Superstrata’s e-bike is an odd specimen — there’s no two methods about it.

In some ways in which is smart; the bike’s idea, borne out in seamless 3D-printed carbon fiber, springs from an equally unusual premise. We’ll get into that.

Speaking to Sonny Vu, founding father of Superstrata’s mother or father firm Arevo, the bikes had been crafted not out of a love of biking, however reasonably for the hunt for a climate-friendly city transportation answer or any conventional justification for going to all the difficulty of constructing an e-bike.

So Vu created the Superstrata e-bike (and its non-electrified counterpart) as a proof-of-concept for Arevo’s carbon fiber manufacturing course of. In that gentle, how the bike wound up makes excellent sense — even when shopping for one in all probability doesn’t.

“Everybody thought we’re an e-bike firm, however we’re not. We’re a complicated manufacturing firm,” Vu instructed TechCrunch. We actually can’t blame e-bike fanatics for being confused.

Superstrata is deep into what Vu calls “deep tech” — principally manufacturing processes so leading edge that they haven’t even proven up in shopper merchandise but. “This isn’t your typical 3D printing system — it’s constructed for industrial velocity and scale,” Vu stated.

Arevo, Superstrata’s mother or father firm, is exploring aerospace purposes sooner or later and probably UAVs. Superstrata and Arevo spun up the e-bike as a shopper proof-of-concept to fill the hole whereas they wade by the regulatory crimson tape that defines extra advanced industries. The corporate’s bike frames are presently printed in Vietnam, although Vu has plans for print farms within the U.S. and Europe to scale back transport instances and customarily make its complete carbon fiber printing operation extra environment friendly.

Superstrata e-bike

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

So, carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is one frontier of local weather know-how, promising fuel-saving light-weight supplies at the price of a reasonably energy-intensive manufacturing course of. Superstrata’s silky, unibody bike frames are made out of industrial-grade 3D-printed thermoplastic carbon fiber composite reasonably than “thermoset” — a extra widespread polymer course of. Whereas Vu was desirous to dive into the technical benefits and the manufacturing course of, on the finish of the day what it’s essential know is: That is an e-bike and its body is made out of very fancy 3D-printed carbon fiber.

Right here’s the fundamental pitch. The Superstrata e-bike is a carbon fiber unibody bike that’s {custom} printed to satisfy your preferences, souped up with a 250W pedal-assist motor and shipped in an array of enjoyable prints and colours. The smooth, angular design of the bike’s body and its conspicuous absence of a seat tube — the a part of the body that may usually stream down from the place the saddle sits — is pleasantly futuristic or downright odd, relying on who you ask.

A luxurious value

Whereas early critics raised alarms about Superstrata’s lacking seat tube, which might usually join the highest tube and down tube to type a robust triangle form to carry the rider’s weight, Vu assured us that the one, seamless piece of carbon fiber is rated as much as 750 lb and is greater than robust sufficient to carry a bicycle owner. Using the Superstrata, I wasn’t involved concerning the power of the carbon fiber, although the potential for smoothing the experience with changes involving a seat tube are a missed alternative. The body is robust and the experience is stiff — and that’s simply how it’s.

(The body’s design is eye-catching even with out the lacking tube, and does bear some putting similarities to Greg LeMond’s excellent-looking e-bike the Prolog. It’s potential that Superstrata printed these frames however the firm isn’t listed wherever they usually do boast a way more conventional geometry.)

The lacking chunk of body turns heads, however Superstrata’s different aesthetic decisions additionally set the bike aside visually. The corporate is all about customization and that applies to the paint too. My overview unit was an intense purple, perhaps a periwinkle. Truthfully, as somebody who wears all black most days, the colour harm my soul a bit however my spouse discovered it interesting.

A few of the particular paint jobs you may order are very cool — together with two that seem like starry skies and one other designed to evoke the aurora borealis — however they’ll run you an additional $1,250. That further value would get you a lot of the solution to a extra inexpensive e-bike made by opponents like Cost or Rad Energy. This isn’t a motorcycle for the pockets acutely aware (most of us).

Superstrata e-bike company shot

Superstrata actually must take away these deceptive pattern photographs with built-in lights. However: Cool paint. Picture Credit: Superstrata

That selection and different elements of the Superstrata really feel a bit “It’s one banana, Michael. What might it value?” I’m not satisfied the bike is absolutely designed to be bought to a lot of anybody and that’s only a bizarre takeaway to have when reviewing one thing.

Superstrata’s e-bike is clearly meant to current as a luxurious product, however the expertise of the experience and the deeper design doesn’t precisely give off an expensive, cohesive vibe. On the finish of the day, should you requested, What’s particular about this bike? the total reply is “the 3D-printed unibody carbon fiber body.”

At this value level — the e-bike begins at $3,500 — Superstrata’s base providing offers you numerous much less on your cash than what you’d get with a way more totally featured electrical bike just like the Cowboy ($2,990), VanMoof’s new mannequin ($3,498) and even its last-generation fashions, which float round $2,000. These tech-forward bikes pack perks like built-in interfaces, companion apps, embedded computerized back and front lights, cellphone chargers and alarm programs for at or round what you’d pay for a base-price Superstrata bike.

