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 lightweight 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: this Ariel Rider electric bike hits about 21.2mph on flat ground when we’re throttling on a full charge without pedal assist. As far as the Rideal’s top speed–I’ve hit 28-29mph–anything higher would be a serious challenge.
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.
AWESOME GEAR ALERT: Electric Bike Accessories Make Great Holiday Gifts
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…)
Ariel Rider electric bikes are awesome…and the 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!
6/27/21: Ride 11 // I did about 17 miles this morning and finally got the battery LED level down to two lights. I can well exceed the 60-mile limit stated on the Ariel Rider website when riding on PAS 1 and using the throttle economically. I have been averse to a “full throttle test” where I go out on the bike to see how far the range is with a throttle-only approach, but I must admit, I’m suddenly kind of curious to see what this lightweight electric bike can do . Also, my Trek road bike was just staring at me this morning wondering when she’ll get back into the rotation.
6/29/21: Ride 13 // Today’s ride had two firsts for the Ariel Rider Rideal: It was a nighttime ride and I traversed some serious hills. With an elevation climb of over 500′, there were times where I definitely felt the weight of the bike. But a simple switch to PAS 3 and the hills evaporated. The climb disintegrated. You get the drift.
7/2/21: Ride 14 // Riding an electric bike in the rain feels like an oxymoron. But it’s possible. During today’s ride, the sky opened up about two miles from home. Thanks to the on-demand throttle, I was home in mere minutes and escaped the imminent deluge. The Ariel Rider’s throttle was a huge purchasing factor for me–and I am VERY happy that it’s not an amenity that I wavered from.
I am more convinced than ever that electric bikes are the great equalizer. If you have always wanted to ride a bike but do not have the confidence or are a bit out of shape, it is unbelievable how electronics have leveled the playing field.
On a particularly steep hill. I tested the throttle without any pedal power and got to about 8 to 9 miles an hour. Slow, but a great option to keep moving without breaking a sweat on a 90-degree night.
The integrated lights on the Rideal proved capable. During dusk they were adequate but once it got a bit darker it was clear they are bright enough to alert others to your presence. I do wish there was a strobe-light function; I will likely look to upgrade the lights if nighttime riding becomes more of a thing for me. But it is a huge upgrade not having to worry about a USB charger when it comes to bike lights.
7/23/21: Several people have asked me about the Rideal vs Radmission. One of the deciding factors for me was that I wanted the ability to shift gears manually on the fly. However, truth be told, I rarely use the Shimano shifter. So perhaps the fixie nature of the Radmission wasn’t that important of a factor after all.
8/1/21: I recently had the opportunity to ride my electric bike around and along the Delaware/Maryland coast. For those of you who have visited that region, you already know that the flat ground and prevalence of bike lanes make it a fantastic place to cycle. And as expected, the Ariel Rider Rideal delivered a premium ride.
The bike gives you just enough oomph to move along when traversing sand and narrow trails. The Rideal was balanced enough to allow me to return home with a box of freshly baked pastries from a local store that I probably would not have discovered without the electric bike. And, making the ride out to catch the sunrise or the sunset was an absolute pleasure knowing that I can go full-throttle on the way home to make it on time for other vacation-related events. Over a week, during five rides, I never needed to charge the battery.
8/6/21: A leisurely PAS 1 lovefest on the Rideal this morning.
As far as transport, I relied on an Allen Sports Premier Hitch Mounted 4-Bike Carrier (Model S545). The Rideal was the only bike on the rack at the position closest to the trunk. I used bungee cords to secure the front wheel to the frame and to mount the stem of the bike to the bike rack. Despite hundreds of miles of travel, some at high speeds, the bike didn’t shift at all. Getting the bike on and off the rack was fairly easy as well. Sure, there are lighter bikes on the market, but at this price point, the Rideal is a bike you can absolutely travel with as long as you have the right rack.
8/27/21: The Rideal was put to the test during several rides in the Adirondack mountains.
My best ride included an elevation gain of 926 feet over 12 miles, which took over 45 minutes.
For the first time, I brought the bike to 35 miles an hour while going downhill. The ride felt very capable, but it was a reminder to ensure that everything is fastened tightly every few rides. Nothing went astray, but I felt the little rattles and squeaks that could be catastrophic at high speeds.
I would NOT have gotten up some of the hills without an electric bike like the Rideal. It might be obvious to some, but full-throttle on a killer hill drains the battery quicker, gets the motor whining louder, and drops you down to a single-digit speed that feels as if you are moving through Jell-O…especially after peaking over 30mph.
9/14/21: I have ridden over 500 miles on the Rideal so far–and am just as satisfied as I was on my first ride. I’m not a DIYer and haven’t made any customizations except for adding a water bottle cage and occasionally using a gel seat cover. Other than that, full stock model, baby!
I’m hesitant even to write this next line because I know I’m going to jinx myself: I have not even gotten a flat tire yet! Well, I did get one, but it was in a dream where I was running late to get somewhere–but I digress!
I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read this post. I’d love to review more electric bikes as a hobby–so if you have a connection, please let me know (drewographies at gmail). So far, my overtures have been rejected. 🙁
10/9/21: Still going strong on my Ariel Rider Rideal. I have other bikes in my fleet, but this bike has become my go-to. I’m in no rush to return to the office and re-introduce a commute into my life, but when I do, the Rideal will be my electric bike of choice.
1/9/22: I took several short rides on the Ariel Rider Rideal throughout the autumn. The performance remained the same: capable, enjoyable, and trouble-free. The tires were supple yet coarse enough to provide good tread over fallen leaves.
Now that winter is in full swing here in New York, the electric bike has officially been put on the shelf for a few months. I made sure to drain the battery by 60%.which took miles upon miles of throttle-only (a good problem to have!).
I look forward to one day living in a place where outdoor activities such as biking are a year-round event.
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