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Ride1UP CF Racer 1 Review, 2024: First Look At The Newest Model
Dec 12, 2023
Ride1UP has announced their newest model and it’s an exciting surprise from a company that has proven to come up with exciting designs. Their new e-bike is called the CF Racer1. So what is it? Well, it’s two things, in fact, but that word “racer” is something of a giveaway. Depending on what the buyer orders, it is either a road e-bike or it is a gravel e-bike. In our spec review of the Ride1UP CF Racer1 we will look at what sort of riding and rider this e-bike is suited and what may cause someone to choose the road version vs. the gravel version.
Okay, so this looks like the bikes we see in the Tour de France, and while the CF Racer1 has some similarities, it also differs in some important ways, like modern racing bikes, this features a carbon fiber frame and fork (the “CF” in the name) to keep this e-bike as light as possible. How light? Well it comes in at 28.6 lbs. This is a good deal heavier than a racing bike, but for an e-bike … we will put it this way:The Ride1UP CF Racer is one of the lightest e-bikes we’ve reviewed.
If the classification of “road” vs. “gravel” sounds like splitting hairs, it’s not, and don’t worry, we will explain the distinction. The road version is straightforward enough: It’s meant to be ridden on paved surfaces, be that concrete or asphalt, and it has tires suited to those roads. The gravel version is meant for the rider who wants to explore gravel and dirt roads, chip seal, cinder paths and even dirt trails. They look like road models in every way except for the size of the tires. The bigger tires (we will get to how big in a sec) allow the rider to run very low tire pressure for increased traction, control and comfort.
The muscle not provided by the rider comes in the form of a 250W Bafang motor. It is powered by a 36V, 7A lithium-ion battery.
While Ride1UP will happily sell the CF Racer1 to anyone who orders it, their target market is the rider who already owns a road or gravel e-bike and is tired of doing all of the suffering. That’s why the
Ride1UP CF Racer1 Spec Review: Bike Overview
You may be wondering why you can’t see a motor or battery. Well, the Bafang battery is completely hidden within the frame and the motor is a deceptively small hub motor. The motor produces 250W, nominally, and i. The motor is powered by a 252Wh battery.
Before anyone thinks this e-bike is underpowered and won’t have any range, we think this is a pretty terrific setup. Allow us to explain. This is an unusually light e-bike and a smaller motor can have a much greater effect.
Our rule of thumb for good range for an e-bike is a roughly 1:1 ratio of motor power to battery capacity and the Ride1UP CF Racer 1 is bang on the money in that regard with its 252Wh battery. We don’t have any word yet on what the potential range is estimated to be. We would expect, at minimum, for riders to see at least two hours of riding in the highest PAS level. In its lowest assistance level, we would expect more like four to five hours of riding.
The biggest difference between the Ride1UP CF Racer1 and carbon fiber race bikes is of course the 250W Bafang motor helping riders. The other notable way that this e-bike differs from more traditional racing bikes is that they have really skinny tires, generally 23-25mm (⅞-1 in.).
Ride1UP says that the CF Racer1 uses an “integrated sensitive cadence sensor.” We’re not really sure what that means, but it likely means that there will be a delay between when the rider begins pedaling and when the motor turns on. We expect that delay will be a fraction of what it is with most cadence sensors, but a delay is likely. It may mean that the motor gives a steady output based on the selected PAS level, rather than responding proportionally to the rider’s effort.
The road version of the Ride1UP CF Racer1 comes with 32mm-wide tires (1 ¼ in.) which can be pumped up to a reasonable pressure (~60 psi as opposed to ~100 psi) for greater rider comfort. The gravel version of the Ride1UP CF Racer1 comes with 40mm-wide tires, which fits rigjt in the sweet spot for gravel riding.
Helping riders find the right gear on the up, the down and in-between, SRAM’s Rival 1 x 11 group gives riders a 42t chainring paired with an 11-42t cassette. That makes for a nearly 400 percent gearing range with a 1:1 low gear, which is low enough for most locations around the country. Some riders on the Western seaboard riding steep fire and logging roads would probably wish for an even lower low gear, but this is where the 250W Bafang motor will provide the necessary extra muscle.
The SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes offer terrific power and modulation. Even though we have a stated preference for 180mm rotors with disc brakes, the 160mm rotors spec’d here are the appropriate choice given the tire size.
