Rad Power Bikes RadCity Step-Thru Review

2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Electric Bike Review
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru New 11 34 Cassette
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru 48 Volt Removable Battery
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Swept Back Handlebar Adjustable Stem
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Ergo Grips Integrated Bell
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Suspension Fork Integrated Lights
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Mechanical Disc Brakes
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Adjustable Kickstand Integrated Rear Rack
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Alloy Chainring Guide
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Shimano Acera Derailleur 7 Speed
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Cargo Box Accessories For Pizza
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru 2 Amp Charger
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Stock White
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Stock Black
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Electric Bike Review
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru New 11 34 Cassette
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru 48 Volt Removable Battery
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Swept Back Handlebar Adjustable Stem
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Ergo Grips Integrated Bell
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Suspension Fork Integrated Lights
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Mechanical Disc Brakes
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Adjustable Kickstand Integrated Rear Rack
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Alloy Chainring Guide
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Shimano Acera Derailleur 7 Speed
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Cargo Box Accessories For Pizza
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru 2 Amp Charger
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Stock White
2019 Rad Power Bikes Radcity Step Thru Stock Black

Summary

  • An approachable, comfortable, and relatively affordable, city style electric bicycle that comes in one frame size, two colors, has an adjustable stem, swept-back handlebar, and suspension fork with lockout adjust
  • Ready for all sorts of ride conditions and applications with full-coverage plastic fenders, integrated LED lights (including a brake light that goes bright), reflective tires, sturdy rear rack, and large mechanical disc brakes
  • Twist throttle provides instant power as well as safety because it features an on/off button, pedal assist is responsive and the motor ramps up smoothly, this drive system offers regenerative braking to reduce brake pad wear and recapture some energy on long descents
  • Mechanical disc brakes require more hand strength than hydraulic would and the levers don't offer adjustable reach, gearless motors tend to be durable and quiet but weigh more and produce some magnetic drag, RAD sells direct but has partnered with some mobile bike shops and has excellent customer service from what I've seen

Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Rad Power Bikes

Model:

RadCity Step-Thru

Price:

$1,499

Body Position:

Upright, Upright Relaxed

Suggested Use:

Neighborhood, Urban, Commuting

Electric Bike Class:

Throttle on Demand (Class 2)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

1 Year Comprehensive

Availability:

United States, Canada

Model Year:

2019

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

65 lbs (29.48 kg)

Battery Weight:

7.7 lbs (3.49 kg)

Motor Weight:

10.2 lbs (4.62 kg)

Frame Material:

6061 Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

14.5 in (36.83 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

14.5" Seat Tube, 22.5" Reach, 20" Stand Over Height, 30" Minimum Saddle Height, 26.5" Width, 72" Length

Frame Types:

Step-Thru

Frame Colors:

Satin White with Silver and Orange Accents, Satin Black with Silver and Orange Accents

Frame Fork Details:

SR Suntour Spring Suspension, 100mm Travel, Compression Adjust with Lockout, Preload Adjust, 28mm Stanchions, 100mm Hub Spacing, 9mm Axle with Quick Release Skewer

Frame Rear Details:

135mm Hub Spacing, 12mm Threaded Axle with 10mm Flats, 18mm Nuts

Attachment Points:

Fender Bosses, Front Rack Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses, Bottle Cage Bosses

Gearing Details:

7 Speed 1x7 Shimano Acera Derailleur, DNP Nickel Plated 11-34 Tooth Freewheel

Shifter Details:

Shimano SIS Index Thumb Shifter on Right

Cranks:

Aluminum Alloy, 170mm Length, 46 Tooth Chainring with Prowheel Ounce Alloy Guide

Pedals:

Wellgo Aluminum Alloy Platform with Reflectors, CrMo Axle, Black

Headset:

VP, Semi-Integrated, Sealed Cartridge, 1-1/8" Straight

Stem:

Zoom, Adjustable Angle 0º to 60º, 100mm Length, One 10mm Spacer, One 20mm Spacer, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter

Handlebar:

Aluminum Alloy, Swept Back, 630mm Width

Brake Details:

Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc with 180mm Rotors, Four-Finger Tektro Levers with Rubberized Edges and Bell on Left and Motor Inhibitors with Brake Light Activation

Grips:

Ergonomic, Stitched Imitation Leather

Saddle:

Velo Plush with Lifting Handle

Seat Post:

Promax, Aluminum Alloy

Seat Post Length:

350 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

27.2 mm

Rims:

Weinmann, Aluminum Alloy, Double Wall, 30mm Width, 36 Hole

Spokes:

Stainless Steel, 12 Gauge, Silver with Nipples

Tire Brand:

Kenda x Rad Power Bikes K-Rad, 26" x 2.3" (58-559)

Wheel Sizes:

26 in (66.04cm)

Tire Details:

30 to 80 PSI, 2.1 to 5.6 BAR, 30 TPI, Reflective Sidewall Stripe, K-Shield Punture Protection

Tube Details:

Schrader Valve

Accessories:

