- A comfortable, cruiser style electric bicycle with classic styling Schwinn, made only in the approachable step-thru frame style and one frame size, but you get four bold color choices, matching fenders, and a rack
- The Bafang Max mid-motor is efficient, extremely quiet, and capable of climbing steeper hills if you switch gears thoughtfully, the controller listens for multiple pedal signals to operate responsively and feel in control
- Comfortable oversized sprung saddle, taller quill stem with adjustable height, mid-rise swept back handlebars, and slightly fatter tires that absorb cracks while increasing stability, the steel fork also dampens vibration
- Many entry-level parts help to keep the price down and should perform alright in the neighborhood for easy riding, simple kickstand, less grippy plastic pedals, basic Shimano Altus derailleur, steel fenders that could rust if scratched
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The Schwinn Constance is an approachable, stylish, and relatively quiet, cruiser style electric bike. With seven speeds, an intuitive grip shifter (verses triggers), and a large comfortable saddle, it works well in neighborhood and casual bike path environments. The Constance only comes in one frame size and one frame style for now, a wavy step-thru, but there are four beautiful colors to choose from. And, the rear rack and fenders match the main frame color perfectly. While the colors do match, it seems that the rear rack is a bit tipped forward and the material for the fenders is steel vs. aluminum, which is more prone to rust over time. I was impressed by the relatively light weight of ~51.3 lbs, and appreciate that much of the motor and battery weight is positioned low and center vs. up high and back. This electric bicycle handles fairly well, but does suffer from a bit of frame flex if you pedal hard, stand up, or simply weigh more. In short, I appreciate the Schwinn styling, brand name, and dedicated support (for a two year warranty), along with how comfortable and upright the geometry is. Notice how the seat post angles back… this allows taller riders to fit as the saddle is raised but keeps shorter riders closer to the ground when it is lower. So close to the ground in fact, that many riders can sit and touch the ground, then lift their feet and get decent leg extension forward as the crank arms are positioned further forward vs. directly below. This is a design that Electra patented and calls “Flat Foot Technology” but many competing cruisers imitate it by angling their seat tubes back a lot vs. actually moving the bottom bracket.
Driving this bike is an efficient 250 watt mid-drive motor from Bafang, called the Max Drive. It’s one of their quietest models and relies on pedal cadence and torque, for smoother stops and more responsive feedback. This is a Class 1 electric bike with pedal assist only, you have to pedal to get it going… but that makes it legal on more bike paths and reduces clutter and confusion up at the handlebars. When set to the highest level of assist (level 5), the motor is zippy and very capable. To really maximize performance, you need to shift gears like on a normal bicycle. The cassette range isn’t super wide, but seven speeds gives you enough options to climb moderately steep hills without straining your knees and hips. The component group used here is Shimano Altus, which is one step up from the very base level, called Turney. It suits this bike well, but seems a bit basic for the relatively high price of $2,499. This is my biggest question mark about the Schwinn Constance. To me, it seems a bit expensive compared with all of the new competing products that have even nicer derailleurs, fenders, racks, some even have integrated lights, and nicer brakes. What you get here are no-name 160 mm mechanical disc brakes. Compared to hydraulic brakes, with adjustable levers, or even mechanical brakes with motor inhibitors built in, these leave a bit to be desired.
Powering the bike is a beautiful, slightly higher-than-average capacity, mid-mounted battery pack. It runs at 36 volts and offers 11.6 amp hours of capacity and should allow you to ride upwards of 25 miles (even in the highest level of assist). Of course, range depends on a lot of different factors, like rider weight, terrain, even tire pressure and wind. However, mid-drive motors tend to be very efficient if you shift those gears thoughtfully. I mentioned that the motor controller relies on two input signals (cadence and pedal torque) but it does not have shift sensing… so it’s best if you sort of ease off when shifting gears, to reduce mashing. Getting back to the battery, this pack mounts from the right side of the frame and can be charged on the bike or off. If you live somewhere that experiences extreme heat or cold, it’s best to keep the battery in a cool, dry location to maximize the life of the cells inside. The charger you get is an average 2 Amp design, it plugs in easily and there’s even a little LED infographic light-up display on top of the pack to let you know how full it’s getting, without having to mount it to the bike itself, and power it up. This battery is black but has matching accents to help it blend into the frame. It’s positioned in such a way that the Aluminum alloy frame tubing mostly protects it, especially from kicks above as you mount the bike. I like that it has a small handle built into the top and get the sense that Schwinn is using a standardized pack size for many of their new e-bikes to make replacement simple.
The motor, battery, and display panel are my favorite parts about this electric bicycle, and the main justification for the higher price point in my view. It’s expensive to custom design a frame with a mid-motor interface vs. just using a simple hub motor… but this motor is so quiet, smooth, and efficient, that it raises performance, range, and lifespan significantly. Once you have charged and mounted the battery (make sure you hear it click, and double check that it’s secure), just press the power button on the rubberized control pad, near the left grip. The display comes to life quickly and shows a bunch of readouts, fairly large, so they are easy to see. At the top, there’s a 10-bar battery infographic. This is much more precise than the majority of other displays I see, and that makes it easier to plan rides and get home without running out of juice. Next to that is a speedometer, and the lower portion shows a light icon (you can make the screen backlit by clicking the light button on the control pad for easier viewing at night), and things like trip distance, odometer, and average speed. This display unit can angle forward and back, to help reduce glare and make it easier to read. It feels solid and is mounted right in the center for easy viewing without straining your neck. However, it is not removable and does not have a USB charging port built in. It does have quite a few settings built in for brightness and units, and you can access those easily by double tapping the i button.
