The Superstrata e-bike is the odd one out copy – there are no two ways left.
In some ways that makes sense; The bike’s concept, executed in seamless 3D-printed carbon fiber, stems from an equally strange premise. We’ll get into that.
Speaking to Sonny Vu, founder of Arevo, Superstrata’s parent company, the bikes weren’t made for the love of cycling, but rather the hunt for a climate-friendly urban transportation solution or a traditional justification for going all out for an electric bike.
So Vu created the Superstrata e-bike (and its non-electrified counterpart) as a proof-of-concept for Arevo’s carbon fiber manufacturing process. In that light, it makes perfect sense how the bike wound up – even if buying it probably didn’t.
“Everyone thought we were an e-bike company, but we’re not. We are an advanced manufacturing company,” Vu told londonbusinessblog.com. We certainly can’t blame e-bike enthusiasts for being confused.
Superstrata is deeply engrossed in what Vu calls “deep tech” – basically manufacturing processes so advanced they haven’t even appeared in consumer products yet. “This isn’t your typical 3D printing system — it’s built for industrial speed and scale,” Vu said.
Arevo, Superstrata’s parent company, is exploring space applications in the future and possibly UAVs. Superstrata and Arevo conceived the e-bike as a consumer proof-of-concept to fill the gap as they navigated the regulatory red tape that defines more complex industries. The company’s bike frames are currently printed in Vietnam, though Vu has plans for print farms in the US and Europe to reduce shipping times and generally make the entire carbon fiber printing operation more efficient.
So carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is a frontier of climate technology and promises fuel-saving lightweight materials at the cost of a rather energy-intensive production process. Superstrata’s silky-smooth unibody bicycle frames are made from industrial grade 3D-printed thermoplastic carbon fiber composite instead of “thermosetting” – a more common polymer process. While Vu was eager to dive into the technical benefits and manufacturing process, what you need to know at the end of the day is this is an e-bike and the frame is made from very nice 3D printed carbon fiber.
Here is the base field. The Superstrata e-bike is a carbon fiber unibody bike custom printed to suit your preferences, revved up with a 250W pedal assist motor and comes in a range of fun prints and colours. The slim, angular design of the bike’s frame and conspicuous absence of a seat tube – the part of the frame that would normally flow down from where the saddle sits – is pleasantly futuristic or downright odd, depending on who you ask.
A luxury price
While early critics sounded the alarm over Superstrata’s missing seat tube, which would normally connect the top tube and down tube to form a strong triangular shape to support rider weight, Vu assured us that the single, seamless piece of carbon fiber is rated to 750 lb and is more than strong enough to hold a cyclist. When I rode the Superstrata I wasn’t concerned about the strength of the carbon fiber, although the potential to smooth out the ride with seat tube adjustments is a missed opportunity. The frame is strong and the ride is stiff – which is just how it is.
(The design of the frame is striking, even without the missing tube, and bears some striking similarities to Greg LeMond’s excellent-looking e-bike, the Prolog. It’s possible that Superstrata printed those frames, but the company isn’t listed anywhere, and they have a much more traditional geometry.)
The missing piece of frame draws attention, but Superstrata’s other aesthetic choices also set the bike apart visually. The company is all about customization and that also applies to the paint. My rating unit was an intense purple, perhaps a periwinkle. Honestly, as someone who wears all black most days, the color kind of hurt my soul, but my wife found it attractive.
Some of the special paint jobs you can order are really cool — including two that look like a starry sky and another designed to evoke the aurora borealis — but they’ll run you an extra $1,250. That extra cost would get you most of the way to a more affordable e-bike made by competitors like Charge or Wheel power. This is not a bike for the wallet conscious (most of us).
That choice and other aspects of the Superstrata feel a little ‘It’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost?” I’m not convinced that the bike was really designed to be sold to much of anyone and that’s just a weird takeaway when you’re judging something.
Superstrata’s e-bike is clearly intended to present itself as a luxury product, but the experience of the ride and the deeper design don’t exactly give off a luxurious, cohesive vibe. If you were to ask at the end of the day, what’s special about this bike? the full answer is “the 3D printed carbon fiber unibody frame.”
