This post is also available in: Deutsch
It was expected to happen – once E-Bikes started becoming popular in California, someone like the Vintage Electric Bike company would come along and add their flair and cool Californian style to create probably the radest looking E-Bike that we have seen on the market today. We came across the Vintage Electric Scrambler at the Sea Otter bike festival, as part of our investigation into the Californian E-Bike culture. We just had to try one, so we organised a day of riding with Vintage Electric in San Jose and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Vintage Electric Scrambler – In Brief
The Vintage Electric Scrambler is supposed to look cool!
The Vintage Electric Scrambler is probably in a category of its own. It’s designed for multi-use, including gentle off-road, street legal as an E-Bike in the pedal assist category, and will be coming to Europe soon as a 25 km/h European version. The bike can do any type of pedal mode from 250 W pedal assist up to and including being rated as a speed pedelec. It can be used on-road and off-road – we tried all variants of the bike. So what is it like to ride something as unique as the Scrambler? The aim of Vintage Electric was to make something cool you can cruise around on and at the same time go off-roading a bit if you want. We would suggest off-road riding should be kept to smooth, flowing trails or fire roads – it’s not designed for rough Enduro tracks, but it’s extremely fun when you do take it on fire roads or flowing trails.
The Scrambler almost came about by accident as the companies founder Andrew Davidge was at high school, and he started to create an E-Bike that he wanted to ride everywhere. He started with an on-road version then added the off-road version as well, which is the one we tested. We took the E-Bike up to the trails and mountains high above Santa Cruz, avoiding the poison oak and rattlesnakes that persist lower down.
On the trails in the pedal assist mode it’s clear, this is an easy going bike: It’s not going to win an Enduro World Series race, but it’s not supposed to. Fire roads are really easy to get along and where we felt most at home. We also rode it around San Jose and received more stares than if we were a super famous movie star riding around naked.
|Forks||custom all aluminum dual-sport inverted suspension fork made by MRP|
|Triple Clamp||CNC machined high-grade billet aluminum|
|Grips & Saddle||hand crafted leatherwork by Brooks England LTD|
|Drive Train||single speed, custom crank set, 36–15 T|
|Brakes||Shimano Alfine Hydraulic Disc, 203 mm front, 160 mm back|
|Wheels||26" aluminium, 36 spokes, hand laced and tensioned|
|Tires||Schwalbe Black Jack 26" x 2.25" with KevlarGuard|
|Price||$ 6,995 / Euro price TBC|
Vintage Electric Scrambler – Hands On
The Scrambler in our opinion looks amazing and has a really great quality finish: the paint, the battery box, the controls – all have a quality look and feel. The ride feel on the bike is sublime smoothness, it can be ridden by anyone, and has a 750 Wh battery which means it has serious range. On the descents it has regenerative braking, which keeps the battery topped up. When we first sat on it, we had a clear understanding of what the SUV effect is that we have been hearing about so much recently in the E-Bike world:
“The SUV effect is a phenomenon that has become fairly common in the E-Bike world. It is where people buy high-end E-Bikes for cruising around on and have no intention of riding them in an extreme manner. They just want to be seen and cruise around and maybe hit some dirt roads sometimes.” – Andrea Leo, Marketing Manager Giant Italy
Hydroformed aluminium tubes make up the main frame parts with a central sand cast battery box. There is no hint of saving weight, it’s more about form over function. However, the frame is strong, well-made with each part clearly thought out. The look is about evoking a vintage feel with modern technology. The battery box is held central within the frame and is mid placed, which balances the weight nicely. The rear triangle is pretty long, giving a stable ride – this is not about going around corners quickly. The rear dropouts have a BMX style chain tensioning layout. Cable runs are tidy and externally mounted. The frame has been designed about the look and ride stability when at speed.
The body position, reach and general geometry has been designed for an up-right riding position: It’s a long bike with a fairly up right head angle. However, the geometry seems to be about comfort and cool. We are not sure how to measure a “cool” geometry, as we don’t think it has been done before. The seat angle is very laid back, which makes sense at speed when in race mode. The Vintage Electric Scrambler is basically about controllable comfort at speed. Also, there is the tendency to evoke a classic motorcycle.
The Vintage Electric Scrambler has 26″ wheels specified with a 36 spoke build as standard. This is obviously to support the 32 kg weight of the bike. The tires are also reinforced Schwalbe Black Jack off-road variants. They are 2.25″ in size and have a compromise on-/off-road pattern, which gives an indication of the intended use of this bicycle. The wheels are built around a Shimano compatible disc brake system. Vintage Electric have specified a 203 mm disc on the front and a 160 mm disc on the back. Braking is provided by Shimano Alfine brakes. The front axle is a 20 mm standard on a Paul hub, as this gives extra stiffness to the upside down fork.
Vintage Electric commissioned MRP to make the fork for this bike. It has a triple clamp and is upside down. About 90 mm of travel has been specified – this fork is designed for comfort and control. With a heavy long bike the designer decided it was better to focus on looks and strength. We noted no apparent excessive flex in the fork design, though, this is probably the best looking suspension fork we have ever seen on a mountain bike. The finish and hardware styling is excellent.