Ride1UP is producing the CF Racer1 in two sizes, 50 and 56cm. That measurement corresponds to the top tube length and gives a rider of the length of the reach from the saddle to the bar, which is every bit as important as the saddle height. Two sizes are better than one size, but for e-bikes in this category, most companies would offer sizes every 2-3cm. (For basis of comparison, Specialized’s competitor for the CF Racer1, the Creo, is made in six sizes from 49cm to 61cm.) Ideally, Ride1UP would add two more sizes: 53 and 59cm, which would cover 80-90 percent of the probable buyers. Further context: I’m 5 feet 11 and I’d ride the 56; someone 6 feet 1 or taller is likely to feel cramped, while someone 5 feet 8 will feel like they are trying to make a save at Wimbledon in reaching the bar.
Ride1UP chose an integrated bar and stem for the CF Racer1. It gives the e-bike a very trick look, but making fit changes to better accommodate the rider’s needs are harder as a result. It prevents the bar’s tilt and stem length from being changed. The stem length is 90mm on both bars. To their credit, the 50cm model receives a bar that is 40cm wide—a predictable and appropriate width for that size, and a 42cm-wide bar on the 56cm frame, also an appropriate size. The bar also features some flair so that it’s widest when the rider is in the drops, which gives a bit more leverage for controlling the e-bike when riding off-road.
Ride1UP CF Racer1 Review: Specs & Features
Frame and fork
Carbon fiber frame and fork, comes in two sizes, 50cm and 56cm
The e-bike market features an interesting split between the legacy bike brands like Trek, Specialized and Giant and all the newer direct-to-consumer brands like Ride1UP. The legacy brands have been terrific at providing high-quality e-bikes with mid-drive motors and made in multiple sizes in the commuter, eMTB and e-road categories (and we’re starting to see some cargo e-bikes from them, too). As a result, their e-bikes generally retail for more than $3000. Meanwhile, the direct-to-consumer companies have been delivering e-bikes that offer can’t-argue-with value, but come in only one or two sizes, usually.
We’re now starting to see some blurring between those two forks in the market. Trek and Specialized have introduced a couple of models with hub motors and we’re starting to see some legitimate eMTBs from the direct-to-consumer brands. The Ride1UP CF Racer 1 is the first true road or gravel e-bike we’ve seen that competes with what the legacy brands make.
So, just how competitive is the Ride1UP CF Racer 1? Hold on to your wallets. They are introducing it with a price of $2295. Let’s compare that to the Specialized Turbo Creo, which is offered in more than a half dozen different versions and the least expensive model goes for $4499—on sale.
The trade-off becomes very clear: Ride1UP has introduced a compelling road/gravel model that goes for half of what you’d expect to spend with one of the big bike shop brands. It comes with one drawback: They make it in only two sizes. For some people the $2295 price will mean the difference between buying a road or gravel e-bike and not buying one, and bringing a category of e-bike that has been out of reach for some consumers into affordability is a big win.
As much as we would love to see Ride1UP offer the CF Racer1 in one or two more sizes, they could help offset this liability by spec’ing a separate bar and stem so that someone can change the length of the stem. Swapping out the stem on a road or gravel bike or e-bike is a common and basic part of sizing the ride to the rider. It’s on a par with hemming pants. Imagine if Levis came with either a 28 or 34-in. inseam.
We harbor some reservations around the cadence sensor; we can’t say how responsive it is to rider input, but that may be the source of the biggest difference between this e-bike and the mid-drive models produced by bike shop brands like Trek and Specialized.
While making a carbon fiber frame in just two sizes will help a manufacturer save some money, that doesn’t account for the stunning affordability of this e-bike. We often write about how impressed we are at how much e-bike someone can purchase for $1000 today. The Ride1UP CF Racer 1 is no less surprising an e-bike than Lectric’s XP 3.0.
The appeal of the Ride1UP CF Racer 1 is rather specific, right? Not everyone wants an e-bike that will require them to lean forward like a racer on an e-bike with skinny (or skinny-ish) tires and no suspension. But for the rider who has wanted a little extra muscle as they take in their favorite routes, this e-bike is a shockingly good deal.
Ride1UP is putting the big brands like Specialized and Trek on notice. Even if no other e-bike companies jump into the road and gravel e-bike fray, this will force the companies who want to compete in this space to re-think what affordability is.
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