- A motorcycle-inspired electric bike with two drive modes, 20 mph stock and optional 36 mph "Race Mode" for use on private property or off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails, one frame size and color
- Powerful gearless hub motor is durable and near-silent, pure sine wave controller delivers fluid power without buzzing and a special regen button allows you to re-capture energy when stopping
- Oversized inverted suspension with 20 mm thru-axle, powerful hydraulic disc brakes with 203 mm front rotor, premium Brooks leather saddle and grips, integrated LED lights, variable speed trigger throttle
- Priced at ~$7k this is an expensive e-bikes, fairly heavy at ~81 lbs, the battery isn't easily removable so charging may be less convenient, very limited display readouts, throttle is hot when the battery is turned on, headlight is difficult to reach to turn on
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
$0 (0 €)$18,000 (16,920 €)
0 lbs (0 kg)175 lbs (79 kg)
0 mph (0.0 km/hr)50 mph (80.5 km/hr)
0 watt3,000 watt
0 in (0.00 cm)22 in (55.88 cm)
0 Newton meters160 Nm
Vintage Electric was one of the early e-bike companies to launch in the US and actually make a product from scratch vs. importing and rebranding something from Europe or Asia. Their first models hit the market in 2013 and have been continuously refined and reworked over the years, but the prices have remained high. There’s a sense of quality engineering and artistic styling that really sets these things apart. Most of them resemble vintage gas-powered motorcycles of yesteryear, and you can see this in the new Scrambler model. The Scrambler is their first off-road product and I was impressed with how well it performed on dirt and gravel during this review, shot in in Norther California, near the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara. For nearly $7k, you get a Class 2 electric bicycle with one gear that pedals most comfortably around 10 mph. The trigger throttle on the right will take you up to 20 mph and then the motor will ease out. In this configuration, the bike can be ridden on the side of streets and some bike paths. You don’t need a license or insurance, it’s basically treated like a bicycle in most locations and falls under federal regulations that specify 20 mph and 750 watt motor limits. However, for those who wish to ride on private land, in races, or in some forest park spaces that also allow ATV’s, motocross bikes, and snowmobiles, Vintage Electric sells a Race Mode pin that unlocks the system to perform at up to 36 mph and 3,000 watt motor limits. I was able to test both modes and had an absolute blast… with both. The standard 20 mph operation is smooth and quiet, you get the same fluid, solid feel of a lightweight motorcycle because the bike weighs ~80 lbs, and the thick knobby tires and inverted suspension pair nicely with the sprung saddle and fat leather grips. As nice as this thing looks, it’s no slouch on performance or comfort. The biggest considerations I had were that the kickstand allows the bike to tip pretty far over, and the stand might sink into soft terrain and allow for a full tip. Some of the wires and brake lines are exposed below the downtube vs. internally routed. The display is very basic, with only red, yellow, and green lights to help you estimate charge level, and the headlight requires a manual push on a recessed and hard-to-reach button to activate. It’s a beautiful toy, but the optional rack and pannier turn it into a luxury commuter or all-around go getter.
Driving this bike is a gearless, direct drive, hub motor from Crystalyte rated from 750 to 3,000 watts. That’s much higher than the average electric bike which usually peaks at 500 or 750 watts. It’s physically larger and much heavier than a standard gearless or geared hub motor at ~16 lbs, but it’s super durable and incredibly quiet. I never felt like the bike was struggling to help me climb, and it takes off so smooth with the variable speed trigger throttle or optional torque-sensing pedal assist. I would probably skip on the pedal assist unless your hands and right thumb are sensitive to reaching and pushing a trigger throttle setup. That’s because, it can be difficult to pedal beyond 15 mph without the single-speed getting outpaced. I felt most comfortable pedaling around 10 mph. There are benefits to having just one speed however, including reduced weight, longer service intervals, no bounce or chain slap, and a cleaner cockpit without shifter mechanisms. If getting up to speed is important to you, then stopping must be equally matched… especially with a larger, heavier platform like the Scrambler. The bike comes with beautiful Shimano Alfine hydraulic disc brakes. I say beautiful, because the levers are silver to match the bar, seat post, and other accents. Each lever has a tool-free adjustable reach knob allowing you to bring them in close, which could be useful if you have smaller hands or like to ride with gloves. The rotors are not matched, the front is extra-large at 203 mm (as you would see on a downhill mountain bike) but the rear is a more traditional 160 mm. I would have liked a 180 mm in the rear, but I think the caliper mount and motor interface and wiring might not have fit. Most stopping power comes from the front brake anyway, and it will be cooling faster and providing a greater mechanical advantage… it worked great during my tests.
