Rad Power Bikes is a US-based bike company that is charging into the world of e-bikes with a rapidly expanding fleet of outside-the-box bike solutions to meet the needs of a wide range of customers. They sent us their $1,499 RadMini Step-Thru so we could run it through the paces in a variety of situations, with a handful of differently sized humans to see how it fared.
After weeks of trials, we are back to share our thoughts on the bike, and, of course, the specs. Right out of the box, the first thing we noticed about the RadMini Step-Thru Mini is that it is anything but mini. The über-thick frame looks like it could support the power of a motorcycle and a 500 pound rider and that feeling was only magnified when I took in the massive 20″ x 4″ Kenda rubber.
These tires are a custom build for Rad Power Bikes by Kenda and come from the factory with the K-Shield Puncture-Resistant Liner. Puncture resistance is even more important for e-bikes being used for commuting, as they inevitably come face to face with all of the sharp and random debris tossed from the road.
The 750 watt Bafang motor powering this beast lives in the rear hub and provides a nice boost via either the pedal-assist system or the throttle on the right grip. That’s right, you can ride this bike as a normal bike, with the pedal assist set to 1, or in varying degrees of assist all the way up to level 5. If you’re feeling tired or just want to cruise around on it, kick back and relax and let the motor do the work and just use the throttle.
The RadMini Step-Thru is designed to fit riders from 4’10” to 5’10” (147 cm to 178 cm), and I personally wouldn’t recommend buying it if you’re outside of that range. I’m 6’2″ (188 cm) and 205 pounds and while the bike itself was more than capable of hauling my weight around, it wasn’t an ergonomically correct setup. Several other test subjects in the proper height range found the bike to be very comfortable for riding around town. My one gripe with the build of the bike is that the handlebars could stand for a bit more downward adjustment. With the seat at the proper height, they felt a little high for a few of our testers.
To put the bike to the test, I took it on several longer rides around town to see how it held up. The riding experience is addictive and I found myself switching fluidly between riding it as a pedal assist e-bike and a full-throttle electric motorcycle. It proved to be anything but mini and provided more than enough power and battery capacity to haul me around on several 15 mile trips. If anything, it served to whet my appetite for more bikes from Rad Power Bikes to see what a large, more capable model would be able to do with me on it.
The 48V 14Ah lithium-ion battery provided more than enough range to get around town on either throttle or pedal assist — though, riding on the throttle alone will result in less than the 25–45 miles of estimated range, in my experience. It’s clearly designed to provide the optimal balance between pedaling the bike and pedal assist, which it does very nicely. Many e-bikes provide too much pedal assist, making them suited for only one type of riding. The RadMini Step-Thru, on the other hand, gives the rider the ability to select from 5 levels of assist, depending on how much help or boost you are looking for. I personally love using it as a range extender, helping me to ride faster and longer than I normally would.
The only downer I found was that current regulations prevent it from going faster than 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) in either the pedal assist mode or the throttle mode. That may sound like a sufficient top speed, but it is one that I bump up against regularly in both modes on just about any e-bike that I’ve ridden. This limit is imposed on the bike to ensure that it fits within the definition of Class 2 e-bikes, which allows them to utilize bike lanes and trails like any other bike. There are hacks to get around these on just about any e-bike out there, but I don’t recommend it, as you may be fined or cited. Having said that, up to that limit, the bike is a ton of fun to ride for folks in the proper height range.
The front suspension is a nice feature and its ability to be turned on and off allows riders to lock it out when pedaling hard or quickly open up the suspension for some off-road adventures. With 60mm of travel and adjustable rebound, the front fork is a nice addition to the bike that complements the thick rubber tires for a smooth, comfortable ride.
The RadMini Step-Thru technically folds down, but at 68 pounds, it makes for quite a large, heavy package. Still, the feature may help some pack it away into the bottom storage of an RV or into a closet. To make charging easier, the battery can be removed at the flip of the key and charged separate from the bike.
The team at Rad Power Bikes has also assembled a nice array of purpose-built accessories that allow buyers to customize their rig to suit their needs. Their front and rear racks are bombproof and can be accessorized themselves with matching baskets, panniers, delivery bags, or platforms. A selection of fenders improve the functionality of the bikes in wet weather and eliminate the need to search for the best aftermarket fender out there for their uniquely designed bikes.
Overall, the RadMini Step-Thru is an impressive e-bike that’s built for riders looking for a commuting workhorse with a boatload of accessories that let riders customize their ride to fit their lifestyle. At $1,499, it is by no means cheap, but its build quality and unique feature set stack up favorably against some of the higher-priced bikes in the segment.
Disclaimer: RadPower Bikes provided the RadMini Step-Thru to us for free for the purposes of this review.