First Impression: iZip Via Rapido

By Karen Brooks

We’ve been able to do a fair amount of research on electric bikes at the Interbike trade shows of the last couple of years, and it’s beginning to pay off. The latest issue of Bicycle Times, Issue #12, has a review of Trek’s Transport+ cargo bike that we first saw in ’09, we got to try the BionX add-on system in Issue #9, and now I’m reviewing a midrange offering from the iZip brand.

iZip comes from Currie Technologies, who have been putting out electric bikes for quite a while. In fact, back in my shop days, we briefly sold Currie electric bikes. The latest models couldn’t be more different from those, however: the batteries last much longer, the motors are much smaller and lighter, and the bikes are much easier to service.

As we explored at Interbike 2010, some e-bikes have a throttle, which controls the motor independent of the pedals; others have pedal-assist, which gives a boost from the motor depending on how hard you pedal. This bike has both, with a button to switch between the two (the green button on the handlebar). In pedal-assist mode, twisting the throttle will give an extra dose of power on top of the pedal-assist. Aside from making my commute easier and less sweaty, the throttle saves time in small but significant ways, for instance, allowing me to make it to a traffic light atop a hill before it turns red.

 

I brought this bike to a “Try-a-Bike Jamboree” put on by some local enthusiasts affiliated with our advocacy organization, figuring lots of people would want to check out the motor (and have fun speeding past roadies in full team kit on the local track). But nobody seemed to notice that the bike was electrified. The battery is a slim box that fits neatly in a shelf in the rear rack, and the motor looks like nothing more than an internal hub. Sharp-eyed people may realized that there’s both a big hub and an external derailleur, or perhaps notice the “on/off” switch on the handlebar. But when I took ‘er out for a speedy spin, interest was piqued and some folks lined up to try it.

 


Keep reading

To see the full review of the iZip, keep a look out for Bicycle Times Issue #13. Order a subscription today and you won’t miss it.

 

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