I spent a weekend with the Limited Edition Scrambler, a boutique electric bicycle hand-built by California-based company Vintage Electric. As a bike, it teleported me back to the early days in which man first formed the idea of the motorcycle — by hanging a motor on a bicycle frame. The retro moped with modern touches caught the curious eye of countless passers-by and brought smiles to everyone who tried it, all while advocating the value of electric power. The Vintage Electric Scrambler was produced in a very special, ultra-limited run of 50 units with 8 of them having made their way to the Philippines.

Vintage Electric Scrambler

Vintage Electric marries classic styling and superb craftsmanship with Silicon Valley innovation. With the right technological resources, aesthetic understanding, and solid vision, the company has managed to create unique works of rolling beauty that are functional and fun. What Vintage Electric has done with the aluminum case of the lithium ion battery pack is adorable — shaping it like a V-twin in the center of the aluminum frame. It looks a lot prettier than some attempts at faux engine eye sores by other companies. Beside other Vintage Electric models, like the art deco inspired Cruz and the purist-friendly E-Tracker, the Limited Edition Scrambler stands out from the bunch. Its blacked out components against popping accents of yellow gold, the subtle yet striking "metallic rootbear" powder coat, bits of brown leather by Brooks England Ltd., and dual-sport motorcycle influences make the Scrambler the most macho-looking of the Vintage Electric lineup.

As a short rider, I’m always wary about seat heights. The Scrambler’s adjustable saddle (on a low setting) was not a problem for my petite legs. It was easy to balance at a standstill on firm tiptoe with no one-legged mount required, although taller riders will want to adjust for better fit, more height, aggressive posture, and leg extension… However, no one really wants to stay on the pedals with the Vintage Electric. Realistically, pedaling with the chain drive is tedious with heavy tension when sustained. I suggest you only use the pedals either to get going or for short, slow maneuvering. All other times, take advantage of the motor in the 'moped' setup.

Vintage Electric Scrambler

The first thing to do is turn the electric motor on. Inserting a small key into the left side of the battery pack does the job with a twist to the right, while the integrated rear lights under the saddle lighting up indicate the e-motor is ready to go. The wide handlebars feel intuitively similar to the steering of a dirt tracker or scrambler motorcycle, while the Brooks leather grips impart a rugged nostalgia. Battery consumption is read on a set of three lights on the right — indicating whether the charge is at full, half, or empty (green, yellow and red). At full, you have 53 km of range while in the red, you still get around 10 km left.

The 702 watt-hour, 52v 13.5Ah lithium battery in the center of the frame fuels the direct drive, brushless motor in the rear wheel hub which can provide 250-750 watts of power (0.3-1 PS) in Street Mode while Race Mode unleashes the bike’s 3000 watt-hour potential (4 PS). Performance is managed via a 60 amp electronic speed controller (ESC). Adjacent to the right grip is a thumb-activated throttle. Simply push the tiny black lever down with your thumb for go-juice that is instantaneous yet manageable — acceleration is thrilling without being startling. While the right brake lever squeezes the rear disc and the left slows the front, a bright red button can be found by the left handlebar. This is your regenerative braking button and pressing it will recharge a bit of the battery by delivering strong and arguably abrupt braking power (typical characteristic of hybrids).

With 60 Nm of torque and top speeds of 32 km/h to 58 km/h in Street and Race Mode respectively, the Vintage Electric Scrambler gets you going much faster than what the ultra-fit cyclist is capable of. The fun factor of windy velocity is emphasized by the narrow, bare-bone bicycle frame — making for a grin-inducing combination. It’s hard to keep a straight face the first couple of rides. While the aluminum inverted forks take care of front suspension, the hardtail rear affords none with the spring saddle hardly helping; the knobby Schwalbe Black Jack tires actually absorb much of the shock from uneven surfaces. The impressive punch of the motor feels familiar to riders of motorcycles and scooters, but the old school bicycle format immediately recommends hovering over the saddle and keeping the arms relaxed. The hardtail encourages bearing more bodyweight on your legs, hence using your own limbs as suspension.

Vintage Electric Scrambler

The Vintage Electric Scrambler is an awesome runabout. It provides you the excitement of riding a motorized 2-wheel vehicle without any of the hassle. Everything about owning a full motorcycle that can be a headache is no problem at all for the Vintage Electric. There’s no awkward maneuvering or wheeling around the moped because it’s so svelte and so light. Parking headaches disappear completely because the e-bike can go virtually wherever a bicycle can — on sidewalks, indoors, or straight through neighborhood parks. If you lose your balance on a big motorcycle, you risk dropping the machine on its side if you don’t catch the heavy weight in time with firm footing. On the Vintage Electric Scrambler, there is no such risk or intimidation. You’re always good.

It’s an excellent package of function, utility, style, and convenience. You literally hop on the moped wherever and whenever; just get going without worrying about apparel choice, or other rituals and strategies related to motorbiking or cycling. It was nice to be able to wear whatever I wanted without having to fear the sweat stains and body odor of exercise. Vintage Electric mopeds give you all the unbridled joys and unmistakable advantages of a bicycle without any of the effort. They are wonderfully lazy modes of transportation. The Scrambler is marketed for dual-sport use, claiming to be trail ready for “when the pavement runs out.” On unpaved paths that are friendly, manicured, and maintained, it shines... Plus cutting through grassy fields at speed is a hoot. Mountain bikers do not attribute full confidence to the Vintage Electric on the more technical, rocky climbs and descents of hilly slopes… But if a dirt route is relatively level, it will do the trick and will even handle a bit of giddy jumps (like any proper scrambler should). The bike is a blast.

In just a few days I couldn’t count how many random stares and inquisitive approaches the Vintage Electric Scrambler attracted. I wasn’t surprised; it looks so good — handsome and intriguing to a wide market, defying strict notions of demographic, philosophy, and aesthetic sensibility. Its nostalgic styling caters to the fashionista, the hipster, the creative, and the metrosexual. Its powertrain arouses the techie, the futurist, and environmentalist. For motorists, Vintage Electric is another company to celebrate in a growing industry of electric personal mobility.

Vintage Electric Scrambler

Charge the battery with a little juice left. Just plug it into the wall with the universal DC 52 100-240 VAC charger — instructions included. Full charging takes around 2 hours. The available battery gives the Vintage Electric Scrambler a range of 49-53 km and a pack life of 48,280 km, but a battery upgrade will be offered in 2017 for an astounding range of 110 km. In the Philippines, the Limited Edition Scrambler goes for Php 380,000. Check out the lineup at the motorcycle and bicycle culture shop Motobici in Westgate at Filinvest, Alabang; grand opening is set for February 10, 2017.

  • Make:Vintage Electric
  • Model:Scrambler
  • Engine:3-phase brushless electric motor
  • Transmission:Hub-mounted direct drive electric motor with chain drive for pedals
  • Max Power:750 watt-hour (1 PS) Street Mode, 3,000 watt-hour (4 PS) Race Mode
  • Max Torque:60 Nm
  • Frame:Hydroformed aluminum
  • Wheelbase:N/A
  • Seat Height:787.4 mm
  • FR Suspension:MRP 60 mm aluminum, dual-sport inverted forks
  • RR Suspension:Hardtail with spring saddle
  • FR Brake:Shimano Alfine 203 mm hydraulic disc
  • RR Brake:Shimano Alfine 106 mm hydraulic disc
  • Wet Weight:N/A
  • Fuel Capacity:52v 13.5 Ah lithium battery
  • Price as Tested:₱ 380,000

10/10

Performance

10/10

Design

9/10

Handling

7/10

Comfort

7/10

Value for Money

9/10

Overall