One main draw of #vanlife is the pursuit of unbridled exploration. However customized vans and RVs appropriate for prolonged off-grid dwelling are typically hulking monstrosities that may be tough to maneuver in tight areas. Meaning 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 not too long ago took a brand new $2,195 / €2,699 (a value that features the tax) “Agave Inexperienced” Super73-ZX dwelling for assessment 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 means of northern Europe. The Ducato is small by RV requirements however nonetheless measures 6 meters (nearly 20 ft) lengthy and weighs almost 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 notably stoked regardless of seeing dozens of one of the best e-bikes on the planet go by means of our dwelling for assessment. However solely the Super73 elicited an precise squeal of enjoyment, so profitable has the corporate been in advertising and marketing its California-cool mystique to her highschool demographic. Not even my subsequent demonstration of the “poop shovel” we’d be sharing on the journey may dampen her enthusiasm.
I took supply of the Ducato, drove it dwelling, and rapidly 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 sophisticated relationship with the Super73-ZX.
I like the Super73-ZX, however I additionally hate it for quite a lot of causes I’ll get into later.
Super73 as a model has plain 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 nice 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 marvel Justin Bieber, Casey Neistat, and different celebrities and influencers grew to become such keen ambassadors for the model.
However Super73 was gradual 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, City 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 over the past 18 months or so, ridden largely by teenagers. In reality, after I went to select up my assessment bike from Super73’s European HQ throughout city, I observed that each one three customers required the accompaniment of a mum or dad. Teenage ladies dictate developments the world over, and my daughter says that Super73 is by far the popular e-bike model amongst her associates 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. These fats sturdy tires and aggressive stance attraction to the adventurous man-child I’ve grow to be.
The big 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 as long as their mixed weight is lower than 147kg / 324 kilos. My daughter loves using associates round on the again, legs splayed to keep away from shifting components since my assessment 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 marvel — and sure, envy — in any respect the fuss being revamped Super73 e-bikes within the US. Right here in Europe, firms like VanMoof, Cowboy, and Stromer have been slowly perfecting the commuter e-bike constructed round conventional diamond frames. So I got here into this assessment anticipating the identical degree of refinement from Super73, which has been round since 2016.
Sadly, that’s not what I discovered in any respect.
Hate is a powerful phrase, however Super73 is an emotional model, so I believe it’s becoming to explain the ZX’s many disappointments.
The ZX seems unbelievable from a distance, however the phantasm is shattered upon nearer inspection. The mess of exterior cables routed alongside the skin of the aluminum body and held in place by cable ties is without doubt one of the first issues I observed. I can overlook such brute-force design on a $1,000 white-label Chinese language e-bike however not from such a longtime, stylish, and well-funded model as Super73! A couple of cables ended up getting snagged in the course of the journey, inflicting a number of the ties to snap creating an excellent larger threat of cable snags. Not good.
The ZX can be fitted with Tecktro mechanical disc brakes, not pricier hydraulic brakes, that are extra dependable and supply higher modulation. That’s stunning 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 through 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.
Within 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 may 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 preserve e-bikes restricted to 250W and a prime pace of 25km/h. Mode 2 will increase the max pace to 37km/h, mode 3 to 40km/h, and at last 45km/h for mode 4 by tapping all 2000 watts of peak energy produced by the rear-hub motor. Super73 allows you to additional refine the pedal-assisted energy in 25 p.c increments of no matter Experience Mode you’re in. (See the sidebar in the event you’re curious about a rant concerning the off-road mode.)
The pace override could be discovered underneath the Automobile menu within the Super73 app. However Super73 doesn’t make its personal app; as a substitute, it farms the work out to Comodule, which implies it’s the identical fundamental app you’ll discover governing e-bikes from dozens of different manufacturers. The app’s consumer agreements embody 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 Experience Mode don’t match Super73’s own guidance on the matter. The app works effective, however there’s nothing distinctive right here; no Super73 flare or added worth. Nonetheless, I do just like the app’s capacity to offer easy turn-by-turn steerage through 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 idea make the experience extra pure by matching energy delivered to the pedals to the facility I exert from my legs. As an alternative the experience produced by the noisy motor is deeply unintuitive, particularly when using in any of the quicker “off-road” modes since Europe doesn’t permit for throttles on this class of e-bikes. Something above 25km/h and also you’re simply pedaling for present by spinning your legs with none resistance in any respect.
Low-speed torque manufacturing can be abysmal. So, in the event you haven’t downshifted earlier than coming to a cease you’re going to battle to get shifting once more, particularly in the event you’ve stopped on any incline or have a passenger in tow. You may’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 a lot torque the ZX produces and wouldn’t present a quantity when requested.
