When I first purchased the RadExpand 5 last fall, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was the successor to Rad Power Bikes very popular RadMini. Gone was the front suspension and full display, but added were full 4″ wide fat tires and a redesigned frame. The lack of suspension meant the bike was a little lighter, which was welcomed, but would it still be comfortable? Well, after six months of ownership, I can answer that and many other questions. I’ll share what I like and don’t like about the bike and whether I would buy it again.
What I Like About the RadExpand 5
- It’s Great for My Height (I’m 5’1″)
- It’s Versatile for Carrying Cargo and Being a Commuter
- Has a Stiff Frame with a Sure Ride
- I Don’t Miss Front Suspension
- The BMX Style Handlebars Make Long Rides More Comfortable
- It Has Smooth Take-Offs
- The Motor is Fairly Quiet
- The Battery Provides Good Range, Up to 45 Miles
- It Uses the Old Style Battery That Has Fewer Issues Than Rad’s New Battery
- Many Accessories Can Be Added to It
- It’s Easily Upgradeable
The RadExpand 5 is probably the most comfortable bike I’ve ridden for my height. The reach is adjustable with handlebars that tilt. The grips are also very comfy. Stepping on and off of the bike is easy, and I always feel like I have good control of the bike. I stop frequently when out on the trail to take in the scenery or take photos, and this is the perfect bike to get on and off without dreading it.
I can place the seat at the right height for good leg extension and still reach the ground, even after added a suspension seat post. I can’t say that about too many bikes I own.
Another thing that I love is that I can carry so much on the bike. The rear rack is built well and is practical for attaching bags or baskets. I could also attach a rack and/or basket to the front for even more carrying ability. Even with weight added to the back, the bike still performs well. I’ve never noticed any frame flex, even though it is a folding frame. It rides very predictably and tracks well in turns and downhill.
As for the rigid fork, I don’t miss having front suspension at all. The bike is still very comfortable to ride on a variety of surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and gravel. Since most of your body weight is on the seat, front vibrations aren’t felt so much anyway. Even though I have arthritis, my wrists and shoulders don’t tire easily when riding the RadExpand, even on long rides. Unless you want to ride on very rough terrain, I wouldn’t worry about the bike not having front suspension.
Something else I’ve learned is that I prefer the BMX style handlebars that Rad chose for the RadExpand over the typical adjustable stems of most other folding fat tire ebikes, like the Lectric XP, Aventon Sinch, etc. The handlebars on the RadExpand aren’t adjustable for height so much, but they are for reach. For me, they are very comfortable. Much more so than the Lectric XP. Also, since the bike uses a regular stem, you can switch to whatever style handlebar you prefer. The bars would need a good rise to them, but if you wanted wider or more narrow bars, you could probably find ones that would fit.
When taking off, the cadence sensor is fairly responsive. It has enough delay that it won’t startle you, but not so much of a delay that you struggle getting the bike going. Of course, the throttle always gives you the ability to take off with instant power from a dead stop. I’m almost always pedaling the bike, but I still prefer using a throttle when crossing busy roads or taking off on a hill. To me, throttles on an ebike are a safety feature.
The motor isn’t as quiet as a Brose mid-drive, but for a rear hub with 750 watts of power, it’s pretty quiet. Some hub motors are obnoxiously loud. This one isn’t. Yeah, I definitely hear it on higher assist levels, but I don’t feel silly on the bike path. I can still hear the birds singing and traffic. I’m super picky about motor noise, and I’m okay with this one.
As for motor speed and power, I have no complaints. This is a Class 2 ebike, so it is limited to 20 mph using the throttle. I’m perfectly fine with that. If you want more speed, you could change the controller and display through a Bolton kit, but I’m perfectly fine with it as is. It gets me up hills easily using throttle or pedal assist. Granted, I am in Illinois where we don’t have many hills, but I have taken it up some pretty big ones, and it’s done fine. I weigh about 155 pounds, plus or minus. Mostly plus. Ha!
