My Bike Commuting History
Let me tell you all about my RadWagon! I bought it in June of 2019 to commute with my ever-growing daughter. From the time she was in preschool and up until my purchase of the RadWagon, I would commute with her via bike and some sort of towing contraption.
First, I would take her to preschool via bike while towing her in a Thule Chariot. Then as she grew up a bit and became more capable and more interested in participating in the commute, we transitioned from the Chariot into towing her with a tandem bike attachment called a Burley Piccolo. She absolutely loved this and so did I! It was a phenomenal workout for me as I was towing a 30ish pound kid plus an 18-pound trailer bike up some pretty steep hills in and out of our neighborhood each day. The best part though was that I got to talk to her and hear her jabber away behind me as we were riding. It was such a fantastic way to share some time with her and to build her interest in not only cycling but the outdoors in general*.
As she got bigger and heavier though, I started to have concerns with the safety of towing her. I weigh between 115 and 120 lbs and Burley recommends a 2 to 1 adult to towing weight ratio. As my daughter neared 40 then 50lbs at 7-8 years old, the total payload neared 70+lbs. Any shift or transfer of her weight on the trailer bike, would result in my needing to adjust and react accordingly to avoid a potential wreck. At increased speeds, this became particularly challenging to manage. That’s when I started to check out and ultimately purchase the RadWagon.
What is a Rad Power Bike?
‘Rad Power Bikes’ (or Rad Bike for short) is a Seattle, Washington based company that produces a line of e-bikes**. At the date of this review, the company offers eight different models ranging in price from $1,299 to $1,699. You may notice that the price point of a Rad Bike is about half that of most e-bikes – the company achieves this by cutting out retailers and operating under a ‘direct to consumer’ business model. In other words, their bikes are not carried at your local shop; rather you merely place an order online and the bike is shipped to you directly from the company.
For purposes of this review, I’ll focus on the RadWagon.
The RadWagon is essentially a commuter bike with an extended frame over the rear tire. The extended frame has a platform which you can attach various accessories to in order to meet your needs, which I’ll talk about later. I chose this model primarily because I anticipated using it to haul my daughter and/or groceries rather some of the other models which would have been better served for merely commuting solo and/or for recreational purposes.
The bike has a payload capacity of 350lbs, which means that I can haul quite a bit of weight on the bike. As a result, I have reduced my driving to virtually nothing during non-winter months and have a blast at the same time.
How do I Use the RadWagon?
…let me count the ways…
Let’s see – I ride it to run errands like getting my hair trimmed, picking up groceries, going to meetings, grabbing coffee with a friend, going to the gym, etc. etc. My average round trip mileage for these types of trips is about 10 miles. On the longer-haul side, I often pick up my daughter from school – about a 17-mile round trip. Basically, I ride it pretty much anywhere I can unless there’s snow or ice obstructing my path***.
Benefits of E-bike Commuting
From a time-perspective, commuting via RadWagon is extremely efficient. I’ve found that on average, it takes me about a quarter of the time longer to ride the Wagon somewhere as it does to drive. With that said, there are often times, where I’ve been able to circumvent auto traffic and autoroutes via the use of bike paths and/or lanes, so there have been several occasions where my commutes have actually been quite a bit faster than if I had driven.
The other bonus and time saver is parking – I never have to circle a parking lot or search for street parking with the RadWagon. I simply roll up and lock it to the closest bike rack, signpost or fence. Sometimes that is even unnecessary, and I can simply park it where it’s visible to me, turn it off and lock the battery/power in the off position such that no one can roll it away. It’s heavy enough**** that no one is going to be able to make a quick get- away without the pedal assist. Similarly, any one person isn’t going to be able to lift it into the back of a truck and abscond with it that way.
According to the Rad Power Bikes website, the RadWagon has a range of 45+ miles per charge. Of course, this is dependent upon several factors including payload weight, wind resistance, hills, and how much you rely on the pedal assist rather and throttle.
With that said, I have been able to ride the Wagon for 20 miles and still had a full charge at the end of my ride. How? Well, the bike has what’s called regenerative braking which means that the battery recharges a bit every time you apply the brakes. Similarly, if you’re pedaling downhill, or on the flats, and reach the max speed on the bike’s regulator, the battery recharges. So, for example, my typical battery usage involves depleting the battery a bit while climbing up hills but recharging as I’m pedaling on flats and downhill. With that said, if you merely coast on the downhills, without applying brakes you will not recharge the battery.
The key to extending the battery charge range is playing an active role in riding the bike. In other words, the more you pedal and the less you use the pedal assist when unnecessary, the more battery life you’ll get. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t use the pedal assist; it means that a little pedal assist goes a long way.
Once you’ve placed your order and your bike has shipped, it’s important to know that your bike comes partially assembled. All of the really intensive, work is complete, but it will require some assembly. I won’t go into too much detail here as Rad Power Bikes has assembly instructions for each of their bikes posted clearly on the support page of their website. What I will say, is that it took me, my 8-year old daughter and one of her friends about an hour and a half to assemble ours – that’s how easy it was.
Bottom line – I love my RadWagon!
And don’t forget about the RadRunner 1! Another Tahoe Mountain Sports favorite…
Along with the RadWagon, you can find us biking around Truckee on the RadRunner 1. This bike is built for YOU and can be customized to your liking. There are over 330 accessory combinations meaning the choices are endless! Unlike other bench-style e-bikes, this one has an adjustable seat which makes the bike suitable for riders heights ranging from 4’11” – 6’2″. Because of this adjustability, the RadRunner 1 is a great choice for kids, teens, or even shared family use. You can expect the same high-quality Rad Power Bikes features like a powerful, long-lasting battery, durable components, and a maintenance-free motor all in a compact package. We love this bike!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Tahoe Mountain Sports will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate commissions help fund the content for this blog.
*Yes, I’m actually tearing up as I reminisce and write this.
**If you’re unfamiliar with e-bikes, they are essentially bikes with a motor designed to assist the rider. That is, they are not mopeds, or motorcycles where the rider is entirely passive. E-bikes utilize a motor to enhance the pedaling of the rider, via a pedal-assist model as well as a throttle mode.
***I have heard of people in our community riding their RadRover (a fat-bike model) in snowy conditions, which I think is awesome! With that said, I would not recommend this with precious cargo (ie. kids).
****A heavier cargo e-bike is a good thing. You want the weight to help stabilize the ride at higher speeds with higher payloads.
Read more Tahoe Mountain Sports ambassador tested gear reviews!
Mone Haen is a Truckee-based ultrarunner and regular TMS contributor