When Andrew Davidge pushed in all of his chips and committed to starting an electric bike company during the second half of 2012, the venture that would become Vintage Electric was not without its risks. The company’s designs, which reflected the classic lines and styling of American motorcycles from the turn of the 20th century, guaranteed at least some interest from vintage car and motorcycle enthusiasts, but there was no guarantee that an electric bike—let alone one with a vintage aesthetic—was going to move the needle for the average consumer. “Electric bikes weren’t what they are today,” Davidge recalls. “It seems like a no-brainer today, but back then it wasn’t a sure thing.”
Today, especially as people are adjusting their lifestyles and their priorities thanks to the global pandemic, electric bikes have never been more popular. “People aren’t taking their big vacations outside of the state or country,” Davidge acknowledges. “They’re looking to explore their own backyards in a safe way, and the bikes we build are perfect for that. It’s the ultimate socially distanced way to get around.”
The Bay Area company’s latest model, the Tracker Classic (starting at $5,240), harkens to Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles from the 1920s. While it offers the same capabilities as Vintage Electric’s flagship models, delivering a maximum speed of 20 mph with an optional race mode that can elevate the bike’s performance to 36 mph, albeit limiting that added speed to use only on private property—the Tracker Classic is distinctive for its retro-styled cruiser handlebars that promote an upright riding position and deliver ergonomic controls at the rider’s fingertips.
“Performance is really important to us—we like fast cars, fast motorcycles, and fast bikes—but we took a step back with the Tracker Classic,” Davidge says. “We asked, ‘How is someone really using the vehicle that we’re building?’ Yes, it does have the performance that we’re known for, but comfort was put first. It’s about being a fun, comfortable bike that’s easy to use.”
Fully charged, the Tracker Classic’s 720-watt hour battery offers a range of 25 to 50 miles (depending on how aggressively the bike is ridden). With a bandwidth that broad, you could spend hours cruising the bike paths around the Rose Bowl Stadium, Brookside Golf Course, and Upper Arroyo Park and still have plenty of juice left to venture through Old Pasadena and around Caltech’s campus.
If you prefer to cruise under the radar, however, Caltech’s campus may not be the place for you. After all, in a setting like that, an e-bike of this caliber is sure to garner plenty of attention. vintageelectricbikes.com