Rear-Mount Adjustable Kickstand, Plastic Fenders with Mud Flaps (67mm Width), Steel Derailleur Guard, Integrated Spanninga Axendo 60 LED Headlight, Integrated Spanninga Solo LED Backlight (Solid, Flashing, Braking), Neoprene Slap Guard, Optional Bolt-On Rear Rack with Yepp! Window ($80), Optional Plastic Fenders (105mm Width, $89), Optional Front Rack ($69), Optional Small Basket ($59), Optional Large Basket ($79), Optional Platform ($39), Optional Small Pannier (Fremont Bag $89), Optional RAD Backlight ($25), Optional SR Suntour NCX Seat Post Suspension ($109), Optional RAM Torque Handlebar Phone Mount X ($59), Optional Small Basket Bag ($44), Optional Large Basket Bag ($59), Optional Small Insulated Delivery Bag ($59), Optional Large Insulated Delivery Bag ($69), Optional Yepp! Maxi Child Seat ($199)

Other:

Locking Removable Seat Tube-Mounted Battery Pack, 1.1lb 2 Amp Charger, Fully Potted Motor Controller, Stainless Steel Torque Arm, 275lb Maximum Weight Rating, 275 Watt Regenerative Braking (Automatic When Braking)

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Shengyi, RadCity/RadWagon Specific

Motor Type:

Rear-Mounted Gearless Direct Drive Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

750 watts

Motor Torque:

40 Newton meters

Battery Brand:

Samsung 18650 35E 3500mAH 13S4P Configuration

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

14 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

672 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium NCA (LiNiCoAlO2)

Charge Time:

6 hours

Estimated Min Range:

25 miles (40 km)

Estimated Max Range:

45 miles (72 km)

Display Type:

Rad Power Bikes Branded King Meter SWLCD, Fixed, Adjustable-Angle, Backlit, Grayscale LCD, Integrated 5 Volt 1 Amp USB Type-A Port Below Display

Readouts:

Battery Indicator (5 Bars), Trip Meter, Odometer, Current Speed, Average Speed, Max Speed, Pedal Assist Level (0-5 as Eco, Std, Power, Speed), Light Icon, Motor Power Watts

Display Accessories:

Independent Control Pad on Left, Buttons: Up, Mode, Down, (Lights: Hold Up and Mode, Cycle Readouts: Press Mode or Hold Up, Settings: Hold Up and Down, Walk Mode: Hold Down), Throttle On/Off Button on Right

Drive Mode:

Cadence Sensing Pedal Assist, Twist Throttle (12-Magnet Cadence Sensor)

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

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 RadCity Step-Thru is an approachable, value-priced electric bicycle, built for urban landscapes. Its full length plastic fenders, reliable drivetrain, sturdy custom rack, and integrated lights make it a capable choice. It holds up well in varied weather and functions safely and reliably whether you’re commuting daily, running occasional errands, or simply riding for pleasure. Co-branded tires feature puncture protection and reflective sidewall stripes. Both brake levers had motor inhibitors and activate the back light in bright mode to generate awareness. The battery pack is cross compatible with most 2018/2019 products (except the RadBurro), there’s a healthy offering of accessories that are guaranteed to fit, and the company provides leading customer service based on what I have seen and heard from actual customers. RAD is based in Seattle Washington, USA with two new locations for 2019 including Canada and the Netherlands (though I am not sure the RadCity Step-Thru is available in Europe). These three flagships stores provide test ride opportunities, but most sales are done online with products shipped direct. This helps to keep costs down, but introduces some unboxing, light assembly, and indirect post-purchase support. Rad Power Bikes has partnered with a number of mobile bike repair services, such as Velofix, to address this. Priced at roughly $1.6k, this is still a great deal from my perspective, and most competing products have also seen a price jump. By choosing the RadCity verses one of the trail bikes (RadRover or RadMini), you’re gaining some efficiency. The Step-Thru model offers a very low stand-over height, making it easy to approach and mount. The seat tube is cut short, allowing the saddle to go low enough that many riders will be able to sit and touch the ground without going on to tip toes. This particular model only comes in one size, but RAD sells the high-step RadCity in two sizes (one the same, and one slightly larger). For 2019, the’ve introduced a second color option for the step-thru, which only came in white before. All models offer adjustable angle stem, swept back handlebars for an upright relaxed body position, and adjustable suspension fork. I found the faux leather saddle and grips to be comfortable beautifully matched. Slightly larger 2.3″ wide tires further increase comfort, stability, and add traction with a light checkered pattern. There’s a lot to celebrate with this ebike, but much of my own excitement comes from the value price point. You don’t get hydraulic disc brakes, which would be easier to pull, the bike is heavier than average at 65lbs (not a dealbreaker when you consider the fenders, rack, lights), the two amp charger is slow and steady vs. many three and four amp chargers, and the drivetrain is limited to seven speeds. This last point is a lot less relevant with the upgraded 11-34 tooth cassette (compared to 14-28 tooth before). Almost every compromise I found on this ebike had a purpose. For example, the larger cheaper thumb shifter was chosen to make room for the throttle housing and on/off switch. Many little things stand out when you really look close. Bottle cage bosses added to the downtube… high up, so you won’t kick the accessory. A faster 1 amp USB port on the display, so you can power a range of portable electronics on the go. Updated brake caliper mount position to reduce rack crowding and conical washers that are easier to adjust for brake rub. There’s a lot to say about this product, and I’ve gone especially deep with the video and writeup here because RAD sells a lot of bikes, they’ve become one of the biggest brands in the ebike space. I welcome your feedback and input in the comment section at the end of this review :)

