Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser vs Electric Bike Company Model Y: A Side-by-Side Comparison
June 9, 2023
The cruiser-style bike: classic, recognizable, and stylish. With the ebike boom taking the US by storm and with no signs of letting up, there’s a reason the cruiser has become one of the most popular designs for a myriad of ebike companies and manufacturers. Swooping lines with an ultra-relaxed, comfortable riding posture, and steeped in beach culture, it’s characterized in great part by the iconic coastal backdrops that lend to its title. Adding to the aesthetic appeal comes the extreme practicality of this style of ebike. Cruisers are typically designed with ample opportunity for carrying cargo and stock comfort-forward saddles and wide handlebars. Adding smaller 26” wheelsets into the mix makes pulling off the road and firmly planting your feet to check the surf or chat with your friends on the boardwalk an obvious intention in its design and use.
Ride1Up observed a trend in the ebike industry: an overwhelming abundance of cruiser-style ebike options were overpriced and under-spec’d. Ride1Up did what it does best and with careful consideration, we designed a bike that blended all the necessary features that embody the cruiser ebike into a gorgeously appointed, powerful, yet surprisingly affordable package for the masses.
As a Southern California company, with great pride, we introduced the Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser to the market. It made a big splash, earning accolades from a wide range of top reviewers in the industry. Early adopters of our cruiser model took the leap too, and it paid off. Since 2018, Ride1Up has carefully cultivated our reputation for delivering high-quality ebikes with performance to match, without the inflated price tag. To continue in this tradition, we thought it would be valuable to shine a light on one of the most popular cruiser-style ebikes in the industry, the Electric Bike Company Model Y, and how it stacks up to the Cafe Cruiser.
It’s important to note that Electric Bike Company bikes are highly customizable. Upon first navigating their site, the price tag you see advertised can easily jump up by a conservative 30% after you’ve checked all the boxes of what you want out of your ride. Keep in mind that the base Model Y (which is missing many practical features), already starts at $1,999; over $400 more than our Cafe Cruiser. We will compare the EBC Model Y with the additional cost features and components that most closely mirror the specifications of the Cafe Cruiser, in order to provide the most accurate cost-value comparison possible.
In this side-by-side comparison of the Cafe Cruiser and the Model Y, we’ve divided the most important features into four sections. This will show you in an uncomplicated way how these bikes stack up against each other. Directly below, you’ll find a “stats section” – similar to a fact card you would see hanging from the handlebars while shopping for a bike. In the following sections, we’ll examine these two bikes’ electrical and mechanical features, and lastly, analyze the additional qualities that fall outside of the previous sections.
Similar to the fact card you would see in a bike shop, browse below for each bike’s basic info as advertised on their sites.
|Cafe Cruiser||Model Y|
|Battery||15Ah||Base Model 10.5Ah|
(18Ah Option Shown + $499)
|Range||Up to 50 Miles||Up to 80 Miles|
(with 18Ah option)
|Class||Ships as Class 3||Ships as Class 2|
(Can Re-programming to Class 3)
|Pedal Assist (PAS)||Cadence||Cadence|
|Top Speed||28 mph|
(Class 3 Mode)
(Requires re-programming to reach 28mph)
|Models||Step-through & Step-over||Step-through|
(Not including fenders, fork, gearing upgrade, or rack)
|Suspension||80mm Hydraulic||Base Model – Rigid Fork|
(80mm Hydraulic Shown + $199)
|Gears||8-Speed||Base Model – Single Speed|
(7-Speed Option Shown + $189)
|Rear Rack||Integrated Rear Rack|
|Base Model – No|
(55lb Rating Rear Rack Shown + $139)
(20lb rated rack/basket available +$100)
|Lights||Front and Rear||Front and Rear|
|Fenders||Hardened Metal Alloy||Base Model – No Fenders|
(Metal Alloy Shown + $89)
|Display||Backlit, 2-tone||Backlit, Color|
|Colors||3 Stock Colors||3 Stock Colors (Additional colors available at added cost)|
(with upgrades noted above)
Straightaway, we see that the Model Y is nearly double the cost. Keep in mind, we’ve tailored the base Model Y to match the features of our Cafe as closely as possible. But why the significant price difference? Let’s highlight major contrasts here and then break down the many smaller details in the sections below.
At the surface, the Model Y has a 3Ah larger battery, slightly higher peak motor output, color display, stock front basket and a 70lb higher carrying capacity. Consider that the added features like a larger battery, rack, fenders, and suspension fork will increase the advertised weight by a conservative 10-12 lbs, making a ~70 lb bike on the heavy side, especially for smaller riders. As we read on, however, we will begin to notice that the Cafe Cruiser stock features, functions, and components match or outperform those of the Model Y all while incredibly managing to ring in at nearly half the cost. Let’s examine why this is the case in more detail in the following sections.
