Rad Trike is the first electric three-wheeler developed specifically for consumers by Rad Power Bikes, which is the biggest e-bike business in North America. Intended to make e-biking easier for more people, mainly older riders, to use, and it certainly does that. After trying out the trike, I can say that there are many things I like about it, but there are also some things I would have liked to see changed.
RadTrike Review: Tests in the Real World
Using an e-bike or e-trike in real life is the best way to get a feel for them. So I got a RadTrike and used it for everything you can think of in the real world. I took it shopping, rode it around my neighborhood, tried riding it to work, went on relaxing trail rides, and more.
Because it’s a three-wheeler, it’s a bit of a niche good. It’s not as niche though. There are millions of people who used to ride bikes and would love to get back on one, even though their balance or leg strength isn’t as good as it used to be.
Here comes the RadTrike.
Designed to fit these kinds of users. People of all ages can ride this electric three-wheeler. It’s comfortable, stable, and not too powerful. Young adults who want a utility platform that can carry 50+ lbs (23 kg) of groceries can use it, as can retirees who want to remember how fun it was to ride down the street with the wind in their faces.
See how some of the things I tested for my RadTrike review worked in the video review below. Then read on to find out what I think about RadTrike.
A movie review of the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike
- RadTrike technical details
- Motor: front-geared 750W hub motor
- The fastest it can go is 14 mph (22.5 km/h).
- Up to 55 miles (88 km) of range.
- 48V 10Ah battery
- 82 pounds (37 kg)
- It can hold up to 415 pounds (188 kg).
- Maximum load on the rear rack: 60 pounds (27 kg).
Front brakes are mechanical disc brakes, and back brakes are coaster brakes.
Extras include an LED display, built-in LED lights for the head, tail, and brakes, a bell, five pedal assist settings, a half-twist throttle, mounting for front and rear racks and accessories, a parking brake, a reverse function, and a comfortable two-part saddle with an adjustable back rest.
How it feels to ride
How stable the RadTrike is while riding was the first thing that caught my eye. As wide as the back could be while still fitting through most normal exterior doors, they did it. The 18-inch wheels also keep the center of gravity low, making the platform nice and stable. To really try to get it up on two wheels, I had to go fast and make sharp turns at the same time, or I had to throw my weight into a corner turn to lift the outside wheel on purpose. I never went up on two wheels by mistake, which happened with other e-trikes I’ve tried.
Many people think electric tricycles can be unstable, which is true, but the RadTrike is well-made to feel pretty stable. Most likely, you won’t unless you’re trying to tip it.
The start-up is also very smooth. I’ve tried other electric tricycles that burn out the front wheels right away because the throttle gives you so much power all at once. They made the RadTrike’s throttle ramping curve very slow and easy to use. In other words, the trike will slowly speed up for the first three to four seconds, even if you go full whiskey power and “floor it.”
That is a well-thought-out feature, and it’s very important when you have a motor in the front wheel like this.
While the motor is slowly building up to 750W, you can really feel it pulling you along after those first few seconds. I tried the RadTrike in Florida, which is pretty flat, so there aren’t any big hills. But the motor is strong enough to handle going up loading dock ramps and other hills.
The RadTrike can only go 14 mph (22 km/h), but going that fast on a trike feels a lot faster than going 14 mph on any of Rad’s other electric bikes. As long as the turn was wide enough, I could even go around corners at full speed. I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a sharp 90-degree turn at top speed, but you can if the turn is wide enough (think street crossing, not sidewalk turn). That’s more proof of how stable the RadTrike is, even when going faster.
Keep in mind that you need to pay attention to where all of your wheels are. That seems a little strange, but let me explain. Not just this electric bike, but all of them do this. But an e-trike has three wheels instead of two, so you have to control all three at the same time. You can’t just pull to the side of a pothole or piece of road debris like you would on a regular e-bike. Make sure you don’t catch your outside wheel in it by either straddling it between two of your wheels or going around it in a bigger circle than you would on an e-bike. As soon as you ride an e-trike as your main bike, though, you’ll know where all of your wheels are at all times.
Things I liked about it
Well thought out from the start is the RadTrike. It comes in a box that makes putting it together very easy. Just bolt the two bike halves together, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
The first time I saw the design of the bike online, I thought the middle part would be folding, but I quickly learned that it is actually a solidly bolted joint. With a 6mm allen wrench, you could take it apart in a minute or two, but it’s not a quick clasp. There is a quick-fold link at the handlebars, which is great for when you need to fit the bike in the back of an SUV or van because it cuts the handlebars down an extra inch.
The seat looks good and feels good, and it even has an adjustable back rest. For some reason I thought it might not feel good when riding since there is a lot more saddle under you (it looks more like a tractor seat than a bike saddle), but it did feel fine.
Another surprise is how low the saddle drops. You can drop it even lower than you would normally if you don’t want to pedal much and just want to speed around. This will lower your center of gravity even more. Plus, because the seat can go down so far, it can fit people who are as short as 4’10” (I can hear my mom happy).
There was a nice seat under me when I rode my bike off-road on gravel paths and grassy fields. The 18-inch tires aren’t very big, and there’s no suspension, so I did bounce around a lot. But the wide seat under me made it feel like I was bouncing on an office chair instead of a banana. That’s very important.
It’s also cool that the reverse function is simple to use—all you have to do is hold down the “down” button on the screen for a few seconds to get into reverse mode.
To be honest, I never really needed to use the reverse function. I mostly just played around with it because it was there. But I can see how it would be useful if you pulled into a garage spot too deep and had to back out, or if you got into another tight spot like that.
