This classic scooter from the former country of East Germany is now an e-scooter with a 62-mile range.
Some 50 years after its introduction, the Schwalbe (Swallow) scooter has made a quantum leap from a noisy, polluting two-stroke vehicle into a clean, quiet modern transportation option.
The Schwalbe story is a long and winding one, from the beginnings of the original Stimson & Co. steelworks producing guns and gun barrels in Suhl, Germany, in 1856, to the production of bicycles in 1896 and cars in 1907, to the exile of the Jewish founding family in 1936 and the post-WWII reboot of the company in former East Germany (German Democratic Republic, or DDR) making mopeds, motorcycles, and scooters. In the mid-60s, the KR 51 Schwalbe two-stroke scooter went into production, and since then, this rugged little scooter has become almost as recognizable in cities as the more famous (and more powerful) Vespa scooter, especially in western Europe.
The last of the original Schwalbe scooters rolled off the assembly lines at Suhl in 1986, but a redesign of this classic scooter is giving it a major upgrade through the combination of a top-of-the-line Bosch 4kW electric drivetrain and 48V 2.4kWh lithium ion battery packs. The new Schwalbe comes from Munich-based GOVECS GmbH, which has been producing scooters and other small electric vehicles since 2009, in part due to acquiring the licensing rights deal for the brand name and forming a technology partnership with Bosch.
The Schwalbe E-Scooter, which is categorized as an L1E (similar to a sub-50cc gas scooter), is said to be capable of speeds up to 45 kph (~28 mph), with a riding range per battery pack of 63 km (~40 miles) and the option to install a second battery for double the range. It features similar, yet updated, profile and body lines to the original Schwalbe models, and includes the same rear cargo area, but adds an LCD display, LED lights, modern brakes, and the high-tech electric drivetrain, as well as an onboard 1200W charger and cable.
A standard full charge takes about 4.5 hours, with a 50% charge possible in about an hour, and by installing two batteries, a total range of more than 100 kilometers is possible, which could mean very few charges per week for many riders, or longer trips for the adventurous. The Schwalbe is described as "extremely dynamic, agile and has a good acceleration," and riders can choose from three different power modes (Go, Cruise, Boost) to suit their preferences. According to GOVECS CEO, Thomas Grübel, "Optimal power transmission is achieved by a unique dual step belt drive system, which allows for high torque," which "will take the L1e class to a whole new level in terms of vehicle dynamics and acceleration."
Here's a look at the reveal of the reborn Schwalbe in September 2016:
The Schwalbe E-Scooter's base price is €5,390 (~$6,263), and it is available in five different body colors and three different seat colors. Buyers can choose between two different braking systems and two different kickstands, and the scooter must be configured for two batteries when ordered, as they can't be added afterward. More information is available at MySchwalbe.