If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?
I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.
In riding around Ithaca, the electric assist was super-smooth. In fact, rarely did I know anything had kicked on at all. In one test, I went up a hill outside my home and cruised up at a leisurely pace. Turning off the system, I realized just how difficult the climb actually was. This bike is also heavy — coming in at 50lbs — so that electric assist is definitely a huge plus in steep climbs.
Shifting gears is very smooth and the seat is fairly comfortable. The addition of a bike light in the front and room for a basket behind is also nice. Front and back disc breaks also work flawlessly. Control of the frame in general is excellent — and the manual comes with some good instruction for getting setup for optimal performance.
Charging the bike is a breeze — and the 24V10a Lithium-ion Battery Pack is juiced up pretty fast. Depending on terrain, the battery will last you quite a bit. I’ve been going up many hills — so I’ve had to recharge every other day or so. No big deal. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t tell this is a hybrid/electric bike. With the battery pack built into the frame, nobody will know your little secret unless you let on. I like that it retains the bike look without adding on an external battery pack of some kind.
As I’ve got the bike for a few more months, I’ll be updating my experiences using it around town. I will say that it’s made a difference in reducing the amount of energy I have to exert getting around — but the routes I’ve been taking up very steep hills are still killing me. Even with electric-assist, Ithaca’s hills are a tough thing to beat. I suspect that with some tweaking of my routes (by taking less severe gradients to get my destination), I’ll craft a more sweatless routine. Still, you can’t beat the smug satisfaction of riding by someone walking their bike up a hill — even if you do have technology giving your ass a boost.
Check out some photos of the bike below: