Giant Twist Freedom CS Lite 2009/10

#1
Reviewer: Richard

Purchased From: Fulford Cycles, Fulford Road York

Purchase Price: £1000

Time Owned: 3 weeks

Local Terrain: Very Hilly

I bought the Giant Twist Freedom CS Lite to do- a giant commute!!!

A 57.34 mile round trip, occasionally daily, but most of the time a single 28.67 mile single journey dependent on the shifts I have at work, whereby when I finish a 2-10pm shift and start work again at 7am, I stop over at my parents home only 2 miles from my workplace (I always did do this when I was driving to work).

My masterplan is to get rid of one of the cars that my wife and I have to run to get to work.

About me! I'm almost 45 years old, 5'10" and three weeks ago weighed in at 95Kg, not very fit and I had not cycled for many years.

I researched electric powered bikes at length, on this forum and elsewhere on the web before I took the plunge and bought the Giant. The contenders to the Giant were either the Alien Aurora, a Wisper 905 (with a 14amp battery) or one of the Kalkoff's, the latter two were only contenders if I bought secondhand, as my budget was £1000 for the bike as I knew that I also needed panniers, good waterproofs, basic tools, lights etc, etc, which I guessed would cost me £200 or so.

I plumped for the Giant ahead of the rest for a number of reasons primarily, Fulford Cycles are not far from my home, they had an ex-demo Twist CS Lite for £1000 (list price £1500) that I could test ride and importantly, meet the people who will be providing the after service/servicing and repairs.
To my dismay, I could not find any secondhand Kalkoff's at the time I wanted to take the plunge and the price of replacement batteries for the Wisper I felt, were prohibitive 'in one go'. The Alien, I just wasn't sure about in terms of its quality and travelling a long distance up to Scotland to test one out was not on the cards as I have a busy schedule, not to mention my impatience to get cracking with the cycle commute, Perhaps I should have done some more practical/empirical research, and not being as inpatient?

I bought the Giant Twist CS Lite on 8th February after test riding it the week before. Fulford Cycles, at that time had two other ex-demo Giant Twists to try, for £800 (£1200 list) a Twist Express- one 24v 9amp battery, 7 speed Tourney rear derailleur; and the top of the range Twist CS Freedom for £1300 (£1950 list) which had two 24v 9amp batteries, with a switch on the handlebar to move between the two, and an 8 speed hub gear.
After discussing my need to take on the mammoth commute, my budget etc with Chris at Fulford Cycles I plumped for the CS Lite because it had the low maintenance 7 speed hub gear and front fork suspension and also because Chris offered the opportunity for me to buy, at 'trade price', a second battery-if I thought I needed it post purchase which would still save me money against the top of the range model.
The Specs:
- AluxX aluminium frame
- Suntour 63mm travel suspension fork
- Shimano Nexus 7 speed internal gear hub system
- Tektro linear pull brakes
- Giant Twist Sync Drive electric hub motor
- Puncture resistant slime inner tubes + Kenda tyres
- Powered by 1 Lithium-Ion battery 24v 9amp
- Sizes: L (55cm)
- Colour: Black
More detailed specs here

On top of buying the bike, I also bought the following accessories/clothing:

I immediately replaced the Kenda tyres with Schwalbe Marathon Plus which cost £60 the pair (hopefully punctures will be seldom, the jury is out!).
-Schwalbe spare inner tube £5
-set of Giant waterproof panniers £50
-Raleigh Smart Lunar 25 light set £31
-Lezyne alloy pump £24
-Lezyne Cycle tool £23 + 15mm cycle wrench £3
-puncture repair kit £3
-Altura Night Vision waterproof set £95
-Endura Overshoes £22


It has been difficult over the last three weeks to be consistent in terms of the commute, as my shifts were already laid down for February and I had a string of early starts together, but going forward, my boss has accommodated me in terms of the rota for March therefore, I envisage cycling the commute for the whole month of March.

