The Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail — CleanTechnica Tested

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Rad Power Bikes was the first brand to truly move into the electric bike space with a full range of models and has been a dominant brand ever since. A few weeks ago, the brand announced a renewed focus on safety with a new Safe Shield battery as the firm foundation for its efforts. Four new bikes were also announced and we were eager to spend some time on the brand new Radster.

With the Radster, Rad Power Bikes designed an e-bike aimed at the sweet spot between the RadRover ultimate fat tire e-bike and its more city-focused designs. Rad Power Bikes connected us with its corporate retail shop in Santa Barbara to see what the average customer off the street would experience.

The Rad Power Bikes Retail Experience

The Rad Power Bikes store is packed with the full range of electric bikes and the accessories that let you transform them into the perfect vehicle for your lifestyle. Need more storage? Add a front basket. The perfect grocery carrier? A set of panniers for the rear rack, perhaps? They have cup holders, mirrors, bells, and storage options galore.

The Radster Road flanked by a wall of accessories at Rad Power Bikes’ Santa Barbara, California retail store. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The stores offer test rides so you can try the different models head to head in real life to see which one feels the best. Coming from an industry built on the backs of internet reviews, fancy websites, and direct to consumer shipments, the retail store with real products and informative employees is a refreshing place to visit.

Rad Power Bikes
Test ride all their e-bikes at a Rad Power Bikes retail location. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Rad Power Bikes also offers on-site battery recycling. Ok, so they don’t actually break the batteries down themselves, but they did partner with Redwood Materials to integrate the service into their retail stores. E-bike batteries don’t die often, but if you’re riding them daily and racking up the miles, the battery will eventually need to be replaced to get back some of the lost range or in the event it dies.

Owners can simply bring their spent Rad Power Bikes battery into the store and drop it off for convenient recycling. Check out the info page for the service for all the details.

The Riding Experience

Whether you’re ripping around on a trail or using it for more mundane commuter duty, the front suspension fork on both variants of the Radster is a welcome addition and provides an nice cushion on top of the padding already provided by the oversized tires.

Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The fact that a single platform can easily swap between oversized tires suited for trail duty and hybrid tires for urban commutes shows squarely where this platform sits in the Rad Power Bikes lineup. The mid-step frame and longer seat tube make it possible to accommodate a wider range of riders and this is extended even further with the decision to offer it in both smaller and larger frame sizes.

We tested the Radster Trail and loved its full rear fender and it’s perfectly-sized front fender. They don’t feel bulky, generic, or awkward, and are the perfect compliment to the fluffy mountain tires it comes kitted out with.

The Radster ships as a Class 2 e-bike. This can be changed in the settings menu that’s easy to access in Rad Power Bikes’ new display software. The company opted to upgrade from the default motor settings menus that are widely used in the industry but require an encyclopedia to determine which settings are being changed. It’s worth checking the regulations in your city and the areas you’re planning to ride in before buying any e-bike to see what classes are allowed.

Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Hopping onto the Radster Trail, the first thing that stands out is the quality. The brake feel from the levers is solid and reassuring. They’re predictable and can easily be called into action with the robust levers that provide a firm brake response. The hydraulic brakes quickly and accurately provide as much stopping power as we needed in our testing.

The hybrid handlebars feel solid with very minimal flex and provide a great sense of control of the oversized 26 x 3″ tires. The pair provide a nice balance between comfort and grip with enough tread to support light off-roading but with a smooth enough curve to make riding on roads efficient as well. Their natural rubber sidewalls give them a nice retro-modern look that really popped against the sparkly maroon paint.

Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The hybrid handlebar sits somewhere between a high-rise BMX style bar and a wide swooping downhill style mountain bar design. The design makes it possible to adjust the bars forward and back to suit a wider range of riders in a wider range of postures. Want to sit more upright? Swing the bars back toward you. Looking to bomb some of your local trails? Push the bars forward for a more aggressive downhill setup.

The power curves in Rad Power Bikes’ new motors make for one of the most intuitive riding experiences we’ve seen. Because the motor is nearly silent, with only a slight whine perceptible if you pay close attention, each of the pedal assist modes provides what feels like a perfect balance of torque and power banded in one of five levels. With 750 watts of power and up to 100 Nm of torque, the motor on the Radster is more than up to the task for whatever you might throw at it.

Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Rad Power Bikes moved away from the thumb shifters on the Radster in favor of trigger shifters that butt right up against the right-hand quarter twist throttle. On paper, it seemed like this combination would be overly busy with too many functions on the right hand side of the bars, but in practice, the twist throttle and trigger shifters feel like the perfect complement to each other. By the end of the first ride, finding the balance between mechanical gearing, throttle, and pedal assist levels to summon a bit more power from the onboard rear hub motor entered became second nature.

At the center of the bars, the new control system with a single landscape orientation color display sits front and center. It’s easy to read and interact with thanks to a new control pod just off of the left grip. The buttons to increase or decrease pedal assist are well within grasp and they even managed to sneak a small bell in on the left-hand side in a position that looks awkward but feels extremely natural in practice.

Rad Power Bikes’ new control system also features built-in security which gives owners the options of using a pin number or an included NFC tag to unlock the electric powertrain on the bike. It’s nothing physical, but it is a minor deterrent to theft and it can even be disabled if security isn’t a concern.

Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail
Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The rear derailleur is a Shimano Acera 8-speed that isn’t going to set any records with its quality, but paired with the trigger shifter up top, we found shifting to be snappy and responsive.

The frame-integrated battery on the Radster features Rad Power Bikes’ new Safe Shield technology which underpins its renewed focus on product and customer safety. The Safe Shield battery in the Radster features 10% more capacity in roughly the same frame-integrated form factor as its predecessors.

Overall, the new Rad Power Bikes Radster is a welcome addition to the family that makes electric mobility even more accessible to more people looking to take it out on the trail or in the city. At $1,999, it’s at the upper end of the budget e-bike category and Rad Power Bikes continues to raise the bar.

The new safety measures integrated into the bike and battery provide renewed confidence in the quality of the bike. Rad Power Bikes has been in the game for longer than most bicycle companies have been making e-bikes and has always set the bar for quality, safety, and support. The tuning of the new motor with the new control system up top make the Radster feel like a new generation of e-bike from Rad Power Bikes that makes them a go-to brand when recommending e-bikes for friends and family.

For more information about the Rad Power Bikes Radster Trail, head over here.

Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes provided the author with the Radster Trail 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 1659 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field