A lot of people considering e-bikes are doing so to either make getting into the outdoors easier, or they’re looking for a way to cut the number of car journeys they make each week. Both of those become a lot simpler with the RadRunner 2 thanks to grippy tires, a comfy seat and oodles of cargo-carrying capacity.
Full Disclosure: Rad Power Bikes shipped an electric RadRunner 2 out to New York City with a bunch of accessories for me to test on my commute and other rides around town.
Built by American bikemaker Rad Power Bikes, the RadRunner 2 is a fairly accessible electric bike. It starts at $1,499 and comes with a 672-watt-hour battery paired with a 750-watt hub motor that gives you four levels of pedal assist and a top speed of 20 mph. There’s a twist-style throttle for when you don’t want to put in the effort to pedal, and the maximum electric riding range is a substantial 45 miles. The bike takes about 4 hours to charge when plugged into a conventional household outlet.
For the price of a pretty serious traditional bike, you get a bulky, step-through frame that gives you a commanding upright riding position. The saddle is ridiculously comfortable, there’s a convenient rear luggage rack and the bike has mounts front and back for all manner of accessories. Rad Power Bikes also includes a set of built-in lights, chunky 20-inch tires to soak up the bumps, and cable disc brakes on both wheels. Overall, the RadRunner 2 is a nice package and comprises everything that anybody looking to dip a toe in the electric bike world needs.
As with any new bike that’s shipped to your door, there’s an element of assembly required. Thankfully, there’s a QR code on the RadRunner 2’s box that takes you to an easy-to-follow assembly video.
First, you screw the handlebars to the frame using four bolts. The bars attach at a set height, but you can tilt them back to make them lower if you’re a shorter rider. At 6 feet tall, I find that fitting the handlebars upright is the most comfortable way to ride, but again, do what’s best for you.
Once the bars are installed, you twist on the pedals and attach the front light, and a cable connects the light to the main battery pack. The final bit of assembly is to fit the front wheel. Take off the mounting stand that the RadRunner 2 ships with and replace it with the wheel — a quick-release axle makes this pretty simple. After that, it’s just a case of pumping up the tires and charging the battery.
The RadRunner2 is very nice to ride around town. It’s quite different from the last e-bike I tested, which was a $10,000 gravel bike that stole my heart, but the RadRunner is great for a whole other set of reasons.
Setting off, you can either twist the throttle on the right-hand grip or kick off with the pedals in your chosen level of assistance. Either way, the RadRunner 2 is zippy. Twisting the throttle quickly brings you up to speed and keeps you there. This lets you focus on weaving through traffic, avoiding the cop cars parked in the bike lane and watching out for pedestrians that erratically step into your path. New York City is a fun place to ride.
The pedal assist settings go from 0, which is off, up to 4, which makes your legs feel a little useless. I spend most of my time riding in level 2, which gives you a nice boost off the line, keeps you at a manageable speed and still makes it feel like cycling. The third level is nice for that one small hill on the way home from work, while the first level doesn’t feel like quite enough to haul around the bike’s 65-pound mass.
While cycling to and from work every day, as well as scooting out for errands, I usually covered 35 to 40 miles between charges. But frequent uphill rides or heading into the wind can be a battery killer.
No matter the scenario, this is an extremely comfortable bike to ride. The saddle has a lovely amount of cushioning, so my padded shorts have stayed safely packed away. What’s more, the upright riding position provides an excellent perch to observe your surroundings and doesn’t leave you with any strain on your back if you chose to cycle with a backpack.
To up the comfort factor, those big tires do a great job soaking up the bumps in New York city streets. Shocks don’t jolt up your arm when you hit a subway grate; instead there’s a bit of a bounce and you carry along your way — and that’s without the suspension upgrade that comes with the $1,899 RadRunner Plus.
One of the big draws of a bike like the RadRunner 2 is the seemingly countless number of accessories you can strap on to make it your own. On my review bike, Rad included a front luggage rack with a custom bag that fits snugly inside as well as a passenger seat that bolts to the rear. Both were easy to install, with just a few screws holding each in place.
The luggage rack is a godsend, with space for everything I need for a day at the office. The custom Rad bag is also really smart, and it’s fully waterproof, as I’ve learned during a few torrential downpours. It’s also got a contoured base that fits nicely into the rack, and two velcro tabs to hold the bag in place. You can also use the rack for other things, like carrying a saxophone to band practice or stowing a week’s worth of shopping. The Rad can carry most things with ease without feeling unstable.
The rear seat, I think, makes the RadRunner 2 look really sleek, but isn’t quite as useful. It’s relatively comfy and comes with some folding footpegs for added stability. But the weight of an adult passenger at the rear does take a bit of getting used to, and it’s an added drain on the battery. It’s nice, but isn’t a must-have like the extra storage.
Despite its fun, comfortable riding style, the RadRunner 2 isn’t without its flaws. In my relatively small New York apartment, the bike feels massive. The luggage rack protrudes beyond the front wheel and makes things cumbersome when you’re wheeling it out the door. And you’ll want to take the elevator since, at 65 pounds, it’s a very heavy bike to manhandle up and down stairs.
Also, I’d like to know my speed while riding. The standard control unit on the RadRunner 2 shows your charge and pedal assist settings, as well as whether the lights are on or off. You can upgrade to a full LCD screen that displays your speed for $99, but I wish this information was included as standard.
Of course, you can upgrade to the $1,899 RadRunner Plus to get the full LCD screen, as well as five gears, a standard rear seat and front suspension. But at no point did I feel like the RadRunner 2 was at a loss for not having gears or suspension.
The RadRunner 2 provides a really quite lovely way to ride around town, and it’s sped up my daily commute compared to the subway or a car. Despite its few shortcomings, with its cool looks, comfy ride and endless practicalities, the RadRunner 2 is a very attractive proposition for anyone looking to get on an e-bike for the first time.