Stromer ST1 Review - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Gus

Active Member
3/12/14 - Update
3/22/14 - Update
4/11/14 - Update


2200 Mile Update Summary _____________________________________________
I now have over 2200 miles (3540 km for you metric folks :)). My Stromer has now been through the end of a freezing winter, spring, and now almost through the Summer. The hottest day ridden was 98F and I never had an issue with overheating, so the bike has shown to perform fine through -5F to 98F.

In a word, the Stromer is a workhorse. I am so glad I got the big, beefy tank for commuting compared to the lighter, smaller eBikes like the Turbo or Neo Race. My commute is filled with nasty stuff. Pot holes, gravel, glass ridden shoulders, off road trails, construction zones, limestone paths, and a$$hole drivers. There is a building under construction that I have to ride by every day and the road is always filled with rocks, loose gravel, mud, and misc metal crap that fell of the trucks. I would be white-knuckling-scared-out-my-mind on skinny tires. The Stromer just barrels through it all without skipping a beat. The other day I was in an offroad section of trails where the grass is so overgrown I cannot see what is on the ground. I rode over a glass bottle. The bottle didn't shatter but did result in a heck of a thud as I rolled over it @ 10 mph. The bike was completely stable. I have had a bunch of instances like this where I was glad I picked a bike that was more mountain bike than road bike.

I am really surprised with how well the Big Ben tires are holding up. I rotate them every 1000 miles and there are no signs that I'll need to replace them anytime soon. Tons of thread depth left.

Mechanical/Electrical/Performance issues:

  • MAJOR: Had to replace the rear freewheel. The knocking sound that I refer to in my UGLY section was resolved with a freewheel replacement.
  • MINOR: Had one spoke loosen around 1800 miles that made some funny noises until it was tightened.
  • MINOR: 2 Flats. Installed Mr. Tuffy tire liners and have not had a flat since *fingers-crossed*
  • MINOR: The Regen mode does not activate all the time. This appears to be random but sometimes when I depress the right brake, it never switches to regen mode. I cycle the power and it starts to work. This started to creep up around the 2000 mile mark. Its so random it would be difficult to repeat & diagnose right now, so I'll just wait and see with this one.
  • MINOR: Again, randomly, after I power up and start riding something just isn't right with the power delivery to the motor. It's like its not running at full power or continuous power. If I stop, power off, and power back on again - its fine. This happens about once every 50 rides or so. I am never on the pedals during power up, so that is not a factor.
  • MINOR: My rear brake started howling like a dying cat again so I elected to change the brake pads. Bought some Jagwire MT2 brake pads and these babies are quiet as a church mouse right out of the box. No break-in period necessary. Time will tell how they hold up.....

    (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)
    http://jagwire.com/products/v/magura
______________________________________________________
(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)
So I have been riding Stromer St1 Elite's and Platinum's a lot over the past several months to research a possible purchase. As the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos ;-), I travel a lot for work, so this gives me an opportunity to find the local bike shops in the area to see what they have. After all this research, despite finding several problems with the ST1, I ended up buying an ST1 Elite w/14.5 ah battery.

Why the Elite?
I use this bike for commuting 165 miles per week. This is its only purpose. It’s carrying my 170 lbs + ~15 lbs of gear every day. I have lots of stop lights. So, the low end torque from a dead stop fit my application better. Where I live, eBikes are legal as long as they stay under 20mph and stay off the sidewalks. So, the legality of the Platinum is a problem. Most will just remove the “Use Off-Road Only” sticker and use it on normal roads. My main concern is if you get into an accident you may be in major trouble since you were not supposed to have that bike on the road in the first place. Even if a car hits you and they are completely at fault, if you are riding an illegal vehicle on public roads, police & lawyers may see things a bit differently. This was not worth the risk for a few more mph.

NOTES: All notes (in black) regarding my ST1 have been in cold weather < 32F, so the expected miles per charge is expected to improve dramatically once it warms up. Battery performance takes a major hit in cold temps.
With the temperatures now getting above freezing (40-50F), I am getting about 20-30% more range compared to when temps were 20F or below.

