When Cowboy, a premium European e-bike firm, invited the media to an occasion in Paris, France, it confronted some surprising challenges. Together with torrential rain, there additionally have been strikes and protests in opposition to adjustments to the nation’s pension system. After which the large reveal was… not a brand new bike. As a substitute, the announcement was three springtime coloration choices for the Cowboy 4 and 4ST (step-through) plus Adaptive Energy, a software program improve coming to Cowboy 4 bikes this month. So once I met the corporate’s execs, I already had my query: The place’s the brand new mannequin?
However earlier than I sat down to talk with them, I used to be capable of check out Adaptive Energy, touring a couple of blocks and dipping down and out of Parisian automotive parks. Would this smarter e-bike (with the identical motor) translate to any tangible enhancements? Fortuitously, sure. Adaptive energy works by tapping into the e-bike’s accelerometer and different sensors, primarily based on the rider’s weight, momentum and different components – even wind. The brand new function adjusts the motor’s energy with out the necessity for gears or tapping a lift button. The sensors additionally seemingly detect inclines as quickly as your entrance wheel hits them, rising motor help. The replace faucets into the identical sensors and tech already used for crash detection.
Based on Cowboy, the e-bike ought to provide equal battery life between the 2 iterations, because the motors will doubtless work greater than the final model when the bike wants extra energy, but additionally work much less when it doesn’t. In case you’re using an up to date Cowboy 4, you received’t be capable to return to the earlier system, however utilizing the app, you possibly can select between adaptive and eco modes, with the latter providing lowered help.
I used to be capable of evaluate the C4, each with and with out the function, and the largest enchancment from Adaptive Energy was the way it kicked in on the good second whereas accelerating from stationary. That’s to not say the Cowboy 4, pre-Adaptive Energy, was sluggish, but it surely felt smoother and extra responsive – it’s spectacular for a single-gear bike. Beforehand, the bike’s motor would reply to your pedal pushes. This time it takes in additional data to resolve whether or not to spice up.
Whereas that was probably the most handy profit, there’s additionally a tangible enchancment when tackling hills and inclines. With Adaptive Energy, steep hills demanded a little bit of pedaling however have been surmountable. Downgrading to a motorbike with out Adaptive Energy – however the identical motor with 45 Nm of torque – it’s a journey on the wrestle bus. This was a standard grievance from Cowboy 4 riders, with a number of saying that hilly environments have been tough to sort out, even with electrical assist. This new function appears to deal with that, judging by my temporary journey on the up to date Cowboy 4. (If Cowboy is on the lookout for what to enhance when it will definitely will get to its fifth-generation bike, this metropolis rider would recognize a extra snug saddle.)
This replace performs to the Cowboy 4’s design, too. Not like many e-bikes, there aren’t any controls to faucet straight into the electrical motor. It’s meant to look (and journey) like a standard push bike and that’s what it does. The Cowboy 4 can be, nonetheless, a couple of kilograms lighter than VanMoof’s newest e-bike, its most comparable rival. Each are premium e-bike choices with comparable pricing and options, however if you happen to’re lifting your bike up stairs, or into buildings, it’s value contemplating.
Whereas Adaptive Energy has been in beta testing with customers prior to now, the official launch coincides with three new coloration choices of each the Cowboy 4 and 4ST. Whereas it’s a powerful strategy to improve the e-bikes of present customers – and do it with out having to take it to a service middle– these are the identical bikes that first launched in 2021.
Till now, Cowboy has iterated quick, with new fashions arriving at an identical cadence to flagship smartphones. We reviewed its first bike in 2019, which wasn’t way back. However there are a couple of causes for the corporate to stay with the Cowboy 4.
A number of e-bike tech won’t change massively within the subsequent few years. Barring incremental effectivity updates, the motor inside most e-bikes doubtless received’t see generational updates. I additionally surprise how present Cowboy e-bike house owners see the corporate’s up to date fashions, having spent 1000’s on an e-bike 18 months earlier, solely to see it changed so quickly. So why no Cowboy 5? For Cowboy, CEO and cofounder Adrien Roose advised me the main target is on enhancing high quality, effectivity and all of the issues that include scaling as much as promote extra bikes. The C4 and C4 ST both remain priced at around $3,000, relying on area, and the problem is getting e-bike costs low sufficient for wider-spread adoption.
The corporate has opened up flagship shops in Germany, Belgium and France – the nations Cowboy is intently centered on, and the place it sells most of its bikes. Up to now it’s offered over 50,000 bikes, globally. However whereas the C4 is accessible within the US (and being an organization referred to as Cowboy), earnestly focusing on the American market stays a future problem. Roose advised me they’re in “studying mode” relating to the US. The plan seems to give attention to conserving the corporate wholesome and worthwhile. Roose added that he believes that Cowboy ought to get to that time by subsequent 12 months. Possibly they’ll have fun with a brand new bike?