RadRunner electrical utility bike evaluate: my every day driver
When Rad Energy Bikes first launched its RadRunner electrical utility bike final August, I knew I needed to get my arms on it. I had simply reviewed the company’s cargo bike and was keen to place this new mannequin via its paces. Foolishly, I assumed I’d experience 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 condominium constructing for my experience to work. This bike has turned me right into a little bit of an eccentric.
It is a evaluate of an electrical bike that I couldn’t cease using lengthy sufficient to really write. The RadRunner has reworked the way in which I get round every day. It might 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 exceptional in regards to the RadRunner. It’s tremendous to take a look at, however it eschews quite a lot of high-tech bells and whistles which are discovered with newer e-bikes right this 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 available on the market right this moment, with new ones popping out seemingly every single day. It’s a scorching look, and Rad Energy Bikes is simply the newest firm to leap on the bandwagon.
However it will get the job carried out. And by that, I imply it obtained me out of the subway, off the bus, out of my automotive, and within the saddle, utilizing it as that legendary “every day driver” all of us are in search of.
That mentioned, 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 price of testing. For instance, the bike wanted some tuning so as to make it appropriate with all forms of climate. However extra on that later. (That is me retroactively congratulating myself for stalling this evaluate 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 just some quick years, Rad Energy Bikes has emerged as some of the noteworthy US-based e-bike corporations. And it’s already trying past direct-to-consumer gross sales: Domino’s recently announced a partnership through which Rad Energy Bikes will present the pizza chain’s franchise homeowners 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 beloved the RadWagon, its dimension 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 automotive.
The RadRunner can be an honest automotive substitute, however not like 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 baby’s seat, but in addition an grownup passenger. All you need to 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 elective foot pegs and a skirt guard to assist shield your passenger. I satisfied my spouse to check out this setup a pair instances and judging by her excited squeals as we zig-zagged via Brooklyn, I feel she appreciated it.
There are a variety of different equipment that Rad Energy Bikes sells — reminiscent of 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 feel is among the central factors in regards to the RadRunner, which is its affordability. The bike is at present listed at $1,299, making it Rad Energy Bikes’ least costly mannequin. Not the most cost effective e-bike available on the market, however a very nice entry-level worth nonetheless.
It’s apparent the place Rad Energy Bikes is getting its value financial savings. The show and the drivetrain are each extraordinarily streamlined, to the purpose the place some may name it oversimplified. You will 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 collection 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 aren’t any seven-speed gear shifters; this bike is single velocity solely. The RadRunner is stripped right down to absolutely the fundamentals.
Some might miss the choice to shift into the next gear, relying on the incline. However after a couple of day of using, I couldn’t say I used to be certainly one of 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 numerous 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 primarily based on how quick you pedal, which is okay, however I’d have most popular torque sensors that dole out energy primarily based on how exhausting 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 facility degree, the much less vary you’ll be able to anticipate. Additionally, the extra you utilize the throttle, the much less battery energy you get. My commute from my condominium in Brooklyn to my workplace in Decrease Manhattan is about six miles, and I’d sometimes experience within the highest setting. The bike’s show would drop from 5 lights (totally 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’ll be able to’t assist however really feel a bit of anxious. This isn’t a motorcycle you need to get caught on with out energy. Rad Energy Bikes sells further chargers, so you’ll be able to hold 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. Bear in mind the entire “it’s not a motorcycle substitute, it’s a automotive substitute” factor? That mentioned, 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 Okay-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 a bit of nervous when making sharp turns. It is a bike I’d suggest taking for a take a look at experience first earlier than committing to a purchase order, particularly in case you’re used to extra conventional street 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, however it’s actually vital to the operation of the bike. Twice I had the electrical help die on me whereas using the RadRunner via wet climate.
It turned out that rain and different street muck had been seeping into the little black field that homes the controller unit and frying the mechanism inside. Happily, Velofix, a cell bike restore firm that has a partnership with Rad Energy Bikes, was in a position to 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 downside to start with.
(Replace January 2nd, 5:08PM ET: After the publication of this evaluate, 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 “destructive” column of the scorecard to replicate this reality.)
Electrical bikes are rapidly turning into an enormous enterprise. Specialists 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 must be accessible — and worth is an enormous think about accessibility.
There’ll at all times be prospects who desire a premium, high-end e-bike with anti-theft trackers and Bluetooth connectivity so you’ll be able to pair it to your smartphone, identical to there’ll at all times be individuals who choose 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 dwell.
Rad Energy Bikes is main the pack for reasonably priced e-bikes, in addition to different corporations 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 evaluate is revealed, I suppose I’ve to return the RadRunner to the producer. That’s, until I simply resolve to purchase it.