The Ridgeback Errand is a lightweight urban utility e-bike with a small rear hub motor. The back of the frame isn't stretched out enough to make it an e-cargo bike with a large rear load platform and in any case it doesn't come with a rear rack, only a capacious front one.
Orbea's Katu-E and Cube's Compact Hybrid are the nearest in terms of design but both use Bosch mid-drives and so are considerably more expensive, so from this perspective the Errand stands pretty much on its own price-wise in the world of compact e-bikes. That's a good thing as we love the idea of compact e-bikes.
As we said in our review of the Cube Compact Hybrid: "Compacts are small and nippy through busy town traffic and are easy to store in a corner at home should you be space strapped. Having settled on 20” diameter wheels as standard, they accelerate fast, which isn’t only great for getting ahead of motor traffic at lights, it’s simply great fun too."
So we are sold on the concept. Let's see how Ridgeback have put it into practice with the Errand.
How practical is the Errand?
This seems a very fair question to ask given the bike's name tells you this should be where it excels. The spec certainly looks pretty good with the only glaring omission being a rear rack - even though it has a front rack and there are mounting points for you to fit a rear rack yourself. You'd think a strong rear load carrying ability was a must for a bike tailor-made for town shopping trips.
It's a pity as elsewhere the Errand is well specced with Clarks hydraulic disk brakes, Shimano Acera 8-speed derailleur gears, powerful LED lights, mudguards, an adjustable handlebar stem and that dinky Promovec rear hub motor paired with a 317Wh removable, frame-mounted battery.
The motor is suitably lively for a compact - great for nipping through traffic and cresting all but the steepest of hills (the Errand felt to perform very well in our hill climb test despite relentlessly strong headwinds and also pretty well on our ultra steep hill).
If anything it was a little too 'surgy' - and it doesn't help turning the power down as that just results in lower speeds. The power sensing is effective. The motor kicks in very shortly after pedalling starts and stops accordingly. It's the power delivery by the motor we felt could do with smoothing out a bit, as it is it feels to be the e-bike equivalent of standing on a car throttle too hard.
No doubt some control electronics tinkering by Ridgeback would help increase range too. We achieved a slightly disappointing 22 miles over our usual very hilly test course. Toning down the power delivery would make the system more economical without any great loss of performance.
But there are plenty of plus points too. The low step over frame and fore and aft adjustable handlebars mean it's going to appeal to lots of sizes of rider and to just about all abilities as it is so easy and comfortable to ride.
All other components work well and make for a speedy, fun and reassuringly safe feeling ride. The Clarks Clout 1 hydraulic disk brakes are super sharp yet smooth, the Acera 8 speed derailleur changes crisply, and perhaps best of all the plush 2-inch wide Schwalbe Big Apple tyres feel fast enough for everyday urban riding and really help smooth out our horribly uneven British roads. Using the air volume of the tyre as suspension avoids fitting a weighty and often less effective budget front suspension fork. There is no display but battery level and power level are displayed on the thumb control unit which is easy and intuitve to use. The LED lights were powerful and the rear light super visible from a wide range of angles, not just from the back (though the front one could be mounted higher up and centrally to be more visible to kerbside traffic).
It's that kind of minimalist approach that means you get a fully equipped e-bike (bar that missing rear rack...) weighing in at 20kg. Not many e-bikes achieve that. It's lighter and cheaper than most of the compact competition, even if that competition tends to feature more powerful motors and bigger batteries.
Probably the nearest competitor in price and performance is the folding Raleigh Stowaway, which we honoured with the accolade of best budget e-folder in our best folding e-bikes roundup. It undercuts the Ridgeback on price and has a similar range and smoother motor performance, though it's probably not as lively and fun to ride. Also note Rad Power's Rad Runner range have similar size wheels, bigger batteries and a keener price, but are much weightier and not half as nimble and only have one gear.
If Ridgeback could just smooth out the power and achieve a bit more range and fit a sturdy rack as standard they would have at least a four star e-bike instead of a three and a half one - it's a great compact choice but could so easily be that bit better.