Let’s talk about that extraordinary element that makes ebikes special – the electricity that gives us that thrilling boost. Take a look below to see in detail how they differ between these two models.
|Cafe Cruiser||Model Y||Comments|
(Samsung Cells) 48V system
(Undisclosed Cells or Voltage)
|Here you see there is a difference in battery power. This suggests a couple of important factors. |
Notably, Model Y’s 18Ah battery is a $499 upgrade. The alternative is a stock 10.4Ah battery – advertised to get up to 40 miles of range. In actuality, achieving this is highly unlikely with a bike this heavy. While saving some costs here might help with the enormous price tag, you’re sacrificing confidence on the road and adding major battery anxiety to the bill. Notably, EBC does not disclose what cells they use, though investigation uncovered that they use Panasonic, LG, or Samsung which differ in cost and quality significantly, leaving the consumer to wonder what is really powering their ride.
The Cafe is transparent in packing 15 amp hours of high-quality Samsung cells for no increase in the advertised price. Regarded as a standard in the industry for high performance, and reduced Li-ion cell degradation over time, this battery pack will provide 30 miles of aggressive riding. Cruise more conservatively, and you will be able to get 50 miles or more out of a single charge.
|Motor||750W, 60nm Torque|
Bafang Rear Hub
EBC Rear Hub (Undisclosed Torque)
|Motors are one of the key components of your ebike and it’s critical to understand their torque values intimately. Torque is important for hill climbing and acceleration. Knowing how much you can squeeze out of your motor is what gives you the confidence to navigate challenging conditions on the fly. These bikes stock two different motors with notable differences.|
The Cafe Cruiser’s 750-watt Bafang hub motor packs an ample 60nm of torque, and a 1-year warranty is included with your purchase. Bafang has long been regarded in the ebike space for durability and performance, at competitive pricing. This means confident cruising at an approachable cost.
The Model Y advertises a 500-watt rating that should provide respectable power, but with such a huge difference in cost, one would expect a significantly more powerful motor. Notably, EBC manufactures its motor in-house which, like the battery, leaves you guessing as to the parts and materials they are using. That said, they are providing a 10-year warranty which presumably is meant to allay consumer concerns over the lesser established manufacturing process.
|Controller||48V x 18 Amp|
(864 peak motor wattage)
|Undisclosed||Controllers manage how power is distributed through the electrical components of the bike. How many amps your controller distributes will govern how much power can be sent to your motor. |
Peak motor wattage is an exercise in multiplication. The amp limit on the controller and the voltage of the battery, multiplied together will calculate the peak wattage the motor can produce.
The Cafe Cruiser peaks at 864 watts which is going to give you serious speed and acceleration when navigating challenging conditions or seeking a dose of adrenaline.
The Model Y controller amperage and peak wattage are not advertised, though some 3rd party reviewers have noted around 150 more peak watts when compared to our Cafe Cruiser. Again, a small difference, at a large cost.
|Display Screen||Backlit, Square Programmable 2-Tone Display||Backlit, Square Color Display||This is the first stock component that we come across where EBC decided to put more care without charging additional costs. That said, both displays are handlebar operated and provide all the standard trip data like speed, odometer, and pedal assist levels. We’ll go over the differences below. |
The Cafe Cruiser display is 2-tone, with a surplus of ride data and features to personalize your ride. You can also adjust the power settings for each level, and switch from 3 levels of assist to 5, 7, or even 9 to refine your preferences. Additionally, you can receive real-time wattage feedback to see how much power is sent to your motor at any given time.
The Model Y spent a little more on this component with a color display screen and separate, lefthand thumbpad for switching levels. It also has a charging port for your mobile device, a nice added feature. However, separate components mean more wires and additional opportunities for breakage or replacements.
|Front Light||Buchel Shiny Round LED |
|“Standard Safety LED”||These two ebikes both have integrated lighting that serves their purpose to illuminate the road in front of you and be seen by other motorists or bikes on the road. |
However, in the tradition of transparency, Ride1Up provides a light specification for the Cafe Cruiser using ‘lux’ – the most common metric for lighting industry professionals. This measures the number of light particles falling on a surface at a given distance.
EBC has not specified the power of the Model Y’s front light or the brightness it is capable of. Again, this leaves us curious about how much thought, care, or budget has been invested in the component, while still paying top dollar.
|Rear Light||Rack Integrated Square Velo Edge LED||Rack Integrated “Standard Safety LED”||In this category, both of these bikes come stock with a rear light. |
The Cafe Cruiser, however, has a larger, square-shaped rear light mounted to the rear rack, which is included in the $1595 retail price.
The Model Y requires you to pay $139 in order to have a rack with integrated rear lighting in addition to the smaller, base model rear light.
