The trials and jubilations of owning a Rad Power e-bike

Dagny and her e-bike during the halcyon days. (Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

“E-bikes are the Wild West. It’ll all get sorted out eventually, but there will be a lot of heartbreak in the process.”

– Andrew Schnell, The eBike Store

My roommate and friend Dagny Daniel was in the market for an electric bike, and when she saw Rad Power Bikes was selling their entry-level e-bike for a $500 ($700 lower than its usual price), she jumped at the opportunity to buy it. When the bike came, Dagny put it together and charged it up, excited to hit the bike path.

But she’d only had it for a few days when the honeymoon period ended. Dagny and I were riding with a group of other people on bikes deep in the north Portland peninsula this past weekend when all the sudden, the lights on her bike turned off and the pedal-assist stopped working. (No, it wasn’t dead.) Eventually, we got it going again, but only briefly before it puttered out once more and she had to ride to back without any electric assistance or lights. Right now, the bike is sitting in our basement waiting for someone to figure out what went wrong and get it back in commission.

Dagny isn’t the only person who just bought a Rad Power bike. The e-bike company’s recent sale was very popular – turns out, $500 e-bikes sell like hotcakes. On my own Twitter feed, I heard dozens of accounts of people buying their first electric bikes because of this sale. One particularly exciting anecdote was from someone who said that the person who delivered their bike was so inspired by all the boxes of bikes he was delivering that he decided to get one for himself.

The Rad Power box.

Some e-bike advocates saw the success of this sale as an indication that there’s a demand for electric bikes that should be met with more rebate programs. The popularity of such programs in places like Colorado has shown that people are interested in buying e-bikes at reduced rates and once they have the bikes, they often become game-changers for reducing their car use.

But Dagny’s experience made me wonder if there are more people who have had trouble with their new Rad Power bikes and how local bike shops are dealing with it.

Rad Power is based out of Seattle, and they have brick-and-mortar service centers in some other cities in the United States and Canada (but not in Portland). They used to operate a mobile repair service in some other cities, including Portland, so people could get help directly from Rad Power, but they cancelled that program a few months before the big sale. (According to Rad Power’s website, local mobile bike repair service Velofix is still available to help.) This has left some bike shops in a lurch.

Employees at the The eBike Store in the Piedmont Neighborhood express skepticism about direct-to-consumer electric bike companies like Rad Power. Andrew Schnell, a sales employee at the bike shop, says he thinks they’ve been able to hone in on an important market of people who want functional, non-luxury electric bikes at an affordable price.

But the downside to Rad Power’s business model is that customers have to figure a lot out by themselves.

“I have no problem with the company,” Schnell told me. “But you get what you pay for.”

The least expensive bike sold at the eBike store is $2500 – twice as much as what the RadMission usually costs, and five times as much as its sale price. Schnell said he thinks it’s worth the cost for a better quality bike that you can get serviced locally, but he understands why people are hesitant to pay that much for a bike.

Schnell said he has had trouble getting ahold of people from Rad Power when he has questions about their bikes, so the shop is limited in what it can do to help people who run into problems with them. This has meant some angry customers leaving one-star Yelp reviews for the eBike Store, which never claimed to be a Rad Power retailer or service shop in the first place.

There are several stores in Portland that Rad Power owners have said will service their bikes. Rad Power’s website lists the Bikeologist Mobile Bicycle Repair and Upcycles as options for people who want to get help in-person. But part replacements for Rad Power bikes are hard to come by right now because of all the demand.

Thankfully, experiences like Dagny’s seem rare. When I tweeted asking for people’s experiences with their new Rad Power bikes, I received overwhelmingly positive reports, and most people writing reviews online are very pleased with their purchase. (And by the way, Dagny isn’t giving up on her bike – she’ll get back on the seat as soon as she can, but it might take some time to find someone who can help.)

Schnell acknowledges that his exposure to the bikes is more likely to be negative because people are coming to the bike shop with their grievances. But his overall takeaway is that because this industry is fairly new, there are going to be some kinks to work out as e-bikes stake their place as a popular mode of transportation.

“E-bikes are the Wild West,” Schnell told me. “It’ll all get sorted out eventually, but there will be a lot of heartbreak in the process.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

84 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fred
Fred
3 months ago

I bought a (more expensive) ebike from The eBike Store and have had nothing but great experiences with it. The store has serviced the bike and done great work. Seems like a quality outfit, selling quality ebikes. The fact that they won’t sell lower-quality ebikes is a feather in their cap for me. I feel sorry for anyone who thought it’s possible to get a quality ebike for 500 bucks.

Matt
Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

You can’t even buy a quality bike for $500 anymore. An ebike at that price is… Well, let’s leave it at “caveat emptor”.

Scott Bassett
Scott Bassett
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I purchased a RadMission several years ago at slightly less than the list price and it has served me well. Despite the low price, it is well-made and functional.

