The Ranger S is a newer entry to Heybike's large lineup, a heavy-duty fat tire folder that's ready to tackle just about anything. Capable of carrying up to 400 pounds thanks to sturdy cast-alloy wheels, the Ranger S includes a wide rear rack and has standard mounts for a front basket. Full fenders and excellent integrated lighting allow riding at night or in bad weather. And of course, it folds for easier storage! There's a lot of value packed in here for a surprisingly affordable price tag.
Frame and Contact Points
Hello my friends, let's take a deeper look at the Ranger S, a new model offering from Heybike! I've been familiar with the Heybike brand for awhile but hadn't ridden on one until the (e)revolution Expo in Denver earlier this summer. I was pretty impressed with the bikes I rode there, so I was excited to get my hands on the Ranger S for this review. After a week of test riding, my experience has been mostly positive; while the Ranger S does have a few flaws, they're pretty minor and the bike really does pack in a lot of quality components while keeping a low price tag.
Getting One: Dealer or Online?
While you can order a Ranger S on Heybike's website with free shipping, that's not the best way to do it. Use their Dealer Locator to find a dealer near you; not only can you test ride it to make sure it fits, but you also benefit from having a professional assemble, tune, and fit your bike. My Ranger S was shipped to me, and even though I've assembled a ton of e-bikes over the years, I still had some trouble with mine. The display was scratched so I had to install a replacement, I had to work with Heybike support to troubleshoot a faulty motor inhibitor cable, and the brakes and derailleur all needed tuning up. I know how to do most of this stuff so the only cost for me was time, but if you lack the know-how (or the tools) it can be more costly to do.
This isn't to knock on Heybike; if you order any brand of electric bike online, you have to finish assembly! You can check with local e-bike shops, many of them will allow you to ship a bike there for assembly for a reasonable price.
Appearance and Design: Who's it For?
The Ranger S is a folder, but not a "carry on to the subway" folder... think "take up less space in the garage" folder. It balances okay while folded but doesn't have any latch mechanism to secure it while folded, so you might want some bungee cords if you're transporting it in your RV or other vehicle.
Not only is the Ranger S pretty big, it's also heavier than it needs to be due to the cast alloy wheels. These add a lot more weight than typical spoked wheels, causing the Ranger S to tip the scales at just over 74 pounds. Usually, cast alloy wheels are used for increased strength and stability, which is why you see them on high-speed minibikes like the Juiced HyperScorpion. But the Ranger S isn't built for high speed; while you can reach 28mph with some brisk pedaling, there's a lot of frame flex and vibration from the folding step-thru frame, so it doesn't feel very safe at that speed.
It does adjust to fit a wide range of riders, thanks to the extra-long seatpost, approachable step-thru frame, and telescoping stem... but the stem is somewhat limited by the length of electronic cables for handlebar mounted components. Raise the stem up more than about five inches and you will stretch the cables tight, which puts them at risk of damage when turning sharply. This problem is shared by most folding e-bikes with telescoping stems; either your cables are too short and risk damage, or your cables are too long and look messy. Fortunately, the lowest position of the stem is still high enough that most riders should feel quite comfortable!
Ride Comfort: Great Except the Saddle
The Ranger S has a lot going for it in the comfort department, with a quality suspension fork and 20x4 fat tires providing a lot of cushion. The seating position is upright and relaxed - even for my 6'3" frame - and I almost could have spent hours in the saddle! Almost, because the saddle itself is actually pretty awful to sit on. It's oddly shaped and two stiff, so it feels like you're sitting on two bumps that aren't where they should be. This may change over time as it gets broken in... and either way this is a very minor gripe, because swapping out the saddle is one of the cheapest and easiest modifications you can make.
Power & Performance: Middle of the Road
At the core of the Ranger S is a 750-watt rear hub motor powered by a 48 volt 15 amp-hour battery. (Their website says it's a 14.4 amp-hour battery... but I'm going with what's stickered on mine). These components are Heybike branded and I wasn't able to get any additional information about the manufacturer of the battery cells. I was able to cruise at speeds of 25mph comfortably; reaching 28mph is possible, but requires a lot of exertion and feels a bit unsafe due to the frame flex, which is common on step-thru frames, even more so on folding ones. If you're bopping around on throttle only, expect top speeds of 21-22mph, with pedaling required to go any faster.
Range is a tricky figure because it depends on a lot of factors, but in my range test I managed to squeeze out 25 miles before the Ranger S completely died. I was pushing pretty hard and riding in levels 4 or 5, both pedaling and using the throttle aggressively. Keep in mind that it's not great to run your battery down to 0%, so you can expect a "worse case scenario" max range of about 20 miles for this e-bike. If you're riding in a lower power setting and pedaling more instead of using the throttle, you should be able to double that figure.
I do want to give props to Heybike for the electronics configuration on the Ranger S; Even though it only has a cadence sensor, it's tuned very well and pedal assist feels very responsive. When starting from a dead stop or low speed, the PAS kicks in almost instantly, helping out when you really need it. If you're already traveling at medium or high speed and start pedaling, the PAS ramps in more gradually, feeling very smooth instead of jarring like it does on some e-bikes. What's even cooler is that if you don't like this configuration, you can change it! Heybike has an app that pairs with the display over bluetooth, allowing you to customize a wide array of options for the bike's electronics. It's one of the cleaner e-bike apps I've seen and definitely worth taking a few minutes to set up.
Try not to strand yourself on an empty battery or else you'll get a serious workout pedaling the Ranger S around; The components here are entry level with a Shimano Tourney derailleur, 14-28 tooth freewheel, and SIS Index thumb shifter. They get the job done and pair well with the powerful electric system, but aren't as smooth or efficient as Shimano's more premium component lines.
I'm a big fan of the integrated lights and signals on the Ranger S. The lights are bright, with integrated turn signals for the front and rear, and extra-bright flashing brake activation for the rear. There's an obnoxiously loud buzzer-style horn, and the signal controls use a standard motorcycle-esque layout on the left grip. There's also an "auto mode" feature for the lights, activated with a button under the throttle; turn this on, and the lights will turn on automatically when it gets dark! While this sounds great in theory, I would actually recommend you never use it, because it is very sensitive and activates even when the bike is powered off. Turn the bike off, leave it in your garage, and as soon as it gets dark the bike lights will kick on and start draining your battery!
The Ranger S is also fairly visible from the side thanks to reflective sidewall striping and the bright branding letters. You could always opt for the brighter Metallic Sand color to really stand out!
Stopping power is provided by hydraulic disc brakes from RSX, with big 180-mm rotors on both the front and the rear. Complete with motor inhibitors, these are quality brakes that provide plenty of oomph for quick stops and long rides.
Utility: Versatile but a bit Heavy
The Ranger S has a quality suspension fork and fat tires (with puncture protection!), so it's capable of handling rough terrain, especially considering the wide and sturdy fenders. It does great in the city too thanks to the rear rack and integrated lighting, and there are mount points for a front basket if you want to carry even more cargo.
The only strike against the Ranger S is the weight, coming in at about 10 pounds heavier than a typical fat-tire folder. This makes it more unwieldy to carry and store... but on the bright side, it does have a very high weight capacity of 400 pounds, so it's a great fit for larger riders who also want to haul some cargo!