The RadMini was definitely a big hit for Rad Power Bikes for the past few years, and I was expecting to see an upgrade this year for this popular folding electric bike. But Rad surprised us with a new model, the RadExpand 5, which will replace the Mini lineup. Let’s take a look and see what the RadExpand has to offer.
Unlike the RadMini, which had two frame styles, the RadExpand is only offered in a step-thru frame. It’s a good move, because step-thru frames make a ton of sense for an electric bike. It’s so much easier to mount a step-thru bike, and be able to straddle the bike at stops. That’s important for a bike with a motor, especially a 750-watt motor that can provide a lot of power.
A feature missing on the RadExpand is a front suspension fork. Why? Well, I’m sure it helps keep the cost more reasonable. At $1299, the RadExpand is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the RadMini. This is going to put it at a more competitive price against other folding ebikes, like the super popular Lectric XP.
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It also has 4-inch wide tires, compared to the 3-inch tires of the RadMini. That’s going to provide quite a bit of shock absorption. Does that make up for the lost front suspension? Well, that depends a lot on frame geometry, and that has been updated too.
I’ve ridden ebikes with very similar frames, like the Ride1Up 500 Series and the KBO Breeze. Both are relatively comfortable bikes to ride, but the 500 Series doesn’t transfer the bumps nearly as harshly as the Breeze does, even though the Breeze has wider tires. Slight differences in a frame geometry make a big difference.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the new frame geometry of the RadExpand is better or not. We’ll have to wait for some customer reviews. That shouldn’t take long! Rad has a loyal and large fanbase.
As for me, I like what I’m seeing from the RadExpand. True 4″ fat tires are a lot of fun! I recently reviewed the Buzz Centris, also a fat tire folding ebike, and fell in love with the stability and riding comfort of a fat tire ebike.
New Handlebar Design
I also like the handlebars and stem on the RadExpand. The handlebars are almost BMX style, and can be adjusted forward and back to better accommodate a rider’s reach. The collapsible stem is also shorter, but will be more rigid for better handling.
Refined Rear Rack
The rear rack is designed to be compatible with many accessories, included a Yepp child seat. The rear light has been upgraded to be super visible even in daylight. While previous versions of the RadMini didn’t include a rear rack or fenders in the base price, they are included with the RadExpand. That’s a good call by Rad Power Bikes.
Lighterweight and Same Battery Design
The RadExpand is also about 5 lbs lighter than the Mini, and that is welcome news to anyone lifting the bike onto a car rack. Battery design hasn’t changed, which is good. That means if you have extra batteries for your Mini, you’ll be able to use them with the RadExpand.
One downgrade is the display. It features the same display used on the base RadRunner. I’m sure this is something that you can upgrade down the line if you feel the need to. Rad sells upgraded displays.
The RadExpand is a 7-speed with a gear spread of 14-32 teeth. That’s pretty good. Many ebikes in this price range have 14-28 teeth, which often times isn’t enough to pedal comfortably or practically at different pedal assist levels.
Gone are Shimano shifters and derailleurs, and instead are replaced by MicroShift, which I’ve had a lot of positive experience with. This is another move to keep the cost reasonable.
Overall, the RadExpand is well-thought-out. I personally like the lines of the bike, especially how the rear rack ties into the frame. It just looks nice. It looks more refined.
Sure, I’d like to have a front suspension, and we’ll have to see how comfortable the bike is without it. But having owned a RadRunner in the past, which also doesn’t have front suspension, I know such bikes are very stable and comfortable on smooth surfaces. The RadRunner is such a great bike to just cruise around on and chill. They’re just not the type of bike to take off-road.
I hope I get a chance to ride the RadExpand this summer, but even if I don’t, I won’t hesitate in recommending the company. Rad Power Bikes is known for good customer service. I think the RadExpand is a winner too, as long as you know it’s meant for the city and not your local mountain bike trail.
Learn more about the RadExpand here.
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