- An approachable, folding, fat tire electric bike that's stable and off-road capable, complete with integrated lights, custom reflective tires, an adjustable suspension fork with lockout, and comfortable Velo saddle
- Only available in one frame size and one color, but the handlebar and seat height are adjustable so it can accommodate a wide range of body types, the stand-over height is very low and the folding joint is narrow so you won't bump your knee
- Large 180mm disc brake rotors provide excellent stopping power and control, both brake levers activate the backlight for safety and cut power to the motor, RAD optimized 750 watt geared hub motor feels powerful but smooth
- Wide 11 to 34 tooth gearing makes it easy to pedal up steep hills and comfortable to maintain ~20mph top assisted speeds without feeling outpaced, large thumb shifter is intuitive, trigger throttle overrides pedal assist at all times for easy starts and extra power when needed, durable alloy folding pedals and chainring guide, fast USB charging port on display
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Rad Power Bikes. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of RAD products.
The first time I saw and reviewed a RadMini was in 2016; it was neat to see fat tires on a folding electric bike! So many times, folding ebikes feel uncomfortable and jarring because 20″ wheels have lower air volume and a higher attack angle, falling into cracks and ramming small bumps vs. spanning them smoothly. Fat tires also provide stability and float, if you lower the air pressure. I got the chance to test this out on the sandy beaches of Cabo San Lucas Mexico in 2016, and my advice would be to lower the air pressure between 5-7 PSI for it to really work… but it did work! Since those early years, Rad Power Bikes has updated their battery design, added a suspension fork, introduced new accessories, and launched a brand new Step-Thru frame that is even more approachable than the original mid-step design (which is now just called the RadMini). When you compare the two models back to back, the RadMini Step-Thru weighs about four pounds more due to frame reinforcements, has a slightly longer reach, and is only available in white while the other is only comes in black. The price for both models is $1,499 with free shipping to most locations in the US and Canada. The bike no longer comes stock with a rear rack, but the drivetrain, tires, brakes, and lights have all been upgraded. I’ve listed pricing for all of the different accessories in the accessories section above, and was very impressed with the build quality of the fenders and how quiet they were, the attachment design of the front rack, and how the rear rack was made to interface with Yepp! child seats. Both racks include cable extenders so the lights can be repositioned easily. For a step-thru frame, I found the ride quality to be stiff and was impressed with the 275lb max weight rating. Unlike the high-step, cables and wires are mostly internally routed through the frame here. The steering tube telescopes up to accommodate taller riders and the seat post is long enough that I was able to raise the saddle pedal fairly comfortably. RAD has chosen a larger seat clamp for all of their 2019 models that’s easier to loosen. It’s a minor thing, but it saved my fingers from straining and getting pinched. Considering the cold, wet weather of Seattle (where we reviewed the bikes), it made adjustments much easier as we swapped bikes during all of the test rides.
Driving both RadMini models is a custom tuned fat bike specific geared hub motor from Bafang. The wide casing provides a sturdy bracing angle for the thick 12-gauge spokes while permitting a wider stater and magnet configuration inside. This allows the motor to deliver consistently high power without producing a lot of noise or being physically large (having a wider diameter). Notice how the motor basically hides behind the largest 34 tooth cog on the right side and the 180mm disc brake rotor on the left side. Rad Power Bikes upgraded the drivetrain on all of their e-bikes with an 11-34 tooth DNP freehwheel for 2019 that allows for easier climbing and a more comfortable cadence at the maximum supported 20mph top speed. It’s a big improvement over 2018, which had a 14-28 tooth cassette that was not nickel coated and used a cheaper Shimano Tourney derailleur vs. the Altus here (which is one step higher). Getting back to the motor, it’s rated at 750 watts continuous output which is the upper legal limit for the United States, and I believe it’s specced down slightly for Canada to comply with different regulations. It’s fairly lightweight at ~8.7lbs compared to the ~10.5 pound gearless motors on the RadWagon and RadCity models, and it freewheels without any magnetic drag… thought it does not offer regenerative braking. Because the RadMini uses smaller 20″ wheels, the hub motor gets a mechanical advantage. In order to make pedaling feel right for the rider, given the smaller wheels, a large 48 tooth chainring was chosen. I think RAD did an excellent job creating a comfortable ride feel with this product, and was able to spec traditional 170mm crank arms because the fat tires elevate the bike more than comparable non-fat folding ebikes. The big trade-off is weight… with the RadMini Step-Thru coming in at ~68lbs. Thankfully, the ~7.7lb battery pack and front wheel are easily removable. You shouldn’t have a problem with chain derailments while riding, folding, or transporting, because the RadMini comes with an alloy chain guide. Furthermore, the chain stay is well protected from chips by a neoprene slap guard, and the derailleur and motor power cable are protected by a steel guard. This guard is relevant in the initial post-purchase shipping process and anytime the bike is folded and loaded for personal transport. RAD even provides a strap to keep the bike from coming unfolded, which is something a lot of other brands overlook or struggle to accomplish with magnets. A few have rubber band straps, which I like because they stay with the bike… but you could always keep the strap with your RadMini too. All things considered, this motor feels smooth and natural when riding with pedal assist, and offers excellent power for starts and climbs when activating the twist throttle.