Driving this ebike is a a Shengyi gearless hub motor that weighs about 10.2lbs and is spoked into a sturdy double-wall Weinmann rim with extra-thick 12 gauge spokes. I hadn’t heard of this brand before reviewing some of the earlier first-generation Rad Power Bikes, but it seems to be working well year after year. Gearless motors need to be larger, and are usually heavier than geared, because they produce power through electromagnetic staters and rare earth magnets pushing against each other. This, compared with a geared motor that uses a faster-spinning motor that is geared down for power through planetary gears. With a gearless motor, the further out those magnets are, the more leverage the staters benefit from when repelling. This is why the gearless motor is physically larger, having a wider diameter. The advantages to this type of motor are that you don’t have plastic gears rubbing against each other to produce power, making it quiet and more durable over the long run. The magnets and staters don’t actually touch, so propulsion is smooth and quiet. However, when the motor is finished pushing, it also drags a bit because there is no freewheel mechanism. RAD and other ebike companies that use gearless direct drive motors has designed their controller to recapture some of this magnetic drag as electricity for regeneration. The bike has regenerative braking that activates even more strongly when either brake lever is pulled, capturing up to 250 watts (which is stabilized by their controller, shown in the video around 16:23). This function combines with instant motor cutoff, for safety. To keep the axle from rocking back and forth, damaging the aluminum alloy frame droputs, RAD has implemented a steel torque arm on the left side of the frame, and this is an important feature in my opinion. Rad Power Bikes built a reputation around higher powered electric bicycles, starting with their fat tire off-road RadRover model. It’s nice to see them carrying the thicker spokes, torque arms, and motor inhibitors over to their city bikes as well. And, it’s relevant, given the high power rating of 750 watts nominal output here. Peak torque output was estimated at 40 newton meters, a bit lower than the geared hub motors rated at 80Nm. In short, this motor is quiet, tough, and very capable of transporting heavy loads and climbing moderate hills, as long as you have some speed going in. It can take a moment to start from zero without help, but it feels smooth and responsive in pedal assist mode, thanks to the upgraded 12-magnet cadence sensor, and zippy when using the twist throttle. Now that RAD has switched to a wider 11-34 tooth cassette, climbing is a lot easier, so you won’t strain your knees. Compare 28 tooth as the lowest gear in previous versions to 43 tooth here, and you can start to see how a slower cadence and improved mechanical advantage translates to easier starts and climbs. I also want to call out and compliment the slap guard and alloy chainring guide that RAD has chosen. These little upgrades will protect the frame, reduce the possibility of chain drops, and help to keep your pant or dress leg from getting greasy or snagged. The large alloy pedals provide a stiff stable platform, and won’t be as slippery as plastic or rubber.

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 with most RAD models dating back to 2018. This custom pack mounts securely to a plastic track that’s attached to the seat tube 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 double 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, Brose, and others. I like the physical design of this battery, being smooth and rounded, though it does not include a handle or loop for easy lifting and 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 than a squared rectangular brick. Many competing cruiser step-thru ebikes utilize a rear rack mounted battery which isn’t as sleek, balanced, or transportable in my opinion. The trade-off with Rad’s two-box solution is aesthetics, but they blend in very nicely if you opt for the black frame. 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. The 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, if you’re crossing a park where it’s not appropriate to ride, or perhaps the terrain is too steep and unstable for comfort. Another scenario is if you got a flat tire and had to limp home, trying not to damage the tires and rims. With the upgraded Kenda puncture resistant tires, hopefully you won’t end up in a flat-tire situation too often. For those who want to adjust more settings on the display, 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 through 0-5 pedal 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 half-grip 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. The bike is enjoyable to ride and the drive system offers full control so you don’t have to compromise or limit yourself. Throttles can be useful when starting out from traffic signals or gaining momentum in soft terrain. Not all ebikes have them, but that does make this a Class 2 product vs. Class 1, which is allowed in more environments (mountain bike trails). 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 with high output, as mentioned earlier. The display can be swiveled forward and back to reduce glare if you don’t over-tighten the clamp, but it is not easily removable. Given the positioning, above the stem at the cent of the handlebar, this display should be fairly well protected from scratches at bike racks and tips, but it 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 for protect against heavy rain and snow. Just make sure to air them out because a sealed bag could result in condensation inside the display when ambient temperatures rise! Anyway, I really like being able to activate the the lights through the display, being able to adjust backlighting there, and having the ability to change the rear light from off or solid to blinking mode. To accomplish this last function, you actually have to reach down and press a little rubber button on the lower left edge of the rear light, once it’s activated. 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. It’s something we see on most aftermarket lights, but very few integrated ebike lighting systems. 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 have not been turned on through the display. 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.

