Rad Energy Bikes, the U.S.-based e-bike producer, has made its mark as a direct-to-consumer enterprise promoting fats tire bikes that helped form the COVID e-bike growth. In 2021, the corporate raised two large rounds – $150 million in February 2021 and one other $154 million simply eight months later – that introduced its complete funding above and past what Europe’s e-bike darling VanMoof secured.
I desired to see why buyers appeared so eager on the corporate and why these bikes have been gaining in recognition.
The corporate not too long ago despatched me two e-bikes to check out: the RadRunner 2 and the RadExpand 5. They each appealed to me as inexpensive and steady bikes that may very well be delivered to your door, however I additionally needed to offer them a go based mostly on a remark that Rad chief product officer Redwood Stephens made in a latest interview with TechCrunch.
Stephens advised me that Rad’s fundamental goal clients aren’t city commuters. Slightly, Rad’s sturdy frames, fats tires and easy-to-read digital shows are geared toward folks over 50 years outdated who dwell in suburban or rural areas and wish a greener mode of transport that also feels protected. I made a decision to check that by placing my mother on considered one of them, and also you’ll hear her ideas on that later (Spoiler: She desires to purchase one.)
The RadRunner 2, an replace on Rad’s very profitable RadRunner utility bike with a step-through body, got here out in December 2021 at $1,499 and is available in black or forest inexperienced. The RadExpand 5 launched in April as a foldable e-bike at $1,599. It is available in black or white.
Rad Energy bike specs
The 2 bikes have very related seems, feels and specs. Right here’s what they’ve in widespread:
- Motor: 750W brushless geared hub motor
- Prime pace: 20 miles per hour (until you’re flying downhill, then it positively can go quicker)
- Battery: 672 Wh; could be charged on the bike or could be eliminated to cost inside
- Vary: 25 to 45 miles
- Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes
- Different stuff: Easy LED show, bell, 4 pedal help settings, half-twist throttle
Right here’s what’s the identical, however totally different:
Each bikes include an non-obligatory entrance rack and an built-in rear rack, however their payload capacities differ. For instance, the RadExpand’s rear rack max load is 59 kilos, however the RadRunner can deal with 120 kilos (after which some, as my companion and I proved.)
The kickstands are totally different, too. RadExpand’s is an everyday model kickstand, however RadRunner’s is a twin leg, spring loaded kickstand, which is far tougher to push over. Moreover, whereas each bikes have LED head/tail/brake lights, RadRunner 2’s taillights not solely point out when braking but additionally have a flash mode.
They each are very simple to activate by holding down the ON button, however I discovered that perhaps made them simple to steal. Many suburbanites don’t really lock their bikes up, however relatively go away them within the shed. For a wise bike, it will be cool to see an anti-theft locking system.
Lastly, the RadRunner and the RadExpand each have fats, puncture-resistant tires, however simply how fats differs with every bike. The RadRunner has 20 inch by 2.2 inch tires, and the RadExpand’s tires are 20 inch by 4 inch. I discovered that on each bikes, the fats tires made for a bouncy, relatively than bumpy, trip over potholes and different cracks within the highway.
What my 61-year-old mother considered the RadRunner 2
“The throttle makes it a sport changer. I like how when it accelerates it doesn’t speed up the place you’re feeling such as you’re being thrown again. It’s a mild acceleration, which is particularly good for us older folks,” Bellan the senior advised me after an hour-long cycle round a suburban neighborhood in Lengthy Island.
She famous that regardless of its 65 kilos of weight, the RadRunner 2 isn’t so heavy as in comparison with her present e-bike, the Aventon Tempo. The Tempo, by the best way, does certainly really feel such as you’re about to be thrown off the saddle once you speed up utilizing the pedal help.
Bellan mentioned the excessive handlebars stored her from feeling like she was leaning over an excessive amount of, which helped with the final emotions of stability and avoiding again ache.
The mannequin we tried out had a seat for a further rider on the again. It’s most likely meant for a baby, however my companion and I defied the marketed 300-pound weight restrict on a earlier jaunt across the neighborhood. My mom mentioned she’d decide to have a storage rack as an alternative, which is considered one of the choices out there to RadRunner 2 purchasers.
“I’d buy groceries in it. Completely, for sure,” she mentioned. “With all of the months I didn’t must fear concerning the climate, that is the best way I’d journey by means of city.”
An avid suburban biker, Bellan even mentioned she’d be keen to take it offroad.
“It will make me really feel extra assured happening a mountain biking path understanding that I had the chance to make use of these further tidbits and develop my legs,” mentioned Bellan; the additional tidbits being the various ranges of pedal help and the throttle. “I like that I can nonetheless get a exercise however give you the option to traverse all of the hills with out killing myself.”
The display, which merely shows battery capability, pedal help energy mode and head/tail gentle standing, was additionally mother-approved.
Off-roading with the RadExpand 5
When Rad Energy dropped off the bikes to me, they advised me the RadExpand is geared in the direction of suburbanites who would depart the bike within the trunk of their automotive and take it on tenting and different off-roading adventures. So naturally, I made a decision to search out the closest mountain biking path and provides the entire thing a go.
I’ll first be aware what the expertise of folding and unfolding the bike was like. In a phrase: Clumsy. But it surely received simpler with time. Folding up the bike is a two-step course of. First you drop the handlebars decrease after which form of shut the bike like a e book because it balances on one tire. No instruments required, which is great for saving time and sanity.
The bike weighs 62.5 kilos, which one way or the other feels heavier when it’s condensed in a smaller bundle. I had to offer it an excellent heave to get it into the trunk of my crossover – I additionally needed to put the backseat all the way down to match it correctly, so ample space for storing is of the essence.
I drove the bike over to a close-by path and determined to decide on the “tougher” observe versus the “simple” or “tough” tracks, simply to see how the RadExpand would carry out. I forgot to think about how I would carry out.
I’m a really assured metropolis biker. I can weave out and in of rush hour Second Avenue site visitors, throwing up a center finger to the automotive that’s double parked within the bike lane with out shedding momentum. However mountain biking is a wholly totally different beast, and there have been some moments I used to be really scared for my life. That is likely to be as a result of Rad doesn’t really promote this as a mountain bike, however I’m additionally assured that somebody with extra expertise off-roading would have discovered the RadExpand to be a dream on that path.
That mentioned, I typically felt safer on the RadExpand in that tough terrain than I ever have on a standard mountain bike.
The fats tires merely make you’re feeling extra steady, and the very fact which you can depend on the throttle to hurry up when wanted was very important when braving the gravel, sand, gigantic tree roots and large inclines within the path. I suppose I’d say the suspension was good, as a result of I by no means as soon as felt that jolting ache that goes out of your tailbone up your backbone that I get driving over bumps in my push bike. However that might need been attributable to the bouncy tires, relatively than Rad’s suspension system.
Unrelated to my mountain biking foray, the power to modify between low ranges of pedal help and the throttle was one thing I additionally appreciated driving in dense city areas. If you’re at a site visitors gentle, for instance, you would like to give you the option to creep previous different pedestrians with out by accident lurching into them as you push down on the pedal. However once you’re then attempting to cross a busy avenue and make it round a double parked automotive, that throttle actually is useful for pace.
General, each bikes have been fairly dreamy to trip, and for the value level and comfort of supply to your door and Rad’s cell service community to check, purchase and repair bikes, I’m not left with many unhealthy issues to say concerning the bikes.