Compared to the first generation of Rad Power Bikes, the current generation battery pack offers ~20% higher capacity and only weighs 0.5 lbs more. It allows you to go further, use the throttle or higher levels of assist without as much range anxiety, and is cross compatible between all RAD models dating back to 2018. It mounts securely to a plastic track that’s attached to the frame with three bolts and secures with a keyed locking core. Notice how the battery is positioned at the center of the frame at a low point for improved balance and bike handling. It’s protected on both sides by additional aluminum tubing, which doubles as a frame support – reducing frame flex. The battery pack has two fuses built in for safety, and is physically separate from the motor controller. Notice the little black box behind the seat tube, that’s the controller unit. I was told that separating it out reduces heat exposure and makes replacement batteries less expensive. At $550 per pack, you get a lot of bang for your buck here compared with $800+ for many competing offerings from leaders like Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose, and others. I also like the physical design of this battery, being smooth and rounded, though it does not include a handle or loop for secure carrying. Since the batter is more of a short thick design, it’s likely easier to stuff into trunk bags, panniers, and backpacks for extended rides. This is not the case with many of the new internally mounted ebike batteries. The big trade-off is aesthetics, with two black boxes tacked onto the frame here vs. completely hidden power systems. Rated at 48 volts and 14 amp hours, this pack offers a total of 672 watt hours, which is above average for this generation of ebike batteries. And, I’m told that it contains high quality Samsung 35E high capacity lithium-ion cells. The battery casing has an LED charge level indicator built into the top edge, allowing you to determine roughly how full it is whether it’s on the bike or not, and you can charge the pack while mounted or separated from the RadMini frame. This battery powers the backlit LCD display panel and both lights, which is another upgrade from previous models. The rear light used to run off of two AA batteries, which was easier to forget and leave on after rides while also producing more waste. To maximize the lifespan of this and other lithium-ion battery packs, I’ve been taught to store them in a cool dry location and avoid complete discharge. In fact, it’s best to stay between 20% and 80% and aim for 50% if you know you won’t be riding for an extended period of time.
