One of the best parts about e-bikes is their ability to act as normal bicycles. As you start to add massive batteries, fat wheels with puncture-resistant tires, and big, heavy hub motors, this ability starts to diminish.
Today’s e-bikes can reach 70 lbs or more, and while advances in battery and motor technology make them terrific at zooming around town under motor power, all of the weight can make them stop feeling like regular bikes.
The RadMission 1, Ride1Up Core 5, and Ariel Rideal manage to neatly sidestep this issue. Despite their 20+ mile ranges, powerful hub motors, and included accessories, these bikes weigh around 50 lbs, helping them to look and feel like normal bicycles.
Even without the pedal assist engaged, riders can zip along their commute with just a bit more weight than a standard, motorless bicycle. With it on, they feel fast and powerful, with the motors picking up enough work that you won’t get fatigued but not enough that you feel like you’re riding a motorcycle.
Most importantly, however, these bikes are affordable. Centered around a price point of about $1000, they’re definitely on the low end of e-bikes, especially given how well they perform.
The lack of fancy extras certainly helps keep the price low, but there’s no getting around the fact that you’re getting a whole lot of bike for your dollar when you purchase any of these e-bikes at sticker price.
About The Bikes
The RadMission 1 is a single-speed e-bike designed to let you focus on riding. It’s an incredibly simple bike, with no suspension, gearing, or other distractions from the experience of zooming around on a 500W hub motor.
It’s affordable, completely indistinguishable from a normal bike at a glance, and made by one of the more reputable brands in the business.
Ride1Up Core 5
The Ride1Up Core 5 is a 7-speed e-bike designed to bridge the gap between regular bikes and e-bikes. The integrated battery is virtually impossible to spot at a glance, while the gearing helps your legs extend the battery life considerably.
While it’s lacking a suspension fork for bumpy commutes, this affordable bike is a perfect alternative to the RadMission 1 for anyone who prefers the advantages (and complications) of gears.
The Ariel Rideal is an incredibly inexpensive 6-speed e-bike, especially given its features. A 750W hub motor helps to boost the rider up hills, while a battery that’s notably larger than the Ride1Up Core ensures that the more powerful motor doesn’t run out of juice too quickly.
Despite the more powerful assist package, this bike somehow manages to have a list price that’s lower than the two options above. It’s a great deal.
Weight, Design, and Build Quality
The RadMission 1, the Ride1Up Core, and the Ariel Rideal are quite similar in terms of weight and broad strokes design. All three bikes have incredibly normal-looking frames, straight handlebars, and front forks.
The RadMission 1 weighs 48 lbs, the Ride1Up Core 5 weighs 49 lbs, and the Ariel Rideal weighs 52 lbs. The difference in weight between the Rideal and the other two has a lot to do with the larger battery and the more powerful motor.
In terms of frame design, one of the big standout differences is the lack of any sort of standover consideration in the design of the Rideal.
The Rideal has a very traditional frame with a high top tube that prevents you from standing over the frame. The RadMission 1 is available as a similar high-step model, but you can find it in a mid-step variety as well that actually weighs a half-pound less.
The Ride1Up Core-5 has an upward angled top tube that helps blend both schools of design, ensuring that most riders can comfortably stand over the bike.
All three of these bikes have fairly relaxed geometry that helps keep the rider comfortable as the motor does its thing.
You’re not going to want to adopt a super aggressive forward riding position on these bikes. You will, however, find yourself passing quite a few road bike riders in your area with ease as the powerful hub motors do their thing.
As far as build quality goes, there’s no clear winner between these bikes. All three companies have excellent track records as far as quality goes, but the bikes themselves are fairly new.
It’s tough to compare what the motors and batteries will look like four or five years out without actually waiting four or five years to see what happens.
Most complaints regarding quality center around the tires and the hub spokes. The tires are fairly puncture-resistant by normal bike standards, but they’re not invincible, and swapping out the rear inner tube can be a massive hassle on any e-bike with a hub motor.
Similarly, the additional force from the motor can loosen the spokes on the rear wheel, especially with a heavy rider. Again, this is a generic e-bike concern, not something limited to these three bikes.
It’s usually a good idea to check your hub spokes on any newly purchased e-bike to make sure they’re tight before you start riding around.
In broad strokes, all three of these bikes have very similar components. All three bikes have mechanical disc brakes, while the Core-5 and the Rideal have inexpensive Shimano shifters and derailleurs.