Bob
Bob
30 days ago
Reply to  Matt

I bet you could get a quality e-bike for <$500 if manufacturers didn't want to price gauge.

dave brokaw
dave brokaw
3 months ago

I have a radwagon that I’ve loved for the last 5 years but recently had some electrical issues (turned out to be a bad display). The online tech support was super frustrating and the bike repair shops that radpower said would service their bikes across the board refused to work on electrical issues. I highly recommend Dagny reach out to Nomad Cycles on NE Sandy. They are the only shop I’ve found in Portland that would service electrical systems on DTC bikes.

Gary B
Gary B
3 months ago

My 5+ year stint with a Rad Runner cargo bike has gone very well, but I do worry about repairs when the time comes. Maintenance hasn’t been an issue.

Coincidentally, I just got a rear flat near the eBike store a couple weeks ago, and the heroes there had me and my little one back on the road in about 20 minutes, despite them being very busy. Thank you!

mperham
mperham
3 months ago

This is unfortunately true of any cheap Internet brand bike. Those e-bikes on Amazon are cheap for a reason: no warranty, no support, and low quality parts that aren’t likely to last long. if you’re really unlucky they catch fire.

Lower priced US-based brands like Rad Power and Super73 are having enough success where maybe they can eventually develop a reliable dealer/support network, time will tell.

Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago
Reply to  mperham

Super73s seem to be the ebike of choice here in Honolulu for non-cyclist types.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

In contrast to Rad in Portland, there are three sales and service locations. Crazy!

Scron Lively
Scron Lively
3 months ago
Reply to  mperham

I doubt there will be a support network. These are designed to be disposable like a Lime scooter or a bikeshare bike. Heaped in a pile and headed to a landfill.

Meanwhile the oldest bicycle in my collection recently turned 50 years old. Makes you wonder what we’re advocating for. Some sort of Wall-E dystopia, I guess.

Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago
Reply to  Scron Lively

Yes, until the bike industry has a true general battery standard (think AA, C , D) or battery interface that is commonly in use for other purposes (think power tool battery)…then in 30 years it will be like the 2000s bonanza of lightly ridden bike boom bikes BUT the battery and electronics / software will not age as well as 70s Schwinn steel or Fuji quad butted frame sets etc.

Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago
Reply to  Scron Lively

Regarding your comment on bikeshare bikes…I assuming you are generally speaking about the “here today gone tomorrow” dockless bikeshare bikes of a few years ago.

Our city’s analogue public bikes are averaging 10,000 miles per bike with a lot of hard use so far in 5 years – and thus should be about 20,000 miles after 10 years (planned design life).

Jake
Jake
2 months ago
Reply to  Scron Lively

My road bike turned 46 this year. It came with an unconditional lifetime warranty. Those were the days.

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
2 months ago
Reply to  mperham

Well, you’ll be happy to hear Rad has a 1 year warranty on their bikes. https://www.radpowerbikes.com/pages/warranty

Colin
Colin
2 months ago
Reply to  mperham

Rad is based in Seattle and people up here put tens of thousands of miles on theirs. Rad isn’t throwing cheap chinese stuff out on the roads. Far from it. And I don’t even ride Rad, I use another D2C brand, Ride1up, that I also swear by.

It’s incredibly disingenuous to imply Rad doesn’t make good products. They’re on par with anything in the 2-4 grand range. Their cheaper bikes are higher volume, much lower margin, so you’re getting good parts for a big discount, same as with a luxury car brand. That bmw 1 series earns a lot less for the materials than a loaded 7 series, but it builds brand loyalty. Same with Rad. I know tons of people up here who started with their cheap model and just upgraded down the road because they were happy customers.

Steve
Steve
3 months ago

I own two DtoC eBikes that have, so far, (knocking on wood) served me quite well. Just like any bike it’s important that all of the components’ manufacturers are reputable and that service is available. I am hopeful, but not expecting, that when it comes time to service either of my bikes a local shop will be helpful.

Scron Lively
Scron Lively
3 months ago

As suspected, a greenwashed fad. In 3-5 years Craigslist will be a wasteland of 50lb. ebikes that the owners rode a few times and abandoned. Amazon, Costco, etc. know exactly what they’re doing.

Meanwhile I’m still an advocate of human powered transportation. I don’t suppose that alone will be enough to save the Western Sage Grouse from the effects of Oregon’s next lithium mine.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Scron Lively

Tele tubby astride electric moped isnt even virtue signalling until pedal cadence exceeds 30 rpm

JEFFREY BERNARDS
2 months ago
Reply to  Scron Lively

One E-car battery equals 133 e-bike batteries. My e-bike is my car, which I use to tour around Europe. They recycle lithium batteries which are better batteries than the “new” ones. My e-bike is a lot more eco-friendly than a car anyday.

Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago

Since we are on this topic:
Does anyone have any up to date recommended Portland repair shops for the Kalkhoff brand and also rebuilding (re-cell) old e-Bike battery packs (Panasonic, Derby, etc)? …as they long ago closed their Portland shop.

el timito
el timito
2 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

I will echo a comment above to suggest Nomad Cycles on NE Sandy & 58ish. They are welcoming of all e-bikes. And when it’s fixed you can come by W. Gresham and say hi!

