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Ariel Rider N-Class & W-Class Electric Bike Review [VIDEO]
May 12, 2016
The cruiser is one of the most beloved forms of bicycle. Visit any laid back community, resort or beach town, and you’ll see more cruisers than anything else on two wheels.
The bikes welcome less experienced riders with their smooth, forgiving shapes and fat tires. Most of the bikes are probably ridden less than a handful of city blocks at a time.
Heavy bikes with low saddles and limited gear ratios don’t make very good companions for long distances or getting places fast.
I once rented a cruiser in a foreign country to ride 30 miles each way to a trade show. Having the time, I thought “I can do this.” I returned the bike that night exhausted, chafed and aching.
Adding electric assist to a cruiser changes everything, though. Now, the right cruiser can cover distance at speed and opens up a whole new word of possibilities for the beloved ballooner.
Ariel Rider N-Class (left) and W-Class (right) electric bikes
Ariel Rider is an ebike brand started three years ago by brothers Arda and Berk Onal. Before that, they had three more years of experience in the ebike business. As a competitive triathlete, Arda brought passion and knowledge of cycling to the team.
The Ariel name was revived from the famous English company that started with bicycles and went on to produce motorcycles until 1967. Starting in Spain, the Onal’s have expanded through Europe and Asia and are now launching in the USA.
That Ariel Rider is a company formed by designers is evident in the bikes they’ve brought to the US market. The N-Class and W-Class machines are both richly dressed in style and ergonomics that demand attention everywhere they go.
I prefer to focus reviews on the less tangible aspects of ebikes like feel and ride attributes, so let’s get the technical bits out of the way.
The Technical Bits
The bikes are pedelecs, with a twist-throttle override on the right grip.
Pedelec, in this case, means the assist will kick in when sensors in the crank let the system know the pedals are turning. When you want to sit back and get some boost without pedaling, just twist the throttle.
Their 500 watt rear hub motors are powered by 48 volt Samsung battery packs. The system generates 48 newton meters of torque.
Near the left hand grip is the digital display where the rider is able to toggle through six levels of assist.
The W-Class battery is removable, while the more integrated battery on the N-Class is not. The charger itself is a cell-balancing unit that gives full charge in about four hours, giving either model a range of 25-40 miles.
Drivetrains on the models are basically the same. The Shimano Altus 7-speed hardware should last through years of heavy use on bikes like these. To cruise in style you want to pedal slow and feel the flow. There’s never a need to grab a fistful of shifter. Spend your time in the tall gears and let the other riders struggle for a change.
When it comes time to slow down, Avid BB7 disc brakes supply all the stopping power a rider of any size – going any speed – requires.
This takes us to heart of the Ariel Rider bikes – their frames. The frame is the skeleton of a bike and gives it shape, structure and strength. Like any active machine, you can’t add a bunch of muscle to a weak skeleton and expect results.
The Ariel Rider’s 6061 aluminum frames are built plenty stout for their intended purpose. The quality of their welds look top notch – especially for bikes in their price range. Perhaps even more important, they are welded up straight.
The bikes tracked well at all speeds and passed my “No Hands Over 40mph” test with flying colors. It may sound silly, but that’s a really important test.
I’ve had to flunk bikes at the 22mph mark. Whether you ride no handed or not, you want to be on a frame that runs straight and true and these Ariel’s did.
The front fork does gives the bikes a totally unique, soft, springer-style look from it’s paralever design. It’s only for looks and does not provide any spring.
The bikes don’t need any spring in the fork and it’s probably better in the long run that they don’t. I do like the looks of the design and it performed perfectly well in the ride testing.
Topping off the lines of the fork is a wonderful looking headlamp that Ariel Rider designed with a company named Spanninga. Powered by the main system battery and delivering a strong 20 lux, the lamp is another example of efforts of the Ariel Rider design team.
On the subject of lighting, both bikes have red taillights integrated in their rear fenders. The lights function as brake lights too, turning brighter under braking. Another nice touch and a safety feature Ariel Rider is the first company to use on an ebike.
The N-Class and W-Class are both available in either Comfort or Premium build kits. Both bikes in this review were Premium builds. Premium gets you a springer fork and genuine leather saddle and grips.
The standard fork for Comfort N-Class is a hydraulic suspension for we didn’t get to test, and a solid fork on the W-Class. Upgrading to Premium tacks on about $200 to the N-Class and $250 to the W-Class model.
Is it worth it? It depends how far you want to take the classically vintage styling of these rides. I can’t say that going Premium added ride comfort, but it does graduate the looks of the bikes beyond what the additional price tag indicates. If it were my personal ride, I would undoubtedly go Premium Class.
