RehaTreff test report: The whisper-quiet power package

Our Stricker Crossbike in a practical test by Werner Pohl from RehaTreff, the magazine for people with limited mobility.

Tested: The Stricker Crossbike

There are many power assist devices for wheelchairs. With its new Crossbike, Stricker is now enriching this market segment with a kind of Harley Davidson among power assist devices. We have taken a closer look at the powerhouse.

What's better than lots of torque? Even more torque! The old motorcyclist's adage came to mind as I, carefully turning the throttle, took the first test lap on the just-docked Crossbike. This was preceded by the Stricker employee's warning, "Watch out, this thing has real power." The anything but delicate appearance of the newcomer to the Stricker product portfolio also conveys this message visually. Lush tires and equipped with a beefy hub motor, chunky additional weights at the height of the wheel hub and a wide mudguard above the drive wheel, the Crossbike certainly has something of a motorcycle about it. In any case, my wheelchair looks downright dainty in combination with the leader. Later, I will wish I had a set of mountain bike tires on the wheelchair for off-road rides.

Tough test for the wheelchair

But first of all, I'm pleased with the trouble-free fusion of chair and power assist devices. The knitter's own fastening system with wide screw clamps is uncomplicated to use, quickly adjusted and ensures a solid, wobble-free frictional connection between the two components. This is also necessary, because the power assist devices, which is equipped with a 1,500-, optionally 2,000-watt motor, subjects the wheelchair to a not inconsiderable load. Once again, therefore, I am pleased with the solid rigid frame model that accompanies me through life. I quickly realize that a folding wheelchair would have reached its limits with this heavyweight in front of it.

The Crossbike literally challenges you to test your limits. What is already striking during the first test ride in the immediate vicinity - a hilly terrain, characterized partly by perfectly paved farm roads, partly by forest paths of varying difficulty - is the enormous acceleration with which the engine gets to work. A minimal twist of the throttle is all it takes for the vehicle to charge forward. The speed at which the fun ends requires the driver to think a bit about compliance with the law. In Germany, power assist devices are exempt from compulsory insurance up to six kilometers per hour. Up to 15 kilometers per hour, they require an operating license and must have an insurance license plate. They may not be driven faster than 15 kilometers per hour in public areas. So if - purely theoretically, of course - you stray into a speed range beyond 30 kilometers per hour during an acceleration maneuver, that's perfectly fine, provided you're on private property. Hardly anyone is going to warm to a Crossbike locked down to six kilometers per hour. That would be like hitching a 400-horsepower Porsche to a plow. Reasonably, therefore, one will insure the power assist devices. It is offered by Stricker for this purpose with TÜV certificate and operating license.

Powerful, easy to dose

Stollenreifen des Crossbikes

The source of power: A powerful engine helps the Crossbike to impressive driving performance. Image: Daniela Böhm

In order to be able to meter the available power safely, the bike has five power levels that can be mobilized via a manual switch and are shown on the display. The full potential is available in each of these stages; only the final speed and acceleration curve vary. I notice how useful this dosage aid is when approaching a freshly graveled, ascending forest road. Level five is still on the display and the spinning front wheel promptly clears the gravel aside. After shifting back to level 1, the propulsion can be dosed as smoothly as butter and the obstacle is conquered.

