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We review a lot of e-bikes each year. A few times a year we run across something that impresses us as being out of the ordinary, better than what we might usually expect. Every now and then an e-bike shocks us due to its extraordinary value to price ratio. The Ride1UP Portola offers what is arguably the biggest surprise we’ve seen in a couple of years.

Normally, when we see a new e-bike push the bounds of value, we will see one or two—three at most—upgrades over similar competitors. The Portola is as full of surprises as a haunted house. It’s worth going back over the many details of this e-bike we didn’t expect.

First, the Portola is unusual among the folding e-bikes we’ve tested and those in the sub-$1500-range thanks to its 750W, 65Nm, brushless, geared hub motor. Second, hydraulic disc brakes in this price range are unusual, nearly unheard-of; mechanical disc brakes are the go-to on e-bikes that cost less than $1500. Third is an 8-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain equipped with an 11-32t cassette. The drivetrain sports a trigger shifter that we find much easier to use than the thumb shifter common to 7-speed drivetrains, but the benefits don’t end there. We run across plenty of e-bikes that claim can be unlocked for Class 3 (28 mph max pedal assist) speeds, but when equipped with a 7-speed drivetrain that is usually paired with a 14-28t cassette, few riders can pedal fast enough to go better than 20 mph; they simply don’t have a gear big enough to go that fast. Rather than a 200 percent gear range, the Ride1UP Portola sports a nearly 300 percent gear range, which will give riders more help on the hills and more meat for reaching top speed.

Generally, e-bikes with hub motors are equipped with a cadence sensor; we’re seeing an increasing number of e-bikes with hub motors that include a torque sensor, but that’s still something reserved for higher price points. But Ride1UP still found a way to give the Portola something better than average. Most cadence sensors include 12 magnets and a rider needs to pedal somewhere between ½ and ¾ of a pedal stroke before the motor springs into action. The Portola sports a 24-magnet cadence sensor which means that the lag between when a rider begins pedaling and when the motor kicks in is cut in half. Same for how quickly the motor stops after a rider stops pedaling.

An e-bike’s weight is influenced by a number of factors. Motor size and battery size are a notable component in an e-bike’s overall weight, but because together they generally weigh less than 20 lbs., the motor and battery rarely constitute more than 25 percent of an e-bike’s overall weight. The other big influencer on weight, then, is how expensive the e-bike is. The better the components, the less they weigh. The Ride1UP Portola weighs just 59 lbs. (with the 500Wh battery), making it easier to pick up than many competing folding e-bikes. In yet another pleasant surprise, considering its price, we would expect more weight, not less.

Part of the task of any review is to identify a product’s weaknesses. What could be better? Criticizing the Ride1UP Portola runs the risk of making the reviewer look like a prima donna. This is an exceptional e-bike for its price. Identifying anything as worthy of improvement ignores just what they’ve achieved. That said, the Portola, thanks to its step-thru frame, has a standover height of 18.2 in.—not bad, but there are e-bikes with lower standover heights. We like seeing e-bikes that come in multiple frame sizes, but currently no one offers folding frames in multiple sizes. More colors? They offer three good colors as it is. A smartphone app that allows the rider to track their riding and adjust the motor’s performance would be terrific. A more reasonable request would be that they spec a larger display that mounts near the stem to make it easier to view while moving.

Not everyone has the space constraints that call for a folding e-bike. The Ride1UP Portola is so well designed that it’s an e-bike we would recommend to anyone looking for a value, not just those looking for a folding e-bike. The Portola confronts any shopper with that most basic of questions: Why spend more if you don’t need to?

Happy Riding! Make sure to let us know if you have any questions down in our comments section or if you think we left anything out in this review of the Ride1UP Portola.

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