My review of Rize Blade, purchased new January 2021

compassi0n

New Member
Region
USA
These are some impressions after a few months using my new Rize Blade bike as a powered scrambler. My pre-purchase research took a while so maybe these notes can save someone a little time.

My objective was something that would work well in my rural neighborhood to visit friends on dirt and gravel roads within a couple-mile radius. Also to do a little motocrossing on my neighbor’s mountain bike track. Interested in power use only, no peddling.

I have a long history of motorcycle and dirt bike experience but find myself getting more mellow as I age, so an occasional carve and squirt does the trick for me. I was riding cheap used Bumblebee electric mopeds (Chinese imports) for quite a while but they eventually died and were underpowered anyway.

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SUMMARY: I am very happy with the Blade and feel I made the right choice. The motor is responsive, it lays down good torque, and the optional 19.2 Ah battery gives it terrific range. Components are good quality and the handling on dirt is excellent. The combination of cruise control and wide tires is so much fun! No-hands operation, I can sit up and relax my back. The hardtail rear end and stiff seat padding make for a harsh ride over bumps, however, and the gear hub motor is relatively noisy.

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DETAIL: My final decision had come down to the Blade versus the Juiced Scrambler versus the Ariel Rider X-Class. Ultimately the Scrambler just seemed like a slightly lesser bike and also required you to buy accessories to make it complete. Paying extra for something basic like fenders really rubs me the wrong way, frankly. The X-Class seemed like a slightly better bike but I have some wrist strain issues so the thumb-button throttle plus the higher handlebars clinched the Blade for me. Rize might be the only manufacturer offering a thumb throttle on this kind of bike at the moment. It's still a rotary control, the button pulls the cable around in a loop, so the button position moves down as you press it. The downside is that it can be harder to consistently engage partial throttle than with a twist-grip but this hasn't been a big deal in my experience so far.

To emphasize this point, I will add that the Blade also comes with a nice headlight, taillight that can blink, passenger footpegs, a seat big enough for two, full-size fenders, etc. Everything a $2,000 bike SHOULD come with. Thank you, Rize, for not jerking us around on “accessories”.

The bike was in stock and shipping only took two days to Northern California. Packaging was secure and everything was in good shape upon arrival. Assembly was easy and straightforward though it was nicer to use my own full-size tools rather than the multi-tool they provide.

Welds are very professional and this thing looks like it will survive just about anything. Good quality components throughout. Reasonable printed manual gets you going though I always like more reference material. Customer service has been excellent, they answered a few questions via email extremely promptly and friendly.

Too bad the frame is made for the standard size battery, which means the extended range unit sticks out a little to the left. This makes hands-free riding a bit more challenging but still doable. I wish they had engineered it the other way around and rewarded buyers of the bigger battery with perfect balance.

The LCD is clear and readable while on the go (and backlights when the headlight is on) and offers a percentage readout for battery level to augment the standard chunky charge-level bars. I’ve noticed that it rebounds slowly after use as the battery settles, as it should. It seems pretty accurate which helps me calibrate my charging times up to only 80%. It also helps me stop using it prior to 20%, something I really goofed up on with my Bumblebee lithium ion batteries, killing them prematurely.

I did not opt for an expensive charger to determine charge level any more accurately. I got a cheap timer for my 110 outlet and quickly discovered that each hour charges the battery approximately 20%, though that varies a little depending on state of discharge. This works great, though, and because I’m not commuting or worrying about running out of juice, I just err on the side of caution…i.e. I’d rather have 75% charge than 85%. Occasionally I pump it to 100% but make sure I ride very soon after so as not to leave the battery completely wound up.

In terms of things you can invest your money in that help you every day, buy the bigger battery! You come out ahead even if you just consider the time savings of fewer recharges and stress about running low. Plus, like all electric bikes, this one performs significantly worse (acceleration, especially) as the charge gets lower.

An option you can immediately engage in the settings is to remove the 20 mph speed limit for private property use, and true to advertising, I was hitting about 28 mph on straight and flat surfaces under power. Adding some downhill has gotten me to a max of 32.5 mph thus far. Brakes are strong, only single-finger effort required on either end.

Another cool option is how you want to divide the pedal-assist levels. Across 100% of the range, you can make it sort of brainless, like only three settings, or give yourself lots of room to fine-tune, like seven (or maybe more?) settings. I am using five at the moment but I don’t pedal much. When I do, I just set it to level three and feel like superman.

I guess the Bafang motors are now using metal gears in the hub, which are significantly noisier than I expected, certainly much louder than the sewing machine style whirring of my Bumblebees. It’s less noise than a small combustion engine but it is not at all stealth. Sounds pretty cool when you are on the boil, actually, but I prefer to be silent as possible because I’m hardly ever riding much in traffic where I need cars to notice me.

For that same reason I also went with the matte black finish, which looks excellent alongside all of the carefully wrapped cables and other small bits.

Power is good for a 750 watt bike. Even the biggest longest hills I could find around here don’t bring the bike down below 10 mph by the top. Sorry I can’t get more technical with distance and slope. The bike comes stock with passenger footpegs so I pumped up the tires and tried it with my wife on board, together we are 350 lbs (stated limit is 300). Not a big deal for this bike, we got around fine on relatively flat surfaces.

I keep the cruise control function turned on most of the time, which is a godsend so I don’t have to keep pressing that button, especially as my thumb wobbles around on it as I hit bumps in the road. Super convenient. Just make sure to turn it off before you do any off-roading. Several times already I have arrived at a corner expecting to set the right speed just by releasing the throttle and it just kept going full steam. That will wake you up in the morning! Fortunately any touch on either brake will kill the cruise control but I just started disabling it when I was on the dirt track.

People do a double-take when they see me cruising up hills sitting upright and not pedaling. It’s like taking a theme-park tram around my neighborhood. What a kick! You can set it for partial throttle but this is tricky because you have to hold that setting with your thumb for 8 seconds straight. I found that I could wedge my thumb between the button/lever and the control housing to make it easier, especially when wearing gloves.

I moved the control cluster away from the throttle so I wouldn’t accidentally press the “-“ key, which kills the throttle if you are at assist level “1”. This was a super easy fix with the included allen wrench multi-tool.

Be cautious if you are walking or standing -- turn the bike off if you don’t want it moving unexpectedly. This has caught me out several times, accidentally touching the throttle button or just moving the pedals a bit may engage a little juice. It could easily ram someone who is standing nearby. I had no prior experience with pedal assist and learned to respect it quickly.

I don’t think this bike would be a good choice if you want to pedal a lot. It’s not uncomfortable right away but you do have to spread your legs more than is ergonomically appropriate to get them around the seat.

Wide wheels/fat tires make this thing very stable on rough terrain. So much fun! The stock knobby tires work great on the dirt and give a little warning before they reach their traction limit and start to slide. They also recover well before dumping you if you adjust your line, power application, or whatever. They are fine and stable on asphalt, offering reasonable lean angle, but I would swap them out for road versions if you are only going to be on pavement.

Bottom line, I’m a very happy camper and feel this was good value for the money. I expect everything to last a long time on this machine.

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PROS: Good quality components, performs extremely well, everything as advertised, you get an entire bike ready to go on any terrain. Flawless customer service response so far. Lots of options in the settings including cruise control!

CONS: No rear suspension available. Seat is on the firm side. Extended life battery biases the bike balance a bit to the left. Setting the cruise control at partial throttle can be challenging.

Happy to answer questions posted here if the "watch thread" function works and they end up in my email :)
 
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