Reviews

Onyx RCR review: A powerful e-bike with a lot of hype

This boutique café racer e-bike will turn heads, but is it worth it?

@Kiddox

The Onyx RCR is a “café racer” style electric bike from Onyx Motorbikes in California. The RCR fits nicely above the Super73 but below something like the Sur Ron in terms of raw power.

Onyx

The Onyx was not my first e-bike. I started riding around NYC on a Super73 RX. Then, on my first group ride, I saw a couple of guys riding the Onyx RCR. The difference in acceleration between my Super73 and their bikes was… noticeable. I kept riding my Super73 for a couple of months, but eventually I sold it and bought an Onyx RCR.

@Kiddox
An electric bike meetup in Manhattan.@Kiddox

SPECS

- 75-mile range in Eco mode

- Top speed of 55 mph

- Front and rear suspensions

- 1,656 Wh battery (or optional 2,953 Wh upgrade)

@Kiddox

Optional upgrades

- Silver or black side panels

- DRT KIT gives the bike a more off-road look

- Optional shorter ride height

- Turn signals

@Kiddox

I ordered my bike back in November 2020 and it took about 117 days to be hand built and delivered across the country to New York City. ONYX says that it will now take about 2 months to build an RCR. Shipping will add a few weeks to it depending on your location.

@Kiddox
Other bikes (like the Sur Ron) don’t have turn signals.@Kiddox

First impressions

I met up with the delivery crew at a meetup point close by and they rolled my bike off the truck fully assembled and ready to go. I was naturally very excited to give it a try, but the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is. ONYX states that the RCR weighs 145lbs with the stock battery.

@Kiddox

My first ride on the RCR was in Eco mode, which tops out at 20 mph. At this speed it was hard to keep up with traffic, so I switched it to “normal” mode, which goes up to 35-40 mph, and that felt a lot better.

There’s also a Sport mode that goes up to 60 mph, but that’s hard to do in New York even in a car.

@Kiddox
The aluminum body panels lend themselves to customization, even if they are flimsy.@Kiddox

It’s fun

I’ll go into more detail in a moment, but riding the Onyx RCR is exhilarating. The torque, the form factor, it’s all just very quick and sporty.

@Kiddox

Range

I got the optional 2,953 Wh battery, which should provide around 150 miles of range at 20 mph. I ride faster than that. But in the city, range is basically never a problem. I don’t even bring my charger with me.

@Kiddox
The Onyx RCR is very customizable.@Kiddox

Build quality

Sadly, for a bike that costs more than $4,000, there are some pretty annoying build quality issues. The wood panel near the seat of the bike is great, but the aluminum panels below it are flimsy and not designed very well. The mounting screws were already broken by the time I wanted to open up my bike.

@Kiddox
You’ve got to admit that the Onyx RCR does look good.@Kiddox

It doesn’t stop there

There are more issues with the Onyx RCR as well: Compared to the Sur Ron, the suspension is really stiff and uncomfortable. Because of the hub motor in the back, the rear brake is wimpier than the hydraulic disk brake in the front, and that does make me worry about stopping power.

@Kiddox
A bunch of Onyx RCRs from a meetup.@Kiddox

Should you buy one?

Despite these issues, I would still get an Onyx RCR. Just don’t go into it thinking you’re going to get something that matches or exceeds a real motorcycle. I would consider a Sur Ron if I were buying again, but it doesn’t have quite the same style. Luckily there are a number of mods that make the Onyx RCR better, but even those don’t come cheap.

@Kiddox

Michael Verdugo is a photographer in NYC

You can find his Instagram at @Kiddox, and his Twitter here.

@Kiddox

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