Mini Confusion

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
EBR shows two reviews for the RadMini, one from April '16, the other posted in November of the same year. There are some insignificant differences, but some substantial ones as well. I'm hoping to help potential buyers find out what they're actually buying.

The more recent RadMini review says it comes with Panasonic cells in its battery, but Rad's own specs currently reflect what the April review does - Samsung cells. Both reviews show capacity at 11.6Ah, but the Samsung's weight is 1.1 lbs lighter? RadPower's Mini page also refers to the April EBR review, which makes me wonder why the November review even exists. If the earlier review was of a prototype, why does Rad still refer to it and not the more recent one?

Other differences:
Brake rotors = 180mm (Nov) vs. 160mm (Apr) - Rad's site says 180 font, 160 rear.
Wheel size = 20" (Nov) vs. 26" (Apr) - this HAS to be a mistake in Apr, clearly they're 20"!
Bike weight = 62.1 lbs (Nov) vs. 61 lbs (Apr) - 60.8 lbs on Rad's site.
Motor Weight = 12 lbs (Nov) vs. 8 lbs (Apr) - not shown on Rad's site, but 4 lbs. difference?
Seatpost Length = 320mm (Nov) vs. 266mm (Apr) - not specified on Rad's page.
Spokes = 13 Gauge (Nov) vs. 12 Gauge (Apr) - Rad's site says 11 Gauge.
Frame Type = Step-thru (Nov) vs. Mid-step (Apr) - clearly it's not a step-thru!

There are more variations (like worldwide availability vs. just US and Canada), but I digress... My late-2015 RadRover hyped a 750W Hengtai metal-geared motor on Rad's site at the time, but came with a Bafang with plastic-gears that was clearly stamped as 500W. Rad claimed it switched to Bafang for reliability and tuned the system for 750,* but the bike really struggled on hills, and I felt duped.

Additionally, my Rover came with a flimsy, no-name suspension fork. Another EBR forum member posted how his Rover's generic fork collapsed and Rad sent him a Top Gun brand fork to replace it - apparently newer Rovers now come with the branded fork. I proactively purchased the Top Gun from Rad but still sold my Rover at a loss 6 months and ~200 miles later, offering full disclosure to someone who just wanted to ride around his mostly flat neighborhood.

Rad still seems to be pretty "fluid" in its specification listings, not stating what brand fork or which Shimano gearing components they're equipping their bikes with, etc. This might allow for flexibility, but the Tourney derailleur specified in both EBR reviews is Shimano's low-end offering and won't hold up long, just like their original forks. Rad also doesn't specify the brand of motor - they clearly dropped Hangtai for Bafang in late 2015... who's to say they'll keep using Bafang?

Despite my obvious misgivings, I believe that Rad Power Bikes offers decent value for the money and has many happy customers, but urge potential buyers to be aware of possible inconsistencies between the specs shown on EBR's reviews and what you might get.

* Quote from RadPower email addressing my complaint: "The stamping on the motor, and the continuous power rating are largely unrelated since we program our controllers to provide a 750 watt continuous output power..."
 

Thom473

Member
Manufacturers change specs and actual delivered materiel based on costs, reliability through customer experiences and availability to meet demand. If you don't like that in an ebike, don't ever buy a boat since their construction is even more variable.

I really like my mini...I don't care if it weighs more than 2 pounds over spec (if it does); I got a Samsung battery, but I'd be just as happy with a Panasonic as long as it charges/discharges and doesn't start a fire; I don't care what gage the wheel spokes are; I got a Bafang motor made specifically for the mini, I suspect all of them are that way now....You had a bad experience with your Rover, I think you might want to go with another manufacturer since you'll be suspicious no matter what from now on. Just sayin'
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
I appreciate your perspective, Thom, and am glad you love your Mini. Many satisfied Rad customers post here, so I hesitated before posting my experience. Other than a canoe and kayaks, I've never considered a boat. I was actually evaluating the Mini and some other small ebikes for a friend.

I've already switched to other brands... before my post-crowdfund Rover purchase, I'd helped Kickstart Sondors original "Storm." I also picked up a Prodeco. After the Rover, I bought an iZip, a Biktrix, a Felt, a couple of Haibikes, an EasyMotion and a Bulls. I guess I've become addicted to eMTBing, even more so than I was to MTBing in my 20s to 40s.

I've sold off (or given as gifts) all the ebikes that advertised trail worthiness but weren't for me, and add that I've found the "name brands" to be consistent with their stated specs. Sure, they all change yearly, but it's always spec'd thoroughly before sale. To me, that instills confidence that my ebike has been vetted and will last for years with proper care.

I get the need for flexibility, but the smaller companies were swapping significant parts constantly without updating their promoted specs. When I bought my Rover, Rad's website advertised the Hengtai motor's metal gears as something special, but that's not what I got. I didn't even get a 750W motor.

I just think being more specific and consistent, at least year-to-year, in their specifications would add to consumer confidence in their evolving brand. Switching parts in the middle of a marketing campaign and/or not being detailed with componentry did the opposite to me.
 
