- Strikes an excellent balance delivering high power with mid-level components for a reasonable price, you get throttle and pedal assist with an on/off on the throttle! solid one year warranty for the original owner, flat rate $175 shipping in the US
- Even though the battery and controller box are bolted on vs. integrated into the frame, they use extra bolts for strength and kept them mostly out of the way, both are mounted low for improved stability
- Nice extras including an integrated LED headlight, stand alone rear light, USB charging outlet on the battery, handle at the back of the seat, quick release front wheel, bash guard on the chainring and derailleur... optional fenders and rack
- Only available in one frame size but comes in black or white color choices, the 180 mm disc brakes work well enough but hydraulic would be nice, the grips spin a bit if you squeeze hard, excellent kickstand placement, clean wire integration
Rad Power Bikes has rapidly grown their business from a crowd funded single-product offering to include a cargo bike and a mini fat folding bike in just a couple of short years! But it all started with the RadRover… This classic fat tire electric bike offers some of the best value I’ve seen on the market without compromising comfort and quality. Upgrades like the Shimano Acera derailleur (which is two steps up from the standard Tourney I frequently see) should last longer and provide tighter shifting. There’s a beautifully integrated bell that doesn’t clutter the handlebars because it’s designed into the brake levers (which offer motor cutoff when pulled). You get a fat bike specific motor from Bafang that maxes out on power for what’s legal in the US at 750 watts. It includes two LED lights and while the rear is more basic, relying on stand-alone battery cells, the front is integrated and runs off the main battery pack… which is huge! Not only do you get a powerful 48 volt configuration, the cells inside are from Panasonic, one of the most trusted and longest lasting from what I hear at shops and from consumers. And! there’s a USB charging port mounted on the side of that pack so you can use it for backup power (charging a cell phone perhaps) or running extra lights on your bike. Unfortunately, the positioning is a little vulnerable because your leg and foot pass near the side of the battery. Consider a right-angle USB adapter if you intend to plug things in while riding. But the USB power doesn’t stop there, another plug is built into the display panel so you can still get energy without running a long cable.
Powering on the bike is a two step process where you press a silver button on the battery and then hold the mode button on the control pad. It’s an extra step that not every electric bike has but at least it’s not too difficult to reach. This may reduce phantom power draw from the battery if you take it off the bike and are using it to charge with one of the USB ports mentioned earlier. The button pad mentioned a moment ago, is mounted near your left hand so you can adjust pedal assist levels while riding without taking your hand off the grip. There are five levels of power and a level zero! In zero, the bike won’t respond to your pedaling but the throttle will (if you’ve activated it) and that’s kind of cool. In all normal assist levels the throttle can override with additional power for catching up with friends or topping a hill. I love having a throttle on fat bikes because snow, sand and hilly terrain can sneak up on you and being able to power through or get extra help on demand makes for fewer crashes and generally more comfortable riding. And, since the RadRover is using a more basic pedal assist cadence sensor (with just six magnets vs. 12) I found that using the throttle and brake levers can lead to more precise control. Cadence sensors aren’t generally as responsive as torque sensors but they are less complicated, less expensive and they don’t make you work as hard. In the future, maybe they will switch to a 12 magnet design but still, the throttle helps and being able to one step further and actually disable the throttle with the red toggle button mounted near its base, is fantastic. Sometimes you don’t want to worry about accidentally twisting that throttle (like on really difficult terrain or descending or when you’re loading the bike up). Turning it off means that 750 watt motor won’t accidentally get out of control.
Using this bike can take some extra practice just because there are more drive options and the display has a lot of readouts. I prefer it this way but as a more advanced rider, I don’t feel as overwhelmed. What you see with the display is the speed, assist level and battery gauge (along wth a lot of other little readouts). The display is backlit which is great for night riding and it can be swiveled to reduce glare but it is not removable. Some quick tips on the display panel: you can hold up to switch from average speed to max speed, hold up and mode to turn on the headlight and hold down to activate walk-mode which propels the bike gently forward so you don’t have to push it up hills (if you decide to walk vs. ride). In the video review you can see us riding in deeper sand and I share a few tips about accelerating slowly to maintain balance. Once or twice I decided to walk the bike to meet with a friend just down the way and using walk mode significantly helped because the bike weighs ~63 lbs and sort of sinks in when you’re on the sand. Yes, you could just twist the throttle but that’s more sensitive and tends to kick up sand if you accidentally twist too hard.
At the end of the day, Rad Power Bikes has proven that they can produce reliable ebikes at reasonable prices and deliver and support them well. This is why I recommended them as one of the possible platforms for Cabo Adventures (where this video review was shot). The resort wanted to buy some bikes that would empower visitors to ride on the beach even in deep soft sand and not get exhausted when it’s super hot outside. The bikes performed beyond my expectation and were some of the most comfortable I tried. The mid-rise handlebars, ergonomic grips and softer saddle just made it feel good. The suspension fork, while basic, did its job marvelously and kept my wrists, forearms and shoulders from getting sore. One of the bigger points here is that we rode the bikes in sand and near salt water and they did begin to rust after a week. Rinsing them off after this sort of riding is a good idea. Whether you’re in snow where salt has been scattered to melt ice or near the ocean the bikes will show wear. In my opinion, if that’s the sort of terrain you expect to encounter, it feels nice knowing you didn’t spend $5,000+ on a bike than one you can pour some money into ongoing for replacement parts. I don’t mean to say the bikes won’t hold up, even with rust on the chainrings they should continue to perform. There are so many bikes coming to market these days that do not have a throttle mode and in conditions like the ones we rode in it can be very very useful and almost everyone who tried the bikes there (including my girlfriend) said they loved the throttle. There’s more to say about this bike and I’ve done my best in the pros/cons below but you can also watch and read comments for the older RadRover model from 2015 here. Big thanks to Rad Power Bikes for partnering with me for this review.
