A while back, DYU contacted me to review their 20″ electric bike called the R1. I became intrigued when I discovered that the R1, priced at $999 has a torque sensor. This is unheard of in bikes in such a price range, so I had to try it out!
DYU is known for smaller ebikes that are truly portable for city living. The R1 is their largest ebike, built for city commutes, with integrated lights and theft-deterrent features.
Now, the specs of the bike aren’t going to wow too many people. We’re talking a single speed transmission, a 250-watt rear hub motor, and a 36-volt 5 Ah battery, but it pulled me up some serious hills and range wasn’t so bad. Because the bike is fairly lightweight and equipped with 20″ x 2.125″ tires, it has a mechanical advantage. That means it doesn’t need as much power as a heavier fat tire e-bike to achieve the same speed or hill climbing ability.
With a top speed of about 15 mph, it’s also not going to win any races, but when I’m riding the bike path, I’m usually pedaling along at about 12-14 mph, so the top speed is fine with me.
- 250-watt rear hub
- 36 V 5 Ah battery
- 25 km or 15.5 mph max speed
- 330 lbs payload capacity
- 45.5 lbs with battery
- 20″ x 2.125″ tires
- Front/rear mechanical disc brakes
- Integrated front/rear lights
- Comes with front/rear plastic fenders and rear rack
- 3 pedal assist levels, no throttle, Class 1 ebike
- $999 at DYU’s website
The bike comes mostly assembled. Only the front wheel, front fender, and pedals need to be installed. There are some adjustments to be made for the handlebars too. There was some shipping damage to the seat post with some scratches, but everything else was great right out of the box.
My test bike came with a European charger, so I had to order one for the USA. I’m sure DYU would have sent me the right charger for free, but it gave me the opportunity to experience what their customer service would be like for a regular customer. The charger took a while to arrive, but the wait was acceptable. The company is legit.
The R1 has several unique features. I haven’t seen anything else quite like it. At the center of the frame is what looks to be the battery but is where the controller is housed. The seat post is the bike’s battery. More on that in a bit. My favorite feature are the integrated LED lights built-in to the two dropouts, and boy are they are bright! They also flash when the brakes are applied, which is great for visibility in city traffic.
The rear rack is bolted onto the rear frame and is solid. There isn’t a weight rating posted for the rear rack, but the bike’s total payload capacity is 330 lbs. That’s a lot for a small bike like this. Of course, you’ll get better range and performance with a lighter load.
Something else that is unique to the R1 is that it has a rear disc brake lock. You can lock the brake with a special key provided. The rear wheel is unable to turn when locked, and this is a nice theft-deterrent feature that I haven’t seen on any other ebike I’ve reviewed.
The R1 is a semi-folding ebike in that the stem is collapsible. It’s a small bike that can fit into tight spaces. I was able to carry it up and down my front porch steps without too much trouble. If you remove the battery, the bike is even lighter and easier to carry. It’s very practical for lifting into the back of a car.
This is the first ebike that I’ve reviewed with a seat post battery. It has a locking mechanism, so the seat post can’t be removed without the key.
I have to admit, the weakest point of the bike is its small capacity battery, but even so, it seems to provide decent range. I spent an afternoon going up and down my city’s hilly bike path, and still had plenty of battery remaining.
The ride is comfortable, much more so than I thought it would be. The front spring suspension does its job, and I didn’t notice any harsh jolts from the rear. It was actually very comfortable going over bumps.
Since most of the weight of the bike is at the rear, it can be a little squirrelly up front, but it’s also very nimble when turning. After a few miles, I was used to its behavior.
I found the seat to be comfortable and appropriate for the style of bike the R1 is. This isn’t a long-range ebike you’re going to be riding on dirt or gravel trails for miles and miles. It’s meant for shorter city commutes, and it does a fine job at that.
The 250-watt motor probably peaks at 350 watts, if not a little more because I had no trouble going up some sizable hills. I had to use the highest pedal assist level (level 3), but it did fine. There was about a total of 160lbs weight on the bike during my testing.
The motor is a little louder than other 250-watt motors I’ve tried, but it’s not bad. When using pedal assist level 1, it’s fairly quiet.
Okay, if you know me, you know I consider this to be the most important feature of any bike. Nothing can ruin an ebike faster than a lousy pedaling experience, but I’m happy to report the R1 has it about right. Even though it only has a single gear and three pedal assist levels, I was able to maintain a comfortable and satisfying cadence on my rides. The power delivered at the various pedal assist levels is appropriate.
One level ground pedal assist one was my happy place. I was scooting along at about 9-10 mph, which is ideal for a leisurely ride or when around pedestrians. On slight inclines, pedal assist two was more ideal, and hills required pedal assist three.
If I had to grade the pedaling experience, I’d give it a B-, and that’s pretty good considering many ebikes in this price range I’d grade a D or worse.
As far as range goes, I rode 11 km or 7 miles on a cold (35 degree) day and used only one bar of the battery, according to the display. Considering that the range of lithium-ion batteries decrease in cold weather, that’s pretty darn good. You can probably expect 28 km or about 18 miles of range. DYU advertises a range between 25 – 38 miles, but that could only be achieved if using the lowest pedal assist level, on flat ground, and with a light rider.
It is important to point out that the bike is very easy to pedal on flat ground without the motor, so that would extend your range quite a bit.
In my tests, the advertised speed of 25 km or 15.5 mph is about right. With a fully charged battery on a warmer day, that could be achieved. The power of the motor shuts off when it hits about 15 mph, but once you reach that speed, you’ve reached the limits of the single gear anyway.
The display is backlit and very readable in bright sunlight. It would be great if it dimmed when the lights were on, because it’s bright. The controls of the display are very simple. The plus and minus buttons are for setting pedal assist levels. They range from 0-3, with 0 being no assistance. On top of the display is the button for turning the bike on, and the button at the bottom of the display is for turning on and off the lights.
I couldn’t find a way to change the speed and distance from km to miles, nor increase the top speed, but that didn’t bother me..
Front and rear mechanical disc brakes are equipped on the bike and are appropriate for the weight and speed of the bike. The ones installed on my bike are off-brand, but function well. Conclusion
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the bike’s performance. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I enjoyed my time riding it. It does what it’s built for. I also have to mention that torque sensor again. You usually don’t find those on ebikes for less than $2k, so to have it on a $999 bike is a big deal. And that torque sensor does make for a better riding experience.
If you’re looking for something lightweight for short city commutes, then this might be the ideal ebike. If you’re trying to find the best ebike for about for $1k then there are faster and longer range ebikes in the Lectric XP or the new Buzz Centris I’m getting ready to review, but both of those are heavier bikes, and not practical to carry up flights of stairs or to easily toss into the trunk of a car.
I appreciate the features and purpose-built design of the bike. The DYU R1 was made for the city. Those anti-theft features are sure nice to have when in the city, too!
I enjoyed getting to know the R1 and DYU as a company. Check both out at https://dyucycle.com/collections/ebike-electric-mini-bike/products/r1-20inch-electric-city-bike?variant=41905026957536