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Rattan Sequoia Fat-Tire e-Bike Hands-on Review

The Sequoia is a Class 3 fat-tire electric bicycle from California-based company Rattan. Rattan bills the Sequoia as their flagship mountain e-bike, with ruggedized construction, a powerful motor, and extra long-range designed to make your offroad treks go harder than the competition. Rattan’s design team is located stateside, but their production comes from Hong Kong, putting their products in direct competition with a bevy of similarly-priced white-label e-bike resellers.

The Rattan Sequoia is a speedy fat-tire e-bike with extended range.

Firsthand reviews of these Chinese e-bikes can be surprisingly hard to come by outside of the occasional forum post–especially newer models like the Sequoia. After all, it’s not like you can roll up to most bike shops and trial a Rattan for yourself. This shortfall of data points presents a natural barrier to US consumers who may not have the budget to take a leap of faith on an untested e-bike. As a result, it’s pretty common practice for overseas brands to reach out to influencers and media outlets (like TheCoolist) to bridge this gap in market reach.

Full disclosure: Rattan has sent TheCoolist a complementary Sequoia to review. As a result, there will be affiliate links added to this post, which means we get a small commission for bringing the word of Rattan to our audience. If that makes you weary of astroturfing, to be frank, I don’t blame you.

That said, TheCoolist isn’t really in the business of selling (or even reviewing) e-bikes, and we didn’t go out of our way looking for this deal. When Rattan approached us, we agreed under the condition that we are under no obligation to share anything but our unfiltered, unbiased opinion. I’ll go ahead and say that the review is going to end on a positive note, but there are a few criticisms I recommend any potential buyer consider first.

What are the key features of the Rattan Sequoia e-bike?

Below are the key features of the Sequoia as advertised by Rattan. Although this is all stuff you can find on the manufacturer’s website, it’s helpful to recap what promises Rattan makes in reviewing how well they keep those promises, so bear with me.

  • Long operational range: Rattan advertises the Sequoia as capable of a maximum of 80 miles with the additional battery.
  • High top speed: The Sequoia’s 750W hub drive motor promises an output of 30 miles per hour.
  • Torque sensor: The Sequoia comes equipped with a torque sensor, which makes the pedal assist responsive to the amount of effort you put into pedaling.
  • Hydraulic brakes: Rattan employs 180mm front and rear hydraulic disc brakes, which are preferable to mechanical systems due to the heavy weight of fat-tire e-bikes.
  • Hydraulic air suspension: The Sequoia’s fork-mounted suspension system works in tandem with the 4” fat tires to provide a smooth ride, even off-road.
  • Rugged step-through MTB frame: The Sequoia is sold as Rattan’s flagship mountain bike, and features a thick aluminum frame with beefy welds and a low profile stepthrough at just under an 18-inch standover height.
  • Handy LCD: The Sequoia packs a smart display that allows you to monitor speed, power output, and trip odometer. Additionally, this interface enables you to toggle between Normal, Eco, and Sport modes and set the level of peddle assist. The display is bright enough for midday usage.

Together, these features paint the picture of a workmanlike loadout for a midrange fat tire e-bike by the standards of 2024’s market. Advanced e-bike riders might prefer to see the addition of rear suspension, a mid-drive motor over a hub drive, or nicer shifters, but their absence shouldn’t be a dealbreaker at the Sequoia’s price point for most people.

The standard price for the Sequoia is $1899.00, with the second battery selling separately for $999.00 or bundled with the bike for $2598.00. They do run sales periodically, so patient buyers should be able to score better prices by waiting for major holidays and events.

Rattan Sequoia initial impressions

My first impression of the Rattan ebike was positive overall. The frame and tires do cut quite an imposing figure, and it drove home the point that this is a firm departure from what I’m used to with road bikes. A closer inspection of the construction revealed some artful TIG welding on the frame that definitely inspired confidence in the Sequoia’s ability to offroad. And those 4” tires really are fat!

The Sequoia’s build quality is sturdy, with strong welds and quality components.

It’s nice to see the Shimano brand adorning the hardware rather than something I’d never heard of (even if it is just humble M40 rather than something more exciting like Deore). I was also happy to see hydraulic rather than mechanical brakes, as this much heft requires greater stopping power than I think budget-friendly mechanical brakes are capable of supplying confidently.

