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Rayvolt Cruzer review: The bike of the future, inspired by the past

Jonathan Bray
11 Jun 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Outlandish design mated with cutting-edge tech but the Rayvolt Cruzer won’t be for everyone

Looks amazing
Packed with tech
Charges quickly
Heavy and ponderous at low speed
Riding position won't suit everyone

The Rayvolt Cruzer is, in many ways, an anomaly. It’s an e-bike but it looks more like a Harley Davidson than something you’d buy at Halfords. It weighs as much as three mountain bikes, too, and it’s definitely not something you’d want to be caught riding while wearing lycra.

However, it’s a bike that offers a tantalising glimpse of the future. After all, one advantage of e-bikes (aside from the environmental benefits) is they don’t have to be as lightweight or constrained in their design as your average pedal-powered conveyance. As e-bikes become as popular as regular pedal cycles, bikes that step outside the norm will become more and more common. Besides that, it's a blast to both ride and be seen on.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best e-bikes money can buy

Rayvolt Cruzer review: What you need to now

Despite its Café Racer retro looks and low-slung riding position, the Rayvolt Cruzer is at the absolute cutting edge of e-bike design. It comes with fast-charge technology, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic uphill assistance and “intelligent” regenerative braking among other features not normally seen elsewhere.

Power is delivered via a beefy hub motor integrated into the rear wheel and the bike includes integrated LED lights. Its 26in wheels have chunky, slick tyres and hydraulic disc brakes to bring the whole lot to a halt quickly and safely. It’s absolutely stuffed with the latest e-bike tech.

Buy from Rayvolt UK

Rayvolt Cruzer review: Price and competition

That’s as it should be for a product that sits firmly at the “premium” end of the e-bike spectrum and prices are, appropriately, just as high. The cheapest Cruzer in the Raybolt lineup is £3,400 inc VAT and that rises as you add options.

You can choose to upgrade the standard 200W-400W “Smart motor” to a more powerful 250W-1,000W unit for an extra £100 and opt for a bigger dual battery (£500) to get more range. There are also various stylish leather bags you can add, along with wing mirrors and the integrated LED lights, which are an extra cost as well.

In fact, there are so many options available that buying a Cruzer is more like buying a new car than a bike, and, although the price starts at £3,400, if you choose all the upgrades on the Rayvolt UK website, you’ll be looking at a total price of £4,574 inc VAT.

Needless to say, when it comes to direct competition, there’s nothing quite like it available in the UK; if you want a cutting edge e-bike that also looks super cool, your best bet is probably the Van Moof S2 or the GoCycle G3. Otherwise, you’re looking at more traditional mountain bike and commuter bike designs.

Design and features

Even these more exotic e-bikes can’t match the Cruzer’s outlandish looks, though. Its long, steel frame, chunky tires, dual-crown forks and swept-back handlebars make it look more like a motorbike than a pedal assist e-bike.

Nevertheless, an e-bike it is and that curved compartment just beneath the top tube isn’t a fuel tank. In fact, it’s a zip-up compartment designed to hold the charger for the battery. The battery, by the way, is held in another leather-clad compartment below the saddle and just in front of the rear wheel.

And, in basic terms, the Rayvolt works just like any other electric bicycle. The idea is that, when you apply pressure to the pedals, the motor kicks in, adding extra power up to a predefined speed (25km/h or 15.5mph) and power limit (250W).

That’s assuming you’re riding it on the public roads. If you download the EIVA (electric intelligent vehicle assistant) app on your phone and pair it with the bike over Bluetooth you can switch the bike into “offroad mode” (only legal on private roads or land), giving you more torque, more power and a higher top-speed.

It’s also possible to adjust the level of power assist via the app and the rate of acceleration, view your speed and how much battery life you have remaining. There’s even music streaming and GPS mapping, although you’re probably best off sticking with Google Maps to find your way.

Power is delivered by a three-phase hub motor in the rear wheel and this applies pedal assistance both quietly and smoothly. Unusually, the motor incorporates regenerative braking, a technology we’re more used to seeing in hybrid and electric cars such as the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.

Here, whenever you pull the brake levers, the motor engages “iRBS” mode (intelligent regenerative braking system), slowing the bike down while feeding charge back into the 48V battery so you can eke out as much range as possible. The effect is so strong that you hardly need to pull the brakes at all to slow yourself down, which is handy as the bike weighs a hefty 34kg. The Cruzer also uses a gyroscope to adjust the level of power regeneration applied, increasing the effect when it detects you’re speeding downhill.

The drivetrain is just as high-tech. The Cruzer has no gears but, then, it doesn’t really need them. This is a bike designed for a relaxing cruise, not for pelting up Mont Ventoux. It uses two torque sensors embedded in the cranks to detect how much power you’re applying to the pedals and, when the gyroscope detects you’re riding uphill, it gives you an extra boost of power as well.

Buy from Rayvolt UK

Rayvolt Cruzer review: Comfort, manoeuvrability and performance

My big concern with the Cruzer, initially, was over comfort. I’m accustomed to the more traditional, upright riding positions of mountain and road bikes and, but the Cruzer’s super-low saddle set-forward pedals means that it more closely resembles a recumbent.

Given that you don’t have to pedal very hard to get up to speed, however, I needn’t have worried. I rode nearly 30 miles on the Rayvolt in the time I had it and, once I became used to the riding position, it felt surprisingly natural. The hard, sprung saddle was a different matter, although I’m told leather, Brooks-style saddles like it tend to have a lengthy break-in period, after which they’re incredibly comfortable.

Handling was more problematic. The Cruzer is excellent once you get up a head of steam, feeling stable, solid and responsive. When you need to manoeuvre the bike in tight areas at low speed, though – in heavy traffic, for instance – its long wheelbase makes it feel cumbersome. The weight of the bike makes it tough to lift up big kerbs, too.

For the part of my commute that takes in 2.5 miles of the Regent’s Canal towpath, it wasn’t ideal; as soon as I hit the open roads, however, I found it great fun to ride. The pedal assistance is fed in beautifully smoothly, the acceleration is strong but not over the top and range from the battery is decent. The double battery delivers up to 50 miles of range and charges in as little as two and a half hours, while the smaller battery will get you up to 25 miles of range.

If you’re lucky enough to have somewhere to ride the bike with private roads, the offroad mode is even more fun, although I did find that I had to dial down the pedal assist as the sheer amount of torque applied by the motor made for a bit of a jolty ride at times.

Buy from Rayvolt UK

Overall, though, it’s a fun ride. It isn’t, perhaps, for someone who is serious about their cycling, but for a bit of fun on a light commute, it’s great. And if you’re someone who likes to be the centre of attention, you’ll love it. I had no shortage of people asking what on Earth I was riding during my time with it.

Rayvolt Cruzer review: Verdict

At this point in a review, I normally take stock and step back, compare the product I’m testing with the competition and either recommend it or point readers at alternatives.

That’s not something I can do with the Rayvolt Cruzer because it is so radically different from most other e-bikes – or any bike, for that matter. While it can be a practical conveyance and is stuffed full of clever tech, its eye-catching design makes it so much more.

It’s a fashion statement, a cry for attention – a bike that looks to the past as much as it represents the future and a thing of real beauty and elegance. When it comes down to it, it isn’t the most practical e-bike but if you have the money to spend and the space to store it at home, you’re in for a lot of fun.

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