I really wasn't looking for an electric bike - I currently bike around 70 miles a week. But I'm getting older and wouldn't mind some assist on a few of the hills on my commute. I saw the Schwinn mentioned on a thread and was wondering if it might do. The electonics don't seem to add too much weight so I could mostly use it as a regular bike and just kick in the assist when needed.
Any idea how much this costs?
I have to leave it outside during the day; does the battery easily come off so I can bring it in?
This model looks like it sells anywhere from about $1,500 to $2,200, depending on the retailer. It doesn't look like it has the Toshiba SCiB (Super Charge Ion Battery) battery. For that price tag, I'd pick a Schwinn model that has the SCiB battery. The SCiB is supposed to be an improvement in Lithium Ion battery technology. You supposedly can get 3000 charges during the battery's life cycle. Most importantly, the charge time is dramatically reduced--if you buy an "upgraded," commerical charger, you'll be able to recharge your battery in 10 minutes. Otherwise, with the standard charger, it will take 30-40 minutes.
Here's a link to a video review of the (women's version) of the Schwinn Tailwind, which has the SCiB battery. What's interesting is that the reviewer rides the bike without power for a portion of the video--saying it rides well without power assist.
Thanks. I was hoping for under $1000. It is the wave of the future for me but I think I'm likely to just keep pushing my old hybrid for another year or so until prices come down. I just want the assist for the headwindy uphill parts where I currently invent new words.
You might look at conversion kits, there are a number of affordable kits on the market now. I added the Currie kit to my mountain bike this summer and love it. I needed assist on the mountain hills here--I wasn't riding my bike much because my knees would really bother me after a ride. I've put a lot more miles on my bike than my truck since the install in July--over 500 so far. I've also explored more forest roads than I ever did in the truck (I don't have 4-wheel drive and just don't like heading down an unknown, unimproved forest road not knowing what lies ahead--I have no such fears on the bike). I did have the LBS remove the freewheel from my bike's existing rear wheel and put it on the Currie wheel as well as install the tube and tire. The rest of the kit I installed myself; it wasn't hard. Good luck, just take your time and find what's best for you.
Currie discontinues older kit models as they upgrade their designs. The current version is the Electro Drive. The Currie kit comes with one SLA battery pack (made up of 2 12V batteries), which accounts for a big portion of the weight. Fortunately, their design puts the battery pack low on the sides of the rack so that the battery's weight doesn't affect the handling of the bike, a much better design than putting heavy SLA batteries on top of a rear rack. I suspect that I will get a second battery pack next spring; I also may get a LIFEPO4 pack to replace my SLAs when they die (I'm hoping to get a LIFEPO4 pack that I can place in the existing Currie battery pack--I like how the bike rides with the battery pack low in the side of the rack.
I always have pannier bags on my bike so the battery isn't even visible.
I always pedal and reserve the use of the motor for power assist. I've gone 25 miles and still had power in the battery. Clearly LIFEPO4 batteries would probably perform a lot better. I'm just hoping they begin to drop in price. The Currie kit was the best value for me, it was $299 with free shipping (and that includes the SLA battery). I couldn't justify spending a lot on a kit.
Good luck. Take your time, you'll find the solution that's best for you.
My biggest complaint about the Schwinn e-bikes -- is the high price tag. They might be nice bikes, but it seems kind of steep for a bike with a 180w front hub motor and a 24V battery. Not very powerful for that amount of money. Plus, there's no throttle! These bikes are "pedal-assist" only...
With regards to the Toshiba SCiB battery, very nice! But the bikes with this battery cost $3000! I guess if you need a 30 minute charge -- it might be worth paying the extra money. The other Schwinn models with Lithium Polymer are $2000+
Similar models from IZIP and Giant are hundreds of dollars less. But a kit will probably give you the most "bang-for-your-buck"...
I agree that the price is high, but the bicycle is fully equipped--it even has dynamo hub and lights. Looking at comparable bikes from Europe that aren't electrified but have similar fit and finish, the Schwinn models aren't much higher. The motor is 180W continuous power with peaking power at 250W, maybe not the highest, but user reviews on You Tube claim speeds of 15 MPH or slightly more, which is comparable to other 24V e-bikes.