Safe on the slope

I have already tested numerous power assist devices and always came at some point the moment when physics prevailed and either the front wheel spun on inclines or the engine power was no longer sufficient. Presumably, this moment also exists for the Crossbike, but I have not experienced it. The combination of weight, chunky tread of the tire and ample engine power was up to all riding situations. Slopes that had forced me with other equipment to slalom maneuvers, pulled the machine stoically up. At most, it happened once that at the end of the hill only five kilometers per hour stood on the speedometer - bearable. But even more important than the uphill experience for me were the downhill runs, which I had already experienced as adrenaline-pumping with other trailers. Even if a power assist devices is equipped with good brakes, it can happen on loose ground that the grip of the tire is no longer sufficient and the vehicle pushes downhill with a locked front wheel. Depending on the environment and traffic situation, this can be extremely unpleasant. This was not the case with the Crossbike, whose wide roller tire proved itself on any type of ground and, in combination with the double disc brake, certainly ensured short braking distances. Admittedly, full braking was accompanied by violent shaking. All in all, the relatively long frame is not completely torsion-free despite the tight clamping connection. The recuperation mode proved to be helpful when driving downhill. A light pull on the right brake lever activates a motor brake that supports the effect of the two disc brakes on the one hand and feeds energy into the battery on the other.

The ride comfort in general: It takes its toll that a wheelchair moving so vehemently through the landscape is "actually" designed for more leisurely progress. Of course, you can also celebrate this with a team. But in practice one uses the available propulsion nevertheless rather for a brisk journey. And if you're on a bumpy road, no kidney stone is left in its place. Anyone who regularly uses such a powerful towing vehicle would therefore be well advised to use a set of tires on the wheelchair that provide more ride comfort than hard-packed tires in racing bike style.

Cockpit View Crossbike

Clearly arranged controls, clear display: Nothing distracts from the driving pleasure.

Beast and gentleman

In contrast to the opulent visual appearance, the acoustic impression is decidedly discreet. The engine performs its work as quiet as a whisper and hardly draws attention to itself even in quiet surroundings, such as shopping arcades or even churches (for example, when sightseeing on vacation). In cramped conditions, such as densely populated pedestrian zones, it is also noticeable how precisely the engine's power can be dosed in the low drive settings. In combination with a phenomenally tight turning circle and the selectable reverse gear, this makes the car so agile even between the chairs and tables of an outdoor restaurant that it never becomes a danger to the environment. That's the thing that makes the Crossbike stand out from the crowd: It is an all-rounder that literally seeks out the challenge off-road, but is also suitable for unspectacular use in the city center.

Universally usable

This suitability for everyday use is underlined by useful equipment details, some of which are subject to an extra charge, such as lighting, cruise control, fold-out turn signals and taillights, and a Klickfix coupling for the shopping basket or luggage rack. A range of more than 30 kilometers with a fully charged battery, which can be extended with an additional power storage unit if necessary, should be sufficient for most undertakings. As Stricker informs, there is also the possibility of mounting a second battery from the outset. Then a simple switch is enough to double the range. In any case, the Crossbike is a good alternative to the car for short trips. If you're looking for a universal towing machine, the Crossbike is the right choice. Whether in the city, in the countryside or off-road - this pre-tensioned bike makes you mobile. The vehicle makes no secret of the fact that its real domain is not the asphalt, but the world beyond it. You simply achieve the maximum fun factor when conquering rough terrain, mountain meadows or gravel roads. With its power and weight, the Crossbike makes regions accessible that are otherwise difficult to access for wheelchair users. The fact that it is also suitable for sidewalks can be considered an extra, but even there it scores with properties such as very good maneuverability and bite even on the steepest incline. Last but not least: The brute look is a real eye-catcher. Anyone who rides a Crossbike will attract attention.

A lot of bike for a lot of money

At most, the complete weight of around 30 kilograms could deter some users. It takes a certain level of physical fitness to be able to cope with the powerhouse in all situations without endangering oneself and others. The Crossbike, or more precisely its power storage unit, is also not suitable for air travel. The battery's energy density is too high for that. And of course, the fun also has its price. Depending on the equipment, the price is between 6,000 and 7,000 euros. If you can afford the investment and want it, you get a real value.

~ wp | translated by us

We would like to thank Mr. Pohl very much for the great practical report. It's worth visiting the RehaTreff homepage, where you'll find lots of helpful information, news and interesting facts from the rehab scene. Click here to read more RehaTreff articles or to order the current RehaTreff magazine. Small tip: You receive a sample issue once free of charge.

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