I didn’t wait to assemble the bike before turning on the electronics, just to make sure everything survived shipment intact. My impression is that the LCD is nice and bright for daytime use. I couldn’t find exact specs for how many nits, but I’d say it compares favorably to my ~1000-nit Samsung phone. Considering that you’ll actually need to look at this thing while driving roadway speeds, good visibility is important, and I have no complaints here.

This said, my first impression wasn’t 100% perfect. The cardboard box it came shipped in definitely arrived a bit worse for the wear–I could actually see the bike frame peeking through a fairly large hole in the side of the box. Fortunately, the bike was unharmed aside from some cosmetic damage and a bent derailleur guard; it was pretty well wrapped in foam and there was a sturdy retaining bolt to ensure the fork didn’t get bent out of shape. Still, the cosmetic boo-boo was enough that I wrote to Rattan customer service about it.

How is Rattan’s customer service?

Rattan customer service was prompt and courteous when I reached out to them about the damage incurred during shipping. They were receptive to my feedback about the cardboard being too thin and lacking in reinforcement to be adequate for a bike of this weight and pledged to pass my feedback onto the factory.

Cosmetic shipping damage is a bummer, but nothing a little mud won’t hide.

Given that I got the bike for free, I didn’t demand any kind of compensation. However, I did want to know what remediations Rattan would make for a paying customer in my position. For cosmetic blemishes like mine, their policy is to offer accessories such as locks and saddlebags valued commensurate with the damage as a form of earnest material apology.

I’m pretty utilitarian with the things I buy, so this would probably be good enough for me. However, I can see how it might not cut the mustard for some folks. After all, this isn’t a cheap bike, and it is reasonable to expect newly purchased items to arrive in new condition.

That said, there’s an important point to be made about my specific experience, which is that review models are packaged differently to production models. I was shown pictures of the production packaging, and there is appreciably more reinforcement than what mine had. I guess I can’t blame them for cutting a few costs on bikes they’re shipping out for free, and I’m glad paying customers will get more robust packaging. And anyway, my bike works just fine, so I’m not going to lose sleep over a bike I’m going to get dirty anyway.

It’s worth noting that Rattan offers a 15-day RMA window for defective and damaged products, so I doubt you’d be left hanging on a more serious shipping issue.

How hard is it to assemble the Rattan Sequoia?

Assembling the Rattan Sequoia e-bike was straightforward for the most part. No paper instructions were included in my review box, but the Sequoia’s user manual is available online if you need it.

Assembly of the Rattan Sequoia is straightforward and mostly handled for you at the factory.

Here’s a checklist to make sure you have everything:

  • Bicycle frame, fork, handlebars, battery, and rear wheel (preassembled)
  • Front wheel
  • Quick release axle for the front wheel
  • Battery charger
  • Headlight (not pictured because I’m a genius)
  • Zip bag with pedals, hex keys, wrench, plus nut, bolt, and washer for headlight

If you got the extra battery, you’ll also want to keep the battery, mounting blade, and dual battery equalizer handy during installation. These items arrived in separate boxes, and got to me with zero issues in transit.

For the most part, it’s pretty obvious what goes where during assembly; the front wheel and headlight on the fork, the handlebars on the stem, and the pedals on the crank arms. Then, pump up the tires (I went with 20 PSI since I’ve mostly got flat pavement and grassy fields around). Points to Rattan for not making assembly harder than it had to be.

If you get the optional extra battery, I highly recommend watching this video on Rattan’s YouTube channel before attempting an install. In short, these are the instructions for installing the spare battery on the Rattan Sequoia:

