- One of the most beautiful electric cruiser bicycles on the market today, vintage styled springer fork, rich faux leather touch points and matching balloon tires, paint-matched plastic fenders and chain cover
- Zippy 500+ watt planetary geared hub motor from Dapu, strong 48 volt battery with upgrade options to extend range, adjustable speed up to 28 mph, torque sensing pedal assist and twist throttle drive modes, hydraulic disc brakes
- Integrated LED lights and reflective tires keep you safe, the headlight is styled to look like a motorcycle, comfortable sprung saddle, padded grips, adjustable angle stem, swept back handlebar, and high volume tires
- The springer styled fork doesn't offer much travel and is more for aesthetics, no rack or bottle cage mounting points, kickstand can cause pedal lock when deployed, heavier overall build at ~64lbs
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The W-Class is one of my favorite cruiser inspired electric bicycles. It’s gorgeous to look at, fast and powerful to ride, and the price tag is very reasonable. Most sub-$2k electric bikes only come in one frame size, one color, and don’t offer battery choices. Ariel Rider has been around since 2012 and the W-Class was one of their flagship models. The look and feel hasn’t changed much, but 2018 saw big upgrades with hydraulic disc brakes vs. mechanical, a larger 180mm rear brake rotor, reflective CST Palm Bay comfort tires, new blue and green color options, and a responsive Dapu torque sensor vs 12-magnet cadence sensor. By default, the bike ships as Class 2, meaning it can reach 20 mph with pedal assist or twist throttle. For those who wish to lower the speed, for comfort, safety, or increased range, that can be done by entering into the display settings. Conversely, the speed can be raised for faster commutes. Even though this thing doesn’t look like a commuter platform, it does come with integrated LED lights, plastic fenders and chain cover, and mounting points for adding a rear rack! I especially like how the battery pack is mounted low and center on the frame vs. way back on a factory-installed rack. Cables are internally routed, the grips, saddle, and tires all match each other, and they even include a bottle of touch up paint. Comfort is addressed well through the padded touch points, longer handlebar with adjustable stem, and high volume tires… but the springer style suspension fork goes one step further. It only offers ~25mm of travel and isn’t very adjustable, but is better than nothing, and really enhances the vintage look of the bike. I was able to ride this thing at speed without much frame flex or speed wobble, even with no hands. There are a few little trade offs like kickstand position, motor whirring noise, and lack of bottle cage bosses, but otherwise I really enjoyed the review test rides and time with the founder, Arda Onal.
Driving this bike is a 500 watt nominal, 900 watt peak, planetary geared hub motor from Dapu. It sounds like Ariel Rider is also going to be offering a 750 watt motor! but the one shown in this review was the 500. Despite its relatively compact size, this motor puts out a lot of power, up to 75 newton meters of torque! However, it feels natural to accelerate when pedaling because the motor controller uses a torque sensor vs. a simple cadence sensor. The sensor itself is contained in a small circular metal enclosure on the left side of the crank spindle, at the bottom bracket. It should hold up well here, and not get bumped around or dirty when riding. Ariel Rider chose well with the large alloy Wellgo platform pedals because they provide stability and power transfer. I appreciate the alloy chainring protector on the right side and color-matched plastic chain cover to keep your pant legs clean. The mounting arm for this protector doubles as a guide, so chain drops shouldn’t be an issue… but it would be nice if an actual guide or second alloy plate could be added to the chainring for reassurance. The company did choose a slightly upgraded derailleur, Shimano Altus is one step up from entry-level Shimano Tourney, and the 7-speed 11-36 tooth cassette offers good pedaling options for climbing moderate hills and reaching 20+ miles per hour. The W-Class ships with a 20mph top speed limit, but owners are able to enter into the settings by double tapping the power button, once the key has been inserted and the display has been switched on. From here, navigate to the password screen and enter 1919 to either lower or raise the maximum speed, making this a Class 2 or Class 3 product. I suppose that you could even remove the twist throttle by unplugging it, and then ride as Class 1 on bike trails where that is the only type of ebike allowed. My one major gripe about the drivetrain is that the shifter mechanism is large, a bit slow, and sometimes difficult to reach. Ariel Rider (and many other companies) opt for this shifter because it leaves more space for the twist throttle. Having a throttle is nice when you’re trying to balance a heavy load, it comes in handy for stop signs and traffic signals… where you need an instant boost to get started. I like them because they reduce pressure on my sensitive knee and offer a break during the heat of the day. Note however, that heavy of twist throttle use will drain the battery faster. The hub motor is from Dapu, a brand that I have seen on Pedego and Easy Motion electric bikes, which I view as being higher quality. It does make some electronic whirring noises, especially at high speed and high power, as demonstrated in the video review above.
