Riide Electric Bike: Review

Riide bike
Muy macho in black, this electric bike is perfect for the city.

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 "power strip"
Note the power button at top – I didn’t. Also, check out those massive tires.

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.

Riide motor
Electric motor on the rear wheel.

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.

Disc brakes and big tires - perfect for the city
Disc brakes to quickly stop.

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.

Three DC Brewvet Destinations

Brewvet is a beer and biking challenge with the aim to get you to explore new neighborhoods and try delicious new beers. The rules of Brewvet are simple:

  • Eight separate bike rides to a different location
  • Buy or consume a beer at each location
  • Ride a total of at least 40 miles.

You have from May 1, 2014 through June 10th, 2014 to complete this challenge. Like the equally whimsical coffeeneuring challenge, the aim of Brewvet is to turn cycling into a fun adventure.

Where to go in DC? Here are three ideas for Brewvet rides in Washington:

1. Glen’s Garden Market
2001 S St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Grilled cheese and beer at Glen's Garden Market #errandonnee 10

Four-dollar beer. And not just any beer, but amazing local beer on draft, including DC Brau, Port City and 3 Stars, all of which you you can enjoy with a grilled cheese on their outdoor patio. Located north of Dupont Circle, you can also pick up organic snacks and sandwiches in the market. They also fill up growlers if you want to take beer with you. I really love this place. Afterward, I suggest a stop at Dolcezza Gelato to round out your urban adventure.

How to get there: If you’re coming from Virginia, get to the White House then take the 15th Street Cycletrack north and make a left at R Street. Maryland riders should get off Rock Creek Parkway at P Street.

2. ChurchKey
1337 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

Weekend remnant - chicken and waffles

Saturday afternoons are the ideal time to visit this popular Logan Circle bar. It’s usually not crowded (especially around lunchtime) and their beer selection is the best in the city. I usually get anything by Bell’s Brewery. Also, they have four-ounce pours and low-alcohol beers if you’re concerned about biking while drunk. If you have friends without bikes, there’s even a Capital Bikeshare stand across the street.

How to get there: ChurchKey is at 14th and Rhode Island, a block from the 15th Street Cycletrack.

3. The Bier Baron
1523 22nd Street NW
Washington DC 20037

Bier Baron

The Bier Baron doesn’t open until three on weekends and the food is mediocre. But, they have a great beer selection from all over the world, a comfy vibe and it’s just a block from Rock Creek Parkway. This makes it a perfect Brewvet destination, especially if you’re coming from MD.

How to get there: Get off Rock Creek Park at P Street, make a left and it’s on your left.

Those are my suggestions for DC – what are yours? Where should I brewvet to in MD and VA?

Tour de Fat Rolls into DC

the colors of Tour de Fat
Costumes encouraged at Tour de Fat

Who wouldn’t want to parade around DC on bikes and then drink Fat Tire?

Well, maybe not cycle-hating Dorothy Rabinowitz, lest her wig get disturbed, but every other normal human loves biking and drinking beer. And we had a great Saturday to do it at the annual Tour de Fat.

Sponsored by my favorite New Belgium Brewing (maker of  Fat Tire, Shift, Ranger and Dig – all great beers), Tour de Fat was a big, whimsical bike festival that benefited local biking advocacy organizations like WABA. Continue reading “Tour de Fat Rolls into DC”