Schwinn's Enlightened 'Vestige' Bike

Last week I got to try out a Schwinn Vestige, which just won a Eurobike Gold Award.

So what’s the fuss? The frame is made with flax fiber–which I think is the same stuff my doctor wants me to sprinkle on my breakfast cereal for reasons I won’t go into right now.

Schwinn’s press release says:

The Schwinn Vestige is a commuter bike with an eco-twist. Its organic, recyclable Flax fiber provides similar performance benefits as a carbon fiber frame, but its construction process produces a much lower carbon footprint. On top of that the natural flax fiber has a high phonic insulation which gives it a superior ability to absorb and dampen vibration, even compared to carbon.

Schwinn Vestige
It glows! Oooooh!

The front hub has an energy-efficient dynamo hub which powers… No, not a headlight. No, not a taillight. No, not your iPod.

It powers lights inside the frame tubes.

And of course there’s a provision to connect external lights to this power source. Oh wait. There’s not.

I asked the Schwinn rep, “Uh. Isn’t that kind of gimmicky?” His answer was that Americans tend not to buy bikes that come with headlights. (Another bike rep told me that it’s bike dealers that prefer bikes to come naked, so that they can sell third-party lights to customers–because lights have high margins.)

Today I was told that future models of the Vestige may come with headlights and taillights.

So I took the Vestige for a ride along the Potomac. (I was in DC at the time.) It was light and zippy. I liked it.

After about a quarter mile I came across this seemingly abandoned 70’s Schwinn Speedster in front of the The Watergate.

Schwinn Vestige and Schwinn Speedster
Schwinn Vestige and Schwinn Speedster

Seeing them side by side, you can definitely see the kinship between the two bikes. And then it occurred to me that I’d probably rather have the old Speedster than the new Vestige.

Seriously, it looked like it was just there for the taking, feebly attached to a bike rack with a rusted chain. But it also occurred to me that I would not be the first person to mistakenly think he could get away with taking something from the Watergate that didn’t belong to him.

Schwinn Speedster and Vestige

The Vestige will retail for $1,299.00.







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12 thoughts on “Schwinn's Enlightened 'Vestige' Bike”

  1. Rob E. says:

    Oh no. I saw the Vistage mentioned elsewhere, and I thought, “That’s kind of cool, but how does the frame lighting affect your ‘real’ lights?” I guess the answer that it doesn’t affect them because there are no “real” lights, nor a way to power them without disconnecting the frame lights. If that’s the case, then, yes, completely gimmicky. I would guess, although possibly incorrectly, that there would be a way to make head and tail lights run off the dynamo as well as the frame lighting, but it seems crazy that they don’t make it easy and rather assume that you want to ride around with a dynamo hub and not use it to power your lights. They should add an integrated frame pump that is neither presta nor schrader compatible, but is instead used to blow air across your coffee to cool it.

  2. Matt says:

    Its weird how expensive “eco” design has gotten, because we all know the most eco thing you can do as a bike purchaser it repurpose an old bike that has already been built. I also question the durability of a frame made from flax seed. If you leave it out overnight will animals chew on the frame?

  3. Jim Gladstone says:

    Don’t they have to use epoxy resin on that flax fiber? How eco friendly is that?

  4. Seamus says:

    Vestige ?

    They couldn’t come up with
    a better name then VESTIGE ?

    1. a mark, trace, or visible evidence
    of something that is no longer present
    or in existence:

    2.a surviving evidence or remainder
    of some condition, practice, etc.

    3.a very slight trace or amount of something:

    4.Biology a degenerate or imperfectly developed organ or structure
    that has little or no utility,
    but that in an earlier stage of the individual or in preceding evolutionary forms of the organism performed a useful function.

    5.Archaic . a footprint; track.

  5. Jonathan says:

    You’re stretching things a bit to refer to that older Schwinn as looking abandoned. It looks no more abandoned than does your new bike parked next to it.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Maybe. The chain locking it to the bike rack was very rusted, and the tires were completely flat. I’m thinking it had been there for more than a week. Maybe more than a month.

  6. Ted Johnson says:

    @Rob E, FTW: They should add an integrated frame pump that is neither presta nor schrader compatible, but is instead used to blow air across your coffee to cool it.

  7. chunkymonkeybiker says:

    The problem with drivers hitting bikes is not being able to see them from the front or back. It would make more sense to have a lighting system that illuminates from the front or back. Maybe a glowing handlebar and glowing seat so drivers can see bikes from the front and back.

  8. stingraybaron says:

    There are so many headlight/tail light options out there. Why limit somebodys choice to just a dynamo operated system? This will be the only bike out there with a glowing frame, I’d think it would really grab a driver’s attention. Cool to see Schwinn at the cutting edge again!

  9. semfi says:

    when will it be ready for sale?

  10. Gunnstein says:

    I get the naming now. That dynamo hub is a “vestige” of a useful lighting system.

    Seriously, I know Americans don’t use dynamos much, but this is truly the worst of both worlds. Yes, there is a dynamo. No, you can’t use it for your lights. …words fail me.

  11. Jesse says:

    Ted, were you here again without letting the Friday Coffee Club crew know? I’m hurt…


    Seriously though, $1300 seems pricey for a breakfast bar with a useless dynamo and meh components…

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