Stromer ST1 eBike Review

Stromer ST1The Stromer ST1 pedelec was a tricky purchase to make. I have a glut of bikes in the house and this new one was going to cost the same as a brand new Vespa scooter.

The view from the household was that I should quit being lazy and just get on my push-bike.

That refrain has been heard before but has very limited effect I’m afraid. The fact is, that although I love the ride into work; the speed, the ducking and diving, the excitement of reaching London and its bridges and parks – I just can’t be bothered with the ride home. After a hard day’s work, when it’s dark and usually wet, I just can’t face the upward climb towards an unattractive suburb of Croydon.

So I’ve been using pay as you go oyster far more than I’d like. I’m not prepared to buy a money-saving season ticket and tie myself in for a year of public transport drudgery.

That’s where the Stromer comes in. It’s got to be close to being the worlds best eBike. Super fast, long-range and I don’t feel like a nob riding it.

It’s a pedelec eBike which means it doesn’t have a throttle and only provides motor assistance if you are putting in some effort. You can actually put in as much effort as you can on a standard bike but you are rewarded more handsomely for it. The extra assistance cuts out at a pre-defined max (28 mph).

A lot of people assume that it is cheating and that I won’t be getting any exercise by choosing to use an eBike, but they are wrong. Well not about the cheating bit, I would have wasted a lot of money if it wasn’t cheating, but I certainly get a good dose of exercise from the commute. I’ve monitored my heart rate on the journey into work and back so I can compare the effort on an eBike with the effort of a standard road bike (Specialised Sirrus). I was quite surprised.

The chart shows my heart rate against distance, with the eBike in Orange and my standard road bike in blue.

Heart rate on a Stromer ST1 ride

On the way in to work my heart rate is actually higher on the eBike. What you can’t see from the chart is the time taken, its much faster on the eBike, so although I may be putting in more effort while I’m riding, I’m not doing it for as long. On the way home my effort levels are lower and I still get home 20 minutes quicker. That is exactly what I wanted – a fun ride in and a more relaxed trip home.

What is like to ride a pedelec eBike?

The ride is thrilling. Obviously push-bike riding can be thrilling if you ride fast enough but the joy of the Stromer is that it makes me feel fit and energetic everyday. That’s a great feeling.

When I first started, I tended not to lead the peloton too often. I didn’t like to draw too much attention and also didn’t feel quite so agile on this heavy beast of a bike. After a month of riding that’s changed though and I ride freely, regularly leading my own Gurney races.

Gurney racing at #sixdaylondon #gurney #velodrome

A video posted by ? @warriorwoman (@warriorwoman) on

The weight of the bike which is not insubstantial made it quite tricky to manoeuvre as a novice. You can’t flip the back wheel up while on the move for instance but that can also be an advantage as it offers stability and slow speed moves are made a little easier.

Stromer ST1 ReviewThe power transmission from the rear wheel motor is pretty smooth. It feels like you have a supportive hand on your back just pushing you gently forward.

There are 4 assist levels:

0 – which I presume means zero assist. I had thought I’d use this for the ride into work but really, why would you. The bike weighs a tonne and the unassisted ride feels like riding with the brakes on.

1 – is supposedly just enough assist to eradicate the slowing effect of the weight of the bike and the motor. It should set you on a level playing field with the other cyclists. It feels to be slightly more performance enhancing than it suggest in my experience.

2 – This is where I spend most of my time. I ride between 18 and 22 mph – not too fast for the Central London conditions. It’s a stop start commute and I appreciate the extra help to get back up to speed.

3 – top supported speed is higher than 2 but I don’t find the transmission to be as smooth, I can feel it powering up as I pedal hard and then it drops off again in waves. For the pace I like to travel at, level 3 just doesn’t feel comfortable.

4 – this is fast! Top supported speed 28 mph. For the stop start London commuting experience I find this too fast and hardly use it. There is one straight stretch on the way home that I like to power along though so I tend to flick to assist 4 and then back down to 2 when the roads get more gnarly again. If I had a less congested commute I would probably live at Level 4.

You also have 2 levels called Recup 1&2 which are also triggered by the application of the rear wheel brake. This applies electrical braking which also recharges your battery a bit and extends the distance range before your battery flattens.

What is the Distance Range of the Stromer ST1?

I’m afraid I haven’t tested this out fully and will need to come back and update this review.

The manufacturer claim a distance range of 40-80km for a 70kg rider. Now I’m a 100kg rider with luggage, half of my journey is at night which uses the integral light – another drain on the battery, so I’m unlikely to get 80km out of it.

