With all the focus on cars here on the site, it’s not too often that we have the chance to check out vehicles with less than two wheels. But when the folks at Rad Power Bikes reached out to us with the chance to check out an example of their extensive lineup of e-bikes, we were more than happy to take the offer. E-bikes are rapidly becoming a trendy segment in the broader bicycle market thanks to their functionality and the extra oomph supplied by the electric motor. But is an e-bike the perfect replacement for a car in certain environments? We were keen to find out and spent some time riding around town to see if the RadWagon 4 could indeed pull off this feat.
Vivid Orange Paint Sets This Bike Apart; Cargo Hauling Makes The Impression
When you first lay eyes on the RadWagon 4, you would be forgiven if your eyes need a moment to adjust with our test bike arriving in a very vibrant shade of orange. The citrus-inspired hue defines a good chunk of the bike, with some scattered blue and black contrasts being thrown in to help even things out slightly. However, our tester is not just about making a bold styling statement (white and black are also available) and instead prioritizes cargo hauling. Rad reps claim that the Radwagon series is partially inspired by bikes commonly seen in Asia, where they are often used for a wide array of roles. That’s evident in its styling, with the rear featuring a long rear cargo deck for hauling jobs.
This cargo deck is very flexible and can be equipped with a wide range of accessories. They include baskets, Ballard bags, and even rear seats to haul passengers. In our case, we opted to spec our tester with minimum options to help simulate what a budget-focused first-time buyer will do when they are creating a pool of accessories for their ride. That meant limiting things to a rear-mounted Ballard bag as well as a smaller tube bag to help haul our phone and our garage door open when out on the road. Both bags are easy to install, but the bigger Ballard bag can drag on the ground if it’s mounted too low or executing sharp turns, so buyers will need to make sure that particular component is mounted at a good height.
The bike itself is easy to store, but with all the electric components mounted towards the rear of the bike, lifting the 76.4 lb, Radwagon can be a chore, especially when mounting it onto a bike rack or even into the rear of an SUV or van. Thankfully, the beefy frame makes up for this inconvenience by allowing owners to haul up to 350 lbs of stuff when it’s tasked with cargo duties.
Rider Focused Comfort Defines RadWagon 4
When a rider is not focusing on the sheer amount of attention that the bike gets, they are taking advantage of the impressive amounts of comfort that the bike provides. The saddle of the bike is very comfortable, and we really like how RadWagon nailed the positioning of the saddle and how some of the grips and the pedals are positioned. Unlike other bikes that seem to focus only on short distance riding, RadWagon 4s, like our example, appears to be focused on long-distance treks with our several mile trips from the office and back, proving that the RadWagon does have the chops to easily swallow up the miles with minimum discomfort to the rider.
Speaking of the saddle, it’s made out of Velo Soft Plush material. This ensures that it can handle a wide range of bum sizes and greatly reduce the risk of friction burn. The saddle is mounted on a 13.5-inch seat tube which promises a higher degree of adjustability, and that should please shorter riders looking to be optimally comfortable on the RadWagon. But Metro Detroit’s lunar-like road conditions can extend to the sidewalks, and there were occasions where we were jarred about by rogue bumps and sharp dips. These issues can be fixed with either a front suspension fork or a suspension infused seat post so look for those items to be perhaps on the list of add-ons for new RadWagon buyers.
The handlebars offer 80 degrees of adjustment, allowing you to adjust them on the fly quickly. Many of the controls for the bike are also logically placed, including the spiffy bell, gear selector, and the twist throttle and mode selector for the electric motor.
RadWagon 4 Offers Impressive Performance For Its Size
At the end of the day, though, the RadWagon 4 is an e-bike, and the electrifying performance on hand will certainly make a believer out of many people. All RadWagon 4’s come equipped with a 750-watt motor which is capable of getting the bike up to speed very quickly. In some of our speed tests, we managed to get our tester up to about 20 mph unloaded (that figure shrinks slightly to 16 mph when tasked with a heavy load.) Starting the bike is an easy affair with riders only needing to turn a key in the battery pack which helps send power to the motor.
A successful start will be indicated by the LCD screen which will show a myriad of readouts. The screen itself may have the graphics quality of a Texas Instruments TI-108, but we really like the sheer amount of information that Rad Powerbikes gives you for the money. That includes a battery life indicator, a speedometer, a mode read-out, as well as an accompanying odometer. A twist-style throttle is mounted on the right handlebar and it makes regulating the speed on hand a simple process. This particular throttle setup is also used on many formal e-motorcycles. It makes getting moving straightforward while also serving as a gateway towards building experience before transitioning to a formal EV motorcycle.
Shifting gears is just as simple thanks to the handlebar-mounted thumb shifter. This type of shifter allows for easy up and downshifts, but it can be easy to go through multiple gears at once if your not careful and that can sometimes result in the chain falling off. Speaking of gearing, we wish that the RadWagon had harder gearing. While the stock 1×7 gearing is appropriate for most riding situations, in some cases, the extra assist makes it feel like you are in a lighter gear, and it helps create a rather numb feeling in the pedals. An integrated head and taillight helps the bike be visible at night and the headlight, in particular, delivers an impressive amount of brightness in nighttime riding.
Handling in our tester was also very impressive, considering its large size. The 22×3.0 tires and some of the aforementioned moves towards efficient positioning allow the bike to have a tight turning circle, allowing our tester to squeeze into tight alleyways and other narrow corridors. That’s pretty impressive, especially for a bike of its size, and that might please some buyers that need to go through narrow alleys or tight city streets on their daily trips to the city.
For the moment, the only way to buy any of Rad Power Bike’s products is through their main website (RadPowerBikes.com) and in the case of Rad Wagon 4s like our tester, you will have a very high initial investment with a base version starting at $1,899. That’s before any taxes and shipping fees and any accessories that you might equip to it. While that price tag may make some folks hesitant to pull the trigger, it’s a very competitive price in the bike segment, and the company does include many standard features for the money.
Shipping, in our case, was done through FedEx, with the accessories actually coming ahead of the bike itself. Opening the package revealed a bike that comes largely installed right out of the box, with owners only having to install the front-facing portions of the bike (handlebars, saddle, front tire, etc.) Installation for us was pretty straight forward though our only complaint centered around the electrical wiring. Rad uses small plastic zip ties to keep them together during shipping, but the loops for the ties are nestled very close to the wires and that required very delicate cutting to avoid slicing a wire by mistake.
Rad Power Bikes does offer an alternative where a mobile service can come to your home and help install the bike. However, that particular perk is currently limited to select areas of the west coast, and the company has not revealed when it will eventually bring this service nationwide. With this direct to the consumer model, Rad Power Bikes gives customers the ability to either buy the bike outright or do it piecemeal through a monthly payment plan. Most major credit cards are accepted, and the company also works through Amazon Pay and the Affirm monthly payment service.
When looked at by the sum of all of its parts, the RadWagon 4 is a utility-focused bike that not only delivers the goods on versatility and cargo hauling but also manages to seamlessly infuse electric power for more green-focused oomph. As the e-bike segment morphs into a potent segment for bicycle manufacturers, the stakes are bigger than ever, and the quest to attract customers becomes more important. That’s especially true in regards to ensuring a long-term ownership experience that is seamless and continues to perform long after the initial purchase. As such, we will be evaluating the RadWagon 4 over the course of a year to see how it is to own over a longer period of time and we will be posting updates on our social channels at various points of the year. Stay tuned….
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.