- An extremely versatile and affordable mid-fat tire bike, unique 20" x 3.3" tires provide comfort and good traction on any terrain, optional passenger kit turns the rear rack into a seat with foot rest pegs and skirt guard
- Integrated lights and reflective tires keep you visible, two frame color options keep it fun, the single-speed drivetrain is reliable and quiet with a chain tensioner and alloy chainring guide to protect your pants or skirt clean while reducing drops
- Large 180mm disc brake rotors provide excellent stopping power and control, both brake levers activate the backlight for safety and cut power to the motor, RAD optimized 250 watt geared hub motor gets a mechanical advantage from the smaller wheel diameter
- Twist throttle overrides pedal assist at all times for easy starts and extra power when needed, plastic pedals offer good traction but aren't as sturdy as tough as aluminum alloy, frame only comes in one size but the adjustable seat post and tall handlebar provides good fit for a range of riders, simple display and no USB charging option, optional console box does not lock, no suspension fork
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 with you, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Rad Power Bikes.
The RadRunner is a compact mid-fat electric bike model that is launching in the US, Canada, and 29 European countries in September 2019! In order to comply with local regulations for Class 1 pedelecs, the EU version comes with a 250 watt motor and walk assist vs. full throttle mode… In short, you have to pedal for the motor to activate beyond 6km/h. That said, walk assist has been implemented in such a way that it will boost lower levels of assist while pedaling! Think of it like this, if you’re riding with assist level 1 but activate the twist mechanism, the bike will go faster, as if you were using level 2, 3, or 4 depending on how far you twist. Neat! I was very impressed with this feature because it adds a level of flexibility and control that many other European electric bikes lack, while still complying with local regulations. In most cases, the bike will be shipped out and require light assembly, but Rad Power Bikes does have a showroom in Utrecht, Netherlands where you can take test rides or pickup the bike fully assembled.
I’ve followed Rad Power Bikes since 2015, when the RadRover and RadWagon were the only bikes on offer, before any models were available in Europe! Since that time, the company has expanded internationally with the introduction of two Class 2 / L1e-A models called the RadRhino and RadWagon EU Version. The Class 2 / L1e-A products erquire licensing fees and a little plate be added to the bike frame… but that is not the case with the brand new RadRunner EU Version. It’s a standard Class 1 pedelec. Before we really dig in, I want to call out a more complete video review, which accompanies the US version of the bike here. I got to spend more time with that product because I was visiting the US headquarters in Ballard, Washington. However, having tried both bikes back to back (the US and EU versions), I want to acknowledge that there is a noticeable difference in power and climbing ability between the two. The EU version is weaker and slower… but it’s still fun and capable with some pedaling :) Given that all versions of the RadRunner currently use a single speed drivetrain, this may be a no-go for heavier riders or those expecting a lot of hilly terrain who only have access to the EU version. You’ll have an easier time with a multi-speed electric bike, and especially with mid-drive models that leverage gears to empower the rider as well as the motor. Anyway, Rad Power Bikes has been around for many years now and has demonstrated quality of product as well as high levels of customer service, perhaps we will see the EU version refined in the future, but the current loadout is still heaps of fun, versatile, and very affordable.
The RadRunner uses the same battery pack as the RadRhino and RadWagon EU Version. These models also share a complete line of optional accessories like racks and bags, that can be used to carry additional batteries, the charger, and other personal gear. And, there are specially sized fenders for the RadRunner, which are sure to come in handy during winter months… though they do not go quite as low as some commuter ebikes I’ve covered recently from companies like Specialized. There’s also an optional plastic console box with cover that really looks good and keeps weight low and center for improved balance and control while riding. The bike comes with integrated lights, and the rear light goes bright anytime you pull the brake levers. It even has a blinking mode, which is very unique and desirable for safety, at least to me. While it’s difficult to pin down exactly what type of bike the RadRunner is, you could use it for all sorts of riding. The compact size makes it easier to fit into elevators and apartments, the mid-fat tires make it stable and provide comfort as well as off-road capability, the optional passenger kit places a pad on the rear rack, a pair of pegs, and skirt guard so you can carry a passenger up to 120lbs! These are all great features, and yet this is also the most affordable e-bike model in the Rad Power Bikes lineup. It’s inspiring to see that the company not only went for something value-priced but managed to create something special and really useful and fun. I’m super impressed with the RadRunner, and while it does come with some trade-offs like no suspension, plastic pedals, a more basic LED console with limited readouts, and a single speed drivetrain, it’s still a very capable product, and feels like a real contender alongside the more expensive models. You might end up choosing this electric bicycle because you prefer its features or style, not just because it’s the cheapest.
