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Rad Power Bikes RadTrike
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike, image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Bicycles

CleanTechnica Tested: The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

The RadTrike is designed to be a stable e-bike to enable people who looking for an e-bike with a more stable base than two wheeled cycles. It’s also a great option for folks looking for an a bike with tons of cargo hauling capacity. We unpacked the RadTrike when it was first announced, and were eager to spend some face time with the new bike when they started shipping out to customers.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

The RadTrike with Rad Power Bike’s optional large basket installed. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Its 3-wheel base is inherently more stable than a bicycle as it sits flat on the three wheels without support from a kickstand. That means you can comfortably sit atop the RadTrike without having to worry about having one foot on the ground or balancing on two wheels. Being stable when stopped comes at the expense of less mobility when moving. The 3-wheeled design takes some getting used to as turns need to be taken slower as the trike can get up on two wheels or flip over if you’re not careful.

Unboxing The RadTrike

With its larger physical footprint, we were curious how the RadTrike would arrive and if it would be a hassle to assemble. When it arrived, it was carefully wrapped in a compact box that was easier to maneuver around that the boxes most e-bikes ship in. Opening the box, we found the RadTrike to be carefully packaged and well designed for both shipping and ease of assembly. The secret sauce is the split frame of the bike that splits the weight in half while also making it a breeze to assemble.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Hand threading the bottom two of the four bolts that hold the two halves of the frame made it easy to slot the other half of the frame into position. From there, it was a simple matter of adjusting the position of both halves of the frame to allow the two remaining bolts to thread into position. It was one of the easier assemblies we’ve seen and we have done way more than our fair share of e-bike assembly.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Beyond that, it’s a simple matter of following Rad Power Bikes’ assembly instructions in the Owner’s Manual or following along with the assembly video. With the seat popped on and the quick addition of the optional Rad Power Bikes large basket to the rear, we were off to the races. We have built up the habit of doing a “tuning ride” around the proverbial block to see if any obvious things need to be adjusted on a new bike and the practice has served us well. On the RadTrike, we found that one of the fenders needed to be adjusted slightly, but other than that, it was ready to go.

Accessorize The RadTrike

The design of the RadTrike makes it the ultimate swiss army knife of e-bikes, capable of hauling humans and a wide variety of gear in a range of different configurations. We typically see trikes kitted out with a large rear basket and smaller front basket, but because it comes with a built-in rear rack and is compatible with Rad Power Bikes’ expansive line of existing accessories, it can do just about anything.

Want to haul tons of gear? Throw a few baskets on it or one of Rad Power Bikes’ platforms. Want to do delivery runs with it? Great! Strap on some delivery bags and get rolling. Pets? Yeah, no problem. There is a pet carrier option for smaller bow-wows or you can add your own carrier for larger diggers to one of Rad Power Bikes’ platforms or baskets. Just want to head down to the beach with some towels and a picnic? No problem.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

The RadTrike kitted out with an optional large basket. Image credit: Kyle Field

To play with this, we dropped one of Rad Power Bikes’ large baskets on the back. Adding a basket transforms the bike into a cargo hauler and let us drop three or four bags of groceries or comparable amount of dense cargo onto the bike with ease. Add a cargo bungee net to the top to keep everything in place, and it’s good to go. The rear rack looks solid enough but for some reason only has a weight capacity of 60 lb, which seems low given the bike’s 415 lb hauling capacity and the additional reinforcement built into the rack.

The built-in rear rack on the RadTrike is massive, so for those looking to maximize rear hauling volume, you may want to look at Rad’s large platform or similar accessory. Up front, the RadTrike has Rad Power Bikes’ standard mounts for one of their front racks with a capacity of 30 pounds.

Riding The RadTrike

Because of its 3-wheeled base, the RadTrike is larger and more difficult to get into a vehicle to take it somewhere for a ride. To offset this, Rad Power Bikes designed the bike with folding handlebars that fold just at the top of the frame, and a seat with an oversized tube. Folding the handlebars down and removing the seat tube lowers the vertical profile of the bike and makes it possible to roll it into the back of just about any standard SUV, or even a compact SUV, for that matter.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field

For the brakes on the RadTrike, Rad Power Bikes went with a different configuration than standard brakes. The RadTrike ditches the right handle brake for the rear brakes in favor of a coaster brake. This is the type of brakes typically found on kids bikes, where you pedal backwards to engage the brakes. This makes it super simple to use, but is a deviation from what we typically see on full-sized bikes.