  1. Unscrew the plate covering the left side of the crank box to reveal the wires within.
  2. Carefully remove the motor controller (the silver box) from within, then disconnect the Y connector’s female side from the male wire coming from inside the tube.
  3. Disconnect the rail from the second battery by sliding it forward. (You’ll see what I mean when you get your hands on it.)
  4. Remove the plastic plug atop the down tube, and feed the power cable from the rail down through the tube and into the crank box. (I recommend against giving yourself too much slack because there’s not a lot of room in the crank box when you’ve got to put it all back together.)
  5. Install the rail onto the down tube by removing its adhesive stickers, then screwing it onto the two lugs. The rail should now cover the hole where you fed the wire through.
  6. Connect both male battery plugs into the two female connectors of the dual battery equalizer. (It shouldn’t matter which battery you plug where, they all go the same place.) Then, connect the male plug from the equalizer to the female side of the Y connector from step 2.
  7. Place all the boxes and wiring back into the crank box. This was honestly a pain, and I recommend stuffing any slack in the battery cables back up into the seat tube, then placing the equalizer box into the bottom of the crank box, then the controller on top.
  8. Slide the second battery onto the rail to complete installation.
Wiring the second battery isn’t hard, but getting it all back inside is.

The second battery was a bit annoying to install and took me twice as long (including searching for that YouTube tutorial) as assembling the bike itself. Fortunately, once it’s on, there’s no reason to ever take it off unless it breaks.

With assembly out of the way, I took a moment to flip on the battery switch(es), then hold down the power button on the left handlebar to make sure the system powers on. This was the moment of truth for me considering the rough state the package arrived in, but I was relieved to see the LCD power on, the headlamp light up, and the motor hum to life when I depressed the throttle!

From here, you’ll probably want to hop on the bike for a quick spin to make sure the brakes and shifters are gravy. However, I’d caution against going out for a long ride right off the bat; instead, give both batteries a full initial charge to ensure accurate cycle calibration. Unfortunately, you have to charge both batteries separately, and each takes a few hours to top up. If you plan to use the bike extensively every day, a second battery charger might not be a bad investment–Rattan only gave me one, which is fine for my casual usage.

Hands-on review of the Rattan Sequoia

I’d like to begin my review of the Rattan Sequoia with a disclaimer that I have never owned another e-bike to compare to. That said, I am an avid cyclist, having lived in Amsterdam for several years and driven a bike taxi for nearly as long. I know what long-haul, multi-week bike excursions demand as well as I understand the dynamics of short-hop city slicking. Moreover, I’m a conscious consumer who doesn’t have a massive budget to throw at hobbies without significant research and comparison shopping. Thus, I’m going to approach my review from a practical point of view, framing my experience as answers to common questions that prospective e-bike buyers are likely to ask.

How fast is the Rattan Sequoia?

The Rattan Sequoia is as fast as advertised, and then some! The first thing I did was hit up a nearby rural straightaway, changed to Sport mode, and set pedal assist (PAS) to the maximum setting of 5. I then floored the thumb throttle and took off like a shot. Before I knew it I was cruising at 30.8 mph according to the digital odometer. That’s one promise kept right off the bat, good show Rattan.

After that, I decided to fiddle with the settings a bit and run a stopwatch on my phone. Mind you, these are not hyper-objective tests, so take all of my numbers with a fairly substantial heap of salt. But keeping the bike on Sport mode and the PAS to 5, I measured a 0-20 acceleration at around 12 seconds and some change. Switching to Normal mode put me just north of 13 seconds, and Eco mode was not discernibly different (probably due to the crudeness of my testing method).

Lower PAS settings were surprisingly capable of approaching top speed to varying degrees. Really, the main difference between higher and lower settings is felt at slower speeds. Do you want a little push, or a lot? That’s what that number means, in essence. 

I later took the bike to visit my in-laws in the foothills of the SC upstate. I wasn’t as deliberate with my testing since I was mostly in it to show off and have a good time. I did notice that using the throttle alone to climb hills was not quite as snappy as on flat land. It still got me up the hill, but pedaling in a lower gear (I’m usually locked into 4 or above) helped a lot. My 250-lb father-in-law also gave it a shot, and the Sequoia definitely had a harder time carrying his solid mass up the grade on its own power. Again, a little pedaling went a long way, and the old man got up and down just fine with a bare minimum effort.

Of course, most people won’t rely solely on the thumb throttle to get around. After all, this is an e-bike, not a scooter, so the charm is getting the bike to work with you rather than do it all for you. In practice, this translates to staying in higher gears more often; I seldom found it useful to reduce down to first through third gears approaching a stop sign or red light in anticipation. Even from a dead stop in 4th gear, PAS at 3 or above zips you off of the line and on your way. Yeah, it probably burns more battery that way, but if you’re lazy like me and simply heading to the store, this is likely the way you’re going to fly more often than not.

