- A compact, fat tire electric bike that folds to save space, the suspension fork and larger 4-inch wide tires add comfort and allow it to ride on soft sand and snow if you lower the tire pressure, or you can lockout the fork and raise pressure for efficiency on pavement
- Only available in one frame size for now, but the handlebar height is adjustable along with the saddle so it can actually fit a wide range of body types, the stand-over height is relatively low and the folding joint is narrow, you get two color choices (black or white) with orange accents
- Large 180 mm disc brake rotors provide excellent stopping power and control, the 750 watt fatbike-specific geared hub motor is zippy and powerful, both systems benefit from a mechanical advantage because of the smaller diameter 20" wheel size
- Some basic parts were chosen to keep the price down including a 7-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur with large thumb shifter, non-locking grips, a plastic chain guide, mechanical brakes vs. hydraulic, and stand-alone rear light, but the folding pedals, adjustable kickstand, and integrated headlight are all great
Rad Power Bikes is well known for their full sized fat tire electric bike called the RadRover. It’s comfortable, off-road capable, and priced well… but as much fun as that product is, the stand over height is ~30.5″ and even with the quick release wheels, it’s just a big bike to move and store. By contrast, the compact RadMini has a lower 27″ stand over height, can fold in half to save space, and weighs ~3 lbs less. All this, and it can still support up to 275 lbs and uses the same high-capacity battery and powerful 750 watt geared hub motor. In some ways, the RadMini is more capable than the RadRover because it runs smaller 20″ x 4″ wheels which gain a mechanical advantage for the motor and 180 mm mechanical disc brakes. Compared to the first generation RadMini model, this latest version offers a suspension fork with lockout, hydroformed Aluminum alloy frame with reinforcement gussets to provide strength, and a higher definition 12-magnet cadence sensor compared to 6 magnets before. The price hasn’t changed, it’s still $1.5k, but in my opinion, the new model has a nicer paint job and the new front-rack design is much more capable and stable to ride with. And, RPB has expanded their accessories line so you can get a suspension seat post, wide plastic fenders, pannier bags, or connect a Yepp! child seat directly to the included rear rack because it has the correctly sized rectangular window. Whether you’re someone who wants the fat bike experience, which will take you through soft terrain like sand and snow, or someone who just wants a folding model that can share the same battery pack as other second generation Rad Power Bikes, or you’re a shorter rider who simply cannot approach and mount the full sized RadRover, the new RadMini has a lot to offer. Of course, it’s not perfect and some compromises had to be made in order to keep the price low, but I’ll lay those out in the paragraphs below and try to help you navigate what the compromises mean and when they are most relevant.
Driving this bike is a fat tire specific hub motor from Bafang. The wider casing on this motor provides a sturdier bracing angle for the thick 12-gauge spokes while permitting wider staters and magnets inside, to provide more power. It’s rated at 750 watts, which is the absolute maximum that’s legal in the United States, and is specced down to 500 watts for Canada to comply with local regulations. This motor is relatively lightweight at 13 lbs (compared to the 15 pound gearless motors on the RadWagon and RadCity models) and it’s compact, nearly hidden between the 7-sprocket cassette and 180 mm disc brake rotor. The pedaling drivetrain on this bike is the most basic of all Rad Power Bikes, using an entry-level Shimano Tourney derailleur, but it definitely gets the job done and feels natural from zero to 20+ mph, which is the top assisted speed. In order to make pedaling feel right, given the smaller wheels, a large 48 tooth chainring and standard 170 mm crank arms were chosen. Compared to regular folding models, which also use 20″ wheels but narrower 1.5″ to 2.25″ tires, this bike is higher up and feels more like a full sized bicycle. It’s definitely more stable and comfortable than a lot of folding bikes and I love that it offers both pedal assist and throttle mode. Starting from standstill can be difficult in soft terrain, so being able to use the motor to help you generate some speed and stability before picking your feet up to pedal is perfect. I used the throttle extensively a couple of years back when test riding the Gen 1 RadMini in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was incredible to actually see these things (the full sized RadRover and compact RadMini) plowing through soft sand… they key is to lower the air pressure to 5-10 PSI. Back on paved sections or hard packed Earth, the 20 to 30 PSI range is more efficient. I love how responsive the new 12-magnet cadence sensor is and that you can arrow down to zero for throttle only mode or press the throttle toggle button to completely disable it. You get full control of how the motor performs on this electric bike. Yes, geared motors produce a bit more noise and the power cable leading to this motor is a bit exposed on the right side of the rear axle, but Rad has included a Steel derailleur guard to reduce bumps and snags… an excellent decision given that this bike folds and could end up getting jostled around.
