Yesterday, I uploaded a video to YouTube of some of the places I’ve taken my RadExpand 5 over nearly a year. I think you can probably tell that I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I’ve owned the RadExpand 5 for almost a year, and I bought it a few months after it came out. That got me wondering whether Rad Power Bikes will release a new version of the RadExpand in 2023 and what changes I’d like to see. Will there be a RadExpand 6 this year? I would guess yes, but…
It’s no big secret that Rad has been going through some major business changes. A number of costly mistakes, increasing competition, and a difficult economy has presented the company with many challenges, but I’m not going to focus on that today. Instead, I’m going to share my recommendations for the RadExpand 6, assuming one is coming.
Two RadExpand Models
Consider what Rad has done with their popular RadRunner series. There are three different models of the RadRunner: an affordable option, an upgraded option, and their newest model with a totally new frame design and better components. Maybe that would make sense for the RadExpand, as well.
Having an affordable option for those on a budget and a higher end option for those willing to spend more is what I believe many of Rad’s customer base would appreciate.
Possibly, the base model could offer what the current bike does. Mechanical disc brakes, a steel fork, and entry level components could keep the cost down, but for those wanting more, and to keep up with the competition, a RadExpand Plus could offer hydraulic disc brakes, front suspension, a nice display, a higher capacity battery, upgraded lights, an 8-speed cassette, and/or possibly a torque sensor. Hey, I can dream!
Several other ebike companies offer options for their popular models. Aventon has three different versions of their popular Sinch folding ebike at different price points. The only drawback to offering more options is increased manufacturing cost, and I’m not sure how well Rad is positioned right now to absorb that cost, but, then again, can they afford not to?
Probably the most economical thing to do is offer the current RadExpand with little to no changes, and a new RadExpand with upgraded components.
My Personal Wish List
So, what would I personally like to see upgraded on the bike? Overall, I’m very happy with the RadExpand 5 for the type of bike it is, but hydraulic brakes are the way to go for almost any ebike. They have better stopping power and require far less maintenance.
The mechanical disc brakes on my RadExpand have held up well after several hundred miles. I’ve been impressed, actually, but many riders are beginning to expect hydraulic brakes on today’s ebikes. I get why.
I’m okay with the steel fork since I ride mostly on paved bike paths. The bike is comfortable to ride on most surfaces. Also, a cheap suspension is worse than a rigid fork in a lot of ways. One, they break easily, and two, they can negatively affect the bike’s performance. Unless you want to spend the money on a decent suspension fork, you’re better off without one.
The only time I miss front suspension is when I’m on city streets full of potholes, but to be fair, even a bike with suspension can’t handle Illinois’ roads. Cars have a difficult time! So, personally, I’m okay with a rigid fork.
Having said that, many people prefer front suspension and most of the competition offers it. Having the option would be ideal.
My only real gripe about the RadExpand 5 is that it doesn’t come with a display. It sure would be nice to know exactly how many miles I have put on the bike, so I know when I should schedule maintenance. I’m forced to guess now, or just wait until something obviously needs attention, like the brakes. You can purchase an upgraded display for $99, but displays are included on almost every other ebike out there, even cheap ones.
If I remember correctly, when the RadExpand was first released, it was priced at $1299. Okay, for that price I can live with an LED display, but at $1649? Yeah, it should come with a display.
Cadence Sensors Sometimes Make A lot of Sense
Overall, I have been very happy with the bike. I’m fine with a cadence sensor on the RadExpand. Actually, the bike is kind of my stress killer. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it doesn’t require so much out of me. I have fitness ebikes with torque sensors and appreciate what they offer, but I also appreciate what the RadExpand offers. Cadence sensors have their pros, especially for those with sensitive knees or other health issues. I’d like to see a base model with a cadence sensor and a plus model with a torque sensor.
Rad’s pricing has been all over the place. It seems like they’re experimenting with the price of the RadExpand right now. Sometimes, you can find it on sale for a few hundred dollars off, but $1649 seems a little too high considering the bike’s components. I’m just sharing some tough love to Rad. I want to see them succeed, but to me, $1499 seems about right for the current RadExpand. Anything above that makes people much more uneasy to make the purchase. It’s a psychological thing, and it’s also a budget thing.
One thing I want to see very soon for all of Rad’s bikes is UL certification. This is something that consumers will soon demand, and some places legally require it. Companies like Velotric, Aventon and even budget friendly Buzz Bicycles already have UL certified bike models. Rad should have been ahead of the curve on this. Another mistake of Rad’s?
Personally, I am hoping that Rad can turn things around and create a profitable business model that offers great customer support and reliable bikes. I love my RadExpand, and hope to take it on many more trips. I’m rooting for Rad Power Bikes to do well, and I’m hopeful that they will.
Here’s a look back at the past year of the RadExpand 5 and me on the trails. Did I already tell you that I love this little bike?
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