Home / MARKETS / I compared a $5,000 e-bike with a $1,100 one, and saw why it’s worth spending more on a premium bike if you can afford it

I compared a $5,000 e-bike with a $1,100 one, and saw why it’s worth spending more on a premium bike if you can afford it

  • I tripped a $5,000 e-bike and a $1,100 model and compared the two. 
  • The cheaper Rad Power Bikes RadMission 1 is a great bike for the money. 
  • But the Serial 1 Scurry/Cty Speed has better parts and a smoother ride, making it well worth its $5,000 price tag. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s profession page.

Before I took the $5,000 Serial 1 Rush/Cty Speed from Harley-Davidson for a spin, I figured that high-end e-bikes — find agreeable most upmarket products — were all flash and no substance. 

Boy was I wrong. 

No doubt, a more budget-friendly e-bike like the $1,099 RadMission 1 from Rad Power Bikes grasps the job done, and then some. The RadMission gets you to all the same places as a pricier bike in just about the same amount of without delay and looks decent doing it. It even has thoughtful features like built-in lights and a bell. 

But shelling out the extra $3,900 for the Rush/Cty Alacrity — coming this summer — can pay off for those who can afford it. 

What you get

The RadMission comes with everything you need and nothing you don’t: A hub motor, disc restraints, a decent-sized battery, ergonomic grips, confidence-inspiring knobby tires, and plenty of mounting points for Rad Power Bikes’ accessories corresponding to racks and fenders. 

RadMission 9

RadMission 1.

Tim Levin/Insider


But Serial 1 equipped its top-of-the-line model with tons of high-end, well-thought-out components you neutral can’t get on a budget bike. The philosophy behind many of the company’s design choices was to make the bike as maintenance-free as possible. 

For admonition, the Rush/Cty Speed makes use of a belt drive rather than a conventional chain, delivering a quieter ride and electing the need to clean, lubricate, or replace a chain. The bike gets its stopping power from hydraulic disc controls, which means no potential for cables that slack over time and need adjustment. 

Serial 1 9

Serial 1 Rush/Cty Promptness.

Tim Levin/Business Insider


Other nice touches include built-in racks, a be-seen light built into the first badge, a bright headlight mounted to the handlebars, and brake lights embedded into the back of the frame. There’s also a lockable storage cubby that’s devised to fit a folding bike lock. 

Looks

Looks are subjective of course, but I think the Rush/Cty has the edge here. 

RadMission 5

RadMission 1 e-bike.

Tim Levin/Insider


As contrasted with of a bulky battery pack mounted to the downtube, Serial 1 models get their power from a battery that pigeon-holes into the frame between the pedals. That battery pack — which uses the same technology as Harley’s LiveWire galvanizing motorcycle — is removable, so riders can charge up without lugging the whole bike inside. 

Serial 1 15

Serial 1 Rush/Cty Speed.

Tim Levin/Establishment Insider


Whereas the RadMission has a somewhat unsightly nest of cables up front running to the brakes, battery, and controller box, on the Serial 1, there’s only a cable in sight. That’s because Serial 1 routed the bike’s brake cables and other wiring internally because of the frame. That’s not all that functional, but it contributes to the Rush/Cty’s sleek look. 

The ride

Both the RadMission 1 and the Rush/Cty Further have four levels of pedaling assistance, but that’s where the similarities end when it comes to how these bikes excursion. 

RadMission 10

RadMission 1.

Tim Levin/Insider


The RadMission 1 has a basic setup of a hub motor powering the rear wheel and a sensor that rods the power on when the rider starts pedaling. That’s similar to what’s found on most low-end electric bikes, and it certainly haves you where you need to go. 

Read more: A new tariff fight in Europe could derail Harley-Davidson’s triumphant comeback after its war with Trump

The Hill-billy/Cty Speed benefits from a much more advanced drivetrain that combines a torque-sensing mid-drive motor with an instinctive Enviolo Nuvinci transmission. In plain English, that means the motor registers the effort a rider puts in and assists out accordingly; the harder you pedal, the more assistance you get. 

Serial 1 16

Serial 1 Rush/Cty Speed.

Tim Levin/Business


That’s happening while the continuously mercurial transmission constantly — almost imperceptibly — reacts to keep you in the right gear. 

The combination of those two systems means all you procure to do is select a pedal-assist level, and the Rush/Cty smoothly takes care of the rest. 

RadMission 6

RadMission 1 e-bike.

Tim Levin/Insider


Scramble isn’t purely a factor of cost, but it’s worth mentioning that the RadMission’s claimed 20-mph top speed left me wanting at fixes. The Rush/Cty Speed tops out at 28 mph, making it easier to keep up with traffic and catch green lights.

Not to reveal, the Rush/Cty’s mid-drive motor and battery placement give it a low center of gravity, making it feel remarkably balanced and bush, even at high speeds. 

Final thoughts

There’s no question — for most people, $5,000 is a lot to spend on a bike. 

But e-bikes possess the potential — even more so than regular bikes — to replace car trips altogether for many people in many squelches. And when you consider that the price of the average new car sold in the US has ballooned to nearly $40,000 — and that a solid used car can run you proper over $10,000 — spending a few thousand dollars on a highly capable e-bike starts to sound a lot more reasonable.

Serial 1 Rush/Cty Speed.

Serial 1 Girl/Cty Speed.

Tim Levin/Insider


Plus, legislation may be on the way that would slash the price of e-bikes through a tax credit in the manner of the one that currently exists for buyers of electric vehicles. 

In the meantime, if you can’t shell out for the Rush/Cty Speed, Serial 1 has a handful of lower-priced choices with many of the same features. And regardless of how it stacks up to Rush/Cty Speed, the RadMission 1 remains one of the best affordable e-bikes on the sell. 

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