- A powerful, high speed, heavier electric bike akin to a moped with limiter settings for around town use (750 watt, 20 mph in Street Mode) and optional Race Mode (2800 watt 36 mph)
- Popular as a pit bike on race courses, used frequently in Indonesia because it stays cooler than internal combustion powered mopeds
- Single speed drivetrain, available in one size high-step only, large comfortable tires with Kevlar lining, integrated LED lights, optional rear rack and optional pedal assist
- Custom Aluminum alloy frame with color matched fender and rims, oversized hydraulic disc brakes for great stopping power vs. older versions, solid warranty and good customer support to keep the bike on the road
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.
Vintage Electric Bikes designs and assembles high power, high speed ebikes in Northern California. I got to visit their headquarters and meet with the founder, Andrew, to learn about their new Tracker model which is basically a refined version of the E-Tracker which I reviewed in mid 2015. The biggest improvement in my mind is larger more powerful brakes… where the E-Tracker had mechanical 160 mm disc brakes the Tracker has hydraulic 203 mm and 180 mm disc brakes (front and rear respectively). There’s still really only one frame size (about medium with a 31″ stand over height and 18″ seat tube). I was able to ride it comfortably and I’m about 5’9″ weighing in at ~135 lbs. These Tracker bikes have always been heavy and the version I tested was about 78 pounds but had an upgraded suspension fork so the default model could be slightly lighter. Other upgrades include custom paint (they’ve matched cars and even hand bags before), a rear rack and Race Mode which is activated by screwing in a special pin to complete a circuit. Vintage Electric Bikes sells this pin separately because it changes the class of the bike from barely being Class 2 to being an illegal moped. Illegal on most city streets in the US and elsewhere but not as a pit bike on race tracks or off road. The Tracker has become popular in countries like Indonesia where there are fewer regulations and people appreciate the quiet and low temperature operation (when it’s 100+ degrees and super humid outside sitting on an internal combustion engine adds even more heat vs. an EV).
Just to hit the specs real quick, with standard Street Mode the motor puts out 750 watts nominal up to 1800 watts max and in Race Mode with that pin it puts out 2600 watts to 2800 watts and operates at 40+ Amps continuous. My preference for operating the bike is using their basic variable speed trigger throttle that’s mounted near the right grip. It’s smooth and can be used from standstill so you don’t have to push hard on the single speed drivetrain to get yourself moving. Not only is the bike heavy but when you’re limited to a single pedaling speed it’s just not fun to start with… Andrew explained that they actually chose a larger chainring with more teeth (36 to be exact) to make it easier and more comfortable to pedal at higher speeds. The company has been experimenting with a cadense sensor in addition to the trigger throttle but I didn’t like the limited and less responsive six magnet design I tried. While I was told they will probably use a 12 magnet sensor there was still no way to disable assist altogether and unlike the variable speed throttle assist operates more like on/off and made me feel uncomfortable when trying to stop because the brake levers didn’t have a motor inhibitor built in. So there’s no LDC display to adjust assist or turn it off and no inhibitors and the bike is heavy and fast… that’s just dangerous.
To up the safety this bike comes with a beautiful and large headlight, LED tail light mounted in a special saddle bracket (which can also be used with their optional rack) and of course the fender and oversized tires with Kevlar lining to reduce flats and reflective sidewall stripes. The emphasis is on beauty and durability here and Andrew explained that they help customers fix and upgrade older models including electronics and batteries. The battery box was modeled after the engines on vintage board track racer bikes (old fashioned bicycles used to race around circular tracks in the 1920’s) and is not easily removable but appears to protect the battery and controller inside very well against the elements and physical impact. I love that the motor power cable has a quick disconnect option and that it enters the axle from the side vs. the end because this protects it from getting bent or snagged. The cables and wires mostly blend in with the frame but there is a bit of a mess just below the battery box where everything goes in and out (more with the bike I reviewed since it also featured pedal assist).
For the right situation the Tracker can be an amazing and beautiful electric bike. I’d want to have a truck or trailer to move it around given the weight and I’m not sure how much I’d actually pedal given the lower seating position and single speed drivetrain but the acceleration is amazing, even if you leave it at 20 mph for Street Mode it’s a rush and feels very responsive. It is however, very quiet so watch out for traffic and pedestrians. Cruising around Indonesia on one of these things at high speed, the wind in your hair and the beautiful sights and sounds unobstructed would be pretty awesome and I love the enthusiasm and genuine approach that Andrew brings. He got to hang out with Jay Leno a while back to share his creation in the famed garage, check that out here for more fun footage.
- This electric bike feels very solid and comfortable… in large part because it weighs nearly 80 pounds and has oversized balloon tires, the thru-axle on the front fork helps keep it stiff
- The brakes have been vastly improved from earlier versions, they are now extra large hydraulic disc which feel smooth and powerful (very important given the heavier build and higher possible speeds)
- The Tracker looks beautiful, from the old-fashioned circular headlight to the leather accents and thick frame, it’s great for zipping around on but less practical for pedaling if the seat is kept low
- The power regen button is very cool, efficiency is probably only ~10% but it helps to save your brake pads and definitely recoups energy… especially with the greater weight of this electric bicycle
- I absolutely love the inverted suspension option because it looks great, feels solid and improves the ride at high speed but it costs a lot at ~$1,100
- The color-matched fender looks awesome, doesn’t rattle and keeps you dry and clean while riding (I also like that it’s bent on the side to accommodate the chain), the rear rack is a great option as well but costs more than an average bicycle rack, the panniers they sell are also very cool and work perfectly with the rack
- Extremely quiet because there are no gears inside the motor, even in Speed Mode opening the throttle up completely it remains silent so be extra careful because cars and pedestrians might not hear you
- Uses the EnergyBus charging standard with Rosenburger port that is magnetic (like an Apple laptop charger) and sends both power and data for software upgrades
- The motor is extremely powerful (limited to 750 nominal for street legal use by default but peaks around 2800 watts with the optional speed pin) you get a 52 volt battery and 40 Amps of continuous current for amazing acceleration from standstill, most ebikes I test send ~20 Amps
- The rims are colormatched and the spokes are painted black to match the motor… it all looks great together, the rear spokes are 12 gauge which is super strong for the added weight and forces of the bike frame and motor
- The power cables and wires are mostly hidden (zip tied below the downtube) but there is a sort of messy bundle at the base of the battery box that isn’t as nice looking as internally routed designes
- I didn’t love the default pedal assist setting when using the Tracker in high speed mode because you can’t adjust the power level and it just takes off… also the brake levers don’t have motor inhibitors so you might be fighting the system between the start/stop delays of the pedelec (at least it has 12 magnets for faster response)
- The battery isn’t designed to be easily removed from the frame for charging separately, you’ll have to bring the bike inside or near an outlet in the garage to charge, avoid extreme cold and heat to prolong life
- Single speed drivetrain, pedaling isn’t much fun at low speed because the bike is so heavy but they’ve used a larger chainring with more teeth to make it comfortable to pedal past 20 mph if you’re using speed mode
- Very limited system feedback, no LCD with speed or assist level just three colored LED’s indicating an approximate voltage on the battery
- Only available in one frame size and one high-step style which might be difficult for shorter riders to mount and stand over, I’m 5’9″ and was able to handle it comfortably