Nireeka has gone back to a drivetrain-friendly hub motor on its dual-suspension carbon-frame Revenant ebike – and it’s also one of the very first bikes on the market with ABS braking. We’ve been riding one for months, and it’s an impressive machine.
Back in 2020, we reviewed Nireeka’s enormous Prime e-fatbike, decked out with an abundance of power, outrageous looks, and a pair of 26 x 4-inch fat tires bigger than my old KTM 250cc dirtbike had. This Canadian-headquartered company first captured our attention with an extraordinary deal on its first bike, the Homie, but has since cemented itself with some of the sweetest-looking carbon-fiber frame designs on the market, and an expanding list of models targeted at different niches.
If the Prime is the powerhouse beach cruiser and the Nyx is the lightweight, high-end enduro trail blaster of the range, the new Revenant sits somewhere in between, a capable but more affordable semi-fat tire duallie aimed at a mix between street riding and off-road capability.
One thing that instantly sets the Revenant apart from the Prime and Nyx is the choice of a hub motor as opposed to a powerful mid drive. Nireeka will happily make you a restricted 250-W euro-compliant ebike, but the unrestricted versions of all its bikes are much more powerful and extremely torquey. We’re talking a full 160 Nm (118 lb-ft) from the mid-drive Bafang Ultra beast in the Prime.
That’s a lot to ask from today’s bicycle drivetrains, whose chains and sprockets are really built for mildly augmented leg power, not the kind of bulk electric torque these big Bafangs can put out. So to my mind, Nireeka has done owners a favor by putting the Revenant’s 1,000-W, 85 Nm (63 lb-ft) motor in the rear hub where it can operate directly on the wheel, leaving the chain, sprockets and derailleur nothing to deal with except what your quads can contribute.
Our review bike arrived in pearlized white, with just about every optional upgrade fitted, including an 840-Wh battery, Shimano SLX groupset, Shimano Diore rotors, a fast charger, a thumb throttle, a full-fat thousand-watt motor, an aluminum air fork, a torque sensor, carbon handlebars and seatpost, a comfort saddle, and the optional Blubrake ABS braking system. Together, these upgrades slap a little over US$2,000 onto the price tag, which starts from a very impressive $2,499.
The white frame is considerably less visually arresting than the eye-popping pearl red on the Prime – and in my case, that’s exactly what I was hoping. People can’t look away from the Ferrari-red Prime, which would be fine if it wasn’t a flagrantly illegal conveyance in my area. That red paint job makes me feel self-conscious every time I head out the gate, and draws so much attention that I’m stressed anywhere I park it.
The more conservative white Revenant still looks superb, and shows off designer Max Shojaie’s signature twisting, angular style in the right light – but with its smaller 27.5 x 2.8-inch tires it looks a lot less like a motorcycle, and thus flies a little closer to under the radar. It’s still very clear at a glance that this bike means business, though, particularly if you take a peek at the beefy motor sandwiched away in the back wheel.
Assembly is straightforward – although I can share two pro tips I had to contact Nireeka for. Firstly, mount your control thumbswitch between the brake lever mount and the display, otherwise the bolt won’t reach. Secondly, both axle washers go on the left side of the front wheel, the side with the brake disc on it.
It might not look as huge as the Prime, but this is still a big bike. We did manage to fit it onto a high-end Thule bike rack for transport, but that by no means felt like a foregone conclusion. It’s quite tall to stand next to, which some shorter riders can find intimidating, but the seat is adjustable through a wide range, and it’s proven accessible to a wide range of people as a result.
At around 27 kg (60 lb), it’s quite a hefty beast despite the amount of carbon fiber involved. You don’t want to pull up to a stop in top gear and try to pedal this thing away from the lights in a hurry.
Also, if you’re not used to bigger, fatter, heavier wheels, you might find the Revenant takes a moment to adjust to, but coming from the motorcycle world and the much larger tire on the Prime, I’m more than comfortable with a spinning gyroscopic mass at the front end.
The Nireeka-branded front air fork and xFusion OEM air shock are both simple to set up and adjust with a hand pump. The fork is adjustable only for pressure, but also features a remote lockout for efficient street riding. The shock can also be locked out, but it’s adjustable for both pressure and rebound damping.
Combined with those 2.7-inch tires, the suspension can make your ride smooth and squishy, or more tight and agile, depending on how you set it up. The way I’ve got mine set, I feel like I can point this bike at rocks, ruts and even small logs with confidence; it soaks up bumps beautifully, smooths out terrain that would normally make your teeth rattle, rarely bottoms out, and is happy to deal with small jumps despite carrying a lot of weight.
On the street, those big 27.5-inch wheels and chunky Kenda tires feel like they can roll over anything. Hopping up onto curbs is so smooth and effortless that my brain can’t quite square it. Mind you, with the very handy spring-loaded sidestand fitted, you can expect a clattery racket from the back end over the rough stuff. Take it off if you’re going off-road!
This is a pleasant and comfy machine to ride with the electrics switched off. It’s heavy, but balances easily and there’s an abundance of low ratios across the 11-speed gear cassette to get moving with if you’re not feeling lazy and inclined to just use the throttle. You’ll need some serious leg power to overcome the rolling resistance, though – run this one out of battery and you’re in for a slow cruise home.
Power up the big Bafang, and the Revenant hitches up its skirts and boogies. Even on the lowest power setting, this bike shows little interest in cruising; it wants to party, and accelerates away quicker than I expect. The throttle is mapped much more smoothly here than on the Prime, and it’s easy and pleasant to use, although I do wish it wasn’t restricted by the power mode you’re in.
