fats tire electrical bike RadRunner electrical utility bike assessment: my each day driver
When Rad Energy Bikes first launched its RadRunner electrical utility bike final August, I knew I needed to get my fingers on it. I had simply reviewed the company’s cargo bike and was keen to place this new mannequin by means of its paces. Foolishly, I assumed I might trip it for per week or two, after which publish my impressions.
Greater than 4 months later, I’m nonetheless using it. Each. Rattling. Day. I’m writing these phrases on a day in December when temperatures in New York Metropolis have dropped to an icy 24 levels. And but, with a manic glint in my eyes, I nonetheless lugged the RadRunner out of the basement of my residence constructing for my trip to work. This bike has turned me right into a little bit of an eccentric.
It is a assessment of an electrical bike that I couldn’t cease using lengthy sufficient to truly write. The RadRunner has reworked the way in which I get round every day. It could do the identical for you, or it might not. It’s utterly dependent in your circumstances and the kind of using expertise you’re in search of. However for me, the RadRunner’s uniquely sized fats tires, sturdy, aluminum body, and simplified-but-not-underpowered drivetrain have made using the rubble-strewn streets of New York Metropolis an surprising delight. The RadRunner suits so completely in my life it’s virtually embarrassing.
It’s bizarre, too, as a result of there’s nothing actually outstanding in regards to the RadRunner. It’s fantastic to have a look at, but it surely eschews a number of high-tech bells and whistles which can be discovered with newer e-bikes at the moment. Many individuals have commented on the design, however I don’t see it as too revelatory. There are many low-riding, drop-frame, moped-style e-bikes in the marketplace at the moment, with new ones popping out seemingly on daily basis. It’s a sizzling look, and Rad Energy Bikes is simply the newest firm to leap on the bandwagon.
Nevertheless it will get the job completed. And by that, I imply it acquired me out of the subway, off the bus, out of my automobile, and within the saddle, utilizing it as that legendary “each day driver” all of us are in search of.
That stated, I did uncover some issues in regards to the bike over my 4 months of using that I most likely wouldn’t have encountered with only a week’s value of testing. For instance, the bike wanted some tuning so as to make it suitable with all varieties of climate. However extra on that later. (That is me retroactively congratulating myself for stalling this assessment so long as I did.)
The RadRunner is the eighth design from Mike Radenbaugh and his crew at Rad Energy Bikes. The Seattle-based firm’s different bikes embody the aforementioned RadWagon cargo bike; the fat-tired RadRover; and the folding RadMini and commuter RadCity, each additionally with step-thru fashions. In only a few brief years, Rad Energy Bikes has emerged as probably the most noteworthy US-based e-bike firms. And it’s already wanting past direct-to-consumer gross sales: Domino’s recently announced a partnership through which Rad Energy Bikes will present the pizza chain’s franchise house owners with e-bikes to interchange car deliveries.
The premise behind the RadRunner was easy: the corporate wished to take the RadWagon and shrink it right down to extra manageable proportions. Whereas I cherished the RadWagon, its measurement and weight made it a comparatively unhealthy match for anybody who lives in a metropolis. By itself, the RadWagon weighs 73 lbs (33 kg), however that is by design. In spite of everything, it’s not meant to interchange your common bike, it’s meant to interchange your automobile.
The RadRunner can also be an honest automobile substitute, however in contrast to the RadWagon it’s extra versatile and, dare I say, enjoyable. The RadRunner has a load capability of 300 kilos, together with 120 kilos on the prolonged rear deck. That deck can accommodate a toddler’s seat, but additionally an grownup passenger. All you must do is decrease the driving force seat so it’s flush with the deck, after which add a padded rear passenger seat ($99) for a extra moped-style configuration. There are additionally non-compulsory foot pegs and a skirt guard to assist shield your passenger. I satisfied my spouse to check out this setup a pair occasions and judging by her excited squeals as we zig-zagged by means of Brooklyn, I believe she appreciated it.
There are a selection of different equipment that Rad Energy Bikes sells — akin to a cool, motorcycle-style heart console ($99), a entrance rack ($69), and entrance and rear fenders ($89) — for added cargo capability and safety. However I don’t need to detract from what I believe is among the central factors in regards to the RadRunner, which is its affordability. The bike is at the moment listed at $1,299, making it Rad Energy Bikes’ least costly mannequin. Not the most cost effective e-bike in the marketplace, however a very nice entry-level value nonetheless.
It’s apparent the place Rad Energy Bikes is getting its price financial savings. The show and the drivetrain are each extraordinarily streamlined, to the purpose the place some may name it oversimplified. You may get an e-bike with a high-tech expertise, however you’ll must pay for it. Gone is the digital show featured on Rad Energy Bikes’ different fashions, changed as a substitute with a sequence of orange LED lights that point out battery cost and energy help ranges. There’s no odometer, no supplemental details about battery voltage or journey time, no Bluetooth pairing functionality. Additionally, there are not any seven-speed gear shifters; this bike is single velocity solely. The RadRunner is stripped right down to absolutely the fundamentals.
