Last year, I was in the market for an electric cargo bike. By far, the most popular electric cargo bike in the United States is the Rad Power Bikes RadWagon, and I settled on it because of the many positive reviews and my trust in the company. Early this spring, I bought the KBO Ranger, which is also an electric cargo bike, but in a more compact size. Now that I have been riding both bikes for quite some time, I thought it would be a good time to share my experiences, and my recommendations.
First off, we’ll look over the specs of both bikes.[wptb id=13813]
How Each Bike Rides
Specs are only going to tell so much of the story. It isn’t until you hop on a bike and ride it for a few miles that you’ll know just how it handles, its quirky behavior, and/or any surprises it has in store.
And boy, I was surprised by some of my speed tests results, shared later in this article. I thought for sure the Ranger was peppier and faster, but in my tests, the RadWagon was. I also learned a lot about how each bike behaves with weight on the rear rack. Some assumptions I had, based upon specs, were wrong.
The RadWagon has the shorter reach, which is ideal for shorter riders. Btw, I’m 5’1″. When riding the bike, without any cargo or a passenger, the bike rides much like any other fat tire ebike. It reminds me a lot of the RadRunner, which I also used to own. The RadWagon has smoother takeoffs than the Ranger, but gets you up to top speed faster in lower pedal assist levels.
The Ranger is easier to step-over and mount due to its low step-over height, though the reach is more ideal for taller rides. I actually turned the stem backwards to bring the handlebars closer to me! Getting on and off the Ranger is also easier because there’s simply more room between the seat and handlebars.
Both bikes are good for shorter riders, like myself. I don’t have any trouble riding either bike. Now, where I do have trouble is getting the bikes on their center stand.
The Ranger is much easier for me to lift onto its stand and maneuver around the garage. It also takes up a lot less room in the garage. I struggle more with the RadWagon. With added weight on the RadWagon’s rear rack, I really struggle, but more on that in a bit.
On Bumpy Ground
Neither the RadWagon nor Ranger have suspension. Instead, you’ll be relying on the 3″ wide tires to absorb much of the bumps, and they do, for the most part. To me, the Ranger rides more comfortably than the RadWagon, especially in the rear.
It is possible to add a suspension seat post to the RadWagon, but you have to get a little creative. The RadWagon uses a telescoping seat post, and you’ll need to remove the extension of the seat post (the smaller diameter post), and use a 30.6 to 27.2 mm shim. Thudbuster and SR Suntour (on Amazon) are very popular and highly-rated suspension seat posts that are compatible, as well as many others.
The Ranger uses a 33.8 mm seat post, which is a very uncommon size. I haven’t found a shim that will make it a more common size just yet. Luckily, the Ranger is fairly comfortable to ride, but if you find it too harsh, a good quality seat with built-in suspension would help. If you have come up with a solution, feel free to contact me, and I’ll pass the news along.
Speed and Riding Tests
KBO Ranger On Flat Ground Using Pedal Assist, No added Weight
- PAS 1, 12 MPH
- PAS 2, 14.8 MPH
- PAS 3, 17.9 MPH
- PAS 4, 19 MPH
- PAS 5, 21 MPH
KBO Ranger On Flat Ground Using Pedal Assist, 25lbs Weight on Rear Rack
- PAS 1, 11.7 MPH
- PAS 2, 15.1 MPH
KBO Ranger Top Speed Using Throttle, Flat Ground, No Added Weight
- 22.6 MPH
KBO Ranger Top Speed Using Throttle, Flat Ground, 25 LBS Weight Added
- 21 MPH
RadWagon 4 Top Speed on Flat Ground, No Added Weight
- PAS 1, 15.1 MPH
- PAS 2, 18.1 MPH
- PAS 3, 19.5 MPH
- PAS 4, 21.6 MPH
- PAS 5, 22.8 MPH
- Throttle, 23 MPH
RadWagon 4 Top Speed on Flat Ground, 25 lbs Weight Added
- PAS 1, 15.3 MPH
- PAS 2, 18.1 MPH
RadWagon 4 Top Speed Using Throttle on Flat Ground, 25 lbs Weight Added
- 23 MPH
Btw, I weigh about 158 lbs, so with the added weight, total payload was about 185 lbs, for the weight test. You probably noticed that I don’t have top speeds recorded for pedal assist levels 3-5 when carrying 25 lbs on the rear rack. There’s a good reason for this.
