For the eco-conscious, or those just looking for a conversation starter, Schwinn offers the Vestige, with a frame constructed of flax fiber (90 percent flax, 10 percent carbon). Derived from the same plant that gives us linen, flax fiber maintains a high tensile strength that makes it an alternative to carbon fiber, but possesses a biodegradable attribute that carbon fiber does not. Why not use 100 percent flax, then? Flax alone isn’t stiff enough to meet European standards on its own, so Schwinn adds some carbon for rigidity.
The paint used on the Vestige is water-based, the fenders and grips are made from bamboo, and the GreenGuard flat protection in the Schwalbe Marathon tires is made of recycled materials, giving this bike one heck of an “environmentally friendly” stamp.
Flax fiber is translucent, and Schwinn highlights this fact with LED lights inside the frame, connected to a Shimano dynamo hub, that give off a spectral glow when the bike is in motion. While the glow is novel, it’s not quite bright enough to earn a safety patrol stamp of approval for riding at night, nor can you see by it. Some experimentation proved that the hub is capable of powering an add-on headlight as well as the internal LEDs, so that’s a bonus.
The flax fiber has an resilient quality to it, making for a pretty smooth ride. With an overloaded rear-end, it did get a little squirrely, but it wasn’t built as a cargo bike. Light loads in panniers work fine. The 1×9 drivetrain is a good complement to the overall bike, giving it some range, but keeping it simple.
The Vestige is a practical, functional bike for the eco-minded rider who doesn’t mind an up-charge for something unique.