- A value priced but featured packed urban commuter style electric bike with everything from fenders, to LED lights, rear carry rack and regenerative braking
- Solid driving and braking performance with a 750 watt gearless hub motor and 180 mm mechanical disc brakes... you get five levels of assist plus twist throttle that overrides with full power
- Comfortable 2.3" all-terrain tires, basic suspension fork with lockout, ergonomic grips and an adjustable angle stem, the bike comes in two frame sizes for improved fit!
- Gearless motors are durable and quiet but less zippy (especially from start) and tend to weigh more, the RadCity weighs ~60 lbs which is on the heavier side, rear light is not wired in
$0 (0 €)$38,500 (36,190 €)
0 lbs (0 kg)175 lbs (79 kg)
0 mph (0.0 km/hr)50 mph (80.5 km/hr)
0 watt3,000 watt
0 in (0.00 cm)22 in (55.88 cm)
0 Newton meters160 Nm
Rad Power Bikes has become well known and appreciated over the past couple of years (since early 2015) when they first launched a fat tire bike followed by a cargo bike and then a miniature folding fat ebike. Having tested each of them, even in remote inhospitable environments, I’ve gotten to know the technology, the team and better understand the company as a whole. I’ve seen the bikes undergo incremental improvements, tested second generation models, and I’ve seen a bunch of testimonial videos online from actual customers who have ridden hundreds of miles. Recently I got to see and test out their latest model, the RadCity!
This bike is designed for comfort, utility and durability. Like the RadWagon, it uses a gearless direct drive motor that isn’t as immediately zippy or torquey feeling as the geared hub motors used on the fat tire bikes but runs smoother, quieter and offers regenerative braking. Now, regen braking is a mixed bag… it reduces wear on brake pads and helps to generate a touch of energy, perhaps offsetting the added weight of the motor design, but it’s not the sort of technology that you can use to charge the bike just by pedaling. At least, without exhausting yourself and spending significantly more energy pedaling than is recaptured by the system (it’s only about 10% efficient at recapture). Still, this motor performed well and was smoother than the original Shengyi hub I saw on the original RadWagon. There is some cogging drag as you coast because the motor does not freewheel and it plus the larger battery, integrated rear rack and basic suspension fork bump the weight of the bike up to ~60 lbs.
Rad Power Bikes is based in Seattle where it rains a lot and I asked the team how their RadCity has held up in the wet environment. I was told that they often leave the bikes outside, ride frequently in the rain and have experienced very few issues. Of course, if you can store your ebike out of the rain (especially heavy rain) that’s probably ideal. The RadCity comes with full length fenders that have mud flaps at the end and I did test them through a couple of puddles. The only downside of these and most fenders is that if you make a very sharp turn and continue pedaling the toe of your shoe may collide with the fender. The display panel, battery pack and controller box are sealed, like the hub motor, and were familiar to me. The display itself is backlit and when activated, switches on the headlight (I believe you hold the up arrow for a few seconds on the control pad). There’s a rear light as well but this one is independent, requiring separate batteries and separate activation. Turning the bike on is actually a two step process where you press a silver button on the battery and then hold the mode button on the independent button pad near the left grip. The battery is removable and can be charged on or off the frame but the display panel is not, you can however swivel it forward and back.
One thing I really love about Rad Power Bikes is that their frames are custom and they go the extra mile or two adding features and accessories. The RadCity has two USB charging ports with one at the base of the display panel where it’s easy to access when riding and another on the right side of the battery pack so you can use it like a portable energy bank. The other delighter for me was the bottle cage bosses added to the base of the downtube. Sure, it’s a bit of a reach to get a bottle or lock way down there but at least it’s an option! There are two sets of bosses near the head tube as well and those are meant for an add-on rack that Rad Power Bikes is still working on. In the mean time, I suppose you could adapt them to be used with bottle cages or use a cup holder clamp on the handlebars. The cockpit of the bike is a bit crowded because they went with a more basic SIS thumb shifter design vs. triggers but they keep the price down and actually work well with gloved hands. The brake levers are a big upgrade with rubberized edges and an integrated bell as well as the motor inhibitors that activate regen and kill the motor for safety. Rounding things out are a pair of ergonomic rubber grips that don’t lock but work fine for city riding. The whole handle bar is setup as a low-rise for improved comfort in terms of body position and is supported by an adjustable stem that can make the difference between a taller or shorter rider enjoying the fit. And also! This is the first Rad Power Bikes model to come in two frame styles and sizes. You’ve got the standard high-step diamond frame measuring ~20″ and the slightly lower step diamond measuring 16″ that my girlfriend was able to comfortably stand over (she’s ~5’2″). Both cost ~$1,500 and offer all of the same accessories, motor, battery etc.
