- A funky miniaturized folding fat tire bike with two cargo racks! Truly capable of sand and snow riding, LED lights guide and keep you safe, the bike offers assist and throttle drive modes
- Basic seven speed drivetrain from Shimano, plastic chain guide keeps things on track, metal derailleur guard protects the sensitive bits if the bike tips over to the right
- Nice 180 mm mechanical disc brakes with e-bike specific brake levers that cut power to the system when pulled, I like the integrated bell on the left lever and rubberized front edges for comfort
- The front rack turns as you steer the bike and if you aren't careful when parking, it can tip to the side and spill your gear out, no bungee or clasps to keep it from unfolding
The RadMini combines two bicycle concepts that at first seem a bit opposite but ultimately pair well… Namely, a “go anywhere” fat tire bike and the “take anywhere” folding bike. What you end up with is an electric bicycle that shorter riders can enjoy more comfortably, a fat bike that’s truly sand and snow capable (as demonstrated in the video review) and a bike that will fit inside the trunk space of most SUV’s and station wagons… and even some sedans. At roughly 62 lbs this is not a light bike but you can remove the battery and front wheel easily, shaving 10+ lbs. While not as smooth riding as a full sized 26″ fat tire bike, it worked surprisingly well and I appreciated the larger chainring used in combination with the basic seven speed drivetrain. Pedaling felt natural and I loved the larger metal folding pedals by Wellgo. This is one area a lot of folding ebike skimp on, opting for flimsy less-grippy plastic. The RadMini is off-road capable but still shines on road if you’re in need of a fun commuter, perhaps a road + trail bike to get you from the city into the woods?
Powering the bike is an impressive fat-bike specific 750 watt internally geared hub motor. I say fat-bike specific because it’s wider than most planetary geared hubs I see and this allows for wider spoke mounting and thus, stronger wheels. It really does pack a punch at 750 watts, which is the maximum allowable rating for electric bicycles in the USA. But I was impressed with just how quiet it operated. Having tested this back to back with some other fat bikes using different motors, I found it to be a leader sound wise. I absolutely love that the bike can be ridden with one of five levels of pedal assist AND overridden with full power using the twist throttle at any moment. This is especially useful for getting started in soft terrain like sand. You can even use the throttle from rest in level zero and furthermore, can switch the throttle completely off. This is useful for bumpy sections where you might bear down on the grips and accidentally activate. Considering some electric bikes have trigger throttles while others have half-twist like this, it’s just nice to have that extra off switch.
The drive system, large backlit display and front headlight are all powered by a large 48 volt 11.6 amp hour battery pack. Inside are name brand, extra durable Panasonic cells that should age well if cared for properly. That is, kept in a cool dry location and topped off every month or so if not in use. This is easy to do given the removability of the battery… though it’s not as easy as some competing models. In order to get the pack off you need to insert the key, twist to the left then either remove the seat post or twist so the saddle doesn’t block the path of the up-sliding battery pack. I don’t love the battery design, especially since the keys must remain in to activate it. I noticed that it must be firmly pressed down in order to lock and once powered on, you cannot remove the keys which may jingle. Ultimately, I can appreciate that it’s mounted low and relatively center on the frame. You may leave it here and charge it this way as long as you can get the bike reasonably close to a power outlet.
Charging the bike takes around five hours from completely empty while powering it up takes just a few seconds. Twist the key, hold the power button then watch as the fixed display blinks to life. It is backlit by holding the mode and up button (which also activates the headlight). I appreciate how large and easy to read it is. Press mode again for different menu readouts or arrow up and down to navigate the five levels of assist. It would be nice to have a removable display, especially given the off-road nature of the bike. I found that even on rough terrain the frame felt solid and became curious about the rack systems. The rear rack slides out horizontally for maximum storage space (though I’m not sure what I’d put there? Perhaps a large pizza?!) and the front rack is about the size of a six pack of beverages. Note however, that if the front cargo is not secured, it may dump out as the fork turns when you park and lean the bike. Unlike some sturdier racks, it is not mounted to the head tube.
