Nireeka goes for big power and mid-drive with its new Prime e-bike
Two years after a very successful Indiegogo campaign for its first e-bike, Nireeka is back with its second design. The Nireeka Prime evolves the sexy carbon frame to take a 1,000-W mid-drive, and ditches the suspension for an even fatter set of tires.
Nireeka's bikes are unmistakeable; the full carbon frame by designer Max Shojaie looks absolutely killer while doing an impressive job of keeping weight down, and the giant, 4-inch fat tires on the new Prime give it the look of some weird future vehicle halfway between an electric bicycle and a motorbike.
As before, the battery is integrated into the frame. In this case, it's an LG lithium-ion pack carrying a 480-Wh capacity for a range Nireeka claims is up to 31 miles (50 km), and which can be upgraded to 816 Wh for 50 miles (80 km) of range. And this time, it's built to accommodate one of the great jewels of the current e-bike market: Bafang's monster M620 Ultra mid-drive motor.
This motor puts out up to 1,000 W continuous, with an enormous maximum torque of 160 Nm (118 lb-ft). It runs both cadence and torque sensing, enabling either easy cruising or electric-assist exercise depending on which mode you select. I've been getting about on a bike with this motor lately, and it's a beast. Nearly silent and hugely powerful, it flattens hills and neutralizes headwinds effortlessly, even if it can come on a little strong at times.
In conjunction with the Prime's Shimano Deore 10-speed gearset, Nireeka says it'll do around 38 mph (60 km/h) flat out. Given my experience with this motor in a different, heavier frame, I suspect both the range and top speed figures are pretty conservative. Really, the only issue I've had with this motor is that it's tempting to run it hard, to the detriment of your chain and cogs.
Where the first bike was a dual-suspension design, Nireeka has gone in a different direction with the Prime. There's no suspension at the rear, and the forks are carbon like the frame, with an option to put an air fork in. There's a bit of flex in the carbon, which should take some sting out of the bumps, and the Prime rocks full-on fatties: 4-inch Innova tires with a semi-offroad tread pattern made out of little spiders. That'll be a lot of air to ride on, and it'll help plenty with ride comfort and slushy terrain, even if it's at the expense of some range. The Prime will not be a fun bike to pedal once the battery's drained, but then, neither will any fat bike.
In terms of ergonomics, both the thin seat, with its nifty automatic brake light, and the handlebar, are adjustable. There's only one frame size: 17 inches, which Nireeka says should work for riders between 5'3 (160 cm) and 6'1 (185 cm), with a lifetime frame warranty for riders under 375 lb (125 kg). Everything's waterproof up to an IP65 rating, and the whole shebang weighs in at 57 lb (26 kg), which is pretty decent considering the motor and battery it's carrying.
While the first Nireeka bike seemed criminally underpriced, the Prime is more realistic, starting at US$1,999. Options include an upgraded display, air suspension forks, custom colors, 3K frame finishes, Shimano XT gearset, a comfort seat and others. Unusually, the Indiegogo campaign is only taking US$100 reservations, with the balance to be paid through Nireeka's own website, where you can choose colors and options.
Nireeka has offered to send us a review unit in the coming months, stay tuned for our thoughts.