There’s a lot of talk these days, and rightly so, about reducing car trips and replacing them with public transit, cycling, or walking. The reasons to do so are manifold, from reducing congestion to improving our environmental outlook to just plain being healthier. I want to do all of those things, so I figured it was time for me to take a step into the e-bike world.
(Full Disclosure: Rad Power Bikes asked if I would like to test one of its bikes for long-term commuter and fun viability. I requested this beautiful orange workhorse, and the company was happy to facilitate. It shipped the bike and a pair of saddlebags to my house, and even offered to send someone out to assemble it for me. I chose to assemble it myself so I could give you all an idea of what it takes to put one of these together yourself.)
I asked for the RadWagon because if I’m going to be replacing car trips with bike trips, I am going to need the bike to have more utility than a backpack can offer. If I need to run to the hardware store to pick up some parts for a project, or I need to head to the grocery store for last minute missing parts of a dinner recipe, or I want to head to the library and bring a pile of books back with me, this will totally be up to the task. It looks like this will make a great commuter, and while not perfect for every scenario, an excellent arrow in this household’s quiver.
The fourth-generation RadWagon comes in a huge box. It was shipped FedEx with signature required for obvious reasons. With packaging that loudly shouts what is held inside, and a $1900 pricetag, this would be an easy nab for porch pirates if it were just dropped off. Signature required packages are always an annoyance, but better safe than sorry in this case.
In the box is a convenient tool kit which includes everything you need to put this bike together. For the full build, I really only needed three sizes of allen key to get it built, so there are actually more tools here than you need for the build.
I was surprised by how complete the bike was straight out of the box. The rear half of the thing was already together, with the rear wheel installed and the fenders in place. Basically all I needed to do in order to get riding was to put the front wheel on, install the handlebars, put on the pedals, the center stand, and the seat, and it’s all set. Heck, it even came with a fully charged battery.
Getting the handlebars on was the most frustrating part, as some of the instructions are a little vague in that segment. I was in a bit of a tizzy at that moment, so it’s the part I didn’t get any pictures of. Just know that the handlebars have to face the right way to work, obviously. After getting it wrong once and correcting myself, it was fairly straight forward.
Another part I wouldn’t call difficult, but took more patience than others, was installing the part Rad calls the “Deflopilator”. This spring keeps the front fork pointed forward and from over extending too far in either direction. It’s especially handy when picking the bike up. Stretching a small metal spring with your fingers isn’t always easy, so I put one of the allen keys into the unsecured end to give me a little more stability. Worked like a charm.
Once it was all put together, it was discovered that we needed some sour cream for the enchiladas we were cooking up for dinner. A perfect opportunity to test out the bike!
I’ll have a more in-depth review coming soon when I’ve had a few more miles under my belt, but initial impressions are positive. This thing is quite fast and fun to ride, and the different ride modes give it a different personality. I look forward to joining the pedal-powered commuters of the world. Maybe I’ll ride it downtown tonight to pick up a slice of pizza or something.
My only gripe is that for something with such a forward-thinking ecologically responsible message, the RadWagon sure does come with a lot of single-use plastic packaging. I suppose it needs to arrive in one piece, but I would really have liked to have seen shredded cardboard or something used rather than foam. I guess I’ll just have to use it a lot more to make sure it was all worth the waste.