Driving the RadRunner is a custom tuned fat bike specific planetary geared hub motor from Bafang. The wide casing provides a sturdy bracing angle for the thick 12-gauge spokes while permitting a wider stator and magnet configuration inside. This allows the motor to deliver consistently high power without producing a lot of noise or being physically large (having a wider diameter). Notice how the motor basically hides behind the 180mm disc brake rotor on the left side? It’s a bit exposed from the right because of the single-speed drivetrain, but it blends in beautifully because the casing, spokes, and rims are all black. The motor is rated at 250 watts continuous output (in the EU) which is the upper legal limit. It’s fairly lightweight at ~8.7lbs compared to the ~10.5 pound gearless hub motors on the RadWagon and RadCity models, and it freewheels without any magnetic drag. It does not offer regenerative braking, but that’s not a big loss in my opinion because of the reduced weight and drag. Being spoked into a relatively small 20″ wheel, the hub motor gets a mechanical advantage for starting, climbing, and transporting heavy loads. In order to make pedaling feel comfortable for the rider, given the smaller wheels and single speed configuration, a large 52 tooth chainring was chosen. I think RAD did an excellent job creating a comfortable ride feel with this product, and was able to spec traditional 170mm crank arms because the fat tires elevate the bike more than comparable non-fat 20″ wheeled ebikes. The real trade-offs are increased weight and some additional friction and buzzing compared to a narrower, smoother tire. Thankfully, the ~7.7lb battery pack and quick-release front wheel are easily removable, so transporting the bike doesn’t have to be super difficult if you find yourself struggling with the 64+ pound base weight. You shouldn’t have a problem with chain derailments while riding or transporting the RadRunner because it utilizes an alloy chain guide and chain tensioner system in the rear. I asked about this design during our review prep conversations and discovered that the Sturmey Archer chain tensioner allows for a vertical mounting rear wheel vs. a horizontal sliding dropout, which can be tricky to align and keep straight under high torque pressure on electric bikes. There’s no slap guard on the chainstay, but this is less important with a single speed because the chain length is a lot shorter and the chain tensioner puts adequate tension to reduce bouncing… though you may hear a few tinking noises during some of our ride segments because the chain was touching the kickstand… which was a prototype and should be addressed in the final bikes.
Powering the RadRunner motor, display, and lights is a high-capacity Lithium-ion battery pack. Providing over 670 watt hours of capacity, this pack allows you to go further, use the throttle and high levels of assist more frequently, and climb more capably than a lot of competing products. Batteries tend to be one of the most expensive parts of electric bicycles, so it’s really impressive that such a nice one was chosen for the value-priced offering from Rad Power Bikes. Furthermore, this pack is cross compatible between all Rad Power Bikes models dating back to 2018 (which is everything that’s been available in Europe). The pack mounts securely to a plastic track that’s attached to the back of the seat tube with three bolts, and is secured with a keyed locking core. Notice how the battery is positioned towards the center of the frame at a relatively low point for improved balance and bike handling. It’s protected on the top and both sides by aluminum frame tubing, and blends in with the other black hardware. The battery pack has two fuses built in for safety, and is physically separate from the motor controller, which makes replacement and additional packs less expensive to purchase. Notice the little black box below the downtube (almost hidden behind the chainring), that’s the controller unit. At €500 per battery pack, you get a lot of bang for your buck here compared with €750+ for many competing offerings from leaders like Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, Brose, and others. I also like the physical design of this battery, being smooth and rounded, though it does not include a handle or loop for secure carrying, and can be difficult to unlock and remove on this particular bike because of the tubing near the top. Transporting the battery (or additional batteries) is also important to consider, and this pack is fairly short and thick vs. long and skinny which makes it easier to stuff into trunk bags, panniers, and backpacks for extended rides. The only trade-off I noticed was aesthetics, with two black boxes tacked onto the frame here vs. an internally mounted battery or combined battery + controller. 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 mounted to the bike or not, and you can charge the pack while mounted or separated from the RadRunner frame. 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. Extreme heat can also prematurely wear the cells and extreme cold will limit your range but not be as hard on the actual battery chemistry as prolonged heat.