Powering this bike is one of two 48 volt batteries. The smaller 11.6 amp hour pack weighs slightly less and brings the price of the bike down to ~$1.5k. The review model had the upgraded 17.6 amp hour for a whopping 844.8 watt hour capacity! That’s nearly a kilowatt hour of juice, and it’s welcome for those who intend to rely on the throttle, climb hills, or just ride further between charges. The charger is compact and lightweight, but only average in terms of speed. For the larger battery pack, it could take upwards of seven hours to completely fill from empty… the first half always fills faster, so I usually bring the charger along for quick top offs at diners and friends’ houses. Inside the battery pack are 1860 sized lithium ion cells. These things are renown for being lightweight and long lasting, in terms of durability, but it’s best to store them in a cool, dry location to reduce stress. If you know that you won’t be riding for a while, it’s best to keep the battery around 50% full. The larger pack weighs ~9lbs but has a handle at the top, making it easy to remove and transport. You might notice how it slides down just behind the seat tube, below the saddle. In order to get it on and off from this position, you’ll need to flip the saddle forward by pressing a little metal lever connected to the saddle clamp. It’s a great feature because it allows you to set the seat post height once and then leave it locked in. Some other ebikes with this style of battery require you to remove the seat post and saddle every time you remove the battery! Now, there is one big drawback to the Ariel Rider W-Class pack, and that is the keyed on/off switch. You need to insert the key and twist to on before the display can boot up. It’s a minor thing for most riders, but the downside is that your key could get snagged and bent or a keychain that’s connected to the key could jingle around, resulting in scratched paint. good thing they include the touch up paint ;) I love how the battery pack runs both of the integrated lights, but feel that a USB port on the display or battery could be put to good use for those who run their smartphones for GPS while riding.
Operating this ebike is fairly comfortable and intuitive. The display panel is clean and compact, with only three buttons to interact with. It isn’t removable, so it could take some damage at public racks, but it will swivel a bit to reduce glare if you don’t over-tighten the mount. Once the battery pack is charged, mounted to the frame, and the key is turned to on, just hold the little power button at the top left corner of the display panel to power it up. The monochrome LCD blinks to life fairly quickly, showing your current speed, power meter, assistance level (0-6), battery charge level, and some trip stats below. You can change the readouts by tapping the power button once, and this will show average speed, max speed, odometer, and trip time. Most of your interaction will probably be clicking the plus and minus keys to raise or lower the pedal assist level. I love how the throttle can override the different assist levels for a quick boost of power and speed. That said, it’s always hot, so you could get an unexpected boost when loading, mounting, or dismounting. During the ride tests, I pulled the handle bars up and back using the tool-free adjustable stem for a more upright body position, and that also made the display closer and easier to read. It’s nice that the wire for this display was long enough to accommodate such big comfortable bars! You can activate the display backlighting by holding the + button and activate walk mode by holding the – button (for ~6 km/h, ~4 mph assistance). Walk mode is nice to have if you’ve added a rack with gear or a child seat on the back. Again, the bike is fairly heavy as-is. There are even more settings to explore in the menu system by double tapping the power button, as mentioned earlier. This is where you can change units, adjust backlight brightness, and raise or lower the top speed by entering password 1919 at the last screen.
I asked Arda what the W stood for in W-Class, and he didn’t really have an answer… thankfully, he and his team have found great answers for just about every other aspect of the bike. I was told that they manufacture these things at the same factory as BH, Tern, Cube, and Vanmoof. Those are all leading brands that I’m fairly familiar with, so it was confidence inspiring to hear. The one riding tip that Arda stressed was to always pull the brakes when mounting and dismounting because of the active twist throttle and torque sensing assist. These are great systems that offer instant power and a more dynamic ride feel, but they do present a bit of sensitivity beyond trigger throttles and cadence sensors. For someone who appreciates the relaxed body position, beautiful style, and powerful drive system on offer, this is a great choice. The drivetrain with seven speeds is great for a neighborhood/urban ride and the bike feels stable and solid. Normally I’d recommend exploring suspension seat posts for an even more comfortable ride, but that’s not really necessary here with the bigger tires… and it would remove the flip-forward feature of the rigid stock stem. As a final thought, I’d love to see the kickstand moved back just slightly, a pair of bottle cage bosses added to the front of the seat tube, and both rotors 180mm sized vs. just the back. Otherwise, everything here checks out! Big thanks to the Ariel Rider team, Arda and his brother Berk, for partnering with me on this post and driving all the way out to Colorado with a few new models to share. I welcome your comments below and the Ariel Rider forums are open for sharing about experiences with photos and making friends :)
- The bike is gorgeous, it’s styled like a vintage motorcycle with paint-matched fenders and chain cover, I like the unique springer fork (even though it doesn’t offer much travel), and appreciate the larger front light that resembles a motorcycle light
- Ariel Rider products tend to have a lot of branding, but it’s done tastefully and I like their logo, you can see this on the grips, display panel, saddle, and frame graphic with with W-Class here
- Both the front and rear LED lights are wired in to run off of the main battery, they help keep you visible when riding at night, along with the reflective sidewall stripes on the CST Palm Bay tires, an included flick bell lets you signal to cars and other cyclists in a friendly way
- Whenever you pull the brake levers, the rear light activates or goes bright if it is already on, this is an awesome feature that alerts other cyclists and drivers to your presence
- Available in four beautiful metallic colors including vintage red, green, white, black, and navy blue… and the color is carried all the way through to the rims!
