Belgian e-bike maker Cowboy has released a pair of new e-bikes with super-minimal designs and a choice of frame geometries that make them accessible to a wider range of riders, while sticking with a surprisingly affordable price tag.
When we tested the Cowboy 3 in 2020 and the Cowboy 2 in 2019, we were impressed by their light weight, and super-smooth ride, but felt a little disappointed that they only had one frame size and style, which excluded riders who weren't between 5' 5" and 6' 4" tall, and comfortable with a step-over design.
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The fourth-generation Cowboy addresses that problem with a choice of the original step-over frame, plus a new step-through option.
The C4 has the same overall look as the Cowboy 3, with a redesigned cockpit and new gray paint option in addition to the graphite black and muted white of previous models. It weighs 18.9kg including the battery, making it slightly heavier than the 18.2kg Cowboy 3, but still light enough to shoulder and carry upstairs.
The C4 ST is, as the name suggests, the new step-through variant. It has the same overall shape as the classic frame, simply lacking the top tube so you can easily mount the bike in regular (slightly restrictive) clothes, which is a real plus for city commuters. It's available in the same monochrome color palette and aluminum construction, but tips the scales at 19.2kg.
Both the C4 and C4 ST are available to pre-order now from Cowboy, starting at £2,290 (about $3,200 / AU$4,000). That's slightly more than the Ribble Hybrid AL e, which currently sits at the top of our guide to the best electric bikes, and although certainly not cheap, it's a very reasonable mid-range price.
Both feature the low-maintenance carbon belt that helps give the smooth ride characteristic of Cowboy e-bikes. This needs much less TLC than a traditional chain, with no worries about re-tensioning or oiling, though it does mean that this is a bike best kept for the streets. Carbon belts don't fare so well when faced with mud, as Shimano engineer Gavin Brough explained to us in his comprehensive guide to e-bike maintenance.
Whereas many e-bikes use both gears and adjustable power controls, Cowboy simplifies things for the rider with a system that adjusts the power assistance based on the amount of force applied to the pedals. As a result, although you have less overall control over power consumption throughout your ride (unless you opt to turn off the motor entirely, which is a perfectly valid option with a bike this light), there's a lot less to think about while riding so you can concentrate on the road and traffic instead.
Both bikes also offer crash and theft detection, which will alert an emergency contact if you take a fall, and warn you if the bike is moved when you're not nearby. They also connects to the Cowboy app, which gives turn-by-turn navigation on your phone (with a choice of the cleanest, quickest, or least busy routes) plus weather reports, bike diagnostics and ride stats.
We're currently testing the C4, and will bring you a full review very soon.
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