RadCity Step-Thru Commuter vs. Ness Icon Folding E-bike

RadCity Step-Thru Electric Commuter Bicycle
RadCity Step-Thru Electric Commuter Bicycle, also available in white.

Last year I experienced my first electric bicycle and fell in love with it. It’s the Ness Icon, a foldable e-bike, that I enjoy, for shorter trips or when I want to fold it up, put it in the back of my small sport utility vehicle, and take it to other riding destinations. Now I’m in search of a full-sized electric bike that will be more comfortable for longer rides and will accommodate shorter riders. This article compares the features of the RadCity Step-Thru Commuter electric bicycle to the Ness Icon folding e-bike.

The strongest contender so far in my search for a full-size electric bicycle is the new 2019 Rad Power Bikes RadCity Step-Thru. Rad Power Bikes has made a name for themselves in the e-bike industry for making full-featured yet affordable electric bicycles.

$1,699 for the RadCity isn’t exactly cheap. It’s a major investment for most people, me included, but in comparison to other e-bikes, it’s priced well. Yes, there are cheaper brands at Walmart and Amazon but you generally get what you pay for when it comes to bicycles, electric or non-electric.

There’s several reasons why I’m drawn to the RadCity Step-Thru and the first one is looks. Hey, who wants to buy a bike that they think is ugly? It has a traditional style but not grandma style (even though I am a grandma) and enough e-bike flare to make it cool. I’m a cool grandma so no crusty looking old lady bike for me!

It also comes with a back carrying rack (can carry up to 60 pounds) which is super practical and really a necessity in my opinion for a bike you’d want to take on longer rides. I also like that it has fenders for the front and back to prevent spray on wet pavement.

I also appreciate that the RadCity has a custom battery that matches the lines of the bike well.

The best feature, in my opinion, of the RadCity is that it accommodates riders from 4’10” to 6′ with its’ 14 inch frame. Many full-size electric bikes don’t accommodate shorter riders – those under 5’3″ or so because of their frame height.

Plus, electric bikes are heavier than the same sized standard bicycle. You really need to be able to get good extension for pedalling the bike but you also need to be able to get your feet flat on the ground to help steady the bike when stopping. A step-thru helps so you’re not risking slamming your private parts on the frame during a sudden stop! Not that that’s happened to me or anything on another bicycle, well not for a very long time anyway.

If you have never ridden an e-bike before, they are similar to any other motorized bikes because, well, that’s exactly what they are. It takes time to get used to taking off, taking corners with pedal assist, taking off with the throttle, and stopping. And because of that you need to choose an e-bike that accommodates your weight and height well so you can control the bike.

Once you get used to them, they’re fun!

Ness Icon
Ness Icon on a bike trip last summer

By the way, the RadCity max payload capacity is 275 pounds. Make sure to remember to calculate in any gear you may want to carry with you. The bike itself weighs 65 pounds so it’s not the type of bike you can easily carry. In comparison, the Ness Icon, my folding e-bike, weighs 51.5 pounds but by removing the battery, the weight is reduced by 7 pounds which makes it more manageable to get in the back of my car.

Both the RadCity and Ness Icon have front suspension forks which I also feel to be a necessity on e-bikes due to their weight. They can really hit those bumps hard. The spoked wheels on the RadCity should help absorb some bumps better than the magnesium wheels of the Icon, although mag wheels are stronger.

Last year, a rather large stick got snapped in half by the front wheel of my Ness Icon and if it had been spokes, I might have had to replace a few. So there’s pros and cons to both types of wheels.

Neither have back suspension or suspension in the seat post. You can certainly add a seat post that has suspension if you want. I did switch out the seat on the Icon to one that had more padding and springs and it helped a lot. Otherwise, the ride could be a bit jarring.

The battery can be removed from the RadCity too but it’s still going to be a heavy bike to lift. Keep that in mind if you live in an apartment and need to carry it upstairs or plan to take it on camping trips and such. A folding e-bike would probably make more sense in that case.

New to the 2019 RadCity is that the brake light is now wired into the main battery so you don’t have to worry about replacing double A batteries when you forget to turn it off. It also functions like a standard brake light in that whenever you apply the brakes the light is activated. This is a good safety feature. Also, the tires have a reflective pinstripe for added visibility at night.

The brake light on the Ness Icon isn’t wired in and I’ve forgotten to turn it off more than once. The front light is wired in though.

Comparing the Specs

RadCity Step-Thru

48V 14Ah Samsung Battery

750W Motor, Rear

Aluminum Alloy Frame

5-Level Pedal Assist with Twist Throttle

Backlit LED Display with 5-bar Battery Level Indicator (includes USB port)

Frame Size 14 inch

Top Speed 20 MPH

Range Per Charge: 25-45+ miles

Included Accessories: Back carrying rack, fenders (plastic), kickstand, front/back lights

For full specs visit here

Price: $1699 as of 1/20/2019

Ness Icon Folding E-Bike

36V 13Ah Samsung Battery

350W Motor, Rear

Aluminum Alloy Frame

5-Level Pedal Assist with Twist Throttle

Backlit LED Display with 4-bar Battery Level Indicator (no USB charging port)

Frame Size 17 inch

Top Speed 20 MPH

Range Per Charge: 30+ miles

Included Accessories: Back carrying rack, fenders (metal), kickstand, front/back lights

Price: $1395 as of 1/20/2019

Price: $1395 as of 1/20/2019

But seriously, I fell in love with bike riding again with my first e-bike. Electric bicycles are great for middle-age+ folks that want to get out cycling again. You still get a good workout from them but you can take it easy if you need to which is great.

I know there’s a lot of debate about e-bikes in larger cities where they have exploded in popularity. Are they safe for bike lanes? I think as long as you keep the max speed at 20 mph and those riding them use common sense they are.

An important thing to consider when purchasing an electric bicycle is that if you choose an electric bike that can exceed 20 mph it may need to be licenced and insured and you may need to get a motorcycle license too.

Ness Icon Electric Bike

Here in Illinois, as long as the max speed doesn’t exceed 20 mph you don’t need any special licensing which is great but check the laws in your state and/or city.

Read the review of the Ness Icon, if you’re interested in learning more. I’ll be looking at other commuter e-bikes over the next few weeks but I don’t know if I’ll find anything the suits my needs better than the RadCity. It has tons of good reviews so I’m pretty confident I’d be choosing a bike that is going to be around for a while and I’ll be able to find parts for.

That’s important too!