My dad had an old Puch moped back in the day, and while I don’t ever remember it running, it firmly planted a seed for the solution that attempted to blend human power and an internal combustion engine in a single vehicle. Mopeds typically only had 1 or 2 horsepower (746 – 1492kW) and a top speed of 20-30 mph, so the 750 watt electric motors used on many electric bikes in the US with top speeds of 20-28 mph are already comparable.
Fast forward 40 years and the e-bike market is pushing on the same form factor from the other direction. Bicycles have enabled billions around the world to get around and stay in shape for ages with very little changes to the core form factor. The sharp decrease in the price of lithium-ion batteries that bring higher energy densities and lighter weights have made it easier than ever to add an electric motor and battery pack to a bike to squeeze out more range, more power, and more utility from the classic bicycle form factor.
Southern California-based Juiced Bikes saw the evolution of the e-bike and built the Scorpion as the embodiment of the modern moped. Its overbuilt 100-pound frame features massive front end shocks and external struts reminiscent of my father’s Puch moped that enjoyed a long life parked in the yard. The Juiced Scorpion, on the other hand, was built to impress and brings modern technology to bear to take the moped of old into the 21st century.
The company sent a Scorpion out to me for a few weeks so I could really give it a thrashing and see how it performed in the real world. Typically, I put e-bikes through a few circuits of the hills in my neighborhood and put it into use as my daily driver around town, but coronavirus put the brakes on that plan. Instead, I carved out a new training route around town to see how the bike handled in a range of commuting scenarios.
For starters, it packs a rather standard 750-watt Bafang hub motor on the rear hub that, while it is rated for 750 watts of average power output, regularly exceeded 1,000 watts of power in our hill testing. The extra power isn’t just fun to brag about (check out my 1 kilowatt e-bike!), but it is extremely helpful for heavier riders (up to 275 pound capacity), hilly terrain, and times when you just need a bit more acceleration to get out of a sticky traffic situation.
The higher power output is possible thanks to the fact that the Scorpion is built on a 52 volt system underpinned by a 13 Ah battery. Every bit of the power of the motor is held ready and waiting to support the rider. It comes in to support the rider as a standard pedal assist system, adding a bit of extra boost when the pedals are moving or at the twist of the throttle.
The Scorpion takes this power to the max, with a 28 mile per hour top speed and an estimated range of 45-70 miles per charge. Combined with its throttle, this puts the Scorpion in an interesting grey area when it comes to e-bike classifications. With its 28mph top speed, the Scorpion is the closest to being a Class 3 e-bike, but it has a throttle and Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed to have a throttle.
I guess you could disconnect the throttle, but as it comes from the factory the Scorpion is in a class of its own. If you disconnect the throttle, a Class 3 Scorpion would still not be able to use the bike lane in most areas of the US, but it’s definitely worth checking your state and local regulations to see where it’s legal to ride the Scorpion before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
California defines the three classes of ebikes as follows (source):
(1) A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(2) A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
(3) A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling [no throttle], and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.
As a moped style bike, the Scorpion has a non-adjustable seat that lets owners customize the feel of their ride by adjusting the angle of the handlebars and with an optional rear seat pad for taller riders. The Scorpion comes standard with a 30.9″ seat height with an optional 33.5″ tall seat option for taller riders. I’m 6’2″ and the standard is a bit small for my tastes, though adjusting the handlebars and my seating position made it plenty comfortable.
The step-through design of the bike translates to a platform that’s much easier to just get on and go with, as long as you’re using the throttle. It’s not designed or intended to be a cyclist’s bike. It’s for cruising, so don’t complain, just get on and ride.
The motorcycle-style dual suspension of the Scorpion is also geared towards comfort rather than off road performance. Combined with its 20″ x 4″ puncture-resistant fat tires, the Scorpion provides an impressive amount of comfort, but the suspension is just a bit too bouncy for any sort of downhill sprints. Having said that, the 100-pound Scorpion loves barreling down hills, just be sure to keep from going too crazy. Check out what it looks like cruising around California’s famous Yosemite National Park in the video below.
Just because it’s not a hardcore cycling bike doesn’t mean you can’t pedal. It’s more than capable as a bicycle with its 7-speed Shimano drivetrain that lets you adjust the mechanical input to the system to suit your needs or capability. A powerful set of hydraulic brakes with 180mm discs help keep the inevitable speed you’ll pick up on the Scorpion in check.
Up front, a backlit LCD screen puts the important features you need to see when riding in front of you, though it is a bit on the small side. What’s not on the small side is the headlight. This thing is massive and contributes to the Scorpion looking a lot more like a motorcycle than a bicycle. It’s functional as well, with an impressive 2,000 lumens of output, it is clearly more than just a prop.
A range of accessories are available for the Scorpion including two styles of motorcycle style mirrors, a rear seat pad, and more. On the pricing front, the Juiced Bikes Scorpion is available for preorder today at $1,899 today, with the first bikes shipping in July 2020. Juiced regularly offers deals that come through email every couple of months so you might be able to score a deal on a Scorpion or one of Juiced Bikes’ other offerings.
- 750W BAFANG Rear Hub Motor
- 13Ah Extended Range Battery
- Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- LCD Advanced Matrix Display with Cruise Control
- Front Suspension Fork and Hydraulic lockout
- Cadence Pedal Sensor
- Twist Throttle
- Shimano Drivetrain
- LED Front and Rear Lights
- Adjustable Handlebars
- Comfortable Saddle