X
X
3 months ago

A $1200.00 bike should definitely work. The “e” in ebike means a whole new layer of stuff that has to work, else it’s a boat anchor bike. A $1200.00 ebike that is apparently about $500.00 off the boat–that’s how I read that sale price–how far can you trust it? Or, how far can you carry it?

I’m also tempted by low prices but my old man told me to never be cheap buying shoes or tires. Bikes come with tires.

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
2 months ago
Reply to  X

Myself and two other friends bought them as well, and all three of those are still working. So, statistically a 75% hit rate. 🙂

Matt
Matt
3 months ago

But Dagny’s experience made me wonder if there are more people who have had trouble with their new Rad Power bikes and how local bike shops are dealing with it.

Lots of people have trouble with them, and lots of shops won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole. Source: I’m a mechanic at a local bike shop that doesn’t work on them.

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

I am old , slow, and lazy but am waiting at least a few more years to consider an e bike. Right now they seem like derailleurs from the 1940’s–some nice ideas but still half baked.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave

No, Dave – ebikes are ready for prime-time. You just need to buy a good one for the standard price (not 500 bucks) from a reputable dealer who will stand behind the bike and service it for you regularly. It will serve you as well as your traditional bike ever did.

People just don’t yet know what to expect from the ebike market so they are buying crap and thinking it’s good, but this behavior will pass as the market matures.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

now for an endless selection of new variant booster bikes. . .

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave

good plan as plenty of em with dead batteries will be free crap piles soon anyway. Wheeled “exercise machine .2”

FlowerCrow
FlowerCrow
3 months ago

RadWagon 4 Owner here

Please tell Dagny to check the LCD connection on the handlebars, it has silver screw threads and often comes loose, causing the issue you described.

If that doesn’t work it’s most likely a busted controller, and she should email rad to send a replacement (hopefully for free). Ebike shops don’t carry a rad controller or almost any rad part, so that’s the only option. She could install it herself, really easy, just some zip ties, or bring it to an ebike shop.

Thanks, FlowerCrow.

FlowerCrow
FlowerCrow
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

Forgot to mention:

it may also be a busted LCD. Consult with Rad in emails and describe exactly what happens on the screen and they’d probably know whether its the LCD or Controller.

Brendan
Brendan
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

I’ll also throw in an issue that my wife’s rad bike had: the cable connecting the controller to the motor was slightly loose – I simply plugged it back in and it was fine. There are so many ways for cables to get disconnected so its a fairly simple QA to check those first and then move on to bigger items.

Scott Bassett
Scott Bassett
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

The Radmission does not have an LCD display. Just a simple LED light readout with a few pushbuttons. That simplicity is one of the things I like about mine.

GG
GG
3 months ago

I love my Rad bike. I’m about to hit 2k miles and have never had a tune up. The bell did quit working almost immediately, but whatever. I add some air to the tires occasionally and that’s it. For $1200, I’ll call it a steal.

PO
PO
2 months ago
Reply to  GG

3 years and almost 5k miles here, and still very satisfied with my Rad Rover. Only thing to break so far was the USB port in the display no longer sends power. Other than that still going strong.

JG
JG
2 months ago
Reply to  PO

I have 6k on my Radwagon, 5.5 years old, and no problems minus some flats and the front light had to be replaced. Just bought a RadMission. I wouldn’t put RadBikes in the same category as Costco and Amazon cheap bikes. More like the Honda of the ebike world. But whatever, it is a fun ride, exercise and it has kept us a one car family.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  JG

Maybe after you get about 80K trouble free miles you can call it the Honda of ebikes.

EEE
EEE
3 months ago

Most should be able to do all of the fixing on your own, but for the retail industry’s stranglehold through proprietary crap. Ebike systems are otherwise very simple systems with about 4 components that basically just plug into each other, with each easily being directly replaceable. Each component is relatively cheap too, except for the battery. And the tech hasn’t changed in more than a decade despite what the marketing teams would have you believe. If you can replace your brake pads, and replace a light switch (without dying), you *should* be able to service your ebike with ease. Alas.

FlowerCrow
FlowerCrow
2 months ago
Reply to  EEE

Couldn’t agree more. This article’s point of “ebike owners need to learn a lot, ebikes just aren’t refined yet” is annoying, it’s just normal bike maintenance with extra (and easy) steps.

What’s more to simplify about a battery, controller, motor, and LCD? Do people want it simplified into Apple’s can’t repair it yourself hell?

EEE
EEE
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

I would simplify it further by ditching the LCD. The fourth component needed is the throttle — twist, button, cadence, torque, voice, neural link, etc.

The LCD ends up being just another intermediate proprietary failure point. It’s also just plain ugly to me, so I haven’t had any sort of display actively plugged into an ebike in years. If I had to have one it might only show the pack voltage, to serve as an indicator for remaining battery capacity. Fortunately, voltage details have been readily accessible for years via bluetooth on basic off-the-shelf batteries so if I really want to know it I would (begrudgingly) pull the phone out of my pocket . . .

