Review: Nice Ride Electric-Assist Bike (2019)

On Monday, July 29, Nice Ride launched its electric-assist bike or “ebike” pilot. The press release gushed about how riders could “supercharge” their rides, and also highlighted Nice Ride’s new “Nice Ride for All” program for low-income riders. The program gives annual memberships to Nice Ride to people on either nutrition assistance (SNAP) or transit assistance (TAP) for $5 per year.

From the release: “We are proud to build upon Nice Ride’s legacy as a national bike share leader with this ebike pilot,” said Caroline Samponaro, head of bike, scooter and pedestrian policy at Lyft, the operator of Nice Ride. “The extra boost from ebikes makes it easier for more people to complete trips on two wheels rather than four, helping to make our streets more livable across Minneapolis. Along with our new Nice Ride for All equity program this year, Nice Riders are having the best season yet.”

Nice Ride Electric Assist Bike Side View

Nice Ride electric-assist black bike at Gateway Park. Photo: Author

On Thursday, August 8, I test rode one of the new black, electric-assist bikes. I was impressed with the performance and ride comfort compared to a classic green bike and the electric-powered scooters out there.

The ride is similar to the green classic bike, but it is important to remember to turn on the power to the electric-assist system. There is a power button on the top of the handlebars, but some riders have missed turning on the system.

Below the handlebars is a small LCD screen that displays battery level, current speed, and some kind of total number of trips or odometer. In my riding, I was able to get up to 17 mph with the assist. Nice Ride says in their press release the top speed is 18 mph. Both are as fast or faster than what you can reasonably do on a rental electric scooter, and much faster than the classic green bike experience.

Nice Ride Electric Assist Bike Screen View

Screen with battery level and current speed. Photo: Author

The ride comfort was equal to or better than a classic green bike. I had a few rough patches and holes on my ride, and the wide-diameter pneumatic tires give it a great cushion against the road. Riding on an electric scooter can be game of dodge the ever-so-small pothole, but I thankfully didn’t have that experience with the black bike.

The bottom line: I love the electric-assist bikes! If I am my local park and there are classic green bikes, black electric bikes, and Lime scooters, I will in the future choose the black electric bikes if my trip lines up with Nice Ride dock stations. However, if there are just classic green bikes and Lime scooters, I will still choose the scooters because they are still faster and I can park a scooter anywhere, even though I am paying out-of-pocket. I have a Nice Ride annual membership.

What has been your experience with Nice Ride black electric-assist bikes? How fast have you gone? Share your electric dreams and your hopes for tomorrow in the comments.

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9 Responses to Review: Nice Ride Electric-Assist Bike (2019)

  1. James Kohls August 10, 2019 at 8:08 am #

    I haven’t had a chance to try this version of Lyft’s ebike yet. Due to their low numbers, they just haven’t been available when I’ve had the opportunity to ride. I’m glad you liked them.

    17MPH sounds about right for speed on an 18MPH limited drive system. The last 1-2MPH is when the assist curve drops down to ease the transition from assisted to unassisted. You wouldn’t want the power at full near the top end or every time you pedaled past that mark, you’d have an instant surge of resistance. Some of the early eBikes did this a lot and it was quite jarring and you had to make a concerted effort to stay below the top speed.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller August 10, 2019 at 1:40 pm #

      It felt like pedaling at 17mph did not have any effect.

  2. John Maddening August 10, 2019 at 9:21 am #

    You…have to turn them on?

    I tried the Lime version of these when I was in Seattle last fall, and they were a godsend getting around downtown — both with accelerating to traffic speed from a stoplight, and heading up hills (which Seattle has a bunch of).

    But I just got on and rode. No turning on required.

  3. Melissa Anne Wenzel August 10, 2019 at 10:38 am #

    I can’t wait to compare these ebikes to my own! I’ve had an ebike (not the same one) since 2008 and am a HUGE fan. I remember when someone sent me an article that the Swiss Alps now had ebikes (~2010?) and I sighed wistfully. I never imagined they’d be here in the Twin Cities a mere 9 years later (for bike anything, that’s record timing). We need them in the hilly parts of Saint Paul…..which means most of Saint Paul.

  4. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller August 10, 2019 at 1:39 pm #

    Tried it and didn’t like it. It’s not really “electric assist.” Either you pedal and it does all the work or you don’t pedal. The gears are really just a speed setting (yeah the first crank will be harder in a higher gear, but then motor kicks in). Might as well just have a throttle.

    Was nice for going up hill though.

    • Melissa Anne Wenzel August 11, 2019 at 7:39 am #

      Do you get levels of assist? Most personally-purchased e-bikes have various assist levels. But alas, I live in SE Saint Paul, one of the areas furthest away from Minneapolis, so it’s unlikely I’ll see (let alone try out) one of the new Nice Ride ebikes.

      • James Kohls August 11, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

        I think these are older eBike models (seem to remember them in NYC a long time ago). Sad the newer bikes I tested at the eBikeExpo didn’t work out. They were really nice torque sensing models. From Adam’s comments, these seem to be cadence sensing.

        • Adam Miller
          Adam Miller August 12, 2019 at 10:18 am #

          I should probably note that I only rode it once and it was my only time on an e-bike. I do not know them at all.

  5. Melissa Anne Wenzel August 11, 2019 at 7:38 am #

    You are very welcome here and we appreciate this comment! We’re all volunteer writers, dedicated to sharing, improving, and/or venting about local community issues, successes.

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