Upon entering Candela La Brea in Los Angeles, electronic music with a deep beat resounds through the dark, windowless hallway. It beckons from the back of the restaurant along with bright blue LED lights. Like an insect, I’m drawn in, and I emerge into a reflective, obsidian tunnel. Two bicycles stand on display to the left, their vintage style a contrast to the modern lights, glass and angles. Upon walking out the other side, the room opens up, and a kaleidoscope of neon pink, blue and purple lights dance across the walls.
A cosmopolitan crowd at least 150 strong and mostly under the age of 40 fills the room. To the left, an intriguing display of what appears to be some sort of swirling, steampunk, time-warp gate with two youth-sized manikins flanking it commands the view. To the right, rows of bikes sit on small platforms for all-around viewing pleasure. A stage lines the back of the room, and in front of it, two displays sit covered, just waiting to be unveiled.
From the moment we walked in, SUPER73 wanted us to know this was where the past would meet the future.
After pulling out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January due to concerns about the omicron variant, SUPER73 decided to host its own party a couple months later on March 15 to announce the major news it had been planning to put out at CES. CEO and Cofounder Legrand Crewse started off the presentation by going over the history of the company.
“Our story, believe it or not, begins in the year 1973 during the first global oil crisis,” Crewse began. At a time when rising oil prices prompted people to look for more fuel-efficient modes of transportation (sound familiar?), this paved the way for small-displacement, two-wheeled vehicles – particularly, motorized ones. In Southern California, the Taco Mini Bike became a cultural phenomenon.
Fast forward to 2016, and Crewse and his friends built the first SUPER73 on that classic Taco Mini Bike frame. Of course, they added their own twists to the bike, such as a modern electric drivetrain and a built-in cupholder. They launched a Kickstarter in 2016 and watched in shock as it became a success. In six short years, SUPER73 has grown to become one of the leaders in the electric bicycle industry, even being recognized as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in branding, according to Fast Company. With the retro styling the company is known for, paired with the inherently modern twist of electric power, SUPER73 bikes were already distinct from others on the market – and now the company has launched even more ways to set itself apart from the competition.
New Product Announcements
To begin with, Crewse announced some new additions to the company’s current line of bikes: the SUPER73-R Brooklyn and the Z Miami. (More on the R Brooklyn later.) With its roots in the Taco Mini Bike era, SUPER73 is also all about showing off riders’ personalities in their bikes, so Crewse tacked yet another announcement. “We’ve also made it easier to customize your bike by offering a new, wide range of accessories for our riders. With a focus on personalization, safety, storage, and utility, we’re introducing over 120 new accessories to use for 2022.”
After that, however, came the biggest news of the day – the launch of the Youth Series as well as the C1X, an electric motorcycle concept and the company’s first planned, street-legal bike. You can read all about these announcements here.
What’s particularly notable about the origin of these products is that all of them were inspired by feedback from the “Super Squad” – what SUPER73 has dubbed its close-knit community of customers. With California being a major hub for electric bike culture, most of the company’s customers claim residence there, creating something of an e-bike cult. In fact, the launch party also showcased a display of some Super Squad members’ customized SUPER73 bikes. All of them sported custom graphics and even some extra additions, such as a skateboard rack tacked onto the back.
The Super Squad Group Ride
As if the announcement of these new releases wasn’t exciting enough, the fun was just getting started. Afterwards, SUPER73 offered demo rides of its new R Brooklyn and Z Miami bikes. Later on, the company hosted a group ride comprised mostly of Super Squad members and the occasional media monger – like me.
As someone who grew up in Alabama, the concept of an “electric bicycle” was pretty foreign to me. I had never seen nor ridden one until that day. But I found it a real treat to join at least 30 members of the Super Squad on a group ride at the end of the event, trekking eight miles through residential Los Angeles for over an hour – and breaking all sorts of traffic laws in the process (we had a police escort though, so it was fine).
It was easy to pinpoint the riders who were adventurous and comfortable with their bikes. Some popped wheelies; others jumped on and off curbs, performing precarious balancing acts. One rider even stood on his seat and handlebars as he steered the bike. With a train of riders, many of whom boasted customized bikes (there was even one with a side-car attachment), we turned heads as we drove down the streets, honking our electric horns.
Review: SUPER73-R Brooklyn
I rode the SUPER73-R Brooklyn, which is equipped for both on- and off-road experiences and features two-piston hydraulic brakes, dual suspension and all-terrain tires. (In comparison, the Z series is meant for a more on-road experience).
Turning on the bike is easy: It only takes the push of a button on the frame. SUPER73s come with both a throttle and pedal-assist mode. On the right handlebar is the throttle; on the left is the button shifter for the different classes of pedal assist. A small display shows you not only what class of pedal assist you’re on, but also how much charge is left in the battery.
The R series offers four levels of pedal assist: Classes 1 to 3 and then an unlimited mode. In Class 1, the throttle is deactivated, meaning you’re only working with pedal assist and can go up to 20 mph. Class 2 offers the same top speed but with the throttle activated; you can also feel the motor kicking in more. Class 3 is where the difference in speed really stands out. The motor pushes the bike so much faster, and you can get up to 28 mph here. Unlimited mode lets you get to speeds upwards of 28 mph (I myself managed to hit 32 mph on an uninterrupted stretch of road).
Going through residential neighborhoods with small streets and constant stop signs, I stuck to Class 2 and 3, only pushing it to unlimited mode on larger roadways. It doesn’t take long to get adjusted to changing the different assist classes, and it’s convenient to have the option to pedal when you do want (to get at least a little exercise on your bike ride) or gun it with the throttle when, say, a traffic light turns green and you need to really book it ahead of some angry cars. The extra suspension on the R Brooklyn was also better suited to the many speed bumps and potholes I crossed on these ultra-urban streets.
In terms of rideability and handling, it’s easy enough to hop on a SUPER73 if you’ve ever ridden a bicycle. Now, perhaps due to me being a first-time SUPER73 rider and the fact that the bike has a thicker frame with larger tires than anything I’ve ever ridden on two wheels, I found the turns to be wider than I was used to on a regular bicycle, so that did take some getting used to.
As far as comfort goes, the bike’s new Speedster low-profile seat is still tall enough for a comfortable ride, even for me at 5-foot-10-inches. The seat padding is adequate for short rides, but after an hour on the bike, I was definitely getting a bit saddle sore. Now, since comfort was something the Super Squad had been asking for, Crewse mentioned in his presentation that the R Brooklyn and Z-Miami would feature more comfortable seating than previous models. Having never ridden another model, I can’t give a fair comparison. That said, we’ll be doing a video review of the SUPER73-ZX soon, so I’ll be able to give you a better idea after that. Stay tuned!
To sum up my riding experience, I’d say it was a blast! These bikes pack just enough thrill to give users a taste of urban (or off-road) motorized riding without breaking the bank or taking up a lot of space. Heck, I was tempted to purchase one myself!