The RadRunner Won Me Over

Back in August of 2019 Rad Power Bikes released their new to the market RadRunner, part cargo bike, part commuter, part moped.  It didn’t look like anything else, and honestly the first time I saw it I wasn’t impressed by its looks.  It really was an acquired taste for me.

It was it like the first time I saw a minivan.  It looked ridiculous to me but then it grew on me and I got why minivans were so appealing to so many families.  The same can be said of the new Tesla Cybertruck…for some people.  It still looks hideous to me.  A truck shaped like a triangle?  Uhm, not for me but the RadRunner is a different story.

Something I did like right off the bat was how easy it is to modify the RadRunner with the available accessories including a passenger seat, a front rack, baskets, and even a center console that looked like a plastic wastebasket with a cup holder to me.  It still kinda does to be honest but people have done some fun things with that console with vinyl graphics.

I’ve seen the RadRunner been made to look like an old WWII Army motorcycle as the bike does come in forest green as well as black.  That center console can also give the bike a motorcycle profile.  I get it.  It’s fun to own simply because you can really make it your own with your own style and personality.

Since the color scheme, orange and black, is perfect for my alma mater, Oregon State University.  I have the Benny the Beaver vinyl decals on order!





But let’s get to the specs of the bike.

The RadRunner features a 750-watt geared hub motor, a 48 volt, 14 amp hour battery, and a range between 25-45 miles between charges.  It also has a 300 pound weight capacity, 4 levels of pedal assist and a twist throttle with a max speed of about 20 mph making it a class 2 ebike.

It’s built like a tank with a beefy downtube and substantial 25.5 mm size tubing diameter for the rear rack.  This strength allows for a passenger.

radrunner
Switching to different levels of pedal assist is easy with the no frills controller. Battery level is also indicated. Lights can be turned on and walking mode can be enabled


The RadRunner weighs about 64 pounds without any added accessories so it’s not the easiest to get up and down stairs.  I was able to do it by myself but I sure wouldn’t want to do it very often.

For $99 you can order the upgraded display used on all other Rad bikes and some users have noticed a little more torque and possibly higher speeds though the jury is still out on that.

center kickstand
The center kickstand provides excellent stability for when the bike is loaded with cargo.

Fenders are $89 and do the job.  I would prefer that they came installed on the bike because installing the back fender requires removing the back wheel which is intimidating for some. Plus, $89 seems a bit steep for plastic fenders.  The RadMini now comes with fenders so hopefully we’ll see the same for the RadRunner in the future.

A back passenger seat is available as well as front and back racks and baskets.  Because the large diameter of the tubing on the back rack standard panniers may not fit but they’re a creative ways to get around that.





As you can see from the photos the below the stock seat and passenger seat give the bike that moped vibe that is fun.  It puts you and your passenger at the same level which.

The passenger seat is attached to the RadRunner’s back rack with four bolts.  It would be great if there were clamps to add it for quick and easy removal when its not needed but the bolts are very secure.

Btw.  I added the orange pinstriping on the rear fender.  The fenders are all black and I wanted to add some more visibility to the back of the bike.  It is reflective orange tape that I found on Amazon–where else–and matches the bike well.

Unlike many moped style e-bikes with a banana seat, the RadRunner allows the rider to get proper leg extension for a more comfortable ride with an adjustable seat.  The stock seat doesn’t have any suspension which is a big bummer.  It’s okay for short rides but you’ll probably be wanting to upgrade the seat and post to something more comfortable very quickly.

It would be great if the post had suspension.  Oh, and if you want to replace the seat with another one you’ll need another seat post as well since the stock post isn’t compatible with other seats. The RadRunner uses a 27.2 x 300 mm post which is a standard size.

An issue I have with using a third-party bike seat with the passenger seat is that I can’t lower the seat far enough for my short legs.  The bottom of the seat hits the passenger seat placing the seat too high for me.  I’m still on the lookout for a comfortable seat that I can use with the passenger seat but if you’re taller, the passenger seat likely won’t be an issue with a third-party seat.

I do enjoy riding with the passenger seat when using the bike more as a moped.  I scoot back onto the passenger seat and it’s fairly comfy.  I can’t pedal in that position but if I was just planning to use the throttle it’s an option — and a fun one at that!

Tires and Riding Comfort

The 3.3″ wide tires with their somewhat aggressive tread hum on pavement.  It’s not the quietest bike I’ve rode but the increased tire width provides good stability and the air volume does a good job as shock absorbers. The tires, made by Kenda, have included puncture resistance built in too.  I haven’t heard of anyone having issues with the tires thus far.

RadRunner
My RadRunner with added Rad and third-party accessories.

Off-Road Performance

I took the RadRunner on a gravel road but I quickly learned that this is a bike meant for pavement or more compacted soil conditions.  It was almost painful to endure the jarring bumps transferred from the front fork to my wrists.  My head wasn’t doing any better.

So consider yourself warned, the RadRunner is meant for pavement although I have ridden it through grass and thawing soggy soil and it did fine. There’s plenty of power for such conditions.





Getting Creative with the RadRunner

radrunner

Above photo:  The RadRunner equipped with third-party panniers and a new seat before I installed the rear fender.  The panniers above from Ibera purchased from Amazon match the bike’s color scheme perfectly!