One more thing to keep in mind is that the turning radius is very small—you can pretty much turn inside the length of the trike. I could turn all the way around in the space of a sidewalk.
Let’s talk about stopping next.
The front brake is a disc brake, and the back brake is a coaster brake. There’s only one brake you need, but having the choice to stop with your feet is nice if your hands are weak or if you just don’t want to take your hands off the bars to reach the brake lever. Both of the RadTrike’s brakes are strong enough to stop it on their own. Slam the two together if you really want to stop on a dime. It will feel like you let go of something.
The parking break that’s already there is also great. The trike could roll backwards on a hill since it doesn’t have a frame, but the parking brake keeps it in place. It’s true that even a small hill will make that electric tricycle roll away. I’ve tried other ones without parking brakes.
Last, let’s talk about the battery. My first thought was that the 48V 10Ah battery, which is pretty small and only holds 480Wh, would make the range an issue. But the RadTrike isn’t very fast, so that battery dies slowly. Rad says the range can go up to 55 miles (88 km), but I don’t think I’d ever see that. However, it looks like 35 to 40 miles is easily doable in higher power modes. I think you might even be able to go farther than that stated range if you use the lower power mode. I was surprised by how efficiently the trike works since it doesn’t use as much power as I thought it would.
What I did not like about it
I love riding the RadTrike a lot. It’s nice. It’s not perfect, though, like all e-bikes. This electric bike has a few small problems that bother me.
It’s hard to start pedaling from a stop because it only has one speed. I always pop the gas to get going and then start riding. Remember to stop with the pedals horizontal (one forward and one backward) instead of vertical (one at the top and one at the bottom). This will make it easier to start on pedal assist alone. That way, you can really put weight on the front wheel. There’s a delay between when you start riding and when the pedal assist turns on to start the motor. You have to do all the work for the first half of a pedal turn.
The riding gear ratio seems to work best for speeds around 10 to 16 km/h. I think setting 4 of pedal assist is just right. That’s where I feel most at ease. When I’m going very fast on the top level (PAS 5), my feet spin a little faster than I’d like. Also, getting started is a real pain, as I said above. You could roll along with a partner at about 2 to 3 mph, which is another cool thing to know. PAS 1 is walking speed. Pedaling is a little harder at that speed with the bigger gear ratio, though.
Next, the bike weighs 82 pounds (37 kg), which is a lot. If you take out the battery, it loses about nine pounds, but it’s still not light. Rad used a steel frame, which makes it heavier. The bigger rear end, extra wheel, coaster brake hub, tractor seat, and other parts also add to the weight. I know I can lift the RadTrike out of a car, but I’m also 33 years old, healthy, and have something to show about my manliness. If you’re older or have had back problems in the past, your doctor may not want you to lift a heavy steel electric bike.
I also wish that Rad Power Bikes came with baskets as standard. I think the trike should have a back basket at the very least. You could store things on the RadTrike’s trunk, which is visible from the back. Plus, Rad’s rear end design and those low 18-inch wheels make for an incredibly low center of gravity. This makes it a great base for carrying things.
I know it’s probably about money. With the rack, it would cost more to ship the trike in a bigger box, and the aftermarket business would probably also suffer. I get it—their line of accessories is great, and that list has a lot of great cargo choices. But I still think a rear basket should have come as standard.
I also really wanted Rad to include their second screen that shows speed, mileage, and other things. Though it’s not required (since the RadTrike doesn’t give you tickets for going too fast), it would be fun to see your speed and keep an eye on your odometer. You can use the mileage for both maintenance and as a personal goal to reach big events (“Congrats on your first 500 miles!”).
Is RadTrike a good deal?
Cost is the last thing to talk about here. This is the most expensive bike from Rad Power Bikes. It costs $2,499.
When it comes to the price, I keep going back and forth. It’s not that the bike is bad. This bike is great. After thinking their biking days were over, thousands of people will get back on their bikes because it is well-designed, moves well, and feels well-built. However, I’m not sure where all $2,499 goes when I look at the parts themselves.
Rad’s other batteries are bigger, but this one is smaller. The brakes are simple, but they work well, and the frame doesn’t need any complicated metal shaping. The clever design of the package even makes it work well and save money without needing a freight delivery; it can fit on a regular FedEx truck. It all saves a lot of money.
The RadTrike has a lot of the same parts as a bike like the RadMission, which Rad used to sell for less than $1,000 before raising the price to $1,199. The only differences are an extra wheel, a parking brake, a coaster brake, a comfort seat, and a more powerful motor. I get that this has more, but is it twice as much?
However, there aren’t many good, inexpensive e-trikes available yet. A few are available at lower prices, but they are mostly from small builders and aren’t that good. In the past few years, I’ve only seen and tried a few e-trikes. They are either very cheap and dangerously broken, or they cost $3,000 to $5,000 and are out of reach for most riders. Here’s the RadTrike, an electric bicycle that’s not too expensive, well-built, and well-thought-out. It even comes from a big US company that has great customer service and a huge community of accessories that work with it. I guess I can explain why you have to pay for that ease of use.
Is the extra cost really worth it? Yes, I think so. At least, it is if you really want to buy an e-trike. E-bikes are a better way to get around, but they’re not right for everyone. The design of a purpose-built electric bike makes adding that extra wheel seem to add a lot to the cost. But for the thousands of riders who want and need that extra wheel to open up a whole new world of e-biking for them, that cost may be worth it. I promise you that you will never look back once you roll into that new world!