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It’s fast. It’s quiet. It goes as good as it looks. And it’s not cheap. But the Vintage Electric Roadster ebike is one of those axiom-proving products that does indeed live up to the hype, proving once again that you do indeed sometimes get what you pay for.
In a year filled with electric bikes, the $6,995 Roadster was a treat, especially for this motorcycle rider. Yes, it’s technically an electric bicycle, and you can even pedal it with some efficacy, but the real magic comes when you roll on the power from the big electric motor in the hub, and effortlessly glide forward in almost complete silence. I put more than a few miles on this unique machine.
Tech and Design
Rarely have I come across an electric bike with this level of chops in terms of style and power. It’s usually one or the other, but the Roadster’s board-track racer design is as easy on the eyes as anything out there. Attention to detail is at the level you usually only see with custom-made gear, and Vintage really hasn’t missed a trick, with the curving, gas-tankish frame rails, leather seat and grips, and both satin and shine-finished metal bits. The paint is excellent as well, with a subtle sparkle under sunlight. Even the pedals, chain and sprockets glisten. A nicely framed backlit LCD panel on the left grip relays the vitals, including speed, charge level and output level.
The “V-Twin” lump bolted to the lower frame rails holds the massive 48-volt 1,123 watt-hour battery, which Vintage claims is good for 40 to 75 miles depending on how much juice the thumb throttle on the right handlebar is sending to the rear hub motor, which is rated for 750 watts of power in “normal” mode and a massive 3,000 watts in “race mode.” More on that in a bit. Hydraulic disc brakes front and rear capably slow the 86-pound machine, and the rear motor does send power back to the battery under braking. Up front, a large motorcycle-style LED headlight completes the look while a bright red multi-LED tail light rides just below the seat for safety’s sake. Overall, the Roadster looks uncluttered and purposeful, as well as elegant and fun.
I knew going into the deal what the Roadster really is: essentially a very stylish urban electric motorcycle. Other “high-powered” electric bicycles I’ve had in for review had pedal-powered drivetrains that were borderline ridiculous, simply along for the ride and the “ebike” designation or perhaps a DOT standards