In case you missed it, a gaggle of Electrek‘s staff just spent several weeks in Germany attending the Eurobike and IAA Mobility trade shows to check out the latest in two-, three-, and four-wheeled electric transportation. While we were there, the fast-paced electric bicycle company Super73 was kind enough to loan us a pair of badass e-bikes that turned into our main wheels for the rest of the trip.
We took those things across Germany, toured the cities and the countryside, road the hell out of them, left them outside during intense rainstorms, may or may not have crashed one or both of them at various points during the trip, and basically did the best we could to push those bikes to their limits. They took everything we could throw at them and asked for more.
If you aren’t familiar with Super73, you’re going to want to get a load of this.
Super73 basically originated the moped-style and electric minibike craze that has been growing in popularity in the US for the last five years or so.
The Irvine, California-based company took minibike styling from the 1970s and ’80s, combined it with extra fat tires, then mashed it all into an electric bike format to create fast, fun, and eye-catching e-bikes.
I lost count of how many people walked up to us to ask about the crazy-looking bikes we were riding, but it was several dozens. And the smiles and neck-craning we saw as we would ride by surely broke into the triple digits.
These may look like little motorcycles, but they’re actually fully legal electric bicycles. The “gas tank” is really a lithium-ion battery, and the motor is housed in the hub of the rear wheel. The frame looks like a classic wishbone-style motorcycle frame, and the long bench seats paired with big ol’ headlights help complete the motorcycle illusion.
Our adventure began in Friedrichshafen, Germany where Electrek covered the return of Eurobike 2021.
Situated on the banks of beautiful Lake Constance, bordering the shores of Austria and Switzerland, Friedrichshafen played out its swan song as the last year that Eurobike would be hosted in the sleepy town before moving to Frankfurt next year.
Super73 had a booth at the show decked out just like you’d expect of the lifestyle brand, complete with over-the-top customized electric bikes, retro riding gear, gigantic wall art and flashy slow motion riding scenes playing across giant screens.
While Super73 operates in Europe and sells its bikes in Germany, they don’t yet have the same recognizability or dominant position that the company already holds in the US. The styling is unlike anything else around, and it’s a real California meets Cologne kind of situation when these Americana e-bikes roll down the streets of Germany.
Where’s a local Casey Neistatberg when you need one?
In the US, Super73’s e-bikes are fast and powerful. They can hit speeds of 28 mph (45 km/h) and rip with motors pushing 2,000 watts of peak power.
In Germany, strict electric bike laws mean the bikes are limited to lower power and speed levels. But not even the Germans could take the fun out of the non-stop parade that is Super73’s exhilarating style. And that was on show in full force at Eurobike, where many companies tried to imitate the Super73 image, but none truly succeeded.
Since we were looking at a two-week stint in Bavaria across two trade shows and a few hundred kilometers, Super73 kindly offered to lend us some e-bikes from Eurobike that we could continue around Germany with. The only problem was getting them out of the show. The entire complex was well secured and specifically designed not to let people steal bikes from the show floor. But with the permission of the company, that’s exactly what we were trying to do.
The bikes were all tagged with exhibitor labels, a system that does double duty to let the guards know the bikes are meant to be test ridden and also to help spot bikes that aren’t supposed to be removed from the premises. With our bright pink test ride-approved wrist bands in place from the previous day, we blended in with the other riders as we surreptitiously rolled out into the cordoned off test ride space on a pair of flashy new Super73s.
Initially looking like any other attendees in the test ride area, we broke cover as we peeled off past the red and white caution tape and Jersey barriers in a section between show workers. Barricades had been set up to prevent car and bike traffic from passing through the area, but they were designed for normal bikes – not these bikes. We had to ride up and along a 45º grass embankment to get around a barricade and then hop another high concrete curb while pedaling frantically and praying the giant tires would just figure it out as we went. I couldn’t help channeling my inner Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, famously outrunning the Germans on a stolen motorbike.
It was a bit touch and go, but if any e-bike could handle a spontaneous off-road escape like this it would be one as totally overbuilt as a Super73.
If anyone saw us then there might have been shouts from the guards as we whizzed out of the fairgrounds, but I honestly couldn’t have told you due to the comically loud tire roar of the giant 4″ custom rubber. We just kept our eyes forwards and pedaled like hell.
As we yanked off the telltale exhibitor tags on the bikes and reached the open road, the realization dawned on us that we were home free. Our rapid-pace pedaling eased into a leisurely cruise along the gravel trails that took us back towards town, smiles on our faces from the successful heist.
From that point on we were able to relax and enjoy the pleasant ride through the countryside, farms on one side of the road and meadows on the other. Friedrichshafen isn’t a big town and the bike lanes sometimes just turn into gravel trails on the side of the road.
Earlier in the week we took a few Bird-style rental scooters from Tier and the gravel trails were a real doozy. But the Super73 bikes took to gravel, cobblestones and just about anything else as if it was as smooth as a basketball court. Those fat tires roll over just about anything in their path. And the suspension on the bikes absorb anything the tires don’t.
