- The high-step version of a folding fat tire electric bike from Rad Power Bikes, reinforced frame with sturdy gussets, secure locking latches for both folding points, adjustable suspension fork with lockout
- Powerful 750 watt Bafang rear hub motor with strong 48 volt battery allows for climbing or riding through soft terrain like sand, snow, or leaves, responsive 12-magnet cadence sensing assist as well as twist throttle for instant power with on-off button for safety
- Very comfortable for a folding electric bike with smaller 20 inch wheel size, the fat knobby tires and adjustable suspension fork smooth out bumps, custom Kenda tires have K-Shield protection to reduce flats, alloy chain guard reduces drops and protects your pant leg, larger folding pedals feel solid
- Fairly large and heavy compared to other non fat tire folding electric bikes, externally routed cables aren't as clean looking as the step-thru version from RAD, not sold through many stores so you may have to unbox or pay for setup, doesn't come with a rear rack or fenders by default, fairly basic charger
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This in-depth 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.
For 2019, Rad Power Bikes is releasing a new and improved version of the RadMini. They were kind enough to invite us up to Seattle for some real life road testing featuring some gorgeous views, varied terrain, and of course, some famous showers and sprinkles to keep us on our toes. Improvements over the 2018 model year include both lights being integrated, rear brake light activation, reflective tire sidewalls, as well as many small tweaks and improvements that make for a smoother and safer overall user experience. As our testing went underway, many of the refinements began to prove their usefulness. The main folding latch on the step over frame is thinner overall, making for a much easier pedaling experience. The rear disc brake caliper is mounted lower and slightly more toward the rider, giving you not only some improved smoothness and noise reduction, but the ability to add racks and other accessories in a once overcrowded area. As we journeyed through the drizzle, the front suspension fork and the knobby tires really absorbed the bumps, making it a smooth ride for such a small package. Those tires came in handy in more ways than one, they’re not just good for dirt paths and off-road, the reflective sidewall helped us stand out in the dark overcast weather and rain while riding in the city. When paired with the integrated brake light (that goes bright when you pull either brake lever), there’s a feeling of confidence and security because you’re extra visible. Along with the improvements are some familiar features we have come to expect from the RadMini. Features such as its sturdy frame, backlight LCD, competitive price point, and it’s powerful 750 watt rear hub motor. To help keep it affordable, the RadMini still uses mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic but they upgraded the drivetrain with Shimano Altus derailleur and Nickel plated cassette that has an even wider 11-34 tooth range.
The 2019 RadMini features a custom tuned fat bike specific geared hub motor from Bafang. It’s housed in an extra wide casing with provides a sturdy bracing angle for the thick 12-gauge spokes while permitting a wider stater and magnet configuration inside. This motor delivers consistently high power without producing a lot of noise or being physically large. 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 for 2019 with an 11-34 tooth DNP freewheel 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 Power 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. 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 0.5lbs 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 leading battery systems. 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 battery 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. One interesting difference between the RadMini high-step here and the new step-thru is where the battery is positioned. On this model, it’s behind the seat post and further back, making the bike more rear heavy. It’s not a big deal, it’s still protected by frame tubing, and you still add a rear rack and fenders, but you might have to remove the seat each time you take the battery off… and that’s a bit inconvenient. Thankfully, the new extra large seat clamp lever makes this easier than ever.
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 twist 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.
You may assume the RadMini holds a niche spot in the ebike world; that of a folding electric bike that also has big fat off-road tires. However the RadMini is able to break out of this box and into mainstream appeal by proving itself so useful (with lots of amazing accessory upgrades) and safe (with integrated lights and reflective tires). I could really tell that they scrutinized the details of this bike and improved it in some meaningful ways over 2018. Coupled with the hardware improvements and completeness here, you get excellent customer service… even considering that they mainly sell online and ship direct. However, there are some compromises to be made. Although the folding of the bike is certainly a convenience, the larger tires, sturdy frame, and overall weight of the bike may hinder your folding needs in tight pinch. Also, it may look sort of small when folded, but it’s kind of heavy. I usually remove the battery before lifting, which knocks off about 7.7lbs. Note that the high step RadMini here weighs 67lbs verses the step-thru version which is one pound heavier at 68lbs. This ebike has a raw tough look to it you can see it in the high step frame and exposed cables, but ultimately, you do have to lift your leg higher to mount the frame. I keep saying hight step, but the top tube isn’t as high as a full sized ebike (stand over height is just 28″ vs. 30+”). And finally, we have Henry Fords famous quote to apply here: “You can have any color, as long as its black” and that’s true of the RadMini because it only comes in black if you get the high-step frame. Fans of the white color RadMini will simply have to opt for the RadMini Step-Thru if they wish for a brighter bike… which might actually stand out more for safety at night. Ultimately, the RadMini checks off a multiplicity of boxes, making it a wonderful ebike if it falls under your consideration.