Compared to the first generation of Rad Power Bikes, the new battery pack offers ~20% higher capacity and only weighs 0.5 lbs more! So, hopefully you won’t run out of juice on longer or more adventurous and strenuous paths. The new pack is slimmer, mounts to the frame on a track that bolts down in three places for added strength, and can still be charged on or off the frame (making it convenient for commuting and easier to care for in extreme hot or cold weather). Considering just how large and heavy the RadMini is, despite looking compact, I could see myself storing the bike outside or in a shed and then bringing the battery into a more neutral, dry location for safe keeping. If you know it’s very cold out, keep the battery warm before taking a ride because otherwise the cells won’t last as long. This is especially relevant on those days when you’re planning to ride the Rad Mini in slow! If you plan to store the pack for more than a month without using it, I have heard that keeping it around 50% vs. completely full can be easier on the Lithium-ion cells. The actual cells inside are Samsung 18650 size 35E high energy density. It impressed me to discover that this 48 volt 14 amp hour pack can be replaced for just $499, and I think that’s partially because the controller unit is made separate. This is one area where the RadMini looks a bit different than the other models which have a plastic controller box mounted to the seat tube. Instead, the RadMini has a controller box situated just below the bottom bracket, and I love that there’s also a metal support arm here that protects it and the chainring from damage. I was told that the independent controller reduces complexity, heat transfer to the battery, and makes fixes easier… but it doesn’t look quite as good as if they were all combined in my opinion. Even though the RadMini is a purpose-built electric bicycle, the battery and controller box are still external… and it’s not as efficient or effective at climbing as some of the new mid-drives, or as balanced. That said, I haven’t seen any mid-motor folding fatbikes yet. All things considered, I feel that weight is still distributed well on this frame, and I love that little things like the neoprene slap guard, plastic guide that will reduce chain drops, and large and sturdy folding pedals vs. the narrow flexy plastic ones on most other ebikes.
Operating the bike is relatively simple but improved from earlier designs because of the new battery. Before, once you had charged the pack, you would press a silver circle button to activate the battery… and anyone could do this, even when the bike was parked at a rack. Because the RadMini has a throttle that can be used at standstill, people could then tamper with the display and motor even when the bike was locked (if you left the battery on the bike). The new battery solves this, and prevents accidental drops, by requiring you to lock the battery to the frame in an off or on mode. So now, you cannot start riding until the pack is locked in place and people cannot tamper with it if you locked it in the off position! To activate the display, just hold the Mode button in the middle of the rubberized control pad (near the left grip) and it blinks to life. This display is not removable, but it does swivel forward and back just enough to reduce glare. It’s large, which makes it easy to read from a distance, and it shows your battery level, trip stats, speed, and assist level 0-5. If you press the mode button, it cycles from trip distance to total distance (odometer), and if you hold the up arrow it will cycle from current speed to average speed and max speed. For those who want to mess around with settings, hold the up and down arrow keys simultaneously, and for those dark riding moments (or to be extra safe during the daytime) just hold up and mode simultaneously to activate the headlight. The final tip I have is that you can hold the down arrow while the bike is in assist levels 1-5 to activate walk mode, which can be very handy if you have to walk a difficult section of trail, cross a non-bikeable area with a loaded rack, or get a flat tire. I love that in addition to the range of power levels that you can ride with, the throttle offers full power at all times. This is nice for saving energy but still having access to quick bursts of power for climbing or catching up to friends. And, the throttle can be completely shut off if you want, just press the black toggle button near the right grip. This is very useful when mounting the bike, walking it, or picking it up. Of course, I recommend always disabling the bike completely by turning it off to be extra safe when handling. I should also mention that the charger for all Rad Power Bikes is just 1.1 lbs and offers a standard 2 Amps output for ~6 hour charging from empty. It’s not the fanciest thing in the world but it gets the job done without being too bulky and I like that the charging port on the battery is positioned out of the way of the crank arms so it won’t get snagged or bent as easily.
