Thinking about an e-bike for your daily commute? Want something with style and oomph? Meet the Super73 SG1.
E-bikes aren’t new. They can trace their origins to the mopeds that emerged after the second world war. In fact, it was mopeds that got the world moving because they were cheap to make and buy and could cover larger distances more quickly than walking.
More than that, public transport beyond major cities wasn’t really a thing, so mopeds made huge sense. Sure, motorbikes were hugely popular too but they weren’t for everyone and they were still pricey compared with a moped.
The simplicity of taking a bicycle and fitting a small motor attached to the wheel hub meant thousands of people purchased a moped. And the brands making them became household names. Brands like Mosquito in Italy, Hilfsmotor in Germany and Cyclemaster in the UK began producing motor-assisted bicycles in their thousands. Indeed, Cyclemaster sold more than 50,000 of the things between 1950 and 1952. Popular through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, mopeds (a compound of motorbike and pedal) fell into decline in the 1980s as laws restricted their appeal and other forms of transport became cheaper and more widely available.
Mopeds are making a comeback but not as a petrol powered bicycle, rather as an electric bike. And the e-bikes we’re seeing on the road today are less a throwback to the 1950s and inspired instead by the sports mopeds of the 1970s (like the Yamaha FS1 pictured above). Those things were fast. So fast that by 1977 Governments around the world introduced legislation restricting them to adults…previously mopeds had been accessible to kids and teenagers and too many of them were dying on sports mopeds. Sales fell off a cliff overnight.
What is the Super73 SG1?
This thing is the OG. In fact, since the SG1 was launched in 2016, there have been almost a dozen copies from around the world. But instead of launching lawsuits, the team at Super73 reckon that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that while the SG1 has been copied plenty of times it’s never been bettered.
The SG1 was designed from the outset to look cool taking its design cues from the old-school Sports Mopeds of the 1970s as well as the early days of motocross with a stripped back and rugged look. Everything about the SG1 (the G means Global) screams quality from the frame (mine’s black) but you can also get it in white, army green and desert tan. The mud guards are great, the LED lighting works well at night, the wiring is all neat and well protected and the kickstand is strong and easy to use.
The SG1 isn’t an electric mountain bike, rather it’s aimed at those who want to cruise around town looking cool. And I just love that clean, simple design, especially the way the battery pack has been designed to look like a fuel tank (even better, the battery comes with a key lock so it can be removed to keep it safe or charge it away from the bike – future-proofed too). In fact, in the US, Super73 markets this thing, much like Onyx, as an electric motorbike. And it certainly looks the part.
Here in Australia, the SG1 is available through Ben Buckler Boards in Sydney (and they list for around $3690) but the one in this test is owned by me. And I’ve owned it for the last couple of years.
The SG1 comes with a 250watt rear-hub driven motor mated to a 48V 14.5AH (696Watt/Hour) battery. This offers a range of around 60-70km depending on the weight of the rider and the speed being ridden at – top speed is limited to 25km/h as per Australian law. It takes around three to four hours to recharge the SG1’s battery and the bike weighs 32kg with a weight limit of 110kg. Sure it’s heavy compared to other commuter bikes but my 12-year old (the model in these photos) has no problems riding the SG1.
The SG1 can be had with a heap of accessories like a bottle holder, an extended seat like the one I’ve got on mine and even luggage carrying options. And the knobbly 20x4inch tyres offer excellent traction on dirt and tarmac.
There are three levels of pedal assistance, Eco, Tour and Sport (it’s also got a Walk mode) and you don’t need a licence to ride the SG1. For private-road use, the SG1 can be fitted with a cost optional thumb throttle controller which unlocks the SG1’s full potential and will see it motor along at around 40km/h. However, it’s illegal to use the SG1 on a public road with the throttle controller installed.
What’s the Super73 SG1 like to ride?
The SG1 is heaps of fun. Especially on dirt. And the SG1 is easy to get the hang of, even my kids can ride it easily.
It’s not a tall bike and so taller riders might look a little gangly perched on top of it (exacerbated by the 20-inch wheels) but that means you can easily reach the ground and the extended seat I’ve fitted on mine means plenty of different sized riders can get comfortable. And while I’ve read some stories where people complain about the long pedal cranks, I’m six-foot-two tall and I can happily ride the thing all day. In fact, the frame’s been designed to accommodate people from four-feet tall through to six-foot plus.
When I’m riding I tend to lob the thing straight into Sport Mode giving me the most pedal assistance. This mode turns hills into mole hills and means you can go further than you would on a regular push bike. And, if you find you’re starting to run the battery down you just put it back to Eco mode and pedal a bit harder yourself.
The Tektro hydraulic brakes are excellent and don’t ever need adjustment and the knobbly tyres provide huge grip on dirt but allow for some awesome drifts and skids. And because they’re so big you can drop the pressures slightly for sand riding, making the SG1 easier to ride on soft stuff than any mountain bike. The LED lights are great for riding at night (being seen, at least) and the brake light always works even if you’ve got the headlight turned off.
For me, I use my SG1 on weekends only and then I mainly thrash it around on dirt roads, or let the kids fang about on it. If you were planning on riding it every day as a commuter just bear in mind that at 32kg it’s pretty heavy to be lugging it up and down stairs and that without the front fork suspension you get on the new S2 model it ain’t for big MTB style jumps.
What else do I need to know?
The great thing about these Super73 e-bikes is the tuner/custom community that’s grown up to support them. A hunt around the web throws up images of full blown scrambler builds, custom panniers, handlebar conversions and so much more. There are plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to the Super73 range that share hacks and custom bikes. Heaps of inspiration for your own build. Check out some of the images below.
Earlier this year Super73 announced a raft of new release e-bikes going on-sale this year. The SG1 we’ve profiled here will carry on, but there will be a stripped back and cheaper ZG as well as the R-Series which will boast front-fork suspension although this model still hasn’t beet been confirmed for Australia and will likely need some changes to meet compliance. See, the R-Series will feature a 2000 watt motor which will be scaled back to 250 watt for use in Australia. However, for use on private property only you’ll be able to unlock the full 2000 watts.