Once the battery pack is mounted and locked, simply hold the mode button located at the center of the control pad, which is mounted within reach of the left grip. The large grayscale LCD unit blinks to life showing your battery level, odometer, current speed, assist level (starting in 1 by default), and watts being used. You can cycle from odometer to trip distance by tapping the mode button, cycle from current speed to average and max speed by holding the up arrow, activate the lights by holding up and mode simultaneously, and initiate walk mode by holding the down arrow. Walk mode is especially useful if the bike is loaded with gear, or maybe you’re in a park where it’s not appropriate to ride, maybe the terrain is too steep and unstable for the slick tires, or you’ve got a flat. With the upgraded Kenda puncture resistant tires, hopefully you won’t end up in that situation too often. For those who want to adjust more settings, hold the up and down arrows simultaneously. This allows you to change the wheel size, backlit brightness (1-3), and units (mph or km/h). Press mode to navigate through the settings menus and hold mode to exit settings. Finally, the most common interaction with the display is to press up or down to navigate from 0-5 assist levels. The higher the level, the more power and speed you’ll get, but you can always override the current level by activating the twist throttle on the right. And I love that RAD has included an on/off button for the throttle! This, combined with the brake lever motor inhibitors, provides maximum control over all modes of operation. With a responsive 12-magnet cadence sensor and the variable speed twisth throttle, this ebike is setup very well, though not as immediately responsive as the high end multi-sensors now seen on many mid-drive ebikes. Even though the display panel is now branded as Rad Power Bikes, it is actually a very common SW-LCD from King Meter; the same display used on many prior models (in case you wish to look it up). Rad Power Bikes has a great video overview of their display here but it doesn’t go quite as deep as I’ve described above. I love that the company has included a full sized USB Type-A port built into the base of the display, and increased the power output to 5 volt 1 amp for 2019 while prior versions were 5 volt 500 milliamp and wouldn’t maintain or charge electronic accessories as consistently or quickly. The display can be swiveled forward and back to reduce glare if you don’t over-tighten the clamp, but it is not removable. Given the positioning, above the stem at the cent of the handlebar, this display should be fairly protected from scratches at bike racks and tips, but will still take sun and weather damage over time. Just like the rest of the electronics here, this display is water resistant, and I noticed that RAD opted for a nicer threaded connector point for the display while other connections are plastic press fit. I was told that the this and other parts can be replaced through the company, and are warrantied for one year as a part of the comprehensive warranty. I’ve noticed that some owners will secure their helmets over the display and others will use plastic bags to protect from rain. Anyway, I really like being able to activate the the lights through the display, being able to adjust backlighting, and even being able to change the rear light from off or solid to blinking mode. To do this however, you must reach down and press a little rubber button on the lower left edge of the rear light. This step cannot be completed through the display. Most ebikes I see only offer lights off or solid on, but a blinking rear light can generate more awareness and is a unique upgrade. Note that both brake levers have motor inhibitor switches built in to safely disabling the motor when you want to stop but now they also activate the rear light! This works even when lights are disabled. Finally, the headlight has a light sensor built into the back so it goes extra bright when riding during the daytime and dims slightly when it’s very dark out. Both lights are designed to be re-mounted to racks if you purchase them aftermarket, and Rad Power Bikes includes extender cables to make it easy. Note that if you do get a front rack and reposition the light, it will no longer point where you steer, because the rack is frame mounted for extra strength.
All things considered, this is an awesome folding electric fat bike. It’s rated as Class 2 because of the throttle, but I believe you could remove that for Class 1 riding on restricted off-road trails. In that case, you may also wish to swap out the slick tires for some knobby ones, and the folks at RAD told me they do sell them separately for that purpose. Rad Power Bikes is well known for their full sized fat tire electric bike called the RadRover. It’s comfortable, off-road capable, and priced well… but not as versatile or approachable as the RadMini. The stand over height is ~30.5″ vs. 16″ here, and even with the quick release wheels, it’s just a big bike to move and store. By contrast, the compact RadMini is easier to store, transport, and just as capable with a rear rack and front rack. I love the custom plastic fenders that RAD sells because they are sturdy and quiet. You could get a suspension seat post for added comfot, a small or large platform with all sorts of panniers and box bags which of course have reflective material built in. They sell a phone mount for those who wish to navigate with GPS and the Yepp! Maxi child seat, guaranteed to fit, for all of those great Moms out there. It’s really nice that Rad Power Bikes opted for a sturdier suspension fork with wider stanchions to handle the heavy wheel. The fork can be completely locked out for efficiency but also has preload adjust on the left side, to pre-load the spring inside for heavier riders. I like how RAD has refined their paint job and logos here, not being as small or busy, and how they used gray on the top tube to hide scuff marks from dirty shoes. Even though it’s only available in white, the colors felt gender neutral and you get the benefit of higher visibility when riding in low light conditions. Big thanks to Mike, Corey, Ty, and the others at Rad Power Bikes for inviting me out and spending time on this review to answer questions. My goal is always to go deep, be impartial, and have fun… and they made this possible. I sincerely think these guys are doing a great job and have heard great things about their customer support (operated M-F 9am-5pm PST out of Ballard Washington). As always, I welcome your feedback in the comments below and invite you to discuss and share pictures in the Rad Power Bikes forums.