My daily commute is 36 km and I arrive home with about 2 bars left on the battery indicator. What I have yet to do, in the name of blogging science, is to continue riding around and around my block until I run out of assistive steam. I want to make sure I’m close to home when the battery flattens as the unassisted ride is quite an effort!

***UPDATE on Stromer ST1 Motor Failure***

As soon as I finished writing this post, gushing about the joys of eBike riding, disaster struck.

I was mid way home, about to power away on a standing start at a junction. I pushed on the pedals, nothing happened, I pushed harder, still nothing untill I wobbled and tipped pathetically to the side while the other vehicles impatiently pushed me aside.

The Stromer ST1 was not playing at all, it was stuck in brake mode and it felt like I was trying to move a spin bike on the highest resistance. Worse still my monitor was flashing the message HALL. Of course that meant nothing so I googled it. Apparently it means “Motor failure – contact dealership”. That is not what I wanted to read so far from home. I tried switching off and on and eventually the message disappeared but the bike was no longer the same.

The Stromer is heavy and unwieldy at the best of times, when it decides it’s not going to work anymore it is quite a pain to get home. You can’t just bundle it in a taxi or the back of a train. I switched it off and tried pedalling anyway but it still felt like a high resistance spin bike. On the bright side, my return commute was going to be an amazing quad workout.

I did get home eventually and the UK dealer (Urban eBikes) have been very good, they are coming around tomorrow to pick it up and repair it for me, so it looks like I’ll have to dust off the oyster pay as you go for another week while they repair or replace the motor.

***Second Update on Stromer ST1 and Rider Performance***

I’ve just seen a fascinating youtube video by Adam Alter, showing a Stromer ST2 rigged up with a power meter and BSXInsight Lactate Threshold device with the rider powering up a substantial hill.

It nicely illustrates that the effort levels of the rider can still be high when riding an s-pedelec, its just that the rewards are so much greater.

Another Suitably Titled Running Commute

I forgot how much preparation these running commutes take, especially in this weather. I should have been at least 24 hours ahead of the game and deposited supplies at work, but I wasn’t. Instead I had to try and cram my work and running stuff into the tiny little hydration pack. It didn’t all fit, so I had to wear it all on the way into work. Despite layering up with shirt, jumper, running tops * 2 and a windproof, I was still freezing. I was also about 3 times larger than usual and took up more than my fair share of train seat.

Remarkably I managed not to forget any of my vitals and was able to leave the office this evening perfectly togged up for a cross town running commute. I stopped off en-route for an MRI scan on my left knee and then picked it up again from outside Guys Hospital.

I had a perfect 10k route plotted and uploaded to the garmin device but satellite communications were iffy until I’d wandered as far as the Elephant and Castle roundabout – which took an unsatisfying 0.79km off my schedule.

Now that I’m getting medical intervention for my running ailments I’ve turned into a bit of a hypochondriac, I can feel meniscal twinges on every step. I’m pleased to report though, that my debilitating calf injury appears to have cleared up and any remaining niggles seem entirely manageable.

I think the lay off must have done me some good. On the face of it, this was not the most inspiring running commute. The Elephant & Castle subway is a bit grim, and the A23 isn’t the most scenic thoroughfare in London but I was loving it nevertheless. It helps a lot that I’ve discovered the best running podcast ever (marathon talk) but I’ve also been raring to go for weeks and can now finally release all this pent up enthusiasm. I feel like I can run and run.

A Dithering Commute

Yesterday I announced to anyone that would listen that 3k’s were the new half-marathon.

It’s just not true though.
A bag of chips and a bottle of Newcastle Brown still tastes like a sin after 3 paltry kilometres.

With that in mind I decided to dust off my long distance shoes and attempt another running commute. Attempt being the operative word because I’d prepared myself for one of those last week but got diverted by the pub and managed only 4k.

Today I had a little more incentive, the underground was still pole-axed with the strike fallout and my journey in on the train scored high on the “most hellish journey ever” scales. I was not in a rush to embrace public transport.

I wandered down to the embankment, slowly picking up my satellite signal and started running along the Thames.

I trogged on, ignoring pub invitation texts, choosing instead to descend into an anti-running mantra. This was my make and break run for next weeks Great North Run. My training has been lacklustre and I am no where near 13 mile standard, this commute was supposed to make my decision clear – run or not run.

