An Electric Mountain Bike You Need to Try: The Prodigy XC     – CNET

An Electric Mountain Bike You Need to Try: The Prodigy XC – CNET

Ride1up’s Prodigy XC e-bike is an excellent front-suspension mountain bike with a powerful motor to help you truly explore the outdoors. 

The Prodigy XC is a class-3 electric bike, meaning it’s a pedal-assist e-bike with a maximum speed of 28 mph. Because it doesn’t have a throttle, riders will need to pedal the bicycle to get any additional assistance. And since some states prohibit riding at full speed on standard bike paths, make sure you check your local regulations before you challenge someone to a race.

The XC in the name indicates the frame style — XC or cross country — so it’s built for off-road use like a typical mountain bike. Even though the top tube of the frame dips down, it’s still a step-over bike; riders need to kick their leg up and around the back of the bike to mount it. In other words, this tube is positioned far too high to make it comfortable if you’re looking for a step-through frame. If that’s the case, you might be interested in Ride1Up’s Prodigy ST (ST means step-through), though it’s not a mountain bike.

The Prodigy XC weighs in at a manageable 50 pounds (roughly 23 kilograms). Personally, 50 pounds is around my limit for what I want to carry upstairs and store inside my walk-up apartment. The bike measures 73 inches long and has a large, 29-inch wide handlebar. This size is ideal for a mountain bike since it provides more leverage for steering and allows for more control over your front wheel, which can make riding easier on uneven or shifting terrain. The large 27.5-inch tires along with the 120mm air suspension fork give this bike a luxuriously smooth ride, both on road and of- road.

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The Prodigy XC also has one of the quietest motors I’ve ever heard on an e-bike of this size. That motor, along with the 36-volt battery, gives the bike four levels of pedal-assist that you control using the 1.5-inch LCD handlebar display. Located on the left-hand side, the display doesn’t use the typical numerical indicator for levels of assistance but shows different modes: eco, tour, sport and boost. Boost provides the highest amount of assistance and is my personal favorite since it allows the bike to really accelerate. The display also shows your remaining battery and your current speed, and it can toggle through several modes of information, including your average speed, your max speed, an odometer, your range, the current time, your distance traveled and your trip’s time. The display also has a pretty decent amount of settings if you want to adjust the brightness or switch its colors.

This bike can also connect to a mobile app via Bluetooth, however, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test that out since the app is only available on Android devices. The app is also not available on the Google Play store and must be downloaded directly from the app developer. If you do go through all that to connect it, you’ll get access to functionality like changing the power-assist levels, recording rides and more.

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The Prodigy XC has a 36-volt battery that sits underneath the frame, which I’m not a fan of for a mountain bike. Not only can the battery get quite dirty, but removing it becomes more difficult with the tire so close to it. Having the battery release upward would be preferred, but isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Since there is a plug-in port located on the frame, you don’t have to remove the battery for charging. 

It’s worth noting, though, that I’ve consistently struggled to get this specific battery out of the bike. I’m not sure what would cause this, so I’m hoping it’s just an issue with my specific unit. With all that said, the battery does sit flush, hidden right inside the frame instead of sticking out or appearing as though it was attached afterward. If you need a backup or replacement, Ride1UP sells its Prodigy batteries separately, which run between $400 and $500 depending on the sale price.

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Ride1UP offers three color options with the Prodigy XC. I tested the Chameleon Gloss and it looks awesome. It’s purple, it’s green, it sparkles — almost like something the Joker would ride around Gotham on. I’ve had strangers come up to me and compliment this color. Ride1UP also offers a less exciting Carbon Matte choice that looks like a standard gray color. The website also shows a third color that appears white.

The Prodigy XC comes with a couple of accessories, including a built-in headlight that turns on when you power up the battery. Oddly, there isn’t a way to turn off the light without turning the battery off entirely, which Ride1Up says is intentional since the light hardly drains the battery. 

The bike has 120mm air suspension with hydraulic lockout up at the front, and it comes with a kickstand. Because it’s a hardtail bike, it doesn’t have any rear suspension, so keep that in mind.

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The Prodigy XC retails for just under $2,400 (£1935 or $3,437AUD), which is a pretty good price. For a bike of this size and capability, just over $2,000 is about average. But keep your eyes out for deals — it went on sale for a few hundred dollars off while I was reviewing it. 

With its massive tires, front suspension and ability to reach max speed quickly, the Prodigy XC is a fun bike to ride. It tackles different terrains with ease and the quiet motor is a bonus. If you want all the benefits of an electric bike in a mountain bike design, it’s definitely worth considering.

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Sean Booker

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