Ride1Up 500 Series 2021 Review

Ride1Up 500 Series

The 500 Series from Ride1Up is their most popular model, and after riding it for the past three months or so, I can see why. I have the high-step frame, but a step-thru model is also available featuring the same components and price. Originally, I bought the 500 Series to simply review and compare against the 700 Series, which I’ve owned for over a year. But it didn’t take long to understand why so many people love this bike, because I fell in love with it too. That’s not to say it’s perfect. I’ll get into what changes I’ve made and will make, but it offers a lot for the money, and is a great choice in its price range.

Riding Comfort

The 500 Series XR is a hard tail bike that is surprisingly comfortable. I’ve tested out other very similar frames from other companies, with a rather harsh ride on a bumpy road, but the 500 Series somehow doesn’t transfer the energy from the bumps to your body. Maybe it’s the tires, the seat, the frame design, the front suspension, or probably all of the above, but it’s pretty darn good on comfort.

I did have to make some changes right out of the box. The front suspension bobbed quite a bit on my first few rides, but by adjusting the preload I’ve eliminated that. I’ve found that the coil spring front suspension handles well. No complaints.

I also shortened the reach of the handlebars by replacing the stock stem with a shorter adjustable angle stem I found on Amazon. This made quite a bit of difference, since I’m a short rider.

Speaking of being short. I worried that the high-step frame would be too much for my 5’1″ stature, but I’m able to swing a leg over the frame fairly easily. I will admit that after a long ride when my muscles and joints stiffen, it can be a little tricky tossing a leg over, but that doesn’t have so much to do with height, as it does age.

Another change that I will be making is upgrading the brakes. The 500 Series comes with 160mm Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, but it’s impossible not to notice the difference when comparing brake performance to my 700 Series with 180mm hydraulic disc brakes. The 700 Series wins by a wide margin in stopping power.

500 and 700 Series
In front, 700 Series ST; In back, 500 Series XR in the familiar Ride1Up gray color

So, I’ll have to ding Ride1Up a little bit on the brakes. Mechanical brakes are okay, and what I would expect at this price point, but the small rotors, eh, I think they need to be bumped up in size.

One other small complaint is that there isn’t a rear light. The rear reflector is large and quite visible, but I do miss having a rear light. It’s easy to clip on a rechargeable light, but still. Not a biggie to me, but it might be to those riding in urban environments. The 700 Series does have a rear light.





Okay, now that I have the complaints out of the way, I can talk about what I love about the 500 Series!

You Can Have it Your Way

The best feature of the 500 Series, and many other models from Ride1Up, is that you can customize how many pedal assist levels you want, and specify how much power you want from the motor at each of those levels. This is a huge difference between Rid1Up and other brands.

You can choose between 3, 5, 7, or 9 levels of pedal assist. I prefer 7, but you may have a different preference.

Being able to choose how much power you want from each level allows you to make the bike perform the best for your needs. If you need more speed to dodge and keep up with traffic, then you can set the bike up to be fast off the line. If you want slower take-offs, then you can adjust it that way.

For me, I like it somewhere in between. In lower levels of pedal assist, I want minimal assistance because I still want to get a nice workout. But I also want power when I need it, such as when climbing steep hills, or getting up to speed quickly around traffic. I can’t stress enough how useful it is to be able to customize the bike’s performance. It’s probably the biggest reason to choose Ride1Up over a different brand.

When using the throttle, you can expect to get up to 22-23 mph. With pedal assist you can go up to 28+ mph, so it’s a fast bike, if you want it to be.

You can expect a range of about 30 – 40 miles, depending upon a variety of factors. If you need more range, Ride1Up sells replacement 13 Ah batteries and compatible higher amp hour batteries.

I recommend spending the extra money and ordering the fenders and rear rack of the 500 Series when purchasing the bike. They’re worth it, and you can’t buy them from Ride1Up after the fact. The 500 Series supports third-party racks and fenders, but they likely won’t fit as well.

2021 Model Changes

I also need to point out that the 500 Series has had some upgrades over the past year, so reviews from a year ago are outdated. The 500 Series now has a larger capacity battery with a 48 volt 13 Ah battery, up from 10.4 Ah. The gearing has also been upgraded from a 7-speed freewheel to an 8-speed cassette.

Other changes include a new front light from Buchel, the same one used on Ride1Up’s new mid-drive model, and reflective sidewalls. I believe even the pedals have been upgraded. All this goes to show that Ride1Up is listening to customer feedback and continually improving their products. That’s a good thing.

Ride1Up 500 Series on the KAC rack on Amazon

Video Review

Pedaling Experience

To me, whether I have a positive view on an ebike or not hinges on the pedaling experience. It’s the one thing that’s hard to convey in a review, but it’s so important to consider.

