Of the dozens of electric bikes I’ve tried, there’s generally been a wide gamut in quality and price. One end consists of low-end models that cost less than $1,000, the other of luxe models that sell for $3,000+. The performance difference between them is the size of the Grand Canyon. Torque on the upscale models lets them effortlessly zip up hills, while their batteries last roughly 60 miles per charge. Less-expensive bikes can also get up hills, but more sluggishly. Their battery range can be as low as 15 miles per charge — realistically making them more for short errands and leisurely rides around the neighborhood.
Hoping I could find a bike offering the best of both worlds, I jumped at the opportunity to test out an in-between model currently priced at $1,495. The 700 Series XR e-bike from a San Diego company called Ride1Up features a comfortable and padded seat, soft faux leather-wrapped handles, a color LCD display, lightweight alloy frame, integrated headlight, high-end tires, thumb throttle, and a 800W (peak)/500W (sustained) geared motor with generous torque. The removable battery is housed inside the frame, adding to its sleek look. The company claims the bike gets 30-to-50 miles per charge. I put it to the test, taking it out on my typical paths that consist of flat runs and fairly steep hills. I think it’s a representative route of what many people will take. As are the various levels of pedal assist — and throttle only — I used throughout.
What I noticed first was how comfortable the bike is. And it seems very substantial, especially for the price. It rides smooth, and the pedal assist is adjustable so that you can have it kick in instantly when you change the level or when you start from a stopped position. Power is outstanding, gliding up hills with ease. As for miles, my first full battery got me less than the advertised minimum. But then I learned that many of the bike’s settings are adjustable via the LCD. Once I learned how to change those through a video posted by the manufacturer, I was able to get much better distance range and an even smoother riding experience.
I think this bike is priced pretty attractively — offering plenty of might with some high-end-name parts of bikes priced over $2,500. It’s way better than everything I’ve seen at its own price and below — looking, feeling and performing like it’s built for durability. The display is nice, bright and colorful — easy to read even in direct sunlight.
I’d also suggest to buyers that unless you have extensive experience putting together electric bicycles, to have someone do it for you. It’s worth the extra $150 or so that a private company will likely charge. I had a mobile mechanic from Velofix come by to assemble it, and it took him just over an hour. If you want to go the self-assembly route, there’s a helpful assembly video online that the company posted.
I also really like the story behind this company: The owner, Kevin Dugger, began putting together his personal e-bikes by hand. He understood the market’s pricey products, and wanted to be able to sell “sleek, fast and affordable quality bikes” that really were hard to find. By keeping prices relatively low, he hopes to see more people commuting by bike. He even offers a nominal discount to anyone who vows to use the bike to replace a car commute to work one day a week. “These bikes are meant to last many, many years,” says Dugger. I admire that kind of devotion to a product.
In fact, there’s a lot to like about the 700 Series XR. And I highly recommend it to someone who doesn’t want to break the bank yet still wants a solid, fun e-bike.