RadCity electric commuter bike review: Affordable, urban, green, and just plain fun

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Seattle is a popular city for commuting to work on a bike and in May 2016’s Bike to Work month event, I captured the honors for most miles rode with over 451 miles completed. That month motivated me to continuing biking to work and one year later I took it to the next level with the purchase of my most expensive mobile device, the¬†RadCity electric commuter bike.

Last year Zillow issued a report stating that Seattle ranked as the number one city for bikes. This study looked at the percent of commuters who biked to work, how long it takes to get to work on a bike, the number of Zillow rental listings mentioning bike storage, and miles of protected bike lanes in each city. The mild year-round climate, access to trails, and various ways to combine biking with public transportation are also helpful in encouraging bike commuting.

Last May I started riding my 1993 Bridgestone XO-3 21-speed bike I purchased in 1994. It’s an awesome bike that still runs like a champ, but I started looking for something a few months ago that I could ride without having to shower after each segment, that could provide year-round transportation and could support my commute with the Sounder train without having to drive a car, and that would be fun to ride. Enjoying the ride means I am more apt to choose it over the car.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Frame: 16 and 20 inch models, 6061 aluminum alloy
  • Motor size: 750 watt brushless Shengyi direct drive hub motor with regen braking
  • Pedal Assist: Five levels with full throttle, no assist mode
  • Range: 20-40+ miles
  • Top speed: 20 mph
  • Battery capacity: 48V 11.6Ah Panasonic lithium ion, 800 charge cycles
  • Charge time: 4-5 hours
  • Display: Backlit LCD with speedometer, wattmeter, odometer, and battery gauge
  • USB ports: Two, one on battery and one on display unit
  • Lights: Wired 200 lumens headlight and battery operated LED tail light
  • Payload capacity: 275 pounds
  • Seat: Velo pluch saddle with lifting handle
  • Integrated rear rack capacity: 60 pounds
  • Brakes: Front and rear 180mm disc
  • Fenders: Front and rear provided
  • Drivetrain: 7 speed Shimano
  • Tires: 26 inch x 2.3 inch Kenda K-Rad
  • Bike weight: 60 pounds

HARDWARE

The RadCity has a modern matte gunmetal gray finish with cool orange highlights displaying the name, company brand, and some striping. It is great looking bike and I have had nothing but positive comments from everyone who has seen it.

The handlebars are in a riser form and can be raised and lowered with the adjustable stem. The handgrips are comfortable too and after nearly 200 miles of riding I have yet to feel any discomfort from them. There is a fairly loud, easy to operate, bell on the left side with the display controller and level selector switch located a few inches from the bell.

The right side handgrip is shorter than the left because the inner most two inches rotates as the throttle for the electric bike. This functions like a motorcycle with a rotation towards you causing the bike to accelerate. The more you rotate the handle, the faster you go forward. There is a red toggle switch for the throttle in case you want to keep yourself from giving in to the full throttle, Nacho Libre mode. The Shimano gear shift is also located on the right side with a lever and a button used to shift up and down, as you need.

Working back and down, you will find the massive Panasonic battery pack attached securely to the frame. There is a lock, two keys are included, so that you can secure the battery when you leave your bike locked up somewhere. You can charge up the battery while it is mounted or remove it and charge it as well. The rubber cover for the charging port is pretty terrible and I have yet to be able to get it to secure flat against the battery pack. There is a power button with blue backlight located on the upper left side of the battery pack.

Good quality Wellgo pedals are provided on the RadCity. They have nubs to keep your feet on the pedals and reflectors on the front and back to help with visibility.

The Velo plush saddle height can be adjusted and fits my 73 inch frame well. I found it to be very comfortable and never exhibited any discomfort while riding the RadCity. A convenient lift handle is found under the back of the seat and is one of the primary carrying points for me as I lug the RadCity up and down three flights of stairs at the King Street Station in Seattle. I’ve seen people perform lots of customization mods with these Rad Power Bikes, but I plan to leave the saddle alone for now on my RadCity.

There is a front suspension system, also adjustable, that seem to make the ride very comfortable when riding over tree roots, rocks, railroad tracks, and other bumps in the road. I can tell a huge difference in comfort compared to my standard stiff bike.

The direct drive hybrid unit, the Shengyi direct drive hub motor, is located in the center hub of the rear tire and provides all of the power for the assistance and throttle. The RadCity has a seven speed Shimano gear system with classic chain drive. The drive unit is black with silver highlights. It is powerful, quiet, and also looks good.

There is a rear cargo rack that is integrated directly into the frame of the RadCity. It allows you to strap panniers on either side and a trunk bag on top. I’ve secured my backpack to the rack as well. It has also been designed to fit a Yepp Maxi child seatback and look forward to taking my future grandkids for a ride on the RadCity.

A rear, battery-powered LED light is positioned at the back of the cargo rack. It is supposed to switch between solid red and flashing mode, but I have been unable to get it into flashing mode so use the solid mode with another flashing red light attached to my trunk bag that is secured to my RadCity at all times.

There is no water bottle holder provided on the bike and I have read in various forums that people have had trouble finding a water bottle rack that fits the RadCity. For now, I put water into my rear trunk bag, but will be looking for a water bottle solution to mount on the bike.

The bike comes with a charger, manuals, and a toolkit. The toolkit contains four wrenches, four allen wrenches, and a screwdriver with standard and Philips head ends. These are provided to help you keep things tightened up and adjust everything to your particular fit.

DISPLAY UNIT

The small display unit, from King Meter, is where the status of everything can be viewed and controlled. The display is permanently mounted to the bike so you don’t remove it or take it with you when you are not riding the bike. It is wired into the battery and other cables to control the bike. The monochrome LCD display measures 60 mm in width by 40 mm in height. There is a USB port on the bottom center of the display that you can use to charge your phone or even an extra front light for more visibility.

You will find basic information presented on the display, including a speedometer, an odometer, selected power level, and battery level indicator. If you ever have an issue with your bike, error codes will appear on the display as well. You can enter the display settings to switch between imperial and metric units, set the maximum speed governor (between 12 and 40 km/hour), and set backlight brightness.

You control the display with the three buttons on the left handle bar. Pressing and holding the up button and center action button at the same time toggle the display backlight and front headlight on and off. Pressing the up or down arrow moves you from 0 to level 5 pedal assist. The display shows power consumption while riding, from about 60 to 66 watts in assist level 1 up to 750 watts in assist level 5. Pedal assist uses a cadence sensor built into the drive train of the ebike which reads when you are pedaling and automatically turns the electric motor on to provide assistance when you are pedaling.

Unfortunately, there is no smartphone connectivity or way to download, use, or share the data that appears on the display as you ride the RadCity. The display simply shows the status and collects data for the odometer. I have been strapping on my Garmin Felix 3HR to capture GPS data, but haven’t yet tried mounting my Garmin speed or cadence sensors.

[“Source-zdnet”]