If you’ve been keeping up with the bike reviews posted these past weeks after Interbike, you’ve read my colleagues’ reviews on a wide range of bikes and how they faired in Vegas. Just about every type and style has been covered; from clever folding bikes to some sweet fixed gear singlespeeds and everything in between.
Enter the Curry Technologies iZip Urban Cruiser Enlightened. Like many hybrid electric bikes, the Urban Cruiser utilizes "pedal assist" technology, which is industry-speak for a system that does not power the wheels until the rider starts pedaling. The computer system measures your torque output while pedaling and allows you to choose how much the battery kicks in to assist your efforts. Currie’s acronym for this is TMM (Torque Measurement Method). The Urban Cruiser is designed for well, urban cruising, and I found during my mini-review time that it did just that, with much aplomb.
The urban cruiser has a nice fluid design to it. Unlike electric hybrids from the past, it’s not immediately apparent that this bike even has a battery. The long thin flat battery is concealed in the arching downtube. Currie takes great pains in the manufacturing and assembly of the batteries to ensure they function at their optimal level. There is a cantilevered diamond-frame version with a higher top tube, but I was testing the low step-through frame, a nice feature for jumping off and on the bike when needed. The bottom line in design is comfort: the rider is seated almost completely upright on a wide shock-absorbent seat, and classic wide swept handlebars, with nice leather grips, bring the steering comfortably to the rider instead of having to stretch out for them. The battery controls are on your left, easy to adjust with a quick flick of the thumb. The rider also has eight gears on the right to fine-tune the resistance for optimum performance. For practicality, there is a kickstand included. If you’re not used to having one, it makes for dicey riding until your colleague reminds you that it’s still deployed. (Thanks Karl for the save.)
Pedaling around Vegas I quickly developed an affinity for this bike. I found stopping and starting so much less of a headache. Starting simply required a gentle push off on the pedal and the TMM assist kicked in gently and smoothly. There was construction through parts of town on the way down to the convention center. It was an advantage to be able to power up the battery and pedal through these as quickly as possible. I didn’t stop to ask, but I’m sure the cars behind me were appreciative as well.
This bike is very solid–even at the max speeds of around 15mph. The wider, but comfortable stance on the handlebars made me feel certain in my maneuvering. And the front disc brakes and back cantilever’s were quick and responsive. Though I don’t usually recommend sidewalk riding, I found Vegas had a vast amount of sidewalk slab just going to waste next to busy streets, so I did pop up on them from time to time. It was smooth sailing twining between light posts and bus shelters. And the best thing was arriving at my destination with energy to spare.
The $1899 msrp Urban Cruiser was a quiet bike too. The wide 26” tires with a grooved tread were just perfect for the Vegas scene. With the self-sealing flat tire prevention, I didn’t worry too much about debris on the roadside.
When you’re done riding, you plug in your bike to a recharger that works with any typical wall plug. I only charged the bike once in the three days I had it. On average, you would get 20-30 miles off of one charge. That all depends, of course, on rider’s weight, the terrain, and how much of the pedal assist one uses to get around.
Only one minor concern with this bike: It has only one size built for the average adult, so anyone smaller than I (5’4’) will be a bit stretched and would need to look at customizing some of the parts to make it fit comfortably. My initial take on this bike was that the seat, even at its lowest, was a smidge too tall for me, but after a bit of riding I found that it became a non-issue. In the end, I found Vegas to be a friendlier town from the saddle of the Urban Cruiser. I would love to spend more time on this bike given another chance.Tweet Print