The RadRunner is one of the most fun — and one of the most affordable — electric bikes I’ve ever ridden. Its chunky style looks reminiscent of that ’70s-style moped your mom undoubtedly wouldn’t let you have.
Now you get a second chance at two-wheeled freedom. That vintage aesthetic is back in a big way in the electric bicycle world, with several manufacturers selling their own versions.
After several months of testing the RadRunner, I can tell you: This is one e-bike you should consider if you’re looking to cruise around your neighborhood with ease.
RadRunner review: An affordable e-bike
Let’s start with the basics. RadRunner is a compact, single-speed e-bike with two fat Kenda tires. The custom Kenda tires do a pretty good job absorbing the bumps of the road.
But unlike the competition, the RadRunner is affordable. Like, really affordable. At only $1,200, it’s one of the least-expensive e-bikes in any class. And that’s one of the things I like about Rad Power Bikes. While the Seattle company’s two-wheelers are packed with features, their prices are some of the lowest around, especially from an established brand.
Electric bike with simple controls
But back to the bike. The front left handle houses a nice little bell and the RadRunner control module. The controls here are pretty simple. Instead of a fancy screen with a readout, you get an up and down button to control the level of pedal assist, a power button, and a button that activates the integrated front and rear lights.
On the right handle, you get a throttle that you can use to gun around town without pedaling. That’s right! You can sail around on RadRunner without pedaling — at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.
And this is where things get fun. With the rider’s seat down and the optional passenger seat installed, RadRunner looks just like all those cool mopeds you remember as a kid. Except now, you’re gonna be the cool kid cruising around the ‘hood, and all your friends are gonna be so jealous.
RadRunner is perfect for cruising the ‘hood
RadRunner is one of those hazy summer dream machines. Without using any gas, you can ride around your neighborhood, go to the beach, run errands, or go pick up a friend. All with the wind in your hair, and minimal effort. If you want to use your legs, the pedal assist smooths out the hills, which makes rides so much more fun.
And with up to a 40-mile range and 300-pound weight capacity, even your husky friend can ride along.
If you want to trick out the bike for extra utility, Rad Power Bikes sells all sorts of accessories. Rad included its optional storage unit on my bike, which turns out to be super-useful. Not only does it hold a ton of stuff, but the top boasts cup and phone holders, which I use all the time.
I also attached a Thule Yepp child bike seat, which took about three minutes to install thanks to RadRunner’s native support. Now I can bring any one of my 15 kids along, and they love it.
I haven’t had this much fun on an e-bike in a long time, and the price of RadRunner is crazy. At only $1,200, this bike is easy to recommend.
A couple of nitpicks
If I had to find anything to nitpick, I’d love to see Rad add a few speeds to the RadRunner. One speed is fine if you’re not running into a lot of hills. But in Seattle, I found the bike sometimes struggling to get me up the steep ones, and even stalling on some. That’s going to be particularly true if you’re carrying a passenger.
I was also surprised that the RadRunner’s 750-watt rear hub motor didn’t deliver more kick, or more getup on the hills. Sometimes, it seems to struggle. If you add another adult passenger, I doubt it could make it up steeper hills.
It also seems a little odd using the control module as a gear-shifter. Since there are no actual gears, you have to press the plus or minus button to control the amount of power provided to your pedaling assist. Since there are only four levels of assist available, there were times when too little power was being provided for the riding situation at hand, or too much.
Rad Power Bikes seems to address some of my niggles with the newly announced RadRunner+ (shipping in August), but that bike costs an extra $500.
Despite my minor complaints, RadRunner is easy to recommend, especially if you live somewhere flatter than Seattle. This bike’s a great mode of alternate transportation that’s perfectly suited to summer. And for the price, I don’t think you’ll find anything else like it.