Mechanical components and their quality are incredibly important to the longevity, safety, and durability of your ride. This is one of the most important categories to understand where your money is well spent.
|Cafe Cruiser||Model Y||Comments|
Disc Brakes with Motor Cut-Off Sensor
2-Piston Hydraulic Disc Brakes with Motor Cut-Off Sensor
|These ebikes are both stocked with hydraulic brakes which are easier to adjust, require less maintenance and provide optimal stopping power over mechanical or rim brakes. The motor cut-off sensor kills power to the motor when brakes are active, reducing energy waste and unwanted acceleration.|
However, it is important to understand who manufactures your brakes, their reputation, and which companies are transparent about the brand their using.
The Cafe Cruiser e-bike is fitted with dual-piston brakes, offered by Zoom. Similar to Bafang, this is a long-standing manufacturer that is known for both quality and cost-efficiency.,
The Model Y advertises Bengal Ares brakes on their site, however, 3rd party reviewers have provided conflicting information, reporting that the bike arrived with Tektro brakes. While still a very respected component, it is worth wondering why EBC has some consistency-related issues.
|Pedals||Wellgo Metal Alloy||Rubberized Wellgo Metal Alloy||Pedals are two of the five points of contact as we interact with our ebikes. The Model Y has pedals with rubber which definitely sets the tone for relaxed riding.|
The Cafe Cruiser’s non-rubberized counterparts were chosen for higher performance and safety at speed, with better grip when topping out at 28mph.
While a point of preference, the cost between the two pedal options is comparable. As a true transportation alternative, the Cafe Cruiser was designed to ride like a cruiser, but still be capable of higher performance when you need it.
|Gearing||8-speed Shimano||7-speed Shimano Acera (Base Model + $189)||The number of gears you can shift through will give you greater variability and ease when traversing over mixed terrains and grades. |
The Cafe Cruiser stocks an 8-speed brand-name cassette for the retail price advertised. A better gearing for the specific terrain is going to ensure your battery life is extended to the peak efficiency possible.
Not only is there a single-gear difference between the two, but it is an additional cost to customize the Model Y with its smaller cassette. Even at this extra cost, you are getting less for more for this mechanical upgrade.
|Suspension Fork||Mozo Hydraulic Suspension, 80mm Travel, with Lockout and Rebound Adjustment||Hydraulic Suspension, 80mm Travel, with Lockout and Rebound Adjustment|
(Base Model + $189; Undisclosed Brand)
|Fork suspensions soak in the inconsistencies on the terrain you tackle and reduce fatigue while increasing the feeling of comfort during your ride.|
The Cafe Cruiser suspension fork comes stock and without question, you are getting the most value out of the money you’re spending.
The Model Y fork suspension is yet again a costly upgrade from the base model, and it is not specified who manufactures it, leaving you unsure where your money is being spent. However, if you’re willing to part with the cash, both feature 80mm of travel with lockout and rebound adjustment, allowing you to fine-tune the stiffness of the shock to your weight or terrain.
|Gear Shifter||8-speed Shimano Acera Trigger Shifter||7-speed Shimano Thumb Shifter||Shifters communicate with your derailleur to move the chain smoothly between gears on your cassette. |
The trigger shifter on the Cafe Cruiser is higher quality, newer tech than the Model Y counterpart, and requires less adjustment, with a more obvious gearing display.
The Shimano thumb shifter on the Model Y is in this case a common and name-brand component. You’ll find this stocked on lesser-priced Ride1Up bikes than the Cafe Cruiser. Again, for extra cost from the base single-speed Model Y, you are beginning to see a trend that adding cost is still diminishing in return.
Lastly, let’s circle back and explore the additional features that don’t fall into the categories above.
|Cafe Cruiser||Model Y||Comments|
|Frame Style||Step-through & Step-over||Step-Through||The Cafe Cruiser provides both a step-through frame and step-over frame option, the prior of which makes it easier to mount and dismount, especially if you have cargo or mobility concerns.|
The Model Y does not provide any frame option outside of the step-through, so you need to be set on this frame style if you want to go with the Model Y. Additionally, with an external battery that is housed in the basket, throwing off balance and costing less for manufacturing of the frame.
Importantly, the battery is designed into the frame of the Cafe Cruiser, which costs more to manufacture but is more cosmetically appealing, distributes the weight more evenly, and provides better riding characteristics.
|Colors||3||3 Base colors|
(extra color options available at added cost)
|When all is said and done, regardless of parts or components, we need to enjoy the look of our ride and for many, this is paramount when riding a cruiser-style bike.|
The Cafe Cruiser comes in 3 unique color options, Latte, Indigo, and Graphite.
The base Model Y comes with 3 basic color choices: Red, White, or Black. That said, for an additional cost of $299, you can customize from a huge variety of other colors.
|Fenders||Hardened Metal Alloy||Base Model – No Fenders|
(Metal Alloy + $89)
|The Cafe Cruiser comes stock with hardened metal alloy fenders. |
Another situation where only for an added cost can you customize the Model Y to have a basic, but necessary feature.
