- A powerful electric cruiser with unique battery box design reminiscing of vintage motorcycles, three color choices for the box, fenders and chain guard including red, black and beige
- Integrated LED lights by Spanninga, comfortable CST balloon tires with reflective sidewall stripes and a generic flick bell are included standard which improve visibility and safety
- Powerful 500 watt geared motor, large 48 volt battery and adjustable speed settings (password protected) make this a versatile platform, solid 160 mm mechanical disc brakes with motor inhibitors stop well
- The battery pack is not designed to be removable for charging off the bike or reducing weight during transport and the weight is a bit higher than a downtube or seat tube pack
The N-Class is Ariel Rider’s top of the line offering with the most integrated aesthetic and a special option to customize the top tube battery box. I struggled to grasp what the bike would be like before seeing it in person, the top part is all plastic (aside from the surrounding tubing), is dyed completely through and is made from durable scratch resistant polycarbonate. This approach strikes a balance between reduced weight, increased strength and a nice aesthetic reminiscent of the popular Sondors bikes but much higher quality. This platform is very strong, fast, offers pedal assist with twist throttle override and even has integrated lights. You get a seven speed Shimano Altus drivetrain (a step up from entry level) and an impressive two year warranty on most of the bike with one year on the battery. My only complaint or question mark is that the battery is not removable. Considering the 62.5 pound (28 kg) weight this would have been a nice feature for transporting the bike as the pack weighs ~7 lbs on its own. Also, not having a removable battery means you’ll have to park the N-Class near an outlet every time it needs a fill-up and that could be difficult if you’re using it to commute.
In practice, the Ariel Rider N and W Class electric bikes I tested were more geared towards neighborhood “fun” riding. They don’t have racks or even rack bosses and you don’t even get a bottle cage mounting point. It wouldn’t be an ideal commuting platform but that’s not what it’s about and frankly, with a backpack on you’d fare pretty well because of the power and range on offer. The motor is a 500 watt internally geared hub mounted in the rear wheel. It’s made by Dapu that’s a solid brand in my experience and the battery is 48 volt 11.6 amp hours for more than a half kilowatt of capacity. It’s arranged to support more power and speed than efficiency but if you ride in a lower assist level there’s no reason it won’t take you 30+ miles. The best features of this bike for me were how it looks, the speed adjustability built into the display (password protected) and how comfortable it rides. With large balloon tires, a custom sprung saddle and cruiser bars (with padded leather grips) the strain of bumps and cracks are significantly reduced. Note that the custom springer fork really doesn’t travel much so if you’re willing to trade style for more comfort then consider the Comfort model vs. Premium I reviewed. It costs less and uses a different (but still comfortable) saddle and comes with a basic oil suspension fork.
Ariel Rider is a company that dates back to 2010, having been rebranded after 2014 as the founding team expanded internationally. Today their products are sold in 26 countries which is very impressive to me. The N-Class is being used by some businesses and fancy hotel chains due to its brandable customizable battery box. The company name “Ariel Rider” is a nod to Ariel Motorcycles, a company dating back to 1870, which was an innovator in British motorcycle design that eventually spun off into cars. Interestingly, the Ariel name has been taken up by a modern sports car producer called Ariel Ltd in much the same way that Ariel Rider uses it. So the point here is that these are all distinct entities, each building on a long heritage of innovation and style, paying homage if you will. Aesthetics are a huge draw with the W-Class and touch points like the custom leather saddle, locking leather grips, color matched fenders, chain guard and sturdy black pedals bring it home for me. I went into this review impressed but curious about the width of the oversized top tube battery bay and came away convinced that it all works together well for a good ride experience… though I wish the key did not have to be left in when riding.