- Given the upgraded 750 watt internally geared hub motor, I wasn’t sure how loud it would be running at full power but it actually stayed much quieter than some competing motors on fat bikes that I’ve tested, even lower powered ones, and I like how wide it is (custom for fat tires) because that supports the spokes
- Lots of upgraded components here including a Shimano Acera derailleur with metal protector (in case the bike tips), premium Panasonic battery cells and 180 mm mechanical disc brakes
- Given the mid-frame battery design, I love that they were able to angle the to-tube to reduce stand over height and still include bottle cage bosses! There are two vertical mounts just behind the head tube on the left and right which would be great for folding locks, mini pumps or standard cages
- I’m ~5’9″ and this fat bike felt comfortable in terms of reach, the stem isn’t super long and the bars have a nice mid-rise in them… I also felt like the saddle was more comfortable than some competing offerings
- Even though I’m used to seeing Top Gun as the most basic low-end suspension provider on on a lot of bikes, this one was upgraded to include lockout and worked fairly well, combined with the fat tires this ebike is pretty comfortable but a 27.2 mm suspension seat post could soften up the back if you’ve got a sensitive neck or back
- I like that they included a little neoprene slap guard on the right chainstay… I noticed the chain bouncing when I was riding fast across the bumpy dirt road and without this pad the paint would get chipped up and there would be more noise
- It’s cool that RadRover sells accessories like fenders, saddle bags, rear carry racks and even transport racks for your car all designed to fit their bikes, there are threaded bosses at the rear-end of the bike so you could easily add your own rack if you’ve got something like the Topeak slide-on bag system
- I love that the mechanical cables for the brakes and shifters are all run through the frame, even the electronic wires are well organized and tucked away which prevents snags and just looks good (especially on the white frame where they would stand out more)
- Rad Power Bikes offers flat rate shipping in the continental United States for $175 which is a pretty good deal given the weight and size of the bike in my opinion… do take this into consideration though on the price
- I really like that there’s a handle built into the back of the saddle! This makes the bike easier to lift and position… also since the kickstand is mounted way towards the back, you can pedal the bike backwards and work on the chain more easily even if you don’t have a professional stand
- The battery interface, the plastic slide where it mounts to the downtube, is bolted onto the frame with three bolts vs. just two on most kits and some cheaper ebikes so it doesn’t rattle and feels pretty sturdy, this is good considering you might ride it on bumpy terrain
- I love that the bike offers throttle-only mode with zero assist, that gives you a lot of control and if you do turn on assist you can still override with more power using the throttle later
- At ~63 lbs this electric fat bike isn’t especially light weight but at least the front wheel has a quick release skewer and teh battery can be easily removed… this will reduce the space required by the bike and make it easier and lighter to lift
- I was surprised that the cadence sensor only used six magnets? Many newer models use 12 so the motor will respond faster as you pedal (both starting and stopping), it’s nice that the brake levers have integrated motor cutoff switches so at least you can command a stop immediately in case of emergency
- I like having a throttle and the twist version works well enough, especially with the integrated on/off toggle, but sometimes a trigger is nicer for off-road bumpy riding so that your grip is solid, I’ve also heard some riders with smaller hands prefer the trigger but it’s really personal preference
- The bike handled well and was ridden by some individuals in the 200+ lb range during this review but both skewers are the thinner 11 mm style vs. some of the newer 12 mm and 15 mm thru-axles seen on a lot of mountain bikes used on tough terrain, thicker axles on fat bikes would support the weight and stresses of fat tires
- You have to turn the battery pack on before you can power up the display panel, it’s a two step process that isn’t difficult but takes extra time and isn’t mandatory with some other electric bicycles
- I like that there are two little USB charging ports integrated into this bike, running off the main battery pack, especially because the bike doesn’t come with an integrated tail light (you could buy an affordable USB rechargeable light to replace the rear Blaze Light if), but the positioning of this port is near where your legs and feet move as you ride… it would be much better if this was on top of the pack or maybe built into the display
- The grips feel thick and comfortable, I personally enjoy the ergonomic leather style like this, but they aren’t locking so as you ride if you’re pulling and twisting hard they may begin to spin and given the off-road design of the bike and heavy footprint that can happen more easily
- I prefer disc brakes for any type of off-road riding, be it snow, dirt or sand and feel that the 180 mm rotors chosen here are a good fit in terms of size but I wish they were hydraulic because those require less hand strength and are smoother to actuate
- The chainring has a nice Aluminum bash guard protecting the teeth from the outside which is great if you’re riding over angled rocks or wood that might collide with it but there isn’t a plat on the inside which would act as a guide, this means you can drop the chain more easily, especially when riding in throttle mode on higher gears where there’s less tension in the chain
- I think the price on the RadRover is really good and I like how it performed but there are some trade-offs in aesthetics here with the controller box and battery mounted on top of the frame tubing vs. being integrated or combined