Bicycles

US$1,299 RadRunner e-bike blurs the lines between bike and scooter

US$1,299 RadRunner e-bike blur...
The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299
The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299
View 13 Images
Front, rear and brake lights are integrated as standard
1/13
Front, rear and brake lights are integrated as standard
Rear rack can carry up to 120 lbs
2/13
Rear rack can carry up to 120 lbs
The RadRunner: basic, practical, modular
3/13
The RadRunner: basic, practical, modular
Centerstand is standard
4/13
Centerstand is standard
2-up urban hooning is possible with the passenger package
5/13
2-up urban hooning is possible with the passenger package
It ain't light or fancy, but the RadRunner is cheap, practical and modular
6/13
It ain't light or fancy, but the RadRunner is cheap, practical and modular
The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299
7/13
The RadRunner is a solid, modular and practical urban ebike that can replace your car for just US$1,299
Chunky rear rack
8/13
Chunky rear rack
Single speed drive with 750-watt geared hub motor
9/13
Single speed drive with 750-watt geared hub motor
Super-clean handlebars, as the LCD dash is replaced by a simple two rows of five LEDs for power level and battery level
10/13
Super-clean handlebars, as the LCD dash is replaced by a simple two rows of five LEDs for power level and battery level
Passenger pack adds a padded seat and rear footpegs
11/13
Passenger pack adds a padded seat and rear footpegs
Rad Center Console gives the bike a waterproof storage bucket with phone and drink holders
12/13
Rad Center Console gives the bike a waterproof storage bucket with phone and drink holders
Phone and drink holders in the Rad Center Console accessory
13/13
Phone and drink holders in the Rad Center Console accessory

Rad Power Bikes has made a name for itself producing super-affordable, super-practical e-bikes, and business is going absolutely gangbusters. Now, the company has introduced its most affordable bike yet – the stripped-back, simple RadRunner urban getabout, and it's upgradable to carry passengers or a heap of cargo.

The Seattle-based company is growing at breakneck speed, going from 30 employees just 14 months ago to around 130 today, and 210 by the end of the year. According to founder and CEO Mike Radenbaugh, it's already captured about half of the entire US e-bike market, and is scooping up another 5-10 percent each year. "Five years from now," he told us over a Skype call, "the vast majority of e-bikes sold in North America will be through our company."

Radenbaugh's recipe for success? Forget the early adopters. Make affordable, practical and simple bikes for the 99 percent. Drop fancy, expensive features in favor of bigger batteries, and offer customers a basic machine that they can spec up with accessories to suit the way they want to use it. The RadRunner, he says, is "a culmination of everything we stand for."

It ain't light or fancy, but the RadRunner is cheap, practical and modular
It ain't light or fancy, but the RadRunner is cheap, practical and modular

Where the RadRover is an impressive deal at US$1,499, the RadRunner takes things to another level, retailing for just $1,299. It's a chunky looking mini moped of a thing, with a step-through frame, battery on the downtube, integrated front, rear and brake lights, fat 20-by-3.3-inch heavy duty Kenda tires, a centerstand and a rock-solid rear rack. Total carrying capacity is 300 lb (136 kg) with up to 120 lb (54.4 kg) on the back rack.

It runs a 750-watt geared hub motor, with a throttle and cadence-sensing pedal assist. The battery is a decent-sized 48-volt, 14-Ah removable unit with a 672-Wh energy storage capacity that's good for an urban range between 25-45 miles (40-72 km).

Super-clean handlebars, as the LCD dash is replaced by a simple two rows of five LEDs for power level and battery level
Super-clean handlebars, as the LCD dash is replaced by a simple two rows of five LEDs for power level and battery level

More interesting, though, is what it hasn't got. There's no speedo or dash per se. Instead, there are two simple rows of LEDs denoting your charge level and pedal assist level. "You're always going around 20 mph (32 km/h), because that's the federal legal limit here," says Radenbaugh. "A speedo didn't make a ton of sense. You're not fitness cycling, you're just enjoying the ride. Maybe listening to a podcast, you're just cruising to work, picking your kids up. We found customers are totally willing to forego a speedometer for a lower price point."

Likewise, there's no gear shifter – the RadRunner is a single-speed. "The throttle can get you up to speed easily," says Radenbaugh, "and then you can let off the throttle and just use the pedals to cruise. With a cadence sensor, you don't always have to be pressing hard on the pedals to get torque out."

RadRunner's extensive accessory options
RadRunner's extensive accessory options

Accessorizing the RadRunner

Rad Power Bikes is going nuts with accessories for this thing. Radenbaugh tells us he anticipates the most popular ones will be the Rad Center Console – a cargo bucket that attaches to the front frame, and can run with or without a lid, and the Passenger Package, which puts a padded rear seat on the back rack. Each of those will set you back $99. There's also a universal front rack, big delivery boxes, and everything else in the company's accessory catalog should fit too, including kiddie seats, mudguards, panniers and whatnot.