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Thom473

Member
In any small manufacturing organization (less than 10 people), documentation is the VERY LAST THING anybody does and often they don't get to it ever. RadPower may never update their specs, they are too busy trying to stay alive in the market.
 
Hi @LimboJim

Here are a few follow ups to your post to help better inform customers and thank and credit you for your input:

- We recently added a sizing chart to the RadMini tech specs page and also changed the disk brake sizing for the front and rear disks to 180mm to reflect the correct production spec, as you are right the rear was still listed as 160mm on the site, but we had changed this earlier last year. https://www.radpowerbikes.com/pages/radmini-technical-specs

- Both the 500 watt and 750 watt stamped Bafang motors we have used from the start have both been mechanically equivalent, the only difference being the stamping/label on the side of the motors. After some negotiations and additional lab testing we were able to get Bafang to agree to change the stamping on the motor to reflect our 750 watt use case, until this time, they had only rated the motors to 500 watts from the factory, but we had been successfully implementing the motors at higher wattages in high volumes without issues. All Rad Power Bikes have been full 750 watts since the early days, the motor controllers power output to the motor is the true measurement, not the sticker/label on the motor.

- All battery packs use Panasonic cells. We had been using an equivalent Samsung cell in the first quarters of production but made Panasonic cells standard for supply reasons. The original weight of the packs was a little over 7 pounds and the current pack weight is 7.4 lbs (rover, city, and wagon) and 7.7 lbs (mini) mainly due to slightly heavier cells and more supporting materials used in the internal pack construction.

- Your comment about the tier of the Shimano components used on our bikes not being specified is because we have to change the specific model used in production almost on a yearly basis, since Shimano makes frequent changes to their product lines. The Shimano Acera and similar tier derailleurs and drivetrain components we use are trouble free on all the Rad bikes we run through the ringer here, and they are one of the lowest volume service/warranty parts we send to customers.

- The Front forks switched to Top Gun on all RadRovers in late 2015 if I remember correctly, will go look that date up in our BOM's.

- Wheel size on the RadMini is 20’’x 4’’ we will be on the lookout for any text that says otherwise.

- Seatpost length did get extended on all bikes. The current website specs are accurate.

- Apologies the mini was listed as a step-through, which was an error, it is more in the “mid-step” category with a 26.6’’ standover.

- The metal gears/oil bath in the original Hengtai motors were a nice improvement, but we had been testing the new Bafang fat bike hub motors in a parallel path of testing, and Bafang’s a more consistent supplier and the motors performance and durability were superb. Sorry if you did not get what you expected, but I hope that you have been happy with the Bafang motor. Most electric fat bike manufacturers followed our lead and have started adopting the same motor late last year and now in 2017 they are on a lot of bikes.

- The discrepancy in motor weight I believe was the weight of a rear wheel versus the weight of a motor.

- The spokes on all of our bikes are 12 guage.

Thanks for your comments, it helps us continue to improve and evolve, happy ebiking
 

BVC

Active Member
The front forks still worry me. They tend to wobble a significant amount under front braking. Makes braking a bit wobbly.

On another note - I went to order a new rear rotor for one of the Rovers as it was bent. I ordered a replacement rotor based on website specs only to learn the 160mm rear rotor listed was actually a 180mm rotor on the bike. So that was frustrating but thankfully I had Amazon Prime and was only down for 5 days and an unwanted drive to UPS to drop off the return package.

Otherwise Rad has been good on warranty claims (two controllers & a wire harness)
 
@BVC We have inventory of the V2 Rover forks, in case you want to upgrade. They are more rigid, but like all forks, still have a small amount of rock when you apply the front brake solely at speeds. It is best to apply both front and rear brakes simultaneously.

Sorry for the trouble having to exchange the disk rotor, email support@radpowerbikes.com if you have questions on specs for replacement parts moving forward and they can go through our bill of materials associated with your order number. The tech team attempts to keep the website spec inline with the current product that is shipping, not previous product versions. Thanks for your input!
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
Hi @LimboJim

- Both the 500 watt and 750 watt stamped Bafang motors we have used from the start have both been mechanically equivalent, the only difference being the stamping/label on the side of the motors. After some negotiations and additional lab testing we were able to get Bafang to agree to change the stamping on the motor to reflect our 750 watt use case, until this time, they had only rated the motors to 500 watts from the factory, but we had been successfully implementing the motors at higher wattages in high volumes without issues. All Rad Power Bikes have been full 750 watts since the early days, the motor controllers power output to the motor is the true measurement, not the sticker/label on the motor.

- The metal gears/oil bath in the original Hengtai motors were a nice improvement, but we had been testing the new Bafang fat bike hub motors in a parallel path of testing, and Bafang’s a more consistent supplier and the motors performance and durability were superb. Sorry if you did not get what you expected, but I hope that you have been happy with the Bafang motor. Most electric fat bike manufacturers followed our lead and have started adopting the same motor late last year and now in 2017 they are on a lot of bikes.