- Part of what makes this bike look so beautiful in the internally routed cabling (shifter cables, brake lines, and electrical wires), this also reduces the potential for snags when pedaling or lifting the frame
- Older versions of this ebike used mechanical disc brakes which required more hand strength to use effectively, Ariel Rider has upgraded to hydraulic disc brakes here and still includes motor inhibitors
- Sturdy, comfort-oriented touch points like the large alloy pedals, long swept-back handlebars, padded grips, and oversized sprung saddle connect you to the bike securely and make it more enjoyable to ride
- In addition to keeping you clean, the chain cover and fenders attached to the frame at multiple points and have alloy runners to reduce rattling so they don’t produce a lot of noise, rubber mud flaps at the ends of the fenders are flexible and durable
- Two battery size options allow you to optimize for lower price or extended range, Ariel Rider uses Panasonic and Samsung cells, and since the packs are separate from the controller (which is in the metal box below the mounting point)… they won’t heat up as much and are less expensive to replace
- The battery pack is easy to remove for independent storing and charging because the seat post has a flip-up mechanism at the top, I’d probably remove the ~9lb battery before servicing the bike or lifting it to reduce weight
- The seven speed drivetrain offers comfortable pedaling at a range of speeds, including the unlocked 28 mph, I like that they opted for Altus level components because it’s a step up from Tourney
- I was really surprised and delighted to find out that the W-Class comes in two different frame sizes, the mid-step option lowers the seat tube by ~4″ making it easier to mount for people with hip or knee issues, and also petite riders, most cruisers I see and review from other companies only come in one frame size
- With a starting price of $1,499 for the model with a smaller battery, I find this to be a very affordable electric bike, it offers great value with the high powered motor, hydraulic disc brakes, and beautiful styling
- I’m not certain of the official maximum weight for this ebike, but the thicker 12 gauge spokes and reinforced frame bode well for heavier riders, the C-Class is rated up to 400lbs and uses similar parts
- The bike ships with standard Class 2 performance, throttle and assist up to 20 mph, but you can lower that speed for elderly or younger riders as well as raise it up to 28 mph for Class 3 performance
- The W-Class got an upgraded pedal assist sensor since 2017, they moved from standard cadence sensor to smoother more responsive torque sensor by Dapu, I like that it’s contained in a sturdy metal case near the left crank arm vs. exposed plastic like before
- Longer handlebars and adjustable stems, like the ones offered here, allow you to create an upright body position for comfortable riding and easier spotting of traffic, this seems to be a good thing for larger riders in particular (the founder’s brother weighs a bit more and has back pain, but this upright body position with the larger saddle really helps him)
- Ariel Rider has been producing electric bikes since 2012 and offers a solid one year comprehensive warranty with 2 years on the motor and lifetime on the frame
- The paint job on these products is really beautiful, so it’s neat that Ariel Rider includes matching touch up paint in case you get a scratch or ding
- This is somewhat a personal preference, but I don’t love the oversized thumb shifters here, they are often chosen to create space for twist throttles… so it makes sense, but does require more reaching and hand effort than trigger shifters below the grip
- The kickstand is mounted just behind the bottom bracket and may cause pedal lock or scratching with the left crank arm when deployed, I asked about this and was told that the position helps to stabilize the longer frame… then I forcefully walked the bike backwards and the pedal just pushed the kickstand aside and didn’t fully lock (though it did leave a small scratch, this happens around 8:10 in the video review above)
- There are no bottle cage bosses, and you cannot easily install an adapter like this because the seat tube buts right up against the battery pack, but I’m told that the frame does come with rear rack bosses… so you could attach a disc brake compatible rack like one of these for use with a trunk bag or panniers
- Minor complaint here, the display panel and battery pack do not have USB charging ports built in, this is something that could be useful for maintaining a phone or running other portable electronics… and is nice to have with such large battery capacity options
- The display panel was easy to reach and see because it’s mounted further back towards the left grip, but it’s not removable, so it could take some weather wear and scratches at public racks, especially since it’s so far out to one side vs. the middle
- You’re required to leave the key inserted and twisted to the on position to operate this ebike, like the ignition in a car… I prefer to remove keys because they won’t get snagged as easily, or jingle around if they are connected to a keychain
- I appreciate how compact and lightweight the battery charger is, but wish that it offered faster charging for the higher capacity battery… it’s just a standard 2 amp charger, but at least it has a metal endpoint that it is sturdy
- Minor consideration, the frame is longer because of its style and where the battery is mounted, this introduces a bit of frame flex… but it’s not nearly as noticeable as cruisers with rear rack batteries
- The control system on this ebike is setup so the twist throttle is active in 0-6 levels of assist (so it’s always on) and the torque sensor could engage immediately in 1-6, so just be careful not to bump anything when mounting or dismounting if the bike is powered on… squeeze those brake levers to cut power to the motor