GOOD:
  • On the Elite, on flat ground and not carrying anything I have no problem maintaining 23-24 mph at my typical cadence and pedal force levels that get me 17-18 mph on my non-eBike.
  • With the 14 ah battery, using CITY mode, I am getting about 35 miles per charge. This is traveling at roughly 18 mph average, about 30 stops, mostly flat with 3 moderate grades, a 10-15 mph headwind about 40% of the trip, 170 lb rider, 15 lbs of gear weight. I use clipless pedals and am hammering it the entire trip.
    It's starting to get really windy in my area. I had a ride home yesterday with a 20+mph headwind almost the entire ride home. Starting with a full charge, with a mix of TOUR & POWER levels to maintain a 18-19 mph speed, the battery lost about 75% in 17 miles. I'd say this is pretty good. The wind resistance force goes up exponentially with speed, so to maintain 18-19 mph in these conditions is probably like riding a pretty decent hill for 17 miles straight.
    Temps now in the 60's(F), battery life has greatly improved. With minimal wind, I can get about 45-50 miles per charge on TOUR mode and always maintaining 20+ mph.
  • I actually had a tailwind the other day and was burning it up at 25 mph all the way to work.
  • Clipless pedals ROCK on this bike! You are locked in and the torque sensor assisted boost makes you feel like you are a part of the machine.
  • The wind in my area is getting ridiculous with the temperature change and I am battling 15-25 mph headwinds all the way home. This ain't wind gusts folks, this is sustained headwinds that would suck the soul right out any cyclist. On my non-eBike I had no choice but to tuck in, pick an optimal cadence, and just spin all the way home at a snails pace. Thank goodness for POWER mode! On insanely windy days, I just kick this baby into POWER mode and zoom all the way home, maintaining my typical pedal force levels, but I get home in my usual time as if there was NO wind.
  • On the Platinum, the higher top speed was nice but I am not a fan of the torque band. I just preferred the low end torque of the Elite, rather than the Platinum that seemed to have a lower, smoother, and linear torque curve up to 28 mph.
  • The Stromer is such a tank, these high speeds were not scary at all. It was completely stable. Unlike some other lighter eBikes with skinny tires that were a bit unnerving at high speeds and felt like if you rolled over an acorn you were done for.
  • The brakes are phenomenal! The stopping power of hydraulic brakes with 180 mm rotors is as smooth as butter. With this much mass rolling down the road, brakes of this high quality are totally necessary. The brake pads are a different story - see UGLY.
  • Stromer blends in the electric motor assistance the best of all eBikes I have ridden, which includes lots of Bionx, Easy Motion, and IZIP models. I even had an opportunity to ride a DIY Crystalyte motor with BB torque sensor. The only other one that felt as good as the Stromer was the Specialized Turbo. The Stromer is not the most powerful setup by any means, but it’s one of the best experiences if you are looking for a 'normal' bike feel when riding.
  • Those big balloon 2.1" tires. I run Schwalbe 26x2.35" Big Apples on another bike and the key is to find that sweet spot of rolling resistance VS 'kush' at your weight. Too many bike shops had their Stromer tires > 50 psi and it rode horribly. It was so insanely stiff, I felt every little crack and bump through that aluminum frame. Lower the pressure until you find that "ah ha" pressure. I switched out the Big Ben’s for some 1.75” winter tires and its surprising how much more ‘normal’ the ST1 looks without the fat tires.
    I've had these Big Ben tires is some pretty nasty conditions and they have performed great. Deep mud, rain soaked limestone paths that turn basically into deep sand, ice, slush, snow and these tires have gotten through it. You can't expect the traction of a deep lugged mountain bike tire, but the balance of traction VS rolling resistance on tarmac is excellent.
  • I was able to fit aftermarket fenders with no issues.
  • I normally change the seat out on all my bikes. The seat on the ST1 is actually pretty good. I'm able to ride 30+ miles in comfort. The seat is more like a road bike/race seat, which I prefer.
  • I didnt really notice this feature unless last week, I have just been taking it for granted. The ST1 has a "Walk Mode" (not sure if its activated by default, but can be toggled on/off through the console). With this setting on, the bike will power itself along at walking speed if the wheels are rotating. The speed appears to be dependent on the power mode, so "walk-mode" on POWER is more like "slight-jog" mode. I really like this feature because there is a section on my commute that I have to walk the bike for about 1/8 mile. It's along a narrow 50mph 2-lane highway, with no shoulder. I don't even bother trying to bike on this during the afternoon rush because it's just too dangerous. So I walk along the side of the road in the grass. This feature is sweet because I dont have to drag along a 60+lb bike with 15lbs of gear on it. It just powers along next to me. NICE!
BAD:
  • The Magura brakes use T25 Torx heads :( I hate Torx heads because they are so easy to round out and require Torx wrenches. Why not allen heads like the rest of the bike?
  • The handlebar grips are really, really hard to get off.
  • In order to fix a flat tire, you will now need to carry additional items:
    • 3/4" Wrench
    • Wire Cutters (to remove zip-ties that hold the cables)
