Super 73 Electric Bike Review 2020
Hailing from Southern California, Lithium Cycles created the SUPER73 electric motorbike in 2016 after an exceptionally successful Kickstarter campaign. Since then, they’ve become the popular electric bike on the internet, striking a chord with many.
The vintage motorcycle designs of inspired design is a distinctive blend of urban cruiser and off-road scrambler. 4″ wide tyres means you can ride anywhere, be it sand, snow, mud or the city streets. The Super 73, a minimalist electric bike that resembles a small motorcycle, which is much pricier than more practical e-bikes. The stylish e-bike struck a nerve with more deep-pocketed millennials than they expected, so they pivoted from making electric carts for businesses and put all that money into making the Super 73.
Super73 Z SERIES
Super73 is all about the laid-back, Southern California style. These electric bikes place an emphasis on the mini-bike styling and give the feel of zooming around town on an electric moped or motorbike. But with many of the full-featured Super73 e-bikes starting at $2k or more, I wanted to see if you could get the same kind of experience on the $1,150 Super73-Z1, which is the company’s entry level model.
Super73-Z1 electric bike tech specs
Motor: 500W nominal, 1,000W peak rear hub motor
Top speed: 32 km/h (20 mph)
Range: 32 km (20 miles) though closer to 12-15 miles real world
Battery: 36V 11.6Ah with Panasonic cells (non-removable)
Charge time: 6-7 hours
Weight: 25.4 kg (56 lb)
Max load: 125 kg (275 lb)
Wheels: 20 inches with 4-inch fat tires
Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc brakes
Extras: Banana seat, thumb throttle, LED battery meter, kickstand
Super73-z1 e-bike video review
Check out my video review below to see the Super73-Z1 in action.
Bare bones, just the essentials
The first thing you’ll notice is that the Super73-Z1 is stripped down to the bare necessities. There are no lights, fenders, suspension, pedal assist, gear shifter, horn…. nothing! I even included the kickstand in the “Extras” section of the tech specs above because I was scraping the bottom of the barrel.
So you’re going into this knowing that there’s not a lot of fancy equipment or features.
But what you do get is an affordable and fun little moped-style e-bike to rip around on! The bike gets up to 20 mph (32 km/h) and has those nice fat street tires that allow you to really lean into turns and roll right over obstacles (no losing these tires in trolley tracks!). The banana seat isn’t adjustable, but you can just scoot forward or backward to find the most comfortable spot for you. It doesn’t really matter where you sit because you aren’t going to be pedaling this thing much. It’s super awkward to pedal. There’s only one gear that isn’t low enough for hills or high enough to help out pedaling at max speed. But the motor is strong enough to get up hills with a lot more power than I expected from a 36V setup.
The biggest draw here is the style of the bike. You definitely turn heads on a Super73; it’s a very eye-catching design. And the cool thing about the Super73-Z1 is that it looks a lot more expensive than it is. It’s priced at $1,395 on Super73’s site right now. But I’d recommend checking it out on Amazon where you can save $250 and pick it up for $1,150. That’s a great price for a bike that looks this good (and this much fun to ride!). And if you really want to catch people’s attention, consider going for the “Astro Orange” model.
Even though pedaling is nearly futile, I didn’t really miss it. The Super73-Z1 is definitely a laid-back, cruise-around type of bike that feels much more like a motorbike than a standard bicycle. And since it is a Class 2 e-bike (limited to 20 mph), it is allowed in many more places than faster Class 3 e-bikes.
Of course it isn’t going to be as fancy as Super73’s other e-bikes. They just unveiled an awesome full suspension e-bike for $3,500 and even their S1 and S2 with more range, higher power drivetrains, and fancier features start at twice the price of the Super73-Z1. And I love the Super73-S1, don’t get me wrong. I reviewed it last year and had a blast. But forking over $2k+ is a much bigger commitment than $1,150 for the Super73-Z1.
Of course you aren’t just giving up features like lights and LCD displays here, you’re also giving up range. That’s probably the biggest caveat of this bike — it doesn’t have great range. The 418Wh battery is a bit below average compared to the industry, and those 4-inch-wide fat tires aren’t doing efficiency any favors. The company says you can get 20 miles of range, but that’s likely measured at less than top speed. Is 20 miles of range possible? Sure. But who rides like that?
In real life, when you’re spending most of your time with the throttle pegged, you’re not likely to see more than 15 miles (25 km) of range. Thrash it really hard and you could get even less. So if you need a longer range bike for distance rides, this isn’t it. Not only is the range short, but the battery isn’t removable. You’ve got to charge it on the bike, which probably means garage charging for most people.
But for anyone who just wants to cruise around the city, run errands, or look cool riding the local boardwalk or pier, the Super73-Z1 is the bike that will do it for you. And even though it isn’t as fancy as some other e-bikes, I can forgive all that because of the price. If you can afford a fancier e-bike, Super73 has higher-end bikes on offer. But for those of us that want to stretch every dollar as far as we can, the Super73-Z1 hits the spot.
Super 73 S SERIES
With a look that resembles a classic mini bike from the 1960s, the Scout S1, of course, is more modern version and uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The motor is in the rear wheel, it’s a geared hub motor and the faux gas tank actually houses the battery where you would normally expect a gas tank on a mini bike to be.
The big front headlight enhances the look, but instead of a big, wiggly incandescent bulb, it’s a bright, attractive LED. The S1 comes stock with a short saddle, but there’s an option for one that extends all the way to the back of the rack.
“When your inner 10-year-old comes out, sometimes you have to try it anyways.”
