Mid-drive electric motors are becoming much more common on electric bikes and for several good reasons that we’ll get to. Mid-drives have also come down in price over the past few years. We’re going to look at one of the most affordable mid-drive ebikes in 2021 – the Ariel Rider M-Class mini cargo bike.
Mid-drive motors have several advantages over hub motors. They’re more efficient and don’t need as large of a battery compared to a hub drive to achieve the same range. Even with a smaller voltage battery, a good quality mid-drive can keep up with a similar bike with a hub motor.
Pedaling feels more natural, delivers more torque, and thus they’re generally better on hills. The motor is also located low and center in the bike frame, so the bike is better balanced. And probably one of my favorite reasons is that the rear wheel, where most hub motors are located, is just like that of a regular bike. It’s much easier to change a tire or fix a flat on a mid-drive bike.
The M Class from Ariel is equipped with a 500 W, 48 volt mid-drive delivering 98 nM of torque. That’s quite a bit of torque to conquer hills. Many bikes with mid-drives aren’t equipped with a throttle but the M Class is. They’re very handy for taking off, especially on inclines and for whenever you need a boost of power and speed, such as when crossing an intersection.
I always ride farther on an electric bike equipped with a throttle, even though I rarely use them. It’s just peace of mind to know it’s there if I get overheated or just worn out.
Specs of the Class M:
Company: Ariel Rider
Model: M Class
Motor: 500 W, 48 V, 98 Nm Mid-Drive
Battery: 48 V, 12 Ah
Max Speed: 20 mph (Can be unlocked to 25 mph)
Range: 45-65+ miles
Weight: 47.5 lbs (without accessories)
Gears: Shimano 7-Speed inner hub gears
Lights: LED integrated front and rear
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc
Tires: 20 x 1.75″, reflective sidewalls
Shifters: Shimano Twist Shifter
Suspension: Front, spring loaded
Max Payload: 280 lbs
Suggested Rider Height: 5′-6’2″
Where to Ride: Pavement, light off-roading
Where to Buy: ArielRider.com
*Full Retail, as of 1/16/21
- Lightweight, 47.5 lbs
- USB charging port
- Torque + cadence sensor
- Adjustable stem
- Speeds up to 25 mph
- Fenders included
- Shimano 7-speed internal hub; no derailleur
- Velo plush saddle
- 38 T crank set can limit top speed
- Smaller than usual cargo ebikes
- Doesn’t include rear rack
Overal the M-Class is an incredible value when considering the components. It’s practically unheard of to buy an electric bike with a mid-drive motor and hydraulic brakes for less than $2000 or even $3000. The internal gears are also interesting.
Not having a derailleur can be a benefit because you don’t have to worry about adjusting it or it being damaged.
The 2020 model of the M Class has several upgrades from previous model years. Front suspension is one of the most notable upgrades. It’s not the fanciest or best front suspension fork, but it’s better than a sold fork on uneven pavement or gravel.
The 2020 and newer models also have an upgraded display that includes a USB port which is handy for charging your smartphone, GoPro, etc., as you ride.
It also has a longer rear rack and a new generation of mid-drive motor with higher torque.
If you’re wanting to haul kids then it would probably only suit smaller children since the rear of the bike isn’t stretched out like a full size electric cargo bike, such as the Eurnora Max or RadWagon. Those both can accommodate two kids and quite a bit more cargo, but they’re also quite a bit heavier, and not as nimble.
You will have to purchase the rear rack, front rack, and/or front basket separately, but they’re priced reasonably. Something to keep in mind is that the rear rack can only carry about 35 lbs which is quite a bit less than both cargo bikes mentioned above.
But if you’re not planning on transporting a lot of weight, and you’ll be using the M Class as a city bike for practical day-to-day usage it’s very practical.
It’s great to see ebike companies offering so much for a more affordable price. Ariel Rider has been making a name for themselves with their high-performance moped style and scrambler style bikes. Their dual battery, dual motor and dual suspension Grizzly is in a class of its own, but the M Class is also impressive because it’s so practical yet fun to ride.