    • Zip-ties (to replace removed zip-ties)
    • Metric allen wrench to remove the front axle
  • Really don't like that it doesn't have braze-ons to mount a proper rear rack. The rack in the city-kit looks nice but its kind of a joke. The size won't work with most panniers and/or carry really heavy loads. Needed a seat post clamp to get the attachment points for an aftermarket rear rack.
  • Pannier heal strike is a problem due to the short chainstays. Depending on the panniers (I use Ortliebs), you may need a rack that allows you to place the bags farther back.
  • Quality control on the motors. I rode a lot of ST1's, all with varying miles. Some rode exactly alike, which was great. Others made a bit more noise on the initial acceleration. The noisier ones accelerated differently, so something was probably off with the controller and/or motor.
  • Quality control on the battery chargers. Some have very little fan noise, some others howl like a banshee. This Stromer charger looks like the typical chinese eBike charger, so I guess the lack of quality is to be expected.
  • My charger also has directions on it that reference and show pictures of an ON/OFF switch. There is NO on/off switch, at least on my charger. Come on Stromer, the Swiss don't make mistakes like this :p
  • Wish it had a removable display.
  • It weighs an TON! Well not really a ton, more like 60lbs but boy will you notice that weight anytime you lift it.
  • The motor is quiet but not silent. I also own a Bionx 350 and the Bionx is completely silent. The Stromer motor makes noise, especially noticeable when accelerating from a stop.
  • This isn't really a knock on the bike, but just something that has to be dealt with: If you bike in the dark, high speed eBikes can be a problem. I have a 1200 lumen MagicShine and normally run it on its 2nd most brightest setting with my non-eBikes. With the ST1 at 20-22 mph, I need to run it at its brightest setting to really see what is ahead of me. This setting is probably really annoying to oncoming traffic. You will need a high lumen light that cast a long beam if you bike in the dark and go fast. I can't imagine the Platinum at 28 mph under these conditions.
  • I love the comfort of the Big Ben tires but I'm not really a fan of the look. I put the Big Bens back on since the snow is melting and honestly I liked the look of the 26x1.75" winters tires better. The Big Bens make the STI less 'bike-like' and more 'motorcycle/moped-like' IMO. When the Big Bens wear out, I'm going to try and find a 26 x1.75-1.9 commuter tire to replace them.
  • I wish the regenerative braking was stronger. The regenerative braking on a Bionx system pulls a pretty good decel. So much that you really didn't have to engage the mechanical brakes to come to a normal, slow stop. The ST1 regen is pretty weak in comparison.
  • The "Big Ben" tires are like an upgraded version of the "Big Apple" tires with a deeper and more textured tread pattern. The Big Apples are pretty quiet when rolling. The Big Bens make a more pronounced wizzing/buzzing noise at high speeds. This is only bad for the stealth aspect, because at 20+mph the tire noise is loud enough to draw attention. Raising the tire pressure reduces the noise somewhat, but affects the ride quality, so I'll live with the noise.
  • You cannot buy the fenders or rear rack separate from the lights in the city kit. Bad news if you don't want the lights but want the fenders.
UGLY:
  • Freewheel knocking (Google it). Knocking just comes with the territory when using low end freewheels but on a $3-4k bike? You'll know it when its there. Its a knocking sound on every pedal stroke. When it starts, its like it gets into some sort of rhythm because the only way I could get it to stop is pedal backwards, then forwards again. Some ST1's I rode seem to be easier to get to knock than others. I was hoping my new one wouldn't knock, but after about 5 miles into my commute it starts knock, knock, knocking on heavens door. This may be due to the cold sinking in and the bearings in the freewheel. Its extremely annoying.
    This problem appears to be related to the cold. It's starting to warm up above 32F and days when it's warm, I have no knocking whatsoever. On the cold mornings, I get the knocking occasionally.
    My freewheel knock has turned into an occasional rattle. I think my freewheel is progressively getting more play in it, which is causing the problem. Going to get this checked out at next service.
  • Speaking of the freewheel, when freewheeling (no pedaling), the freewheel click is pretty loud. Out of all my bikes, the Stromer has the loudest freewheel.
  • Pedaling without the motor assist is not pretty. After trying this, I can really appreciate the Easy Motion bikes that use geared motors. Granted they are more noisy but geared motors pedal easy with no motor assist.
  • The brake pads squeal BIG time under hard braking. If the rotors are wet, these brake pads can wake the dead. They squealed on all the ST1s I rode, even the ones with 200+ miles that should have been through the break-in period. I am currently looking to replace the pads with something else.
    If the rotors get wet, cleaning them with Brakleen seems to help keep the howling at bay. They still scream like a banshee under really hard braking though.
    I've got about 700 miles on my Stromer now and the brakes no longer squeal, even under really hard braking. So, it appears it just takes awhile to break them. No issues with the brakes now.
I will continue to update this as I log more miles.

