The way people move is changing—and fast. From ride-hailing services to e-scooters, tech has reinvented the wheel of late when it comes to transportation.
Meanwhile, e-bikes, or bicycles with an electric motor, have been around for nearly 125 years, at least according to Ogden Bolton’s 1895 patent for an “electric bicycle.” Essentially a middle ground between traditional two-wheelers and motorcycles, they’ve long been at the fringes of mobility. Lacking the power, speed, and gas requirements of a motorcycle, they’re less expensive and don’t typically require a license to operate. And as a bonus, they also don’t require anything close to the muscle necessary to pedal an ordinary bike.
We saddled up the Scorpion, a new model from e-bike company Juiced Bikes. Retailing for $2,199, the moped-style e-bike is currently available for pre-order before it begins shipping in May 2020. With a 52-volt battery and a 750-watt motor, it can cruise up to 28mph over a range of 45 miles (on a full charge), the company says.
On the streets of downtown Manhattan, both on roads and bike paths, the Scorpion was surprisingly easy to get moving. As a cycling fan comfortable with motorized scooters, I was prepared for a steep learning curve and was surprised to hit the ground running.
Riding a Scorpion is, well, just like riding a bike. New riders can simply start pedaling as they would on a regular two-wheeler, and the motor kicks in on its own (except for when the one setting that doesn’t use the motor is enabled). The motor doesn’t kickstart the bike, but it does alleviate the power needed to pedal.
Despite the Scorpion’s aggressive branding, its ride is smooth, and the bike is easy to control, which means you can slowly maneuver a crowded street or speed along with traffic with equal aplomb. To accelerate, riders can use the turbo setting, which mimics the revving of a motorcycle. But it also has handle brakes connecting to the front and back wheels, similar to those on a conventional bicycle. The bike also has front and back suspension, a godsend that makes fast work of inner-city potholes.
Prior to riding the Scorpion, one thing that had me concerned was the e-bike’s size. At 5’2″, I typically find most bike frames feel too large to be comfortable, but this frame fit well. People of many sizes and heights can ride the Scorpion’s standard e-bike, but it has a taller seat option for $79.
There’s a lot to like about the Scorpion. It’s versatile and easy to ride. Its sleek look takes design nods more from motorcycles and mopeds rather than bicycles, which helps it turn heads on and off the road. And with a range of more than 45 miles, it doesn’t need to be recharged between morning and evening commutes.
But there are also some drawbacks, the biggest being its weight. E-bikes’ motors make for faster, but heavier, rides, and for the Scorpion, that weighs in at a 77-pound heft, with the battery attached. Fitting it into a bike rack, getting it up stairs, or even storing it in a small living space will likely be a challenge for any owner. At over $2,000, it’s also more expensive than a regular bike, though much more affordable than its e-bike competition, which can cost between $4,000 and $9,000 for a decent model.
The Scorpion works best for people who already get places by cycling (or who would like to but may not be up to the physical task), especially on longer rides. It’s also great for people who like riding as a hobby, or for those who have abandoned automotive life but want more options for getting around quickly. But without the necessary room to store the Scorpion, it might not physically fit the realities of some potential riders’ lives.
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