In Germany you can’t have throttles on e-bikes and so Super73 outfits the bikes with 10-speed transmissions using high quality Shimano parts. The bikes certainly feel a bit strange to pedal at first, especially if you’re used to a road or mountain bike. But the seats are nicely tapered and allow you to adjust back and forth until you find the most comfortable pedaling position. I was sore after the first day, but quickly forgot that it was even “odd” after that. In total I eventually pedaled that thing for several hundred kilometers and it felt just fine as a conventionally more pedalable bike. That being said, we were on the S2 and RX models. A couple years ago I reviewed a Super73-Z1 model and that one was much less comfortable to pedal. So if you’re really into pedaling, the S-line and R-line seem to be the best bet.
From Friedrichshafen we needed to find a way to Munich for the IAA Mobility show, but it was going to be a bit of a long ride. Even with the 48V and 20Ah batteries packing nearly 1,000Wh of capacity, we were still looking at a 130 mile (210 km) journey, and so we decided to do it by train instead.
I double-backpacked the trip but Seth had a Timbuk2 Co-Pilot Luggage Roller Suitcase, and ended up tying it to the Super73 using his Eurobike show badge lanyard (Reduce, reuse, recycle!). He towed that bag for miles and neither the bag nor the bike complained. If you ever need some luggage that can survive being dragged behind an electric moped, that’s apparently the one. In fact, ebike trailer luggage might be a nascent product category.
Getting the bikes on and off the trains in Germany turned into a bit of an ordeal.
My S2 weighed 73 lb (33 kg) but Seth’s full-suspension RX was a hefty 80 lb (36 kg). Two of the trains had bike cars that were normal walk-ons, but one had the train car up four steps. Try throwing an 80 lb e-bike up the stairs, followed by a couple bags and then running back down to help a mom get a stroller on behind you – that’s an experience.
Speaking of experiences, I had another interesting one at the Lindau-Insel train station where a train worker didn’t want to let me load the Super73 onboard because she thought it was a gas-powered motorbike. I had to explain in mostly pantomimes that this was an electric bicycle, though the fact that English and German share the world “electric” fairly closely was apparently helpful.
Finally we got to Munich where the train station wasn’t walking distance from our AirBNB, but it was definitely biking distance. Wheeling around the city at dusk in what looked like silent motorcycles while slinging rolling luggage behind us must have seemed ridiculous to the locals, because we were definitely getting stares.
The streets turned out to be covered in trolly tracks, and anyone who has ridden a typical bike over tracks knows how easily those can swallow a wheel and end your day. But the Super73 tires again proved to be the best bet in both the city and the country as they rolled over the gaps in the trolly rails without even noticing.
Munich turned out to be a perfect use case for the bikes. Unlike sleepy lakeside German villages, Munich was an urban gauntlet of trains, cars, motorcycles, police paddy-wagons and every other form of street-hogging transportation you could think of.
The bright red bike lanes were our saving grace to escape the urban traffic and breeze through the city. No one could arrive faster than us – the local cars got stuck in traffic and the local bikes were nothing compared to our bikes.
The IAA Mobility show was a good 10-12 km (6-7 miles) from downtown Munich and the commute each day had us on a combination of farm roads, bike lanes, nature trails and city streets.
There was a little bit of everything and again the Super73s handled it all.
We could skip the traffic and then sling gravel all in the same ride, on the same bike, with the same load-out.
The big lights kept us visible in the city and the suspension kept us rolling comfortably on the trails. The uncluttered bars provided ample space for accessories like phone holders to help navigate the urban jungle, and the giant batteries gave us the ability to charge once every few days even while venturing out for long rides on the scenic route.
The bikes may look ridiculously overbuilt, but that came in handy for the diverse riding and utility jobs we asked of them.
As the trip wound to an end, I was sad to say goodbye to my Super73 I had grown so fond to.
That bike had taken me everywhere, had saved me countless taxi fares. It helped me explore nature trails I never wound have found and took me on detours throughout parts of cities I never would have discovered.
The bikes served as conversation starters with nice strangers that were all too eager to learn what the hell I was riding.
Train rides turned from boring time fillers to friendly encounters when other passengers came to check out the bikes.
The bikes even held up to our litany of abuse, from overnight thunderstorms to going wheels up when not looking where we were going.
I don’t own a Super73 myself, but now I really wish I did after having such a fun experience on the bikes over the past two weeks.
And at least in the US, Super73’s e-bikes get to be unlocked to achieve their full potential as faster, more powerful runabouts.
But even when limited to 25 km/h (15.5 mph), I was impressed with how versatile and useful the bikes proved to be. And of course the eye-catching and conversation-starting California style was the cherry on top.
After two weeks in the saddle, I definitely count myself as a member of the vast Super73 fan base. Now I’m just waiting for the next group ride!
Article from Electrek Micah Toll