Sven Swift step-through
If you’re looking for something that’s a bit different for your daily commute then the Sven Swift has a lot to recommend. It’s good looking, it uses a tried and tested motor system and it’s a comfortable and easy-to-pilot bike about town with enough range for longer trips too.
Sven Cycles are based in Dorest, and they build all their frames in the UK from Reynolds steel tubing. The Swift is available in this step-through build and also as a traditional diamond frame, and it’s made from Reynolds 631 tubing that’s specially designed for the bike. There are four sizes of frame and eight finishes available.
“Designed with both the urban and rural rider in mind, The Swift allows you to glide up steep hills or commute to work without breaking into a sweat”, says Swift. Its walk-asset function will become your best friend when carrying heavy groceries.” The bike comes fully kitted out for utility riding, with an excellent folding double kickstand, integrated lighting and full mudguards; the carbon fibre mudguards on our test bike are a £150 cost option, the standard spec is SKS Bluemels ‘guards.
The drivetrain is designed to be as easy to use and low-maintenance as possible: A Shimano Alfine Di2 rear hub coupled with a Gates Carbon belt drive. The gears are electronically selected via a remote switch, with the option of automatic shifting via the Shimano STEPS motor system.
The Swift uses Shimano’s E6000 city motor with a centrally-mounted LCD display and a 400Wh downtube battery. It’s a well-proven motor system that offers lots of assistance and a good range. Sven claim a range of 63 miles / 100km on Eco for the bike, which is optimistic unless you live somewhere flat and you’re very light, but the bike should have plenty of range for most people’s weekly needs assuming your commute isn’t especially long. Sven will also supply the bike with a bigger 500Wh battery if you think range will be an issue.
The high quality spec continues with the Tubus front and rear pannier racks and the Hope/DT Swiss handbuilt wheels. The bike uses 650b wheels with big-chamber Schwalbe Big Ben tyres for plenty of comfort without the need for a suspension fork. You even get a beautiful Spur Cycles bell.
Elies says: The Sven E bike has been great to ride from the first moment. The steel frame has a comfortable ride quality with just the right amount of flex and rigidity. I have not used handlebars in this classic sweptback position before and I have found them exceptionally comfortable. The ride position feels just sporty enough whilst also being excellent for city riding. The electric drive system has been mounted low on the bike and to me the centre of gravity felt perfect. This led to great manoeuvrability in traffic and good acceleration from a stop start.
The looks of the bike are really interesting with many super classic features like the swept curve steel frame with beautiful lugs, the Brooks saddle, the classic handlebars, the brass top tube cover detail and bell. At the same time, the bike also has many super modern features: carbon mudguards, ergonomic handlebar grips and of course the whole electric drive system with its toothed belt. Some people might find this contrast disturbing. However, I liked the ride quality of this bike so much that I think the quirky mixture of old and new would be something I would come to love about this bike. I wouldn’t personally choose a Brooks saddle (a £70 cost option); perhaps in testing this bike I could not give it a fair chance, as Brooks saddles do need some time to be broken-in. Some people love these saddles that can become a real personal part of your bike, but you can also have the bike with a more standard Bioflex saddle.
The paint is a lovely colour with a very matte finish. This looks great new, but takes on other colours from light scuffing from your shoes or locks. Perhaps this can be reversed with some effort but it is not a surface finish I would choose myself for a bike that’s designed for daily utility use. Of course it’s great to have such a practical bike with pannier racks and lights included. From my perspective this makes it instantly ready to ride.
The electric drive system is powerful and reliable. All the city riding I do here in Bath is on steep hills and busy roads. I really appreciate the acceleration from standstill: it feels super reliable and controllable.
This is the first electric bike I have tested which also has electric gear changing. The electric gear changing is done with your right hand using the same style of controls that you use to control the power system and it’s easy to get the hang of. The electric gear system also has an automatic setting which I tried several times but did not get on with very well. The point at which it changes gears for you gives me a lower cadence than I like when cycling. This is adjustable from deep in the menu system but even then it seems to favour lower cadence than I’d like. I preferred to shift using the manual shift buttons (up and down) on the right-hand side. With gloves on sometimes the upshift button is easy to mistake with the mode toggle button. I think I would get used to the button sizes over time so I really don’t think this would be a problem in the long run.
The battery life is excellent for the amount of riding I do in a week: a few visits into town (up and own a very steep and long hill); and cycle commuting about 6 miles, five days a week. Charging it once a week is more than enough.
Overall the Swift is a great high quality urban and utility bike that has a great spec and is a comfortable and enjoyable ride. Given the quality of the frame and the components it doesn’t seem like bad value even though it’s a pretty expensive bike: you’re paying for a British-made handbuilt frame dripping with really good kit, and it’s an investment for the years to come.