Does the World Need a $13,500 'Solid Gold' E-Bike?

When it goes 160 miles at 28 mph, perhaps yes.

ST7 in front of Gehry building
ST7 in Düsseldorf, Germany.


Here at Treehugger, I used to try and make the case that the Euro pedelec standard with a 250-watt motor and 25km/hr (15.5 mph) speed limit is more than adequate. Then I got to enjoy the 20 mph bump in the North American Type 1 standard and changed my tune. But I still turned up my nose at the 28 mph Type 3 standard with 750-watt motors for being too fast and powerful to play nice in the bike lanes.

Stromer in front of Gehry buildings


So what do I make of the new Stromer ST7 e-bike, seen above zipping past Frank Gehry's Neuer Zollhof trio of buildings in Düsseldorf, Germany? Usually, photographers don't put the subject of a photo in front of such a dominating background, but there is some logic here: Like a Gehry building, the Stromer ST7 pushes the design envelope, stands out in a crowd, is very expensive, and probably shouldn't be left out in the rain.

ST7 in solid gold
A solid gold Stromer ST7.


The ST7 is what is known as a "speed pedelec," where it can go up to 45km/hr (28 mph, or the same as the American Type 3). In Europe, they are considered mopeds rather than e-bikes, helmets are required, and in some countries, registration and license plates are required. The ST7 has a 940-watt rear-hub motor with 52 newton-meters of torque, a Gates carbon belt drive, and a 1,440 watt-hour battery that will push it up to a whopping 260 kilometers (161 miles).

Sitting as I am in a cabin 155 miles from my home, suddenly a $13,500 bike doesn't sound so expensive when it has a range like that and can replace a car. If I load it up with panniers and carriers, the range will be less, but hey, the battery pops out in a second and I can buy a spare for $2,800. The trip would take five hours, and I cannot carry much, not to mention my wife, but I can dream about true car-free all-electric living.

Bike features


Sitting in the middle of the bike where I am used to seeing a mid-drive motor, the ST7 has a new Pinion "smart.shift." According to the statement:

"Pinion Smart.Shift combines the reliable and almost maintenance-free gearbox shifting technology with the advantages of pushbutton electric shifting. Shifting is done at the touch of a button – quickly, ergonomically, and intuitively. The system shifts while riding, while stationary, and while under load! The other functions are also smart: The starting gear can be pre-selected and thanks to the integrated shift indicator in the E-bike display, the selected gear is visible while riding."

Shifting while stationary or under load is actually a big deal on an e-bike. I have learned to downshift before I come to a red light so I can actually move when it turns green; my daughter has popped the chain a number of times doing the same thing. Sealing all gears in a box instead of letting them hang out of the rear wheel like traditional derailleurs do, combined with the Gates carbon belt drive, will minimize maintenance and eliminate those popping chain events.

full view of bike
"Solid Gold" e-bike.


Looking through all the specifications, I have been unable to determine the weight of the e-bike and if it is available in "solid gold," it will be very heavy. Although, I suspect they are describing the color rather than the frame material. (Just a bad joke—it is made of aluminum.)

This brings us back to my original question: Is there a role for expensive, long-range, very fast e-bikes like this? Philip Henry, product manager at Stromer, describes the bike in a statement:

"The ST7 doesn’t only once again redefine the limits of what's possible in the S-Pedelec sector, with this bike we are also offering commuters with a daily commute of over 30 km efficient and environmentally friendly mobility. I truly believe that we will inspire many long-distance commuters with this and convince them to make the switch. In the end they benefit not only from the extraordinary performance and range, they are also getting a bike with state-of-the-art technology in integrated design.”
Bikes parked near a Gehry

Stromer and Gehry

Every time I have complained that 20 is plenty, readers have noted that they have longer commutes and need the faster 28 mph to get to work in a reasonable time and to be better able to handle cars when there are no bike lanes. Given my premise that e-bikes can unlock the suburbs, which are very different than European urban driving conditions, and admiring this solid gold Cadillac Escalade of an e-bike that can eat up suburban miles, perhaps it is time to retire my reservations about faster, more powerful e-bikes, especially when they are such pretty objects of desire.