Once the battery pack is charged, mounted, and locked, the bike is easy to power on and operate using a simple LED control pad, mounted near the left grip. The RadRunner is the only current generation electric bike product from Rad Power Bikes that I have seen with this more basic display, all of the others use an LCD readout with feedback about current speed, trip distance, time, and a other details. This is probably one area where Rad Power Bikes cut back to keep the price lower, and it’s not that much of an issue for me. The big thing I do wish they had included however, is a USB charging port, so I could use my smartphone to track speed, use my GPS, play music, and perform other actions while cycling. Sure, my smartphone has a battery of its own, but on long trips it would be nice to maintain that smaller battery by hooking up to the big ebike battery! There’s no USB on the display or the battery pack itself. What the display does show is a five bar charge level indicator (each light representing a 20% step), a 0-4 pedal assist level selector, and a lights indicator. Once you press the power button on the control pad, you can navigate using + and – to increase or decrease pedal assist power and top speed, but the twist mechanism is always active and always capable of supporting the bike up to a top speed of 7km/h on it’s own, or boosting the level of power that is selected as long as you’re pedaling. The European version has a top speed of 15.5mph (25km/h) based on the Class 1 framework for pedelecs, as mentioned earlier. And, you might notice that the – button has a little bike icon as well, and this denotes the walk mode feature that is almost redundant given the twist mechanism… It could be useful for activating if you’re walking on the left side of the bike vs. the right, where the half-grip twist mechanism is. Simply hold the – key down and the bike will slowly move forward to assist with “walking” if you’ve got the rack loaded or are pushing up a hill or out of a basement ramp (mostly a European thing I’m told). Walk mode can be useful if you get a flat tire, but that shouldn’t happen very often because the Kenda tires have K-Shield puncture protection built in. If you keep the tire pressure around 30 PSI, you’ll get efficient riding and avoid pinch flats, but I tend to reduce tire pressure for comfort, being a lightweight 135lb rider. I appreciate the highly sensitive 14 pulse sealed cadence sensor, mounted to the left side of the bottom bracket. This sensor is compact and probably very durable compared to some of the older exposed sensors (still used on the RadBurro). It’s not quite as responsive as a torque sensor, but the trade-off is that it doesn’t make you work as hard… you can simply turn the cranks gently and the motor will help out as much or as little as you prescribe using the 1-4 levels of pedal assist on the display and the twist mechanism. One final little complaint is that the orange LED lights built into the display panel don’t have a brightness setting, and could become too bright and annoying in dark settings. I’ve used masking tape to reduce the harshness of LED lights on other electric bikes because they felt distracting. While this display is not designed for removal, it did seem durable and could be swiveled to be readable or less bright depending on your reach preferences from the left grip. I noticed that Rad Power Bikes opted for a nicer threaded connector points for the display and other electronics while some competing value offerings go for basic 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 really like being able to activate the the lights through the display, and having two modes for the rear light (solid or blinking). Though, you do have to physically press a button below that light to change modes vs. using the display. Note that both brake levers have motor inhibitor switches built-in that cut power to the motor whenever you pull them and also activate bright mode on the rear light, whether the lights are on or not! The headlight is designed to be re-mounted to racks if you purchase them aftermarket, and Rad Power Bikes includes extender cables to make it easy. Note that if you do get a front rack and reposition the light, it will no longer point where you steer, because the rack is frame mounted for extra strength.
All things considered, this is an incredible electric bike for the money. It’s rated as Class 1 so you don’t need a license to ride in Europe, like the other Rad Power Bikes products. This company is well known for their full sized fat tire electric bike called the RadRhino, but more approachable and more affordable. It can be very easy to mount and handle if you leave the step-thru frame open, and it has a shorter wheelbase and overall length than the full sized RadRhino. I love the custom plastic fenders that RAD sells because they are sturdy and quiet, and it’s just so cool to see how their racks, bags, and batteries are cross compatible. One downside of the default seat post and saddle design of this bike are that a suspension seatpost cannot be used without replacing the saddle, because of the unique metal plate design. The default saddle will not tilt or slide forward and back because it’s just bolted down onto a plate. This means more money and possibly a saddle that doesn’t match the optional passenger kit setup… but it is possible! Just look for any 27.2mm suspension seat post and any normal bike saddle. This upgradeability is probably not as easy to do with the stock steel fork, you cannot swap it to a suspension fork as affordably or easily because of the fat tire hub spacing width. Rad Power Bikes sells all sorts of panniers and box bags, which of course have reflective material built in. They sell a phone mount for those who wish to navigate with GPS and the Yepp! Maxi child seat, guaranteed to fit on the rear rack here, for all of those great Moms out there. Big thanks to Mike, Cory, Ty, Tessa and the others at Rad Power Bikes for inviting me out and spending time on this review to answer questions. My goal is always to go deep, be impartial, and have fun… and they made this possible. I sincerely think these guys are doing a great job and have heard great things about their customer support (operating seven days a week now 9am-5pm PST out of Ballard Washington). If you travel nearby, you can check out their bikes in person at one of the flagship stores or their Canada and Netherlands locations. As always, I welcome your feedback in the comments below and invite you to discuss and share pictures in the Rad Power Bikes forums.