Without pedal assist engaged, the Sequoia is fairly tubby. I wouldn’t say I found it exhausting to ride per se, but the fact remains that this fat tire e-bike is about 80 lbs heavier than most standard types of bikes. If you’re on a long journey and you run out of battery, it’s going to be a pretty slow ride home.

How does the Rattan Sequoia handle?

I wanted to test the Sequoia’s handling in more typical conditions, as not everyone has rural straightaways to blister through unhindered. I’m just a short ride from the small town nearby, so I set out from my driveway and was there within a few minutes.

Coming off of stop signs or out of turns, I typically left the throttle alone and let the pedal assist do its thing. PAS typically kicks on about a half-second into your cadence and cuts off a similar duration into coasting. It feels good, quite responsive, and equal to the task of safely navigating shared spaces with cars. Pedaling with a fair amount of effort in 8th gear in a PAS of 4 in Normal or Eco mode, I typically cruised around 21 mph. If I wanted to go faster, that’s when I relied more on the throttle.

Keeping largely to the right lane in transit, I held my own against the undoubtedly skeptical rural South Carolina traffic. I was grateful for the extra heft of the Sequoia under such conditions, as I felt I owned my space on the road far more convincingly than I do on a road bike (to wit, I don’t really use my road bike around here). Moreover, the 4” tires and some hundred pounds of combined heft allowed me to settle into cruising speeds without feeling like I’d wobble out of control. In fact, stability was surprisingly, dare I say delightfully solid. Given that I’m using the Sequoia at higher average speeds than I do with a road bike, this is a pretty critical point in its favor.

That said, the Sequoia’s weight didn’t seem to be much of a problem for its hydraulic brakes. The speed limit in town is 35 mph, and keeping pace with traffic was doable both on acceleration and deceleration. Even coming down from top speed, I never felt like I was going to dump forward, yet I also never felt I lacked stopping power. I initially felt that the brakes were a little loosey-goosey at factory settings, but once I got up to speed I conceded that Rattan got it right. By the way, if you find the front brakes looser than the rear, that’s intentional to prevent you from flying over the handlebars with a hard stop.

Cornering was smooth and stable. I honestly don’t have a whole lot to say about this otherwise crucial aspect of handling. The bike doesn’t get in its own way, and it feels good to turn. And just for fun, I did try some fishtailing as seen on Rattan’s site–successfully I might add.

What is the range of the Rattan Sequoia?

Full disclosure: I did not go on an 80-mile e-bike trek for this review to prove their marketing material right or wrong. I honestly wish I had the time away from work (and roads not filled with rednecks in F-350s) to do so, but that’s not in the books for me currently.

What I did do instead was try to assess the absolute worst mileage I could get with the Sequoia to establish a lower bound. I set out on a cold evening with both batteries fully charged, set the bike to Sport mode and PAS to 5, and dimed the throttle uninterrupted until I got to 50% battery. I managed to get just shy of 15 miles in about 30 minutes (hey, the math adds up!) in this configuration.

Obviously, relying solely on the motor to go top speed is not how most people will use this or other e-bikes (and if it is, just get a scooter). I’ve said before that a reasonable cruising speed while pedaling is something like 21 mph–this proved true even in Eco mode. Thus, you’d need to maintain this pace for about 4 hours to hit that advertised 80-mile mark. Going all out with absolutely no regard for efficiency on a cold night (well, cold for the southeast), I would have run both batteries dead in about an hour.

Subsequent rides where I went less balls-to-the-wall incurred far less battery drain. Rattan also advertises a type of regenerative braking feature, so it’s logical that more typical stop-and-go usage will further improve efficiency.

I don’t know exactly how far I can go on the Sequoia under optimal conditions, but I can’t provide any evidence that Rattan’s 80-mile figure is inaccurate. My estimates tell me that getting 4+ hours out of a single charge is very much doable with more conservative usage. One day I plan to test maximum range directly, and when I do I will update this section with my results.

How does the Rattan Sequoia perform off-road?

