Without a doubt, the Super73 R Series Brooklyn is the worst bicycle I’ve ever ridden. It’s too small for many adults, it forces you into an awful riding position, it’s unconscionably heavy, and it offers a grand total of one gear.
Riding it was also far and away the most fun I’ve had on an electric bike yet.
All that weight gets you a robust, dual-suspension frame and fat tires that swallow the bumps and cut confident turns on all sorts of surfaces. And it gets you a powerful motor that lets you blast away from stops despite the bike’s weight. You also get a huge battery that supposedly offers a range of over 120 km when the bike is in “eco” mode—a mode nobody will ever use because it’s far too much fun to rocket around with the electrical assist maxed out.
The design: Urban dirt?
Super73 offers five different versions of its R series, an e-bike that offers either full electric drive, full pedaling, or electric-assisted pedaling. All five versions, however, look like miniature versions of a dirt bike. One, the Malibu, is kitted out to look like an off-road racer. I tested the Brooklyn edition, touted as a “performance street racer.” The key difference here seems to be the tires, which are relatively slick but still offered plenty of grip and handled a gravel trail with confidence.
Dirt bikes get their ruggedness in part from their compact form, and the Brooklyn takes that idea to the extreme, with a seat height of only about 80 cm (32 inches) off the ground—and that’s before the rider’s weight compresses the rear suspension. I’m tall but not freakishly so, yet I was easily able to plant both feet on the ground while seated. That means the pedals are awkwardly close to my hips, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the bike is compact in its horizontal dimensions.
That, plus the impressive weight of the bike (38 kg / 83 lbs), made it incredibly difficult to pedal. The seat seems to be designed for a rider and passenger, with a raised section at the rear for the passenger. But I needed to be as far back as possible to pedal, so I found myself in what should be the passenger’s seat. That stance meant my legs kept bumping into the wide part of the seat to turn the pedals. The company offers optional 10-speed gearing that may improve the pedaling experience, but it costs $235, which is a bit much for a bike that already costs $3,500. It’s also currently out of stock.
(I’ve decided that I’m limiting my definition of e-bikes to things with pedals, so I have turned down review hardware without them. But Super73 is testing that limit with this design.)
There’s not a lot to the bike beyond the obvious. The front and rear lights are excellent, and it comes with a horn that’s loud enough to induce heart attacks in those who don’t notice its near-noiseless approach. The hydraulic disk brakes are excellent—a necessity for a bike that weighs over 35 kilograms (83 lbs). In addition to making potholes and speedbumps non-issues, the suspension works to absorb the forces of hard braking so a sudden stop doesn’t send you flying over the handlebars. There’s a throttle that lets you engage the electric motor without pedaling and a simple set of controls and a display that we’ll talk about more below.
The bike’s battery is removable, allowing it to be charged without requiring the bike to be near a power outlet. It’s a high-capacity battery, though, so hauling it around without the benefit of wheels is not as convenient as it might seem.
Overall, this is a well-constructed machine, and you get a lot for its $3,500 price tag. If you’re in the neighborhood of 150 cm tall (five feet) and pay for the extra nine gears, it might make for a reasonable electric-assist pedal bike. For anyone else, it’s all going to be about the electric powertrain. And there is a lot to say about that powertrain.