So how is the commute going? Well, since 8th February, I have covered 320 miles 7 single journey commuting trips of 28.67 miles and one 57.34 round trip; the remainder of the milage-62 miles have been to pick the bike up from York, a leisure ride and two shopping trips. The Giant is a joy to ride, the suspension takes away adequately the potholes of the poorly maintained North Yorkshire roads I travel upon, the saddle is comfy enough I guess, and the bike feels sure and sturdy beneath me. The braking system is reassuring but seldom used on the roads I travel on.
The commute is hilly! the total ascent being around 800 feet toward work and 700 feet back, with around 100 feet less both ways in terms of descent, there are 5 quite nasty hills to contend with both ways. To conserve battery power I only use the 'eco' and 'normal' mode of the three settings (eco, normal & sport). On a single 28 mile journey to or from work I would guess I ride around 4 miles without power, a couple of miles on 'normal' and the remainder on 'eco'. A single battery as well as 4 miles of 'powerless' riding just gets the 28 mile distance, the battery did conk out on one trip home with a strong headwind.

Yesterday, I took Chris up on his offer of a 'trade price' second battery £250, and I hope to have a more leisurely commute from now on, being able to use the 'normal' mode more frequently.

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Strengths:
Build Quality is Excellent-the bike feels sturdy and the components are of good quality.
Good brakes
Nice controls, bars, gear shift and simple power assist control.
Hill climbing a breeze in 'normal' mode
My average speed for the commute, just under 13mph
Light enough to pedal without assist
Looks good and my colleagues at work say its just like 'a proper bike'!
Good battery range in a hilly area- 24 miles on a single charge
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Weaknesses:
Gears- I don't know, but I'm a bit disappointed in the gearing range, it could just do with a little bit more bite at the top end when I've got some speed up.
Peddles- I Don't like them! I will probably do some research into getting better ones.
Rubbish tyres supplied with bike and slime innertubes-sound messy in the event of a puncture.
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Summary:
Great bike, good quality and I'm already down to 92.5kg!! And still able to eat the same, and more! I do feel better physically for doing the Giant commute and I am looking forward to the better weather.


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Overall Rating (out of 10) : 8.5/10
 
#2
Pedal Replacement

Update:
I have now replaced the pedals with Shimano Clipless MTB M520's and a pair of Shimano MT22 SPD shoes. Pedals came with Cleats and very easy to fit.
I will post my experiences using this pedal system, up to now I have just done some practicing in terms of getting in/out of them and a short ride and my initial thoughts are that its going to take me a while to get used to being 'stuck' to the pedals!
 
