completely authorized Class-2 (mode 2), which permits for throttle operation and pedal-assisted using as much as 20mph. It can be decreased to Class-1 (mode 1) within the app or raised to the generally authorized Class-3 (mode 3) for speeds as much as 28mph. The limitless off-road setting (mode 4) lets the bike go beyond 28mph and isn’t authorized on any public highway. In Europe, solely the throttle-less mode 1 is authorized because it complies with laws that maintain e-bikes restricted to 250W and a high velocity of 25km/h. Mode 2 will increase the max velocity to 37km/h, mode 3 to 40km/h, and lastly 45km/h for mode 4 by tapping all 2000 watts of peak energy produced by the rear-hub motor. Super73 permits you to additional refine the pedal-assisted energy in 25 p.c increments of no matter Ride Mode you’re in. (See the sidebar for those who’re fascinated with a rant concerning the off-road mode.)
The velocity override can be discovered below the Vehicle menu within the Super73 app. But Super73 doesn’t make its personal app; as an alternative, it farms the work out to Comodule, which implies it’s the identical primary app you’ll discover governing e-bikes from dozens of different manufacturers. The app’s person agreements embrace weird placeholder textual content in locations that ought to say “Super73” (which the corporate is addressing after I knowledgeable them) and the utmost speeds listed for every Ride Mode don’t match Super73’s own guidance on the matter. The app works wonderful, however there’s nothing distinctive right here; no Super73 flare or added worth. However, I do just like the app’s skill to supply easy turn-by-turn steering by way of arrow indicators on the ZX’s small however efficient monochrome show mounted on the left facet of the handlebars.
The Super73-ZX lacks a torque sensor which might in concept make the journey extra pure by matching energy delivered to the pedals to the facility I exert from my legs. Instead the journey produced by the noisy motor is deeply unintuitive, particularly when using in any of the sooner “off-road” modes since Europe doesn’t permit for throttles on this class of e-bikes. Anything above 25km/h and you’re simply pedaling for present by spinning your legs with none resistance in any respect.
Low-speed torque manufacturing can also be abysmal. So, for those who haven’t downshifted earlier than coming to a cease you’re going to wrestle to get transferring once more, particularly for those who’ve stopped on any incline or have a passenger in tow. You can’t stand as much as mash down on the pedals both due to the bike’s geometry. The answer is to hop off and run alongside the e-bike to push begin it. Super73 doesn’t publish how much torque the ZX produces and wouldn’t present a quantity when requested.
There had been a number of occasions during the last three weeks within the Fiat Ducato the place I’d cease on unfamiliar dust roads to seize my bike with a view to journey forward on scouting missions. The very last thing I needed was to get trapped in a spot the place turning my 20-foot rig round wasn’t potential. Unfortunately, for these missions I needed to depend on my mountain bike for the reason that Super73-ZX was too heavy to soundly stick with it the bike rack fitted to the doorways of my campervan rental, even with the battery eliminated. At 31kg (68 kilos), it’s heavy for an e-bike with most European commuter e-bikes hovering round 20kg (45 kilos). Although it solely took about 5 minutes (and two folks) to unpack (and repack) the ZX from contained in the Ducato’s “garage,” my mountain bike was accessible in seconds from the exterior bike rack.
Despite its low profile, the Super73-ZX isn’t as compact because it seems in photographs. The ZX’s handlebars do fold comparatively flat after loosening 4 bolts. But the two foot 7 inch (79cm) seat peak proved to be too tall to suit the e-bike contained in the Ducato’s storage with out first elevating the van’s folding mattress. That meant having to remake the mattress after every journey day which I’m not a fan of.
Lesson realized: suit your van with a heavy-duty bike provider rated for e-bikes, normally hung off the tow bar. And for those who’re out there for a Super73, make certain the provider can accommodate fats tires and that you simply’ve acquired a superb anti-theft answer found out as a result of the ZX attracts consideration.
While I can’t begrudge the ZX for not becoming a regular bike rack fitted to a rental, I actually hate its lack of refinement. All my relations shared related complaints, even my two boys (19 and 21) who flew in for every week to affix us.
Everyone nonetheless beloved it although — and weirdly, so did I. It’s simply so much fun.
