Bike Test: Juiced Bikes RipCurrent S
We’ve enjoyed riding bikes from Juiced Bikes, including touring a city on the CrossCurrent, which was comfortable, powerful and on the lower end of the financial spectrum. Juiced has recently added a fat bike to their lineup, called the RipCurrent S, and we were quick to jump on it to see how good a fat bike could roll.
We like the look of fat bikes, and sometimes the ride quality is pretty good. The RipCurrent seems to take this up a notch. It’s as beefy and burly as they come with a downtube (where the battery is housed) that’s nearly as wide as the tires.
In addition to the brushed silver finish, the bike is also available in red or matte black. There are plastic fenders to keep you clean and dry with all the stuff a fat bike tire can end up throwing at you. Plastic is nice because it saves weight and expense, but it flexes enough to sometimes create extra noise while riding.
Of course, they are removable, but we think leaving them on is a better idea.
The bars aren’t as wide as modern mountain bikes that teeter near 800mm, but they’re wide enough to handle the size and weight of the bike (680mm). Velo ergonomic grips offer all-day comfort, while the brake levers have cutoff switches for safety.
The tangled wires up front have been tamed pretty well with ties, but there are plenty of exposed quick disconnects. Those disconnects are easy for maintenance, but they can come loose, so it’s a good idea to check them regularly.
There’s a serious rack on the back. This thing looks like it could carry a small horse. It’s rated at 25 kilograms, but we’d wager it could handle twice that amount. The Selle Royal Lookin saddle was comfortable on long rides, but depending on height, it can wind up a little close to the rack, which may possibly restrict which bags you can mount to the rack. Do keep that in mind if you are thinking about bags for this, or whatever you are carrying.
The Kenda 26×4.0-inch tires make this bike look downright mean. They’re laced to wide rims and even wider hubs, making them stiff and enhancing the grip of the tires.
A really powerful, 750-watt Bafang geared hub motor is used, and it’s wound for speed. It also produces a neck-snapping 80 N/m of torque. It’s quiet, though we’ve found Bafang motors to be pretty reliable, and, interestingly, it’s also user-configurable. You can use pedal assist or the thumb throttle located on the handlebars. The throttle always maxes out at 20 mph, and the pedal assist can go to Class 3 speeds and beyond. The system uses both cadence and torque sensors. We love the torque sensor, because it makes the ride so much more bicycle-like and controllable!
“This bike begs to be ridden off-road!”
This is the first Bafang system we’ve seen with a new, relatively diminutive display. It’s packed with features; it always starts at PAS level 1 when turned on. Pressing “+” brings it up to level 2, level 3 and level S. The S, we found out, is for “sport.” This is where we live! Long-pressing the “+” button turns on the built-in, very bright headlight (there’s a taillight powered by its own battery). Pressing the “–” button lowers the power level, and long-pressing and holding it engages walk mode. Walk mode in this bike is so powerful that it moved us while riding—not fast, but enough to keep you moving.
It displays quite a bit of info—obviously mode and speed, but also not only the remaining battery life in a bar but current voltage of the battery and current battery drain. At rest, it usually draws 4 watts. At peak output it was around 1000 watts.
The bike is user-configurable to match local law requirements. It can be made into a Class 1 (the throttle won’t work, and the bike is limited to 20 mph), set up for Europe (speed pedelec or 25-kph limit) or, as ours was shipped, “off-road mode,” which sets the pedal-assist limit above 30 mph. We actually had it up to 33-plus with power.
There are three choices for batteries. There’s the base model with its 48-volt, 13-amp-hour battery that offers good power and range. For $300 more, you can bump up to a 48-volt, 19.2-amp-hour battery for almost 50 percent more range. Finally, you can go with a 52-volt, 21-amp-hour battery with an 8-amp fast charger and GPS tracking for a $1000 premium. We’ve ridden the largest and smallest, and we did like the biggest battery, because it’s just more fun!
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The RipCurrent is obviously aimed at the fat bike enthusiast—someone who wants a bike that makes a statement, is fun to ride and can go anywhere, on-road, off or even on the beach. The budget aspect may or may not be an issue.
To turn the system on, you first have to press the power button on the battery, then the one on the display. The bike quietly comes to life, ready to roll. It always starts in assist level 1 when you first turn it on.
Climbing aboard, it moves easily. It has a really long wheelbase, way too long for many racks, but it feels nimble with the ample power from the 750-watt motor. The first place we took it was up a steep hill near the office that was paved and a really easy climb. The Mozo air fork does an adequate job of reducing the bumps. Though it’s designed for a fat e-bike, it isn’t the greatest. Whenever we’d pop up the front wheel over anything, it would extend to the bottom of the travel with a loud thud. It does have some adjustability, and it can be fully locked out.
With the voluminous tires, this bike begs to be ridden off-road. Although lacking rear suspension and with a fork that isn’t our favorite, on dirt roads with some ruts and a few small hits, it still put a serious smile on our faces.
With the big tires, you can get even more out of it by varying the air pressure. If you’re spending a day on the beach, drop them down to 5–6 psi and you can ride right across dry sand. Of course, you’ll likely want to find an air compressor to pump them back up for road use. Using a hand pump for that much volume will wear you out.
The 1×9 gearing is perfect. We didn’t run out of gears on any climb, descent or anywhere else. The trigger shifter is great, and on a long throw with your thumb, you can easily drop 3–4 gears in one push if you come to a sudden hill (or when you come to a stop).
We can’t stress enough how much we like the torque sensor on this bike. We’re so used to cadence sensors on bikes in this price range, and that set-up takes away from the bicycle feel and gives the bike too much power, at least in our opinion.
We’ve tested other fat bikes in this price range, and the RipCurrent isn’t even in the same league. It’s several steps above in build quality and fun factor. Though we’d love to see a better fork on this bike, everything else is better than the sum of its parts. The fact that it has a torque sensor instead of only a cadence sensor is huge. If you’re in the market for an electric fat bike, especially for less than two grand (or slightly over if you can afford the bigger battery), take a test ride on one of these.
SPECS JUICED BIKES RIPCURRENT S
Motor: Bafang 750W rear hub motor
Battery: Li-ion, 48V 13 Ah up to 52V, 21 Ah
Charge time: 3-6 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (throttle), 28mph (pedal-assist)
Range: 25–55 miles
Drive: Shimano Altus 9-speed
Brakes:Star Union hydraulic w/ cutoff switches
Fork: Mozo Fatman air
Tires: Kenda Krusade Sport, 26×4.0”
Weight: 68 lb.
Color choices: Black, red or brushed aluminum
Sizes: M, L, XL
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