Schwinn is now selling Bosch mid-drive ebikes through Amazon, and I’ll tell you why this is news.
I grew up in Southern California, and there was nothing I wanted more as a child than a Schwinn Stingray bicycle. The Christmas morning that I got one was something I’ll never forget. It wasn’t just a possession to store in my room and occasionally show off. It was actual transportation that allowed me to travel a hundred times farther on a Saturday than I could on foot. I even used my bike to ride to a job (in fast food) as soon as I could get one.
In high school, they also dominated the “10-speed” market, with models like the Schwinn Varsity.
The Schwinn Bicycle company started in Chicago by a German engineer named Ignaz Schwinn. This was in 1895, and for over 80 years, they were an incredibly dominant force in the US bicycle industry. In the early part of the last century, they were so successful, they bought the “Excelsior” motorcycle company.
In the early 1990’s, increased imports from China drove prices down to a point where they could not survive, so they sold the name in 1992 to a Global corporation called Dorel Industries, which sells them through their Pacific Cycles division. This means modern “Schwinn” bicycles are made in China like just about every other retailer.
This is what large corporations do. Smaller companies innovate, but doing that is risky, and sometimes that can hurt you. However, once in a while someone hits a home run. If a new idea from a small company grows large enough, a huge corporation will notice, and then buy you out.
Selling through Amazon is a bold move. You can’t do that unless you are willing to commit to supplying a large quantity of product on short notice, and that ties up a lot of capital without any guarantee that the sales will be adequate.
However, there are a growing number of customers who trust Amazon. If a product is on Amazon, they feel certain that they will actually receive a product, or…they will get a full refund. Everyone here knows that an electric bike from any supplier will have some issues, so it remains to be seen if customer service problems will hurt this new contender or not.
Schwinn Vantage RXe 650b
The most expensive model is a surprising $3999, and it is a non-suspension model with a 350W Bosch mid drive, and the Shimano 11-speed rear-wheel gear-set, and an aluminum frame. It does have disc brakes. If you are interested in one of these, I would strongly recommend a suspension seat-post.
If you like this model (the RXe), but find that the price is a bit high, you have the option to order the “FXe” with a milder 250W mid drive, and a medium-sized frame. Making those concessions over the RXe brings the price down to $3499
Most of my riding is on city streets as a commuter (not off-road). My most-ridden ebike is a comfort cruiser with a comfortable posture, so…I like them and recommend them often to anyone who asks.
The Schwinn Constance has a “feet forward” location for the cranks (with an upright posture), which was promoted by the Electra company. They took their popular Townie GO! and swapped-in a Bosch mid drive in 2016 (click here). This Electra model is currently $2099.
Although the Schwinn name is being used for this latest version, it was going to happen sooner or later, so…here it is. I recommend a Thudbuster or Suntour NCX suspension seat-post (click here), but other than that, an electric comfort cruiser is my top daily ebike commuter recommendation.
The Schwinn Constance model uses 250W and provides electric assist up to 20-MPH. As of March 2019, it is listed on Amazon at $2100 (click here).
It also uses a common 7-speed derailleur, and disc brakes (I recommend you upgrade the front brakes to a hydraulic caliper, or a larger diameter disc (which requires a re-positioning adapter for the caliper) or…maybe both.
There are a few models of geared hubmotors sold on Amazon as of March 2019, but I am not really interested in them. If you limit yourself to 250W-350W of power, then you really need to give the motor a selection of gears.
The “Geared” part of the geared hubmotor description means that for every five times the motor spins, the rear wheel spins once (due to an internal gear-set). As far as hill-climbing is concerned (which is the time you really NEED an electric assist), the geared hubs can be considered a “one speed”, and their ability to shed heat is very weak.
When you mount the motor by the pedals (the bottom bracket), the motor has the use of the gears on the rear wheel. You would have to give up some of the top speed to gain some hill-climbing ability (by shifting to a lower gear), but at least on a mid drive you have that as an option.
To be fair, geared hubs are really great for flat land and maybe some mild hills (you don’t have to be constantly shifting). However, serious hills are best served by a mid drive.
If you are interested in the geared hubmotored ebikes from Schwinn on Amazon, just go to Amazon and search “Schwinn electric bicycle” to get the current line-up.
The listings on Amazon are not very helpful with details about the models, they just cover the basics. You may be able to find more info on the Schwinn website, which can be found by clicking here.
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, March 2019