"This thing's for bashing around town," says Radenbaugh. "Throwing your five year old on the back, picking up your significant other or some groceries. You're going to be carrying people, things, gear, going over rough terrain – cycling infrastructure here in the US and even in Europe, you're talking cobblestones, train tracks, rough roads.

"So we aim for comfort, super big batteries, high wattage output and utility. That's our focus, that's why our bikes look different compared to most e-bikes that are geared towards light weight, mid drives, pumping out every inch of efficiency possible. Ours are somewhere between a moped, or a scooter, and a bicycle."

Rear rack can carry up to 120 lbs
Rear rack can carry up to 120 lbs

It's a strategy that's been insanely successful up until now, and the RadRunner's even lower entry price and focus on modular utility could make it the company's biggest hit yet.

Mike Radenbaugh has some very strong opinions on two of the biggest debates in the e-bike industry – those being 52V vs 48V battery packs, and mid drives vs hub drives, and we're looking forward to sharing those with you in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Source: Rad Power Bikes

8 comments
Daishi
As someone that had a Juiced City Scrambler I think the RadRunner would be a much better option. The issue with the Scrambler is the fixed wide banana seat makes it hard to pedal like a regular bicycle. The result is you are too dependent on battery power which limits your range. I sold mine because it could not keep up with my other eBikes. RadRunner works around this with a more standard bicycle seat allowing your leg movement with the option of a banana seat behind it. It's also (at least) $200 cheaper and 10 lbs lighter than Scrambler. I think they did a good job with it. The company itself has been growing a ton. If I were to give them advice it's that there are people willing to spend a bit more money on larger batteries. I think that will increasingly become the case as the market matures and people enter the market looking for their 2nd or 3rd eBike purchase as more informed buyers. New customers tend to approach the problem saying "One eBike please, what's good bang for the buck?". Rad does well at capturing that customer base but it may be useful to make adjustments later as the customer base inevitably evolves. There are diminishing returns beyond 750 watt motors but large batteries are fairly useful for people who like to go out for a couple hours at a time without fully depleting the battery.
aotror
I like this bike. It has close to my desired blend of practicality ,utility and price with the design ethos of simplicity and no frills but spec it up at you choose with factory accessories is great. A real world bike at a realistic price. The range and grunt is also an important plus, however I would prefer more than just a single speed as mentioned in the article, so I can tackle the hills should the battery go flat. It looks like it has a derailleur on the rear so what purpose does this serve if not to provide some gearing? Be nice if they bought them to Australia. Would buy one if the price was kept cheap.
roddy6667
Here in China e-bikes.scooters are everywhere. They are very popular with women over 50. They use them for the daily grocery shopping. They pick up the kid at daycare or school while the parents work. It's not uncommon to see a woman and two small children on one.The range is about 20 km, and you don't have to bring it inside to charge the battery. It has a built-in carrying handle. You just bring the battery inside to charge. They only cost about $300 US here, so even poor people can afford them. They are also used for the massive food delivery network that runs off a phone app.
John Lethlean
So, Loz, reckon we’ll see this in Oz?
Daniel Posner
"... and even in Europe". I'm afraid I'll have to stop you right there. Unfortunately, in Europe a 750w motor is deemed 3 times more power than the politicians are willing to allow. Somehow I cannot see a 250w version of this behemoth (30+kgs?) cutting the mustard. Here in sunny Spain local authorities are now realising the money making potential of all the 'non-compliant' electric vehicles on the roads, that they have turned a blind eye to for the last 5 years, and it's much more serious than you would imagine. If you are caught riding an e-bike, scooter etc and it is more powerful than 250w then it is viewed that you are riding an unregistered, uninsured, unlicensed, non-road worthy motorcycle'. Bottom line? the fine is $2200. They must be rubbing their hands together in glee. From a political popularity point of view, it's a winner for them; anyone that these laws don't affect ie non e-bike riders are also clapping their hands, as they see them as a pesky dangerous annoyance, unlike their chosen form of transport, the ultra safe motor car. I wish we had the US rules in relation to e-bikes over here in Europe
Mzungu_Mkubwa
@Daishi, range could be solved here if they sold an extra battery as one of the "accessories", since there appears to be plenty of room for it under the rear rack. Then, if they'd allow it to connected in series to double the power/speed, I'd be happy! 20mph, while the legal limit for these in the US, could use a boost IMO. Becomes a hassle on any neighborhood road when you're holding up traffic. Just add the lights/mirrors, get it registered, and get an "M" endorsement on your drivers license, & you're good to go!
Pedalo
Looks just what we need here in the UK. Would go down a storm in London or any other city, town or village. Are there any plans to launch in the UK? The rugged looks and versatile accessories are very appealing.
robertmudry
Lack of a speedo is no big deal. Just download a free phone app that uses GPS to display yer speed. Hydraulic brakes or a free rear basket would be a big improvement. Maybe a 7-speed gear cassette?