A couple weeks ago, I was talking with a representative from Snapcycle, the manufacturer of the R1 e-bike we reviewed last year. Aside from an issue that is likely the result of user error, the bike is running strong, so when they asked me if I wanted to review some of their new 2023 models, I was excited to do some more reviews. Among these new models is the Stinger.
TL;DR: The bike may appear to be less capable than the R1 at first glance, but it was surprisingly capable and robust. To see why it may look like less of a bike on the surface, let’s look over the specifications.
Snapcycle Stinger Specifications & Features
The Snapcycle Stinger is a step-thru electric bike that offers riders more of a balance between brute force and efficiency. Unlike most e-bikes in its class, it comes with a 500W Brushless Geared Hub Motor, which is below the typical 750 watt motors most fat-tire e-bikes come with. Also, unlike many other fat-tire e-bikes, it comes with 3″ wide tires instead of a wider and fatter 4″ design.
Like the R1 we reviewed last year, it has the battery integrated into the frame tube, but in the top instead of from the bottom. The battery is also smaller and lighter, with only 12.8 amp-hours (@ 48 volts). But, despite the smaller storage capacity, it covers almost 40 miles on pedal assist mode and up to 25 miles on throttle only.
The bike is a Class 2 bike, so it’s limited to 20 MPH from the factory. But, you can unlock the bike’s computer and upgrade it to Class 3 speeds (even if that doesn’t quite make it Class 3 on its own). It’s a good idea to be aware of your local laws before doing this, but it’s possible if you determine that it’s a good idea.
It also has a smaller digital display than the R1, doesn’t have hydraulic brakes, and doesn’t come with a rear brake light (it comes with a simpler AAA-powered rear light, and you can order a brake light from Snapcycle if that’s bothersome).
While these specs look pretty meager compared to the R1, you do save $200 (as of this writing). But, the truth is, you save the $200 without really missing out on much.
Why None Of These Lower Specs Really Matter
Here’s the thing about specifications and numbers: they can tell you a story but they can almost never tell you the whole story. So, it’s often up to the people doing reviews to do as Paul Harvey used to do, and tell you the rest of that story.
Let’s start with motor power. While it’s a 500-watt rated motor, that’s only the bike’s continuous output rating. If you pegged the throttle and held it, eventually, you’ll only get 500 watts out of it (which is usually more than enough power to cruise). But, in shorter peak-power bursts, it can output 960 watts, almost doubling the power. So, outside of a long, steep hill climb that needs more than 500 watts, you’re not actually going to notice the difference in power between this and the 750-watt bikes.
Because the bike’s a little smaller, a little lighter, and has narrower 3″ tires, the efficiency is higher. The obvious advantage there is that you’ll get more range, but it also means that the 500-960 watts of power moves the bike better than the heavier and fatter 4″ fat bikes out there.
The end result is a bike that really doesn’t act like the cheaper and lower-spec bike that it appears to be on the surface. In my riding, I had no trouble keeping up with the R1 and other bikes like the Pegasus (review for that one coming soon).
While you don’t miss out on anything, there are also some serious advantages to this bike over its fatter cousins.
Probably the biggest advantage is that it’s easier to handle. The truth is that the heavier and bulkier 4″ tire e-bikes are not only heavier, but more bulky and awkward to carry. If you need to pull the bike up steps, load it onto a rack, or do anything else, the heavier bike is going to be more challenging in every way. If you’re a man who spends time at the gym regularly, this might not matter, but if you’re a woman and don’t lift weights, the Stinger is just a lot more wieldy while not really losing out on any capability.
How It Rides
As I’ve mentioned several times, the bike really doesn’t lose any capability. It’s still got plenty of peak power, and being lighter with narrower tires means it needs to power through less rolling resistance to move. But, that’s only about overall speed.
While the 4″ bikes tend to be able to power through sand, especially when aired down and you give the throttle a twist, I really didn’t notice any lower capability with this bike.
Where I live, there used to be hundreds of feet of heavy-sediment water standing around. This water was carried into the area by the ancestral Rio Grande, which had been filling up the Rio Grande Rift with sediment for a long, long time. On the places where the lake used to be, there’s a harder crust in the ground, but when the Rio Grande overfilled its bath tub and broke a natural dam somewhere southeast of El Paso, the Rio Grande cut itself deep into this sediment and mud, making a valley.
Today, the area has a lot of sand that’s easily stirred up not only by dust storms, but by vehicles when they drive anywhere unpaved at the edge of this valley. Some of these sand traps are several feet deep, so if you sink, you’re going to have some challenges even walking the bike out of it.
What I’ve found is that the 3″ tire really doesn’t do a worse job cutting through sand compared to the 4″ bikes. The key to getting through tough spots like arroyos or Jeep roads that have been stirred up is to not sink, and the 3″ tire has plenty of “buoyancy” to stay afloat. Like any bike, the trick is to get into a low gear, pedal like mad, and give the throttle a bit of a twist to keep your momentum up and get you out the other side.
From what I’ve been able to figure out so far, the bike handles well in other situations, too. The lighter weight, the adequate grip, and everything else makes for a decent basic mountain bike with some extra oomph to make the ride more fun.
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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