Our review bike is fitted with a torque sensor, but the power delivery here isn’t as precise as it is on the mid-drive bikes; you don’t get the same feeling that your legs are just stronger. Instead, you really feel that big hub motor delivering buckets of shunt, for a solid half a second after you’ve stopped pedaling. In seconds, you’re quickly running up through the gears, and knocking on the door of 30 km/h (19 mph) with little effort.
That’s on level 1, eco mode – the lowest setting – which makes me wish there was something even lower. But that’s me; I tend to run high-powered ebikes at low power most of the time anyway, only cranking things up when it’s time to go fast or head up a steep hill.
When it comes to going fast, the best I’ve seen on the Revenant’s dash on a flat piece of tarmac has been 53 km/h (33 mph) – a little short of the claimed 57 k/h (35 mph). I suspect two things are keeping the speed down. Firstly, I’m the opposite of aerodynamic, and quite a hefty lad. Secondly, the Revenant is geared such that by the time you hit a cruising speed around 35 km/h (22 mph) in top gear, you’re pumping the pedals pretty fast. Go for a top speed run, and your legs are going like fiddlers‘ elbows during an Irish jig.
So if you’re planning on going fast, or even just cruising at a decent speed, you might want to look into a replacement for the standard 38-tooth chain ring. It’s a 104 BCD narrow wide design from Deckas, and eBay tells me you can go up as high as 52 teeth for about $20, representing a 37% increase in final gearing. I suspect something around the 44 region would feel about right for street riding, although you might need to extend the chain.
When it comes to steep hills, mid-drive bikes tend to come into their own, since their output is sent through the gears. Hub drives are typically single-speed, so they’re less help when you’re really climbing hard. The Revenant is torquey enough that this rarely presents a problem on the street – you just bump it up a couple of power levels where necessary. But if you need to climb a lot of slow, steep trails, you might want to look at something like the Nyx.
As with most Bafang bikes, holding down the minus button on the thumb controller activates walk assist, which is handy. Holding down the plus button switches you between Sport and Eco modes – but for some reason, there’s very little distinction between the two on this motor. I can’t really feel much of a change at all, so I leave it in Eco and pretend I’m saving the planet.
On to the ABS. Blubrake’s ABS system is not pretty, and it does sully the look of the front end somewhat, hanging behind the fork with wires poking out of it – not something I’d comment on if the rest of the bike wasn’t so pretty.
The Blubrake system also annoyingly drains your battery when the bike’s switched off, since it doesn’t talk to the Bafang controller – so Nireeka has fitted a second master power switch on the frame. This feels a bit hacky, and leaves you nearly certain to forget at some point, meaning that if you leave it for a week or so, it may well flatten your battery. I do wonder if it could be wired in through the dash somehow – although I guess as it is, the button on the side acts as a semi-security measure of sorts.
The implementation here might not be perfect, but in use, the ABS system is an absolute treat. It just works, pulling you to a safe, controlled and surprisingly rapid stop on slippery gravel, dirt, mud and whatever else we’ve pointed it at. It’s front-wheel only, so you can still rip skids, and as a $399 option, it could save your skin several times on a bike this quick. If you can live with the looks and handle the price, I think it’s a worthy addition. Nobody likes losing the front wheel.
Range-wise, Nireeka claims 80 km (50 miles) from the larger 840-Wh LG battery. I’m seeing more like 50 km (31 miles) in regular riding, mainly on the lowest power level but cranking it up a bit for hills and occasionally using the throttle to get moving. That’s not just me, either – I lent the Revenant to one Dennis Dawson, esteemed leader of the „Ghostriders“ crew my dad goes out cycling with, and he and his team made it to 54 km (34 miles).
In order to give it the best chance possible, I pumped the tires up to their max recommended pressure, locked out the front and rear suspension, stuck it on the lowest power level, and went out for a cruise at a comfortable speed between 30-35 km/h (19-22 mph) on a nice long bike path with no hills to deal with. This time I made it to 60 km (37 miles), with a limp home mode kicking in as the battery got to about 10%.
So I’d say the advertised range figure looks about 30% optimistic, at least with a big fella like me on board. The range killed it for Dennis and his crew as a potential tourer, but it’s still clearly capable of handling most commuting duties, or giving you a solid two hours of high-speed trail blasting. And it’s interesting to note that owner reviews are reporting a comfortable 50 miles
I have two other small issues around the battery: the rubber cap on the charge port is annoyingly difficult to get off – to the point where I typically need to grab a screwdriver – and its location low on the left side of the frame means it could well catch water if you don’t seal it up properly. And the charger seems to produce more electromagnetic interference than either of my other two ebike chargers, because my garage door remote stops working when it’s charging. Weird.
All in all, there are definitely things I think Nireeka could still improve on the Revenant. But most of these are minor, and most are the cost of going with standard Bafang powertrains and electronics instead of having something custom-tailored, or going with a more expensive OEM integration from the likes of Bosch or Shimano.
Nireeka likes giving people the option of big power, and keeping costs well under what you’d pay for a similarly specified bike from any of the major factories. I think they’re making a good call with the Bafang gear, and I shudder to think what you’d pay for a machine like this if it had a major brand name on the side.
The Revenant we’ve been riding is loaded to the gills with options, but the basic bike underneath is quick, comfortable, capable and a lot of fun. It’s also one of the first bikes you can buy with ABS braking, and like everything that comes out of Nireeka, it’s ridiculously amazing to look at.
It’s been faultlessly reliable over the last few months – I haven’t even needed to top up the air suspension. Everyone that’s jumped on board for a spin has found it impressively powerful, comfortable and easy to ride. I find it a genuine joy to ride, and I think it’s a terrific step forward for a young company that’s forging a compelling identity combining supercar looks with high performance and accessible pricing. I’m very impressed.
Special thanks to Younes Shojaie and Dennis Dawson for their assistance on this review.