So what about the ride itself? Well, I found it to be smooth, quiet and powerful enough to ascend moderate hills (though I only weigh ~135 lbs). You can pedal along with one of seven gears and five levels of assist and override full-power twist throttle! Not only that, you can activate or de-activate the throttle independently so you don’t accidentally bump it when loading or unloading. It’s the best combination of drive modes I can think of and the way I would design a bike of my own to be honest. So many times, assist limits the throttle power or the throttle is always active or you don’t get throttle-only mode… the RadCity offers all of this. Note that the six magnet assist sensor isn’t the worlds fastest but surprised and impressed me with its performance because the software is dialed in. Back to some of the details, I love the derailleur guard and upgraded Wellgo pedals, the standard-gauge rack rails for adding panniers and Yepp! child seat compatibility. It’s a well thought-out design that reflects all of the learning Rad Power Bikes has experienced over the past two years (and all of their custom work since 2007). I love that the rear axle is upgraded in terms of thickness, has a torque arm and has a new tucked-cable design to reduce bends and snagging. I love that they still ship nationally but also have a storefront in Seattle where you can go and see the bikes or take a test ride. This bike is exactly what I’d expect from the company plus a couple of nice surprises and I feel that it would be a great choice for individuals planning to ride around urban environments. Yes, it’s a little heavy and has a less refined look than some of the more expensive models but the price is right and the quality is there where it counts most… specifically with the Panasonic battery cells and that one year comprehensive warranty. Big thanks to Rad Power Bikes for partnering with me for this review.
- They managed to include a pair of bottle cage bosses! albeit along the bottom of the downtube which can be a bit tricky to reach… could work well for a folding lock or mini-pump if you aren’t using a trunk bag, the other bosses near the head tube are meant for an add-on rack but could still be adapted for a bottle cage or other accessories with some creative tinkering and a metal strip
- Because Rad Power Bikes opted to use a gearless direct drive motor hear you get the benefit of regenerative braking, there is a bit of cogging drag and the motor weighs slightly more but these tend to be very durable and quiet compared to geared designs
- The rear axle is thicker than normal for improved strength and handling (nice given the heavier motor design), there’s also a torque arm to distribute force and I love how the power cable is tucked down and kept out of the way vs. protruding directly from the end of the axle
- Full length plastic fenders with mud flaps keep you dry and clean, I tested them through puddles in Seattle and was impressed, I also like that they blend in with the frame color (but be careful when turning or you can clip your toes on the fender since it sticks out a bit from the tire)
- Good color choice, the dark grey is professional, hides dirt, blends in well with the black accessories, battery, motor and cables and works for guys or girls… I also like that they integrated most of the cables through the downtube to reduce snags
- The battery capacity is quite large and they’ve used high quality Panasonic cells which are known to be reliable, safe and long lasting
- Comfortable ride quality thanks to the larger tires, suspension fork, adjustable angle stem and ergonomic grips, they also used a low-rise bar to further dial in fit and comfort (forward for taller riders or up and back for shorter riders)
- Two USB ports let you charge portable electronics while riding or at home using the battery pack as a power bank, I like that the first port (on the base of the display) stays out of the way when pedaling
- Sturdy kickstand that’s mounted far back so it stays out of the way, I believe it also offers adjustable length so you can dial it in
- The saddle felt a little firm to me but I like the integrated handle at the rear (for lifting and maneuvering the bike), the seat post is a standard sized 27.2 mm and could be swapped for a suspension post to improve comfort but usually ads at least a few inches of vertical height so keep that in mind depending on how tall you are
- Seven speeds is enough for getting around town, I like that they went with a higher grade derailleur here (Acera vs. Altus or Tourney) that should last longer and keep the chain tighter, there’s also an extra-large first gear for climbing and starting
- The parts are fairly modular meaning that replacing the battery pack, display or controller isn’t as expensive or difficult as on the super fancy ebikes and Rad Power Bikes has been around since ~2007 (re-branding in 2015), they offer a one year comprehensive warranty and seem to have an active support team
- The RadCity is heavier than some competing models because it has an oversized built-on rack, a spring and oil based suspension vs. air and the motor is gearless vs. geared, if you remove the battery pack (which weighs ~7 lbs) it’s easier to lift but the bike is still on the heavier side
- I like that the front wheel offers quick release but the rear does not… that means changing flats and doing maintenance requires more time and tools
- The controller box is not integrated with the battery pack or motor as with some other models and the battery is bolted onto the frame vs. being semi or fully inset so the aesthetic is a bit less polished but that’s part of what keeps the price down I suppose, may also improve maintenance ease
- This isn’t a huge con but just be careful with the adjustable angle stem, make sure it’s tight and don’t go off large curbs without checking it occasionally or it could get loose
- I love that the bike has LED lights for safety and appreciate that the front one is integrated (running off the main battery pack) but wish the rear was too, instead you have to open it occasionally to swap out the AA batteries and it may be easier to forget and leave on vs. the front one that shuts off when the bike is powered down
- There’s a large Aluminum alloy bash guard on the chainring providing some protection and stability but it might be worth adding a second guard on the inside to create a proper guide given that this bike can be ridden with throttle only and the chain can bounce off a bit more easily at high speed with this sort of setup (at least in my experience, I did not lose the chain while testing the RadCity)
- I want to complain that the cadence sensor only uses six magnets vs. 12 and that it’s not as responsive as it could be but my actual ride experience was good, I feel like they have optimized the response well enough and in the lower gears especially it works fine