- This is one of, if not the best low-priced electric bike I’ve ever reviewed… I knew Rad Power Bikes was working on something designed to be affordable, but they also created something really unique and functional, the RadRunner is super fun and capable in a wide variety of terrains and applications, even with a passenger aboard
- Safety is a big deal to me, especially when riding near traffic, so the integrated lights, blinking mode for the rear light, brake light activation, and reflective tires are great to see, especially since the bike sits lower to the ground
- This ebike uses the same high-capacity battery pack as all of the other current-generation Rad Power Bikes, so you can swap it out, borrow from a friend, or take an extra one along for big rides if you own multiple models
- The battery pack can be charged on or off the bike frame, locks securely into place, contains two fuses for safety, the mounting bracket is sturdy and attaches with three bolts vs. two on some competing products, they used high quality Samsung 35E Lithium-ion cells, and the pack is fairly affordable to replace at €500 because the controller is separate
- Adjustable high-rise handlebar and tall 390mm seat post make this one-size frame adaptable for taller riders
- High-volume tires, ergonomic grips, brake levers with rubberized edges, and a vibration dampening steel fork all contribute to comfort; I lowered the tire pressure a bit to make the ride feel even smoother
- Large 180mm mechanical disc brake rotors provide ample stopping power given the relatively small 20″ wheel diameter, they definitely come in handy if you’re riding with a passenger
- The chain tensioner was added to make servicing the rear wheel easier, it improves reliability in the drivetrain compared to a horizontal dropout (which can be tricky to setup and get pulled out of place by a powerful hub motor over time), Rad Power Bikes also installed a mini torque-arm to spread forces into the frame and keep the dropouts from getting bent up over time
- I love that the RadRunner has a derailleur guard to protect the chain tensioner and motor power cable on the drivetrain side of the bike, especially since they ship direct and the box could get tossed around a bit on the way
- Sturdy double-leg kickstand makes the bike easy to load if you opt for a rear rack, panniers, or the passenger kit, I love how you can pedal backwards even with the kickstand deployed (in case you’re doing drivetrain maintenance)
- Extra-thick 12 gauge spokes for improved wheel strength raise the max weight of this ebike to 300lbs vs. 275lbs on many other Rad Power Bikes
- Bottle cage bosses on the downtube and mini top-tube let you add accessories like a water bottle cage, folding lock, or mini pump… or you can get the optional plastic console bucket thing, which is made from high quality plastic that’s designed to not fade or crack
- There are tons of options for mounting baskets and racks on this thing, I like how the front rack attaches to the head tube and won’t influence steering or dump to the side when parking
- Satin black and forest green look great on this electric bicycle, and I feel that Rad Power Bikes has done a great job with the branding and accents, notice how the fork matches the frame and how all of the hardware is black… even the front wheel hub, motor casing, spokes, kickstand, crank arms, and stem
- The folks at Rad Power Bikes were excited about the custom tapered spacer (which is the tubular section going from the steering tube to the stem where the handlebar mounts… and while it does look good, it’s not something I would have noticed or cared about, so to me that’s great attention to detail and style, same with the wrapped power cables and shifters lines up front, which are internally routed through the frame
- Lots of great accessory options including a suspension seat post, wide plastic fenders, a heavy duty rear rack, and frame-mounted front basket with extender for the headlight
- Kenda and Rad Power Bikes worked together to create a series of tires with reflective stripes and K-Shield puncture protection including these unique 20″ x 3.3″ models, they are the only tires I have ever seen in this size and they fit the bike perfectly… not too big and bulky, or too small and stiff feeling, they are stable and capable all around
- In my experience, there are many wave style step-thru bike frames that feel flexy, but Rad Power Bikes designed the RadRunner with a section of top tube and big metal gusset to nearly eliminate frame flex, I like how the tubing also surrounds the battery pack to some degree, for additional protection
- Excellent weight distribution here, notice how low and centered the battery is on the bike frame, this improves stability and frees up the rear for adding fenders and rear racks
- Pedal assist responds quickly because of the 14 pulse cadence sensor, which is smaller and better sealed against water and dust than some older designs, the motor cuts out instantly whenever you brake because both levers have motor inhibitor switches built in
- The geared hub motor is zippy and powerful, it gets a big mechanical advantage because of the smaller 20″ wheels, and I’ve tested similar but slightly larger tires in soft sand riding on a beach in Mexico and it worked great (just bring the tire PSI down to 5-7 or the tire will sink in), I think this ebike would be great for Burning Man