JS
JS
2 months ago
Reply to  EEE

So it’s easy to self-service, but professional bike shops won’t work on them? Sounds like they’re just allergic to giving up their sales commissions.

Caleb
Caleb
2 months ago
Reply to  JS

If you ask me, EEE and FlowerCrow are projecting here. Many people who ride bicycles don’t even understand the mechanics of them, and many who understand the mechanics lack any electrical knowledge, so the ease of self-service, regardless of how proprietary any bike and/or its parts are, is more relative than they suggest. Many ebike users do have much to learn about how an ebike functions and/or how to diagnose and repair it.

As for why professional shops won’t work on them, I’d suggest considering more than commissions. Some shops don’t even work on commission, after all, but any wise shop owner will consider how familiar they are with a brand, its bikes, and its logistics, not to mention any potential liability associated with their repair and/or potential fire hazards associated with their batteries.

EEE
EEE
2 months ago
Reply to  Caleb

Sorry if it wasn’t clear by what I meant by “most.” Not talking about those that “don’t even understand the mechanics of [bicycles]” or those that “lack any electrical knowledge.” I meant that the state of ebike technology and interoperability should be such that most of the subset of people who can perform basic service on their own bike, like replace brake pads or a flat tire or whatever, should be able to fix any ebike component as well, assuming they also know how to do some basic electrical maintenance, like replace a light switch. So start with that subset of people with basic mechanical and electrical knowledge and ask “can i fix this average ebike?” Ideologically, I think the answer should be “Yes” for most in that subset. Unfortunately, the actual answer is “No” and I posit it’s directly because of the proprietary nature of most ebikes, mail-order or store-bought.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
3 months ago

Ever since owning a bike with a BionX motor, I will not buy a bike with a proprietary system from a company that does not have a track record. When BionX suddenly went out of business, it became impossible to service them. They required that the bike shop make a computer connection to the factory to diagnose and address issues. With no company, there was no maintenance.

I’ll only buy Bosch, Shimano, and Bafang systems now. Parts and maintenance should be available on these for a long time to come. I’d rather buy an older bike with one of these systems than a new Rad or other online bike. They’re just not worth the risk.

FlowerCrow
FlowerCrow
2 months ago
Reply to  I'll Show UP

Rad uses Bafang motors. You can order them direct from Bafang.

The only issues relating to the controller/LCD on rads that would require a computer are practically none, the system is built around error codes. However if it really comes down to it, you can use the USB port on the LCD to connect to your own computer. Most issues would come out as an error code on the LCD, if not that then the LCD/Controller likely needs completely replaced.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

Interesting! I always thought that’s why local bike shops won’t touch them. I wonder what’s the issue that makes them less desirable to work on.

Tony
Tony
3 months ago

I had a Rad Power Mini for a few years and it runs well. Rad Power is one of the earliest eBikes companies in the US and it’s the largest. I am not sure how they’re making money on a $500 bike. $1200 to $500 sounds fishy type of sale. More like trying to get rid of those entry-level bikes.

The Rad Power Facebook group has 56,400 members. Ask in the group when you have problems with your Rad bike. I am sure you will get plenty of help and probably someone had the same exact problem.

Worst case drive to Seattle and let the Rad repair shop fix it. (or maybe they’ll just replace the whole bike).

When all of RAD’s ebikes cost less than the least expensive ebike at the eBike store, there’s a reason for the eBike store to be skeptical about ebikes sold online.
You’re paying extra for the middleman (eBike store).

mark
mark
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

You’re paying extra for support and service. You’re paying extra for a physical store that can diagnose issues, and work directly with the manufacturer on your behalf if there are warranty related repairs that need to be made. You’re paying extra to be able to test ride a variety of different bikes to find what works best for you. You’re paying extra to have your new bike assembled by a trained professional, and adjusted so that everything works properly.

It might not be worth it to you, but there are many valid reasons to pay more than what Rad Power is charging for their direct-to-consumer bikes.

Tony
Tony
2 months ago
Reply to  mark

Yeah I understand very well why they cost me more. Same thing with auto dealers. However many people do not want to go to a dealer for every kind of service and get an overpriced quote.

Nothing wrong with buying a direct-to-consumer bike and going to a bike shop for service. I can save some pretty money this way. Many people can also do their own repairs. A bike is not a complicated device.

As for RAD bikes, people in Portland can visit their location in one of their Seattle visits and test ride their bikes.

The difference in price between a RAD and a $2500+ bike is at least $1000. I had my Rad Mini for 4 years and never had to go to a bike shop to service it. A $1000 at least in savings is not trivial.

A $50-$100 can have a trained professional assemble an ebike that’s already mostly assembled when it arrives and make sure it’s done properly.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Tony

drive to seattle to fix a greenwashed electric moped. ROFL classic, thanks for the laugh.