Some could miss the choice to shift into the next gear, relying on the incline. However after a few day of using, I couldn’t say I used to be one in all them. Even with my spouse on the again, or my daughter, the RadRunner was by no means tough to get began, both with the pedals or (extra simply) utilizing the throttle. Rad Energy Bikes says the RadRunner’s single-speed drivetrain is the “centerpiece” of the bike’s simplicity. And I discovered the rear-hub Bafang motor to be greater than able to selecting up the slack.
The RadRunner is a Class 2 e-bike, that means it has each pedal and throttle help with a high velocity of 20 mph. It retains a variety of tried-and-true options from Rad Energy Bikes’ different fashions, together with a geared hub motor (750W in US, 500W in Canada, and 250W in Europe), and a long-range 48V / 14Ah lithium-ion battery (672Wh) for 25-45 miles of vary per cost. The low-profile cadence sensors assist ship extra energy based mostly on how quick you pedal, which is ok, however I might have most well-liked torque sensors that dole out energy based mostly on how arduous you pedal. I perceive, although, that it will have made the bike pricier, so c’est la vie.
Fast (and apparent) disclaimer in regards to the vary: the upper the ability degree, the much less vary you may anticipate. Additionally, the extra you utilize the throttle, the much less battery energy you get. My commute from my residence in Brooklyn to my workplace in Decrease Manhattan is about six miles, and I might sometimes trip within the highest setting. The bike’s show would drop from 5 lights (absolutely charged) to only one after about two round-trip commutes (so about 24 miles complete) of largely pedaling and a few minimal throttle use. When the final gentle begins blinking, you may’t assist however really feel just a little anxious. This isn’t a motorbike you need to get caught on with out energy. Rad Energy Bikes sells further chargers, so you may preserve one at house and one at work in case you get nervous about vary.
Why’s that? The RadRunner weighs 64 lbs (29.02 kg), which technically makes it the lightest bike that Rad Energy Bikes sells. However that doesn’t imply it’s light-weight. The corporate admits it designs its bikes this manner, with bigger batteries, larger hub motors, and thicker tires. Keep in mind the entire “it’s not a motorbike substitute, it’s a automobile substitute” factor? That stated, with out the electrical help, the RadRunner turns into a really poor, very heavy single-speed bike.
There are some issues in regards to the RadRunner that took some getting used to. The Kenda Ok-Rad 20-inch x 3.3-inch semi-fat tires — puncture-resistant and “unique” to RadPower — present good traction and luxury, however nonetheless left me just a little nervous when making sharp turns. It is a bike I might suggest taking for a take a look at trip first earlier than committing to a purchase order, particularly for those who’re used to extra conventional highway bike-sized tires.
One other vital tip earlier than shopping for this bike: ask the corporate to put in a skid plate to guard the electrical controller that sits under the battery on the down tube. It’s virtually unnoticeable as its virtually hidden by the chain ring, but it surely’s actually vital to the operation of the bike. Twice I had the electrical help die on me whereas using the RadRunner by means of wet climate.
It turned out that rain and different highway muck had been seeping into the little black field that homes the controller unit and frying the mechanism inside. Fortuitously, Velofix, a cell bike restore firm that has a partnership with Rad Energy Bikes, was capable of set up the skid plate and I haven’t had an issue with it since. Had the bike merely include the skid plate included, although, I wouldn’t have had this drawback to start with.
(Replace January 2nd, 5:08PM ET: After the publication of this assessment, a spokesperson for Rad Energy Bikes reached out to make clear that the skid plate now comes commonplace on the RadRunner. We’ve eliminated it from “damaging” column of the scorecard to mirror this reality.)
Electrical bikes are shortly turning into an enormous enterprise. Consultants predict an astonishing 130 million e-bikes will be sold globally by 2023, which is simply astonishing. But when e-bikes are going to remodel how folks get round, they have to be accessible — and value is an enormous think about accessibility.
There’ll at all times be clients who need a premium, high-end e-bike with anti-theft trackers and Bluetooth connectivity so you may pair it to your smartphone, identical to there’ll at all times be individuals who desire a Mercedes E-class over a Toyota Camry. However reliable, mass-market e-bikes would be the canary within the coal mine if we need to shift extra folks to sustainable modes of transportation, particularly in cities the place a majority of the Earth’s inhabitants will reside.
Rad Energy Bikes is main the pack for reasonably priced e-bikes, in addition to different firms like Lectric, Nakto, and e-Joe. Their bikes have at all times been comparatively cheap, with no mannequin priced above $1,499. The truth that the corporate nonetheless felt compelled to launch a brand new bike that was even cheaper is a testomony to Rad Energy Bikes’ dedication to getting extra folks to make the leap and go electrical.
Now that this assessment is revealed, I suppose I’ve to return the RadRunner to the producer. That’s, except I simply resolve to purchase it.