Powering that awesome motor, the 3-led display panel, and both integrated LED lights is a fully custom high-capacity Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt battery pack. You get 52 volts and 13.5 amp hours for a total of 702 watt hours of capacity. Most electric bikes range from 350 to 500 watt hours… but most electric bicycles I see today only weigh 50 lbs. The extra juice is used quickly by the throttle, in large part because of how much torque it exerts if you really gun it. Since pedaling is neither comfortable or efficient at a full range of speeds, I found that most of the time I was using this like an electric scooter, and that means the motor is doing all of the work. I’d estimate range between 20 miles and 40 miles per charge depending on terrain, how hard you run the bike, your weight, even the wind speed and ambient temperature outside. Colder weather tends to limit range but extreme cold and heat can actually degrade the cells inside if you’re parking in a less-insulated shed or something. Note that the custom alloy battery box is not designed to come off of the bike. It weighs ~20 lbs and is securely bolted in place, which means you need to bring the bike to a wall outlet to charge. The included charger is very capable, it can fill the bike in roughly two hours because it puts out 6 Amps vs. the standard 2 Amps on most generic e-bike chargers. the end that plugs into the battery is magnetic, which is great if you trip over it because it pops out, but can pick up Iron filings over time if you leave it on the floor. There’s a little rubber cap that fits over the battery plug interface which is also magnetic, and this is easy to lose because there’s no leash system or handy place to stick it. Just keep an eye out for it so you can protect the interface when riding in dirty or wet terrain. Note that the battery is rated to IP67 water and dust protection, so even without the cap it should be alright. Again, the battery powers both lights which is very convenient and improves safety. the three-LED rear light is always on and positioned so it will not be blocked by the rear rack, but may be covered if you wear a long jacket that hangs down. The light is made by Supernova, a very reputable German company, and the power cable that supplies it is run through the seat tube, so be careful if you’re adjusting height or swapping the rigid hardware out for a suspension setup like this.
Operating the bike is is a two-step process and there is some sensitivity in how and when you mount and dismount. First, you charge the battery up, then insert a small key into the lock on the left side of the pack, turn the key and then you can remove it… At this point, the bike is powered on and the throttle is hot. It’s that simple, it’s like starting a motorcycle except you might not be on the motorcycle when this step takes place. I started the bike while standing next to the left side of it and then when I started to mount up into the saddle, I had to be extra cognizant that the trigger throttle was there on the right and could be pressed if I wasn’t putting my hand in the correct place. Depending on the drive mode you chose, this could result in a lot of power being sent to the motor and either a low-speed crash or bike tip. I never really felt in danger, I have never had a problem with this type of setup, but there are times when I was working with a friend on other similar electric bikes and handing off or maybe dismounting when I did bump a throttle and had a quick “oops” moment as I caught the bike. When the bike costs $7k and looks as nice as this one, the level of awareness and care goes up. So anyway, the cockpit is clean and the controls are simple, but they don’t provide as much feedback about how fast you might be going, how far you’ve traveled, what time it is, or even how full the battery really is. Do the three lights represent 30% steps? I can tell you, trying to pedaling this thing home after a range miscalculation might be enough to make you get off and walk or want to bring the charger along on all future rides. And with the optional rack and Brooks pannier, the 3 lb charger would be very easy to stow and bring.
