Why the new sub-$1K Ride1Up Portola electric bike will shake up the market

If you’re wondering what that rumble you just felt was, it’s a shockwave rippling through the e-bike market in the US after this morning’s launch of the Ride1Up Portola. The $995 e-bike could upend the race for top-value e-bikes thanks to its low price combined with impressive performance.

Ride1Up Portola to shake things up

San Diego-based Ride1Up is no stranger to launching value-priced electric bikes. The brand is known for crowd favorites in the commuter category and has even expanded into new territory from adventure bikes to mopeds.

But with the launch of the Ride1Up Portola today, the company’s first folding e-bike, we’re seeing a new level of bang-for-your-buck than we’ve ever witnessed from the brand before.

The electric folding bike ships as a 20 mph (32 km/h) Class 2 e-bike, but users can unlock Class 3 performance using the bike’s display to reach speeds up to 28 mph (45 km/h).

The low-step frame makes it easy to get on and off the 59 lb. (26.8 kg) bike, and the battery is removable from the top tube without folding the e-bike.

A 750W continuous-rated rear hub motor powers the Portola and comes wrapped in the rear 20″x3.0″ tire. Those 3.0″ tires cut a nice balance between fat tires for comfort and narrower tires for better handling.

For those that can resist the urge to throttle around all the time, a cadence sensor with 24 magnets pairs with an 8-speed Shimano drivetrain for respectable (at this price) yet basic pedal performance.

The low-tread tires are urban-optimized, meaning this is more of a commuter folding e-bike than an adventure bike, though light trail riding is still certainly reasonable. The inclusion of a built-in rear rack rated for 130 lb. (59 kg) of load as well as a fender package and front/rear LED lights help lend more credence to the commuter use.

A set of hydraulic disc brakes on 180 mm rotors provide powerful stopping force and an 80 mm front suspension fork helps soak up those bumps.

The stock 48V 10.4Ah battery offers 500 Wh of capacity for just $995, but there’s a larger 643 Wh battery version of the bike available for just $1,095, boosting range by nearly 30% for only $100 more. Though as if those prices weren’t good enough already, the company has a launch promotion today that drops the intro price to just $895 for the first 50 units.

Electrek’s Take

Let’s be honest about what this is: It’s obviously Ride1Up’s shot across the bow of Lectric eBikes, saying “We see your Lectric XP 3.0 and we raise you a Ride1Up Portola.”

On the one hand, the folks over in Phoenix probably aren’t too thrilled out it. But then again, Lectric’s game plan for years has basically been to look at what other e-bike companies are doing, and then simply build a lower cost version and do it better. So it’s not like they can really complain about healthy competition.

Whether or not this is better than the XP 3.0 is likely going to come down to a matter of opinion since a lot of the specs are quite similar between the two. While Lectric has a well-established reputation in the value folding e-bike space that Ride1Up can’t hope to match for years, the Portola itself looks like a strong competitor.

You don’t get Lectric’s slime tires, but you do get a battery that can be removed without folding. You don’t get Lectric’s super-comfy saddle, but you do get an arguably sexier frame (and more color options!). You don’t get as many accessories to choose from, but you get the long-range battery for $100 less than you’d pay for the long-range XP 3.0.

My big question is whether Ride1Up’s existing Passenger Package accessory will fit the bike. If so, that would add second-rider capabilities allowing you to take a friend or kid on back. The rack is only rated to 130 lb. (unlike the 150 lb that the current Passenger Kit can support on models like the Cafe Cruiser). But there do appear to be footpeg mounts on the Portola’s frame, so perhaps we’ll see Passenger Kit approval on the Portola, even if it comes with a 20 lb. lower weight rating than on other Ride1Up e-bikes that the Passenger Kit fits.

It’s hard to say that either the Portola or the XP 3.0 is that much better than the other at this point. In fact, they seem pretty darn evenly balanced, and I’m a firm believe that e-bikes need to be able to stand on their own. From what I can tell, Ride1Up has knocked it out of the park here with a value-based design that should excite both existing fans and newcomers to the brand alike. And that’s great news for anyone on the hunt for a value e-bike that can hit high speeds and offer great utility for under $1,000!

ride1up portola electric bike

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