The RadCity Step-Thru is an exciting electric bike for me because it’s so approachable. People who might have struggled with hills, felt concern about arriving to work sweaty, or been left behind when riding with friends or partners… people who might have know about ebikes but struggled to find one that was approachable and well balanced, now have a great option. It’s priced well, looks great (especially with the two colors and upgraded graphics), and should perform reliably. Compared to many other wave style step-thru models, this one does not flex as much. RAD designed the downtube to be extra thick, have a gusset plate reinforcing the head tube connection point and added the extra tubing near the bottom. I was told that this and other RAD bikes can officially support up to 275lbs of capacity, and I’ve seen them handle even more. This model is being used by some delivery companies now, to transport food around crowded city environments efficiently. With its adjustable seating position, handlebar, and suspension fork, it’s a bike that could be used for rentals or shared within a family. I was told that the rear rack is Yepp! child seat compatible straight away, no adapter required, and got to see one of the optional seat post suspension accessory upgrades. This is something I have enjoyed on other ebikes, because it offers an even more comfortable “full suspension” feel, without the higher cost. Keep in mind however, the addition of a suspension post will raise the minimum saddle height by a few inches. Other quick callouts are the steel derailleur guard, which protects the drivetrain and motor power cable on the right side of the rear wheel, the quick release front wheel, and the bell that is built into the left brake lever for friendly signaling. As always, I welcome your input and feedback in the comments and invite you to participate in the EBR Rad Power Bikes Forum here, sharing pictures or videos of your own and making some friends :)

Pros:

  • The cadence sensor uses 12 magnets for quick starts and stops in pedal assist mode, the brake levers both have motor inhibitors built-in to cut power instantly when stopping and now they also activate the back light in bright mode to keep you safer, the rear light also has a flashing mode if you press the little rubberized button on the bottom
  • All of the new Rad Power Bikes share a mounting interface on the head tube for adding a porteur rack, you can add a small or large basket and cargo on this platform which won’t tip when you steer or park the bike, note that the rack accessory comes with an extension adapter for the headlight
  • You shouldn’t have any issues with the chain falling off of this e-bike thanks to the durable Aluminum alloy chain guide, it doubles as a bash guard and pant/dress protector as you pedal, and the tubing that surrounds the battery pack also clears pants/dresses so it’s almost like a full chain protector, I also like the large grippy pedals that they chose vs. flexy plastic or narrow cage style
  • The step-thru frame only comes in one size but features an adjustable-angle stem to bring the handlebar up and back, note that the bar is also swept back so there’s better comfort and more versatility here than a lot of other ebikes, RPB also makes two sizes of the high-step RadCity model which could fit taller riders or those looking for more frame stiffness, lighter weight (by ~2 lbs), and easier mounting on hang style racks
  • RAD updated the logos and paint job on their electric bikes for 2019, which looks pretty good to me, I like how they added gray chevrons along the top tube to hide any shoe scuffs that might appear as you stop over the frame, this is especially relevant on the white frame and is a clever stylish solution
  • Another cool upgrade is the use of conical washers for the disc brake caliper which makes adjustment easier (to reduce brake rub), and they re-positioned the calipers to stay clear of the rack and any pannier bags you might add
  • One of the major highlights across the entire range of RAD bikes for 2019 is an upgraded drivetrain, moving from 14-28 tooth to 11-34 tooth for easier climbing and more comfortable high-speed pedaling, they’ve also moved to nickel plated cogs which are durable and environmentally friendly to manufacture
  • I was told that the adjustable angle stem has been custom made to stay tight and uses hardened materials that won’t dull as easily as some competing parts, for those with back and neck sensitivity RPB sells an optional suspension seat post, another small detail is the gnarled hardware used for the front headlight mount that keeps it from slipping side to side
  • I love that Rad Power Bikes managed to squeeze in some bottle cage bosses on the high-step and step-thru frames, and that they positioned them high on the main tube which is less likely to get kicked or impede your pedaling! this attachment point could also work for folding locks, mini pumps, or other accessories
  • The RadCity Step-Thru comes with 26″ x 2.3″ tires that were custom designed with Kenda to offer reflective stripes and puncture protection, they feel pretty comfortable and offer all-terrain traction with a checkerboard pattern so you can cut across gravel paths without feeling unstable
  • Instead of opting for the cheapest suspension fork they could find, RAD picked one with lockout and preload adjust so you can optimize efficiency and dial it in to your body weight, pre-loading the spring if you weigh more or have a heavy load
  • It’s a little thing, but the kickstand is positioned well and has a wider foot so it won’t get in the way and won’t sink into soft ground, I also like the little handle that is built into the saddle which makes lifting and maneuvering the bike easier
  • Rad Power Bikes sells a great range of optional accessories that are guaranteed to fit their bikes and look great, for the RadCity Step-Thru you can choose from a small or large metal basket, small panniers, an extra-bright RAD rear LED light that attaches to the seat post, the SR Suntour NCX suspension seat post, and a handlebar phone mount, their rear rack is Yepp! child seat compatible and has standard gauge pannier hangers for third party bags that click on and bungee loop rods towards the bottom
  • If you do get that phone mount, or use one of your own, you can charge all sorts of portable electronics directly from the display panel thanks to a USB Type A port integrated near the bottom, this port puts out 5 volts at 1 amp directly from the battery pack, which is enough to maintain and charge most devices… many competitors only offer 1/2 an amp output
  • I love that the battery pack is mounted to the frame with three bolts vs. just two and that the power cable running to the hub motor is really tucked in and well protected at the back
  • The new battery design is sleek, offers 20% higher capacity than the first generation of products (and more than many competing current gen products), while only weighing 0.7 pounds more, and does not have an integrated on/off button that you have to press before each ride, you don’t have to leave the keys in like some packs, and it has two fuses built in for safety
  • Rad Power Bikes offers free shipping if you don’t mind a bit of setup work yourself and and they’ve built a partnership with mobile bike repair venders who will deliver, assemble, and repair the product for $100, it’s a neat service for those who don’t want to deal with a big box, weight, and complexity of setting up an e-bike (but this service may not be available everywhere)
  • Gearless hub motors tend to be very durable and quiet, you don’t get as much torque and raw power at low speeds and there is some magnetic drag when coasting, but the RadCity recaptures a bit of energy when braking which reduces wear on the brake pads and might extend your range just a bit, I like that they mounted the motor with a stainless steel torque arm to keep the dropouts from getting bent over time given the weight and power in use here
  • Both wheels are built with thicker 12 gauge spokes and sturdy Weinmann rims to handle the additional weight of cargo or heavy riders, it’s rated to carry up to 275lbs
  • So many wave style step-thru electric bikes have opted for rear-rack mounted batteries which raise weight and impact steering and handling so I LOVE that the RadCity Step-Thru mounted their battery near the middle of the frame and even reinforced it with a gusset near the head tube and extra bar near the base to reduce frame flex
  • I was amazed by how low the saddle could go, it fits between the rear rack stays and allows riders who want to maximize stability and safety to put their feet down at all times, note that the optional seat post suspension will raise this minimum saddle height but two or three inches