Michael Stone
Michael Stone
3 months ago

When I read about this sale ($1200 eBike for $500), I jumped at the opportunity and ordered 2 of them (one for me and one for my girlfriend). The deal was so good, I worried there might be some catch or scam even. If there was, I’ve yet to find it. The bikes arrived on time, I enjoyed assembling them, they are absolutely beautiful, have good components (tektro disk brakes) and are fun to ride. My girlfriend loves hers too. So far, I feel like I totally scored in this purchase!

Ed
Ed
3 months ago

Got a Radrover 6 plus on sale a few weeks ago. It seems to be well built and it handles very well. Hopefully I won’t have any issues down the road, but so far so good.

FlowerCrow
FlowerCrow
2 months ago

Something to add to this article: Rad would rather save their ego and money over killing their customer’s lives.

I got a RadWagon 4 in December of 2021.

In that time, I had to buy about 3-4 tires and numerous tubes, as the tires kept blowing out of the sidewall seam at the stitches. Because Rad sells proprietary tire sizes to further take your money, I could only order them from Rad’s website. And the tires were a flawed design. A loop occurred.

Now when I say blowing out of the sidewall seam, it’s like an actual mini-explosion. LUCKILY It only occurred two times at a low speed of maybe 10mph, and once after I got off my bike at home. My tires were in the middle of the PSI range and I wasn’t even close to the bike’s weight limit each time. Had it occurred while say going 20+mph on a two-lane road, I could have been killed.

Now I searched for “Rad Wagon Tire Blowout” and found a ton of posts on reddit of users telling similar stories and learned that it wasn’t just me. It applied only to the RadWagon 4. Keep in mind the RadWagon 4 is extremely popular with parents, as they can tow 2 kids on the integrated frame rack. Rad advertises this and sells seats/handlebars to mount for kids. I saw many posters/commentors who ride with their kids and, after learning of the blowouts, were now extremely weary of their RadWagon, and some even called it quits. I first saw all these posts in around January of 2022 when I had my first blowout.

By my third tire blowout I was pissed, these tires are like $50 a pop and you have to wait for shipping, etc. The tires weren’t in stock, and I left my 3rd reddit post warning users about the issue. My bike became a brick, as I couldn’t order new tires, so I was SOL. This was about 8 months after January, and the issue was already well documented back then, and rad most definitely knew in that time period, so why was this still a problem? People were emailing and making posts about the issue to rad support for likely a year at this point.

After 8 months of me personally having the issue (maybe it goes back further, the RadWagon was released in 2020), Rad finally did *something*. They issued a ‘safety notice’, and said that only bikes purchased **AFTER!** July of 2022 were affected, in which the tires were blowing out as described. My bike is from December 2021! About a week later they finally changed to all RadWagons, yet the new tire design would still only be sent for free to the newer bikes after July. So no free tires for me despite it not being my fault. The amount of reddit posters saying they’ve refunded and returned their RadWagon after the safety notice is huge and increasing every day.

So, 2-3 months later after the safety notice, the new tire design for the RadWagon 4 still hasn’t come in-stock, and all RadWagon 4 owners have been advised to put down their bikes, Rad recommends you don’t replace the tire with a 3rd party one. So for many, their $2,000 Rad has been a brick for months. For some including me, that’s their only form of transportation.

They had 9 months to fix this earlier, yet they continued into the summer with the problem over the safety and lives of their customers to make more money. They only conveniently made the recall right when summer ended and sales were down. They don’t care about the safety and lives of parents riding their RadWagon with their kids. They knew, they didn’t care. On my third blowout, I couldn’t wait for the new design to come in stock, it’s been almost 3 months and I use my bike to commute. So I and a few others have replaced their tires with heavy-duty motorcycle tires, 2.75×18 is a size that fits best. However, they’re much heavier and require 2 people to bead, can’t fix a flat without a crowbar now. Here’s some deception: Rad lists the RadWagon 4 tire as a 22×3 even though the dimensions are exactly 18 in diameter. They measure from the edge of the tire instead of the rim (measuring from rim to rim is the standard practice for all tire sizes) to again try and prevent the customer from ordering any tire other than their godforsaken proprietary crap that’s actively trying to kill you.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

Thanks for sharing this story – er, nightmare. Interesting how it follows the posts about how great manufacturer-to-consumer retailing is, and how it saves the consumer so much money. Well, what is the cost of a broken and useless “brick” bike?

You have highlighted the value of a reputable e-bike store that stands behind the products they service.

chris
chris
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

look up the zip tie method for mounting stiff tires, it’s so easy.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  FlowerCrow

This is 100% good information except when it comes to nominal tire sizes.

On bicycles, the popular names are all based on the (approximate) inflated diameter of the tire. This leads to the confusing situation of a “29 inch”, “28 inch”, and “700C” (a French designation originating from a 700 millimeter inflated diameter) all using the same ISO bead seat diameter of 622 millimeters. A “27 inch” tire, meanwhile, is actually a *larger* bead seat diameter of 630 millimeters.