This bike was worth every penny. I now have over 750 miles, which includes snowy, rainy, below freezing, and dry conditions and it's worked great. Everything has performed flawlessly, with the exception of this nagging freewheel problem. If it wasnt for the cheap-O freewheel, this would be a 5 out 5 star bike.
 
Last edited:

Brambor

Well-Known Member
great review Gus. I think the brake pads can be switched with pads of lesser thickness and that is supposed to help. I would be interested if it really does.

I wonder how much your Stromer really weighs. Usually there are discrepancies between manufacturer stated weight and actual weight.

Incidentally I drove by Oberwangen yesterday...the Stromer headquarters. I did not stop as I still had a way to go to reach the Mount Blanc tunnel. First day of ski vacation and my legs are complete toast. :)
 

James

Well-Known Member
Hey Gus,

Great review! I hope you get many thousands of trouble free miles riding with your new bike. I have the Platinum (as you may already know) because where I live I'm allowed to go 28mph as long as it's pedal assist, so my bike didn't even come with an "off road sticker" and I was more interested in the higher top speed for my commuting needs.

I was talking with a few of my friends about those Magura Torx heads too! I don't have the right wrench but geesh it would have been easier to keep them allen wrench style like the rest of the bike!?

I was wondering about that freewheel knock you hear on your bike. Does it happen every time you ride? Or just sometimes? I ask because I've never heard that sound on my bike yet (something to look forward to??) I wonder if it was due to assembly? Lateral movement on the cassette?

You will for sure get more mileage when it warms up! I also have the 14.5 battery and when it's freezing cold out there its performance is negatively affected for sure.

Many happy miles to you!
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Gus! I think that's the most comprehensive and insightful review of the ST1 Elite I've ever read. Thank you so much for sharing thoughts on the Torx heads, steps to change a flat, weight, tires and brakes. I added a few links (as I do) to help people find the bikes/parts you called out and promote the site. Hope that's alright. Thanks again!
 
Awesome review, Gus!

What fenders/rack did you use? I'd like to find a low cost alternative to the city kit, but the lack of braze ons is a pain.

Do you have a pic that we could see? Perhaps in front of Los Pollos Hermanos?
 

Gus

Active Member
Brambor, I think I remember reading that somewhere too about the smaller pads to fix the squealing. If they continue to sound off like this in summer when everyone is on the trails, I may get desperate and try the smaller pad. I've seen pictures of their headquarters on their website and what I wouldn't do to visit there. You are lucky to be so close!

James, I suppose the negativity about the Magura torx heads should be directed at Magura, not really Stromer. They are just using their product but why they had to be different is beyond me :( I think my freewheel knock problem is just a result of the cold temperatures. Something is going on inside that thing that does not like the cold. On days when its warm, I have no problems. The freewheel does have some play in it (they all do) but I wouldn't say it's anymore than all the Stromers I checked. I just hope this problem resolves itself when spring arrives :)

Thanks Court!