The Vintage Electric Scrambler is a thing of beauty. It’s capable, lots of fun to ride, and sturdily built. It comes with a two-year comprehensive warranty and I have seen Vintage servicing older products and even upgrading them. The latest controller has improvements that prevent overcharging and actually stop the regeneration button from working if the battery is already full… but this is such a cool feature when it works, because it saves your brakes and makes you feel like you’re helping to extend range by adding back some power. As much as this looks like an old-fashioned motorcycle, it runs a lot more like a next-generation automobile. The silence is beautiful, but it does not sacrifice zoom. And if you want to carry the style through to protection, Vintage offers custom branded motorcycle style helmets. They did a great job carrying the leather touch points through to the rack and fork bumpers. The reinforced the front wheel with a 20 mm thru-axle, which is larger than I have seen on any other electric bike to date. And even though the headlight can be difficult to reach, requiring a manual press vs. being wired into a display panel or switch system on the bar, it does offer three modes of operation (bright, normal, and flashing). I want to get across the point that if you like how this thing looks and can afford it, it’s very satisfying. However, there is room for aesthetic improvement with the wires. I think a custom display that could control the lights and provide a bit more feedback while still being compact and sleek would be nice (also for safety, like starting in the off position and then requiring a press before the throttle goes active). The Vintage Scrambler started as a limited edition run but was so popular and striking, with it’s number plate and metallic root beer paint job, that they kept it around. The gold accents are cool and I love how the rear fender is setup to be functional and quiet, even on rough terrain, but adds so much to the look of the bike and is paint matched. Big thanks to Vintage Electric for partnering with me on this post and for taking me to some private areas where high-speed use was safe and legal. I do my best to encourage safe riding and respect for other riders and pedestrians.
- All of the Vintage Electric e-bikes look beautiful, and even though I never raced a scrambler style motorcycle, I can feel the nostalgia and appreciate the artistic quality of this bike, it’s capable but also special in its own right
- Sturdier, almost motorcycle-grade, hardware was used to build this electric bike including a 12 mm rear axle and 20 mm thru-axle at the front, wider 50 mm rims with 14 gauge spokes in the front and extra-thick 12 gauge spokes in the rear, and a custom Aluminum alloy frame, I was told that it’s rated to 300 lbs but I’m guessing it can hold even more than that if used on mild terrain
- I really like the metallic root beer color with gold accents, and the number plate is unique and cool while also being functional… because you can actually race this thing, the “race mode” pin unlocks higher speeds up to 36 mph for off-road use
- Premium touch points that match, are functional, and unique to this bike style including a sprung Brooks leather saddle (that rides pretty comfortably) and matching Brooks leather grips as well as MKS alloy pedals
- The inverted MRP suspension fork looks tough and offers increased strength compared to most traditional suspension hardware I have reviewed, more weight is kept unsprung with an inverted shock and this one has some compression and rebound adjust to suit the terrain, your ride style, and your weight
- Note the leather accents at the top portion of the fork between the double-crown mounts, these keep the tubes from marring the side of the frame where it says “Vintage Electric” when you turn sharp or park the bike
- Premium Shimano Alfine hydraulic disc brakes offer the stopping power needed for high-speed riding and a heavier build, the 203 mm front rotor will do more than half of the work, cool quickly because of the size, and provide a mechanical advantage over the 160 mm rear disc brake rotor, silver adjustable-reach levers match the other accents and let you dial in hand reach without the need for tools, this could be handy if you occasionally wear gloves
- The rear fender is sturdy, does not rattle when riding on rough terrain, and adds a splash of style to the bike because it’s paint matched, it will also keep your back cleaner when going off-road
- The motor on this bike is seriously powerful, it offers strong acceleration for climbing, a unique regeneration feature (when you press the red button on the left) and can go up to 36 mph if you get the race mode pin but otherwise complies with the 750 watt 20 mph Class 2 regulation for low speed electric bicycles
