Before I test-ridden the $ 5,000 Serial 1 Rush / Cty Speed, I thought that luxury e-bikes – like most high-end products – are mostly ostentatious without much to offer. But I was wrong. The Serial 1 Rush / Cty Speed is one of the first models from the Serial 1 Cycle Company, in cooperation with the legendary American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson Inc. Pre-orders have already been made and the first bikes are due to be delivered in the USA and Germany in the spring.
Undoubtedly, a cheaper e-bike like the RadMission 1 from Rad Power Bikes for $ 1,099 will do the job and a lot more. The company is based in Seattle, but the bikes are also available in Germany. The RadMission gets you to the same places in about the same time as a more expensive bike and looks decent while doing it. It also has useful features like built-in lights and a bell. Still, the $ 3,900 extra charge for the Rush / Cty Speed - which launches this summer – is well worth it for those who can afford it.
What you get
The RadMission has everything you need and actually nothing you can’t use: a hub motor, disc brakes, a sufficiently large battery, ergonomic handles, reliable tread tires and lots of mounting options for accessories from Rad Power Bikes such as luggage racks and mudguards.
However, the top model from Serial 1 is also equipped with numerous high-quality and well thought-out components that you cannot get on a cheap bike. Many design decisions are based on the idea of making the bike as maintenance free as possible. For example, the Rush / Cty Speed uses a belt drive instead of a conventional chain. This ensures quiet driving and saves cleaning, greasing or replacing the chain. In addition, the bike has hydraulic disc brakes, so there are no cables that loosen and need to be readjusted over time.
There is also an integrated luggage rack, a light built into the front cover, a bright, handlebar-mounted high beam, and brake lights recessed into the back of the frame. There is also a lockable storage space that is suitable for a folding lock.
It’s subjective of course, but I think the Rush / Cty has the edge here.
Instead of a bulky battery that is mounted on the down tube, the Series 1 models get their energy from a battery that is inserted in the frame between the pedals. This battery pack – which uses the same technology as the Harley Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle – is removable. So the rider can charge it without having to lug the whole bike with him.
In contrast to the RadMission, which has a somewhat unsightly tangle of cables to the brakes, the battery and the controller box, there is hardly a cable to be seen on the Serial 1. This is because the brake cables and other cables on the Serial 1 were routed internally through the frame. While that’s not exactly functional, it adds to the sleek appearance of the Rush / Cty.
The driving experience
Both the RadMission 1 and the Rush / Cty Speed have four levels of pedal assistance. But that’s where the similarities these bikes have in terms of handling end.
The basic equipment of the RadMission 1 consists of a hub motor that drives the rear wheel and a sensor that switches on the power when the driver steps on the pedals. A similar system can be found on most electric bikes in the lower price segment – and it gets you safely to your destination.
In comparison, the Rush / Cty Speed benefits from a much more advanced drive system that combines a torque-sensitive mid-engine with an Enviolo Nuvinci automatic transmission. In simple terms, this means that the engine registers the driver’s exertion and supports it accordingly; the harder you pedal, the more support you get.
Meanwhile, the continuously variable transmission works constantly – almost imperceptibly – and always shifts into the correct gear. The combination of these two systems means that you only have to choose one level of pedal assistance and the Rush / Cty takes care of the rest with ease.
Speed is not just a cost factor, so I have to mention that the RadMission’s stated top speed of 20 miles per hour has sometimes disappointed me. The Rush / Cty Speed, on the other hand, reaches a top speed of 45 kilometers per hour. That makes it easier to keep up with the traffic and catch green lights. Not to mention the Rush / Cty’s motor and battery are placed in the center of the wheel, resulting in a low center of gravity. This makes the bike feel remarkably balanced and stable even at high speeds.
For most people, $ 5,000 is undoubtedly a lot of money for a bike. But e-bikes have the potential – even more than normal bicycles – to completely replace car journeys for many people in many places. And when you consider that the price of the average new car in the U.S. has risen to nearly $ 40,000 – and a solid used car can cost well over $ 10,000 – then a few thousand dollars for a high-performance e-bike seems a lot more reasonable.
In addition, legislation could be on the way to lower the price of e-bikes through a tax credit such as the one currently available for e-vehicle buyers. Until then, if you can’t afford the Rush / Cty Speed, you can also choose one of the cheaper options of Serial 1 with almost the same functions. And regardless of how it compares to the Rush / Cty Speed, the RadMission 1 remains one of the best affordable e-bikes out there.
This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.