- Beautiful aesthetic here, cables and wires are internally routed through the frame, support hardware is all black (including spokes), and the gray chevrons on the downtube hide shoe marks from mounting
- Lots of great accessory options including a suspension seat post, wide plastic fenders, a heavy duty rear rack, and frame-mounted front basket with extender for the headlight
- I found this ebike to be very comfortable, the wide tires offer a 5-20 PSI pressure rating, the suspension fork offers preload adjustment and full lockout, the saddle is soft, and the ergonomic grips reduce hand fatigue
- Kenda and Rad Power Bikes worked together to create a series of tires with reflective stripes and K-Shield puncture protection, this slick fat tire rolls efficiently, is quieter than the knobby ones on the high-step model, but still provide excellent traction in wet conditions (as shown in the video review above), it’s 4.5″ wide vs. 4.0″ wide on the high-step RadMini which delivers more stability and air volume for comfort
- In my experience, there are many wave style step-thru bike frames that feel flexy, but Rad Power Bikes designed the RadMini Step-Thru with a taller joint and support tubing to eliminate this feeling, I like how the tubing also surrounds the battery pack for additional protection
- Excellent weight distribution here, notice how low and centered the battery is on the bike frame, this improves stability and frees up the rear for adding a rack and cargo, I’m very impressed that they also included bottle cage bosses on the downtube
- Both of the frame folding points (at the center of the frame and on the stem) have a locking mechanism for safety when riding, the main joint uses an extra large stainless steel clasp for durability
- Both wheels are built with thicker 12 gauge spokes for increased durability and weight capacity on the bike, the official max weight rating is 275 pounds (~125 kilograms) which is outstanding for a folding model
- Safety is a bit deal for me, so I appreciate the custom reflective tires, white paint, and integrated lights, RAD went the extra distance with their rear light allowing you to toggle from solid to flashing by pressing a rubberized button on the bottom
- The kickstand is mounted perfectly, far enough back that it won’t cause pedal lock when left down, tucked in so it won’t cause heal strikes as you pedal, and it’s adjustable length so you can maximize stability based on your parking environment
- Large display panel is easy to read, can be swiveled to reduce glare if you don’t over-tighten the mounting bracket, and has a fast one amp USB Type-A charging port built into the base so you can maintain a smartphone or other portable electronic accessory
- The battery pack can be charged on or off the bike frame, locks securely into place, contains two fuses for safety, the mounting bracket is sturdy and attaches with three bolts vs. two on some competing products, they used high quality Samsung 35E Lithium-ion cells, and the pack is fairly affordable to replace at $550 because the controller is separate
- I really appreciate that the battery pack is cross-compatible with all other 2018/2019 Rad Power Bike models, this allows you to buy a couple of different ebikes and share packs to extend rides
- Pedal assist responds quickly because of a 12-magnet cadence sensor, the motor cuts out instantly whenever you brake because both levers have motor inhibitor switches built in, the twist throttle includes an on/off switch for additional riding options and safety
- Great folding design with smart hardware choices including a support bar to protect the chainring, a saddle that has a handle built into the back for lifting, and a physical stop point in the steering tube so you won’t over-extend the cables in the front
- The geared hub motor is zippy and powerful, it gets a big mechanical advantage because of the smaller 20″ wheels, I’ve tested an older version of this ebike in soft sand riding on a beach in Mexico and it worked great (just bring the tire PSI down to 5-7 or the tire will sink in)
- Nice drivetrain, the wide 11-34 tooth cog set offers easy starts and climbing as well as comfortable higher speed pedaling, the cogs are nickel plated for durability (and I was told that it’s environmentally friendly), there’s a slap guard to protect the chain stay paint, and a tough alloy guide to protect the chainring and reduce chain drops
- Rad Power Bikes opted for high-quality Wellgo folding pedals that are made out of aluminum alloy verses plastic, they offer a larger platform area to reduce slips and don’t flex or break as easily, great choice
- Some folding bikes skip the bungee cord, magnet, or a Velcro strap to keep them from coming unfolded but the RadMini does not, it comes with a Velcro strap! You could still use your own bungee cords or get an adjustable one like this to keep the frame extra secure when transporting in a car, boat, plane, RV, etc.