So while I generally agree that Rad Power has some shady business practices, this tire size thing is the whole bike industry, not just them. Now, with that said, the 22 inch tire size is exceedingly rare in the bike world so it was still a bad choice on their part.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

I’m not in Portland, but my Rad City 4 has gotten me around the North Atlanta suburbs for almost 3500 miles in 2.5 years. Awesome bike. Haven’t had any problems with RAD’s support on the few occasions I’ve needed them.

EP
EP
2 months ago

I think mid-drive ebike systems are great, and hopefully a bit more future-proof than some of the other proprietary systems that are flooding the market. With a mid-drive there’s just a big motor that bolts to a bracket on the frame where the crankset would be, and a battery and controller. Everything else is standard bike parts; wheels, shifters, etc. No weird adapted contraptions, motor-hub wheels, or other strange one-off stuff. The support will be good for these systems from Shimano/Bosch/etc. for a long time. Hopefully at some point things get a bit more standardized industry-wide, such that there aren’t as many ewasted un-fixable ebikes rotting away.

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  EP

That was one of my motivations behind getting a mid-drive ebike. I want to be able to ride and maintain it for a long time.

Tony
Tony
2 months ago

Every product on earth has a lemon in x number of quantity. The issue is if these bad ones are more than an acceptable number. For RAD bikes, this is not the case. For every one unhappy customer, there are thousands of happy ones but we only hear about the unhappy ones.

Check the connectors or something.

I am pretty sure the Ebike Store services the same bikes they sold. More expensive bikes doesn’t mean they don’t go bad and need service. Things break down. Don’t or can’t they service RAD bikes?

Mike
2 months ago

I had the exact same occur with my new rad expand 5. Rad was not helpful regarding troubleshooting over phone and email. They felt it might be a controller fault and insisted I recreate the failure wile riding the bike and video it at the same time and send then the video. They could not describe how I would accomplish this while riding a bike ? After several weeks of pondering I ordered and recurved a new controller which did nit work when it was installed (bent prong). Bike shop out the old controller back in and it has worked ever since. I believe the fault was due to riding at 95 degrees. I had risen at 89 prior with no problems but 95 was a problem. Risen as cold as 32 degrees no problems (rad say minus 4 deg is limit). I nit extremely comfortable with long trips due to this failure. Thanks

Bob Collins
Bob Collins
2 months ago

The problem with the rider’s bike is usually one of many connections have come loose or are contaminated. Pull each apart, clean and reattach. Same with the battery.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob Collins

The problem is real bicycles that are such a POS get tested and dont even make it to the testers publication while any excuse is embraced to justify the electric moped ?

Just like the worthless Tesla toy, complete propoganda.

Becky Jo
Becky Jo
2 months ago

We have 5 Rad bikes. 4 Missions (cheap entry level), and 1 Rover (fat tire.). 3 are now a year old. I shorted out my battery on the Rover – 100% user error. Ok, maybe 5% bad design as it’s a common mistake, but still user error.

I’ve done the basic maintenance on them, installed fenders & racks.

Locally in Portland, Brian at VeloFix is gold. He can do all the rest in his sleep. Highly recommend.

I loathe FB, but use the search function in the RAD groups (get on the upgrade groups & check YouTube too.) it’s all there. There’s even a fix for my shorted out battery. AND there’s hacks for the displays to make it go over Class 1 if you’re past warranty & feeling cheeky (not necessarily a recommendation & your insurance in some states like Oregon will call it a motorcycle if you do…so don’t be stupid about it & get a motocross helmet if you do.)

The PA is great when I’m hauling groceries or going long distances. The throttle + PA is fantastic when I don’t want to show up sweaty.

We are STILL carfree. This is how. One kid moved to Boston & 1 to Eugene, leaving 2 at home + 2 adults. Out of 6 of us, still only 2 have driver’s licenses & no one owns a car.

This is the way. Y’all showed me how to bike year round and we took it next level. Join us.

Pamela
Pamela
2 months ago
Reply to  Becky Jo

Love this so much!! No matter the bike, it’s one less car on the road

chris
chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Becky Jo

are you on radowners.com ? old school looking forum, but tons of info and usually a quick reply to any questions you post.

Zack
Zack
2 months ago

The answer to how they’re making money off the $500 bikes is that they aren’t making any money. They need cash flow to pay for the 3+ law suits they’re currently facing

Pamela
Pamela
2 months ago
Reply to  Zack

Could be, but they’re discontinuing that model and likely wanted to sell remaining stock

M. Sullivan
M. Sullivan
2 months ago

I’ve had a Rad Wagon for 3 years, it has been great, and we plan on keeping it forever. I have friends who also have one and love theirs. Saying it will end up in a landfill is absurd. We’ve had to have the rear wheel worked on a couple times because of some issues with spokes, but we have 2 kids that we were hauling around constantly, so that is a lot of weight. They have been redesigned for more weight since we got ours so I don’t think that would be a problem with newer models. We have had all of our service done by Velofix, they repair on site and at good rates. There are a lot of people who have a financial interest in saying you need to spend 3k to get a reliable ebike but it isn’t true.

