Bike Review: Scwhinn Vantage RXE

SCHWINN VANTAGE RXE

Drop-bar e-bikes are rapidly gaining popularity, and all of the ones that we’ve ridden have either been European-spec 25 km/h (15.5 mph) or American-spec Class 1 (20 mph). Given the average speeds that most roadies pedal at, we’ve often mused that there really needs to be a Class 3 (28-mph) drop-bar bike for an e-road bike to make sense. After all, if you’re commuting, 28 mph is closer to the flow of car traffic, and you could get to work a little faster and still with minimal sweat.

When the Schwinn Vantage RXe showed up, we were shocked to find a bike that was not only a 28-mph bike, but it also had dual-purpose capabilities. That creates something very interesting. In most places, a Class 3 bike is allowed on bike lanes. In many places, however, it isn’t allowed on bike paths, off-road on shared-use trails or bike trails. California is one of those places with restrictions on where you can ride, so this bike is technically for bike lanes, private land and OHV areas.

There aren’t a lot of options for placement of the Bosch control on a drop-bar bike other than this semi-awkward spot.

 

THE BIKE

For the Vantage electric line, there are two bikes—a flat-bar bike called the FXe and the RXe. Both have a diamond-shaped aluminum frame and a carbon fork with thru-axle dropouts. Both bikes are currently only available on Amazon. 

The frame has a very unique feature called the SRT Elastomer Decoupler. The seatstays are not welded to the seat tube, but are connected with a clamp and elastomer system that allow the frame to flex and move about 1.5cm to take out some of the shock from bumps. 

THE PARTS

All the cables on this bike are internally routed and very clean. Even the front brake cable is routed through the fork blade. 

The drivetrain is a SRAM Apex 1 1×11 setup with the DoubleTap shift lever integrated into the right brake lever. It has a fairly clean cockpit with cushiony bar tape. It comes with some decent flat pedals on FSA crankarms that are about 1/2-inch or so too long for where the pedal threads in.

The Schwinn rolls on 650b wheels (27.5 in mountain bike parlance) mounted with voluminous 45mm Kenda Flintridge Sport gravel tires that offer up good traction and some relief from bumps in the road—and off. The gum-wall look is definitely more interesting than solid black. The name Flintridge is an homage to Kenda’s tests of the tires in the Flint Hills of Kansas. 

It doesn’t come with lights, so if you want those for visibility or to ride at night, you’ll have to buy those and install them separately. 

There are bosses on the fork and frame for racks, fenders, etc., as well as the Tektro mechanical disc brakes. 

THE MOTOR 

A Bosch Performance Line Speed mid-drive powers the bike. At 350 watts and with a 500-Wh battery, there’s no shortage of performance. Ours was delivered with a 400-Wh battery on accident, and we still never had range anxiety. Boasting a 75 N/m torque rating and up to 300-percent support in Turbo mode, the Speed gets you up to speed in a hot second.

Our test bike was shipped with a 400-Wh battery, but the production bikes will have 500-Wh versions.

 

There’s an Intuvia display that’s center-mounted above the bars, and it is removable for safety; for example, if you lock your bike up at work or running errands. It has a backlit LCD, visible day or night, even in bright sunlight. It features a USB port, in case you need to charge your phone while riding, and it also doubles as a port for diagnostics and upgrades/updates (by Bosch technicians only).

The mode control pad, normally mounted within thumb’s reach on flat bars, requires a different mount on drop bars, so the clamp positions the pad on a secondary rod to the left of the stem. 

FSA keeps their number of SKUs low by making the same crankarms for different specs. Schwinn wanted 165mm, so they were drilled higher to match, leaving a lot of crankarm past the pedal.

 

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

This is a good commuter bike and an okay e-gravel bike. If you ride to work on a combination of road and gravel/dirt, or if you want to, this bike is worth a look. The fact that you can use it as a road bike or a gravel bike is a big plus.

THE RIDE

Riding the Rxe is different from any other drop-bar bike we’ve ridden. The motor gives significantly more power than most, especially those with smaller, lighter motors like Fazua or eBikeMotion. Bosch motors of any stripe are like a thrilling push from the start.  This one doesn’t have quite as hard a low-end jolt as it’s e-MTB sibling, the CX, but it provides support at higher speeds. 

On the road it’s very comfortable and easy to ride at 23–25 mph. Going above 28 mph is really taxing, though, because you get no support from the motor, the bike is heavier, and you’re actually pedaling through the motor’s internal gearing. We do love that it goes well above 20 mph, and very easily. Swapping for 700c wheels/tires
would likely make it even quicker and sharper-handling. The trade-off is how nice the bigger tires feel on poorly maintained roads.

“We were shocked to find a bike that was not only a 28-mph bike, but it was also a gravel bike.” 

The first off-road ride we put in 11 miles with significant climbing, and the display showed we’d lost only one bar. That’s roughly only 20 percent of the battery used, and we were never in Eco. Mostly Tour and Sport, and we only used Turbo once, and that was just to try it. This showed us that this bike has really great range, especially with the 500-Wh battery. 

Smooth dirt and gravel trails are great on this bike, and the tires provide ample bite, even on powdery, dry dirt. Don’t try it on bumpy, rutted trails or your wrists will regret it. Even the padded bar tape and big tires won’t protect you from the jarring there.

The integrated SRAM DoubleTap shift lever takes a second to learn if you’ve never used one. A single tap takes you up a gear, where a longer push drops a gear or a couple, depending on how far you push. It’s actually easy to reach from almost any position your hands are on the bars. We thought the mechanical disc brakes would be a weak point. They have good stopping power with fairly easy modulation when your hands are in the drops, but if you’re on the brake hoods, they don’t have nearly the leverage. 

This innovative, elastomer-enhanced juncture where the seatstays meet the seat tube, called the SRT elastomer decoupler, allows for 15mm of movement.

 

Graphics are nice, almost pinstriped, with a classic-looking metal Schwinn logo plate on the front of the head tube. One interesting detail are the two pink spokes that surround the valve stem. Not sure why, but it strangely makes it easier to find the valve.

THE VERDICT

The RXe is a solid, fun-riding bike. We’d definitely like better brakes of the hydraulic kind. The elastomer decoupler does ease the bumps quite a bit. It’s fun off- and on-road. We didn’t try it with 700c wheels/tires, but it’s nice that there’s a choice if you want to make it an e-road bike. Value for money, especially considering the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor, is good. 

We’re not sure about Schwinn’s decision to sell only through Amazon. In fact, it’ll only sell through Amazon’s U.S. site, unless they hit their sales targets, then they’ll offer it in the E.U. They won’t be available through Schwinn’s regular channels, like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart or Sports Authority, and they aren’t part of the Schwinn line that’s sold through bike shops.

A word of caution: before buying one, do check your local and state laws about where a 28-mph (Class 3) e-bike can be ridden, especially if you plan on riding it off-road.

SPECS

SCHWINN VANTAGE RXe

Price: $3999

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed, 350W mid-drive

Battery: Bosch 500 Wh

Charge time: 4–5 hours

Top speed: 28 mph

Range: 25–60 miles (tested)

Drive: SRAM Apex, 1×11

Brakes: Tektro Spyre C mechanical discs, 160mm

Controls: Bosch Intuvia

Fork: 1 1/8”alloy steer tube w/carbon legs

Frame: Hydroformed 6061 aluminum

Tires: Kenda Flint Ridge 650b x45mm

Weight: 42 lb.

Color choice: Matte black/copper

Sizes: 51cm (small), 55cm (medium) 57cm (large), 60cm (extra large)

www.schwinnbikes.com


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