There have been a number of occasions over the past three weeks within the Fiat Ducato the place I’d cease on unfamiliar dust roads to seize my bike with a view to experience forward on scouting missions. The very last thing I wished was to get trapped in a spot the place turning my 20-foot rig round wasn’t potential. Sadly, for these missions I needed to depend upon my mountain bike because the Super73-ZX was too heavy to securely 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). Though it solely took about 5 minutes (and two folks) to unpack (and repack) the ZX from contained in the Ducato’s “storage,” my mountain bike was out there in seconds from the exterior bike rack.
Regardless of its low profile, the Super73-ZX isn’t as compact because it seems in photos. The ZX’s handlebars do fold comparatively flat after loosening 4 bolts. However the 2 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, often hung off the tow bar. And in the event you’re available in the market for a Super73, make certain the provider can accommodate fats tires and that you simply’ve received anti-theft answer discovered as a result of the ZX attracts consideration.
Whereas I can’t begrudge the ZX for not becoming an ordinary 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.
Everybody nonetheless cherished it although — and weirdly, so did I. It’s simply a lot enjoyable.
Regardless of my criticisms, the Super73-ZX is undeniably enjoyable to experience and to be seen using. A lot enjoyable that I’d neglect about all of the aforementioned points.
The Super73-ZX was such a pleasure to make use of for exploration each time we reached our locations. It proved to be an indispensible car that would simply and rapidly take me locations my campervan couldn’t.
The motor helped to flatten hills as long as you approached them with pace, and people LZRD tires designed for cornering on asphalt nonetheless supplied respectable traction on packed sand, free dust, and gravel. The ZX’s fats 20×4.5-inch (entrance) and 20×5.0-inch (rear) tires absorbed bumps so effectively that I can’t think about getting a lot worth out of paying for the elective front-fork suspension package deal.
The Super73 rapidly grew to become my household’s most popular 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 classy solution to enter cities and villages with a view to fill up on groceries, usually 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. Every little thing’s far more enjoyable with two on the bike, even after we needed to get off to push it a bit of.
- 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 break 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. Each the vary and the cost time are consistent with Super73’s claims.
- I used to be in a position to experience my pedal-assisted (no throttle) ZX at a sustained 45km/h (28mph) most pace in Experience Mode 4 as reported by the e-bike itself, however solely a slight downhill. My watch, nevertheless, reported 42km/h (26mph). On flats the ZX maxed out at 43km/h (27mph).
- The ZX’s motor and fats tires mix to provide a really noisy experience in comparison with most commuter e-bikes. That may be 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 variety of attention-grabbing equipment to personalize your experience with a Southern California fashion. These embody surfboard racks and coloured bike chains, however most aren’t out there in Europe but.
- The European ZX ships with a lightweight package deal, bell, and mudguards, however no throttle. It additionally doesn’t include a series guard, which is normal on the US mannequin, leading to greater than few greasy trouser smears when using on bumpy roads.
- Super73 suffers from a scarcity of consideration to element. The web site reviews a distinct max capability than a label pasted onto the bike (I’m informed the true quantity is 147kg / 324 kilos), the app reviews completely different most speeds than the website, the EU web site reviews an 8-speed equipment as a substitute of a 10-speed equipment my EU-based ZX was delivered with, and the app’s phrases and situations nonetheless embody placeholder textual content for the corporate’s location and phone data (which I’m informed is at the moment being addressed).
- The ZX received three new colorways not too long ago: Panthro Blue, Agave Inexperienced, and… Ron Burgundy, which is simply excellent 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 exhibits pace, vary, pedal help energy, and complete distance traveled. It’s flanked on the left by two bodily buttons that allow you to step by means of the pedal help ranges and switch the lights on and off. On the precise is the mode button. The ability button is situated on the battery.
I transported the Super73-ZX over 2,200 miles throughout 5 nations seeking journey. By no means has an e-bike felt so at dwelling in so many locations. Whether or not conspicuously parked outdoors of SOHO Home in Amsterdam, bombing down grassy hills in Sweden, scouting campsites alongside unmarked dust roads in Denmark, or trying to find the subsequent nice kite spot on distant seashores in Norway, the ZX was a wonderful scout bike that all the time delivered with a smile.
For those who’ve ever really cherished somebody, then you definately’ve most likely discovered moments the place you hated them and their annoying methods with proportional vigor. That is my relationship with the Super73-ZX. It’s not probably the most refined e-bike you’ll discover for the worth, but it surely expresses California fashion so enjoyably that you simply may not even care.
All images by Thomas Ricker / The Verge