Rid.e, Greenstorm or eBike Abo – a growing number of providers are vying for cyclists who want to rent their e-bikes instead of buying them. According to the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), a pedelec costs an average of around 2600 euros in stores, while a subscription e-bike is available for significantly less than 100 euros a month.

Providers put together packages with maintenance and insurance as well as bike replacement, for example after a theft. The Dutch company DOCKR recently launched its cargo bike subscription in Germany. Even the ADAC has entered the business.

One of the best-known players who, thanks to the blue front tire, also mixes one of the most eye-catching subscription bikes among the cyclists, is the Dutch company Swapfiets, founded in 2014. How does their new entry-level e-bike Power 1 ride?

Purpose of the Power 1 from Swapfiets

“The Power 1 is intended for urban people to whiz from A to B in the city – when it is not too hilly,” says André Illmer, Managing Director of Swapfiets Germany. Due to its ease of use, it is also suitable for “e-bike newbies”. Customers who are sitting on a pedelec for the first time. The model lacks a circuit, the electric drive is almost self-explanatory.

As a city bike, it is less suitable for longer tours, but it should make those customers happy who want to have as few worries as possible with a bike in everyday life. If you have technical problems – even if it’s just a flat tire – you can call an employee via the Swapfiets app, by phone or other channels within the service areas.

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The bike is ideally repaired on site. If that is not possible within ten minutes, the customer receives a replacement bike that the swapper – as the service employees are called – has with him, says Illmer.

In principle, repairs are guaranteed within 48 hours. The Power 1 is available in all cities in which Swapfiets is represented – from Berlin to Dresden, Hamburg to Munich or Freiburg, Halle (Saale) and others.

The technology of the Power 1

What Swapfiets calls a single-speed set-up simply means that the bike has no gears. There is a fixed ratio of 44 to 18, which corresponds to a medium gear. The Shimano Steps E5000 motor is used as a supporting drive, which can double the cyclist’s leg strength.

Drivers dose the power bonus via three support levels, which are limited to 25 km / h. The Dutch have combined the motor with a battery of 418 watt hours. It sits on the down tube of the aluminum frame, can be locked or removed for charging.

Pay flat rate, cycle flat rate: Out and about with a subscription e-bike

418 watt hours in the battery must be enough – and that is what they do for most everyday trips

Source: dpa-tmn / Stefan Weißenborn

André Illmer recommends removing the battery as soon as you park the bike due to the risk of theft. Swapfiets includes a Shimano charger, with which the lithium-ion battery can be refreshed halfway on the bike in 1.5 hours, and a full charge takes four hours.

The Power 1 weighs 26.6 kilograms, which is almost four kilograms less than the higher-lying Power 7, which Swapfiets introduced at the end of 2020 as its first subscription e-bike. The developers not only dispensed with the seven-speed hub gear, but also made do with a battery with less energy. Parts of the down tube and seat tube as well as the fork are protected against scratches and wear and tear by a transparent film.

Pay flat rate, cycle flat rate: Out and about with a subscription e-bike

Because roller brakes are robust, Swapfiets decided on this type of brake

Source: dpa-tmn / Stefan Weißenborn

Experts recommend disc brakes for e-bikes, especially because of the acceleration, which require little force in the fingers to grip well. Swapfiets takes a different approach: it decelerates with a coaster brake, and a Shimano roller brake is installed at the front – both of which are low-maintenance and therefore cost-saving solutions.

Driving impression of the Power 1

The Power 1 is switched on via a button on the Shimano battery, not, like its sister model, via a power button on the frame. Not only the engine and display are brought to life, but also the lighting, which cannot be switched off – a safety plus. The Power 1 gets down to business smoothly, the pedal assistance with up to 45 Newton meters of torque feels natural and never becomes independent.

In most driving situations, the power bonus compensates for the lack of gearshifts – uphill it is best to change to the highest support level due to a lack of easy gear. But you shouldn’t be too slow – otherwise it only helps to stand on the pedals and use your whole body to keep turning the crank.

Pay flat rate, cycle flat rate: Out and about with a subscription e-bike

The additional electrical power is provided by a mid-engine. The driver can access the power bonus via three support levels, which, like every pedelec, are limited to 25 km / h

Source: dpa-tmn / Stefan Weißenborn

It sits upright on the Power 1, but not quite like on a Dutch bike. And that’s a good thing, because the bones feel less of the lack of driving comfort, as vibrations can be better cushioned with the arms when the upper body is bent.

Swapfiets e-bikes do not have suspension forks or the like – they are also too expensive and too maintenance-intensive. But the 47 millimeter wide puncture protection tires can be driven with very little air pressure, which has a significant damping effect.

The effect of the front brake, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired; you can rely on the coaster brake – although the fundamental criticism of this solution remains – namely that it can be dosed differently depending on the pedal position.

Equipment, accessories, peripherals

Stands and sturdy mudguards are a matter of course in everyday cycling. Theft protection is very important. The Swapfiets is secured against driving away with a frame lock. The additional chain is long enough to also attach the bike to lampposts or bicycle brackets.

The wide aluminum bicycle basket that Swapfiets screws onto the front rack for an additional rent of two euros per month is welcome for a city bike. This is attached to the fork head and axle, can withstand up to 15 kilograms and steers, which can influence the driving behavior more than a structure firmly connected to the frame. A luggage rack for the rear cannot be ordered.

Pay flat rate, cycle flat rate: Out and about with a subscription e-bike

For an additional monthly rent of 2 euros, subscribers can get a bicycle basket from the swapper

Source: dpa-tmn / Stefan Weißenborn

The Power 1 is painted in five colors. In terms of sizes, customers can only choose between frame heights of 49 and 55 centimeters, which should fit for heights between 1.60 meters and 2.00 meters. The driver’s weight should not exceed 95 kilos, the maximum total weight is 120 kilos.

The price of the Power 1

The subscription fee is 59.90 euros, with an introductory price of 49.90 euros until spring (Power 7: 75 euros). Notice period: one month. In addition, a registration fee of 19.50 euros is due. The subscription can be concluded on the website with a few clicks, and the swapper will bring the bike over to you within the service area.

If individual parts are lost, fees apply: for example 15 euros for the key or 350 euros if the battery is missing. If the whole bike is lost and it was not locked, you have to pay 1500 euros.

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Getty ImagesGetty Images

Conclusion: Those who don’t care about maintenance should be happy – see the support promise. In addition, the Power 1 is a robust companion at an affordable subscription price, but sporting ambitions are nipped in the bud. But if you are looking for a carefree everyday bike, you shouldn’t care as much.

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