The oversized left brake lever engages the front brake and provides a reassuring amount of braking from the front tire. On a traditional bike, around 70% of the stopping force comes from the front, so it’s nice to have the standard front brake lever in the normal location. The left front brake handle also has a parking brake feature, which is really nice. When stopped on the trike, you simply pull the front brake lever and slide the small orange parking brake tab into place to engage the parking brake. This is convenient when you want to sit on the bike and talk, when parking the bike at home, or parking it on an incline.

All of Rad Power Bikes’ other consumer grade e-bikes have the motor in the rear hub of the bike. This makes it easy to add a throttle, which isn’t possible on mid-drive e-bikes. For the RadTrike, Rad Power Bikes put the motor in the front hub of the bike. This keeps the drivetrain as simple as possible and makes it super easy to change out flat tires on either of the rear tires. In fact, they can be changed without even pulling the wheel off the bike, which is amazing. Pro tip: we highly recommend putting tire sealant in the tubes and tire liners in all tires to prevent flats.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

This does make changing a tire on the front a bit more complicated than normal, but completely eliminates the need to mess with the chain at all when changing tires and fixing flats. That’s a huge win for riders. It does make the front wheel a bit heavier, which is noticeable when riding. It’s not the end of the world, especially on a bike that tips the scales at 82 pounds overall.

The front motor configuration also makes it easier to lose traction on the drive wheel. When heading uphill or on soft surfaces, the front tire can easily break traction. This makes it important to think about your body position when riding the trike. In our test rides, we stopped on grass for a chat and when starting back up again, the front tire spun on the grass. It wasn’t the end of the world but it took a little bit of adjustment to get the bike rolling again, whereas a traditional e-bike with the motor in the rear would have no problems getting moving.

On a traditional bike with two wheels, your body automatically sets the bike in a vertical position, allowing you to sit on a flat seat, almost regardless of the terrain. On a trike, the three wheels follow the terrain, which changes the way you sit on the bike. If you’re riding along a street that leans to the right to allow drainage of water, the RadTrike will lean to the right and thus the seat leans to the right. It’s a minor difference and something that applies to all trikes, but it was noticeable in our test rides.

The seating position is nice and upright. With the swept-back handlebars that adjust front to back, it’s easy to set the bike up in a position where you can keep your spine straight and ride in a very natural position. Rad Power Bikes also added a rear support to the seat that can adjust up and down for a different body styles. They did a great job of striking the balance between adding support and still allowing for comfortable pedaling.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Most electric bikes have 7 or 8 speeds, allowing you to pedal and adjust the mechanical difficulty of pedaling with the amount of electric assistance the motor provides. The RadTrike takes a different approach to this scenario and meshes a singlespeed mechanical drivetrain with Rad Power Bikes’ five-speed pedal assist system. The single mechanical gear makes it harder to pedal at higher speeds, but that’s right in line with the safety-first design of the bike.

To maximize safety, Rad Power Bikes set a 14 mile-per-hour speed cap on the RadTrike. This keeps the bike operating at the safest speeds while still offering the increased utility that three-wheeled bikes offer.

Overall

The RadTrike truly sets the bar and defines what features, quality, and geometry customers will expect from electric trikes moving forward. It opens up a completely new type of electric vehicle with increased hauling capacity for customers. This applies equally for customers who the extra stability that comes with a trike, want to haul around a dozen pizzas, few bags of cement, or some camping chairs in tennis balls down to the park.

Rad Power Bikes delivered a significant number of meaningful innovations in the RadTrike like the parking brake, the folding design that allows it to fit into the back of an SUV, the front motor configuration, the rear tires that can be serviced without any tools, and a frame design that lets it to ship and assemble easily.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

With any new form factor, it will take riders a bit to get used to the new geometry if they are not used to riding on three wheels. This is primarily related to steering and the speed at which corners can be taken, but also translates to being mindful of the wider width of the rear tires when passing people and other objects. Its familiar format invites riders to jump on and give it a try, which is definitely something Rad Power Bikes wants prospective owners to do at their increasing number of retail stores.

If that’s not an option, however, the RadTrike is still an option. We advise new owners to take it slow and to give themselves time to learn their new bike. Some riders will feel at ease right away, while others may need a few rides to ensure they are familiar with all the features of the bike and how it handles.

For more information about the RadTrike or to purchase one for yourself, head over to its online home on Rad Power Bikes site.

Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes provided the RadTrike to the author for the purposes of this review.

 
 
 
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Written By

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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