It was fun to visit the company’s headquarters for this review, even though we got a little wet. As always, it’s great to hear your thoughts in the comments below and I welcome your stories, personal review, pictures, and connection in the Rad Power Bikes forums!
- A fully battery integrated rear brake light that also gets brighter as you grip the brakes, this light maintains is flashing mode as well with the press of a button on the light unit itself
- A custom Kenda knobby tire complete with reflective sidewall and K-Shield puncture protection adding purpose and backing up the muscular look
- I love the sturdy Wellgo platform pedals they chose here, many other folding pedals are plastic and offer less surface area and rigidity, the quality alloy chain guide and steel derailleur guard also keep it running smoothly and protected when folding and unfolding, the chain shouldn’t drop off and you’ll be less likely to get a snag or bend in the derailleur cable and motor power cable
- The battery design is awesome, it’s slim, can be locked to the frame in an off position to prevent tampering with the display, can be charged on or off the bike, is using energy dense Samsung 35E cells that take up less space and weigh less, and it’s only $499 to replace because the controller unit is separate, it’s also cross-compatible with other second generation Rad Power Bike models
- This folding fat bike has tons of optional accessories that look great and provide massive utility such as wide plastic fenders, reflective pannier bags that fit onto the rear rack, a front platform rack and basket, a phone mount, and a suspension seat post upgrade
- The display is large and easy to read, it angles slightly to help you reduce glare, and I love that it has a standard sized USB port on the bottom so you can maintain a phone or other portable electronics as you ride, interacting with the display while riding is easy and pretty safe because the button pad is mounted within reach of the left grip
- The RadMini has a high-resolution 12-magnet cadence sensors which makes starting and stopping more predictable, I love that they also included motor inhibitors on both brake levers and that you can disable the throttle with the on/off toggle button near the right grip, I always turn the bike completely off before hopping on or off and folding just to be safe
- The kickstand is adjustable, has a wide platform at the bottom to keep it from sinking in to soft terrain, and it works pretty well if you’re loading the bike with gear, I love that the front rack is frame-mounted so it won’t interfere with steering or tip the bike sideways when parked like fork mounted racks (the first generation of RadMini models did have a fork mounted rack that wasn’t nearly as nice as this)
- 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
- The folding points at the steering tube and mid-frame have a two-step lock to ensure that there are no accidental unfolding situations while riding
- The geared hub motor is zippy and powerful, it gets a big mechanical advantage because of the smaller 20″ wheels and can produce more torque than the RadWagon and RadCity models which use gearless hub motors… so the geared motor doesn’t offer regeneration and it does produce some more noise, but it’s more capable at low speeds and can power through snow and soft sand if you bring down the tire PSI to the 5-10 range
- The rear rack is bolt-on but I like that they color matched it and that it stays out of the way so you can really lower the saddle height if you want and still have a trunk bag!
- 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! But 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.
- If color is a deciding factor in your purchase, you may be disappointed. The RadMini comes in just black for the 2019 year. If you are looking for white, you will have to get the RadMini Step-Thru version, which is also limited to just the one color.
- The battery and controller box are mounted externally vs. combined and hidden (the controller box is just below the bottom bracket where the battery sits and is surrounded by an Aluminum box), wires aren’t internally routed like some of the other Rad models, but weight distribution is good and I appreciate the support arm below the controller box that protects the chainring and gives the bike a stable resting position when folded, it’s possible that external cables will be less prone to damage when folding so that could be why they aren’t as hidden
- Only one frame size for the RadMini but that’s part of what keeps the price down, the top tube is more angled than before and this helps to lower stand-over height
- I’m not a huge fan of the big thumb shifter design for the gears because it seems like I have to stretch my right hand to reach it and the gears don’t shift as quickly or crisply, but the team at RPB told me this part was chosen to make room for their throttle on/off switch which is a great safety feature… so it makes sense, and the larger shifter pieces can be easier to interact with when wearing gloves
- 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 and 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 they are easier for people to work on themselves vs. needing help from a shop
- 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)
- 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 Gen 1 which used a rigid fork
- The display is large and easy to read but not removable, so it could take extra weather wear and possibly get scratched at a bike rack, if the bike gets crashed, or if you’re folding it
- Minor gripe here, there doesn’t appear to be any bottle cage mounting points, you might have to use a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this or maybe wear a hydration pack or something, I can see why they skipped bosses because the frame is compact and the folding could bend an accessory
- 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 it is positioned in a more exposed spot below the downtube. This part may be easier to service now, more standardized across the line, but it may also take more water and dirt contact if you don’t get the fenders. It appears to be high enough to not take rock strikes (being protected by the chainring)
- 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