Earlier in this review, I did mention that there were some trade-offs to consider with the RadMini, compromises that were made to keep it affordable. One of the biggest to me, is the use of mechanical brakes vs. hydraulic which are easier to pull and usually have adjustable-reach levers to fit smaller hands. Mechanical brakes are easier to adjust post-purchase, and the big rotors do a great job actually stopping this bike, but that’s to be expected considering that it’s heavier and larger than a lot of other e-bike models. Buying from a direct seller like Rad Power Bikes means that you may not get to test ride before making a purchase decision and you will also have to spend some extra time and energy unpacking and tuning the bike… However, RPB does offer a solid one year comprehensive warranty, the company has been growing fast and has a lot of bikes out there in the real world (so maybe you could see or test ride one in the wild), and now they have partnered with Velofix to assemble, deliver, fit, and give a 30 day tuneup post-purchase for just $100. It’s a neat approach, one that continues to keep the price low while upping the convenience factor. A few little delighters for me are the integrated USB charging port on the display, the stainless steel torque arm on the rear dropout, the flashing mode on the rear light (even though it’s not wired in like the headlight, and is easier to forget to turn on/off), and the narrow double-step folding joint at the middle of the frame. The handlebar and seat height can be raised or lowered slightly to improve fit, but take care not to go too high or the cables and wires at the front can get pulled (or even interfere with the front rack option). Note that the headlight has been upgraded from Gen 1 and is brighter and nicer overall, but it’s going to bounce up and down a bit because they positioned it on the suspension arch vs. the head tube or handlebars, and if you get the optional front rack and basket, the light gets repositioned onto the bottom and will not turn as you steer the bike. I like that they chose black spokes, to match the hub motor and black rims, but they did not use punched out rims which would reduce weight and allow for liner flex and improved comfort when riding. The seat has a handle built in, which is handy for lifting and repositioning the bike, but it could become a point of vulnerability if you opt for the suspension seat post (which is more fragile than the rigid alloy post). The new battery design is easier to mount and dismount than the older one, and lighter because it’s plastic vs. aluminum, and it seems like you can actually take the battery off without removing the seat like you did before. Finally, the kickstand is positioned perfectly so that it supports the rear rack when loaded and stays out of the way of your left crank arm. It offers adjustable length and a wider base so it won’t let the bike tip too far or sink in to soft terrain like sand/snow as easily. I hope this in-depth review helps you to compare and contrast some of the different Rad Power Bike models and I’d like to thank the company for partnering with me on this post, providing both colors, and many accessories to showcase during the review. Feel free to post your questions and comments below or in the EBR Forums for input from people who might have owned the first generation.
- Fat 4-inch wide tires, a 60 mm spring suspension fork, adjustable-height steering tube, and shortened stem work together to provide more comfort than the first generation RadMini, you can achieve an upright body position that will fit a range of rider body types and the Velo Plush saddle and ergonomic grips feel nice
- Great aesthetics, the new hydroformed Aluminum alloy frame has an angled top tube for lower stand over height, extra plating gussets where it meets the seat tube and steering tube, and a flattened section behind the seat tube where the battery mounts which provides a sturdier surface
- Available in two refined colors with nicer accents than Gen 1, some of the older RadRovers looked a lot simpler but I’ve always appreciated the option to go with a dark and light color scheme because the white is going to be more visible at night and that could make it safer
- Safety is a big consideration for me as a cyclist who rides in the city occasionally (or in new unfamiliar locations, since this is a folding portable model), so I love that Rad Power Bikes has been including lights and that the new headlight is extra bright and aimable, the folding pedals also have nice reflectors
- It’s cool that Rad Power Bikes has expanded to Europe and Canada, and specced their motor down from 750 watts to 500 watts in order to comply with local regulations, they offer free shipping and in the US are partnering with Velofix for assembly and delivery for an additional $100
- I love the sturdy Wellgo platform pedals they chose here, many other folding pedals are plastic and offer less surface area and rigidity, the plastic 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 new battery design is awesome, it’s slimmer, 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
- Rad Power Bikes has upgraded to a high-resolution 12-magnet cadence sensors for all of their second generation models and this 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.
- 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 at this time 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
- It’s nice to have lights but the rear one is not wired in, it runs on two disposable AAA batteries which means that there are extra steps turning it on/off every time you want to ride, and if you forget, you’ll either be less safe when riding or have the battery slowly running out while not using it
- 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
- 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