Pamela
Pamela
2 months ago

I have a Radpower City that I bought at the start of the pandemic and based on the things I read about the newer models, I got lucky. This is a fabulous intro ebike for someone like me that wasn’t sure if biking was going to work for me. Two years and 3000+ miles in, I’m sold on cycling as my main form of transportation. I am eyeing a new ebike and acoustic bike purchase in the next couple of years. This bike changed my life in so many ways so I’m grateful.

Chris L
Chris L
2 months ago

Cheap ebikes are great. We used one to verify that we liked the lifestyle and that we should spend more on a nicer one. E-bikes have two things working against them in our findings… 1) they weigh a ton and non e-bike stores cannot put them in a stand, so you HAVE to find an e-bike store and 2) if the store doesn’t sell the brand, they won’t have parts and are limited in how they can help you. We ultimately shopped ebikes on which MOTOR you get and if that manufacturer has a plan for servicing. Bosch is doing this well and that’s what we ended up with (in a Tern from clever cycle) – the cheap ebike is still in our stable, but unfortunately, I fear that all cheap ebikes will become a recycling nightmare in 2-5 years as the batteries and motors all become defunct over time and without proper repair options, people will just sell them cheap or junk them out of frustration and the (slightly more) disposable prices.

joan
2 months ago

I want to shout out excellent local bike shop Metropolis. I got my kid one of the $500 ebikes (he was riding a hand me down bike anyway), and everything was good except for the disc brakes. Metropolis was happy to do the work to get the brakes adjusted properly. They’ve worked on lots of my bikes over the years, from my 50 year old steel Raleigh to this new ebike, and I’m so glad they’re game to work on them all.

Matt Hall
Matt Hall
2 months ago

I live in Orlando and have had Rads since 2016 in Santa Barbara. I can’t find anyone in central Florida that works on these bikes, and RAD support is awful. I have an intermittent outage as I ride my bike, and RAD is not helpful at all

Mike Sinner
Mike Sinner
2 months ago

I currently have 3 rad power bikes, one for my wife, mine, and just recently purchased an upgraded fat tire for my daughter in law. A comment that I read concerning the electrical couplings from controller are correct, they come loose and you can’t see them due to the quality of connection. Loosen the connections and re-install and your bike hopefully will come back to life. Love the rad power bikes.

Brett
Brett
2 months ago

I have two RAD bikes and both are awesome. Going on two years and the only thing I had to replace was a 5amp fuse for one of the batteries. I’ve had nothing but professional responses and help whenever I have reached out to the RAD support team. There’s a few people on this thread talking cr@p about RAD bikes, which tells me they’ve never had one. They are a quality company in this game dominated by cheap Chinese made products.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago

I had a coworker who received a bike that didn’t work, they sent a whole nother bike at no extra cost and he ended up fixing the broken bike and giving it to his father

Todd/Boulanger
2 months ago

Since we are the topic: the BRAIN newsletter mentioned this week about a national effort to comprehensively “recycle” ebike batteries…

https://www.call2recycle.org/e-bikes/

Jake
Jake
2 months ago

Ebikes are pretty much a cottage industry. Repair and service is a big deal. It’s hard for some riders to do it on their own. When I had problems with my Rad bike, I noticed other riders were having similar problems when I reviewed online e bike group comments.
Lee Iacocca made an attempt at marketing ebikes years ago but failed because he tried to incorporate e bikes into various Chrysler dealerships. People looking for cars didn’t seem to want bicycles even if they were ebikes.
E bikes are different. Many of them lack quality components, bearings, hubs, etc. They handle differently and require a different knowledge base.
So keep learning and be careful.

Henry Weiler
Henry Weiler
2 months ago

I purchased a Radrunner and then a Rad mini. I prefer the mini because of 7 speeds and a better display with speedometer. I now have over 2,400 miles on the mini and the only problem was a flat. But the Radrunner did die out on me a couple times. What I found out was the connection from the display to the motor had loosened but not disconnected. A little tape placed around this connection helps make sure this doesn’t happen. But Rad has an excellent assortment of self help videos and if you have minimal skills and tools you can maintain the bike yourself. I never touch my regular bikes now because the ebikes are so much more fun to ride and extend my rides well beyond what I would otherwise be capable of. I regularly ride to the beach and back even in the mid day heat and strong winds without any problem. It is one of the best purchases of my life.

Robert
Robert
2 months ago

I purchased a Rad City 5 Plus for my wife. The bike worked great the first few weeks, but now it has had issues with error codes. Unfortunately it has seen considerably more garage time than ride time. I have been communicating with Rad via email and they have sent me several replacement parts, but none have solved the problem. More parts on the way. I have found their customer support via email the best way to contact them.

X
X
2 months ago

Great comments people, I’m going to school on Rad bikes without putting any money down.