I appreciate that the RadExpand still uses Rad’s original battery design. It’s easily accessible, in a good position on the bike for good weight distribution. There have been some issues with Rad’s new semi-integrated batteries on their newer models, such as hard-to-replace fuses. That’s not the case with this battery. In fact, the whole electrical system is easily upgradeable, if you wish to upgrade it.
The controller is easy to access and swap out, so future upgrades or repairs will be much less hassle. That’s a big plus.
Along those lines, the RadExpand is an ebike that you can customize and accessorize to your liking. That’s one of the fun things about owning an electric bike like the RadExpand. For me, I haven’t felt the need to change much about it. I’ve been enjoying it right out of the box, though I will be changing a couple of things.
What I Don’t Like About the RadExpand 5
- It Should Come with a Full Display, IMO
- Gear Ratio Should Be Better
- You’ll Want to Get a Suspension Seat Post
- It’s Still Heavy
- Price Keeps Creeping Up
The RadExpand 5 comes with a LED display that doesn’t provide any speed or odometer information. I still enjoy riding the bike, and it’s easy to use the display, but for the price it should come with a full display.
If it was a $900 bike then I wouldn’t expect a better display, but for $1649, I do. I’m not one to obsessively look at the display when riding, but it would be helpful to have an odometer, so I’ll know when it’s getting time to replace brake pads or do other maintenance. Rad sells the full display for an extra $99 which also seems high to me. It should be $49, in my opinion, or really just included with the bike. There I said it.
I’ve ridden ebike with far worse gear ratios, but the 14-32 tooth freewheel leaves something to be desired. I can still pedal at a comfortable cadence, but to cruise along at higher speeds, and unleash more of the full potential of the motor, you’ll want to change to an 11-34 tooth freewheel. That’s fairly easy to do, but I’d really love to see ebike companies ship their bikes with better gearing right from the start.
This isn’t something that I really dislike about the bike, but you’ll want to upgrade the seat post pronto because of the bike’s upright riding position. Once I added a suspension seat post, (link to Amazon) the bike became very comfortable to ride, even for long distances. It’s an easy upgrade, but an added cost.
While Rad did reduce the weight of the bike, it’s still heavy for one person to handle when trying to lift into the back of a car. It’s not difficult for me to fold or unfold it, but trying to lift it when it is folded is about impossible. Two people can easily handle it, but as a middle-aged petite woman, it’s a little more than I can handle. Instead of folding it, I use a car rack. I can lift the front wheel onto the rack and then swing the bike onto the rack pretty easily. But, I didn’t buy the RadExpand because it folds. I bought it more for its size and utility, so I’m okay with putting it on a rack.
Lastly, the price on Rad’s ebikes have really gone up. I think a big reason for this is to create a more financially sustainable company. I’m okay with paying a few hundred dollars more if I know the company will take care of me after the sale with good customer service and parts that are in stock. So, I’m still okay with the price tag of the RadExpand 5. I just hope it doesn’t go up anymore, unless Rad adds more features like hydraulic brakes, a full LCD display, and/or better gears.
Would I Buy the RadExpand 5 Again?
Yes! I’ve fallen in love with the bike! It’s my sidekick now. I have a garage full of ebikes, but I’m usually riding my RadExpand 5. It’s such a comfortable bike to cruise on after a hard day at work, and if I could, I’d ride it to work. It reminds me of the RadRunner that I used to own. I missed that bike because it was also great for casual rides, but the RadExpand fits me better.
After putting several hundred miles on the bike, the brakes are still working like new, and I haven’t had a single issue with it. It’s been great from day one. Shipping was fast and there was no damage. It’s been a very good experience all around. While there are some things I’ll change, they’re common changes people make on many bikes, though I wish I didn’t have to spend $99 for a better display.
I have plans to take my bike on some trips this summer. It’ll do great on rail trails and longer rides in some scenic areas. This is a great bike for sightseeing, and many RV’ers use it for just that.
I’m very happy with my purchase thus far. I’ll be sharing how to change the freewheel, since that’s my next upgrade. Other than that, I might find some cool accessories, but I’m enjoying it as is and hope to ride it for many, many more miles.