The Ride – A perfect eBike, for its ideal customer. But New York is not at all like California. Generally, this doesn’t matter much, but when testing the ride—designed by legendary mountain bike builder Tony Ellsworth—I must admit I missed out on one of the reasons this bike exists.
That’s because once our test unit arrived, it went from fall to winter practically overnight. The Ride is part of a fitness experience that combines eBikes with in-person fitness classes.
Hold that thought.
History Of The Ride
Ellsworth has been making bikes since the late 90s, and in 2006 he began making a line of cruisers branded with the moniker The Ride. I found that this makes it a bit difficult to talk to someone about this bike. Several times I was asked about the bike and talking to them about The Ride ended up a bit like the Who’s on First routine.
The current iterations of The Ride have taken Ellsworth’s mountain bike aesthetic and applied it to an ebike, and the result isn’t like any other ebike on the market.
Today’s The Ride (see what I mean about the name) is a celebration of design. There’s an asymmetrical front fork that looks like Cannondale’s Lefty fork. The bike is made of carbon with lines that are slick and smooth, the paint glows like a gem, and the step-over frame makes it perfect for any rider. A Gates belt drive eliminates chain grease getting on one’s leg or clothes, and the shifting system is…unique.
It is a beautiful bike. While a lot of ebikes look like a standard bicycle with a battery bolted on (because in essence, they are) The Ride is slick and clean and looks shiny and attractive. If you’re familiar with New York City’s CitiBike, this bike takes the utility of that bike, and some of the geometry, and looks like a combination of the CitiBike and a Porsche.
The Ride – A perfect eBike with Motor-in
The Ride went with a “stepless” motor, which uses a continuous range of gearing, which should make for a super-smooth ride with easy transitions. The Shimano E6100 mid-drive combines with a Nuvinci Enviolo SP CVT (that’s the stepless part).
It is not, literally, stepless in practice as I could feel the bike moving between large adjustments while changing the assistance, but then the bike was smooth when boosting a pedal stroke.
I have a lot more time on a non-CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) ebike setup, so the ride on The Ride (see, it happened again) was a bit confusing at first. With the Shimano and Nuvinci setup on The Ride, the rider dials in a preferred cadence and the bike boosts if the cadence drops.
The first time I rode up a moderate hill I had set the cadence assistance for around 80 RPM, as this is the fastest I usually turn my pedals on a small hill. Sounds good, right? Nope, what I needed to do was to set it for a higher cadence and have it boost to that to give me the propulsion up the hill.
My control unit didn’t have an up or down arrow, so I found at first I would often switch the wrong way and then have to switch back, but some riding cured that mistake. Sometimes my control unit and the shifters wouldn’t communicate at all, but that’s an issue with the early-production gear we were testing, not the bike.
Build And Servicing
As I’ve said, The Ride is a beautiful and head-turning bike, it’s like nothing else on the market. But it’s not just built to be pretty on the outside, it’s built to be durable and low-maintenance.
The internal hub prevents damage from salt water, mud, or rain, and is connected to a Gates belt drive for grease-free use. No more streaks of grease on your commuting gear.
The carbon construction greatly reduces road chatter, making for a very smooth ride, there is little chatter or shake even over potholes.
Integrated lights in the front and rear mean a rider never goes out without visibility, and the brakes are strong enough to stop the bike even when moving very quickly—some ebikes have difficulty stopping at the speed that the bikes allow you to travel.
That stopping power is important as the bike weighs quite a lot. This is a bike you’re going to park next to your Audi in your detached garage, not carry up the stairs to your four-story walkup.
There’s only one frame, which the company says can accommodate riders from 5’ to 6’4”. (I’m only able to vouch for 5’7” riders, and it was very comfy.
There currently is a concierge service on assembling the bike, and an online chat for people with more questions. Since my review unit was hand-delivered, I didn’t get a chance to experience the white-glove service, but it’s a smart move for this customer group. For more specs on The Ride, head to their website.
New York Is Not California
Turning back to the opening statement-of-the-obvious, New York and California have some very different conditions. The Ride was designed to be enjoyed by the affluent residents of somewhere like a seaside villa in California or a planned community in Florida with a winding network of bike paths. To be fair, it would also fit in perfectly in places like New York City and other metropolitan regions with relatively flat terrain and moderate hills.
Where I live the small rises are 3-8% and the big hills are avoided as much as possible. I live at the bottom of a long, very steep hill (about 15% grade) and The Ride didn’t get me to the top, but it did perform better than a fifty-ish pound bicycle should.
Another issue—at least from the standpoint of a review—with testing this bike in New York is that when it gets cold out, it gets cold out and when it starts to snow, the roads are covered in ice and water and salt, and it’s just a bummer to have to test a cruiser in terrain that looks like penguins should waddle by.
Returning to the earlier comment about what this bike was designed for, The Ride is part of a concept of multi-stage exercise. The idea is that people will bike to a designated spot for outside exercise. I’d love to join one. Taking this bike to a park to do some yoga, followed by a trip to get some single-origin coffee sounds great.
That said, the multi-fitness aspect isn’t highlighted on their website, and I figure won’t be a core component until we get out of the non-ending global pandemic. But the idea of having a bike that’s part of a fitness regimen is great, though obviously won’t have a lot of application for most potential customers until those classes are rolled out more universally.
The Ride has a 100+ mile range, and while the weather in the area kept me from trying that out, because of the size of the battery and the different power-saving modes on the bike, I have no reason to doubt that. I would not be uncomfortable taking this bike out on a multi-hour ride on a rail-to-trail, or even on a crushed gravel adventure.
For the intended customer, someone doing daily errands, long weekend-warrior rides, or even going to get groceries, there’s more than enough power to get somewhere and trust you’ll get back home again under motor power.
Should You Get The Ride?
So, the question begged by the design and the price of The Ride is “should you get it.” Like most things highly technological, the answer is “that depends.” If you’re planning to do long rides up hills, this isn’t the bike for you. If you’re planning to ride “gravel” routes that encounter rocks and single-track, this bike isn’t for you.
But this bike wasn’t designed for those types of customers. There’s a specific market segment The Ride is designed for, and it wouldn’t normally embrace the more “bike’ looking ebikes. Someone who wants to take a bike out to the beach from their summer home doesn’t want a drop-bar bike with limited range. They want a bike that’ll do hours of boardwalk riding and many trips to the local craft brewery or coffee shop.
More Testing of The Ride – A perfect eBike, for its ideal customer
As the temperatures in New York continue to hover in the low-teens to the 30s, The Ride sits forlornly in my garage. Yes, I could take it out for rides (and I’ve taken it on a few quick errands to town even in the cold) but it’s designed to cruise along on beautiful spring and summer days and to be part of your active lifestyle.
If you’re looking for an ebike that looks and feels different than any other ebike on the market though, The Ride is for you.
We are hoping to do more riding in the spring, as we have a sixty-mile bike trail nearby that is the perfect test lab for the type of riding this bike was designed for.
As this goes to press, there is currently a discount on The Ride Limited Edition, with a price of $5295.00, down from $6995.00. The Ride – A perfect eBike, for its ideal customer. That maybe you.…