I visited the Bike Habitat on Saturday to check out a new offering from Giant Bicycles, the Twist Freedom Electric Hybrid. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of power assisted bicycles, since it goes against my ideas that the bicycle should be pure and simple. Dennis told me to take it for a spin to see what I thought.
The first thing I noticed was that the Electric Hybrid was one of the heavier bicycles I’ve handled. I’m guessing it weighed as much as my mountain tandem. I wheeled the bike out to the parking lot, set the power selector on the “sport” setting, the most power assist available, and pedaled off.
The torque sensing cranks engaged the power assist instantly, sending power to the front wheel. The bike easily jumped forward, making the bike feel much lighter than it is. Starting from a complete stop took little effort. I left the parking lot, and took the back road down to Costco, a pretty steep descent. The bike handled well at speed, and the wheels rolled silky smooth. The power assist switched off instantly as I coasted down the hill. Going down the hill wasn’t really what I wanted to test though. I wanted to see how it would climb.
I shifted the 7 speed internal geared hub into low gear, spun out quickly, and started up-shifting. As I climbed the hill, I shifted up into 4th or 5th gear. I could still feel the resistance of the hill, but I easily pedaled up, my heart rate staying pretty normal. Once back at the parking lot, I zipped around back to the bike shop.
I had expected a motorcycle like feel from this bike, but it wasn’t like that. Dennis had a good analogy for how this bike feels. Think of an escalator or one of the conveyor belt/people movers at the air port. Your body is still working, but the electric motor helps your body get more work done with less effort.
I was pleasantly surprised by the bike, and was excited when Dennis offered to let me take the bike for the day, and put it through a typical day of bicycle commuting. Yep. I’m going to ride a woman’s bike (this is the woman’s version of the bike) in the name of science. Stay tuned for more details and a full review!