Rad Power Bikes is a U.S.-based ebike manufacturer. It has made its mark as a direct to-consumer business selling fat tires bikes and helped to shape the COVID electric bike boom. In 2021, the company raised two massive rounds – $150 million in February 2021 and another $154 million just eight months later – that brought its total funding above and beyond what Europe’s e-bike darling VanMoof secured.
I was interested in the reasons investors were so enthusiastic about the company and why these bikes were becoming more popular.
RadRunner 2 and RadExpand 5 were sent to me by the company. Both appealed to me because they were affordable, stable bikes that could be delivered right to your doorstep. However, I also wanted to give them another go based on a comment Rad chief product officer Redwood Stephens made to TechCrunch.
Stephens told me that Rad’s main target customers aren’t urban commuters. Rather, Rad’s sturdy frames, fat tires and easy-to-read digital displays are aimed at people over 50 years old who live in suburban or rural areas and want a greener mode of transport that still feels safe. I decided to test that by putting my mom on one of them, and you’ll hear her thoughts on that later (Spoiler: She wants to buy one.)
The RadRunner 2, an update on Rad’s very successful RadRunner utility bike with a step-through frame, came out in December 2021 at $1,499 and comes in black or forest green. The RadExpand 5, a foldable electric bike, was launched in April at $1,599. It is available in black or white.
Rad Power bike specs
RadRunner 2 & RadExpand 5 have simple displays to turn the bike off and on, select a pedal assistance level, and turn on the lights.
Both bikes share very similar looks and feel. Here’s what they have in common:

Motor: 750W Brushless Gear Hub Motor
Top speed: 20 miles per hour (unless you’re flying downhill, then it definitely can go faster)
Battery: 672 Wh. Can be charged on the bicycle or taken to charge inside.
Distance: 25-45 miles
Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes
Other stuff: Simple LED screen, bell, 4 pedal assistance settings, half-twist throttle

Here’s what’s the same, but different:

Both bikes have an optional front rack and an integral rear rack. However, their payload capacities are different. For example, the RadExpand’s rear rack max load is 59 pounds, but the RadRunner can handle 120 pounds (and then some, as my partner and I proved.)
There are many kickstands. RadExpand’s is a regular style kickstand, but RadRunner’s is a dual leg, spring loaded kickstand, which is much harder to push over. Additionally, while both bikes have LED head/tail/brake lights, RadRunner 2’s rear lights not only indicate when braking but also have a flash mode.
Both bikes are very simple to turn on. Just hold down the ON button and they will turn on. But, I found that it made them easy for thieves to steal. Many suburbanites don’t actually lock their bikes up, but rather leave them in the shed. It would be great to have an anti-theft locking system for smart bikes.
The RadRunner and RadExpand have both fat, puncture-resistant tires. However, how fat varies from bike to bike. The RadRunner has 20 inch by 2.2 inch tires, and the RadExpand’s tires are 20 inch by 4 inch. I found that both bikes were more comfortable with fat tires than the other. They made it easier to navigate potholes and other cracks.
What my 61-year old mom thought about RadRunner 2
The RadRunner2 can be used for both on-roading or off-roading. Image credit: Rebecca Bellan
“The throttle makes it a game changer. I like how when it accelerates it doesn’t accelerate where you feel like you’re being thrown back. It’s a gentle acceleration, which is especially good for us older folk,” Bellan the senior told me after an hour-long cycle around a suburban neighborhood in Long Island.
She noted that despite its 65 pounds of weight, the RadRunner 2 isn’t so heavy as compared to her current e-bike, the Aventon Pace. The Pace, by the way, does indeed feel like you’re about to be thrown off the saddle when you accelerate using the pedal assist.
Bellan explained that she didn’t feel like she was leaning on too much because of the high handlebars. This helped with stability and back pain.
The model we tested had a seat that could be used as an extra rider. It’s probably meant for a child, but my partner and I defied the advertised 300-pound weight limit on a previous jaunt around the neighborhood. My mother said she’d choose to have a storage rack instead, which is one of the options available to RadRunner 2 purchasers.
“I would go shopping in it. Totally, without a doubt,” she said. “With all the months I didn’t have to worry about the weather, this is the way I would travel through town.”
An avid suburban biker, Bellan even said she’d be willing to take it offroad.
“It would make me feel more confident going on a mountain biking trail knowing that I had the opportunity to use these extra tidbits and develop my legs,” said Bellan; the extra tidbits being the different levels of pedal assist and the throttle. “I like that I can still get a workout but be able to traverse all the hills without killing myself.”
Mother approved the screen which displays battery capacity, pedal assistance power mode, and head/taillight status.
RadExpand 5: Off-roading
The RadExpand 5 can also be used for off-roading or on-roading. Image credit: Rebecca Bellan
Rad Power dropped the bikes off at me. They explained to me that RadExpand is designed for suburbanites who can leave the bike in their car and take it with them on camping adventures. So naturally, I decided that I would try the entire thing and find the closest mountain biking trail.
I’ll first note what the experience of folding and unfolding the bike was like. Clumsy. But it got easier over time. It takes two steps to fold up the bike. First, lower the handlebars and then close the bike. It will then balance on one tire. It is easy to use, and saves you time and your sanity.
The bike weighs 62.5 pounds, which somehow feels heavier when it’s condensed in a smaller package. I had to give it a good heave to get it into the trunk of my crossover – I also had to put the backseat down to fit it properly, so ample storage space is of the essence.

I drove the bike over to a nearby trail and decided to choose the “more difficult” track as opposed to the “easy” or “difficult” tracks, just to see how the RadExpand would perform. I didn’t think about how I might do.
I’m a very confident city biker. I can weave in and out of rush hour Second Avenue traffic, throwing up a middle finger to the car that’s double parked in the bike lane without losing momentum. Mountain biking is a completely different beast and I was scared for my life at times. That might be because Rad doesn’t actually advertise this as a mountain bike, but I’m also confident that someone with more experience off-roading would have found the RadExpand to be a dream on that trail.
However, I felt more secure riding the RadExpand on that rugged terrain than I did on any other mountain bike.
The fat tires make you feel more stable and you can rely upon the throttle to accelerate when necessary. This was crucial when you had to brave the gravel, sand and huge tree roots, as well as the steep inclines on the trail. I suppose I’d say the suspension was good, because I never once felt that jolting pain that goes from your tailbone up your spine that I get riding over bumps in my push bike. But that might have been attributable to the bouncy tires, rather than Rad’s suspension system.
In addition to my mountain biking adventures, I also enjoyed the ability to change between low levels and high throttle speeds while driving in dense urban areas. When you’re at a traffic light, for example, you want to be able to creep past other pedestrians without accidentally lurching into them as you push down on the pedal. But when you’re then trying to cross a busy street and make it around a double parked car, that throttle really comes in handy for speed.
Overall, both bikes were pretty dreamy to ride, and for the price point and convenience of delivery to your door and Rad’s mobile service network to test, buy and service bikes, I’m not left with many bad things to say about the bikes.

Source link