Although many hobbyists want to reach motorcycle speeds on e-bikes (some without pedaling), most countries around the world are regulating the power of electric motors for bicycles as well as how fast an electrified bicycle can travel; if an e-bike can't meet those standards it may get classified as a moped or motorcycle and have to meet more stringent safety standards (US) or may be illegal to ride on the streets (most of the EU). In the more litigious western countries, I can understand why electric bicycle and kit manufacturers are limiting the robustness of their products. Currie changed the controller it uses in many of its 24V models several years ago because hobbyists were modifying the Currie bikes to 36V and achieving speeds over 20MPH, one of the standards that keeps e-bikes in the US classified as bicycles for purposes of federal safety standards. (Remember in the US, electrified bikes with speeds under 20MPH and motors under 750W have their safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Administration rather than the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration under the rationale that they're a consumer product, not a "motor vehicle."
The 24V controller that Currie currently uses cannot handle 36V. Chinese kits that can achieve very high speeds are being sold on the Internet, however, most of the foreign-based sellers probably feel they are immune from the reach of North American and/or European laws that limit the speed and voltage of e-bikes. Should these kind of kits become too popular, I expect to see Customs start examining the specs on kits being imported and seizing those that may exceed the safety standards set for electrified bicycles. Let's face it, most bicycle frames and equipment, especially brakes, aren't robust enough to handle high speeds.
The model you are looking at doesn't come fully-equipped. The Schwinn Tailwind, which has Toshiba's SCiB battery comes fully equipped with dynamo hub lights, rear rack and fenders. It also has a true step through model for women, which is nice if you ride in a skirt.
Thanks for clarifying. I don't even want to look at the price of that thing. I like it though; it's probably worth having to eat cat food later in life. Actually, quality cat food isn't cheap either.
If the only advantage to the SCiB battery is 1/2 hour charging, I'm willing to get the cheaper one. I can wait 4 hours. Mostly I bike to work in the morning and back home later. Maybe I'll see if any of the local dealers have one that I can look at.
Ecowheelz, what does pedal-assist mean? It won't work unless you pedal? I figured that maybe it would drive the chain along with me pedaling, but it sure looks like the motor is in the front wheel.
Yes... "pedal assist" means you're required to pedal. Normally there's a torque sensor built into the crank that senses you're pedaling. Based upon this, it sends a signal to the motor to provide power. There will be several settings you control from the handlebars -- low for a little assistance -- medium -- and high for a lot of assistance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have many bikes that are throttle-controlled. They operate just like motorcycles -- twist the throttle to control power and speed. Most e-bike kits are throttle-controlled. You don't have to pedal at all -- or you can assist the motor and pedal along.
Lastly, there are many bikes with both throttle -- and pedal assist. But normally the pedal-assist on these bikes is much simpler than the fully pedal-assist bikes. Instead of having multiple settings, you'll have just one pedal assist setting -- "on". This will provide about 50% assistance. If you want more control -- just switch to the throttle...
Toshiba's SCiB battery supposedly not only offers incredibly quick charge times but a much, much longer life cycle. According to Toshiba, they've been able to charge this battery up to 6000 times and still retain 80 percent of the battery's original capacity. That's about 300 percent more than other Lithium batteries on the market, whose charge cycles are around 2000 times. If you think you get sticker shock with e-bike prices, just wait until you buy a Lithium battery for an e-bike. Decent LIFEPO4's, the current favorite, will run you anywhere from $500 to over $1,000, depending on voltage and amp hours. If Toshiba's right about the life-cycle and retention of power capacity of their new batteries, at least we consumers wouldn't have to replace them as often. The short charging time is also a huge plus. At present, Schwinn seems to have an exclusive deal with Toshiba. There are people on other forums just chomping at the bit to be able to get an SCiB battery for their existing bikes.
As far as prices go, I've been looking at some 7-geared,non-electrified Dutch bikes (regular and cargo) that come fully-kitted with lights, fenders, etc., their prices are running anywhere from $1,900-$3,000. Given that the Schwinn Tailwind is electrified and has the Toshiba SCiB battery on board, it's not a bad price when compared to similarly-featured Dutch bicycles.