#3
Giant Review Update

So, I have had the Giant for ten weeks now and covered just short of 1200 miles for both commuting and leisure/shopping rides.
The commute to work is getting easier, my fitness levels have improved far more than I ever envisaged and my median time for getting to and from work is around 1 hour 50 mins for the 28.67 miles, best time 1 hour 39 mins.
On a good run with no wind I can do the commute without taking even a third of the battery life away, a nasty headwind however, I'm lucky to get home on one battery.
I have now lost a total of 9Kg of weight in the 10 weeks! 96kg down to 87kg.
The bike has had its first (complimentary) service done at Fulford Cycles a week or so ago. Two reasons I took the bike in before the recommended 3 month period, firstly because the bikes brake and gear cabling was a bit slack so Chris tightened everything up and also because I had a nasty fall from the Giant turning a corner near to a construction site on my way to work.
Admittedly I was riding rather fast, and put the bike into the tarmac sliding on a nasty spill of diesel/oil on the road. I crashed to the road and when I cursed my way up off the tarmac with bleeding knees, elbows and face, a broken little finger, an extremely painful shoulder and a massive bruise on my right thigh where the handlebar dug its way into my body, I found the Giant had only grazed its SPD pedal and one handle grip but the handlebar itself was loose, Chris soon put this right with the torque wrench and after 4 days off cycling to recover, I was back to full fitness again.
I have had one puncture so far over the course of the 1177 miles I have covered on the Giant, (fortunately on a ride around the North York Moors and not on my commute!), specifically, hurtling down a hill into Brandsdale I shot over a cattle grid and heard the painful hiss from the back tyre, I soon got this fixed as I always carry tools, tyre levers and spare inner-tube. To be honest, I think I had far too much air pressure in the rear tyre as the inner-tube looked torn and I couldn't find anything foreign or sharp that had penetrated the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyre.
So, the cost of ownership for the Giant has only risen by around £60 since the initial outlay for the bike 10 weeks ago, this was for SPD Pedals and shoes and a nice comfy seat and of course the obvious depreciation of the bike, the cost of charging the batteries and their mounting cycle tally. I've taken to throwing 50p into a pot each time I charge, to cover the cost of replacements when the time comes, far cheaper than the £10 or so a day it was costing in diesel to work and back.
The Shimano SPD pedals are worth their weight in gold, I wouldn't be without them and couldn't go back to flat pedals, the difference is amazing in terms of pure power, enjoyment in riding the bike and confidence at speed.
Overall I continue to be enthusiastic about the Giant Twist Freedom, It has benefited me physically, mentally and has been the catalyst in me into taking up 'proper' cycling as a hobby, three weeks ago buying a second hand Audax/Touring bike that I am enjoying so much for trips out on an evening and Sundays. I intend to get into some of the long distance Audax events later this year. Recently, to check out my fitness, I rode a Time Trial 10 mile course on the Touring bike and completed the 10 miles in 30 mins 17 secs, this has boosted my confidence and spurred me on to develop my fitness further.
If anyone still has any doubts about getting a Pedelec, I hope my experiences so far of the Giant might go a little way to inspire confidence in taking the plunge, it might change your life, it has mine.
 

TimG

Just Joined
Sep 27, 2010
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#4
Giant Twist Freedom CS

I have the Freedom CS with the 2 batteries & agree with most of Richard's comments. My bike also was an Ex demo from Fulford Cycles & was delivered to Aberdeenshire. I bought the CS over the CS Lite as it came with the panniers, 2 batteries, 8 speed Nexus hub & Giant computer for an extra £200, ie less than the cost of an extra battery. This is a heavy bike weighing 24 kg & batteries are 2.5 kg each. The only extras I bought ave been a front light a mirror & good security
I've had it since September & done no where near Richard's mileage. My best from one battery in normal has been 22 miles over a week with several short trips & one long one over rolling country with 13.6 mph average. Lots of short trips over several days & a battery last only around 12 miles in normal mode. I have not done any test to see if eco gets me further. I cannot detect any difference in the 3 modes for assistance. No doubt a single trip depleting the battery is best for range
The brakes are good & its well built but I think that top gear could be higher. I dont need the bottom 3 gears. I dont know why Richard thinks the Kenda tyres are rubbish, they grip well, snow wet or dry. As its a heavy bike its hard work peddling on flat without power with a peculiar "springy" feeling when peddling.
 

Vennwood

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 27, 2015
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#5
Thanks for two great reviews guys. On the strength of these and other comments made on this forum we went out and bought one of these for my wife. She loves it and is a massive step up from the old faithful Raleigh. The Twist just purrs up hills and having the hub Shimano gears she finds it much easier to use than her old 21 speed lever system. We aren't able to comment on many of the points raised as we have only done around 30 miles to date. These miles were covered in two trips plus a couple of test rides and so far the battery indicator level has only lost one LED. To be fair she hasn't climbed many hills so far and only used the "normal" setting. The build quality seems good and the brakes feel reassuring and I can't even fault the tyres in dry weather. The only negative comment so far has been that the pedals "don't feel right" but I guess this is something she will get used to. One question though - the rear light - is it simply a reflector or is it actually a rear light that I haven't figured out yet?

Thanks again for your review.
 

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