Solid Performance And Cafe Racer Style At A Serious Price

The more I think about e-bikes, the more I see them on the streets. Where I live in Santa Monica certainly seems like the perfect place to ride an e-bike for commuting, for exercise, and for fun, anyway. From community bike-sharing apps to high-end carbon-fiber road bikes with a bit of electric assist to help on big climbs, the market only looks likely to keep expanding.

Probably the brand that the largest number of friends ask me about is Super73, likely due to the constant smattering of ads on Instagram teasing the company’s forthcoming C1X electric motorcycle. So when Super73 appeared at Electrify Expo in Long Beach recently, I made sure to check out the company’s booth and take a couple of their new models for a spin. After that quick intro, Super73 set me up with a two-week loan to get fully acclimated to the street and city-focused R Brooklyn in minimalist Obsidian black.

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Like the C1X concept, which remains at least a couple years out due to the increased regulation of full-on motorcycles, the R Brooklyn stands out from the pack with a utilitarian, moto-inspired design. Simple in black, with a battery pack in place of a cafe racer’s fuel tank and a bench seat, Super73 here prioritizes an upright riding position that fits a comfortable range of body types despite lacking a height-adjustable seat.

At first glance, the decision to mount the 960-watt-hour battery so high up seems strange, at least from my perspective as a road bicyclist, but the fat 5×20-inch motorcycle-sized tires on the R Brooklyn help to counteract any top-heavy tendencies. And in fact, compared to other e-bikes I’ve ridden, the dual front and rear suspension manage to disguise the bike’s 82-pound overall weight (which nonetheless showed up climbing the three steps into my apartment).

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Power Button With Battery Key

Claimed specs for the R Brooklyn include 40-plus miles of range when ridden with throttle only at 20 miles per hour, or 75 miles of range in pedal-assist mode. A hub-mounted motor caps out at 2,000 watts of output, more than enough to get up to speed in traffic. Those relatively solid figures come at a steep price, though, as this e-bikes starts at a not-insignificant sum of $3,495 from many retailers. And that’s before adding accessories.

One detail I immediately appreciated about the R Brooklyn—which many other e-bikes lack—makes all the more sense given the industry’s escalating price tags: a key required to remove the battery. This allows for easy removal in the hopes of preventing theft, though of course, if someone really wants your Super73, they can pick it up and run or toss it in the back of a truck. I wish that Super73 had gone one step further and required the key to actually use the electric system, but every little added bit of inconvenience helps to prevent wandering eyes, nonetheless. Whenever I left the R Brooklyn anywhere, I locked it up with my heavy-duty Abus chain lock.

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Controlling Your Super73

The R Brooklyn’s intuitive controls match most other e-bikes. The little readout on the left handle displays speed, battery remaining, and power assist level for the thumb throttle on the right. At the first assist level, the electric motor only contributes minimally when the pedals move but on the highest +4 setting, the throttle alone can propel the bike up to around 28 miles per hour with no pedaling necessary. I found that figure moderately dependent on wind and rider position, though. A smartphone app additionally allows riders to change the assist setting and keep track of charge levels.

Like most road and mountain bikes these days, the R Brooklyn features hefty two-piston front and rear disc brakes that haul the e-bike to a stop with ease—a must on a heavy e-bike and controlled via two standard brake levers (standard for bicycles, not motorcyles). And just like most road and mountain bike disc brakes these days, the pads tend to rub on the rotors relatively often, making sounds that alternate between choppy and whiny.

Of note, while opening and assembling the new R Brooklyn that Super73 sent me, the detached chromoly handlebars arrived uninstalled in order to fit longitudinally in the large box, instead dangling on only the hydraulic disc brake lines and rubbing on the front left fork to the point that the Obsidian paint started to scratch. I double and triple-checked the brake pressure and action before my first ride, just to make sure the packaging job caused no leaks, though I might recommend that anyone in the market buy their R Brooklyn from a retailer if this shipping method applies to all bikes rather than just media loans.

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Drive Modes And Power Settings

As soon as I felt confident the disc brakes still worked, I set the R Brooklyn on +4 and went for a spin around the neighborhood. Over the course of my time with the bike, I cruised around Santa Monica and Venice running errands and riding for fun. Compared to the Vintage Electric 72 Volt Roadster in my garage at the same time, the R Brooklyn benefits from a couple of pedals off the line to produce the rapid acceleration I enjoy—though the Vintage Electric costs about twice as much and the 4,000-watt drivetrain definitely counts as excessively (and probably dangerously) powerful.

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Finetuning Suspension Settings

Once rolling, though, the R Brooklyn rockets along with ease, on the flats as well as going up or down hills, and the front suspension gobbles up those road imperfections the wide tires fail to smooth out. At 165 pounds, I decided to soften up the rear suspension to more closely match the fronts (and plus, the journalist in me needed to see how much of a difference the little knob might make—plenty, as it turns out).

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Minimal Chain Noise

At Electrify Expo, I immediately noticed the fact that Super73 uses a derailleur at the rear hub, even though the R Brooklyn only uses one rear sprocket. Ostensibly to provide clearance around the beefy chainstay, the derailleur also helps to reduce chain noise. The front chainring, meanwhile, might benefit from a few additional teeth given the speeds at which anyone who buys a Super73 will certainly ride, otherwise beginning to pedal after using only throttle assist results in spinning out the gearing.

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All in all, the range and power serve perfectly for West LA, which, in addition to the Instagram ads, explains why I see so many of Super73’s various models around. While neither number blows the R Brooklyn’s competition out of the water, the ride quality and upright position left me wishing the loaner might accidentally end up forgotten in my garage. Plus, I appreciated little details like well-insulated wiring connections and the key start.

I never even needed to use the 163.8-watt charger, which other outlets report requires six hours to fully charge the battery on a standard 110-volt outlet. Presumably, mounting the battery lower in the aluminum frame’s negative space might further improve handling and balance, though doing so might sacrifice some of the cafe racer styling. Better yet, mounting another battery pack for more range at top speed sounds like a good idea—or at the very least, a bottle cage for anyone who can resist ratcheting the assist right up to +4.

Without a doubt, the R Brooklyn feels almost more like a motorcycle than a bicycle, even as Super73 skirts California’s official Class 2 electric bike laws with the standard liability-reducing caveat that +4 assist is only for off-road or private property use only. I strongly recommend that everyone who rides a Super73 always wear a helmet—and maybe even some subtle armored like the Spidi Moto Jogger Tex Pants and Rock Leather Jacket you can see me in above. Nobody looks cool in a helmet, I know, but throwing on some motorcycle gear that blends style, safety, and breathability only further enhances the exact aesthetic that Super73 nails as one of the R Brooklyn’s main selling points.

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