As VinFast expands its presence in the US, the Vietnamese automaker recently showed off its new DrgnFly electric bike at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. But no sooner did the veil drop than the questions began to swirl about just how close is too close when mimicking other famous e-bike designs.
In this case, the specs of the bike are less important. Sure, it’s got a 750W motor and does 28 mph (45 km/h), but so do a hundred other e-bike models in the US alone, let alone around the world.
What’s more eyebrow-raising is just how closely VinFast’s new electric bike appears to copy SUPER73’s iconic e-bike design.
SUPER73 may not have originated the moped-style electric bike design, but there is little argument that they were one of the earliest companies to embrace the design. Ever since, SUPER73’s heavy investment in marketing and its own rider culture has launched the 20″ wheel moped-style electric bike design to stardom. Drawing upon motorcycle inspiration matched with e-bike cost effectiveness, SUPER73 has now spent years building up a loyal customer base and turning itself into more than just an e-bike company, but rather an entire lifestyle brand.
It’s worked, too. Nearly any other e-bike is difficult to distinguish at a distance. From 50 yards, a Rad and an Aventon just don’t look that different. But anyone who has spent more than a few days in the e-bike industry can likely spot a SUPER73 from half a football field away.
Just like there are countless 750W e-bikes, these days there seem to be countless SUPER73 imitators. And to imitate is one thing. E-bikes like the Ride1Up Revv1 have surely imitated SUPER73 while bringing their own brand’s styling and features to the table. But outright copying is an entirely different story, and the case of the VinFast DrgnFly is starting to push closer to the photocopy end of the spectrum than an artistic interpretation.
The bike model it most closely resembles is the SUPER73-ZX, a bike I had the pleasure of testing out myself. From the nearly identical handlebars and saddle to largely the same frame (minus the S73 cutouts), it’s difficult to find an area on the bike that doesn’t look like it was swapped over from SUPER73’s spare parts warehouse.
An underslung battery adds to the mimicry, and though it doesn’t scream carbon copy by itself, it piles onto the growing list of nearly identical or highly similar features.
Interestingly, the DrgnFly hasn’t only co-opted the outward design, but VinFast also appears to have its sights set on SUPER73’s lifestyle brand status. SUPER73 is perhaps as well known for its fiercely loyal riders who have embraced the lifestyle aspect of SUPER73 culture more than with any other e-bike brand on the market. I’ve seen more customization and personalization on SUPER73 bikes than just about all other brands combined.
According to VinFast Global’s Deputy CEO of Sales and Marketing Tran Mai Hoa, “VinFast’s DrgnFly is not just an e-bike, it’s a lifestyle option for modern users who seek to express their personality.” Sounds pretty familiar to me.
To be fair, VinFast likely played a smaller role in the actual design of the DrgnFly. The company noted that the bike’s design was aided by “Eskild Hansen, an innovative Danish studio with multiple Red Dot Design awards.”
But at the end of the day, it still says VinFast on the nameplate.
We’ve seen e-bikes before that highly resemble other famous models, and they often slip by in a largely unregulated field. But legal battles sometimes ensue when the designs are too close for comfort.
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