Well, it has been a few months since I purchased the RadExpand 5, and I’ve been having fun riding it. It is the ebike that I recommend for first time buyers for a few reasons. One, the company is legit, and you should be able to obtain parts and customer service well into the future. Secondly, the RadExpand 5 is an approachable electric bike for new riders. Its step-thru frame design allows for easy mounting, and it has smoother takeoffs and predictable behavior. It’s also a convenient size to zip around town or in scenic areas.
The only concerns I had of the RadExpand was its gear ratio and how well it delivered power at each pedal assist level. My other concern was riding comfort. It has four pedal assist levels and a twist throttle. It’s equipped with a 7-speed transmission, a 14-32 tooth MicroShift derailleur controlled by a MicroShift thumb shifter. Some owners have changed the 14-32 tooth gears to a wider spread, or even to an 8-speed. I might do this in the future, but it doesn’t suffer from ghost pedaling or hamster wheeling nearly as much as many electric bikes do. This is something I’m very picky about it, so if the RadExpand’s gear ratio doesn’t bother me too much, then most people will be happy with it.
As far as riding comfort goes, the 4-inch wide tires do an excellent job at smoothing out the ride. It obviously isn’t a bike meant for jumping off of ramps or going over super bumpy terrain, but it does great on both pavement and gravel. I do recommend getting a suspension seat post though! It will make a huge difference.
I’m using a suspension seat post from Suntour purchased on Amazon, and it’s really a must-have for most people. Whether you choose the Suntour suspension seat post or a different one, you will enjoy your rides more and for longer if you choose a good one. The lack of suspension on the RadExpand has little to do with the need for a suspension seat post. It’s more from the fact that the riding position is so upright. Most of the rider’s weight is focused on the seat, instead of distributed between the seat and handlebars. I usually don’t use a suspension seat post on my other bikes, but the RadExpand is one that I most certainly do.
One thing that I really love about the RadExpand 5 is that it is a great size for shorter riders. I’m 5’1″ with a 28″ inseam, and I’m able to handle the bike very well. Getting on and off the bike is easy. I feel like I’m controlling the bike, instead of it controlling me. So, if you’re a shorter rider, then the RadExpand is one to consider.
If you’re a taller rider, Rad’s height range for the bike is for riders up to 5’10”. That is probably accurate. I do know of people who are 6′ tall who ride the RadExpand, but it’s best suited for shorter to average height people. It’s a fairly compact bike.
While it is compact, it isn’t lightweight. I won’t lie to you. I’m not able to lift the bike folded into the back of a car by myself. Even after removing the battery, it’s still too much for me. To more practically haul the bike, I just lift it unfolded onto my bike rack. Yeah, the defeats the purpose of a folding bike, but I didn’t buy it so much because it folds, but more so for its size. If you’re not going to be lifting it by yourself, then it’s much more doable with two people.
Many people choose to fold the bike and place it into a plastic tote container and push it on a ramp into the back of their vehicle. It’s still portable and popular with RV’ers, but it’s not a featherweight.
The top speed for the RadExpand 5 is about 20 mph using either pedal assist or the throttle. There are third-party controllers and displays that allow higher speeds. Many people choose to customize their bikes and make them their own creation, and that’s part of the fun of owning an electric bike. For me, I’m fine with a 20 mph max speed. This makes it a Class 2 ebike.
Range has been very good. I’m easily riding 35 miles between charges, and it could probably go another 5-10 miles on top that. Range is going to depend upon several factors, such as the pedal assist levels you most use, how much you use the throttle, how much you weigh, tire pressure, outdoor temperature and other conditions. Still, 30 miles is very doable, and you can get closer to 40+ with more conservative riding.
Braking is good on the bike. It is equipped with 180 mm mechanical disc brakes that have good stopping power. After a few hundred miles, the brake pads are still gripping good. The brake pads are also quiet. I was happy to see that my bike came with Tektro brake levers. When the RadExpand was first released, it was equipped with a generic brand, probably due to supply demand issues that plagued the ebike industry during Covid. I think a lot of that is past us now, and we won’t be seeing all of those substitutions. It’s especially great to have the bell built into the brake lever again! I always miss that when other bikes don’t have it.
Overall, what I appreciate the most about the RadExpand 5 is that it’s so practical but still cool looking. It has a nice look to it! It kind of looks like I little motorcycle. The lights also add nicely to its appearance. If you’re going to be doing night riding, you’ll want a more powerful front light, but if you’re going to be riding during the day, the lights do their job at getting the attention of drivers. It does have a brake light to let riders and drivers behind you know that you’re slowing down.
One of the reasons why it’s so practical is that it has so many mounting points for accessories. Rad sells front and rear baskets for the RadExpand 5, amongst many other accessories. You can even buy pet carriers, so your best friends can enjoy the ride too.
Overall, I’m happy with the RadExpand 5. I don’t miss having an LCD display, though admittedly, I wish it came with it, considering the bike’s price. Other similarly priced ebikes come with better displays. You can upgrade the display, but it would be nice if you didn’t have to. I might upgrade eventually, but after a few hundred miles, I can’t say that I’ve felt like I needed to. It’s small, doesn’t take up too much handlebar space, and is easy to use.
I probably will have my local bike shop change out the gears to a wider spread in the future. 11-32 would be more ideal. It’s comfortable to pedal as is, but it would be even better with a little wider range.
So, after putting some good miles on the RadExpand and getting to know the bike, I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a smaller fat tire ebike. It’s great for those new to ebikes. It doesn’t have a herky jerky ride or unpredictable behavior. Rad did a good job making it a safe ebike. I’m going to have fun over the years making it my own.
You can check out the RadExpand 5, by visiting Rad Power Bikes.
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