As a more-than-casual bicyclist in Portland, Oregon – one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world – I enjoy covering news of electric bicycles and related products. Unfortunately, most e-bikes are fairly expensive – more than than the combined cost of both bicycles I currently ride – so the appeal is somewhat limited. The RideKick, however, seemed to have the potential to economically covert an existing bicycle into a sort of e-bike by using an electric-powered cargo kit to push a rider. After testing the device, my feelings about the RideKick are varied.
First, the RideKick is much bigger (2 ft. wide, 3 ft. long and 1 ft. tall) and heavier than I imagined, and a good portion of that weight comes from the battery pack (almost 20 lbs.). So, if you’re thinking of having the product shipped rather than picked-up from a retailer, keep that cost in mind. Second, the unit came with a very nice letter from the company as well as some stickers and brochures. I don’t think I’ll be passing them out like political pamphlets on street corners, but at least one sticker is now on someone’s beer refrigerator in the Pacific Northwest if that’s any consolation to RideKick’s marketing department.
In all honesty, I found that the top hatch was made of fairly thin plastic, but the base and wheel system was sturdier than expected, which built my confidence in the product a bit. The idea of having a device pushing me and my bicycle to a claimed 19 miles per hour by only being attached to the back of the bike’s frame with a few screws was unsettling, to say the least.
In addition to being worried about propulsion, I was concerned that the trailer, especially with the electric battery attached, would be burdensome when starting to pedal from a complete stop.
Looking over the RideKick I couldn’t help but think, “Please don’t bend the bike frame or make me crash.”
Although there are several steps and a few different pieces in the RideKick kit – battery pack, throttle, trailer hitch, etc. – the process to attach the unit to a bicycle is fairly easy, especially if you have a quick-detach back wheel. The entire un-boxing to riding time can be done within an hour if you’re enjoying a lazy afternoon.
As I found out, it’s very important to place the electric throttle as close to your bicycle’s back-brake hand trigger as possible for comfortable riding, as this will allow you to hold down the throttle and switch to a tight stop in case of a roadway emergency on a moment’s notice.