The Riverside 500 E is a good all-terrain bike for both road and trail riding. Neither a mountain bike nor a road bike, it is aimed at family rides rather than sporty outings.
Presentation of Riverside 500 E
The Riverside 500 E from Decathlon is a multipurpose electrically assisted bike, intended for more leisurely use, and also capable of being transformed into a utility bike. In that case, this e-bike will be equipped with mudguards and a luggage rack. In its bare version, the e-bike is only equipped with a kickstand and a basic lighting system.
Based on the non-electric Riverside 500 from which this e-bike takes its main lines of design and geometry, this electric version nevertheless uses a frame adapted to support a battery on its diagonal tube. It is logically heavier, reaching 22.7 kg (50 pounds) in size M, against 14.1 kg (31 pounds) for the non-electric version.
The Riverside 500 E is sold for 1249 € and proposed in 4 sizes (S, M, L, and XL) for cyclists measuring between 1.5 m and 2.01 m (4.9 to 6.6 feet).
Comfort and ergonomics
Without trying to reach the comfort of a city electric bicycle, the Riverside 500 E aims at a more relaxed riding position than on a mountain e-bike. The geometry of the frame is designed to avoid leaning too much towards the handlebars. A semi-high handlebar with ergonomic grips also helps to maintain a relatively relaxed position.
Of course, it’s not a Dutch-style e-bike that offers a fully upright riding position, but casual cyclists will find the Riverside 500 E model easy to handle and not too tiring to ride.
At the same time, the Riverside 500 E is not a super comfortable e-bike, however. It is very rigid and does not well absorb vibrations transmitted to its aluminum frame. The suspension fork doesn’t move a lot and is mostly used to absorb larger bumps and hollows.
On this e-bike, however, the bulk of the shock absorption work is done by its tires. With their 700 x 40c dimensions, the CST Tir tires that equip this 500 E are unfortunately not very helpful in this respect. We would recommend opting for wider tires with lower pressure if you would like to gain a little more riding comfort and improve the e-bike’s behavior on roads.
To help save your bottom, Riverside 500 E is equipped with a Btwin Ergofit Trekking 500 saddle that offers satisfactory riding comfort. However, it will not work miracles on uneven surfaces. We recommend replacing the standard seatpost with a suspension seatpost if you want to enjoy real cushioning off-road.
Riverside 500 E equipment is minimalistic. In its standard delivery, the e-bike has no mudguards and no luggage rack. It only includes a kickstand fixed at the level of the crankset and which offers good stability.
Nevertheless, Decathlon proposes certain configuration options on its website, which allows for selecting a few compatible accessories. Unfortunately, these will not be mounted and you will have to do it yourself or pay for a service in the store to put them in place.
In order to respect current regulations, Decathlon provides this e-bike with front and rear lights, but those are just very basic lights and will only serve to indicate the presence of the e-bike on the road. It is much better to upgrade, at least, the headlight to be able to ride at night in not-well-lit-up areas.
Riverside 500 E on the road
Despite being positioned as an entry-level all-terrain electric bike, the Riverside 500 E has its respectable dynamic behavior. It’s fairly agile, well balanced, and doesn’t suffer too much from the extra weight of the electrification. Of course, you can feel it’s almost 23 kg, but you don’t get the impression that this e-bike is bulky to move around.
In the meantime, given its weight, it is certainly better to be able to count on the e-bike’s electric assistance, which is provided by a rear-wheel hub motor. Such motor positioning (as compared to mid-drive motors) is done due to price constraints. E-bikes with centrally mounted mid-drive motors are generally sold for more than 1500 €.
This motor offers 250 W of power and a torque of 42 Nm which, if not to catapult us effortlessly to the top of the steepest hills, still offers enough power and torque to help us climb without suffering too much. The motor is quiet enough not to disrupt country rides, and it’s easy to forget if you’re riding in traffic.
Unlike some entry-level electric bikes that only use a rotation sensor to determine when the assistance should be engaged – and therefore offer no progressive assistance (all-or-nothing assistance) – the Riverside 500 E benefits from a torque sensor that measures the force applied at the level of the pedal axle.
The electric assistance is proportional to the pedaling effort of the rider, which allows for a more natural pedaling – although certainly without reaching the naturalness and responsiveness of mid-drive motor models.
Three levels of assistance thus make it possible to choose the level of effort one wishes to provide. This makes it possible, for example, to mostly use levels 1 or 2 to roll on flat roads and to reserve level 3 for the steepest inclines.
Assistance mode can be changed with the “plus” and “minus” buttons of the onboard computer. Ergonomics could have been better, but these buttons are still relatively easily accessible with the tip of the left thumb.
It is noticeable, however, that electric assistance does not turn on and off smoothly. The motor has a tendency to start rather abruptly, even at low speeds. Without being dangerous, this behavior is somewhat inconsistent with the smoothness of pedaling. This behavior also doesn’t help when riding on wet roads, when the grip of tires is not the best.
The transmission of Riverside 500 E is assembled with entry-level components. Although gear shifts lack smoothness and responsiveness, overall, the system still responds well and you should not encounter any problems during use.
What is especially nice to have in the travel range offered by the 8 sprockets cassette from 11 to 34 teeth associated with a single 36 teeth chainring. The smallest gearing allows you to get over steep climbs with the help of electric assistance, while the biggest one offers enough momentum to reach 40 km/h downhill without grinding too much.
When it comes to braking, you can count on Tektro TKD hydraulic system with dual-piston calipers and 160 mm discs at the front and rear. The aluminum brake levers are basic, the bite and endurance are not great, and rather stiff tires don’t really help, but it’s still enough to ensure safe braking on a little more than 4 meters, in an emergency situation on dry ground.
The Riverside 500 E’s battery seems to take up almost the entire length of the down tube, but it only has a fairly standard capacity of 418 Wh (36 V, 11.6 Ah). So, you should not really expect any breakthrough in autonomy for this model.
On mode 3 of electric assistance, the Riverside 500 E would generally provide around 50 km of autonomy, taking into account a number of climbs along the way. This is relatively good performance for such battery capacity. Such performance can be attributed to progressive assistance and the overall dynamics of the e-bike.
To recharge the battery, a 36 V charger delivers 4A, which makes it possible to fully recharge the battery in around 3,5 hours. This is, actually a very good charging time, as many other entry-level and even mid-level electric bikes (for example, urban models, such as ELOPS at Decathlon) are supplied with 2A chargers only, which deliver two times slower charging time.
Pros of Riverside 500 E
- Engine torque and transmission are well adapted to off-road use;
- Torque sensor is proportional to the pedaling force;
- Satisfactory road autonomy.
Cons of Riverside 500 E
- Electric assistance lacks smoothness;
- Rather poor shock absorption;
- Rather poor tire grip on wet surfaces;
- Lack of standard equipment (mudguards and luggage rack optional);
- Fragile battery removal mechanism.
Final verdict for Decathlon Riverside 500 E
Categorized as an off-roader, the Riverside 500 E is indeed capable of off-roading, but it’s not necessarily very comfortable on the trails. Its lack of smoothness and the lack of grip of its tires on wet terrain limit its capabilities in this area. Changing tires and installing a suspension seatpost can compensate for these negative points and help improve your riding experience.
Read also: Ever considered offering e-bike as a gift? Or gifting one to yourself? Check out our suggestions – in this e-bike gift guide.