Despite my criticisms, the Super73-ZX is undeniably fun to journey and to be seen using. So much fun that I’d neglect about all of the aforementioned points.
The Super73-ZX was such a pleasure to make use of for exploration every time we reached our locations. It proved to be an indispensible automobile that might simply and shortly take me locations my campervan couldn’t.
The motor helped to flatten hills so lengthy as you approached them with velocity, and these LZRD tires designed for cornering on asphalt nonetheless offered first rate traction on packed sand, unfastened dust, and gravel. The ZX’s fats 20×4.5-inch (entrance) and 20×5.0-inch (rear) tires absorbed bumps so nicely that I can’t think about getting much worth out of paying for the elective front-fork suspension package deal.
The Super73 shortly turned my household’s most well-liked mode of transport to discover the native space to seek for surf and fishing spots and wild campsites. It was additionally probably the most easy and fashionable technique to enter cities and villages with a view to fill up on groceries, typically some 5 to 10 miles away from our campsites.
And using two-up was such a pleasure that it makes me wish to abandon conventional diamond-framed e-bikes ceaselessly. Everything’s far more fun with two on the bike, even once we needed to get off to push it a little bit.
- I managed 27 miles (44km) earlier than the 615Wh detachable (and lockable) battery died after using solely within the most pedal help setting (4 of 4) and what I’d estimate to be a 60/20/20 p.c cut up of my time using in modes 1 / 3 / 4, respectively, with two passengers 25 p.c of the time. The battery charged from zero to full in 4.5 hours utilizing the 3A charger. Both the vary and the cost time are according to Super73’s claims.
- I used to be in a position to journey my pedal-assisted (no throttle) ZX at a sustained 45km/h (28mph) most velocity in Ride Mode 4 as reported by the e-bike itself, however solely a slight downhill. My watch, nonetheless, reported 42km/h (26mph). On flats the ZX maxed out at 43km/h (27mph).
- The ZX’s motor and fats tires mix to supply a really noisy journey in comparison with most commuter e-bikes. That can be a superb factor within the metropolis because it publicizes your presence from behind as you overtake others on bike lanes. It’s not so good within the nonetheless of nature.
- Super73 sells a wide range of fascinating equipment to personalize your journey with a Southern California fashion. These embrace surfboard racks and colored bike chains, however most aren’t accessible in Europe but.
- The European ZX ships with a light-weight package deal, bell, and mudguards, however no throttle. It additionally doesn’t include a sequence guard, which is commonplace on the US mannequin, leading to greater than few greasy trouser smears when using on bumpy roads.
- Super73 suffers from an absence of consideration to element. The web site stories a distinct max capability than a label pasted onto the bike (I’m advised the true quantity is 147kg / 324 kilos), the app stories totally different most speeds than the website, the EU web site stories an 8-speed package as an alternative of a 10-speed package my EU-based ZX was delivered with, and the app’s phrases and circumstances nonetheless embrace placeholder textual content for the corporate’s location and contact info (which I’m advised is at present being addressed).
- The ZX acquired three new colorways lately: Panthro Blue, Agave Green, and… Ron Burgundy, which is simply good from this SoCal firm.
- The show and on-bike controls are easy however efficient. The round LCD on the left facet of the handlebars is seen in all lighting and reveals velocity, vary, pedal help energy, and complete distance traveled. It’s flanked on the left by two bodily buttons that allow you to step by the pedal help ranges and flip the lights on and off. On the correct is the mode button. The energy button is positioned on the battery.
I transported the Super73-ZX over 2,200 miles throughout 5 international locations looking for journey. Never has an e-bike felt so at house in so many locations. Whether conspicuously parked outdoors of SOHO House in Amsterdam, bombing down grassy hills in Sweden, scouting campsites alongside unmarked dust roads in Denmark, or looking for the following nice kite spot on distant seashores in Norway, the ZX was a superb scout bike that all the time delivered with a smile.
If you’ve ever really beloved somebody, then you definately’ve most likely discovered moments the place you hated them and their annoying methods with proportional vigor. This is my relationship with the Super73-ZX. It’s not probably the most refined e-bike you’ll discover for the worth, nevertheless it expresses California fashion so enjoyably that you simply won’t even care.
All pictures by Thomas Ricker / The Verge