Since the 500 Series allows you to choose the number of pedal assist levels and the desired power from each level, it’s much easier to achieve a comfortable and satisfying cadence. Another important factor is the gearing. That’s something you don’t want to overlook on an electric bike.

Ebikes with a smaller range of gears can feel like you’re simply riding a moped, and just pedaling the bike for looks. Some call it hamster wheeling, when you run out of gears to get up the speed you desire. You’re pedaling, but it’s not adding to the performance of the bike. You’re just spinning the pedals.

The cadence sensor on the 500 Series is pretty responsive too. There’s not a long delay in between pedaling and the motor engaging. The takeoffs are also smooth, if you have it set up that way.

Mid-drive motors with a torque sensor provide the most natural bike pedaling experience, but the 500 Series provides a satisfying ride if you enjoy pedaling.

I can still work my leg muscles and get a nice cardio workout if I want to, but I also have a throttle and those higher levels of assist, if I need a break. That allows me to ride much farther than I would on a regular bike.

The bike can be ridden without the motor, of course. On flat ground it’s very doable, but on hills, you’ll definitely want to use the motor.

Sizing

Ride1Up recommends a rider height of 5’5″ to 6’4″ for the 500 Series, but I’m 5’1″ and able to ride it fine, but I’m an experienced rider. The 700 Series might be better for taller riders, those over 6′, since the XR frame of the 700 Series is a little bigger.





275 lbs is listed as the max rider weight, and that’s probably accurate. If you’re over 275 lbs, I’d recommend a bike with a larger motor and frame.

If you have knee or hip sensitivity, the step-thru version of the 500 Series is a great choice. I love my step-thru ebikes, especially the older I get! And they’re not just for women. Many men prefer them as well.

500 Series or 700 Series?

After putting many miles on both models, I think most people would be happy with either bike, but if you have specific needs or preferences, one might be the better choice over the other.

The 500 Series cost less, so that’s a big deciding factor for many, but there are differences. I’ve already discussed brakes, and the 700 Series wins on that factor. Both use programmable displays, but the display of the 700 Series is easier to configure, though not as easy to read in direct sunlight.

Something else to consider are the two different tire sizes between the 500 and 700 Series. The 500 Series is equipped with 27.5″ x 2.2″ tires while the 700 Series sports 27.5″ x 2.4″ tires, so if you’re going to be riding on gravel then the wider tires of the 700 Series might perform better, though you might want something with a grippier tread. But those bigger tires do add to the comfort on the 700 Series.

Both models have a front suspension fork, but the one equipped on the 700 Series is higher quality. It’s air suspension instead of the more standard spring suspension of the 500 Series. It also had lockout while the 500 Series only has preload adjust. Both provide good suspension, however. I don’t notice any severe jolts on bumpy roads from either bike’s frontend.

The 500 Series can accommodate higher capacity Reention batteries, while the 700 Series battery only comes in its 48 volt 14 Ah size at the moment. A great thing about Reention batteries is that they are used by a number of different ebike companies, so finding replacements years from now shouldn’t be a problem. Ride1Up does sell replacement batteries for the 700 Series, but you might have to rely upon Ride1Up having them in stock when you need a new one.

Having ridden both the 500 Series XR and the 700 Series ST, the 700 Series wins on comfort and convenience with its swept back handlebars and approachable frame. The 500 Series wins on frame stiffness and stability at higher speeds. For long rides, I prefer the 700 Series, since I don’t develop wrist or shoulder stiffness nearly as much. I’m assuming the same would be true of the 500 Series step-thru frame.

Long-Term Ownership

Something to always consider when choosing an electric bike is whether you’ll be able to find parts for it in the future. The 500 Series uses a Reention lithium-ion battery, which many other brands use. That’s a good thing, because it’s very likely that you’ll be able to find a replacement battery 5+ years from now.

The other ebike components on the bike are also fairly standard and replaceable. There’s no proprietary parts to be worried about. This helps keep the cost of the bike down, and makes it a good long-term investment.

Conclusion

Overall, the 500 Series is a great choice in its price range. There are many similar ebikes in terms of frame style and specs, but it’s hard to find a bike that allows the same type of customization. Some ebikes allow you to adjust the top speed, but not how the bike will perform at each pedal assist level.

There are some changes I would make, but it’s easy to recommend the 500 Series from Ride1Up. It’s a good, solid bike. Customer support matters, and you can expect responsive support if you need it. Ride1Up also has a large rider community that you can connect with through Facebook.

Find out more about the 500 Series or buy online at Ride1Up.