I’m still itchy about that price cut. As other people said, perhaps they badly need some cash or they’re dumping an orphaned model. I still tend to think they’re grabbing for market share at the expense of offering local service.

At 45¢ / mile a car trip from to Seattle from Portland is $130.00. Does a person just pop over every time something comes up? Oh, your car is a bricked e bike. This doesn’t show in the price.

E bikes are potentially a boon for local bike shops who can hack them, but no wonder people don’t want to touch bikes that won’t fit in a work stand, with wheels that were never properly finished and bad tires that aren’t replaceable. Wait in line to buy parts at retail so you can chase faults with time and money? No thanks.

If there weren’t any other e bikes available I might consider a Rad bike with wheels rebuilt to a strong standard rim. You can’t undo a kludgy frame but good wheels help forget the suck.

Colin
Colin
2 months ago

I live in Seattle and Radbikes (they do have a physical store, it’s just up here in Seattle) basically owns the market. I ride with people who have had theirs for years and 10,000 plus miles, and I’ve yet to run into anyone who’s had a single complaint. I’ve genuinely only seen one break down thusfar, and he had 20k miles on it and it also saw daily abuse from saltwater on the back of our fast ferry. He said they could fix it pretty cheaply, but he just wanted a new one. I ride a Ride1up roadster Ebike (another direct to customer brand) and though I do all the work on it myself, no shop has said they would have issue working on it, and the customer service Ride1up has, even now that my bike is out of warranty, is nothing short of “above and beyond”, including replacing a failed part for free outside of warranty and giving me advice on customization and very in-depth repair. They even include enough tools to fully disassemble and maintain the bike yourself, along with video guides on how to do everything up to and including swapping the entire stator assembly.

I know the fire-sale radbikes had for $500 was selling those bikes at a loss, just to move some stock and keep themselves in people’s mind. The battery pack alone isn’t much less than that, and the bikes are still made with nice parts. I’ve been up-close with basically everything in their lineup and it’s all rugged and well made. And again, I’m not even one of their customers.

Local shops are pushing rather monstrous upsales on their ebikes. I don’t see a single detail on the radbikes or Ride1up I own that isn’t the same high quality brand name parts on the stuff being sold for 2-10 times as much in bike stores. The V2 gravel’s belt drive is gates, its battery cells samsung, it’s built to a high level of precision with fasteners that have not rusted or broken, I opted for the cheaper version with a no-name belt system and apart from breaking one belt myself, it’s had nothing beyond tubes and brake pads and a computer that they shipped me overnight, for free, outside of warranty.

It’s laughable to assume that your cheapest e-bike is the price of a new 250-300cc motorcycle from yamaha or suzuki, and that you’ve got a “budget” price. They just see low-volume sales so want to justify the high margin they need. It’s fine to cater to premium customers, but don’t pull the whole “caveat emptor” argument just because you don’t sell a product. Cheap ebikes are still bikes, and encouraging anything that gets more people out of cars and onto bicycles of any sort is good. Don’t gatekeep cycling. A lot of people really want to get out and ride but live somewhere with hills, don’t have a baseline level of fitness, are elderly, and don’t have 3 grand to drop on something they don’t know they’ll stick with, but if that $398 ebike at walmart serves as their gateway to cycling, we should all applaud that. Cycling shouldn’t be exclusive to “hobbyist/enthusiast” price brackets.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

I purchased a $500 Radmission. Although I am an office guy, building pro quality bikes (and riding, of course) has been a hobby of mine for 40 years. The Radmission is my 1st ebike, as I couldn’t resist at that price (which actually ended up being $400 with discounts). It’s basically a department store quality bike with their proprietary electric rear wheel system. I modified the heck out of mine. The frame and rear wheel is basically all that’s left. Radmission does do I great job with packaging and instructions.

Bob
Bob
30 days ago

Hmm, lots of people will buy an e-bike when it’s priced reasonable. Shocker! Too bad all the e-bike sites quote “reasonable” as $1,500+. People want e-bikes but not over $1,000+ ones. Why is this so hard? There’s no reason e-bikes can’t be well made for $500-$700. But hey, gotta make a buck.

Getting more people on e-bikes would likely spur better bike infrastructure which in the US is mostly terrible. How do you get more people on e-bikes? Make them affordable as in under $700, not $1,500. The people who mistakenly believe cyclists are pretentious is partly due to how overpriced all bikes are, especially e-bikes. Wanna get more cars off the road, make e-bikes affordable.

I’d love to get an e-bike and just missed the $500 sale but there’s no way I’m spending $1,000+ on an e-bike and based on how many got one on sale, I’m not alone.

Deb Woodward
Deb Woodward
26 days ago

My husband & I bought Rad ebikes while in AZ, put them together ourselves & then took them to a licensed bike shop to make sure we had done everything properly! Per the info on Rad power bikes we took our bikes to Steve at Vulture bike shop in Wickenburg, AZ! Very knowledgeable & great guy!! Will take back at 100 miles check!! Love our bikes!!