Sunday, February 10, 2008
Now, for the greenest drivetrain of all, a human-electric hybrid. Not the first, mind you, but one of three new ones from Schwinn. The Campus, World GSE and Continental models are all electric-assisted bicycles, ranging between a modest (hah!) $1,499-$1,999. They come with 21- and 24-speed transmissions for your legs, and a 24V 400W electric hub motor in the front wheel, controlled by a throttle on the handlebar, which itself can propel the bike up to 18 mph. Range from the easily removable lithium-ion battery on the rear rack is rated at about 60 miles per charge, depending on wind, terrain and load, and takes 4 hours to recharge - something one could easily do at the office, if needed.
It's said that the electric motor feels as though someone is giving you a push - disorienting at first, but once one is used to it, feels less like exercise and more like sight-seeing. The 'hybrid drivetrain' - minus you - weighs only 10 pounds, and the bike itself is engineered to be extremely light-weight. Definitely more of a cruiser and less of a performance tourer, the Campus model (as tested by the Chicago Sun-Times) could easily eliminate the need to burn anything but calories on a large percentage of your errands or work commutes in cooperative weather. Given that range, and you doing half the work pedaling, I'd estimate you would get at least 140 miles per latte.