I had a good time test riding this bike at the Ebike Expo event in Philadelphia. It handled the sidewalks, city streets, and bumpy sections pretty well. The fork is made of Steel, which tends to be strong but also vibration dampening, and the softer saddle with big springs felt better than I thought. It almost doesn’t need suspension, and that would add to the weight and cost of the bike while possibly adding even more flex. There are a few little upgrades worth appreciating, including the alloy chainring guide, which protects your pant leg or skirt while reducing chain drops. But, this is one area where a full chain cover would have been even better and cleaner. The quill stem offers some adjustability but isn’t as sturdy as the new 31.8 mm standard used on mountain bikes and some overbuilt cruisers. The mid-rise handlebar and semi-ergonomic grips produce a comfortable upright position and reduce hand fatigue, even if the brake levers themselves are a bit basic and require more hand strength to use. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it bugged me to see the rear rack angled forward, the plastic pedals weren’t especially stiff or grippy, but I loved the reinforcement eyelets on the rims, which improves strength and durability. This bike has smaller 26″ wheels, which lower the entire frame, making it easier to mount and more stable… but the tires that come stock appeared very generic. I didn’t see any puncture protection or reflective sidewall stripes. If you never ride in places where thorns are present, and tend to only go out during the daytime, that’s probably not a big issue. Both wheels do have quick release skewers, so changing flat tires will be easier than on some other ebikes… and even moreso because of the mid-motor vs. a hub motor which would have extra wires going to the wheel. Depending on your desire for a middrive motor and the Schwinn branding, this could either feel like a great deal or a bit expensive. The support team I met was very enthusiastic and a two-year warranty is above average. If you could find one of these at a local shop, it would be worth test riding. I’d like to thank the Ebike Expo and Schwinn for partnering with me on this review. I’ll do my best to field comments below or you could connect directly with other owners and enthusiasts in the Schwinn forums here.
- This bike looks beautiful, I only saw the metallic blue paint job but was really impressed, not only did Schwinn match the fork, rear rack, and fenders, but they also included a decal on the battery and a patch on the saddle so everything ties in visually
- Useful in a wide range of neighborhood and urban environments, you could ride in the rain and stay relatively dry and clean, pick up some supplies or groceries at the store with the rack and a basket or simple trunk bag, or commute daily to work with some panniers
- Seven speeds is decent for getting around town and managing the 1 to 20 mph assisted speed range here, even though it’s still a bit basic, I appreciate that Schwinn opted for the Shimano Altus component group here vs. entry-level Tourney and I love the sturdy alloy chain guide that will protect your pants or dress and keep the chain from dropping
- Sometimes trigger shifters can be confusing if you’re new to cycling or more of a casual rider, I think the half-grip twist shifter here makes perfect sense for cruising and is very intuitive
- Even though the Schwinn Constance only comes in one frame size, the seat tube is angled back to accommodate taller riders very well, I appreciate how low the saddle can go too because the rear rack doesn’t get in the way
- It would be great to have hydraulic disc brakes here, but the mechanical disc brakes are still a step above rim brakes and should stay cleaner and stop you faster
- Both wheels and the seat post collar use quick release, which makes servicing and fitting easier… just make sure you run a cable through them if you’re locking up overnight
- For me, the battery pack is one of the best features of this bike, it’s great that you can charge without removing it from the frame for convenience or take it off and bring it inside for protection, the battery slides out to the side which allows the top tube to be lower and it’s protected and really low here for improved stability
- The rear rack is versatile because it has a spring latch and uses standard gauge tubing that’s compatible with more bags and panniers, but I wish the bike had bottle cage bosses on the seat tube or downtube so you could store water within reach, consider a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this or a front basket like this
- The fenders look great and feel solid, but could rust over time if they get scratched up because they are made from steel vs. aluminum or plastic
- I really appreciate the chain guide because it’s sturdy and should keep your pants or dress from getting messy as you pedal, but it would be nice if there was more of a chain cover
- The kickstand is mounted near the bottom bracket which means that the left crank arm can clank into it if you walk the bike backwards… it would be nice if the stand were just a touch further back to be completely out of the way
- Mechanical disc brakes don’t usually have adjustable-reach levers and just require more hand strength to actuate, this bike is using the smallest 160 mm disc brake rotors so you don’t get as much power, and there are no motor inhibitors built into the brakes, so you could be fighting the motor for a moment when braking depending on the situation
- Minor complaint here, the plastic pedals weren’t especially grippy or stiff, they won’t scrape your shins up as bad if you slip, but they could be worth upgrading to something like this if you ride in wet conditions a lot
- Official Site: http://www.schwinnbikes.com/usa/bikes/electric-bikes
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/0pZs2bsex7BK8JY63