Cons:

  • The drivetrain on this electric bike offers seven gears, which is on the lower side, but the Shimano Acera derailleur is two steps up from base level and RAD upgraded the cassette from 14-28 to 11-34 tooth so the range is much better (for easier climbing and more comfortable high-speed pedaling), I feel that the addition of throttle mode kind of makes up for the seven gears whereas many other city bikes offer nine or eleven gears but only pedal assist
  • If you decide to add the front rack, it’s great that the headlight can be repositioned on the bottom (for maximum exposure) but it will no longer point where you steer because the rack is frame mounted
  • The RadWagon and RadCity models aren’t as capable at climbing steep hills as some of the new mid-drive ebikes, the motor doesn’t operate as efficiently or provide the same range potential because it’s not being run through your gears… but very few mid-drives offer throttle operation, this gearless hub motor is more smooth and quiet but offers a lot less torque from standstill and for climbing than even the RadMini and RadRover because they use geared hubs
  • I’m mixed on the brakes for this bike, the 180mm rotors provide good leverage but you cannot adjust the brake lever reach and have to use more physical effort pulling them than a hydraulic disc brake setup would require, for riders with smaller hands and those without as much hand strength, that could be a point of fatigue or difficulty, but at least they have motor inhibitors built in for safety and the rubber edges and an integrated bell on the left, I’m also told that they tend to be easier to adjust by hand by the owner vs. needing a shop
  • The display panel is not removable and could take some weather-wear or get scratched at bike racks… I do like that it has a USB type A port for charging your phone or other portable electronics on the go and that they’ve upped the output to 1 amp vs. 500 milliamps for faster fills on the go
  • I prefer little trigger shifters vs. the large SIS Index thumb shifters used here because they don’t take up as much space and are easier to reach when holding the grip… but an engineer from Rad Power Bikes told me that they chose these larger shifters to make room for the twist throttle and cutoff switch on the right side, also, the big shifters can be easier to use with gloves
  • Minor gripe here, the headlight is mounted to the suspension arch vs. the head tube or stem and that means it could bounce around on rough terrain vs. being suspended and smoother, if you get the optional front rack, it can be relocated to the bottom and then it becomes “sprung”
  • The battery position is good, but the top might get a little dirty or scratched if you’re not careful about how you step onto the bike, it’s right there in the main standing/pedaling area so a bit more exposed
  • The step-thru size felt a bit small to me, I’ve got a 30″ inseam and am 5’9″ tall and would probably opt for the larger high-step model to get full leg extension
  • 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

Resources:

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Comments (43) YouTube Comments

Sandra Matis
9 months ago

Court, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your detailed, comprehensive e-bike reviews. You have helped me so much. Not just with which bike might be best for me but understanding e-bikes in general. Thank you!

One thing I noticed while reading the RadCity step-thru review is you mention it has a Shimano Acera derailleur. According to the Rad website the 2019s have the Shimano Altus derailleur. Does this make much of a difference? One other question, does the rear brake light go on when you apply the brakes even if the lights are not on?

Again, thanks so much for all you do.
Sandee Matis

  Reply
Court
9 months ago

Hi Sandra! The bike I reviewed definitely had the Shimano Acera, you can see it in the second photograph, but it’s not a dealbreaker if they no longer include it or it was a mistake on the demo bike. It’s a step up from Altus, might be slightly lighter or more precise. I remember asking about this during the review, so I’m surprised that their website says something different. Dare I say, maybe THEY are wrong :D In any case, yes, I believe that the rear light does switch on even if the lights aren’t officially enabled. It’s a great safety feature. RAD did a wonderful job with the 2019 models, it’s a great lineup and I’m excited for them and you if you get one! So many awesome products to check out this year. Thanks for your comment, I’d love to hear back if you get one and care to share your experience riding :)

  Reply
sharon illenye
9 months ago

Hi – I’m just learning about e bikes. I’m only 5feet tall though and I can’t figure out from the geometry listed what this all means for whether this kind of bike would fit me . The kind of bike I am looking for would be doing a 10mile one way commute to work and back and the first couple miles are on a gravel road but the rest is regular paved and of course my driveway is a steep gravel drive. I like the idea of the battery in the center and usb port. Sometimes I would go pick up groceries and I live in vermont which has a ton of hills near me. The lower cost of an online purchase is very tempting but worrisome because of my height. Your reviews are very detailed and easy to understand (except for the stuff I still don’t understand ha ha) since I have never even test driven an ebkie (but will in spring) and any help would be appreciated.

