IZIP E3 Twn:exp—Modern Looks and Performance.
If you are looking for an E-bike that will take you to the future, this could fill the bill. As Currie Technologies is now part of an big European E-bike firm, they have introduced some very unique electric bikes. Although they still have the traditional looking ones, they also offer premium models that tout advanced electronics and fancy new styling. This exp is just one of those bikes I am referring to.
Right off the name has left me with questions. Is it a Town Experience? Are they just some random letters? Also on the frame is the word Winora, apparently that is the German designer or design firm that came up with the concept. Urban Series is another phrase on the frame to further confuse me. Names aside, what we have here is one solid and well-executed E-bike that rides fantastic.
At first glance I thought this was a folding E-bike, yet that was easily seen not to be the case. It has the smaller 20” wheels with some cool mags to give you that visual reference. Even though the specs show what might be considered a normal weight capacity for most E-bikes, the wheels alone make you think this bike will hold up to the heaviest rider (no spokes to break or bend). The sleek looks hide the fact that this electric bike scales out at over 60 lbs, a lot, but not that uncommon.
Built into the rear mag is a silent and powerful 400 watt direct-drive brushless motor. This is all the juice any E-bike needs, don’t let the press sway you otherwise. It may not climb the San Francisco hills without pedaling, but no electric-assist bike will (or should). When climbing you need to add your own power to keep the motor cool and happy on any E-bike. I did find the E3 Twn:exp tackled every hill and obstacle put in its way.
The control system is also programmed in a pleasing way, although one factor still has me wondering. The bar mounted control panel can be operated without having to look at it. The large cruise control button was my favorite, getting used more often than the other controls on the panel. There too is the pedelec selector, with 4 levels of automatic assist at your fingertips. The built-in front and rear lighting has the on-off button there. Plus you can select the display modes for the nice, large, easy to read display mounted in the middle of the bars.
Like many newer E-bikes this IZIP will top out at 20 mph by throttle alone, but if you are pedaling in the auto-assist modes, more can be had. 24 by my testing in the top assist level was easy to attain. In the pedelec modes you get 4 power levels to chose from. The ECU not only knows that you are turning the pedals, but knows how fast. So no matter which assist level you are in, when you start pedaling faster the motor cranks out more power and speed.
I can’t say that I like this feature also found on a few other E-bikes form IZIP. During the ride it isn’t that big of a deal, although can make a steady cruise kind of frustrating. That and it makes you spend more time shifting up and down looking for the sweet spot of power and gearing. What I really don’t like about has to do with starting from a stop. If you haven’t downshifted ahead of time, you get no assist at your start with a slow pedal speed. It makes using the throttle only mode more appealing, a partial waste of fancy electronics it seems.
There are some great bike features you will enjoy on this Twn:exp. Liquid actuated disc brakes are all the rage nowadays and they are on-board. A front head shock soaks up some of the road ruts, yet the minimal travel and lack of adjustment leaves a little to be desired. A seat post shock backs it up some and the large cross-section tires add their part too. So all in all the ride is pretty nice and like any bike when the rough stuff rears its ugly face, you will feel it.
Ok coverage fenders are bolted on. Ones that are longer might be better, yet there isn’t enough moisture around here this time of year for me to know for sure. The fancy rack encloses the battery and has adjustable elastic straps. It has a cool handle grip in the back to make lifting and moving the rear of the bike easier (never lift an E-bike by the saddle). A chain guard (more on this in a minute), a bell, kickstand and quality lights are part of the package.
I do have to say this is a fun and great riding E-bike. It fit both myself (a fairly big guy) and my wife fine. The ride and controls made each time in the saddle a good experience. The handling is peppy, something that anyone will notice. I like E-bikes that come with lights, even though I add extras when I am on any test bike. The motor seemed pretty efficient as I never ran out of juice even once. The cool stand out paint and color contrasts garnered many compliments.
I did have two issues though. One is just me, or to be more specific, my like of E-bikes that look like everyday bikes. The IZIP E3 Twn:exp has an E-bike only look that is ok, but not my preference. I do like it, but it wouldn’t be top on my list for a bike of my own. I can easily see many totally falling in love with the looks, it does have that certain something.
The other problem was mechanical. When I got it the chain guard was broken at one of the mounting points and the guides where rubbing on the chain. I figured being a demo bike it had gotten roughed around during riding or transport, yet I found out later that probably wasn’t the case. My first chore when I take on any bike is to check all the fasteners for security, adjust the bars, levers and other controls to my liking and to give it a total one-over. So in this case that included super-gluing the chain guard and getting it back to spec.
Included in the mounting there are two plastic chain guides (kind of flimsy to be sure) to prevent the chain from coming off the front sprocket. Of course I got these set right too and for most of the test there was no issues. Yet at one point I hit some very rough road and the jarring forced the chain off the front sprocket—and of course re-broke the chain guard. The clearances there are so tight that the chain wedged in there and snapped the guard again. I re-fixed it and it has been fine since (yet I stay concerned it will happen again).
On multi-speed drive trains the chain has a quite a mis-alignment in the upper and lower gears. So this kind of problem isn’t that uncommon. There are a few ways to make it better, including shortening the chain (not always the best way to go) and increasing the spring tension on the derailleur (also not optimum). Adding guides can help, as long as they are solid and set right. I hope Currie Tech has this sorted out on the full production models.
This one thing aside, I think IZIP has punched out another cool and quality bike for the E-bike crowd.
Power-up, Turbo Bob.
“To stop or not to stop, that is the question;
the light is red, but my heart is green.”—Christopher Marlowe—from the Unquotable quotes page.
You will find IZIP E-bikes from Currie Technologies on the web and Facebook
Here is a walk-around video from my You-Tube channel