- For those who enjoy pedal activated assist, you can have Vintage install a torque sensing pedal assist feature which could be a neat option for those with sensitive wrists or fingers who just want to ride like a traditional bike
- Decent weight distribution, the bike may be heavy but at least the battery box is mounted low and center on the frame, this improves handling and keeps the frame stiff compared to e-bikes with rear-rack batteries
- For those who wish to use the Scrambler around town to run errands, Vintage Electric has a beautiful and sturdy rack option that works with a Brooks pannier system that you can pay a bit extra for, I like that this does not block the rear light
- The headlight is super powerful and has three modes of operation including low, high, and strobe… which is very attention grabbing but possibly almost too fast in my opinion
- Vintage Electric has refined their battery controller a bit since the early days, it won’t allow for regen if the battery is full, and this helps to prolong battery life
- Given the higher capacity for the battery pack at 702 watt hours, it’s great that they provide a faster 6 Amp charger (most ebikes use a 2 Amp charger), but keep in mind that the battery isn’t designed to be removed so you’ll need to park near a power outlet to charge and possibly bring the bike into a garage or inside, which would be good from a care standpoint because extreme heat and cold can degrade Lithium-ion cells faster
- The motor is very quiet and durable, these gearless hub motors don’t have any rubbing inside, and when used with a pure sine wave converter controller (which Vintage Electric uses) they feel smooth and don’t buzz, they even adjusted the software to reduce cogging when the bike is powered on (so you don’t get electromagnetic drag unless you push the red regeneration button)
- I mentioned strength as a pro, but the trade-off is weight, and this electric bike is much heavier than average at ~81 lbs, the high power motor and extra large battery pack with custom casing contribute a lot
- The heavier a bicycle is, the harder it usually is to pedal, and this thing only has one gear?! It’s setup a lot more like a moped than something you’d want to pedal frequently, especially with the less-efficient knobby tires (but I love that the tires have a puncture protection liner integrated to reduce flats)
- The kickstand looks nice and is sturdy but functionally, leaves a lot to be desired, it is not adjustable length and the end tends to sink into soft terrain, it is positioned near the left crank arm and can collide when down (like if you back the bike up with it deployed because the cranks turn backwards)
- Minor con here, considering this is setup more like a motorcycle in terms of style, but there is only one frame size and the high-step top tube could make it difficult to mount and stand over for some… however, it’s much lighter and easier to handle than a real motorcycle
- As beautiful as most of this ebike is, the exposed wires that run beneath the downtube look a little tacky, they are also going to take more wear with mud, tiny rocks, and water being kicked up off of the front tire… however, the motor power cable is actually really well protected as it runs along the left chainstay and is tucked in near the disc brake rotor compared to most hub motor powered electric bikes that let the cable stick out through the end of the axle (which could snag or bend more easily)
- The display panel leaves something to be desired, there are just three LED lights that show green, yellow, and red to indicate capacity… no fancy infographics or range estimates, no current speed, odometer, trip meeter etc.
- Priced at roughly $7k, this is one of the most expensive electric bikes options I have see, but it’s definitely unique and much more powerful than than the mainstream products
- The headlight is controlled by a rubber button on the back side of the light housing and it can be difficult to reach, I show this in the video review around 1:40
- Once this bike has been powered on (by inserting the key and twisting to on) you can take the key out, but the bike will be “hot” and ready to roll, there is no other on/off switch and it would be easy to accidentally bump the trigger throttle when mounting or dismounting and it could tip you or take off and crash… be careful!
- I was told that the magnetic charging interface (at the end of the plug) can gather Iron filings if dropped into sand or left on a shop floor, the charger itself weighs more at ~3 lbs (most chargers are under 2 lbs), and the charging port on the side of the battery has a little magnetic cap that is easy to misplace because there’s no leash system to keep it with the bike (so keep an eye on it)