Rad Power Bikes makes some of the most approachable, well-built ebikes around, so when they announced the $1,099 RadMission, our ears perked up.
The RadMission offered all the familiarity of a traditional mountain bike form factor with the benefits of an electric motor and batteries for just $1,099. The question we had was whether the compromises necessary to achieve the lower price point impacted the functionality or quality of the bike. Thankfully, Rad Power Bikes sent a RadMission our way for us to run around town, up and down hills, to the beach out back to see what it was really made of.
Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes sent us a RadMission free of charge for the purposes of this review.
The RadMission was born out of a desire to amp up the mountain bikes founders Mike Radenbaugh and Ty Collins grew up riding. Electrification was the future, but these cheap, lightweight bikes were what called them to bikes in the first place. There is a beauty to it. In their early years, bikes meant freedom. Freedom to explore. Freedom from the house. Freedom to live life on their own terms.
Life was simple back then and that simplicity found its way into the RadMission with a simple fixed gear that swaps out the flexibility provided by complex front and rear gears with a rear hub motor. Instead of leaning on gears to take the edge off of inclines, the RadMission leans on the 500-watt rear motor. This 500-watt motor is the smallest in Rad Power Bikes’ stable and is one of the ways they were able to bring the cost down.
Powering the motor is a 48V, 10.5 Ah, 504 Wh battery pack stocked with Samsung 18650 lithium cells. That’s smaller than the standard 672 Watt-hour pack common on Rad Power Bikes other offerings, but lines up nicely with the smaller motor. The result is an impressive 45 mile range per charge. As with ever ebike, this figure will vary depending on rider weight, assist level, terrain, and weather. In our experience, we were able to get close to the stated range even with a slightly over average rider weight.
Rad Power Bikes sent us the mid-step RadMission. Low-step ebikes are my personal preference as they make it easier to get on and off the bike. That is doubly true when the bike is equipped with front and rear racks, baskets, and cargo. Our RadMission came with the optional kickstand, and a range of purpose built accessories are available from Rad Power Bikes, though many are regularly out of stock.
Heading out on our first ride of the RadMission, that simplicity was on fully display. The single 16-50 gearing is well suited to riding around town without assist and we found it to be a breeze to ride around town with. The 30mph speed achieved on a few of the downhill sections in the sprint exceeded the capacity of the gearing, but not by a significant amount.
The result is simplicity. It’s a throwback to simpler times. To beach cruisers and 5 cent candy. Not more clicking gears. Just pedal and go. If you need help on a short hill, just twist the throttle for full power and instant torque from the motor. Or tap the small controller on the left side of the handlebar to increase the amount of pedal assist the motor provides. It’s that easy.
Of course, there are those who will miss the gears, but the vast majority of casual riders putting less than 20 miles on the bike per ride won’t notice much of a difference at all. Smaller riders also won’t be as impacted as they can get farther on a single charge. Blasting around town, the bike delivered on the promise of fun mountain biking around town.
The battery and motor not only boost the riding experience, they also offset my out of shape legs. I ride tens of miles most weeks, but that’s hardly enough to correct for far too many hours sitting in front of my laptop trying to change the world with words. It’s like I have the strength I used to have when my bike was my only link to the outside world of school, soccer, friends, and family.
The weight of the RadMission, at just 48 pounds, is noticeable when blasting around town as it shaves off nearly 20 pounds from the weight most ebikes on the market. In case you didn’t catch it, we had a lot of fun on the RadMission. It far exceeded our expectations in just about every circumstance. The smaller motor and lack of gears were noticeable on some of the larger hills, but Rad Power Bikes has a range of fully built out ebikes to suit more aggressive riding.
Most ebikes eschew standard tire sizes in favor of more plush balloon tires as a way of adding a bit of extra cushion in the ride without have to add any suspension to the frame. The RadMission keeps it simple with a set of 27.5 x 1.95″ Kenda Kontact puncture-resistant tires that are a breeze to motor around on.
The RadMission does carry forward many of the fundamental design tenets of the classic mountain bike in a simpler, streamlined ebike package that won’t break the budget. In my time reviewing it, I found it to be a great fit for my wife, where the 500-watt motor had no issues carrying her lighter weight up even the steepest hills. She actually preferred the lack of gears on the RadMission, quickly propelling it to the top of her list of favorite ebikes.
After spending some time on the RadMission, it is a clear leader for smaller riders and riders living in areas without significant elevation changes. The straightforward design of the RadMission ensures it will find a place as a no-nonsense commuter to work, to class, or just around town. The lower price point also makes it a great first ebike for anyone looking for a more affordable entry point into one of the most reputable companies in the space.
All images credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica