The rapidly expanding e-bike market now runs the gamut from urban commuters and beach cruisers to rugged mountain bikes and svelte, carbon-fiber road bikes. In fact, the Light Electric Vehicle Association announced that, in 2021, the wide range of potential uses helped prompt more Americans to buy e-bikes than electric cars.
Now, Swiss bicycle manufacturer Thömus hopes to jump into the trend with the new do-it-all Swissrider model, one that sets a new standard for e-bikes by combining motor technology found in the Mars Rover with lightweight carbon-fiber construction, form-follows-function design elements, and extensive customization options.
At a recent event showcasing both the Swissrider and the new flagship Thömus store in Santa Monica, Calif., founder and CEO Thomas Binggeli explained the brand’s hope to generate more market momentum with the thoughtfully designed and engineered Thömus lineup.
“When I see the trend in Europe . . . the cities are completely changed,” Binggeli told Robb Report. “There are less cars, more bicycles, but they needed infrastructure and also a little bit [of a] new mindset.” Binggeli adds that he sees the potential for more bikes as “huge,” especially in “the premium segment.”
The Swissrider—which complements the brand’s race-proven Lightrider mountain bikes, unassisted Sliker road cycles, and Longrider urban cruisers—aims to satisfy every potential e-bike buyer with a full carbon frame and the choice between flat handlebars, for commuting and gravel riding, and drop bars for more traditional road riding. Additional features include integrated lights in the handlebar and rear chainstays, a built-in phone mount, clean controls, and even a native smartphone app—all contributing to a modern aesthetic and ride experience geared for the new age of electric mobility.
A new crank-mounted Bikedrive Air electric motor provides the platform that allows for the Swissrider’s most important numbers. Built by Maxon using the same technology the firm sent to Mars, the ultra-lightweight motor weighs only 4.2 pounds but can contribute up to 30 ft lbs of torque (the equivalent of 300 watts). Total battery capacity of up to 426 watt hours (wh) allows for up to 80 miles of assisted range, which can be augmented by a 250 wh range extender. Yet the Swissrider’s base weight somehow starts at only a touch over 25 pounds (depending on specification).
Riding the Swissrider reveals all the knowledge that Binggeli and his team gleaned from years at bike brands BMC and Stromer. The carbon frame and components smooth out road imperfections quite noticeably, despite the fact that the bike has no suspension travel in order to save weight. It’s a decision that seems to result in a choppier ride only when compared to much heavier competitors. For context, perhaps the Swissrider’s closest competition comes from the Wilier Filante Hybrid, which weighs almost exactly the same but caters to a much smaller customer base due to its more low-slung racing geometry. Audi’s futuristic Worthersee e-bike, meanwhile, weighs over 46 pounds and Ducati’s e-MTB tips the scales at more than 60 pounds.
Output from the Maxon motor comes on smoothly at low speeds, but keeping a higher cadence reveals the drivetrain’s true refinement, which is polished power modulation that will make any rider feel as strong as a Tour de France pro. “The light assist with the Swissrider gives you 20 [to] 40 newtons, just to give you a really nice tailwind uphill,” says Binggeli.
The entire bike exudes build quality at every touchpoint, and even pedaling up a moderate incline with the electric assist turned off—as either a fitness challenge or if the battery dies at the end of an extremely long ride—still requires less effort than expected, as the Swissrider is as light as many equivalent unassisted bikes, and lighter in some cases.
The bike’s final weight when delivered depends entirely on the customization process. Bikes built in common spec sit ready for purchase at the shop, but Thömus also works directly with manufacturers like Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo for choice of drivetrains, Selle Italia for seats, and DT Swiss for carbon-fiber wheels, just to name a few.
Only a rim-brake option—not even available on the lightweight Sliker— stands out as something lacking among the broad Thömus lineup. Binggeli chalks that up to the fact that steep descents in the Swiss Alps make the pairing of rim brakes and carbon wheels less than ideal. Just about anything else, though, is on the table—literally, as the downstairs assembly facility houses enough frames, wheels, groupsets, components, and accessories for about 300 bikes. Each customer order averages around a two- or three-day lead time, but pulling together rarer parts for a bespoke build may extend the requisite wait to 10 days.
Upstairs, alongside all the sparkling carbon-fiber bikes, Thömus stocks accessories, tools, fuel (read: snacks), and apparel. And a fledgling membership community fits into the larger plan to help change the American mindset surrounding e-bikes and mobility in general. Part of that vision includes free coffee in the shop for a caffeine hit before, during, or after rides. And Thömus will also service bikes bought elsewhere, which is welcome news to all the region’s dedicated cyclists who have been searching desperately for a dependable location that can be trusted with high-end models. Pricing for the Swissrider starts at $5,750.