Vintage Electric Bikes aims to bring the classic styles of vintage motorbikes to the emerging world of electric bikes and by all measures, the have succeeded in grand style. The company brought us the Vintage Electric Bikes Cafe and we ran it through the ringer to see how it held up to daily use.
Disclaimer: Vintage Electric Bikes provided the Cafe to the author free of charge for the purposes of this review.
The Vintage Electric Bikes Cafe is a classic in every sense of the word. Gorgeous lines swoop across the frame, with rich wood providing depth and softening the otherwise hard metallic feel of the chromoly steel frame. The frame itself is anchored by a retro-inspired battery case that conjures images and sounds of a classic motorcycle engine.
Stepping back from the details, the Cafe is a beautiful e-bike that’s equally at home on display in the living room as it would be in the garage. A set of perforated leather grips serve to further soften up the aesthetics while proving some cushion at the human touch points. The leather tones round out the look of a classic motorcycle, with the rich tones of the hide tying nicely into the wood on both color schemes.
Its soft lines and casual look belie the impressive powertrain and performance of this electrified two-wheel hot rod. Popping the hood of the Cafe, a 750-watt rear hub motor is the powerplant and while that’s a very typical power rating for e-bikes in the US, Vintage Electric Motors has an ace up its sleeve.
Vintage Electric boasts that its proprietary Vintorque Drivetrain Technology unleashes the beast in its motors, resulting in faster acceleration and a more rapid response to rider input. The specs don’t tell the tale here, as many e-bikes use 750-watt rear hub motors and the 70 Nm of torque the motor on the Cafe pushes out won’t set any records. In reality, there is a noticeable difference in how quickly the motor responds to rider input.
Pedaling up and down some of the steepest roads this side of the Mississippi, we found the Cafe to feel more powerful than any other rear hub motor we’ve tested. We attribute that to a few things. First off, the Cafe boasts a torque sensor to gauge rider input. This is something we typically only see on higher end e-bikes like the Cafe. The torque sensor provides a much more accurate signal for rider input to the motor controller by gauging how hard the pedals are being depressed. Most e-bikes simply use a cadence sensor to determine how fast the pedals are spinning, quickly resulting in incorrect readings when the gears are shifted into lower gears.
Taking that signal and translating it into an accurate signal to the motor is where the real magic happens. After a number of rides on the bike, it was immediately clear that it responds much faster to changes in pedaling pressure when climbing hills, pushing out an appropriate amount of power based on the amount of effort the rider is putting into pedaling, and cutting power to the motor when pedaling stops.
The Cafe might look casual, but in reality, the riding stance of the bike is quite aggressive. It’s similar to what you would expect to find on a speed bike, with a forward-leaning posture. Hopping onto the bike, it’s immediately clear this thing means business, slotting naturally into dense urban environments as well as casual park trails.
The overall look and feel of the Cafe is extremely polished, and that’s literally the case with the front light. Its housing is a brilliant polished aluminum that blends in perfectly with the polished aluminum handlebars, stem, and top cap. It makes it feel like you’re stepping into a vintage convertible sports car every time you get on for a ride.
The LCD controller and under-seat rear LEDs are rather basic and don’t fit the quality of the rest of the bike, but they are more than sufficient at fulfilling their purpose.
The Cafe is clearly suited to a higher end clientele who are looking for a bike with top of the line specs and performance. Its form factor makes it well-suited to commuting across town, riding down to the beach, or around at the park on a bike with a one of a kind aesthetic.
Head over to the Cafe’s online home at Vintage Electric Bikes for all the juicy details, gallery photos, and to order one for yourself.
Vintage Electric Bikes Cafe E-Bike Specs
- Motor: 750 watt rear hub motor w/70 Nm torque
- Battery: 500 Wh removable battery
- Charge Time: 2 hours
- Range: 20-60 miles per charge
- Sensor: Torque sensor
- Top Speed: 28 mph (class 3)
- Tires: 29″ X 2.0″ Schwalbe Fat Frank w/ kevlar guard
- Brakes: Promax Lucid front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
- Gearing: Shimano Deore Shadow+ derailleur w/10 speed Deore shifters and Shimano SLX 11-34 freewheel
- Lights: Integrated front and rear Supernova 6v lights
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
- Colors: Skyline Bronze or Golden Gate Red
- Weight: 53 lb
- Price: $3,995
All images credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica
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