You can tell them apart at first glance: the good old wire donkey – and an e-bike. Not just because of the battery or thicker frame. They generally look more modern, minimalist and puristic. A prime example of such a specimen is the Cowboy 4 (ST). The e-bike not only looks chic, but is also intelligent and not only electrically operated. What makes the bike special for around 2,800 euros? The test shows that.
Cowboy 4 and the minimalism
Starting with the optics, there are several special features in the current flagship of the Belgian manufacturer. The e-bike comes in a matte black finish with no frills. The look is modern, minimalist and as if made of one piece. And that's not saying too much, because although the individual elements were welded together, Cowboy succeeds in seamless processing. Not every manufacturer can do that, on the contrary. However, this also has the disadvantage that you can only adjust one component individually: the saddle. Everything else is fixed. In other words: the taller the rider, the more he has to bend forward towards the handlebars.
For information: We tested the ST version, which differs from the normal Cowboy 4 only in the low entry. The Cowboy 4 ST is therefore suitable for shorter people from 1.60 meters tall.
Cowboy remains consistent in terms of design and pays attention to detail. The oval front and rear lamps are conspicuously inconspicuous and are embedded vertically in the frame. They peep out of the frame like small, rounded bumps, but they don't seem particularly annoying. The frame of the e-bike is designed to be slim, which once again benefits the linear design. Instead, the Belgians hide the motor in the rear wheel hub, where it becomes more or less invisible.
For German users, however, the Cowboy 4 still lacks equipment so that the e-bike can be driven on the road. Bell, reflectors and Co. are included in the scope of delivery in Germany and the Cowboy 4 is therefore ready for the StVO.
The Cowboy 4 rear hub where the motor is hidden.
These are the realities of the Belgian bike
The eye eats with you, yes. But it also has to please the palate. So what does the Cowboy 4 offer apart from a chic exterior? On the one hand, Cowboy has significantly increased the power compared to its predecessor: Instead of a torque of 30 Nm, users now drive with a power of 45 Nm. Along with this and in a supporting function, there is the rear wheel hub motor with an output of 250 watts, which works wonders, especially when approaching with the pedelec.
Meanwhile, jeans enjoy the modern belt drive. Cowboy doesn't rely on conventional chains that require maintenance with lubricant, but on Gates carbon belts. According to their own statements, these are more durable than well-known bicycle chains – but a long-term test over several years would have to show whether this is really the case.
Also worth mentioning at this point are the puncture-proof tyres, which have flexible grip and, according to Cowboy, a puncture protection layer.
Range and battery of the Cowboy 4
The be-all and end-all of an e-bike is its range. The Cowboy 4 is clearly a city bike, with which you can go shopping, visits and short bike tours on paved paths as light as a feather. Cowboy specifies the range as 70 kilometers. The built-in battery is – at least on paper – relatively small: 360 watt hours. Other manufacturers install batteries with at least 500 watts on average. You'll read later why that doesn't break the Cowboy 4's crown.
Once the battery is empty, you can simply lift it out of the frame and connect it to the power supply. It takes almost three and a half hours to be fully charged again. By the way: The battery is secured on the frame with a key. If you take it out, no stranger can steal the battery.
Safe from theft: The Cowboy 4's removable battery.
App instead of on-board computer: This is the system behind it
As already mentioned, the Cowboy 4 can indeed call itself smart and, in this sense, intelligent. Because instead of a built-in "board computer", the e-bike gets by with an app. This is mandatory if you want to ride a bike. It is available for free on the Google Play Store and App Store but requires registration. During setup, you also have to connect them to the bike once, which runs automatically. There is a special attachment in the middle of the handlebars to which you can attach your smartphone. The Quad-Lock case is not included in the scope of delivery and must therefore be purchased separately. It is always practical, you can keep an eye on your cell phone and the app while driving without being distracted – for example when you are being navigated. However, the case was not available for our test.
The app itself is just as minimalistic as the pedelec itself. It has the most necessary functions: You can control the light via the app – if it gets dark, it comes on automatically – use the integrated navigation system. Once the app is connected to the Cowboy 4, it automatically recognizes the bike and unlocks the motor as soon as you are within range. That means you don't have to press any buttons or anything like that, you can get on and start driving straight away. You can tell whether the bike is unlocked by the LED display, which then lights up. If the e-bike is not unlocked, the motor will not start either.