The rest of the bicycle has been built with style as the number one requirement. From a Brooks saddle to the two finger brake levers on a wide Moto-style bar with leather grips – this bike oozes style. Apparently, Shimano had to reactivate the brake lever forming machine production line just to meet Vintage Electric’s specific requirements of the two finger brake levers. The drivetrain is a single speed set up. The ratio we were using is fine for flat and undulating terrain, however, it might be necessary to change the ratio according to where the bike might be used. The Scrambler comes as standard with lights on the front and rear pre-wired into the system. There is no speed display on the model we tried, but later updates will have a speed display. The battery display on the class 2 version we tried was mounted next to the accelerator. On pedal assist versions it will be likely included with the speed display.
Motor & Battery
|Range||56 km / 35 miles in street mode|
|Speed||Europe: 25 km/h
USA: 20 – 35 mph
|Recharge Time||2 hours|
|Motor||3,000 W, 3-phase brushless electric custom design|
|Power||250–750 W street mode (country category dependent) / 3,000 W race mode|
|Energy Recapture||Vintage Electric Regenerative Braking System|
|Battery||52V, 13.5 Ah with estimated pack life of 30,000 miles|
The Scrambler has 3000 W at its disposal. However, the race mode which can access the power can only be activated with a special key and should not be activated unless off-road on private land or when it’s registered as a moped. The power configuration will be country dependent. The USA version we tried can go 20 mph (32 kph). The European version will be limited to 25 kph. However, it could be possible to class this bike as a speed pedelec, which means you would need to register the bike, then it will go 45 km/h easily. Vintage Electric will be publishing the different options as these bikes become available in Europe.
The power is delivered through a hub motor which also can be used to charge the battery. On the bar is a red button which is a regenerative brake. The battery during our usage lasted a very long time. In the standard pedal assist mode the Vintage Electric Scrambler can easily reach the claimed 50 km range. Obviously, this will change according to the type of hills and surface you ride across. The battery and control systems are located inside the battery box which is sealed, which acts as a heat sink as well. During our riding we didn’t notice any heat build-up on the box.
We tried the bike in pedal assist mode and also with an accelerator which is specific to the USA class 2 market. Both ways of riding are equal – obviously, pedalling gets the rider to the maximum speed more quickly than using the accelerator.
On the Trail
Riding the Vintage Electric Scrambler was one of the smoothest and most fun experiences we have had on an easy going mountain bike. Let’s be clear: This is not an extreme trail bike – it’s more like a cruising gravel bike. We rode the bike in various conditions, but mainly on fire roads and smooth, flat trails. It’s not designed to be taken into rock gardens, it’s not a cross-country machine either. If you like to pedal bikes, then this is the bike to take you around the countryside on gravel roads and make it into town to the beer garden or cruise to work on.
We did take the E-Bike onto some single trails. Yes, it works on single trails, if the trail flows, but we think that after riding it for a few hours it is not the point of this bike.
When in pedal assist mode, the Scrambler gradually reaches its maximum speed in an elegant manner. The motor feels quite powerful, even though the rider is more disconnected from it due to the motor being embedded in the rear wheel. However, for steep hills we would prefer a different ratio on the drive train. With a motor like this and all that power available at low speeds, the bike will be tuned for more torque. One feature we have always noted of hub motors, they are super quiet. In fact, the Scrambler is a very quiet bike – never a whisper of sound ever.
The extra weight of the Vintage Electric Scrambler is great on gravel roads – it makes the bike feel stable and planted. Cornering is smooth and stable, this is not an E-Bike for snapping switch backs on. Sit back and watch the country side roll by. The regenerative braking was pretty cool, it gave us a way to control descent speed smoothly without locking up the wheels, plus it recharges the battery a bit.
We knew when we first set eyes on the Vintage Electric Scrambler that the bike was about lifestyle and transport. We were not sure at first what we would be able to do with it off-road. If you are into sporty riding, then this is not the E-Bike for you.
The Scrambler can be ridden on many types of surface. The suspension and brakes work well and make the bike stop quickly and ride smoothly – also, the battery range is pretty good. The riding position isn’t going to tire you out as well. When it’ll be available in Europe, we think it should be best classed here as an S-Pedelec, as high speed mode is super fun.
Video – the Vintage Electric Scrambler in Action
Would you consider the Vintage Electric Scrambler for your everyday use?
Further Information About The Vintage Electric Scrambler
Text & Edit: Alex Boyce | eMTB-News.de
Photography: Alex Boyce, Nicolas Jimenez/Vintage Electric
Vintage Electric Scrambler
- 0 to 120 mm Travel (Hardtails and Full-Suspension)
- 100 to 150 mm Travel (Hardtails and Full-Suspension)
- 120 to 150 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- 150 to 180 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- more than 180 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- Das hier angegebene Gewicht ist die Summe aus den Einzelgewichten (E-Bike, Fahrer, Rucksack usw.), welches bei unserem Reichweitentest zum Einsatz kam.
This post is also available in: Deutsch