Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Electric bicycle report: Comparing the Giant Suede to the UrbanMover Sprite

Xtreme Outfitters here in town sells Giant bikes, and - for a couple more days* - has a Giant Suede electric bike on the premises. I went over there today and was able to take the Suede for a test ride. It was surprising how different it felt; for handling I prefer my Sprite, although the Suede will likelymay* do better on our hills.

Both the Suede(E?) and the Sprite* have a NiMH battery.

Suede Pros
  • Price - $1000, vs the Sprite's $1200-plus-shipping (since nobody up here sells them yet)

  • More powerful battery(36v, vs 24v for UM Sprite) and motor(240w, vs 200w for Sprite)(In UK UrbanMover's motor is 200w, but U.S. distributor says 'the US specification does have a 250watt motor' * )

  • Controls - on the handlebar you get an on/off switch, and a high/med(?)/low power, and a 'cruise' (didn't try anything but on/low) - vs. for the Sprite the on/off is via key in the battery, and there is no high-vs.-low.

  • Apparently 8 gears, vs 6 for Sprite

  • Specs say max range (on flat ground...) is 30 miles if you pedal, vs Sprite's 18

  • Nice treehugger coloring - silver and manzanita-green.

  • Sturdier stand - a bilateral stand that you rock the bike back onto, as opposed to the Sprite's somewhat marginal kickstand.

  • The convenience of having sales/support/service/assembly from a local bike store

  • Suede's tires are kevlar lined; Sprite's are puncture resistant. (equivalent?)

Suede Cons
  • Handling. It just feels clunkier; partly it's because of the marshmallow-soft upright-style seat, which wobbles a bit as you pedal; partly (I think) it's because the motor is in the front wheel, vs. rear wheel for the Sprite. And it seemed like this changed the bike's turning dynamics, in a counterintuitive (thus unstable) way - it's likely that this is something you can get used to, but beware of this behavior if you're taking a test ride.
    (This was how it felt to me; your mileage may vary.)

  • Battery removal/insertion...

I came away from the experience glad I owned the Sprite; but the real question will be hardiness of the respective bikes in our area. This past weekend someone told me he'd been warned off electric bikes years ago because (he was told) the motors burn out on our hills; if this caveat still applies, the Suede(if 36v vs 24v battery makes a difference) or Schwinn* (if 400 watt vs 250 watt motor makes a difference) may be the better choice.

Calling all electrical whizzes - I am hopelessly confused on what this all means...
(and to make things even more interesting, Electric Bikes Northwest reports that wattage specs aren't necessarily comparable for different brands of electric bicycles.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought a Suede E last week and it seems to work real well; the front wheel handling is a little different than a regular bike (as alluded to in blog), but is not something that detracts from the overall effect of a bike that works as advertised: miles and miles of riding on a single charge, goes uphill easily with just a little help from the pedals; and seems sure to start a transportation Revolution based on the interest it's generated so far from friends and even strangers.
Here's my email: joe@kolsat.tv
if you'd like to hear more.