May 15, 2023 - Things to Do

What we're riding: It ain't your parents' Schwinn

A white bicycle stands in front of a giant statue of a turtle.

The Schwinn Bay Ridge sits near "Box Turtle" by Stephen Feilbach. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

I tested a couple Schwinn e-bikes from the demo stable at the end of the Square 2 Square ride in Bentonville recently.

Unbeknownst to me, the company has a line of electric bikes designed for entry-level cyclists.

  • I tested the Schwinn Boundary mountain bike (bigger tires, more aggressive geometry) and the Bay Ridge, a hybrid (a cross between a commuter and road bike).

Why it matters: Using a rechargeable battery and motor to help riders go faster and farther with less effort, e-bikes are one of the hottest categories in the cycling industry. The segment grew 39% between 2020 and 2021, hitting $770 million, according to research company NPD Group.

Details: Not all e-bikes are alike. Schwinn's give riders a pedal "assist" — useful for going up hills — and a full throttle, which doesn't require pedaling but drains the battery faster.

  • Stated charging time on most Schwinn e-bikes is four hours, with about a 25-mile range.
  • Top speed is 20 mph, depending on the model.
  • Each bike weighs 40-60 pounds, Schwinn reps told me.

The good: The bikes offered smooth rides. Both had front suspension and some bounce in the seat post to absorb road bumps.

  • The motors produced plenty of power and kicked in at the right times on climbs.
The Schwinn Boundary. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The bad: The controls aren't intuitive. I was never quite sure what mode the bike was in, which can be a hassle. I'm guessing an owner would learn the system quickly enough, though.

  • In bright sunlight, the red LED indicators are impossible to read.

The ugly: These things are heavy. Most alloy bikes are already, so adding motor and battery means it can feel like you're astride a motorcycle.

  • The assist and throttle compensate well enough for the weight on short journeys, but I'd struggle to ride one of these home if the battery bonked out.

The bottom line: Schwinn's line of e-bikes may not be for the serious cyclist; however, at about $800-$1,500 (on rollback pricing at Walmart), the company probably has a model that's a good entry for anyone looking to make short trips or who's just e-curious.

Go deeper: See Worth's mountain bike and hybrid bike rides on Strava.


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