CleanTechnica Tested: The Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike

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Ride1Up set itself apart in the world of e-bikes by delivering premium components and functionality at extremely affordable price points for full size electric bikes. They bundle this attractive package in beautifully designed bikes with approachable frames wrapped in modern paint schemes.

Most of Ride1Up’s e-bikes are aimed at the masses, but in its quest to continue disrupting the e-bike space, Ride1Up came up with a mid-drive bike that really takes the game to a new level. Ride1Up sent us their latest creation, the Prodigy XC, to rip around on and boy, were we blown away.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The Prodigy packs the same core components onto three different configurations We tested out the cross country (XC) build of the Prodigy, which is setup for light trail use, with an aggressive front suspension fork and knobby Maxxis Forekaster tires. They also offer a more commuter focused build called the XR with the standard triangle frame and a Step Through frame for easy entry and exit.

Both of these options come configured with rear racks, fenders, and more street-appropriate commuter tires for lower rolling resistance. Commuter e-bikes continue to be one of our favorite categories when it comes to all around utility and the commuter build of the Prodigy is an extremely attractive option on that list.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Starting under the hood, the Brose mid-drive motor is the core of the Prodigy family of e-bikes. It is a premium motor that is typically only found on the bikes tipping the scales at twice that of the Prodigy. Ride1Up was somehow able to pull this smooth, intuitive mid-drive motor into their lineup without blowing the bank.

Up top on the handlebars, the small Brose display shows the rider what’s happening down under and allows the riding style to be tuned with a range of assist modes. All deliver an extremely natural, intuitive riding experience.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The one downside of mid-drive motor setups is the lack of a throttle and this is true on the Prodigy as well. On the other hand, class 3 e-bikes like the Prodigy aren’t supposed to have throttles on them, relying solely on the motor and pedal power to get the up to their assist-only top speed of 28 mph. That’s shockingly fast in real life, which is why they are not allowed on most bike paths and even in bike lanes in most parts of the country.

On the range front, the Ride1Up Prodigy is rated on paper to deliver between 30 and 50 miles of assistance. In our testing, we largely found this range to be achievable. As with any e-bike, range will be impacted by the following factors:

1) Assistance mode. Riding the entire route in pedal assist level 1 alone translates to a 50 mile range (or more) while riding in pedal assist level 5 results in a range of roughly 30 miles per charge. This baseline estimate must then be coupled with a few additional variables.

2) Cargo weight directly impacts the amount of work the motor has to do to get moving. Use 150 pounds of cargo, human or otherwise, as the baseline for rated range, adjusting range estimates up or down for more or less weight being carried.

3) Elevation gain. The more elevation gain, the lower the range as most e-bikes do not have the capability to recover range on downhill sections with regeneration.

4) Weather. Cooler temperatures zap capacity from the battery, with reductions of 10-20% in range at lower temperatures. According to the user manual for the Prodigy, its lithium-ion batteries (and most e-bikes) should never be charged at or below freezing temperatures.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

In our testing, it was easy to achieve the rated 30 mi of assistance with a variety of assistance modes being used on a 20 mile ride from up in the mountains down to the beach and back. On the other hand, we also had multiple test rides where we achieved lower than the rated range when we were absolutely slamming the motor and battery with assistance spiking up large hills and blasting around corners as only an e-bike can do.

This is more of a testament to just how fun and capable the Prodigy is than a dig on its range. The Brose motor and controller provide a wide range of assistance options to help riders get the most out of their e-bike. You can squeeze out a ton more range by being super efficient and cruising in a lower assistance level, but you can also turn them into absolute battery eating machines when you take them out onto dirt trails in the mountains or just ripping around town on them.

The commuter builds of the Prodigy boasts a more ergonomic, swept back handlebar that makes it possible to ride in a more upright position. This is the traditional Dutch style and definitely makes for a more pleasurable experience for your back when riding. As e-bikes increase in capability, they are evolving into something much more like the vehicles of yesteryear than the bicycles we grew up riding. More range, more peak power, more torque, more features, and better ergonomics are all indicators of this march forward.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

On the mechanical side of the bike, the Ride1Up Prodigy boasts hydraulic disc brakes which pack a very nice punch when it’s time to slow down. This is especially nice considering just how fun this bike is. We put it to the test when blasting down the hills on our test route and the solid response of the brake lever coupled with the 180mm rotors was always in top form and ready to help.

The drivetrain of the Prodigy is comprised of an 8-speed chain driven derailleur system with trigger shifters up top. It’s a nice enough system though it probably won’t win any awards for quality, nor should you expect it to at this price point, but it is a nice touch in a space largely dominated by shifters sitting on top of the bars that are hard to get at and not terribly ergonomic to use. It is a fair compromise, especially given the budget price the Prodigy comes with.

Ride1Up Prodigy XC Electric Bike
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Ride1Up was clearly thrilled by the component set and motor package of the Prodigy, as evidenced by its packaging in a cross country and commuter format. Both options are available in a wide variety of trims and paints, with out of the box, modern options throughout.

For those looking for a more edgy design, the Prodigy can also be configured with Ride1Up’s gorgeous new chameleon paint, as featured on our review bike. This new paint job is similar to many high-end automotive paint jobs that change color depending on the angle and the light. It shifts from green to blue to purple, all with metallic undertones that make it a joy to look at and really makes it stand out from the pack.  Scroll through the photos in this article and notice how it shifts from one color to the next. It’s the perfect paint job if you can’t pick just one color to go with.

The Ride1Up Prodigy XC with front suspension will set you back $2,395. The beautiful chameleon paint job featured on our review bike is an extra $50, bumping the configuration as reviewed up to $2,445. The Prodigy XR is more tailored for around town performance and does away with the front suspension, adding in a rear rack, fenders, and a set of hybrid tires instead. It is a bit more budget friendly at $2,345.

Finally, the Prodigy Step Through offers the same features as as the XR, but in an easier to access low step frame. It is the most affordable in the family, at $2,295. Step-Through bikes continue to be our top choice around here when it comes to packing in as much utility as possible into a single bike. As fun as it might be to swing your leg over a high step bar, that fun quickly diminishes with a rear rack loaded up with groceries is added to the mix.

While the Prodigy is not as affordable as some of the lower priced economy bikes out there, it doesn’t attempt to be. It brings premium features previously typically only available for twice the price to a completely new segment of riders. That’s noteworthy and will surely pull in plenty of buyers on specs alone.

A a direct to consumer product, assembly is required to get it out of the box and up and running around your neighborhood. This includes simple tasks like attaching the handlebars airing up the wheels and attaching the front wheel to the front fork. Anyone comfortable with changing a flat tire should be able to assemble it, but for those intimidated by the bike or not familiar with basic maintenance may want to have the bike direct shipped to a local bike shop for assembly.

For more information about the Ride1Up Prodigy or to purchase one, head over to Ride1Up’s site.

Disclaimer: Ride1Up provided the Prodigy to the author for the purposes of this review.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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