Schwalbe Fat Frank
|The stock tires are similar between the two brands, with a few notable differences.|
The Cafe Cruiser tires are significantly wider, allowing for a more cushioned ride and an easier time traversing a variety of different terrains.
The Model Y Schwalbe tire is more than a half-inch slimmer, reducing surface area and requiring a higher tire pressure which will make for a bumpier ride. This tire is also pricier which begs the question, what is the priority? Cost or performance?
|Range||Up to 50 Miles||Up to 80 Miles|
(18Ah Option + $499)
|Range estimates depend on assorted factors like assist level, temperature, rider and bike weight, tire pressure, terrain, crosswind, and more.|
The Model Y advertises a 40-mile range for the base model 10.4Ah battery. For a costly upgrade to an 18Ah battery, this will get within a 3Ah spread from the Cafe Cruiser’s 15Ah battery. EBC advertises up to 80 miles in range for the 18Ah battery.
When it comes to range and the various factors affecting it, transparency is key. Advertising 40 miles on a 10.4Ah battery borders on fantasy for a bike of that size. How one would extract 40 more miles out of an additional 7.6Ah also seems over-confident. In this area, we believe it is important to be conservative and overdeliver, rather than leave the consumer stuck on the road with a dead battery.
|Throttle Operation||Thumb-Throttle||Thumb-Throttle or Twist-Grip||Two of the most common types of throttle available, this comes down to preference at the end of the day. |
The Cafe Cruiser stocks a left-hand thumb throttle. This lowers the chance of powering the motor accidentally in comparison to a twist grip throttle.
That said, many prefer a traditional motorcycle-style throttle. A nice option, this is a cost-free customization available on the Model Y.
|Rear Rack||Integrated, High Capacity Rear Rack||Attachable Rear Rack |
|Rear racks allow carrying cargo and for the Cafe Cruiser, also an extra passenger of up to 150 lbs. The Cafe’s rear rack is incredibly sturdy, welded on, and part of the actual bike frame. Notably, this is included in the retail price.|
The base Model Y does not come stock with a rack, but you can purchase one rated for only 55 lbs of carrying capacity for an additional $139.
|Waterproofing||IP-65||Undisclosed||Ride1Up advertises the Cafe Cruiser as IP-65 which protects from low-pressure water and dirt. This means you can ride in the rain or leave it outdoors as necessary, though you should protect it from the elements when possible to increase longevity.|
EBC does not disclose the exact rating for the Model Y, which is concerning when you need to know which conditions they can withstand. We were able to uncover a YouTube video after some digging that declared they were “water-resistant”, without disclosing an IP rating.
If you are deciding between the EBC Model Y and the Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser, you will see they are both high-quality products that have been designed in the cruiser style. However, we recognize that is there a huge leap in price between the two, and in this case, opting for a higher-priced item is frankly not bringing more value to the table. As we’ve explored through this detailed comparison of their specs and components, you realize that in many cases, you are getting lesser quality components, less transparency from the company, and in turn, less value when you choose to spend more of your hard-earned dollars.
Electric Bike Company Model Y
Hats off to Electric Bike Company and the Model Y. They are a California-based company that makes a classically styled, highly customizable cruiser ebike. A cruiser-style ebike starting at $1,999 is in the target range for many interested consumers and you will be hard-pressed to find an ebike company offering so much customization on their website. However, this can be a double-edged sword, as you navigate through their purchase process and realize you are spending nearly double the cost from where you started, but when compared to the Cafe Cruiser, getting a lot less for the money. Moreover, the battery is built into the basket which saves manufacturing costs on their end but comes at a great cost to the distribution of weight while riding. Lastly, transparency on components and specifications is key because, for an ebike, you need to know exactly what you’re getting for the cash you part with.
Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser
The Cafe Cruiser is an elegantly designed bike on the exterior, but the true elegance lies behind the scenes, with the care taken to balance its value with cost. Many are shocked to see this beautifully appointed ebike with powerful integrated electronics, name-brand mechanical components, a passenger capable welded rack, a high-capacity battery, and a torquey motor for only $1,595. At Ride1Up, great effort goes into transparency when choosing quality parts and being detailed about them with our customers. Because ebikes are a complex and relatively recent innovation a lot of this info can get muddled during your research. In many cases, companies have found opportunities to save costs by providing lower quality parts and specs which save them a bundle, but at the cost of their customers. Ride1Up stepped in because we knew we could make a comparable or superior product, for less. By carefully considering the value proposition and providing a side-by-side comparison, it becomes evident that the Ride1Up Cafe Cruiser offers an excellent cost-value ratio, making it a compelling choice for riders looking for a stylish and practical electric bike.