What I think about when I go running:

Ughhhhh I don’t like running, I want to stop, I don’t want to run 13 miles, I’m not cut out for long distance running, maybe I could just stop now and try out this pub, it looks like a very nice pub but probably too nice to sell Stella, not that I only drink Stella, if I did the Great North Run I’d drink Newcastle Brown ale and folk would cheer as I ran and I’d be a hero.

Then I’d start again taking a slightly different route but basically ending 13 miles later with a beer in my hand and a medal round my neck and a new t-shirt for my collection.

By the time I’d quit whining I’d run 6km and it occurred to me that my breathing had calmed down nicely and if it wasn’t for all the whittering in my head I was almost having a nice time.

I passed on through Battersea Park, admiring the Buddha admiring skippers carried on to Clapham Common and arrived at Tooting Common slap bang in the middle of the night. Dark and gloomy and altogether just a little bit too spooky to navigate. I skirted the edges and called a halt to my run 12.5 kms after I started it.

Still not good enough to confirm I can manage the half marathon but at least I was still standing. I’ll try a proper long run at the weekend and make my decision then.

Short aside – This post is a little out of context now, it was written last week but the publishing was delayed by an administrative error on behalf of my web hosts who kindly forgot to renew two of my domains!

Comparing Commutes with Ascent for Mac

I did the cycle commute twice last week, first on the painfully slow Brompton and then on the super speedy Specialised Sirrus Pro. I was expecting to shave at least 10 minutes off my time on the road bike.

Here’s what actually happened:

I presume my current fitness level is the rate limiter and not my bike choice, so I may as well stick to the Brompton, with its handy frame mounted bag and potential for shoving on the train when I can’t be bothered to go any further.

The activity comparison movie was taken from Ascent the activity tracker or sports log for mac. Since I’ve started using GPS again I’ve been really impressed with this software, I’m even beginning to get over the loss of Sporttracks when I moved away from the PC.

The activity comparison window is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a sports log.

Running from the In-Laws with the Sony W Series Walkman

Easter is about chocolate, lots of, and family stuff and as the latter involved a weekend at the in-laws with loads of artificially enhanced kids, it also turns out to be fairly conducive to running.

I haven’t been very successful with my running recently so I was grateful that we were in the flatlands of Lincolnshire and that it was a delightfully drizzly day. Here’s my 10k out and back route along the canal:


Sony Walkman

I was sent the latest Sony Walkman W Series to test out the other day.

It came bundled with a playlist designed to either inspire or drive me nuts, with the challenge laid down for me to create my own inspirational running ensemble.

The new Walkman is an interesting looking gadget, minimal and stylish in a Dr Spock kind of fashion. It clips apart neatly to sit around your neck with no extraneous wires to get tangled up in your arms or t-shirt.

I’ve been through a fair few headphones and mp3 systems in my time. It started with the iPod nano with assorted headphones – the best being the ubiquitous lime green Sennheiser PMX80 running headphones and then moved on to the chunky, yet delightful, iPhone. The iPhone coincided with loads of tube commuting time so I shifted to the excellent Sennheiser CX500’s, great for private listening on crowded trains but outrageously irritating now I’ve gone back to the running commute – I have to stop every couple of steps to disentangle the cables.

So, now I’ve got my hands on the Sony W Series mp3 Walkman, all my separate headphones are defunct. I have to admit to not having much of a musical ear but to my mind this unit has the best sound quality yet. The integral headphones seem to sit quite deeply into your ear and the sound is excellent. Mind you the playlist had a few dodgy tracks, rather heavy reliance on the synthesiser and some sounded like they were recorded from the bowels of a coke can but I’m sure that was how they were meant to sound. It’s quite fun running to someone elses playlist but I’m looking forward to getting some “quality” music on board to really test them out.

Sony W Series Walkman

I found them very comfortable, although I did feel like a prize tool running along in them – you can get them in bright pink if you want to look extra special.

I did a randomish fit test around the house this morning and it seems I was the only one who found them comfortable. Admittedly two of my subjects were of the small child variety and the other grown up obviously has a particularly small head with odd ear canals, but it might be worth testing them out before buying if you’ve had problems with ear related stuff before.

They are apparently a doddle to update by simply dragging the songs across to the external drive (USB cable supplied), I’ll try this out next week with my new and hopefully improved playlist.

Here’s my trial list:

1. Simian Mobile Disco – Sleep Deprivation
2. LCD Soundsystem – Get Innocuous
3. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
4. Weezer – Buddy Holly
5. TV on the Radio – Golden Age
6. Mylo – Drop the Pressure
7. Prodigy – Out of Space
8. Michael Jackson – Beat It
9. Don’t Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
10. Gu’s and Roses – Paradise City

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at if you have a product you would like me to review.

