Published on December 12th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
The RadCity E-Bike Brings New Utility & Performance To The Classic Mountain Bike
December 12th, 2019 by Kyle Field
Rad Power Bikes has built its business on a line of e-bikes that provide some of the best bang for your buck on the market today, and their RadCity electric mountain bike is no exception. It takes the traditional mountain bike frame, tacks on a robust front shock, then electrifies the whole package. The results speak for themselves.
The company sent us a RadCity e-bike* and we turned around and beat the thing up, taking it around sandy beach streets, through puddles, off-road, on long road trips, putting more than 200 miles on the thing before putting pen to paper to summarize our thoughts about it. Having spent years riding trails on mountain bikes in my teenage years and commuting with my kids in the last few years, the RadCity checks all the right boxes for me right out of the gate and it was a blast to ride.
*Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes provided CleanTechnica with the RadCity free of charge for the purposes of this review
The RadCity electric commuter bike from Rad Power Bikes takes a traditional mountain bike setup with knobby tires and a suspension fork up front and tunes it down for city commuting. It can still handle itself very well off-road, but has a few added comforts for additional functionality. The RadCity is also offered as a Step-Thru for those looking who can’t swing their leg over the higher center frame or just don’t want to.
First and foremost, it comes with an integrated rack in the rear and built-in rack mounts up front that allow you to add your own panniers, carrier boxes, and accessories to it. Rad Power Bikes also has a nice array of accessories that take the guesswork out of the equation having been designed to fit all of its bikes like a glove.
The folks at Rad Power Bikes kitted our RadCity out with one of their large baskets in the rear with a basket bag to keep everything in order and a front rack up front for maximum flexibility. The RadCity can haul up to 275 pounds / 125 kilograms of people and gear around. That’s not going to let you put the family on there, but it is still enough to let most folks carry their work bag, groceries, hardware, and whatnot around throughout the day.
Its integrated fenders made a surprise afternoon rainstorm a non-issue as I blasted home 6 miles in the downpour without having to worry about getting soaked from the below in addition to the torrent coming down from above. Toe kicks on the rear of the front fender minimize the impact of any accidental touches of the foot to the fender.
The RadCity is available in a 16″ frame that is best suited for riders 5’4″ – 5’11” and a 19″ frame built for riders 6′ – 6’6″. At 6’2″, the 19″ frame feels great when I’m riding it and has the same high stepover requirement as any traditional bike. For those looking to load up the rear rack with extra weight or a bulky basket, a step through frame may be a better option as it becomes challenging to swing a leg over it at some point.
The RadCity comes with many of the same base features as Rad Power Bikes’ other bikes like their standard 672 watt-hour battery, a 750-watt Shengyi motor, puncture-resistant Kenda K-shield tires, and the 7-speed, 11-34 tooth freewheel. That has proven to be a solid foundation for its line of bikes and allows the company to innovate on the form factor of the bike without having to develop a completely new foundation of components for every single bike in the family.
Here are the full specs for the RadCity:
- Battery – 48V, 14 Ah (672 Wh) with Lithium NCA 18650 Samsung 35E cells, rated for 800 charge cycles
- Charger – 48V, 2 Amp Rad Power Bikes smart charger, operates on both 110V and 230V AC power outlets
- Controller – 48V, 750W
- Display – Backlit LCD with charge indicator, speedometer, odometer, trip odometer, pedal assist level, wattmeter, and more
- Hub Motor – 750W brushless Shengyi direct drive hub motor with regenerative braking, 40 Nm of torque
- Lights – Front: Spanninga PR60 48V with ambient light sensor option. Rear: Integrated taillight with brake light
- Pedal Assist – Intelligent 5 level pedal assist with 12 magnet cadence sensor
- Throttle – Half twist throttle with on/off button
- Wiring – Water resistant connectors and wiring harness
- USB Port – 5V, .5 Amp outlet integrated into the display for charging devices
The RadCity comes with my favorite e-bike motor, the Shengyi 750-watt direct drive hub motor. It delivers power to the wheels in response to either the integrated throttle or the pedal assist function quietly and with plenty of punch. Its larger diameter contributes to the quieter operation and the controller keeps everything humming along so seamlessly, it is as if the motor and battery weren’t even there. Most e-e-bikes are already quiet, but smaller diameter motors can have a bit of a whine to them and toning that down is a nice feature.
The Shengyi 750-watt motor also engages at -285 watts to regenerate power when slowing down. That’s a nice option to squeeze out just a bit more range on hilly routes or longer rides that put the battery’s capacity to the test.
Speaking of the battery, the RadCity comes with Rad Power Bikes’ standard 672 Wh battery that should give most riders a range of between 25 and 45 miles depending on how much work is being asked of the motor. Keeping the pedal assist at levels 1 or 2 (out of a maximum of 5) will stretch that further, while loading up a full bike and leaning into the throttle will see the range drop even below the low end of the spectrum.
In our testing, we consistently exceeded the boilerplate range on the RadCity, even in pouring rain with my 200+ pound frame and all my gear on board. Compared to the Rad Power Bikes 73-pound RadWagon, the RadCity’s lighter 63-pound weight will be slightly more efficient as they both run on the same powertrain, but it’s the same efficiency penalty as would be expected for carrying 10 pounds more gear. On the other hand, the 10 extra pounds of bulk that go into the RadWagon increase its carrying capacity from the 275-pound capacity of the RadCity up to 350 pounds, an impressive boost.
In Real Life…
We headed out on the town on the RadCity with bags and baskets mounted to the racks, taking it out on various types of terrain and riding styles and found that it performed extremely well on and off road. The bike really is a jack of all trades that we found to perform well as a commuter, running to work and back with some gear. It was equally comfortable as a cruiser, just piddling around our beach neighborhood with the family.
The seating position on the RadCity has the rider leaning slightly forward over its wider handlebar spread in a posture that’s not quite your typical mountain bike stance, but slightly more upright for more comfortable commuting. The seat height and angle are all adjustable, as is the stem, giving riders plenty of angles to tweak to get the perfect fit.
On the aesthetic side of things, the RadCity comes in any color you want, as long as its grey. But seriously, it’s a really sharp color that gives the bike a nice clean look to it with some of Rad Power Bikes’ graphics applied to the frame for a small bit of pop of color up front. Out back, the integrated rack gives riders options for strapping on bags, baskets or whatever their heart desires.
At $1,499, the Rad Power Bikes RadCity is a great value for what you get in the world of e-bikes today. It does require assembly, but it is a simple task to arrange for a local bike shop to perform the final assembly if you’re not up to the task. For me, this was a simple matter of about an hour to unpack everything and casually follow the instructions to affix the handlebars, front wheel, and pedals. After a few quick safety checks, I was off to the races.
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