  Reply
Court
9 months ago

Hi Sharon, the tube design makes this electric bike easy to stop over and stabilize at stops. It’s a great option for people with shorter inseams because the saddle can also get pretty low. Rad offers some of the best prices and customer support for online purchase right now, and I think you’d be happy with this product, but the surprise might be how heavy it is and that you may have to fill the battery at your half-way point to make it all the way back home (with the gravel road and hills). As long as you can bring the battery in and charge it, I’d say that this is a great option. Another good option could be the Ariel Rider M Class, which has a mid-motor and some unique racks. There are many products to explore here and I hope you find one that fits your style, budget, and body type :) and I’d love to hear back one day when you do find something and have some time riding it, to help inform others!

  Reply
Bob
9 months ago

Hi Court,

Thanks for the review. We just bought this bike for my wife! It’s the start to a family riding experience with my daughter being towed in a burley trailer behind my trike, and my wife kicking butt on the Rad City. Can’t wait. I paid for the upgraded seat post that has 50mm of suspension travel. Hopefully that was a good idea. I saw a review of it, and it looks like it didn’t wear very well over time.

I’m curious though, I can’t seem to find a hitch mounted rack for less than $450 that will work. Any advice and/or product suggestions for a hitch mounted rack that can hold a single eBike that won’t break the bank? My trike folds, so I can stow that in the back of the car.

Thanks,
Bob

  Reply
Court
9 months ago

Cool! I hope the suspension seatpost works well for you, I think if you avoid lifting the bike by the saddle or twisting the post, it should hold up alright over time. The more expensive ones from BodyFloat and Thudbuster could be more durable. There are many choices, I’d love your feedback if there is an issue that arises over time. As for hitch racks, no, they do seem to be consistently high-priced due to the weight and complexity. Seems like an area that could be disrupted and maybe Hollywood Racks is doing that a bit? The cheaper hitch racks may not offer the strength, ramps, or locking mechanisms as the more expensive ones. I like the Thule Easy Fold and the Küat NV series. Hope this helps!

  Reply
Bob
9 months ago

Thanks for the quick reply Court. I’ll keep an eye on the post and get back to you after some usage. If you are interested, the video I looked at that showed wear was this video (the url is indexed to the time of the video that shows the wear).

Perhaps there was some user error, not sure.

Cheers,
Bob

Russ
8 months ago

Wife has the step thru. She is 5’0″ and it’s been a blast for her to ride. We are not hard core bikers. Easy trails. This allows us to bike farther and see more of the trails, we haven’t been able to bike in the past. Hills are easier. The rack and basket are great for quick trips to the store and library. Overall, a nice bike at a reasonable price. I have my RadCity on order now with the kid seat. Thanks.

  Reply
Court
8 months ago

Cool! It’s neat to hear how electric bikes are empowering you and your wife to explore more and enjoy riding more regularly. Thanks for sharing, Russ :)

  Reply
Chad
7 months ago

Anyone have a RacCity Step-thru 2019 and also using a Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7? How’s the clearance?

Cheers,
Chad

  Reply
Santhosh
7 months ago

Thanks for this very detailed review. I was wondering if you have any suggestions about good beginner ebikes. I would love to be able to get something under 2K.

  Reply
Court
7 months ago

Hi Santhosh! Rad is a leader in this department. In my opinion, you get excellent value in terms of hardware and customer support. There are less expensive products than this, but not as well known in the industry or easy to resell or upgrade. Any of the RAD products would be a great place to start as a beginner. I also like Magnum and Aventon as affordable options :)

  Reply
Santhosh
7 months ago

Thanks so much, Court. I have one more question (and I apologize for being pesky). I am split between Rad City Step Thru and Raleigh SPRITE IE as they are in the same price range. I prefer a step thru because of lower back issues. I am 5’10” and would mostly use my ebike to commute and occasionally for joy riding in the city.

What would you recommend?

Grandma
7 months ago

My husband bought the step-thru for me last fall after I had a heart attack. I love this bike, I can adjust the assist to as much or little as I need and still get exercise without over exerting myself. I use the throttle for powering up hills and getting started from a stop, plus I can use more assist when riding into the wind. We went 20 miles today, I would never have had the strength to do that on my regular old 7 speed bike. We could’ve gone further but ran out of bike path and had to turn back around. I did swap out the seat for a wider more cushioned seat that I find more comfortable. Otherwise this is a very comfortable bike (I’m 5′ 8″), I can see this being something I can use for many years as I get older and still stay active and outdoors. LOVE it!

  Reply
Court
7 months ago

Wonderful! Thank you so much for this testimonial, Grandma :D

  Reply
Guillaume Cassel
7 months ago

Hello,

Would this bike be powerful enough for someone who’s around 300lbs?

Thanks!

  Reply
Court
7 months ago

Hi Guillaume! This is a tricky question to answer because it really depends on your expectations. Yes, in my opinion it would be fine for someone who is in the 300lb weight range, but the spokes might come loose quicker and the motor might struggle up hills if you aren’t pedaling along to help a bit. I know of people who weigh even more than 300lbs who rely on ebikes and have a great experience, much easier to get going than without a motor… but they still have to pedal to get started or climb steep stuff (or walk up some very steep hills). It helps a lot if you have some speed going into the climb.