I did have to rig up a way to attach those panniers but the system was simple. Some strong zip ties and some quick release chain links did the trick.  The bags are held nicely to the bike.  I actually go this idea from someone else and that’s why it’s a good idea to belong to the Rad Power Bikes Owner’s Group on Facebook or the RadRunner group to share and read tips from other riders and feel like part of a community. It’s fun to share photos of modifications and/or the adventures we have on our bikes.

panniers

Sizing & Riding Comfort

The RadRunner is advertised to accommodate riders from 4’11” to 6’2″.  For me at 5’1″ the seat has to be lowered to nearly the lowest it can go in order for my feet, or at least one of them if I tilt the bike slightly, to reach the ground.  My inseam is 28″ and those with shorter inseams would probably struggle with this heavy bike.

Taking off on the bike requires a bit of a learning curve if you’re new to ebikes.  Since electric bikes are much heavier than non-electric ones, it can be difficult to start from a complete stop since it requires more balance and more force in that first few pedal rotations.

Pedal Assist Responsiveness

The RadRunner has a cadence sensor which are magnets that detect when the pedals are being used.

The motor kicks in at about half a pedal stroke which is ideal.  You wouldn’t want it to take off immediately with the slightest pressure on the pedal for safety reasons but it does start the motor soon enough after pedaling to have a smooth and safe takeoff.

I’ve never had any problem taking off on the RadRunner, even though it is heavy and large for a 5’1″ tall woman.  My other e-bike while lighter is quite squirrelly on takeoffs in that I’ve had to abort some takeoffs because the front of the bike just didn’t feel stable.  I don’t experience that with the RadRunner which I greatly appreciate.

Gears or Lack Thereof

Is having just one gear a problem?  If you live in a very hilly area it might be.  I don’t live in a hilly part of the country but I do encounter some killer hills.

I have to admit I wish the RadRunner had more gears, like more than one, but level 3 or 4 pedal assist or the throttle gets me up the hills just fine.

Pedaling the bike without the motor is surprisingly doable on flat pavement.  I can even take off on the bike without the motor but that wasn’t always the case.  Once I adjusted the front brakes which were rubbing it was obviously much easier to pedal. So if your first ride on your RadRunner is a chore, you’ll need to do some fine tuning on the brakes.

Rad Power Bikes suggests breaking the brakes in.  After 30-50 miles of riding or so the issues may work themselves out.  That worked for the back brakes but not for the front.

If you look on the inside of the brake you’ll see a circular silver adjustment wheel.  Using an allen wrench I was able to stop the rubbing by turning the adjustment gizmo counterclockwise one or two clicks.  It did the trick and pedaling was much more enjoyable.

Shipping Condition

The bike arrived quickly and without any damage from FedEx.  It was shipped all the way from Washington state, where Rad Power Bikes is located, to Illinois in about 4 business days.  Rad also has a terrific way of tracking your bike as it ships.  You’ll see where it is each day on a map which is helpful.  I’d also recommend signing up on FedEx’s site to get text notifications.

You’ll need to sign for the bike and any accessories when they are delivered which may require some planning.  I was at work the first day FedEx tried delivering and luckily home the next business day.

Out of the box the RadRunner wasn’t difficult to assemble.  You’ll need to put the front wheel on, the handlebars and the pedals.  How-to videos are available on Rad’s website and YouTube channel.

Concluding Thoughts

Pros of the RadRunner include how easy it is to modify or personalize, cargo carrying ability, a strong frame, good gripping tires with puncture resistance, the ability to have a passenger, wide stable tires, front and rear lights wired into the battery, a brake light, reflective sidewall striping for safety, and a unique design that turns heads.

Cons of the RadRunner would be that it only has one gear, there’s no suspension, the seat is one you’ll probably want to replace, fenders are extra and not the easiest to install, and having to pay $99 more for a display that comes with other Rad bikes.

After a while, you get the feeling that Rad purposely left off components of the bike that they knew people would want and pay more for.  The base $1299 price quickly jumps up when adding fenders, the upgraded display, a front rack, baskets, panniers from Rad, etc.  Yeah, you don’t have to buy all of that stuff but have I said I think fenders should come factory installed on the bike enough times yet.  :)

Still, I’m happy with the RadRunner.  It encourages me to ride farther than I did before.  I’ve totally fallen in love with moped style riding.  It puts me at a comfortable upright position ideal for taking in the scenery and seeing traffic.

I like the larger size of the bike as well.  Motorists pay attention to me riding on the side of a road because it looks more like a moped or small motorcycle, especially when equipped with panniers.  In photos the RadRunner appears shorter in length than it is.  It’s not a dainty bike in person.

If you plan to transport the bike by car you’ll need a carrier that can handle the weight of the bike.  A regular bike carrier won’t do.  I’d recommend getting one with a ramp.

A current issue with the RadRunner is the tension wheel, pictured below.  It is quite noisy.  It sounds like the chain is in between gears but there’s no derailleur since there’s only one gear.  Rad Power Bikes is aware of the issue and planning a fix for current and future owners.

tension wheel

 

Improvements I’d like to see for the RadRunner would be a quieter motor though it’s not that loud, factory installed fenders ;) upgraded display standard, a more comfortable seat because you’ll probably want a suspension seat post like this one on Amazon.  It would also be great if the back rack had drop bars with standard size diameter tubing for panniers.  Turn signals as an accessory would also be terrific.

All in all though I enjoy riding the RadRunner. It’s become a fun pastime and hobby, more so than other e-bikes might be.  The RadRunner community is friendly and helpful. Rad Power Bikes is an established and growing company so finding parts for the bike in the future should be no issue.  That’s something to always consider when purchasing an e-bike.

The RadRunner isn’t perfect but it’s charming and useful enough to make up for it.  Rad on!