Bike Review - 28 mph E-bike from DC-Startup Riide

Street Justice Newsletter: Vol 2, Edition 71 (5/24/2020)

DC-Startup Releases 2nd-Generation E-Bike with Large Battery and Strong, Quiet Motor

This past week, Street Justice was possibly the first news organization to get a media test of Riide’s second-generation electric bike. The DC-founded startup found success first with a homebuilt e-bike and their unique lease-to-own option. This week, we reviewed the Riide 2 — a more powerful, longer-range e-bike capable of 28 mph. Below is the transcript of the video review we produced (watch it here and share).

This is a first- look review at the Riide 2.

A few comments before I begin: this is a pre-production model of Riide’s second-generation electric bike. Take with a grain of salt my comments because the bike that I am reviewing doesn't have a mobile application that I could download to control the battery and motor as well as perform GPS monitoring of its location for security and other diagnostics. Customers who are pre-ordering now will receive a version of this bike with the finalized software for controlling the bike's motor and battery as well as an app. This bike does not have tactile controls of the speed or setting for motor responsiveness. So, this bike that I'm reviewing is set permanently on the turbo mode -- the fastest response to pedal input.

The Riide 2 is a 28 mile per hour electric bike, which means that it will assist your pedaling up to 28 miles an hour. It has a class 2 certification as well, which means that it has an electric throttle that will propel the bike at 20 miles per hour with the motor -- without you pedaling. A lot of design choices that the company has made are what will lead me to be critical of it, and it is a reason to be skeptical of buying this at approximately $3,200 dollars versus other options in the electric bike market.

The Riide 2 is an urban commuter, city bike with its frame design. It's got a low step frame which means that it's easier to step through if you can't lift your knee quite as high. The bike does not possess a set up for cages for water bottles or for locks or air pumps. They have a large battery here. This is more than 800 watt-hours, where the typical bike that you will get in the e-bike space has around 400 to 500 watt-hours. Just like the first generation Riide electric bike, they are using a hub motor here. This is a 500 Watt nominal motor with the capacity to peak out at 1.45 kilowatts or 1450 watts. That's a very wide range in the output and that means that this bike will provide a great amount of power near the top of the electric bike market before you get into closer to electric mopeds and electric motorcycles.

For the drivetrain, Riide chose a single-speed carbon belt drive system. Carbon belts are these rubberized with carbon reinforcement. They're much less requiring of maintenance -- of cleaning and lubrication. However, you can't put a derailleur and standard gears on a carbon driven bike. Since you can't put standard gears and
the rear wheel has its motor in the center, they can't have gearing on this
bike. Riide’s using a custom frame.

For stopping power, they use hydraulic disc brakes with 180-millimeter rotors which you can see here; they are Tektro Dorado, which is the gold standard among electric bicycle components. They have nice platform pedals that have little spikes here that grip into your shoes, and reflective gear. For lighting, Riide was originally planning to do an integrated light on the front fork here but have chosen for production to add a light to this mount here. For the rear lights they are planning a mount in the seat stay here.

For seating choices -- the saddle -- they're offering a choice between a performance seat and a comfort seat. I chose the performance thinking that they would give me a standard road bike saddle. But they have given me a firm C17 Brooks saddle. It's my recommendation that 90 to 95 percent of customers choose the comfort saddle because for everyday use you're going to need to have the padded lycra shorts with chamois in order to stand this.

For cockpit, Riide chose slightly swept-back bars like this. They have economic grips with a locking system that gives you extra support on the palm of your hand. However, they are not using any display for this bike. So, any information on real-time speed, distance, motor selection is all in the mobile application. For mounting accessories like lights, cameras, you have a relatively standardized 31.8 millimeter bar here. However, for stem mounting, these are closer to a premium racing bike stems where you can't put a rubber band or a traditional mounting system easily here.

This battery is removable; it's kind of a large version of the Bosch Power Tube. You turn the key, here it pops out. There is a button here that turns the bike on and off and will show you the real-time battery state of charge. Charging can be done with this rubber cap-protected charging port. And there's a similar port on the inside of the battery. It does them come standard with the kickstand here -- a relatively sturdy kickstand. However, being mounted right here at the crank means that -- as is the case during this video -- you have crank lockout where ou are stuck and you have to lift the bike up, turn the wheel in order to get this moving in either direction.

For tires, these are Schwabe Big Ben plus 650Bs. They are tubed tires, and these tires are high quality -- built especially for ebikes that go fast and tend to get more rider mileage than a traditional bike. the throttle here is a standard twist throttle like a motorcycle, connected to another ergonomic grip. From what I've seen in my operations, the throttle generates less steep of a power curve than the pedal assist. That could be because the throttle has a medium or low level of power curve whereas I'm stuck in turbo mode for this review and turbo mode 4instantly shoots you up past as much as your legs can carry. Unlike a lot of bikes that get into this price range there is no suspension here and this is a relatively stiff frame. So, you will feel bumps and I would advise running your tires at a lower than maximum pressure to limit the shock of road imperfections.

The problem with a single-speed electric bike is that -- in theory -- you can use the various levels of assistance in the motor in order to give you extra power when you're going up hills. However, since there's no way to change the motor responsiveness from
Eco to Turbo, Eco to Medium to Turbo. There's no way to shift using the motor responsiveness while you're climbing. Which means that, if you're in medium mode, you're stuck on medium mode. I am not sure if you'll be able to mount your phone on the handlebars and then have to go into your phone and in real time switch gears using the app. And, even if that's the case, that's a relatively clunky way to do a basic operations step on a very expensive bike.

So, overall, I like this bike. But, I do not think that it's worth your money if you're going to spend $2,800 - $3,300 on an electric bicycle that's going to replace core trips in your weekly routine. If this is for commuting and you're gonna be carrying a purse or a backpack that's filled with your lunch, that's filled with equipment, your better option is going to be something that has stronger, standardized, attachments for accessories. And, you're gonna want to look at options where the accessibility of the cockpit is not requiring of a smartphone app. The weather today is fine, but how many days of the week is it going to rain, is there going to be a reasonable chance of rain? How many days is it going to be too cold for you to have your phone out, in the elements, for you to monitor your speed your distance and the current responsiveness of the motor.

Riide tells me that they are designing and will manufacture and sell custom-built accessories for their frame. However, it is usually an expensive proposition -- and an unreliable proposition -- to invest in a small manufacturer that produces proprietary
components for a bike that's going to get regular use. This is gonna be a bike that gets all-weather use if you're gonna spend $3,000 on an electric bike that might replace your family's second car, this has got to be something that you know you that you can take to any bike shop in your city.

I don't mind the aggressive riding position and I do like the quality of their handlebars. For a motor that goes from 500 watts nominal, to essentially 1.5 kilowatts at peak, this is an extraordinarily quiet motor. With these hub driven motors you tend to get a whine, and it's not loud or obnoxious for some people But, this motor has been whisper quiet. And, because I've been stuck on turbo mode for this review, it's been spinning up to a high output even with just reasonable pedal input.

Much like our review of the Gocycle GX folding electric bike, there is an inherent trade-off in investing in a company that is small, that may not exist five years from now, and that doesn't have the capacity to build out a dealer network in America, in other countries. And where you're going to be able to handle in terms of reliability -- not just the mechanical components where you can go into any bike shop and get a tube for that tire replaced. You need to know that this expensive motor -- that the
controller hardware and software inside those tubes in that frame are easily
diagnosed and easily fixed within a timespan of a busy adult.


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