On to the Riding
This is where the balloon rubber meets the road. While I’ve owned plenty of cruisers over the years, they’ve been for friends and guests to ride. If I can’t easily go at least 20mph on a bike, especially on the street, I don’t feel engaged and it feels like it’s taking too long to go from point A to B.
The Ariel Riders can be limited to 20mph, but they can also be set to dial all the way up to about 28mph. Somewhere in those ranges riding a cruiser becomes a lot more fun – and practical. Distance and time is shortened and the bike becomes a realistic form of transport.
I have to wax poetic on styling once more. I’ve always been into aviation. Watching World War II footage where a siren goes off in the barracks at an allied air base and pilots scramble to their planes by bicycle never gets old to me. I feel inspired by the romance of the period and the use of the bikes.
The Ariel Rider models invoked similar feelings. Whether they’re in the form of bicycles, ebikes or motorcycles, part of a cruiser’s job is to stir something from the past. Somehow it helps the imagination come along for the ride.
On this day our test route took in some amazing scenery and some ideal cruiser paths. We eventually veered off on a route I doubt any cruiser bike has attempted. I want an ebike cruise to feel as close to flying on a bike as possible.
On a curving, narrow path at along the Deschutes River in Central Oregon, the Ariel Riders were at home. The ergonomics of the bikes allowed for comfortable, upright viewing. Lower saddle and bars helped the bikes settle in and take corners like they were on rails.
The up-tempo pace brought on smiles as we ate up the miles. It wasn’t hard to imagine popping off brisk, 10 mile jaunts to grab coffee and run errands. Just one trip like that could see one of these bikes go as far as most standard cruisers probably travel in a year. The use case for electric assist cruisers like these has been dramatically expanded.
Turning off the curves of the bike paths, we pointed the Ariel Rider’s toward the sky. The 8% grade coiling up the volcanic butte provides a solid test for any bike. Both Ariel Rider machines gnawed their way up the climb without protest.
With a 200 pound test rider aboard, the rear hub motored Ariel Rider bikes aren’t exactly going to set time records up such an ascent. The fact that such a climb was handled on cruisers – I would guess for the first time ever – shows that the boundaries for what a cruiser ride can be have changed.
These may not be bikes you want to load 80 lbs. of groceries and go climb 12% grades, but urban cruisers with a messenger bag or backpack won’t need to shy away from the climbs.
The N-Class bike offers another unique feature that sets it apart. The plastic tank/battery cover can be customized. Resorts and hotels that have brought in the bikes have chosen to customize with their colors and logos.
Ariel Rider sources these materials from BASF. Logos and colors go on flawlessy and are extremely durable. These aren’t stickers. The BASF process infuses the designs into the plastic.
The N-Class Comfort is priced at $2,899 and $3,099 for Premium. The W-Class comes in at $2,300 in Comfort and $2,550 in Premium. Compared to other ebike cruisers in their class, both Ariel Rider’s represent solid values. Attention to those subtle design details adds up.
Some cruiser brands cut too many corners shooting for the sub to mid $2,000 range of the market. Any bike consistently ridden at 20-28mph needs to be built to higher standard than run-of-the-mill pedal cruisers. Ariel Rider is bringing a high level of build quality to the US cruiser market.
The bikes are well spec’d and offer unique features that do help them stand apart. They nailed the styling and ergonomics on these bikes. The fact that they are put together well and handle their top speeds in stride.
Those are qualities no amount of styling can make up for. The N-Class and W-Class are a solid foundation for Ariel Rider to carve a deserved spot in the US ebike cruiser market.
Display: LCD display with information on: battery level, current speed, pedal assist level, trip distance, odometer.
Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 7 speed system with rear derailleur.
Brakes: Avid BB7 Disc
Lights: 20 Lux, Spanning front lights, Spaninga Rear Brake Lights
Weight: 62 pounds / 28 kilograms
Color Options: Beige, Black, Red
Price:Comfort Series: $2,300 USD / Premium Series (reviewed): $2,550 USD (Premium upgrades to genuine leather grips and saddle and Springer style fork)
Review Note: Each company pays a fee for a review on Electric Bike Report because of the considerable amount of time that it takes to provide an in-depth review of each eBike. A lot of time is spent on the full range test with distance & elevation profile, the wide variety of detailed pictures, in-depth video, and the write up with the specifications, ride characteristics, pros, cons, and overall thoughts. The reviews on Electric Bike Report are focused on providing you with a detailed “virtual” look at each eBike to help you determine if it is the eBike for you or not.