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