- I really like the bell that’s built into the left brake lever, it’s compact and keeps the handlebars clean but works reliably and produces a friendly chime, I also like the rubberized brake levers
- This is a very minor upgrade, but Rad Power Bikes moved the rear disc brake caliper down onto the left chain stay to shorten the cable length and reduce clutter for the rack, they are also using conical washers now that are easier to adjust to reduce brake noise
- Another small improvement here is the larger seat tube clamp that is easier to use (especially if your fingers are cold), it’s handy if you’ve got multiple people sharing, are running a fleet or rental program, and especially for the folding model when you want to make it compact for transporting and storage
- The rear portion of the bike has extra threaded holes for adding off-brand racks and accessories (so you can run fenders and racks without running out of mounting points), I also noticed that they’re still using a torque arm on the left for durability and a steel guard on the right to protect the motor cable and derailleur
- It’s cool that Rad Power Bikes has expanded to Canada with this model and now have a flagship store in Vancouver, they offer free shipping and in many cases and partner with mobile bike repair services to deliver assembled for an additional $100
- Minor consideration, the 2018 RadMini used a different controller that was built into an alloy box located just behind the bottom bracket. The 2019 version appears to use the same controller as the full sized RAD models and on the step-thru version it is positioned in a less exposed spot behind the seat tube. This part may be easier to service now, more standardized across the line, but stands out visually on the white frame
- The RadMini Step-Thru only comes in one frame size, but the steering tube and seat post can telescope up for taller riders, the frame only comes in one color for now, note that the high-step version of the RadMini is about the same size and also has the adjustable steering tube, I measured reach to be about one inch less on the high-step which surprised me
- The display panel is not removable, which could result in more sun, weather, and physical wear over time depending on where you park it, some people cover their displays with their helmets or put a plast over at racks to reduce scratches and water
- I love that you can enter into the display settings area and adjust units by holding the up and down buttons, but I wish there was more feedback about range and remaining battery capacity, it only shows five bars which relay 20% steps vs. 10 bars or a full 100% readout
- The battery charger is fairly compact and lightweight, RAD says it’s reliable and works between all models, but it would be nice to have a faster charger given the higher capacity 672 watt hour battery pack
- Despite its compact size, this ebike is fairly heavy at 68lbs (with the battery pack attached), that’s about four pounds heavier than the high-step RadMini model because of the reinforced tubing and redesigned joint
- Minor complaint here, the thumb shifter requires more effort to use and a bit of reaching for me compared to under-bar trigger shifters, but RAD explained that they chose it to make room for the twist throttle
- The 180 mm mechanical disc brakes worked well during my ride test, especially with the smaller 20″ wheels, but I definitely prefer hydraulic because the levers are easier to pull and can be reach-adjusted for small or large hands, this is one part on the bike that seems to be a compromise in order to keep the price lower and the folks at Rad told me that mechanical brakes are easier for people to work on themselves vs. needing help from a shop
- One consideration with the spring fork is that it’s heavier than an air fork, I love that it has a lockout adjust and that they included it compared to the 2016 and 2017 first-generation RadMinis which used a rigid fork
- Earlier RadMini products shipped with the rear rack included and it was paint matched (black or white) but starting in 2019 you have to pay $80 extra for it and it only comes in black (but the same rack works for both high-step and step-thru models)
- Minor considerations here, the headlight is mounted to the lower portion of the suspension fork and will bounce up and as a result, will bounce up and down when riding over bumpy terrain vs. if it was up on the stem, also, if you get the front rack and move the light onto it, it will no longer point where you steer since the rack is frame mounted
- Rad Power Bikes sells mostly online, which means that there’s some extra hassle unboxing and preparing the bike for riding, however they have partnered with some mobile bike repair services offering a $100 setup, keep in mind that the folding models are the easiest ones to get going if you do it yourself
- There are some advantages to the new rear brake caliper position (wires aren’t in the path of the optional rear rack) but the way it’s tipped back, it seems like water and dust could collect on the wire and get pulled down into the cable housing over time, creating some friction and drag in the brake system and more work for your right hand pulling the rear brake lever, this would not be an issue if it used a hydraulic brake line vs. mechanical