Before my friend Michael d'Estries mentioned to me that he was going to be testing an electric bike from Currie Tech, I admit that I didn't know a whole lot about e-bikes. I was aware of their existence, but had never actually ridden on one, so after the kind folks at Currie Tech agreed to send me one to review, I wasn't sure what to expect.
What I found, just a few minutes after unpacking the bike and taking it around the neighborhood for a cruise is that I never wanted to go back to non-eletric bikes again.
Currie Tech sent me the Izip Trekking Enlightened, a 24 speed beaut of a bike with a 24 volt rear hub motor and lithium ion battery with a stated range of 23-30 miles. I stopped keeping count of how many compliments I've received from strangers about how cool the bike looks- the storage rack, disc brakes, front suspended fork, front and read fenders, built on headlight, and stylish frame (the batteries are concealed in a wide, curved downtube) combine into a bike that is at one classically charming as well as fiercely modern.
Unlike the Pedego Comfort Cruiser, which I'm also been reviewing, the Izip doesn't come with a throttle. Instead cranking on a throttle when you want to go faster, you just pedal and the bike's on-board computer measures the torque and meters out an appropriate amount of extra power to the rear hub motor. It couldn't be more user friendly- you just get on the bike and start pedaling, the bike does the rest.
Riding the Izip is fun. It's hard not to get a big grin on your face the first time you step down on the pedal and feel the added power of the motor. The acceleration of the Izip is fantastic, it's not hard to see why 'zip' is in its name. Riders can choose between five different power settings, the higher the setting the more extra power given and the faster the drain on the battery. For the part I ride around at the top setting but have fallen back to three and even one bar while out on longer rides in an effort to conserve juice.
Though the bike has a stated range of 23-30 miles, I found I was getting 15-20 miles on real world rides. I'm a fairly big guy though, 6'3" 200lbs., so smaller riders and those more content to ride at lower assist settings could easily hit 25-30 miles to a charge. The charger is small enough to fit into a backpack and could easily re-charge the bike during a typical day at the office. The nice thing about the Izip is that even if you do run out of battery power, the 24 gears are more than up to the challenge of bringing you home sans-electricity.
Like the Comfort Cruiser, and I guess really any high end quality electric bike, the Izip Trekking Enlightened could replace a lot of people's second car. The bike's price of $1,999 seems high when you look at it as a bike but if you view it as a replacement for a automobile it looks downright cheap- there's no gas to buy (it costs pennies to charge), you don't have to insure it, pay to park it, and when something breaks you'll be writing out checks for two, maybe three digit repairs, not the $1,000+ surprise bills that cars can throw at the best of us (often at the worst of times).
Electric bikes are great because they allow you to get to your destination in one of two ways- a lot faster or a lot less sweaty. The Izip Trekking should appeal to both speed demons and anyone who needs to show up at work without looking like they were trying to keep up in a race with Lance Armstrong.
You can buy the Izip Trekking Enlightened at IzipUSA for $1,999. It comes in two sizes- medium and large.
Here are some specs, click over to Izip for the complete list:
Motor: Exclusive Alloy Shell DC Brushless Geared Hub Motor
Battery: Replaceable Lithium-ion battery pack
Amps: 10 Amp hours
Volts: 24 Volts
Brakes: Tektro IO Disc brake up front, Pro Max TX-218 Linear Pull in the read, Tektro EL-340 Levers
Weight: 52 pounds
Seat: Velo suspension comfort post
Don't sue me FTC Disclosure: Currie Tech sent me an Izip Trekking Enlightened to use and review for free. It'll go back at the end of the review period.
Are you on Twitter? Follow me (@sheagunther) there, I give good tweets.
And if you really like my writing, you can join my Facebook page.