I’ve been wondering how the “all-new Giant Twist Freedom DX” would handle in real world applications, so recently I put more than a few miles on this electric bicycle. First I have to tell you it was fun! Everyone in the shop who has ridden it has come back smiling saying things like: “Cool! Amazing! It just goes when you pedal with an extra kick.”

So how did it handle riding from home? It really does “seamlessly combine battery power with your own pedal power,” just like the Giant brochure says, which makes for a very different experience than my typical ride. It’s heavier than bike shop hybrids, mostly because of Giant’s EnergyPak lithium ion batteries (4-6 hour charge time). The motor for this rig is in the front hub and the “driver unit” (computer) that receives information from the PedalPlus sensor, is at the bottom of the seat tube. You select a battery (left or right); choose a power mode (sport, normal, or economy) and pedal. Yes, you have to pedal. That’s why Giant insists it’s not an electric bike. With the Twist Freedom DX, there is a certain amount of assistance that comes from the motor. The more you need, the more you get, but you can’t just sit back and go. That’s not how it works.

The first thing I noticed is the speed. It’s not bad, about 15-17 mph, which is slower than I’m used too but faster, I suspect, than most riders would take the bike. Without a cyclometer (not included in the package) I had to approximate how fast I was going. Also, the bags have less space than I’d like. Fortunately a rack top bag can be added, and one of the batteries can be removed for more space.

Functionally the bike performs quite well. The battery powered motor did a great job pulling my 175lbs frame up the hills even when I stopped and restarted on the incline. I do feel the advertised 70 mile hour battery life is optimistic. My 8 mile, moderately hilly, ride sucked 2 of 5 dots from one of the batteries power meters. For the vast majority of my ride I was in the sport setting which contributed to the expedited use the bike’s battery. There was a discernable difference between the motor’s, “eco,” “normal,” and “sport” settings which was nice.

I would describe the ride as having the wind constantly at your back; something that’s really nice if you’re tired, have knee pain, or you just want to chill a bit. Even when you pedal lightly the motor pulls you along. It’s simple to use, a pleasure to ride and lots of fun. When the batteries are turned off, the Twist Freedom DX can be pedaled like any other bike, though there is a slight “dead spot” at the bottom of the pedal stroke that reminds you of the electronics.

The bike definitely goes. It pulled me up the hills even when I slacked off. Anyone recovering from an injury or surgery would love this machine. Active older people could ride it all day, and non-riding spouses could keep up with more experienced riders.

There is a sensation when pedaling that the dead spot at the bottom of the pedal stroke is a little exaggerated due to the electronics. This is something that I noticed even when the motor was turned off. A rider less focused on pedaling smooth and consistent circles may not notice this at all but I felt it was worth mentioning.
Over all the Twist does what it’s supposed to do very well. The bike: pulled me up the hills even when I slacked off; handled well; and was great fun to ride. I definitely think people will love this bike. Anyone who wants a little extra “punch” when out with the family, a friend or spouse will appreciate what this bike has to offer. AND they won’t know it’s electric unless you tell them! Hey, anyone who can balance on two wheels and loves what cycling is all about but can’t quite spin the pedals as fast as they want, go for the Giant Twist Freedom DX it’s worth it. This bike has the potential to become everyday transportation for the masses, let’s hope it catches on.

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