Cowboy 2019 electric bike full review
Cowboy is a brand you probably haven't heard of. It’s a startup based in Brussels and this is the first model that’s been officially available in the UK (plus Spain and Italy).
Because the company is focused solely on electric bikes, it has been able to design it from the ground up to have the features it - and modern cyclists - want.
It’s certainly a looker: only the battery behind the seat tube gives away the fact it’s electric. Plus, integrated LED lights and a battery gauge in the top tube are neat while the stealthy matt black theme is used for practically all components.
Cowboy electric bike: Price & availability
In the UK, you can buy a Cowboy for £1790, which includes delivery. You have to order via Cowboy’s website, but you can request a 30-minute test ride where the bike is brought to you and you can ask any and all questions about it.
In Europe, it costs €1990, again from Cowboy’s website.
For alternatives, check out our recommendations of the best electric bikes to buy.
Cowboy electric bike: Features & design
Rather than use an off-the-shelf system, Cowboy cherry-picked the components it wanted to use such as the motor, torque sensor and controller. And it wrapped a bike around these rather than doing it the other way around.
There’s no display: instead you download the app to your phone and mount it to the bike using a quad-lock system. The app is required to power the bike on and off, which is both a pro and a con. It means no-one but you can turn it on, but even you won’t be able to power it on if you don’t have your phone with you, or your phone’s battery runs flat.
Cowboy says it’s working on a system that would allow you to remove and replace the battery to power on the bike, once you’ve allowed that option in the app. And the setup means it’s possible to update the firmware in the bike over the air, too.
Where the app comes into its own is when riding, as you can see your speed, remaining distance / battery power, and other details such as trip distance and time, and your rides are stored so you can see how far you’ve cycled over the last week or month.
It’s also used to turn on the front light, but the rear light will flash when the bike detects you’re slowing down – a neat feature. It’s done by using an accelerometer, and Cowboy has plans to update the app to use that sensor to detect if you fall off and remain motionless, and send a text message to a contact if you do.
Given the fact the app is so central to operation, it’s a little odd that there’s no provision to mount your phone on the bike. Our demo bike was fitted with the popular QuadLock system which, admittedly, is better than a universal mount.
There’s GPS, plus an embedded SIM and Bluetooth within the frame. This means you can track the bike’s location, whether you’ve simply lent it to a friend, or in the event it’s stolen. Bluetooth lets you narrow down the location more precisely than GPS using similar technology to Bluetooth trackers. All of this is included in the price: there’s no subscription fee for the SIM.
Then, of course, is the bike itself. At a shade over 16kg, it's pretty light for an electric bike.The one-size-fits-most design is attractive, but it does limit the Cowboy’s audience. Most women won’t appreciate it and neither will anyone under about 5ft5 (165cm).
If you’re at least that tall, though, you’ll love the Cowboy’s simplicity. There are no gears to worry about: the single-speed belt drive works really well and despite only offering 30Nm of torque, the motor feels powerful, able to propel you from a standing start to the 15.5mph / 25km/h top speed almost effortlessly (and near silently too). You can see how much power is being delivered in the app, and change modes from no assistance up to maximum.
Brakes are just as powerful. The Tektro hydraulic discs have a great feel, and also offer fantastic stopping power.
The 27.5in wheels have custom Panaracer tyres and you can buy the optional custom mudguards that are fitted in these photos.
Should you get a puncture, you’ll need a spanner to remove either wheel and you’ll probably want to disconnect the motor wire for a rear puncture: the connector is hidden behind the bottom bracket.
It’s also worth noting that the saddle height can’t be adjusted without removing the battery, but it’s not a deal-breaker by any means. The battery has a 360Wh capacity, and is good for a range of up to 70km (around 43 miles). It'll charge in just 3.5 hours thanks to the 100W charger.
One other noteworthy feature is the option in the app to set a speed limit based on whether you’re on- or off-road. By European law, the Cowboy is limited to 15.5mph, but when off-road you can choose 18.6mph (30km/h). And that’s a much nicer speed to ride at.
Should any problems occur, there’s live chat support available in the app, as well as diagnostics thanks to the connected design. If spare parts are required, you have the option of receiving them and fitting them yourself, or you can take the bike to an authorised repair centre.
With great build quality, thoughtful design and some handy features, the Cowboy is an impressive electric bike. It would be great to see other frame sizes and styles available, but so long as that isn’t a problem for you, you’re getting good value at this price.
Cowboy 2019 electric bike: Specs
- Weight: 16.1 kg total weight, including battery
- Frame material: Aluminium
- Rider height: One M/L frame size, optimized for riders between 170-195 cm tall
- Tyres: Custom-designed Gravelking Panaracer tires at a width of 42 mm
- Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
- Front lights: Integrated LED front light can be turned on/off via the app
- Rear lights: Integrated LED rear light intensifies when decelerating and/or braking
- Warranty: 2 years
- Range: up to 70km
- Battery: 2.4kg removable battery. 360Wh, 10Ah
- Mobile app: iOS and Android. Secure, digital-key lock/unlock via personal app
- Colour: Matt black
- Belt: Belt-drive system with a gear ratio of 3.1:1
- Charger: 100 W charger with a charging time of 3.5 hours
- Motor: Custom-designed 30 Nm / 250 W motor, integrated into the rear wheel
- Maximum speed: 25 km/h