  Reply
Steve
7 months ago

You suggest keeping the battery between 20% and 80%. Is there a way to stop the charger at 80%? What do you suggest as weather protection for parking the bike outdoors, or for that matter carrying it on a hitch rack?

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hi Steve! I just eyeball it regarding charge fill… and frankly, I usually still fill to 100% to maximize range but I almost never let it get below 10% let alone zero. Apparently heat is harder on lithium-ion batteries than cold, so I keep that in mind and usually take the battery pack off to stow inside of my utility room vs. leaving it on a bike in the hot or cold garage. This doesn’t work so well if you’re driving because it might be hotter INSIDE the car than out. In that case, you could maybe wrap some flexible foam wrap around the battery. I saw Easy Motion selling a product for their ebikes that was a neoprene sleeve (like a wetsuit) that actually went on for people who lived and rode in super cold conditions.

  Reply
Lazy-dad
6 months ago

I’m a casual biker and don’t understand one component to the next one .. I’m considering Rad City Step Through and the VoltBike Elegant … Rad is about $200 more than Volt – are there better components in one bike over the other to justify the price differential? Which one provides a better ride overall and in the rain? Maintenance? Thank you.

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

iHi Lazy-dad! Rad would be my personal choice because I like their wider cassette range and nicer derailleur. They use a proprietary battery (that’s used across the line) and nicer paint and decals, in my opinion. Their customer support is also some of the best, for a direct-sales ebike company. That said, RAD sells out frequently and VoltBike is still GREAT. They have very good customer service, open and inspect each bike in Canada before re-shipping, and are… as you mentioned, less expensive. I hope this helps :D

  Reply
Dennis
5 months ago

Wondering what type of trail riding this bike is appropriate for. I do mostly paved trails but do like to sometimes tackle easier mountain bike trails. Can it handle a few bumps from time to time?

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Hi Dennis! Great question. My friend Cameron said that these checkered Kendas are his favorite all-terrain choice, that they provide good traction, and he prefers them for light mountain biking over the big knobby ones. With a 2.3″ tire width, they should offer good traction and some float. The suspension fork is solid, I think the bike would be alright even in step-thru, though it would flex more than the high-step. The biggest inconvenience is probably going to be the plastic fenders rattling and sound of the chain bouncing around a bit. In my opinion, yes, it probably can handle light trails and gravel. Maybe others will chime in as well :)

  Reply
Dennis
5 months ago

Thanks, Court. Will try one out here at their Vancouver shop.

Mary Ann Conover
5 months ago

Being 5 feet tall i was concerned that even the step through would be an issue for me but thanks too the comment by Russ I’m feeling much better about it. My only other concern are the fat tires. I will be commuting to work via C-tran, and Tri-Met. Are the tires compatible with the bike racks on public transportation?

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Great question there about public transportation, Mary! I cannot say for sure. maybe you can bring a tape measure and see if the gaps are 4″ wide? If not, it could be difficult to mount this bike on them. Good thinking ahead ;) maybe others will chime in too. I suppose that some public transport has different style racks, so that might be a factor as well.

  Reply
Dennis Woltering
4 months ago

Where would I get it serviced and tuned up in New Orleans?

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Good question, Dennis. It looks like Velofix might have a van that could reach your area to do mobile bike repair, or perhaps you could work with this shop called “Mike the Bike Guy” which is at 4411 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 and their number is (504) 899-1344. I hope this helps! I’m not super familiar with New Orleans :)

  Reply
Ben
4 months ago

My wife and I rented a couple RadPower bikes for two months, putting about 400 miles on them. I was on the 19″ RadCity hi-step and my wife on the Step-Thru reviewed here. We did both on and off roading.

My wife is not quite 5’10” tall, and we found that the ideal seat height was about 1/2″ above the minimum mark on the seat post. We risked it with no issues. She really likes the riding position on the Step-Thru, especially with the adjustable stem. The bottle cage bosses were big disappointment, as with battery and bottle in place you can’t easily get your leg through the Step-Thru, so we took the bottle cage off.

She has weak hands, especially thumbs. The mechanical brakes were her biggest problem with the bike. If we were to buy one, we’d definitely upgrade to hydraulic brakes. The shifter turned out to be great – she could hit either the button or the lever with the gloved palm of her hand to up and down shift. Most shifters requires use of your thumb, and that would have been a deal-killer for her. The twist throttle was easy to use, with the lock-out button both a good and bad thing (sometimes you’re locked out when you really want to use the throttle, and sometimes you forget to lock it out and then you twist and bike goes).

Performance-wise, the motor has low torque, so it’s quite a challenge to get up steep off-road hills, even at full PAS and/or Throttle. On road it’s decent power if you expect to do some pedalling, which we want. The other thing is that these are a cadence sensor only PAS bikes with no torque sensor. That means you are constantly fiddling with the PAS level depending on the terrain. You may find yourself in PAS 5 to get up a hill, but then need to lower it to 1 or 2 to have controlled speeds on the flats and still be able to pedal effectively. If you don’t really want to pedal then this may not matter. We routinely got more than 25 miles on a single charge, including some pretty significant climbs, but like I said, we like to pedal. I got into the display menu and raised the speed limiter to 40 km/h, which helped mostly in that the motor didn’t drag on us when we were above 20 mph. Throttle cut out at 20 no matter what.

