With working-from-home days for the masses winding down, I knew it was time to up my bicycle commuting game.
I’ve biked back-and-forth to the office a handful of times a year. But given the advancements in the electric bike category, including hill-flattening PAS systems and more affordable entry points, there is no excuse for me NOT to make an e-bike my primary mode of transportation back-and-forth to work.
However, I was unprepared for the number of electric bike choices currently on the market.
I quickly found myself spiraling down a rabbit hole, and indecision paralysis set in. What started as an innocent hunt for a solid bike turned into a quest for perfection. My budget ballooned from a $1,000 e-bike to $5,000. I became consumed with torque sensors vs. cadence sensors. I obsessed over bike classes and weight. Honestly, there was a time when I spent as much time watching Court Rye on ElectricBikeReview.com than with my kid!
I needed to break out of the rut. I had taken enough test drives and done enough reading. So armed with all of the data I collected over several months, I did what any logical human being would do: I bought a bike that didn’t have a single review available on the Web.
And it is easily one of the best electric bikes under $1,000.
Ariel Rider seemed like a solid company from what I gathered online: several years of quality bikes and superb customer service. Even though the Rideal would be their first “commuter-style” electric bike, it was clear the company knew what it was doing.
I ordered the Rideal on March 31, with an estimated ship date of May 26. The bike arrived on June 9. Given the delivery delays that have plagued many industries, especially e-bikes relying on shipments from Asia, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the bike after only a marginal delay.
On paper, the Rideal checked my personal needs/wants:
– Class 2 or 3
– Manual gear shifter
– Look like a “normal” bike
– Under 50lbs.
– Under $3,500
In summary, I wanted an everyday bike for exercise and pleasure to use to explore more paved areas and extend rides, relying only on the motor when my body demands it.
The only compromise I had to make was my desire to have a mid-drive–not so much for a more balanced ride, but to avoid changing a heavy/tricky rear flat tire. But you can’t have it all. And for $1,000, I was able to take a (calculated) leap of faith. If it doesn’t work out, I can still pursue another bike. After all, as I read on one of the many bike message boards I perused, “buying an e-bike is not a marriage.”
This post address my initial thoughts on the Rideal. And since I know you want to know: the Ariel Rider Rideal top speed has been about 24mph for me…21.2mph when we’re throttling on a full charge.
As advertised, the bike looks like a bike which is what I wanted. A few small details make it stand out, but overall, the bike has a nice streamlined classic bike look. The black paint and the brown grips and seat, coupled with the gold Ariel Rider logos, give the bike an elegant look. “Beautiful bike,” said a random neighbor.
The battery fits cleanly into the frame, though it feels a bit wider than some other batteries. If you are trying to dupe law enforcement by riding a Class 2 bike on a prohibited trail, there’s no hiding the battery. With that being said, particularly with the black-on-black book, this is not screaming electric bike. You can expect to get a fair amount of fingerprints on this bad boy, so be ready to wipe it down if you’re the OCD type.
I am capable of performing simple bike maintenance but do not fashion myself a do-it-yourselfer. Simple assembly was important to me when selecting an electric bike, and the Ariel Rider was as advertised. Within 20 minutes, I was good to go and ready to ride. Everything arrived connected correctly, and the provided tool kit was comprised of heavy-weight wrenches and Allen keys.
Since I know many people are hesitant to assemble something that is potentially carrying their life in its hands, I would recommend that Ariel Rider put together an assembly video that is a bit more detailed. The current video is serviceable, but frankly, feels rushed. If not, an assembly video is low-hanging fruit for a YouTuber who loves DIY videos.
From the moment I took the bike out of the box, it was clear that this is a quality item. The ride feels confident and competent. I am 5′ 9,” and I need to keep the seat at almost its lowest position. My guess is that folks who are 5′ 8″ or shorter, or have any mobility issues, should look at the mid-step model of the Rideal.
The bike defaults to Pedal Assist Systel Level 1, which gives the rider a gentle push as you pedal. Simply push the “minus” button if you’d like to shut the PAS system off. If you are not familiar with PAS, it feels almost like an ocean current encouraging you forward. The higher you go, the greater the assistance. For me, PAS 1 acted as it should, just enough assistance to help offset the weight of the bike. Pedal without PAS and you’ll get a nice workout but can still move at decent speeds with just a touch of resistance.
PAS 2 is where the bike really started to shine. This level helps mitigate hills, ease your ride just enough to give you a workout but not a heart attack. I found that once I hit PAS 3, I was hitting 15-17mph with minimal effort.
But it’s the throttle that is the biggest trap of moving to a well-performing e-bike like the Ariel Rider Rideal…
THE THROTTLE IS ADDICTIVE.
What I like the most about the on-demand throttle that overrides anything the bike was previously doing is that I can dart through a busy intersection or pass a pedestrian/biker with ease. The difference between a sustained speed of 14mph, where I usually stay for my non-electric bike rides, and 18-22mph on the Rideal, feels like joy and freedom. But this does come with a warning. I noticed that quite a few drivers were underestimating my speed, causing a few people to turn in front of me. This is an area that will likely require education for drivers in the coming years as the number of electric bikes proliferates…especially when the best electric bikes can be under $1,000.
ARIEL RIDER RIDEAL SPEED TEST (and the Ariel Rider Rideal top speed is…)
The Ariel Rider Rideal is awesome–exceeding my expectations so far. If you have any questions about the bike, I am happy to answer them as best I can (as a layperson). I plan on updating this post as my time with the bike unfolds. Like any relationship, only time will tell if we’re a match–but either way–it’s not a marriage. 🙂
6/15/21: The clearance for the water bottle bosses is tight; you’ll need a small water bottle–a standard will not fit. This is the little insulated bottle that I bought.
6/18/21: Ride #5 // When I first started test riding electric bikes earlier this year, I was torn between making a Class 2 or Class 3 a must-have. Eventually, I rationalized that 20mph was good enough for my riding style–where I average about 14mph on my “usual” ride. However, I underestimated the thrill of those peaks when I bring my bike between 20-28mph on downhills. On the Ariel Rider Rideal, because of the gearing, I’m pedaling air when I hit over 20mph, and that makes me feel a bit hollow inside. Clearly, at the $1,000 price point, the buyer needs to make some sacrifices–and while 6-gears are better than a fixie–I’d like my next ebike to offer higher gearing–and potentially be a Class 3. By no means is this a knock on the Rideal; it’s just further proof that I’ve kicked open the door to a new passion. And that when it comes to speed, we all get a little greedy.
6/22/21: Ride #7 // “Is an electric bike cheating?” A common question across the interwebs. And the answer is, it depends on your goals. I still get a great workout in PAS 1 on the Rideal, but as you can see below, my heart rate does not make it into the cardio zone when pedaling at my normal cadence. Can I get there? Sure. I just need to find a ride with more hills or push myself a bit harder.
I’m enjoying this type of casual cycling more than I would have imagined. Also, that throttle availability on the Ariel Rider when crossing an intersection is a beautiful thing!
FYI: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. In no way does that influence my opinion. If this post was helpful in any way, please consider using my Rideal affiliate link. Use Ariel Rider Rideal promo code: Rideal2021