Plenty of zap in Stealth bikes

By Mathieu Day

Mathieu Day loved testing NZ's first performance electric bikes

The Stealth Fighter is one of New Zealand's first performance electric bikes. Photo / Gary Richards
The Stealth Fighter is one of New Zealand's first performance electric bikes. Photo / Gary Richards

Pedalling towards the steep hill, and adrenalin pumping, I twisted the throttle on one of New Zealand's first performance electric bikes, the Stealth Fighter, and shot up the hill with the speed that before now I thought you couldn't achieve on anything short of a full-blown motocross bike.

They're Stealth by name, Stealth by nature, that is until you arrive at the top of the hill to see the curious gathering crowd.

Looking like a cross between mountain bike and a motocross bike, the Stealth performance e-bike will be launched this weekend in three models - the Fighter, Bomber and Hurricane.

Behind the alloy monocoque isn't an engine but a series of lithium-ion batteries powering a silent 3.5-4.5 kilowatt electric motor, which on a lightweight frame makes for a dynamic ride.

Arriving at Manukau's Totara Park mountain bike park and with the entry-level Fighter on a novice-friendly setting of 300 watts, I jumped aboard, hoping not to make a fool of myself and break a bike that had been in the country only three days.

Handling just like a pushbike, the Stealths were light at 34kg for the Fighter, and 53kg for the Bomber and Hurricane, and flexible due to the all-alloy construction and light batteries hidden within the frame.

I twisted the throttle at the insistence of the Stealth team, and the bike shot off at a pace that came as a surprise for a low power setting.

With New Zealand importer David Claridge astride the motocross- styled Hurricane, and the Fighter at full power, we hit the trails.

The excellent hydraulic brakes the Stealths are all equipped with showed their worth, pulling me up fast enough to avoid ploughing into the back of my fellow rider at the bottom of the hill.

After bombing around the tight corners of the park, we turned back to the daunting hill we had just made our way down.

On a normal push bike, I'll admit I'd have stopped halfway up the hill to regain a bit of composure, but not on a Stealth. With the electric motors able to coast us up the hill and with the added input of pedalling, the Fighter flew up the hill almost as quickly as it had descended it.

Testing the Hurricane, I noted immediately that it was by far the most comfortable of the Stealth bikes thanks to its padded seat. With an extra kilowatt over the Fighter's 3.5kw max, the Hurricane's 4.5kw and lack of gears made it by far the easiest bike to get into the mix with.

The Stealth Bomber performance electric bike has a 4.5kw DC electric motor. Photo / Supplied
The Stealth Bomber performance electric bike has a 4.5kw DC electric motor. Photo / Supplied

Last up was the top-of-the-range Bomber, with the full list of optional upgrades from Stealth including bigger shocks and brakes. With the same 4.5kw DC motor as the Hurricane but with a nine-speed sequential gearbox, it's by far the biggest and meanest Stealth bike available.

Sadly, after blasting about for three hours, we finally managed to run the batteries flat, and knowing they would have lasted longer if we had used the KERS-like [kinetic energy] recharge system and pedals, my test of the Stealth bikes came to an end all to soon.

Starting from $13,800 for the Fighter, $15,700 for the Hurricane and $16,500 for the Bomber, the Stealth Bikes are available in a range of colours and are custom-built to order in Melbourne.

Stealth Electric Bikes are launching the range at the Barry Sheene Oceania Challenge at Hampton Downs this weekend and are truly worth a thorough look.

The range can be ordered at stealthelectricbikes.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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