A function that illustrates this effectively is the truth that Superstrata initially deliberate to have built-in back and front lights — lots of the bikes pictured on its web site nonetheless misleadingly present this — however that concept was scrapped within the completed model. The lights, the little laptop for the electrical motor and any bells and whistles are all aftermarket, not built-in into the bike’s design.

After chatting with Vu — who was clear to the purpose of admitting the entire e-bike thought was simply sort of for the hell of it — it didn’t significantly really feel like Superstrata was making an attempt to actively mislead folks concerning the headlight state of affairs or the rest. The truth that Superstrata’s web site reveals a product you actually can’t purchase simply additional demonstrates that it isn’t this firm’s principal factor. The issue with that’s that most individuals making a purchase order this huge would really feel safer shopping for from an organization that lives and breathes bikes — not carbon fiber.

Superstrata e-bike

Picture Credit: TechCrunch

Customized carbon fiber

Again to the body — the meat of the innovation right here. The Superstrata bike is {custom} printed to order and that’s an enormous boon for people who find themselves on the extremes of the peak spectrum, together with adults underneath 5’2”, who apparently ordered the bike with gusto. For these people, who’re hard-pressed to search out correctly sized bikes elsewhere, Superstrata’s body dimension choices are in all probability genuinely an enormous deal. In the event you’ve searched excessive and low for a motorcycle to suit your unusually small or giant stature, Superstrata’s bikes is perhaps an incredible selection.

For anybody who falls within the normal-ish peak spectrum, the remainder of the customization course of is comparatively shallow. When counting on a motorcycle for commuting or city transportation functions, the actual customization choices that matter supply utility — issues like baskets, entrance or again racks and tire width.

Constructing the bike, you may select from an “city” or “sport” configuration for the bars, yielding an informal upright experience or a extra aerodynamic drop bar, street bike model. You’ll be able to go for a single velocity or a number of gears, an possibility that most individuals would in all probability favor however one which additionally provides $500. You’ll be able to choose whether or not you’d need tires for the street or for “paths” — perhaps gravel and light-weight offroading — however there’s not a lot element provided right here. Superstrata buries the elements listing, however the overview unit we had packed Shimano disc brakes, Bafang powering the electrical facet of the bike and a seize bag of manufacturers for the remainder.

After that stuff is dialed in, you may enter your particular peak and measurements for a custom-sized body. On that depend, we couldn’t actually make a willpower — my overview bike was designed for somebody a bit taller, although it was nonetheless rideable and okay. What else? The expertise of using the bike is okay, however nothing significantly subtle. The body’s design makes for a really stiff experience, so be careful for being jolted by uneven terrain.

The battery life is greater than sufficient for regular wants. Superstrata claims that it’ll final for 60 miles, however on a better help setting, you’re going to get considerably lower than that. Nonetheless, the battery would serve you for at the very least 20 miles, even when drawing extra energy, which is greater than positive for many around-the-town wants. It’s additionally value mentioning right here that the Superstrata e-bike doesn’t have a throttle — principally a button that offers you a burst of velocity to energy the bike alongside. A throttle is a very nice solution to scoot shortly by harmful intersections or to get your bike to take care of a better velocity and it’s robust to return when you’ve used one. The Superstrata e-bike can go as much as 20 miles per hour however you’ll must work for it.

On that observe, Superstrata’s state-of-the-art body is perhaps carbon fiber, however the e-bike doesn’t precisely really feel like a featherweight. As a result of the bike is so gentle within the entrance and so heavy within the again the place the motor lives, it really feels heavier than it’s. It’s additionally extra awkward to hold than a motorcycle that’s uniformly weighted and also you’re not going to wish to be lugging this factor down quite a lot of stairs at a time.

The Superstrata web site claims that the e-bike weighs 24 kilos, however there’s no method this factor weighs that a lot lower than my common experience, a VanMoof X3 that’s a hefty however evenly weighted 45.8 kilos. Vu famous that the ultimate model’s weight varies, however the e-bike weighs in round 38.5 to 39.6 lb, sufficient to just about obscure the load financial savings of the carbon fiber.

Finally, the Superstrata might be a strong possibility for somebody who falls exterior of regular peak parameters and desperately needs an e-bike. Superstrata’s bikes may additionally be a good selection for somebody who needs a custom-printed carbon fiber bike body and is assured about dialing in the remainder themselves, although shopping for the body alone isn’t an possibility on the web site.

In both of those instances, the superior carbon fiber know-how doesn’t come low-cost and neither does this bike — particularly when in comparison with opponents constructing feature-rich, cohesive e-bike experiences. Superstrata ought to in all probability give attention to its {custom} unibody carbon fiber frames and let different firms — or folks — construct the bikes out. And since this complete factor was an experiment anyway, which may very effectively be what the corporate plans to do.

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