At this price point – the e-bike starts at $3,500 – Superstrata’s base offerings give you far less bang for your buck than what you’d get with a much more full-featured electric bike like the Cowboy ($2,990), VanMoof’s New Model ($3,498) or even the last-generation models, which float around $2,000. Those tech-advanced bikes have perks like built-in interfaces, companion apps, built-in automatic front and rear lights, phone chargers and alarm systems for about what you’d pay for a base-priced Superstrata bike.
A feature that illustrates this well is the fact that Superstrata initially planned to have integrated front and rear lights – many of the bikes pictured on its website still depict this misleadingly – but that idea was scrapped in the completed version. The lighting, small computer for the electric motor and any bells and whistles are all aftermarket, not integrated into the bike’s design.
After talking to Vu – who was so transparent that he admitted the whole e-bike idea was just plain silly – it didn’t really feel like Superstrata was actively trying to mislead people about the headlight situation or anything else. The fact that Superstrata’s website shows a product that you literally cannot buy further shows that it is not the product of this company. main thing. The problem with that is that most people making such a large purchase feel safer buying from a company that lives and breathes bicycles – not carbon fiber.
Custom carbon fiber
Back to the frame – the meat of the innovation here. The Superstrata bike is printed to order, which is a huge boon for people at the extremes of the height spectrum, including adults under 5’2”, who apparently ordered the bike with enthusiasm. For these people, who have a hard time finding the right size bikes elsewhere, Superstrata’s frame size options are probably a real big deal. If you’ve searched long and low for a bike to suit your unusually small or tall stature, Superstrata’s bikes might be a good choice.
For anyone who falls in the normal height spectrum, the rest of the adjustment process is relatively superficial. When you rely on a bike for commuting or urban transport, the real customization options that matter provide utility – things like baskets, front or rear racks, and tire width.
When building the bike you can choose from an “urban” or “sport” handlebar configuration, resulting in a casual upright ride or a more aerodynamic drop bar, road bike style. You can opt for a single speed or multiple gears, an option that most people probably prefer but also adds $500. You can choose whether you want tires for the road or for “trails” – maybe gravel and light off-road – but not much detail is offered here. super strata buries the component listbut the review unit we had packed Shimano disc brakes, Bafang powering the electric side of the bike and a branded bag for the rest.
Once that stuff is entered, you can enter your specific height and dimensions for a custom frame. We couldn’t really make up our mind on that point – my test bike was designed for someone a bit taller, though it was still rideable and okay. What else? The experience of cycling is fine, but not particularly advanced. The design of the frame provides a very stiff ride, so be careful not to get shaken by uneven terrain.
The battery life is more than enough for normal needs. Superstrata claims it will last 60 miles, but at a higher support setting you get significantly less than that. Still, the battery should serve you for at least 20 miles even if you draw more power, which is more than fine for most urban needs. It’s also worth noting that the Superstrata e-bike has no throttle – basically a button that gives you a burst of speed to propel the bike. A throttle is a really fun way to speed through dangerous intersections or keep your bike at a higher speed and it’s hard to go back once you’ve used one. The Superstrata e-bike can go up to 20 miles per hour, but you’ll have to work for it.
On that note, Superstrata’s state-of-the-art frame may be carbon fiber, but the e-bike doesn’t exactly feel like a featherweight. Because the bike is so light in the front and so heavy in the back where the motor lives, it actually feels heavier than it is. It’s also clumsier to carry than a bike that’s evenly weighted and you won’t want to lug this thing down more than a few flights of stairs at a time.
The Superstrata website claims the e-bike weighs 24 pounds, but this thing definitely doesn’t weigh that much less than my regular ride, a VanMoof X3 that’s a hefty but evenly-weighted 45.8 pounds. Vu noted that the weight of the final version varies, but the e-bike weighs about 38.5 to 39.6 lb, enough to pretty much obscure the weight savings of the carbon fiber.
Ultimately, the Superstrata could be a solid option for someone who is outside of normal altitude parameters and desperately wants an e-bike. Superstrata’s bikes could also be a good choice for someone who wants a custom carbon fiber bike frame and is confident to put in the rest themselves, although buying the frame alone isn’t an option on the website.
In either case, the advanced carbon fiber technology doesn’t come cheap and neither does this bike – especially when compared to competitors building feature-rich, cohesive e-bike experiences. Superstrata should probably focus on its one-piece custom carbon fiber frames and let other companies—or people—build the bikes. And since this whole thing was an experiment anyway, that could very well be what the company plans to do.