None of the bikes have suspension of any sort. This helps with both weight and cost in a fairly big way, but it does mean that you’ll get a less comfortable ride on trails and bumpier streets.
While they’re not designed for this sort of thing, you can certainly take the bikes down stairs and over curbs without too much trouble. You may, however, want to consider a different e-bike if you find yourself riding over particularly bumpy paths during part of your commute.
In terms of differences, it’s worth pointing out that the RadMission and the Rideal have 180mm brake rotors and the Core-5 has 160mm brake rotors. This isn’t a gigantic deal by any means, but it does mean that the Core-5 has slightly less stopping power on average.
You can go quite fast on these bikes, with speeds of 20 miles per hour or more being commonplace, so any additional stopping power is appreciated.
None of these bikes come stock with fenders or racks. They do, however, come with kickstands, and the Rideal and the RadMission come with integrated electric lights to help keep you safe at night.
Given how inexpensive these bikes are compared to other e-bikes, this lack of accessories is quite reasonable.
Range and Speed
There’s a big difference in power and range between these three bikes.
On the low end, the RadMission 1 can struggle to climb hills on throttle alone with a heavier rider. Without any gearing, this turns into a fairly big downside. The bike isn’t underpowered per se, but it probably shouldn’t be your first choice if you’re on the heavier side and you anticipate relying on the motor a lot.
If you’re reasonably athletic and plan to help out the motor, you’ll find that the 500W hub more than compensates for the lack of gears and helps you get to speed, fast.
The Ride1Up Core-5, curiously, doesn’t have the same issue. Its motor somehow manages to destroy hills, even without any sort of human assistance.
This is somewhat surprising given the listed raw power of the motor, but the low weight of the bicycle and the incredibly high 1000W peak output of the controller likely have something to do with it.
This unexpected excellence doesn’t necessarily transfer to better performance going fast on flats. While this bike is quite fast, regulatory limits on e-bike speed mean that most bikes are quite similar in terms of top speed.
The Ariel Rideal’s bigger motor is definitely noticeable. It’s not necessarily better at going up hills than the Core-5 (and in fact may be worse if you don’t pedal at all, thanks to the Core-5’s clever engineering), but it can put out a tremendous amount of power on flat ground.
Again, top speed limits ensure that it’s equally fast as the Core-5, but you’ll have an easier time reaching that top speed on this bike. You’ll have no problems zipping right past road bikes and even slow cars on the Rideal.
Range is a somewhat tricky issue to cover, as conditions, stops, rider weight, and even the level of your tires can all have big impacts on how far your bike goes on a single charge.
The RadMission 1 gets just under 40 miles on max pedal assist, which is quite impressive. This long-range is somewhat balanced out by the lower output of the motor.
The Core-5, by contrast, has a range of just over 20 miles on max pedal assist. This makes a lot of sense when you consider how differently these bikes perform while climbing hills.
The Rideal gets about 30 miles out of a single charge on throttle only. It’s a good blend of the other two bikes in terms of power and range.
All three bikes here are great pickups for different people. The RadMission 1 is ideal if you value range and simplicity over other factors.
While it’s a bit underpowered compared to the other two bikes and only has a single gear, the smaller motor and bigger battery work together to give you a huge 40-mile range on the highest pedal assist level. The simplicity helps to keep cycling fun.
The Ride1Up Core-5 sacrifices range for a lot more power from the assist motor. It’s a terrific bike, with great brakes, a cohesive design, and an incredibly low price point for the power it delivers.
It’s probably not the best choice for someone with a long commute, however, especially if you plan to use the higher pedal assist levels the whole way. While you can charge the battery at your destination, it might be better to opt for a bike with a bigger battery.
The Ariel Rideal is a great blend of the power and range of the two other bikes.
The nominally bigger motor still struggles to deliver the same awe-inspiring performance that the Core-5 enjoys when climbing hills on throttle only, but it’s a huge improvement over the RadMission 1.
A big battery adds a bit of weight to the bike but helps to offset the motor’s power consumption and delivers a range that’s more comparable to the RadMission 1 than the Core-5.
Perhaps most importantly, this bike has a lower sticker price than either of the other two. If your planned rides aren’t super hilly and you don’t mind the added complexity of gearing, the Ariel Rideal might be the best choice of the three.