The Rattan Sequoia performs well off-road. However, it’s worth mentioning that I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry, which is so-named for its distinct lack of mountains. Thus, these are not ideal conditions to stress-test an electric mountain bike per se, so I hope our readers will forgive the inherent limitations of this section of the review.

That said, we do have quite a bit of soft, swampy ground around here with a ton of overgrowth. I’m not about to take the Sequoia muddin’ with the big boys, but it does hold its own on unfirm ground. Those fat tires aren’t just for show, and afford the e-bike meaningful traction to climb over soft, spongy ground without getting bogged down. Moreover, the electric motor has enough torque to power through most obstacles I could find to throw at it, including our piddly (but wet!) inclines. I didn’t get too ambitious and run it through deeper swamp–it is electric after all. But I could honestly see myself using the Sequoia for getting around a farm or homestead. It’s pretty tough offroad, at least around these parts.

I will say that going off-road did make me miss having rear suspension a bit, especially when powering over bumpy terrain at higher speeds than are strictly responsible. The front suspension does a serviceable job of making the ride enjoyable, but this is an omission you won’t have to settle for on most standard mountain bikes. I don’t have a basis for comparison with other e-bikes, so maybe rear suspension is overrated in this application–or maybe not.

What are the cons of the Rattan Sequoia?

There are two categories of cons I’d like to speak to: things that bug me personally, and things that don’t bug me but which might bug you.

The headlight isn’t great

The biggest personal gripe I have about the Sequoia has nothing to do with the bike itself, but the headlight. In simple terms, the headlight rattled loose pretty much every time I took it off-road. I ended up zip-tying it to the fork, which has essentially solved the problem. But that single point of contact is not equal to the task of moderate offroading, without a doubt.

I’m also not a huge fan of the beam pattern. The main cone comes out at about 25° or 30°, with an aggressive cutoff at the top. The periphery beams, on the other hand, are cast in an ultra-wide angle (I’d say at least 80°). In between, it’s all black. This might be more tailored to urban environments, but I wasn’t happy with it in my rural application. I kid you not, I was kind of afraid of deer strike going 25 mph in the dark with such limited visibility.

The headlight isn’t the best, but Rattan is revising it on production models.

I reached out to Rattan customer service again about the light, and they actually agreed that the design is less than satisfactory. In fact, Rattan has been actively rolling out a redesign of the headlight for production models. Again, I think this is another difference between my review model versus the production model. I’m glad they’re listening to feedback and making changes–this one was definitely necessary.

No rear safety light

This is a nitpick, but I kind of wish the Sequoia shipped with a rear red safety flasher. I’d almost prefer a nice flasher to an iffy headlight, but this is an easy enough problem to fix. Rattan sells them, but I’m sure your local bike shop does as well. Still, if I’m going 30 mph on the road, it’s important that cars spot me easily.

Seat is merely acceptable

There’s nothing really wrong with the seat per se, but my Selle Italia saddle feels like it was sculpted by Michelangelo in comparison. The leather doesn’t strike me as especially luxurious or durable, though the cushioning is fine. I think the bigger issue I have is that the tube and retaining ring don’t inspire a great deal of confidence. I had to tamp it down quite a bit to support my weight (again, 200 lb). It’s definitely functional, but I may consider a more robust replacement down the line.

The extra battery is a considerable upsell on its own

I don’t think Rattan will much appreciate my saying so, but I think the price on the second battery makes it a hard sell as a separate purchase. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have the extra range it affords, but it’s not cheap as a separate purchase. It just seems like a standard Hailong battery, which has many lower-priced clones on the market. The Rattan-branded one does have the benefit of Samsung cells, so you know you won’t get a dud. But still, pricey for what it is.

That said, the value proposition is considerably better if you buy it in a bundle with the bike. That does raise the barrier to entry for many people, but I do think a bike this hefty really appreciates the extra capacity and range.

The bike is truly heavy

I know I’ve praised the Sequoia’s weight as a positive, and I stand by that assessment overall. However, you need to ask yourself whether an 88+ lb. bike with 4” tires is really what you’re looking for.

