E-bikes look to crack luxury market

This is probably the first time Bangkok Post Auto is reviewing an electric bicycle (e-bike), which I personally think is quite interesting and could be the answer for city dwellers.

We can't dispute the fact that e-bikes have received a great deal of public attention in recent years due to their eco-friendly nature. Following the coronavirus outbreak, sales of e-bikes have been soaring to new heights in Thailand, and the growth trajectory is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, particularly in the luxury segment.

The high versatility of e-bikes, as well as growing consumer awareness on the environment, are the driving forces behind the extraordinary growth. Whether it's for leisure, exercise, short-distance commuting, avoiding traffic or simply saving money on gasoline, e-bikes seem to fit in perfectly.

With the coronavirus pandemic stepping into the picture, the popularity of e-bikes has skyrocketed as an alternative to public transportation.

Ryde Culture is the first lifestyle e-bike brand in Thailand. Its founders spotted the trend three years ago and decided to set up a new company to sell e-bikes in Thailand.

The company's first e-bike was designed in Italy and is named Rydekart, or "rai kaj" in Thai meaning bad ass. The Rydekart is inspired by vintage cafe racer culture but with an urban twist. It is assembled in Thailand, with a local team overseeing quality control before being delivered to customers.

The Rydekart appears to have been designed as a practical e-bike for everyday use that bursts with character and personality. The aluminium frame is strong but lightweight, making it ideal for travel.

There are three riding modes for the Rydekart:

Pedal Only Mode, which allows you to pedal like a traditional bicycle;

Pedal Assist Mode, which sends power from the motor to the wheels to assist while riding;

and Full Throttle, which allows you to use the hand throttle to accelerate to speeds of up to 45kph without pedalling.

The rear hub motor is capable of delivering up to 500W of continuous power, and the high-quality Samsung battery cell assures the highest possible performance and battery life. There's also a 7-speed Shimano transmission with handlebar shifter, allowing the rider to select the best gearing for different situations.

Charging the battery is easy -- a normal home electric socket will do. Charging time is about five-six hours until fully charged with an electric range of 60km.

What I love about this bike is its premium materials and seamless performance from the electric motor. In Full Throttle mode, speed and acceleration is similar to a real motorcycle (reaching a top speed of 45kph), and you will soon forget that this is a typical e-bike.

The geometry of the Rydekart is well-proportioned, with a perfect seating position for cornering. In addition, the motorcycle-style handlebars are comfortable and suitable for long rides.

Riding the Rydekart

There is no better place to put the e-bike through its paces than Singha Park in Chiang Rai. It's a cycling-friendly zone, with a lovely bicycle route that links to many stunning landscapes and attractions. Most importantly, there are slopes that are at least 4-5% in elevation.

In spite of its size, Rydekart is surprisingly light. Neither the front nor the rear of the bike has suspension. It seems that the extra-fat tyres and padded seat are the only components that help iron out some vibration when riding on gravel, which is something not recommended for the Rydekart. This e-bike performs best on tarmac or concrete, where it is able to offer a comfortable ride as well as a decent level of roadholding.

Ryde Culture set out to create a product that was as light as feasible. It weighs just 33kg as there is no suspension, although this could pose some risk when riding at higher speeds. The size of the wheels and tyres is quite essential here, and I personally believe that they are correct in sacrificing some weight (from the large wheels and tyres) in exchange for increased stability.

Tyres are an important highlights for Rydekart. The attractive, 10cm-wide rubber features a zigzag tread design. They provide pretty good levels of grip and most importantly are comfortable enough for those "mini fat bike" adventures. The smooth tread design makes zigzag perfect for the street, and with an optional white wall finish, they're classically cool to look at too.

When initially pedalling the Rydekart, my posture was somehow a little awkward. It is not comfortable at first, but after a few seconds, the power assist will automatically kick in, which is a pleasant surprise. Everything then becomes smooth, light and nimble.

You can alter the power level mode from moderate to powerful, as well as use the gears, much like a mountain bike.

I enjoyed the design of the Rydekart, as well as the fact that all of the co-founders are stylishly riding in their own unique ways. The bike is well-built, and all components have a luxury and utilitarian feel to them. Ryde Culture offers a comprehensive warranty on all of their components, as well as after-sales services in their flagship shop and via their distribution network.

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