Published on July 27th, 2020 | by Kyle Field0
The RadWagon 4 Makes Riding An Electric Cargo Bike Easier & Safer — CleanTechnica Review
July 27th, 2020 by Kyle Field
The RadWagon was the ebike that finally made electric cargo bikes affordable and for 2020, Rad Power Bikes is rolling out a completely redesigned RadWagon. We scored an early look at the all new RadWagon 4 ahead of the official launch in September and are excited to share our thoughts on this newly redesigned electric cargo bike with you.
Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes sent me the RadWagon 4 for the purposes of this review.
Right off the bat, the lower stance of the RadWagon 4 is noticeable. It sports a pair of 22″ x 3″ tires that lower the ride height, resulting in a lower 23.6″ standover height and, more importantly, a lower center of gravity for whatever loads are stacked onto its sturdy frame. The extra air crammed into the new 22″ x 3″ VEE Tire Co. tires translate to a smoother, more stable ride that is immediately noticeable on the new RadWagon compared to its higher riding predecessor with its 26″ x 1.95″ tires.
The lower ride height also makes the new cargo bike more accessible to a wider range of body types. Rad Power Bikes says it will support riders from 5’1″ to 6’4″ tall. Complementing the lower frame height is a new 345 mm telescoping seat post to suit longer and shorter legs. Unfortunately, that means many aftermarket seat posts can’t just snap onto the new RadWagon 4, with its somewhat unique 34.9 mm diameter.
Riding the new RadWagon 4, the beefy new tires provide a smooth ride, with the extra air volume in the tires and additional rubber in the VEE Tire Co. tires providing plenty of cushion for normal riding around town, whether fully loaded or not. It’s clearly not geared for off road, but handles the occasional blast across loose gravel or dirt trails without issue.
Up front, Rad Power Bikes upgraded the stem on the RadWagon 4 to a quick adjust stem, making it easy to raise or lower the stem or adjust the angle of the handlebars with just the push of a button. A quick push of the locking button on the side of the stem followed by a quick tug up on the lever atop the stem and tension is released. The handlebars can be adjusted to the right height in a matter of seconds. To lock the stem in place, simply push the lever back down until the button pops back out and everything is tight.
The result of the lower standover height, easily adjustable stem height, and telescoping seat post is a bike that can support both my wife and I. Either of us can ride with the kids without having to buy a different bike, change seats, or get out any tools. The lower center of gravity makes carrying weight on the bike that much easier, as it’s no longer necessary to muscle the bike around when carrying heavier loads.
The RadWagon 4 Has A More Torquey Motor
One of the most exciting upgrades arriving with the new RadWagon 4 is a new 750-watt geared hub motor that boasts twice the torque off the line versus its direct drive predecessor. I have to say that when I first realized Rad Power Bikes was swapping out the 750-watt Shengyi motor in the previous RadWagon for a new motor, I was a bit bummed. The larger diameter of the Shengyi motor translated to a quieter operation and boasted regeneration that helped slow the bike and recharge the battery at up to 284 watts when stopping.
Zipping out of the driveway on the new RadWagon 4, I immediately forgot about the Shengyi. The new motor isn’t as quiet as the Shengyi, but it isn’t something that lingers as you twist the throttle off the line and blast off. The new motor packs a nice punch that improves on one of the biggest challenges of riding a fully loaded cargo bike, and that is getting started from a dead stop. When riding with my two boys on the back of the old RadWagon, I made a habit of using the throttle to get the bike moving as I gained my balance.
The new motor significantly improves the ease of getting up to speed from a stop and is a joy to ride with. The last few hundred meters of my commute home includes an elevation gain of 100 meters that really puts ebikes to the test. The new motor doesn’t bat an eye when faced with the hill and is able to support me moving up the hill directly, without the need to weave side to side or get unnecessarily winded. I usually opt for the workout, but it’s nice to know the new motor is up to the task if I’m not.
Hauling Gear On the RadWagon 4
The RadWagon 4 is purpose-built for carrying a ton of people and gear around. Like its predecessors, the new RadWagon has a carrying capacity of 350 pounds. That’s enough for an adult and two small children, two adults, or one adult and a ton of cargo.
Installing Rad Power Bikes’ kid carrying accessories, the rear of the bike can transform into the bicycling equivalent of a station wagon, with room for 2 infant car seats like the Thule Yepp Maxi child seat for bikes that clip directly into the RadWagon’s rear rack. As the kids grow up, the RadWagon can be fitted with two rear seat pads and the newly redesigned Caboose to give them some support.
We kitted our RadWagon 4 out with rear deck pads, a deckhand, and running boards to give my sons a comfortable place to sit when cruising around town. With our local school district resorting to distance learning, we use the RadWagon to get around town to our local parks, grocery stores, and the like. It transforms boring drives into a pleasant family experience that the boys have genuinely grown to enjoy.
When the kids get older, the bike can be fitted with a rear platform or a range of bolt-on baskets and cargo bags. It’s a brilliant platform for folks looking to replace the majority of the functionality of a family vehicle with a bike. It does so quite admirably and the ability to adapt to different use cases as life changes is simply beautiful.
One of the coolest things about buying in to the Rad Power Bikes universe is the wide range of mounting baskets, racks, platforms, bags, and fenders available for many of the bikes. The new RadWagon 4 sports new mounting locations for the rear rack and was introduced alongside a new front rack.
I talked about it when the RadWagon was first introduced, but I’m absolutely hooked on the new front basket. Instead of having to mount a rack, then bolt a basket on, the new basket bolts directly onto Rad Power Bikes’ standard front tube mount points. The simplicity is beautiful and saves buyers a few bucks along with a few ounces of weight for the rack.
The RadWagon 4 improves on the already impressive RadWagon line of bikes at a value that is unsurpassed in the industry. At the introductory price of $1,499 (available for all preorders, shipments start in September), it is extremely hard to beat the value it provides for the price. Rad Power Bikes shared with us that the introductory pricing ends Thursday July 30th at 9am PT.
It is a great solution for families with smaller kids looking to stay mobile and stay in shape without downgrading to a family vehicle. In my experience, the quality of life and connection to the kids that we have when riding around town on a cargo bike is simply unsurpassed.
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