The associated app for the e-bike Cowboy 4.
You can also use the app to protect the e-bike against theft. If a thief tampers with the bike, the app registers this and notifies you. If in doubt, you can even pass on the position data directly to the police. This addition, however, costs money per month. Another practical feature is accident detection. The Cowboy 4 notices when you fall. If the function is activated, the app automatically sends an emergency call to your stored emergency contacts. If you are not injured, you have 60 seconds to cancel the emergency call.
Driving experience: That makes the Cowboy 4 intelligent
Having your smartphone with you all the time so you can ride a bike is unusual at first. It's particularly cumbersome if you don't have a holder or quad-lock case to attach your cell phone to the e-bike. If you want to be navigated to a place, you have to keep stopping to see where you have to go. Even with other settings, pauses are necessary again and again. But once you've internalized how things work and how to use the app and bike, that's no longer a problem.
It is noticeable that the light step on the pedals when mounting provides a strong push forward. This is noticeable on a route with many traffic lights, for example, when you can easily outperform most other cyclists in a matter of seconds. The engine power ensures driving pleasure here. But not consistently: the single-speed design of the Cowboy 4 quickly catches the eye, especially on straight stretches. What does that mean? That's pretty easy to explain: you don't have gears to switch between, and you also can't select support levels like many competitors. Instead, you just pedal, and that's it.
The single-speed support works well up to a speed of almost 20 km/h. After that, though, you feel like you're trying to race on a classic Dutch bike. The lead you gained at traffic lights with the engine is caught up by other cyclists on conventional bikes in no time at all – and you will be overtaken.
You could still feel the engine power even at higher altitudes, but there was no powerful push upwards. The question: What happens when the battery is empty or the engine off? Then the Cowboy 4 hangs like a log under your butt.
With regard to empty batteries, the Belgians have come up with something: If your cell phone runs out and you can no longer unlock the e-bike or motor, you can also do it manually. All you have to do is remove the battery from the frame and reinsert it after a few seconds. The motor then switches on automatically and you can continue riding with assistance.
Range and engine: Better than on paper
We commuted to work with the Cowboy 4, which took almost 20 kilometers each way and, depending on driving style, one to one and a half hours. So there were almost 40 kilometers on the counter per day. The route is urban, i.e. asphalted – exactly what the Cowboy 4 is suitable for. If you ride on unpaved paths in between, you quickly realize that you are on the wrong track with the e-bike. The tires have too little profile to find grip on meadows, and there is no suspension. The journey ultimately becomes a jerky and sometimes painful affair.
But back to the range and the battery: After two days, only half of the battery was used up. It only had to be recharged after about a week. A good record. All in all, the Cowboy 4 is a good choice for commuters.
Conclusion on Cowboy 4
The Cowboy 4 is clearly an e-bike that presents itself intelligently with the best intentions. It combines modern approaches with digital change without relying on too many frills and additional functions. The excellent workmanship and the practical and safe integration of the battery on the frame below the battery deserve praise. It is easy to remove and safe from thieves thanks to the key. The driving experience is good, especially in urban areas, so that small trips and daily trips can be done comfortably. The app connection works smoothly; Due to the few functions, it remains clear and can be operated by anyone. For sporty enthusiasts, the app also records the route driven, number of kilometers and average speed.
But the intelligent wheel also has its weaknesses. They reveal themselves in the long-distance single-speed concept, which can sometimes make you sweat. More gears or different setting levels that can be adjusted to the pedaling resistance would have looked good on the Cowboy 4. The high acquisition costs are also a pity, as far as the quad-lock case, the bike stand and luggage rack are concerned. Especially since the Cowboy 4 is mainly used in urban areas. Here you have to invest at least 130 euros again – at the already high price of 2,790 euros.
The Belgian e-bike is therefore primarily aimed at those who want to use it in the city. Cyclists who want to cover longer distances and ride away from asphalt should look for another model.
Beautiful, timeless designExcellent app connection and conceptGood motor performance and rangeRemovable battery
High price with additional costs for additional equipment Single-speed concept Very difficult to drive without motor support Little adjustment options