I think back to my time in Amsterdam and try to imagine myself getting around with the Sequoia. “Doe maar normaal, het is gek genoeg” (“just be normal, it’s weird enough”) is what I hear the Dutch muttering as I clutter up the bike rack or clatter down steps with this behemoth. Americans might be more charitable culturally speaking, but I doubt our poor bike infrastructure will be. The Sequoia handles exceptionally well on the road, but if you have to manually handle (manhandle?) it across stairs, over curbs, or through tight spaces, you might be better served by a more modestly sized e-bike.

In summation: Is the Rattan Sequoia worth it?

Asking whether the Sequoia is worth the money is necessarily a relative consideration. No matter the price, it’s not worth it for someone who needs something more nimble and less burly than a 100-lb. electric mountain bike. But within its own class, I believe it is a more than serviceable entry in the pantheon of modern e-bikes that delivers plenty of quality and fun for the price.

To review, I truly enjoy the amount of power the motor provides, and I’m totally fine with it being a hub drive. In fact, hub drive is much easier to use for first-timers than a mid-drive since it’s not necessary to worry about shifting gears. The torque sensor integrates into this simple system to yield a very intuitive driving experience. It’s just like riding a bicycle, but with more oomph. That said, don’t expect it to carry you up steep hills on motor power alone if you’re on the heavier side–the motor is fully intended to be used in tandem with bike pedaling. In fact, you really do want to still pedal, as it greatly enhances the efficiency of your power consumption and provides a more natural (if augmented) cycling experience. Again, I really like the torque sensor + hub motor combo for this reason; it doesn’t get in the way of how I normally ride a bike, just enhances it.

E-bike connoisseurs will find things not to like, and elect for more bespoke (possibly even custom-built) options. Rattan isn’t really targeting connoisseurs, it’s targeting folks like me who want something that “just works”. The Sequoia does that quite well, and it’s frankly a blast to ride. Moreover, the same burly build that will undoubtedly turn some off is a major selling point for me; I feel safer sharing the road with cars at higher speeds because of its stability and mild-mannered handling.

Rattan’s accessories do leave something to be desired, and I’m not convinced that the extra battery is a smart purchase for budget-conscious consumers (unless you purchase it with the bike). After all, how many of us are really taking 80-mile offroad excursions on an e-bike when ATVs, dirtbikes, and even old-fashioned MTBs exist?

The Sequoia itself is neither the cheapest nor most expensive entry point to the world of fat tire e-bikes and is not without notable competition (such as the Wired Freedom or Ridstar Winner). That said, Rattan does seem to run sales on their products which brings the price down quite a bit, so if you’re patient I think you can get a lot of bike for a decent price. The Sequoia is undoubtedly a lot of fun to ride, solidly built, and the hardware is all solidly in the “good enough” category (minus the prototype headlight).

Are sponsored reviews trustworthy?

I said at the beginning of this review that it is sponsored by Rattan. I’m not personally getting kickback beyond the free bike (though TheCoolist is via affiliate links), but I still got something valuable for little more than my opinion and time. Thus, I’m incentivized to say nice things where I can. Moreover, I’m given limited time to form these opinions and weave them into a cogent narrative for our readers.

To be clear, this isn’t a Rattan problem, it’s just how the industry is in 2024. Rattan is doing what they can to keep the lights on and get real-world reviews for their products in front of potential buyers. Kind of hard to blame them for that. And, they deserve credit for entering into an agreement with us when I was very explicit about how I’m not going to filter my thoughts. The trust of our readership is more valuable to me than a new bike, and they haven’t shown a problem with that.

That said, there is an overarching problem with reviews like this. Influencers get their hands on a review model, put it through its paces in controlled environments for a month or so, and then write their review in short order. Indeed, I’m on a deadline myself to ensure this hits the web in a timely manner.

What the consumer misses out on in long-term assessments of performance. How does it hold up a year later? How did it handle that 80-mile bikecation I ended up taking late this summer? Which part is most likely to break first, and why? How does Rattan’s warranty hold up? Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to answer these and similar questions honestly or objectively within the boundaries set for this review, so I won’t pretend to do so.

That said, I want to continue the conversation around this e-bike, and open a channel for y’all to pose questions directly to me–questions that I either didn’t have time to test properly or that I didn’t even think to address in the first place. Drop me a line in the comments, seriously. I’m game to answer any and all questions.