Front and center on April 21 at the Edison Awards, a ceremony in New York honoring innovative products and leaders, was a sleek gray bike. It was the latest version from Swiss electric bike company Stromer, called the ST2 S, and it just might be the most advanced bicycle in the world.
It sure looks the part. While the ST2 S has a traditional frame shape, the company didn't try to create an aesthetic that hid the fact that it's electric. Instead, it looks every bit the futuristic, heavy-duty-looking e-bike--with a motor and battery built into its frame.
The ST2 S, which launched in the U.S. the next day, moves the young electric-bike industry forward, connecting it to the Internet of Things in a way not seen before. But that's not to say it's for only advanced bikers.
"We think of it as a commuter's bike," says Markus Eggimann, Stromer's general manager for North America.
Let's hope that commute is to a lucrative job. The bike has a price tag of $9,490. Not exactly accessible for the average consumer, and a pretty wild amount to shell out for a bike, even if you have the cash.
The eyebrow-raising number actually isn't too far from the cost for most premium electric bikes. Higher-end e-bikes can run in the $6,000 to $7,000 range, and this one adds more power than most--and certainly more technology.
What do you get for the money? For starters, a motor with 500 Watts of power. The battery, which the company says is the most powerful on the e-bike market, lasts 110 miles on average, though charging it can take four to five hours to go from empty to full. Tapping the hand brakes during riding sends energy back into the battery, which extends the battery's life. Users can pedal in standard mode or toggle between three levels of assisted pedaling.
A small LED touch screen on the bike's top tube displays information including speed, distance traveled, and the amount of charge remaining. The bike is compatible with an app, which allows riders to lock it remotely, freezing the rear wheel in place. The app lets users adjust the maximum speed--up to 28 mph--and the amount of torque needed to accelerate out of a standstill.
Stromer has created its own cloud platform portal, called Omni, which stores riding data like time and mileage. It also lets Stromer dealers and staff diagnose problems and address minor electronic maintenance issues remotely. And should others covet your expensive piece of merchandise, the app lets you put the bike into an unrideable anti-theft mode--the headlight flashes and the motor shuts down--and track it via GPS.
The bike is a significant step forward for Internet of Things-connected technology. An estimated 6.4 billion devices are currently connected, and that number is projected to reach 21 billion within five years. While plenty of sporty devices connect to the cloud, most, to this point, have been wearables or add-ons. A bike that has all the traditional elements of a premium bike and also connects directly to the Internet could appeal to a whole new market of athletes--should the prices come down.
The ST2 S is the fifth iteration of Stromer's electric bikes. The company was founded in 2009 by Swiss entrepreneur Thomas Binggeli, who, according to company legend, sold his parents' livestock while they were away on vacation and used the money to open his first bike shop. It was acquired by another Swiss bike company, BMC, in 2011. Stromers have since gained a greater a foothold in the U.S. and can be found at electric bike shops. About 1,000 models of the ST2 S have been stocked in shops across the globe.
The bike took three years to develop. Eggiman spent most of that time as Stromer's senior vice president of product, which means he was involved in the bicycle's design start to finish. It explains why, on the Edison Awards showcase floor, he pet the bike on its very advanced, very expensive handlebars. "This is my baby."