THE RIDE RADIANT CARBON
A unique luxury cruiser
Tony Ellsworth first made a name for himself back in the early ’90s when he began designing a line of eponymously named mountain bikes. The first bike that he designed and built was for his wife. Soon after he started making bikes for others, and before long, he had himself a business designing and building some forward-thinking mountain bikes. Eventually, Ellsworth also started making cruisers under the name “The Ride” in 2006.
Fast-forward to today, where he has fully embraced e-bikes and decided to go all out for his e-bike. “From the start,” Tony explains, “I wanted to create an e-bike that I would want for myself.” And in doing so, his Ride Radiant can certainly be described as something wholly unique.
At first glance, the asymmetric Radiant frame stands apart from the crowd with its big-boned carbon fiber tubes and one-sided aluminum fork. Following the one-sided theme of the fork, the frame has a single chainstay on the drive side, and a seat stay that’s a continuation of the sloping downtube on the left side. The seat tube stops partway past the top tube, and the built-in fender is an integral part of the structure.
Between the relaxed 66-degree head tube angle and even more relaxed 64-degree seat tube angle, the bike mimics the laid-back pose originally made famous by the Townie cruiser and looks ready to cruise. With the seat tube angle, the seat can be raised or lowered to fit anyone from 5 feet tall to 6-foot-4.
The handlebars have a serious sweep-back to help make for a comfortable rider position. The cockpit is pretty clean, there are ergonomic grips, two Magura brake levers that endeavor to mostly hide the brake cables behind the handlebar, a display, and a motor control switch. When you’re used to seeing at least one shift lever or control on every bike, the absence is obvious. Braking is accomplished with Magura MT-30 four-piston calipers on both wheels.
The Gates carbon belt drive is quiet, clean and maintenance-free. You’ll never have to lubricate it, and you won’t get grease on your pant leg. However, make sure you never get your pant leg caught in the belt drive, because we can tell you from experience that it’s very difficult to get out and almost impossible to not fall over while trying to do so!
One fairly unique feature on this bike is the NuVinci Optimized Enviolo SP Automatiq CVP (continuously variable planetary) drivetrain, which in some ways is similar to a continuously variable transmission. It uses an internally shifting rear hub that is controlled automatically. There’s no external controller at all. You can set your preferred cadence using an app, and the system takes care of the rest.
Despite it being called “continuously variable,” it does create its own steps, as opposed to being fully glissando, like its a manually controlled counterpart. Watching the YouTube video on how exactly the hub works lets you marvel at the level of engineering ingenuity that created it.
There’s an integrated headlight built into the head tube and powered by the Shimano battery, and an integrated taillight built into the singular seat stay in the back. The fact that it’s only on one side can hamper some visibility on the right-hand side.
Ellsworth chose a Shimano E6100 mid-drive motor for the bike. It’s a solid performer, putting out 250 watts and 60 N/m of torque. The generous 630Wh battery is integrated into the downtube, and it can be removed for charging or to replace with another battery.
“The relaxed geometry allows riders to comfortably sit upright for longer rides, and the big battery offers ample power for long distances.”
This monochromatic display is easy to read in bright daylight, but it isn’t backlit, so it isn’t as easy to read at night. The controls for the motor system are right by your left hand on the bars.
You can customize the settings for the motor using Shimano’s E-Tube Project app, which can change the power settings and even set a lower limit for the speed at which the motor stops adding assist (anywhere from 20 mph down to 12 mph).
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Radiant Carbon is good for short stints around town, as well as longer rides along the beachfront. It’s worth noting that while the Radiant can just easily be used for commuting, there’s no place to attach any sort of rack, so you’ll have to be able to carry everything you need in a backpack. The relaxed geometry allows riders to comfortably sit upright for longer rides, and the big battery offers ample power for long distances.
When you first take off on the bike, it’s in a low gear and easy to start. Between the belt drive, the E6100 motor and the NuVinci CVP drivetrain, the Ellsworth may be the quietest bike we’ve ever ridden. The only sound is a tiny bit from the tires and the wind going across your ears. On occasion, you will hear the sound of the Nuvinci hub shifting.
Overall ergonomics on this bike are very good; there’s a comfortable sweep to the handlebar, and the saddle and grips added to the overall great feel when riding the bike. As is our standard practice, we first rode the bike with the motor off, and it’s very easy to ride this way, but you do need to keep the motor system powered up so the rear hub can shift. In Eco mode, it’s more than enough assistance to compensate for the weight of the bike.
When we picked up the bike, they showed us the app and how to set things, and we started by setting it in Sport mode (the way it responds is very quick versus Eco mode where it ramps up slower) and setting it for a relaxed 70-rpm cadence. When we started riding, it was immediately apparent that we set that cadence too low, as it would shift to a harder gear if we went above that. Resetting the app to 80 rpm changed that, and it was much more usable.
It’s still a very strange feeling to not have to shift. Riding a single-speed bike is not the same. It actually shifts, but having no control of it and no manual override take some getting used to. It is nice that it automatically detects when you slow down or come to a complete stop and downshifts for you. If you’ve ever taken off from a full stop in too high of a gear, even with an e-bike, you’ll appreciate this.
The Radiant Carbon is on the pricey side, but it’s aimed at buyers who appreciate something different that rides really well. With the Gates carbon belt, it’s not only quiet, but it requires virtually no maintenance. If you have the cash and want a bike that you can ride without shifting for a fairly long distance, a stylish commuter that will draw attention to itself, then the Radiant Carbon is a viable candidate.
THE RIDE RADIANT CARBON
Frame: Asymmetrical carbon fiber
Fork: Forged aluminum, swaged
Motor: Shimano STEPS E6100
Battery: Shimano, 630Wh
Charge time: 3 hours
Top speed: 28 mph
Range: Up to 100 miles (claimed)
Rear hub: Enviolo Nuvinci CVP with Automatiq
Chain: Gates carbon belt
Brakes: Magura MT30 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
Saddle: FSS Performance
Rims: Aluminum, 27.5”x50
Hubs: Sealed bearing alloy
Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X, 27.5”x2.8”, Race Guard, tubeless-ready
Weight: 52 pounds
Color choices: Obsidian Metallic, Cobalt Blue, Radiant Red
Sizes: One size