Two Common By Half

Two Commons

The new accessible job arrived and sucked away all my handy exercise avoidance excuses…..time to resurrect the running commute.

My first attempt was an unwelcome struggle, my head was in a seriously moany place and my feet were doing that teenage scuffing thing. I made it past two commons lurching in a stop go fashion and finally quit at Somerfield in order to replenish the Stella supplies.

Today’s run was a bit more exciting, I’d heard a rumour that the non runner may be catching the 5:18 train. Thereby giving me approximately 25 minutes to hot foot it down the high street and nonchalently drape my sweating being across the bonnet of her car to ensure a lift half the way home.

Needless to say I made it. Amazing what you can pull out of the bag for an easy ride.

true weight

I got an iPhone recently which has proved mighty useful for navigating me through some commutimg crises but will unfortunately result in a decline in photo quality for my blog.

I’ve been checking out the promisingly named “50 Awesome iPhone Apps for Runners” blog post, they don’t all have very good reviews on iTunes but I may check a few out. High on my list will be True Weight – 3 months of idleness has not done me any sartorial favours and I need to get back in control.

In the spirit of
1. getting back into the swing of things
2. jumping in at the deep end, and
3. acquiring more t-shirts
I’ve signed myself up for an assortment of events.

First on the list is the London to Brighton bike ride which has been on my wishlist for some time.

Then it’s time for a re-run of the British London 5k which promises to be particularly exciting – at least in terms of the location of it’s post race champagne reception. Stay tuned.

Finally (at least for now), I’ve gone and signed myself up the scary Great North Swim. I’m hoping to be able to finish it without the asthma attack this time, which probably means a little more training…

Knit One, Pearl One

Richmond Hill

My running seems to be oscillating wildly between run one, love one, hate one. Today was time for another “love one”, thankfully.

I wish you could tell how you’re going to feel before you set off, when I get a duff run I feel like throwing in the towel and quitting, these are runs to avoid. Today I felt the starting of a cold so nearly didn’t bother going out but it turned out to be the sort of run that keeps me buzzing about the sport for ages. I’ve set myself up for a good weekend now I’m sure.

I drew up my half-marathon plan a few weeks ago and opted for a simple Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday plan. I hit problems the moment I transferred this to my pre-existing diary full of appointments (be-fitting my social butterfly status). Training plans clashed with life this weekend as I’m heading off to the coast to try out my wetsuit. This is a vital arrangement as I haven’t been in the pool since December and need to see if the 1 mile open water carnage otherwise known as the Great North Swim is a viable option.

So, running plans were randomly jiggled and resulted in me having to go out and pull off a 7-miler.

7 miles is an awkward distance for me. My commute is a perfect 6-miler and not much would persuade me to run half a mile beyond my final destination and back again. My other running routes tend to involve ever increasing loops of the Thames but the river fording points are limited and so throw up huge psychological tests or bridges that I seem too weak to resist.

I opted to run as far as I could away from my flat and then loop back round through Richmond Park. I loaded SteppenWolf onto the iPod and fortunately it kept me occupied for about 4 miles before I realised I hadn’t a flipping clue what was going on. By that time I’d reached the point of no return and had no choice but to push on forward.

I find it a little concerning that I have to actively mess with my own head in order to achieve simple training plans but I won’t lose sleep over it. At least I’ve found another good route with limited options for bailing out.

Right, I’m off to the seaside.

Another Commute


This grotty summer weather is doing wonders for my running. It just needs to threaten drizzle and I’m grabbing my trainers, or at least I’m thinking about grabbing my trainers as I’m the world’s worst procrastinator when comes to running.

I’d scheduled a run for first thing Saturday morning but although I kept putting the garmin into training mode and heading towards the door, I didn’t actually manage to get out until 3pm on Sunday. That is some dithering! At least the delay meant it was chucking down for the best part of my Sunday pootle.

It was grey again today so I seized the opportunity to schedule another running commute and my long run for the week. The unseasonable weather meant traffic chaos this morning and I was kicking myself for leaving the bike at home when I arrived at the tube station to find it closed due to flooding. I wasn’t much happier when 6 o’clock came round and I had to start running.

Turned into a jolly pleasant run though, a bit of salsa popped up on my iPod towards the end and I managed my own personal interpretation of dancing. Things are looking up for my running if I can manage a bit of merengue after 6 miles.