I had a blast testing this bike and came to appreciate all of the little nuances that Rad Power Bikes dialed in. You get a saddle that has an integrated handle at the back for easier positioning and folding. You get a derailleur cage to protect the sensitive bits near the rear wheel which keeps things in shape once folded. You get nice brake levers with rubberized edges and an integrated bell. The grips are a bit larger and fairly comfortable (though they may spin if you bear down since they are not locking). Keep an eye on the rear light, remember to turn it off when you stop or the batteries will run out quicker. The disc brakes are solid, fairly large and work well considering the price point. This is an electric bike that can handle rough terrain but won’t break your heart when it ultimately gets beat up and rusty if you really do go to the beach. That’s one of the trade-offs with fat ebikes specifically. Do you get the premium one that you’re afraid to ride in hazardous terrain or maybe two of the cheaper ones that you can afford to lose? Regardless of use, this one will fit those petite riders which means more people can come along for the good times. Big thanks to Rad Power Bikes for partnering with me for this review.
- Uses a fat-bike specific hub motor which spaces the spokes out wider for improved strength, I found that it was quieter than similarly specced geared hub motors
- I like that the bike offers both pedal assist and twist throttle mode, it’s useful to have immediate access to full power when you’re riding in sand or snow even if you don’t have assist enabled or are in a lower level… but they also included an on/off switch for the throttle so you can avoid accidentally activating it
- The bike seems pretty tough overall, designed to handle bumpy terrain with a plastic chain guide and there’s a metal guard around the derailleur on the right in case it tips, simple black or white paint choices are easy to touch up or cover if it gets scratched
- Neat rack system, plenty of extra space for hauling food on a picnic or tents and other gear on an adventure, the rear rack extends horizontally for increased cargo space
- The folding design of the bike works well enough but I appreciate the extra locking clips that reduce any potential for loosening or opening while riding
- Despite being a mid-step folding frame design, I found it to be fairly stiff and solid feeling… the double tube design definitely improves strength
- My girlfriend isn’t especially tall but she was still able to use this bike and ride on the beach with the rest of us, stand over height is ~26.5″ but there is a wide point where the frame folds so even if you can stand over it be careful with your knees and inner legs to avoid scrapes and little bruises from this
- If the tires are run a bit low, they add some cushion along with the ergonomic grips and comfort saddle… no suspension fork or seat post suspension on this bike but the price is pretty competitive at ~$1,500 and you could add your own basic 27.2 mm seat post suspension after market for as little as $30
- I like the disc brakes because they don’t get as wet or dirty as rim brakes (being mounted higher) and found the brake levers to be comfortable with rubberized edges, I like that they chose the models with a bell integrated into the left grip and appreciate the integrated motor inhibitors
- I love that the bike comes with LED lights, it’s handy that the front one is designed to run straight off the main battery… they didn’t wire in the rear because it’s further back at the end of the rack and I’m told that in flashing mode it can last quite a long time
- Normally I dislike folding pedals because they’re shorter and less rigid than traditional platforms (being made of plastic), in this case however, the pedals are a bit larger and made from Aluminum allow so they work pretty well
- I like that they included a slap guard on the right chainstay (to protect it from the chain bouncing and chipping it on rough terrain) and that they used a torque arm washer for the rear wheel AND that the front wheel is quick release so you can reduce weight and size further when folding if you wish
- I love that it comes with an adjustable kickstand and that it’s mounted towards the back, out of the way of your cranks and pedals because that makes it easier to maneuver when parking
- The front rack turns as you turn the handle bars and steer the bike, I noticed that if it’s loaded and you park the bike without stabilizing the front wheel it will tip to the side and sometimes dump your gear out
- The RadMini uses a cadence sensor to activate pedal assist and the part only uses six magnets while some other bikes use 12, in practice it worked fine (perhaps their software is really dialed in?) but this is an area that gave me pause
- I like how the twist throttle feels but sometimes people with smaller hands or those worried about bumpy terrain don’t like them as much as trigger throttles
- Some folding electric bicycles have magnetic clasps or rubber bungee loops that keep the bike from coming unfolded or rattling around and scratching but this one does not, consider using your own bungee cords or an adjustable cord like this
- While the battery is removable, you basically have to slide the seat tube out or twist the saddle sideways in order to get it off, I do like that the saddle has an integrated handle for moving the bike or working with the battery in this case
- There are labels on the side of the tires that say “inflate to 35 PSI” but in my experience you want to hit between 5 to 30 PSI depending on terrain, go much lower towards the ~5 for soft sand or snow
- Two step on/off process wit this bike… first you insert and twist the key (which has to be left in the battery while riding) then hold the power button on the control pad near the left grip, this takes longer and the key can jingle if you have anything connected to it
- For a folding bike, this thing is definitely on the heavy side… as you might expect with the fat tires and racks, still worth considering (remove the battery and front wheel to reduce weight somewhat)