Electric Bike Specialists, I'm using Planet Bike 60mm ATB fenders and a Blackburn TRX-1 rear rack. This rack actually looks really good on a Stromer because it's made from rectangular tubing just like the Stromer frame. It's also matte black, so it matches the bike. I'll get some pics once I clean all the mud off. The bike is currently filthy from commuting the past 2 weeks in mud/snow/slush/grime. All of the Los Pollos Hermano's restaurants were seized by the DEA, so unfortunately you'll have to settle for pics of the bike in my garage ;)
 

James

Well-Known Member
Hey Gus,

Here's to riding on warm days! I know I'm looking forward to it. Yesterday was quite warm and sunny here (65f) and not only was it more enjoyable for me to ride, but my battery really liked it too! I made it home with 45% battery left (it's around 40km each way) so I was pretty stoked on that!
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Nice James! I agree, riding (especially fast on an ebike) is more enjoyable when the sun is shining. I'm out in Southern California right now visiting Currie Technologies and the weather is phenomenal! Just tried the Superrace from Haibike and that's one that will chill you out quick ;)
 

Gus

Active Member
Here's to riding on warm days!
Amen to that!

We had a 40F day here (first day above freezing in a long time) and I saw a noticeable jump in battery life on the morning commute where there is very little wind. I was able to do 17 miles on about 30% charge. My ride home is still a 20-30mph headwind nightmare and that eats the battery for breakfast. The Stromer gets me home though, which is more than I can say for the Bionx bike I had. I would have to baby the Bionx on the lowest setting in a strong headwind and I was lucky if I could get home with more than 5% left in the tank and it took about 20 minutes longer. With the Stromer, I just put the hammer down and zoom all the way home and don't have to worry about running out of juice and I get home in the same time as if there was no wind. That alone was worth the money!
 

James

Well-Known Member
I'm stoked to see what even warmer weather brings for battery life! I guess if it gets too got then the heat starts to work against efficiency?
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
I will join you soon. I should be picking my bike tomorrow.

It was 50F today, we xc skied it but spring is on the doorstep.
 

Gus

Active Member
I will join you soon. I should be picking my bike tomorrow.

It was 50F today, we xc skied it but spring is on the doorstep.
Yeah! You will be joining an elite group such as me, James, Steve Martin, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others! Each Stromer ST1 purchase comes with a boat full of hot babes.

Congratulations!

leonardo-dicaprio-stromer-cute-girls.jpg
steve-martin-ebike.jpg

Credit for photos: http://www.electricbike.com/leo-dicaprio-riding-stromer-e-bikes/
 

wojtek

New Member
I'd add an unexpected heavy pedaling when starting the bike on the fly. It feels like driving with the brake on and one can notice that immediately. The only remedy is to stop, turn the power off and back on BEFORE resuming pedaling. The bike is heavy (64lb plus the city kit), but is very well balanced. With lighter but not very well balanced bikes one can struggle a whole lot more ( I drive to group rides)
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
I'd add an unexpected heavy pedaling when starting the bike on the fly. It feels like driving with the brake on and one can notice that immediately. The only remedy is to stop, turn the power off and back on BEFORE resuming pedaling. The bike is heavy (64lb plus the city kit), but is very well balanced. With lighter but not very well balanced bikes one can struggle a whole lot more ( I drive to group rides)
Hey man, which ebike do you currently have? You commented on lighter less-well balanced ebikes and said you carry yours to rides in your car. Just curious what you've got and what you think of it? Feel free to maybe do a short writeup/review in the appropriate brand category. You're very articulate.
 

wojtek

New Member
Since last year I've been riding the ST1 Platinum. There are quite a few fast models out there (30mph) but the combination of big tires and weight balance makes the Stromer best of them all. Instead of doing a writeup I came up with the idea for the electric bike etiquette while riding in a group of regular cyclists. This has never been done before (contrary to already existing ST1 reviews), and I am having a feeling something like that is a long time overdue. Just follow me on YT wojtek1425 and access previous video files on Stromer Sport (my previous model) and the current ST1 Platinum.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Since last year I've been riding the ST1 Platinum. There are quite a few fast models out there (30mph) but the combination of big tires and weight balance makes the Stromer best of them all. Instead of doing a writeup I came up with the idea for the electric bike etiquette while riding in a group of regular cyclists. This has never been done before (contrary to already existing ST1 reviews), and I am having a feeling something like that is a long time overdue. Just follow me on YT wojtek1425 and access previous video files on Stromer Sport (my previous model) and the current ST1 Platinum.
I found your YouTube channel and even a playlist of Stromer videos but I couldn't find the electric bike etiquette ones you're talking about... mind providing a link?