For any Garmin 405 owners, there is a new firmware update. It should improve the pace reading and stop the annoying freezing of the bezel, amongst other things.

Running Over Old Ground

The race packs seem to be dropping thick and fast through the letter box this week, after the painfully slow 5k at the weekend I came home and opened an envelope to discover I was entered in the Great Capital 10k in just 2 weeks time. Goodness knows when I signed up for that, I hadn’t bothered to note it in my diary anyway.

I’m thinking that’s its probably impossible to turn around the worst ever 5k race time within the space of 2 weeks given a backdrop of 5 months of lacklustre training, but I’ve got to do something to ensure I don’t collapse before the finish line. I’ve therefore embarked on a 2 week anti-Stella campaign to be combined with regularish running commutes.

JogBlog is not the only one completing an old new running commute, I’ve shifted jobs yet again and am right back where I started with the very first running commute of 18 months ago. Happily I’ve picked up a bit of local knowledge over the months and can now get from asylum to home with barely any need to run on the grotty streets, it also seems to save me 500 metres which is no good as it ruins my perfect 10 k route.

Garmin Forerunner 405

Running along the edge of assorted waterways provides plenty of opportunity for water related incidents and playing around with the forerunner 405 touch bezel does not reduce the likelihood. I stumbled over some barge docking related paraphenalia but managed to steady myself in a rather sturdy clump of stinging nettles. I’m still itching but I did discover a rather cool new screen on the forerunner.

It the HR graph option and shows your heart rate displayed on a backdrop of HR zones. Quite neat but probably only useful if you are doing intervals, for most of my run it appeared as a flat line between zones 4 and 5. The photo was taken after I stopped.

Distance: 9.58km
Time: 1:22:00

Red-lining Through London

At 5:15 this evening I threw my non-conforming budgets into the air and stepped away from the computer. I had a bus to catch and it’s becoming obvious that I won’t be able to maintain my usual level of commitment to the day job and still hope to complete this challenge.

Holborn - The Start

It took an hour and a half for me to get from work to Holborn, all for the joy of having me run an hour and half back the way I came. This is the absolute worst kind of running commute, the sort that seems to bare so very little reason and might just have been created for the sole purpose of making me work, a true Cinderella task.

The planning for the run started yesterday evening as I packed my bag and then lay awake fretting for most of the night listening to the raging wind, rain and thunder. In the end I decided that a torrential downpour was the best I could hope for on the day I cover off the whole of Oxford Street.

Tottenham Court Road

The weather proved to be ideal. A perfect running drizzle welcomed me as I hit the bustle of Southampton Row and headed on towards Tottenham Court Road.

It was busy but perhaps not the worst I’ve seen it. I could run about two paces before having to jump in and then quickly out of the path of a bus, to avoid bizarre zigzagging shoppers, waving cigarette butts around.

I tried a few Oxford Street avoidance routes, such as attempting a parrallel route through Soho but almost as soon as I did that I spotted an interesting piece of graffiti back across the other side. I must have made terribly slow progress towards Oxford circus.

More Graffiti

Quality Graffiti

Despite myself, I began to enjoy the challenge today. I’m stopping at every station to take a photo, partly as proof of my journey but it’s having the result of turning me into a tourist and I’m happy to see areas in a new light.

I now know for example that Farringdon (from Sunday’s H&C line) has a better class of graffiti artist.


While this blog is turning into an art appreciation forum, I’m going to slip in a photo of the Barbara Hepworth sculpture, tacked onto the side of the John Lewis building, a little after Bond Street. Isn’t it beautiful?

So I’ve traveled about 400 yards and already taken 12 photos, you won’t be surprised to hear that this was another record breaking slow run. But at least I was calm and didn’t feel the need to throttle any shoppers which is what normally happens when I venture onto Oxford Street.

I was almost tempted to commit some form of maiming on a lad who insisted on walking faster than I could run though. In the end I managed to catch him on the long downhill stretch to Shepherds Bush but probably only because he stopped at a cash point.

The journey along the Central Line between Holborn and the new Shepherds Bush station was just under 9km so I felt fit enough to tag on a few extra stations and grab the westerly section of the Hammersmith and City line as well.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Salomon XT Wings Challenge
13 Tube Stations
10.56 km
Sports Tracker map with photos

28 Tube Stations
25.72 km

Warriorwoman vs Jogblog 100m Challenge Combo
17.2 miles total

1 2 3 5