Love the idea of feeling the wind against your face as you ride your bicycle? Hate the thought of how your face gets bright red as you try to bike up the hill?
Today's guest blogger, Ed Phillipps, is a freelance journalist based in Pittsburgh, where he writes weekly sports articles for three newspapers. He graduated with highest honors from the Community College of Allegheny County and is currently moving towards a degree in communications from the University of Pittsburgh with the speed of a glacier. Today, Ed has found the perfect bicycle solution to your dilemma.
Here's his article:
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For 2007, Schwinn will release a new line of electric bicycles. The bikes will be powered by battery and come in retro-chic styles with enough options for anyone interested in riding a bike.
I remember riding a bicycle as a kid. My first time without training wheels resulted in me hitting a telephone pool and then landing on a sewer. Good times. Once a learned how to ride that thing I went everywhere. As I got older, I progressed to a ten-speed. But then I got a car, which is just barely faster and doesn't require as much work to get it going, and the rest was history. My bike now sits in the garage with a flat tire and a fine coat of dust. I debated throwing it out when I moved.
There really was never a middle ground to riding a bike. When you're a kid it's the best thing in the world. It's your means of transportation and everyone has one. In a way, it defines you. As we get older the bike becomes useless and ends up like mine. A bike becomes more a drudgery than anything else. We associated it with exercise and losing weight. I don't ride my bike anymore because I would look ridiculous adjusting my mushroom shaped helmet and struggling to balance on a pair of tires so thin they make Nicole Richie jealous. All the while, a passing motorist gives me the finger and shouts words of encouragement to give it up. Sure, riding a bike is fun, but most of the products out there are made for weekend warriors dead set on battling traffic and wearing spandex. I just want to ride a bike recreationally or to replace my car for short trips.
Sting-Ray So what happened? I'm not saying the bicycle doesn't exist after you reach high school, but its popularity certainly diminishes. It has been spotted less frequently at college campuses and later becomes a cruel workout device. It gets less fun with age. It's easier to take your car than ride a bike is what it comes down to and we certainly like things the easy way.
The good people at Schwinn felt the same nostalgia I did for the bicycle, and in 2005 they introduced the electric Sting-Ray. The idea was simple; just take the most popular bike of all-time for Schwinn and add a small electric motor. The electric Sting-Rays started selling and, according to Schwinn, nearly 600,000 units were sold in the first year. I took an electric Sting-ray for a spin at a local Schwinn dealer. It rode smoothly and the engine is barely noticeable, both visually and audibly.
For 2007, Schwinn will release a new line of electric bikes with something for everybody. As I stated earlier, a bike defined you when you were younger, so Schwinn now offers a line of products with each bike aimed at different demographics. All the bikes are modeled after previous designs. A few of the products include:
CampusThe Campus - Obviously, this one was marketed for the college-aged crowd. This 21-speed can take you from your off campus apartment to class with ease. The electric motor is perfect if you're hung-over and don't feel like pedaling too much.
The Transit - This one has an older crowd feel to it. It's a little simpler with just three speeds, so it's more of a cruiser. The little crate on the back makes it good for a trip to the convenience store. There is also a Transit Europa, which is pretty much the same bike except it has eight speeds.
SpeedsterThe Speedster - Huffy and countless other companies have been trying to capitalize on the popularity of shows like American Chopper by creating lame motorcycle bikes for kids that are draped in plastic accessories. The three-speed Speedster is made of a lightweight aluminum and looks like an old-school motorcycle without trying as hard.
Each bike mentioned comes with a rechargeable battery that can reach a full charge in about four hours. The bikes are hybrid so they can be used with or without the motor. The batteries are lightweight and positioned behind the seat. Unless you look for it, the battery isn't noticeable. The batteries are said to last about 40 hours and the bikes can reach speeds of 14 miles per hour. They aren't loaded with wires either, so if you need to change a tire or work on the gears you can do it without needing an electrical engineering degree. There are other electric bikes at www.schwinnbikes.com. Prices range from about $200 to $1,200 with most of them running towards the cheaper end.
The Schwinn electrics are much more stylish than riding a scooter. If the electric Sting-Ray was any indication, the renovations made to these retro bikes should vastly increase their popularity. Complaining about rising gas prices is like running against a giant hamster wheel, either way you're not getting anywhere. Why not ride an electric bike? It's faster than walking and cheaper than driving.