I agree with Court that between the fork and the Kenda 2.3″ wide tires these bikes are OK for “light” off-roading like fire roads and such. But, if you’re on technical single-tracks with ruts and bumps, the heavy rear end (motor in the rear wheel hub) without suspension make the bike handle poorly. In sand it can be dicey, even if you lower the tire inflation, but to be fair these aren’t Plus or Fat tires. With those limitations in mind, the bikes do better off-road than the “RadCity” name implies.

RIght now we’re leaning towards getting mid-drive bikes that have throttles. The European brands with Bosch motors don’t have throttles due to regulations in the EU. We primarily used the throttle to get going from a stand-still, and in traffic situations that got dicey. Since we ride on low PAS settings normally, the throttle is a safety value for us. Which means even ultra-expensive full-suspension step-through bikes like the Riese & Muller Homage are out of consideration due to lack of a throttle. Having to peg the assist level to get going from a stand-still is not fun. In back to earth pricing, the Juiced bikes have torque sensors (not in Step-Thru, though) and hydraulic brakes for their hub motors, and the Surface604s have even better torque sensors for their mid-drive motors. There seems to have been some management changes at Surface604, so I’m hesitant to buy direct from them right now.

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Hi Ben, what an informed comment! Great insights and excellent communication. I appreciate everything you wrote and agree with the trade-offs around mechanical brakes and cadence vs. torque sensors. I’ve seen a few decent mid-drive models with throttle from EVELO in recent years and more companies are going for that type of setup. I wish you guys luck and acknowledge that Surface 604 has gone through a transition back to the original founding team. I believe that they are preparing some new models to launch later this year… which may be similar to older ones, but I don’t know the details yet and I really like their current generation too. Whatever the case, whatever you decide on, I welcome more great comments and insights because you’ve got a keen eye and good writing ability :)

  Reply
Ben
4 months ago

Thanks, Court. Could you talk a bit about the differences in torque sensors, and their pros/cons? Juiced uses some kind of strain gauge on near the rear hub, Surface604 has its torque sensor in the bottom bracket, and there even are aftermarket sensors that mount between the two and measure chain tension as deflection. The 2019 Delite I test rode was quite nice in terms of torque feel, but I suspect that not all torque sensors and related programming are the same.

Ben
4 months ago

Just as an FYI, we ended up ordering an Evelo Aurora Limited Edition, which is also a step-thru design, for my wife. It’s better equipped, from a torque sensing mid-motor to a Nuvinci internal geared hub with Gates belt drive, to hydraulic brakes, but it’s also well more than twice the price of the RadCity Step-Thru being discussed here. We’ll always be thankful for our time on the RadCity’s, as that gave us confidence that we enjoy biking (together!) enough to make a serious monetary commitment. The RadCity’s were fun and trouble-free for the couple of months we had them, and I can easily see people being very happy with them.

Terri
4 months ago

Thank you so much for your review of this bike. I was going to order one tomorrow, however after reading your review, I realize that this bike is not for me. I am a retired Massage Therapist with bad thumbs and the braking would be a problem. Thank you again!

And so the search now continues, RATS!!!!!!

  Reply
Ben
4 months ago

Hi Terri – You can also check out this thread on the forums, which lists dozens of Step-Thru EBike models.

Carolyn
4 months ago

I am considering getting this bike to get around San Francisco on the weekend and do a 16 mile bike commute once a week. I have taken it out for a couple of short test rides but I can’t test the full commute. Do you think the RadCity Step-Thru will be able to handle a decent (but not crazy steep) hill at the end of an hour bike ride? I will be able to charge the bike at work. For reference, the TERN GSD S10 passed with flying colors (the version that does not have the CX motor). Thanks!

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Hi Carolyn, sorry for the delayed reply here! Sounds like you’ve been exploring some good ebike options :) without knowing your weight and pedal contribution, it’s difficult for me to really say whether the bike will help on a decent hill at the end of an hour long ride… but my guess is that yes, as long as you have some speed going in and pedal along, the bike should make it. Rad Power Bikes is using higher capacity battery packs than many companies, and that helps them to go further. While not as efficient as a mid-drive, and also lacking the ability to leverage your gears as you switch to low gears for climbing, these hub motors still produce a good bit of power… Again, with a gearless motor vs. geared, you aren’t getting quite as much torque, but it is still a high power system. I think you will be alright but you will have to pedal along, especially if you are starting from low speeds or standstill. I hope this helps, and I welcome your feedback if you do get a RadCity :)

  Reply
Carolyn
3 months ago

Thank you for your input! I ended up buying the RadCity Step-Thru and in two rides to and from work it had absolutely no problem getting me home (even with a heavy headwind that I had forgotten about). I think there’s even a chance I could make it both ways on one charge but I don’t plan on testing that just yet. Overall, I am very happy with the bike but there are a couple of things that I didn’t expect based on my short test rides. I have found that the motor is literally and figuratively a drag when I reach 20 mph. The assist of all the other e-bikes I test rode would top out at that speed but I could coast on hills without being pulled back. The second thing was that I thought I would never use the throttle and I was afraid the gear shift levers would be a pain to reach because of it. But in the end, I found that the throttle made shifting quickly less critical, e.g. if I forget to down shift when I stop, I can use the throttle to help get me going again.

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