I had the chance to do a test ride on a Riide electric bike. Billed as “e-bikes for urban commuters,” this DC company has made the nicest-looking electric bike I’ve ever seen. I own two bikes already – a Specialized Sirrus and a Breezer folding bike – but I really wanted to try a Riide. Perfectly targeted for everyday cyclists like myself, it’s the first electric bike I could see myself owning.
But what is it like to ride one? First, it’s a beautiful bike, with a black matte paint job that makes it the coolest thing on the road.
What surprised me was the weight – it’s lighter than I imagined. Billed at 40 pounds, it seems lighter. It’s not a road bike, but it weighs less than a Capital Bikeshare bike. The narrow top tube makes it easy to pick up and carry.
Missing: a kickstand. It’s a little big and awkward to lean against stuff. Running errands around town on one of these, I’d want a kickstand.
With a flat bar and an upright position, the geometry is very similar to my hybrid Sirrus. It makes a comfortable ride and is ideal for city riding, where you want to see what’s ahead of you.
The Riide folks are super-nice. For the test ride, they just gave me a bike and told me to take off. I started pedaling. The group I was with disappeared into the distance. Why is my bike so slow? I went all the way around Union Market before discovering what I had done wrong: I didn’t turn it on! Am I an idiot or is the user always right? I prefer the latter explanation.
Electric bikes work better with electricity. But my mishap taught me that it’s certainly possible to pedal a Riide around without power. With one-speed and flat pedals, it felt like I was on a CaBi.
With the bike powered up, I took off again around Union Market. It’s got a throttle like a moped. Twist and go. It was a blast to feel the g-forces as the bike zipped up to 20 mph. Amazing to go up hills on it, without even pedaling.
Super-grippy disc brakes give you enormous confidence in every situation.
But let me rave about the tires! Riding around on my Sirrus, I feel everyone of DC’s one-million potholes. I scan the road ahead of me for ruts, gravel and holes. But with a pair of fat Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires, the Riide just goes everything, like you’re riding on a carpet of air.
I keep comparing the Riide to a CaBi because I think this is the perfect bike for CaBi users who want more. With a range of 25 miles, it’s ideal for people who want a sweat-free commute or who want to bop around town on the weekends. Riide is the bike for people who find everyday biking too difficult/complicated/sweaty.
The RiidePass program, where you can lease one for $79 a month, is perfectly aligned for that audience. Just ride and let Riide take care of the bike. It will replace Metro/CaBi/Uber for a lot of people who live in DC or the close suburbs. It will save them money and be way more fun than being stuck on a Metro train.
But would I get one? If I had to continue commuting to Silver Spring – definitely. It would be perfect for climbing the hills between Logan Circle and my contractor gig at NOAA. But I want to return to DC, where my non-electric bikes will be more than sufficient. Everyone has a different transportation situation; for a lot of people, the Riide will be perfect.
I definitely want some Schwalbe tires, though. That makes a huge difference in city riding.
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