The Best Electric Bicycles for 2014 | Interbike 2013

Harlan & ST2

For a more authentic Interbike experience, I walked the floor with electric bicycle retailer Harlan Flagg. Harlan has been selling electric bicycles, scooters and motorcycles at his shop Hollywood Electrics since 2009. Because I was with him, and promised not to breathe a word about it, I was allowed to enter Stromer’s private viewing of their upcoming ST2. All I can say is this- if you’re in the market for the ultimate electric bicycle, you might want to wait until March. The press release will be launched shortly before the bike hits showroom floors.

If you’re in the market for a perfectly good electric bicycle, well, there’s plenty out there now. Harlan’s overall impression was that there are a lot more e-bikes looking like regular bikes now. He liked that so many have moved away from the battery rack and integrated them into the frame. It looks cleaner, and provides a lower center of gravity. He’s also excited about the mid-drive motors on the Currie and Haibike.

At the end of the day, after we’d walked the floor and ridden a few e-bikes on the awesome test track, we found a fairly quiet place to talk about what was new this year…

G2: You’ve been selling electric bikes for four years now. How are sales?

HF: Sales have been good, always climbing. As people are getting more comfortable with the technology, the bikes have become a bit more mainstream.

G2: What sort of customers do you see buying electric bicycles?

HF: LA’s got a few different types of e-bike customers. We’ve got the people who live up in the hills and want to ride but don’t want to pedal back up that hill to Mulholland Drive. Then there are the people who are a little older, or have an injury that makes pedaling difficult. They want to still get some exercise and get out of the car. Then we’ve got the people who want to get out of their car entirely, and ride to work without getting all sweaty. I think there’s been a misconception about electric bicycles being “the lazy man’s bicycle”. I think it just makes everything more accessible. In LA a lot of the time it’s faster to get around town on an electric bicycle than in a car. You can keep a steady speed, lanesplit, even ride on the sidewalk if necessary. When you come to a stop you don’t have to dread it, because regaining your momentum is so much easier on an electric bike.

G2: So this is your first year at Interbike, what did you think of it?

HF: It’s pretty cool, it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s really great to see that the electric bicycles are such a huge part of Interbike. Being able to try them out on this great test course is awesome too.

G2: Yeah, my top speed on one of those bikes today was 23 mph. I rode 6 different bikes, sorted by top speed here. Personally, I enjoyed the Haibike most, I felt the power delivery was smoothest. Although it was strange riding a bicycle with a full suspension, I think I could get into a lot of trouble riding their hybrid around LA…

Bike: Ride Time Distance (miles) Avg Speed (mph) Top Speed (mph)





Stromer ST1





Ford Pedego





Polaris Vector





Juiced odk v3





Bionx Surly





HF: I think I was doing about 35mph at one point…

G2: Sure you were… I had my Cyclemeter running, looks like you should have too! So which bikes did you enjoy riding the most?

Harlan on the iZip

HF: There’s a few bikes I’m really excited about. Obviously we’re really happy with the Stromer ST1, sales have been good. I am excited about the new model too, I think it’s definitely going to be an eye-catching bike. The Haibike with that mid-drive Bosch motor is also very exciting. In Europe they’ve had to innovate around the government-mandated power restrictions.

By putting a 250 motor at the crank instead of at the rear hub, you’re able to get more torque out of it. Especially with the torque multiplication of multiple gears. Here in America, the limit is 1,000 watts, so we’re fine with the simplicity of the hub motor. But the mid-drive systems have brought so much innovation, and now the prices are dropping enough to be comparable with hub motor-driven bikes.

G2: And Bosch is quite a reputable motor manufacturer.

HF: Yes, their systems power traction control, ABS, and so many other innovations in other types of vehicles.

G2: Is anyone else doing mid-drive motors? Or is it just a Bosch thing?

HF: Currie is really stepping up their game, they’re selling the Haibike in the US, and they’ve got their own mid drive system for the Currie brand.

G2: What else was really interesting?

HF: What’s really exciting is to see that these bikes no longer look cobbled together, with some random hub motor, a battery on the rack, all that. They’re really clean and built in. It’s getting increasingly difficult to distinguish them from non-electric bicycles. The energy density of the batteries is constantly improving, they’re getting lighter and smaller all the time, with better range.

Wendy Booher was also at Interbike, and gives a great snapshot overview of some of the bikes present. Later, I’ll post interviews with reps from Polaris, Pedego, and Currie. Unfortunately the ultra-futuristic nCycle designed by Behance wasn’t present. But I guess we’re just not ready for that…

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.