Get a real bike...oh, wait.
As motorcyclists, we know that expectations come with the territory. A sportbike is supposed to accelerate better than a cruiser and a cruiser is supposed to accelerate better than, well, a scooter. Any straying from these established generalities usually leads to embarrassment. That’s exactly what happened to racers on gas-powered motorcycles when a Sur-Ron X electric bike took first place in a recent hare scramble.
Introduced in 2018, the Sur-Ron X occupied the space between e-bicycles and e-motorcycles. The bike utilized a right-hand throttle—like a motorcycle—but a lever at the left hand controlled the rear brakes—like a bicycle. Owners could also equip the Sur-Ron X with pegs or pedals.
Weighing in at 110 pounds, the bike was much too heavy for bicycles but absurdly light compared to even the lightest dirt bike. Even more absurd was the 147.5 ft-lbs of torque the model boasted.
Gallery: 2019 Sur-Ron X
When Tucker Neary of Colorado entered a Sur-Ron X into a local hare scramble race in Naturita, Colorado, he knew he was an outlier.
“I entered into the Sportsman Class with a 2019 Sur-Ron X,” said Neary. “The Sportsman Class is an Unclassified Class and allows racers to race any motorcycle size and displacement, which was a good fit for my untraditional entry.”
As you’ll see in the video, the Sur-Ron began the race with a handicap due to the 5-second electronic start-up. Once Neary got the bike rolling, he overtook competitors with machine-like efficiency, even drawing the ire—and middle finger—of other riders. The stealthy silence of the Sur-Ron also presented a challenge as Neary closed in on the competition.
“No one knew I was there!” he said. “I started having to use the horn because I knew I was catching racers off guard when trying to pass them.”
Though Neary quickly moved into first place, securing a victory didn’t come without its challenges. The 3-lap, 15-mile race included harsh terrain and steep inclines. At a top speed of 45 mph, Neary was constantly pinning the throttle, but even at full power, the Sur-Ron X had difficulties surmounting uphill climbs.
The suspension also hindered the bike’s performance as the front forks—more fit for a mountain bike—didn’t soak up the grueling track like a traditional dirt bike. In the video, Neary mentions arm pump fatigue, a result of the under-spec suspension and an inability to squeeze the narrow bike with his knees.
Though the Sur-Ron X has its setbacks, it certainly makes up for them in other ways.
“The advantages of the Sur-Ron are that it is light and nimble,” stated Neary. “If I picked the right line and carried momentum, the bike would dissect the course nicely.”
With just 4 turns to go in the race, the Sur-Ron’s battery fell to zero percent and Neary had to push the bike over the finish line. The fact that he still held on to first place is a testament to the bike’s abilities and his skill as a rider. It took Neary 58 minutes to complete the 15-mile course. That’s particularly impressive considering the 50-mile range the model achieves in Eco mode.
Yes, the Sur-Ron X didn’t cross the finish line under its own power, but maybe this mighty e-bike will make motorcyclists think twice about their expectations.