Ride1Up Core-5 review: a subtle and stylish electric bike

All the performance you need in a great looking package for a bargain price

Ride1Up Core 5 Electric Bike
(Image credit: Josh Ross)
T3 Verdict

Not every short trip needs to be in a car. The Ride1Up Core-5 is the perfect option for those looking for an inexpensive way to keep their car parked and get some exercise. It's a smooth, comfortable, ride that never calls attention to itself as an electric bike.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great pricing

  • +

    Good looks

  • +

    Class 3 power

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Mechanical disc brakes

  • -

    Lack of integrated lights

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Electric bikes are absolutely exploding in popularity. Things were already starting to heat up over the last few years. When a global pandemic turned everything upside down electric bikes became even more popular. The reasons are obvious, electric bikes are convenient and versatile. For some people they are a replacement for a car, for others a way to stay off of public transportation. You can take them to the market or spend time outside with friends. As the world opens back up, an electric bike is a great way to ease back into the world again. They are convenient to own and fun to ride. Why wouldn't they become popular?

One of the biggest barriers with electric bikes is price. That's why a brand like Ride1Up, and the Core-5, is an important part of the landscape that makes up the electric bike world. Of course, price isn't the only thing to consider so how does it compare to today's best electric bikes? Read on for our full Ride1Up Core-5 review. 

Ride1Up Integrated batter in downtube

The battery is integrated into the downtube but easily swapped. 

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Ride1Up Core-5 Review: design and build

If you spend any time looking at inexpensive electric bikes they can sometimes have a look that screams electric bike. The Ride1Up Core-5 does away with that old design. There's no obvious battery and if you don't know what you are looking at it's easy to miss that it's an electric bike. At the same time, it's not a radical eye-catching design akin to something from VanMoof

In most ways, the Ride1Up Core-5 looks like a bicycle. The grey paint is unremarkable and it's only with a bit of looking that you start to notice the signs of an electric bike. On the left side of the handlebars there's a display with the throttle next to it. Bikes at this price range always have cabling from the handlebars but the Core-5 has a lot and most of it leads into the downtube. The downtube is where the battery sits. If you know what you are looking at you'll know it's there but it's sleek and integrated with a keyhole next to it. Keep moving down and back and you'll eventually spot the motor in the rear hub.

 Ride1Up Core-5 Review: features 

When it comes to features you do see some of the value proposition come through. With any electric bike there are two sides to the coin: the electric components and the traditional bike components. 

Starting with the electric part of the bike you've got a motor from Shengyi Motor. In the case of the Core-5 the motor in use is a rear hub motor with a cadence-based pedal assist sensor. It's a 48V Geared Hub Shengyi Motor (nominal rating of 500w) paired with a 48V10.4ah Reention Eel Pro using LG Cells with a range of 20 to 40 miles depending on use. The brand names might not be familiar to you but they aren't new and they are well known for doing a good job at a good price.  

Battery and motor discussion can turn very technical quickly. What's important to understand is that Ride1Up is being smart with money spent. By sourcing off-the-shelf components from quality companies, they are able to keep the price down. At the same time, the performance is good and for the consumer, it can actually be nice to know that you could source parts without Ride1Up.

Ride1Up Core-5 features Shimano Altus shifting

A Shimano Altus derailleur handles shifting through the 7 available gears

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Now it's time to flip over to the traditional bike parts. The shifter is a Shimano Tourney piece handling shifting across 7 gears. In the rear, the cassette is an 11-32 while at the front you have an unnamed, square taper, aluminum crank with a single ring. The tooth count on the front ring is 44-tooth and makes for a 44-32 easiest gear. Changing those gears is a Shimano Altus derailleur. Stopping power comes from Tektro 160mm mechanical disc brakes with an electric cut-off switch.

There's no accessories to speak of on the Core-5. No fenders are in the box and there are no integrated lights. There is a kickstand and also a quick-release on the seat post for easy saddle adjustment. The handlebar grips are rubber and there is a single water bottle mount. as well as rack mounting points. The display is a KD21C and shows speed, battery level, assist level, trip odometer and odometer.

Ride1Up Core-5 Review: performance

It's important to understand that there's a huge range in what an electric bike is. Some electric bikes have assist systems that are almost invisible to the rider. You sort of wonder if it's doing anything then you turn it off and it's obvious it's doing a lot. Other bikes define the ride as a function of the assist. The Core-5 falls into the latter category and is a bike designed around a powered ride. It's a Class 3 electric bike and it feels like it. 

Class 3 electric bikes have a top speed of 28mph while using pedal assist. Nothing about that definition says you have to pedal hard and that's the case here. The speed you travel is essentially a function of the assist level you've chosen. Pedaling is a formality and you only have to gently turn the pedals to cruise along as fast as you want. The bike feels smooth and powerful under you. 

From the start, the Core-5 does an exceptional job of smoothly accelerating. There's no unnatural pull and while you certainly aren't doing the work, it feels like you almost could be. There's also a good range of speed covered over the five assist levels. The lowest setting keeps you around 10mph while the highest gets you up to 28mph. Whatever speed you choose, it's a pleasure to cruise along barely turning the pedals. The wide tires feel stable and the brakes do a quality job of slowing things down. The throttle makes moving in and out of traffic, or getting started in traffic, an easy affair.

Ride1Up Mechanical disc brake

Tektro mechanical disc brakes slow the bike

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Ride1Up Core-5 Review: verdict

At a price of $1,195 (only available in the US and Canada) the Ride1Up Core-5 isn't the absolute cheapest option on the market. Instead, it's an affordable option with plenty of power. Hydraulic brakes would be a welcome addition but cable-actuated discs are the standard in this price range. There's no integrated lights or included fenders but there is a rack, a trailer, and a second battery available as accessories. As a package, the Ride1Up Core 5 is a perfect replacement for a car. 

The available power and throttle are ideal when mixing with cars. The Core-5 would be perfect for handling a commute or a shopping trip. If you want to start spending more time outside and less time sitting Ride1Up has an option that's put together in a smart, and affordable way. They've sourced components that make sense without adding anything that would drive up the price. The Core-5 is a smart buy and a ton of fun.

Josh Ross