Technology

Heybike Ranger S Review: A Killer City Cruiser With One Unfortunate Quirk


In the wide-ranging world of e-bikes, portability has multiple definitions. Your e-bike can either be light enough to easily get up a flight of stairs and be mounted to most bike racks, or it can fold enough to tuck into a closet and fit in the back of a car. The folks at Heybike opt for the latter with most of their bikes, and — if it isn’t clear from the fat tires and ample frame — you won’t be happily pushing the 72-pound Ranger S up stairs anytime soon. But after 250 miles of riding, I can promise you weight isn’t something you’re likely to think about often with this cruiser-style joy machine. 

8.0

Heybike Ranger S

Like


  • Nearly perfect pedal assist

  • Best-in-class road safety features

  • Folding design works very well

Don’t like


  • Bike computer is unnecessarily complicated

  • Early signs of wear

Riding any bike in most cities is equal parts convenient and dangerous. For most riders, equipping a bike for a commute to work or for groceries is an exercise in tilting that balance in your favor. From front and rear GoPro rigs and every kind of flashing bright light to heavily reflective clothing, making yourself seen is a big part of city cycling. Heybike has a ton of experience in building for city life, and it shows with the Ranger S. 

Fat tires with splash guards come standard and ensure you can ride with confidence even in the rain. Instead of simple headlights with small red flashers on the back, as seen on most e-bikes, you’ll find large bright lights in front and rear with integrated bright turn signals to let everyone around you know what to expect. The cruiser-style riding position is aided with an extended handlebar stem, making it so that even when you’ve adopted a more aggressive riding stance, you’re still taking up a lot more vertical room in most sight lines.

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Like most folding bikes, there’s a hinge in the middle you can access by pulling a substantial plastic latch open, and in seconds the two tires are touching. In addition to this, the included pedals fold down to make it easier to tuck the whole thing away, and the handlebar tube folds at the base since the frame is busy holding a giant battery. Despite its weight, the Ranger S is surprisingly easy to toss into the back of a car or hide away in a closet when not in use. 

Heybike Ranger S: Buttons and chargers and icons

Heybike Ranger S

Russell Holly/CNET

There are so many things happening on the handlebars of this bike, and most of them are great. From the left, you have a dedicated headlight switch, turn signals and a horn, all easily accessible with your thumb. The horn is pitched low, which you don’t often find on e-bikes, and which means you’re a lot less likely to startle someone if you’re riding past, but it’s still loud enough to be heard from inside a car. If you shift your grip slightly, it’s easy to access power output levels and the backlight for your speedometer. 

The right side is a fair bit more manual, giving you a simple thumb switch up and down for shifting the seven-speed Shimano cassette and a throttle button to engage the motor without pedaling. The two hydraulic brakes sit exactly where you’d expect, with the all-important display in the middle. 

As with most bike computers, you get a decent glanceable display for current speed and distance traveled, alongside which power level out of five you’re currently set to and the battery level. Almost all these work exactly like you’d expect, and then there’s the battery readout. Instead of giving you an easy-to-digest bit of information like estimated miles remaining or a percentage of the battery remaining, the readout on the Ranger S is based on voltage output. If your remaining battery is high, you’ll see output numbers above 48v and know that when you need that power to climb a hill or something, you’ll have it. 

Even the segmented battery icon on the display doesn’t really tell me how much battery I have left, and I know this because on multiple occasions, I’ve been 15-20 miles into a ride, and when I’ve stopped, the battery meter has actually increased. Heybike estimates the Ranger S has a 55-mile range on a single charge, and I can confirm it had that for me, but I can’t tell you how much battery I had left when I reached that milestone. And if you’re going to be riding to and from work on an e-bike, knowing how much juice you have left in the battery is a pretty important detail, which should be much easier to understand. There is the option to use the Heybike mobile app, which provides a percentage and a ton of other things. But as you can see in the above photo, these handlebars are already pretty full, and a second large display shouldn’t be necessary.

The good news is that charging a Heybike battery is both easy and secure. The battery compartment is accessible only by key, but the charging port on the battery is accessible when docked in the frame, so you can either charge the battery while it’s docked or bring the battery with you and charge it at your desk. The battery also has a physical on-off switch, so if you aren’t going to be using the bike for a few days, you can hit that button instead of leaving it on the charger and potentially decreasing its overall life. Much like the rest of the bike, the design is thoughtful and multipurpose. 

Heybike Ranger S: 250 miles of trails later

Heybike Ranger S

Russell Holly/CNET

Ordinarily, the cruiser-style riding position isn’t my favorite. It’s a great option for a truly massive amount of people, but I tend to prefer the more aggressive riding positions found on the average road or gravel bike. It turns out the Ranger S is the exception to this rule, as I’m genuinely excited to ride it at every opportunity. I went out of my way to use the rear rack to hold a cooler to do grocery runs, and it quickly became my go-to for morning rides around town. Between the comfortable seat, the shocks absorbing most road bumps, and the safety features, I couldn’t wait to ride it to new places. 

With its 750-watt hub motor and plenty of power from the battery, the Ranger S is perfectly capable of going uncomfortably fast. Set the power assist level to five, mash your thumb down on the throttle, and it’ll easily hit the max 28 mph without a push on the pedals. But where it really shines is the pedal assist. Where most e-bikes tend to jerk you forward a bit, even on a low assist setting, this system is more gradual and supportive. There’s a roughly three-second buildup to the speed associated with the power level you’ve selected, which overall makes for a more comfortable ride. And because it’s a hub motor, you lose only about 30% of your max power when going up hills. 

The response from drivers around me to the horn and turn signals on this bike is genuinely surprising. Though hand gestures have been a part of bike riding forever, precious few drivers encounter them in their day-to-day lives, so they’re easily forgotten. Actual turn signals are unambiguous. My one tiny complaint — and it really says more about me than the bike — is that on more than one occasion, I forgot to turn them off after use. There wasn’t any indicator on the bike computer to let me know it was still on, and I couldn’t see the lights from my seated position, so occasionally I left myself embarrassed on arriving at a destination.

My testing of this bike was split fairly evenly between roads and trails, which included a mix of rain and mud and at least one sandy beach. The Ranger S handles every environment with ease, leaving me wanting to ride further every time. But as I sit here writing this review, I can’t help but notice some signs of wear that are appearing a little earlier than they should. The nose of the seat has clear rubbing marks from all the time I spent in a more aggressive riding position, and while it was never an actual issue, I found the locking mechanism for the battery would occasionally catch and require another rotation to actually release the battery. Neither of these is a huge red flag, but together in such a short period of time, they leave me wondering what maintenance needs this bike will have after the next 250 miles. 

Heybike Ranger S: Fully Loaded and Ready for Riding

Outside of a performance-based road cycling environment, it’s difficult to imagine a situation for which I wouldn’t recommend the Heybike Ranger S to someone as a possible option. As an e-bike, it checks most boxes with ease. The powered assist performs wonderfully, the safety features should be standard on way more e-bikes, and the overall feel of the bike is just plain fun. 

If I lived in a slightly more metropolitan area, it wouldn’t be difficult to justify unfolding this bike over grabbing my car keys for most of the things I leave my house for. And should the folks at Heybike take a serious look at updating the interface on the bike computer over the use of its app, the Ranger S would immediately be in the running for one of the best e-bikes I’ve used.