I appreciate your response, @Mike Radenbugh, but feel that I must refute your claim that the different wattage Bafang motors were "mechanically equivalent." First off, the Bafang G06 motor that my Rover came equipped with was engraved 500W, not stickered; I doubt they'd have gone to the expense of doing so at the time if different wattage motors were otherwise identical. Bafang's own website showed several several varying wattage versions of that model (partial screenshot below), and they responded as follows to my inquiry on the matter: "The physical size of the motors my very well be the same, but the actual copper winding inside is different." There was also a corresponding cost increase with the thicker/denser copper coils that came with higher-watt versions...

As stated in my original post, I sold my Radrover - at a loss and with full disclosure to the buyer - less than 6 months after I got it. To be clear, I was not "happy with the Bafang motor," which you did not use "from the start," especially since I got the impression from your many promos at the time that I was getting a better motor than came with my much cheaper Sondors, who used the 350W version of the G06 months before you began using the 500W. I had additional concerns with my Rover; the wheel bolts, gear cassette and some other parts rusted in extreme humidity... I'd wager you're using less rust-prone parts now because I don't see people posting about it. My Sondors was stored in the same garage and conditions at the same time, and showed zero rust.

FYI, I emailed my complaints to your Customer Service Manager at the time, and at first he made the same claims about the motors' equivalency that you did here. When I sent him Bafang's statement about the cooper wiring difference, I got no further response.
 

BVC

Active Member
@Mike Radenbaugh

How can I tell what version forks I have? One rover was purchased August 2016 and the other Rover was purchased two months ago. Both forks look identical to me and say TOP GUN on the bottom right fork. I assume I have the newer forks.

What brought it to my attention was my local bike shop. I asked about hydraulic brakes but he was quick to point out that a larger rotor and stronger brakes could cause problems with the front forks. I'm not too worried about it - the bikes seem to stop fine. After all everything adde up it is a lot of weight!!

I'm just excited to move to Portland and really get out there and enjoy the bike friendly area (compared to where I'm at in Cali where our driving tends to make you not ride on the side of the road anyways)
 
@LimboJim Bafang did not have a 750 watt stamped G06 motor until we had this change implemented by Bafang. Ever since we implemented the Bafang motor on the RadRover, it has been paired with a controller outputting 750 watts. The max torque, RPM, gear construction and housings are all identical. The winding density and I believe winding diameter is slightly different now, but this has literally an unnoticeable effect on torque, speed, etc. The fact of the matter is at the time of production, there was no G06 motor stamped/labeled/etched with a 750 watt marking, so we utilized the 500 watt marked motor (running at 750 watts) which is very common practice across a multitude of higher power ebikes. Once we leveraged Bafang to change the marking to 750 watts (because it was causing consumer confusion like you experienced), the label changed, and Bafang has made small improvement to the motor over time, but nothing of substance. By "from the start" I meant from the start of using the Bafang motor, I should have made that more clear. If your bike was subjected to extreme humidity, it would make sense if you saw some rust develop. I will check with our customer service team to see why they didn't get back to your response originally, that sounds like an anomaly as this is a common topic that we discuss and educate consumers on in an open way. Having ridden extensively on both the Original Hengtai Motors and past and current Bafang motors on the RadRover, you were not supplied an inferior product, I could argue it was superior, that is why we made the switch, we were not going backwards. We are continuously enhancing our products, while keeping the MSRP constant, with the help of higher sales volumes and awesome customer input like yours, so thank you for that! Sorry your experience was not satisfactory, glad you have found bikes that meet your personal needs.

@BVC Best thing to do is send a picture of your forks to support@radpowerbikes.com of your forks, or send them your order number to pull the fork version info for you. Agree with your local bike shop, installing a massive rotor and hydraulic disks could impact safety. Will be great to have you closer to Seattle for any Rad meetups!
 

BVC

Active Member
Will do, Mike!

And I heard you guys have heard about me (and others) - I'm Adam Jarvis from YouTube (www.youtube.com/adammjarvis). I'm excited to move up that way and meet ya'll face to face and check out a mini for my girl! I was recently let go from work and figured if I need to look for new work - might as well do so where I want to be! Back in the PNW where I once lived as a young buck! Now that I'm in my 30's I can make that dream of getting back in the lush landscape a dream come true.
 

LilBigfoot

New Member
Okay Mike Radenbaugh.....Re the 500W vs 750W motor. I'm new to eBikes, but seriously looking at Rad models. I'm also living in Canada. Rad is now shipping bikes out of Vancouver for Canadian customers. Great! However, all models list a 500W motor. I assume this is because of some asinine Canadian law. I want a 750W motor. You seem to indicate in your above post that all Rad bikes have the same 750W motor, even though the motor may be stamped 500Ws. So what wattage motor is a Canadian getting? Is it a 750W motor in disguise?
 

LilBigfoot

New Member
Thank you for the clarification. Now I can order with peace of mind. I assume then I can program the controller to a higher wattage or second best, purchase a different controller?
 

Daniel H@ RPB

New Member
@LilBigfoot The controller is not user-programmable, and purchasing a different controller to be used on a Rad Power Bike would void the warranty, unfortunately. We cannot recommend switching parts to non-standard Rad components. If you would like further clarification, please don't hesitate to give us a call or email our support@radpowerbikes.com address. We've got a rad team waiting to help you.