- I really like that they chose brake levers with a bell that’s built into the left brake lever housing, it’s compact and keeps the handlebars clean but works reliably and produces a friendly chime
- The motor controller box is positioned below the main tube of the bike and feel safe because of the large metal chainring guide, I was told that this box is aluminum alloy vs. plastic and that makes me feel like it’s extra tough, having this box separate helps to keep the battery prices lower and reduces heat
- I noticed that the optional pegs didn’t rattle or twist during use, they fold up nicely and while small, just seemed to be of high quality
- It’s cool that Rad Power Bikes has expanded to Canada and Europe with this model, they offer free shipping in most cases and partner with mobile bike repair services to deliver assembled for an additional $100
- The smaller wheel diameter positions the bike closer to the ground, which makes it approachable, but also isn’t as visible to cars… that’s definitely true for the rear light which might get covered by the optional passenger seat or the back of a long jacket hanging down, so as with any folding or compact bike, be extra careful
- No suspension fork on this model, that probably helps to reduce cost and keep the frame nimble feeling, at least the mid-fat tires provide some cushion, smaller wheels have a higher attack angle and can sometimes feel bumpier as well, so the wide tires and thick optional passenger seat really help to make up for that
- The RadRunner only comes in one frame size and the reach is pretty short, it might feel small to taller riders… even with the seat raised all the way up
- The plastic pedals offer good traction, and are wider than average, but might not be as tough over the long haul compared to aluminum alloy pedals offered on all of the other Rad Power Bikes
- Basic LED display only shows your approximate charge level, assist level, and lights indicator, so you won’t be able to track trip distance or measure your current speed, I also feel like the orange LED lights could be too bright and even annoying at night… but that’s just a minor complaint and a layer or two of masking tape could dim them if you ever feel distracted or bothered
- Mechanical disc brakes require more hand effort than hydraulic, especially the rear which has a longer line of cable, the cable can stretch over time and I heard a bit of squeaking during our test rides (avoid touching the disc brake rotors to keep them clean and squeak-free)
- The saddle felt decently comfortable to me, but you cannot change the angle or slide it forward/back like almost all other electric bicycles
- Single-speed drivetrain makes starting a bit slow and can make pedaling feel too fast at higher speeds, this is the trade-off for simplicity, reduced price, and some reliability over a multi-speed
- Compared to some of the other Rad Power Bike models, I feel that this battery pack is more difficult to reach and remove, it’s not terrible but does require a bit of extra maneuvering
- Perhaps this was only based on the sample model shown, but the chain would bounce into the kickstand leg and create some tinking noises as we rode over bumpy terrain… just a minor complaint and consideration
- The battery charger is fairly compact and lightweight, RAD says it’s reliable and works between all models, but it would be nice to have a faster charger given the higher capacity 672 watt hour battery pack here
- Despite its compact size, this ebike is fairly heavy at 64lbs (with the battery pack attached but no optional accessories like the passenger seat, fenders, or console)
- Rad Power Bikes sells mostly online, which means that there’s some extra hassle unboxing and preparing the bike for riding, however they have partnered with some mobile bike repair services offering a $100 setup, I haven’t received and unboxed one myself yet… but I get the impression that this particular model is VERY easy to get going, especially with the quick release front wheel
- Minor consideration, many of the other Rad Power Bikes models have a button that can disable the twist throttle, this could be useful if you are concerned about bumping the throttle, consider one of the RadMini folding models if so, however I think you can simply unplug the throttle if you want it disabled
- Reaching in to open and adjust the seat post clamp can be tricky if you’ve got the passenger kit installed, it’s just tucked in there between the rack support tubing and took extra time for me to do… it could be very tricky if over tightened
- The optional console box looks really cool to me, but it does make the area where you pedal more cramped because it’s wider than bike tubing, I like that it has drains at the bottom but wish the lid locked and felt more secure, I bumped and squished it while pedaling and the lid kind of got pushed out of place a couple of times, also securing the rubber band anchors took more time than a single latch
- Many car and bus racks have a hanging style rack for bikes, and to use that with the RadRunner you might need to buy a crossbar adapter… which is compatible, as long as you aren’t using the optional cargo box
- Official Site: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/