Though the frame and fork are made in-house, much of the rest of the hardware, like headset and bottom bracket, are fairly standard bike parts. At 135mm wide with a solid axle, the front hub is definitely made for fat bikes. It’s all pretty beefy with an overall build quality that can be likened to a tank. At about 70 pounds, it’s not something you’re likely going to lift up much, but it has a torquey 500-watt motor that scoots it around easily. Any time you put a hub motor on a small wheel, you get a lot of torque, and the 20-inch wheels on this bike prove that.
The bike comes standard with a shorter seat and a rack for easy cargo carriage. Customers can request a seat that extends all the way back. You have your choice of flat black or white, though custom colors can be arranged. Their stock olive (think old military vehicles) looks really good, and we saw one custom paint job for a customer in bright pink. Custom colors add to the price, of course. The bike comes standard with knobby tires, but you can swap them for slick tires, and if you’re over 6 feet tall, they recommend upgrading to the extra-long seat.
A single gear is attached to a powerful, geared, 500-watt hub motor that makes this a pretty quick bike.
The Scout S1 comes with a nice toolkit to assemble the bike if you have it shipped to you, including an adjustable crescent wrench, a pedal wrench, several sizes of hex wrenches, and a 4mm Torx wrench to install and tighten brake rotor bolts. If you don’t want to assemble it, and you’re able to pick it up in Tustin, California, they will assemble it fully for you for $75.
The 14.5-Ah battery takes about three hours to fully charge and promises plenty of range. This bike may not be your choice for a touring bike, but it definitely is all about style and some performance. The 30-plus-mile range should be more than enough for most people’s commutes. The controller is very easy to read and ergonomically placed with an integrated thumb throttle. Pedal assist is also available via a cadence sensor.
The Scout S1 is aimed directly at those who want a very stylish electric bike and don’t mind getting plenty of attention. Those of a certain age will remember mini bikes that were in ads in a lot of magazines, which some of us had and some of us wished we had them. They usually were powered by a lawnmower engine. This one is pure electric—no pull cord to start it! Unlike those old mini bikes, this one is designed primarily for flat, paved roads. A sleek, chic commuter. There seems to be equal interest in this bike from both the older and younger/hipster generations.
Getting on this bike is very easy. It’s fairly low and has a large, padded seat. The display, controller and motor look like they’re from Bafang, but it’s sourced through Lectric Cycles and branded as Lithium. The throttle and controller with display are really sturdy, and you can position it for easy reach on the right side. Since the bike has a cadence sensor, any pedal input starts up the power instantly. You can use the throttle instead if you prefer. The wide pedals can be a little awkward at first, so the throttle becomes the go-to. Power-assist levels didn’t seem to have a big difference between them, so the throttle is actually a more accurate way of controlling speed. The brakes have cutoff switches, and with the wide contact patch of the tires, quick stops are pretty easy.
As with any fat-tire bike, tire pressure is crucial. The suggested range is 20–30 psi with a 35-psi max. Good suggestion. The higher the pressure, the less rolling resistance. That also has to be tempered with how hard a ride you want in that the only suspension in the bike is in the tires and a tiny bit in the padded seat. Lower pressure equals a more cushy ride and better grip depending on the surface.
The tires have tubes, and those tubes aren’t easy to source if you get a flat. Bike shops are unlikely places to find a tube to fit a 20×4-inch tire. You may have to go to a motorcycle shop to find one. We had to patch one of the tubes at one point for want of a readily available replacement.
There’s no suspension to see here. The voluminous tires still provide for a fairly cushy ride. The bike isn’t designed for much off-road use, but that didn’t stop one of our test riders from seeing what it was capable of. He took it on a trail we use for mountain bike tests, and after a steep, 20-minute climb, the hub motor overheated. He let it sit for five minutes, and it had already cooled enough to start again and keep going. It’s not what the company recommends, but when your inner 10-year-old comes out, sometimes you have to try it anyways.
Super73 R series
The R-Series takes the original Super73 electric bike design and cranks it into overdrive. That means a powerful motor, bigger battery, full suspension, high quality components, integrated tech/smart features, and an aggressive design.
We’ll start with the motor. It’s a 750W continuous unit, but that’s a nominal 750 watts — as in 750W in name only. Out of four power modes, the first three mode allow the motor to peak at 1,200W.
The Super73 R-Series ships with a standard Class 2 e-bike setup including a 20 mph (32 km/h) top speed and a functional hand throttle. But three other ride modes offer Class 1 operation (pedal assist limited 20 mph), Class 3 (pedal assist at 28 mph) and Unlimited Mode (full 2,000W peak power and throttle control up to 28 mph). Super73 explicitly states that Unlimited Mode is not for public roads but rather for use on private property. Super73 actually lists the top speed of Unlimited Mode as “28mph +,” meaning that riders might even be surprised with an even higher top speed. Considering the “20 mph” Super73 S1 took me up to 25 mph, I wouldn’t be shocked to find that the R-Series overdelivers on speed as well.
The 960 Wh battery on the Super73 R-Series is one of the largest batteries found in the electric bicycle industry. It is built with 21700 Li-ion battery cells and is large enough to provide up to 40 miles (64 km) of range under throttle-only operation at 20 mph (32 km/h). Add in your own pedal assist and the bike can reach a maximum range of 75 miles (120 km).
Unlike previous versions of the Super73 e-bike, the R-Series offers full suspension. There are two different models to choose from, the R Base Model and the RX Premium Model, and each has a slightly different suspension setup.
The RX Premium Model includes an adjustable inverted front shock and a coilover piggyback monoshock in the rear. In case you weren’t aware, we’re talking nearly light electric motorcycle-level suspension here. Other high end components include 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes on oversized rotors, powerful LED head and tail lights, Super73’s proprietary new 5-inch wide tires and options for features like a two-person seat, passenger foot pegs, IoT connectivity for smartphone alerts such as anti-theft warnings, horn, turn signals, and more.
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