Originally, I placed a 70 pound tube of sand on the rear rack, and discovered some important things about cargo bikes. Yes, technically the rear rack is capable of holding a certain amount of weight, but that doesn’t mean you’d ever want to try it!
That amount of weight on the back of the Ranger was too much, because the front wheel lifted off the ground, and the front became very unstable and wobbly. The RadWagon held the weight well, but I couldn’t lift the bike off its stand.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you plan to carry a passenger or heavy cargo on the back of a bike, you need to know the bike’s limit and yours.
I didn’t test higher pedal assist levels on either bike, because I was playing it safe. They are both capable of higher speeds when carrying cargo, but you need to be mindful of shifting weight, especially with a passenger.
Neither bike had running boards installed on them. The Ranger comes with running boards, but I didn’t have them attached.
With 25 lbs on the back of each bike, I was able to handle both bikes well. I think the Ranger would still perform well with another 5-10 lbs on the rear. When turning corners with weight on the back, the Ranger handled a little better than the RadWagon, surprisingly. You just don’t want to overload it, and you want to direct as much weight as possible to the center of the frame.
The RadWagon is more ideal for two passengers, while I’d stick to just one small child on the Ranger.
While the RadWagon won the speed test, the Ranger’s performance can be increased. An important feature of the Ranger is that you can increase or decrease the number of pedal assist levels. Out of the box it has 5, but you can choose between 3, 5, or 9 levels. If you choose 9, there are smaller increments of increased power at each level. This is a feature that the RadWagon doesn’t have.
You can also purchase a third-party display for the Ranger that allows even greater customization. With this display, you can specify how much power you want at each pedal assist level, not just the number of levels. Some have reached a top speed of 25 MPH+ using the throttle.
The Ranger has a substantially larger battery that gets excellent range. I rarely have to charge it. The advertised 60 miles isn’t too far of a stretch, if you stay in lower pedal assist levels. The RadWagon gets closer to 40 miles, in lower pedal assist levels.
Range is dependent upon many factors including payload, tire pressure, temperature, terrain, and wind, but it’s safe to say that the Ranger wins on range.
Both bikes use identical Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, 180 mm rotors. Personally, I think cargo ebikes should be equipped with hydraulic brakes, due to the amount of weight you might be carrying, and especially because they can haul passengers. The brakes are sufficient for both bikes, but mechanical disc brakes require more adjustments, which people might not know how to do or fail to do.
There are more accessories for the RadWagon, plus its rear rack is compatible with child seats, like the popular Thule Yepp Maxi Childseat. The wide width of the Ranger’s rear rack makes it more difficult to find compatible seats. A fellow Ranger rider claims the Tern Captain’s Chair fits the Ranger. It’s more ideal for older children.
Both bikes offer passenger railings. The Ranger comes with running boards, which is a great deal, for the bike’s price. You’ll have to pay extra for running boards on the RadWagon.
I do find it easier to strap cargo on the back of the Ranger due to the smaller diameter tubes. The rear rack of the Ranger is technically removable, while the RadWagon’s rear rack is welded to the frame.
Okay, so which bike do I think is better? I don’t want to say it depends, but it really does depend! For me, the Ranger makes more sense because I don’t carry heavy cargo, and 95% of the time, I’ll be riding without a passenger. I’m also able to use the center stand without much trouble, and I can simply move it around easier in the garage. It also has a more standard sized wheelbase, so it rides a lot like other fat tire ebikes of a similar size. The Ranger simply suits my needs better. It’s also great that it gets better range and is $400 cheaper with included running boards.
The RadWagon is more ideal for those needing to carry heavier or larger cargo, or more than one passenger. If you have children under the age of 5, you’ll also appreciate the compatibility with child seats for safety. That’s very important to consider.
If you prefer the smaller size of the Ranger, but prefer Rad Power Bikes, check out the RadRunner 2. It can carry a passenger and provide much the same utility as the Ranger.
2022 has brought us new cargo bikes from other makers as well. I’ll be checking out a couple of them soon, because I love the practicality and utility of a cargo bike. You just need to make sure you get one that suits your particular needs, and boy are there a lot to choose from!
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