CleanTechnica Tested: The Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus

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The RadRunner is an extremely versatile bike that has built up quite a following across the country. Rad Power Bikes is clearly thrilled about its success and has built up an upgraded version of the bike with a new frame and even more capability and christened it the RadRunner 3 Plus.

Upgraded

The new build introduces a completely reimagined frame with a more angular look and a stronger geometry that translates to a higher hauling capacity of 350 pounds. Building on the improved capacity, Rad Power Bikes introduced a vast new lineup of accessories, panniers, hard shell locking boxes, and even a tow behind RadTrailer that really let owners put the bike’s capability to work.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

With the introduction of the RadRunner several years ago, Rad Power Bikes introduced a center console that mounts between the down tube and the seat tube, providing a bit of lockable storage to the bike without drastically increasing its footprint. The iconic locker lives on in the current generation and can be joined by a set of locking hard shell panniers that transform the look of the new RadRunner 3 Plus to look like a touring motorcycle. In fact, with its removable semi-frame-integrated battery, it’s not hard to imagine this setup being used by bikepackers to adventure further.

The riding position of the new RadRunner 3 Plus is nice and upright. An upright riding position is, in our experience, the most natural and makes it possible to pedal for hours on end without discomfort. The BMX style bars up front swing forward and backwards across a wide arc, making it easy to adjust the front to back position of the handlebars with a very simple adjustment of the stem bolts. Move them forward for a more aggressive posture or lean them back for a more comfortable riding position, putting the bars closer to the seat.

The adjustable BMX-style handlebars make it easy to set the bike up to your riding style. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The RadRunner 3 Plus comes kited out with Rad Power Bikes’ upgraded dual screen control system as the interface with their upgraded 750 watt rear hub motor. This is Rad Power Bikes’ top of the line motor system and provides better hill climbing performance and better tuning.

The result is assist levels that feel more intuitive than a standard 750 watt motor and controller. It’s still utilizes a 12 magnet cadence sensor to detect crank rotations as a proxy for rider effort expenditure, but its improved tuning gives it the responsiveness of a torque sensor that detects actual power being put out. Check out our full write up of the RadRunner 3 Plus from the initial launch announcement for a ton more detail about this bike.

The sleek lines of the new RadRunner 3 Plus frame enable its impressive hauling capacity of 350 pounds. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The first upgrade many owners will likely do on the RadRunner 3 Plus is a new saddle. This holds true whether owners are looking for a comfortable cruising bike or a hardcore cargo bike that they planned pedal on a lot. The awkwardly shaped, almost trapezoidal seat on the RadRunner 3 Plus is a bit of a mystery as it doesn’t seem to meet the needs of any specific category of riders.

Assembled

Rad Power Bikes is the OG in the direct-to-consumer e-bike game and has perfected the art of designing bikes for home assembly. The RadRunner 3 Plus carries this ethos forward into the next generation with a build that’s extremely straightforward to take from box to fully built.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

At 75.5 pounds with the battery installed, the RadRunner 3 Plus is a bit of a tank which can make it challenging to get out of the box. We recommend cutting the front two corners of the box vertically to eliminate the need to lift it out of the box. This also provides a handy work surface for the miscellaneous parts and tools required.

Ridden

Riding the RadRunner 3 Plus is a confident experience. The large 20″ x 3.3″ Kenda K-Shield tires provide a solid base and make the bike feel planted and solid regardless of the terrain. They feature a smooth rolling surface tread on the outside with a checkerboard pattern that serves to provide a solid traction on dirt trails. The oversized tires also provide a noticeable amount of cushion between the rider and the road. This is fantastic for everyday riding around town and though it doesn’t hold up to a full suspension system on trails, it is a noticeable improvement over a hardtail frame with standard tires.

The 20″ x 3.3″ Kenda K-Shield tires are equally at home on the tarmac and the trail. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

After numerous hours riding the RadRunner 3 Plus, the handlebars in the upright seating position is perhaps the most important feature as it keeps the rider’s back nice and straight while providing better visibility of the streets around at the same time. The stiffness from the improved frame geometry translates to tighter steering and more control over the bike.

When needed, the throttle provides a great way to get a bit of extra oomph when grinding up hills as well as an easier way to get started when carrying a passenger or additional cargo weight. If we’re honest, it’s also just a ton of fun ripping around town, using the throttle to blast off of the line at stop lights.

With the RadRunner 3 and RadTrailer in tow, you can finally bring your furry friend along on your adventure. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

 

We loaded the RadRunner 3 Plus up with cargo and the new RadTrailer and were surprised at how similar the ride was. The motor is able to offset the additional effort required to pull extra weight which brings the automotive experience into the world of e-bikes. Your car drives the same whether you have groceries in the back or not. Whether you’re driving solo or with a full load of kids in tow. It doesn’t care and neither does the RadRunner 3 Plus, making it the ideal vehicle replacement, just without all those nasty emissions.

Overall

When considering whether the RadRunner 3 Plus is a cargo monster or an around town cruiser, the best answer might simply be yes. You can throw a kid on the back or your best friend as you rip down to the mall. You can load it up with cargo bags and bring a week’s worth of groceries back from town. You can kit it out for beach rides with your small pup in a basket up front or you can hook the trailer up to the back and load up supplies for a weekend project at the local home improvement store.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Car replacements are easy to talk about but very difficult to execute. With the RadRunner 3 Plus, Rad Power Bikes has built an extremely capable platform that can be customized to solve for a wide range of real world use cases. It is truly a car replacement and that’s just as true for 16 year olds considering getting their drivers license as it is for 35 year old commuters with a child. It can grit its teeth and get to work or it can relax and help you unwind on a ride at the beach.

The RadRunner 3 Plus might is definitely one of the most versatile platforms for building out the right solution for life in all its flavors. I’d say it lets you taste the rainbow but it really just wants to get you out into the world to breathe in all the different types of fresh air you’ve been missing for so many years, locked up in an oversized SUV on the commute to work.

For more information about the RadRunner 3 Plus or to purchase one for yourself, head over to its official website on the Rad Power Bikes site.

Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes provided the bike and trailer to the author for the purposes of this review.


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Kyle Field

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.

Kyle Field has 1649 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field