To operate the bike you charge the battery using a nice, light weight 2 amp charger then press the power button on their LCD console for a couple of seconds. It blinks to life and you see speed, assist level and battery level among range and other ride details. From here you can arrow up or down exploring six levels of assist and a level zero which keeps the display and lights going while also allowing for throttle on demand operation. It’s setup very well and really makes you feel like you’re in control of the bike. Having six levels of assist vs. 5 or even 3 as I see on other electric cruisers means that you have more control over top speed when pedaling and as mentioned earlier, you can go deeper by double clicking the power button to adjust other settings and even cap the top speed or allow it to reach ~25 mph for private and off-road use. The bike grew on me and I actually went through a sort of wave of emotions at first expecting it to be more like the Tracker from Vintage Electric Bikes then seeing the plastic and wondering if it would rattle (it stayed very quiet and felt sturdy) then gaining an appreciation for the power but also the control of operation and the finer touches like the saddle and protected wires on the rear light. For the price, it’s a unique looking bike that really puts you in control. There are sacrifices in terms of utility but it keeps you dry and safe which I love.
- Beautiful touch points on the Premium model, the saddle is large and comfortable but also has the Ariel Rider name on it in cursive which looks classy, same thing with the display, I love the wing logo on the battery box and the ability to custom print onto the box for ~$350
- I like the quick release seat tube collar and front wheel, this helps to reduce weight and make the bike easier to move since the battery is not easily removable
- I’m a fan of the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes because they offer tool-free rotor adjustment, you can use your fingers to twist the little red discs to fine tune the calipers as your pads wear down
- Depending on where you live it’s wonderful to have full length fenders and the color matching on the Ariel Rider ebikes is spot on, the chain guard also matches and is a sort of custom thin guard which looks great
- The chainring has an aluminum bash guard on it which also acts as a chain guide to some extent making the drivetrain more robust (useful at higher speed riding and on bumpy terrain), I like that the spokes they went with are a bit larger at 13 gauge vs. 14G given the heavier build of the bike
- You get three color choices (for the fenders, chain guard and battery box cover) including red, black and beige and the box plastic is scratch resistant
- I absolutely love the integrated LED lights, both are made by Spanninga and the tail light is wired in so it lights up when you pull the brake levers
- Nice display panel and control unit, it’s compact but the buttons are large and easy to reach without taking your hand of the left grip, you can get into settings by double clicking the power button and change your speed when the passcode is entered (up to ~25 mph in the USA)
- The controls default to 0-6 pedal assist and you can override with twist throttle at any level! This is awesome for people who want a more scooter-like experience, the cadence sensor uses 12 magnets making it pretty responsive
- The Ariel Rider N-Class uses a custom designed hydroformed Aluminum alloy frame that feels solid and all of the wires and cables are internally routed to reduce snags
- Upgraded Wellgo Aluminum alloy platform pedals offer lots of surface area and feel stable and stiff, the saddle is completely custom with leather imported from Australia… it feels firm at first but should soften over time (you can request the comfort saddle from Velo if you’d like and that comes stock on the Comfort trim level which costs less), even the brake levers are upgraded and have a nice rubberized grip on the leading edge, you get a basic bell to top it all off
- The battery pack is mounted inside a polycarbonate box that isn’t designed to be removable or opened easily… so the battery stays with the bike making it heavier to transport and less versatile to charge
- The springer fork on the Premium model looks cool but doesn’t offer much travel and adds weight, Ariel Rider offers a more traditional suspension oil fork on the Comfort model but it doesn’t have lockout
- The battery box is pretty wide (widest towards the head tube) which looks cool like a motorcycle gas tank, but is easier to bump with your knees while pedaling
- No bottle cage bosses or rack bosses on either the Comfort or Premium models, you might have to bring a little backpack along to carry supplies
- This electric bicycle is only available in one frame size but the stem is adjustable angle and the seat tube has quick release so it’s actually quite versatile
- I noticed that the cadence sensor starts quickly but doesn’t always shut the motor down when you stop pedaling (I was told this was a choice made to smooth out the ride with inconsistent pedaling), it alarmed me at first because I thought maybe the throttle was stuck on but you can always cut power by pulling either brake lever so that’s nice