San Diego-based Juiced Bikes is building on its reputation for nostalgia-driven electric bikes with the release of its latest model, the Scorpion. Much like the company’s Scrambler bikes, the Scorpion has a fat-tire, low-rider feel that is sure to appeal to fans of the 1970s-era taco minibikes. And with an approachable frame, affordable price, and absurdly powerful battery, the Scorpion could be a good entry-level e-bike for anyone who’s bored with traditional two-wheelers.
As I walked through lower Manhattan on a recent Thursday to meet up with Juiced Bikes CEO Tora Harris and his team, the first thing I noticed was the headlights: big, round, and impossibly bright, even in the glaring sun. A motorcycle-style headlight on an e-bike isn’t anything new; Super 73’s S1 and Scout bikes come with one. But Juiced is really leaning into the style, and that’s either going to turn customers off or tickle their fancy, depending on their secret desire to draw looks from passersby.
e-bikes don’t have to be boring
Either way, it was a good reminder that e-bikes don’t have to be boring. Sometimes they can look like motorcycles, mopeds, or even scooters, as Karmic’s new Oslo e-bikes demonstrate. While there will always be a place for traditional-looking e-bikes, it’s pretty cool to see more designers looking outside the box.
With the Scorpion, Juiced is abandoning the parallelogram shape of the Scrambler for a step-through frame that’s probably more approachable to a wider range of people. There are two versions: the base model Scorpion with a 750-watt motor and a 672Wh (52V, 13Ah) battery, and the Hyper Scorpion with a 1,000-watt motor and a 998.4Wh (52V, 19.2Ah) battery. The LG-made batteries look huge and boxy from their perch on the downtube of the bike, which is not my favorite look, but I understand the necessity of it. At the medium power setting, the base model bike can get up to 45 miles of range before it will need to be recharged, while the higher-spec version can travel up to 75 miles, according to Juiced.
The Scorpion is a Class 2 e-bike, which means it offers both pedal- and throttle-assisted speeds of up to 20 mph. Juiced is working on a Class 3 model that can get up to 28 mph as well as an off-road, motorbike version that can reach 30 mph. The bike has a twist throttle rather than a thumb throttle, which I prefer because it feels more solid and harder to break. The base model Scorpion includes a 7-speed Freewheel gear shifter, while the high-spec version comes with a Shimano 8-speed cassette.
One of the standout features of the Scorpion is the dual-suspension: coil suspension with a hydraulic lockout on the front fork and a spring-loaded swingarm — typically found on motorcycles — on the rear wheel. In the brief time I had with the bike, the dual-suspension system combined with the fat, 20-by-4-inch tires really made Manhattan’s omnipresent bumps and potholes just melt away.
Disc brakes on both wheels made it easy to quickly stop even when I was cruising at top speed. Tora and I also took our bikes over the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, a route I take twice a day during the week, and it never felt smoother. Going somewhere off-road, though, particularly on gravel or some uneven surfaces, would be the real test.
My one complaint is about the size of the bike
My one complaint is about the size of the bike. I’m a tall-ish guy at a little over six feet tall, and I prefer to not have my knees bumping into my elbows when I ride. The Scorpion’s low-riding design would definitely take some getting used to, but it wasn’t deal-breaker. The long, comfy banana-style seat allows you to lean back while you ride, which can be more comfortable than the typical head-forward position of most bikes.
Well, maybe the size isn’t my only complaint. As I was riding over the bridge, I felt some tugging on the motor, almost as if I was being jerked backward slightly. Later, Harris explained that the prototype version of the bike has a CNC bottom bracket with a little bit of bevel. The cadence sensor cannot sit flush against the bracket, so the magnetic disc on the crank wobbles a little, causing inconsistent signals at certain pedal frequencies. Prototype versions of the Juiced Scrambler had a similar problem, but Harris promised that the production version of the Scorpion won’t have this issue.
Juiced is selling the Scorpion through Indiegogo for an “early bird special” price of $1,299 (40 percent less than the MSRP price of $2,100). The Hyper Scorpion (MSRP $3,499) can be had for an introductory price of $1,999. After that special expires, the prices go up to $1,499 and $2,499, respectively. That’s not cheap, and there are less expensive options out there (the aforementioned $1,399 Super 73 Scout, for example). Bikes will start shipping to preorder customers in March 2020, Juiced says.
The Scorpion is a rip-snorting good ride and an exciting addition to Juiced’s lineup, which includes the Scrambler, CrossCurrent, and RipCurrent bikes. This is a vibes bike, the kind you take out on a warm summer night when the sun is low over the horizon, you have some cash in your pocket, and the good taco truck is just down the street. Or maybe you’re at the trailhead, with sheer rock cliffs looming up ahead, and the smell of pine in the air.
If either of those sounds like your type of vibe, then the Scorpion might be the bike for you.