Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Review, 2023
A sensible electric bike for sensible riders, the freshly redesigned Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus is a Dutch-inspired e-bike that’s thoughtfully designed to cart you and the things you need for the day safely and efficiently.
In this Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus review, we take a look at how well this bike functions in the real world, putting it through a gauntlet of tests including a range test, hill test, braking test and more.
Rad re-released the RadCity in September 2021, giving the bike a new look, new motor and a refreshed battery design that looks slimmer and claims to stretch the battery range. The bike is modeled after the wildly popular (in Europe) Dutch-style commuter bike that boasts an upright riding position, relaxed styling and wonderfully balanced handling. They started with that design, added a nicely tuned 750W rear hub motor and decked the bike with affordable but good componentry.
The result is one remarkably nice electric commuter bike that won’t break the bank but will do just about anything you ask of it.
- The RadCity’s rear rack is one of the best. It’s bolted directly to the frame, has an EasyFit window for the Thule Yepp Maxi child seat and a high weight rating.
- The handling is very, very nice. It’s very stable, balanced and predictable.
- Like the predictable handling, the power from the 750W motor is nice and moderate at low speed with plenty of torque for climbing.
- Rad’s got one of the best reputations in the affordable e-bike industry, so you can trust they’ll stand by their bikes.
- We absolutely love the looks of Rad’s newest generation of e-bikes. They look much more grown up than the previous generation.
- The NUTT hydraulic disk brakes are spectacular under hard braking. This bike set a new record for the best stopping distance of any e-bike we’ve reviewed.
- The cable tidiness from the handlebars can be better. Instead of shortening cables where needed, they’re managed in zip-tied clumps that detract from the overall finish of the bike.
- The dual display setup is a unique and useful design, but the left-hand display can be tough to read in direct sunlight.
- Battery: 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) semi-integrated battery
- Display: Backlit LCD display
- Motor: 750W geared rear hub motor
- Headlight: Integrated
- Taillights: Integrated
- Peal Assist: Five pedal assist levels, cadence sensor
- Range: 28-50 miles, claimed
- Throttle: Half twist throttle
- Claimed weight: 65 lbs
- Maximum rider weight: 275 lbs (total payload capacity)
- Maximum load on rear rack: 59.5 lbs
- Brakes: “Rad Power Bikes approved” hydraulic disk brakes, 180 mm rotors front and rear. Our review bike came with NUTT hydraulic disk brakes.
- Fenders: Included
- Fork: 50mm suspension fork
- Frame: 6061 aluminum
- Drivetrain: Rad’s website says a mixed Shimano 7-speed drivetrain with an Altus derailleur and Tourney shifter, though our review bike has a MicroSHIFT Mezzu drivetrain
- Grips: Faux leather ergonomic
- Saddle: Rad Power Bikes branded ergonomic saddle
- Handlebar: Aluminum riser bar
- Kickstand: Included
- Pedals: Alloy
- Tires: Rad Power Bikes custom 27.5” x 2” e-bike rated with puncture resistant liner
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Bike Overview
Built around Rad’s proprietary 750W geared hub motor that they say climbs hill 40 percent quicker than the old bike, the new RadCity 5 Plus is a near spitting image of Rad’s flagship e-bike, the RadRover 6 Plus (just with smaller tires).
Released several months after Rad totally reinvented their look with the Rover 6 Plus, the RadCity 5 Plus has a similarly updated frame shape that gives the bike a very mature, more serious look, and the battery has also been partially sunk into the downtube of the frame for a more integrated look. That battery is a 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) unit that also has been redesigned, but this time to stretch the bike’s range.
Giving the rider control over the motor is a nicely refined cadence sensor, which engages the motor via pedaling, or a half-twist throttle on the handlebars, which engages the motor on demand. Both of which are limited to a max motor assisted speed of 20 mph, making the RadCity 5 Plus a Class 2 e-bike.
Slowing the bike down is a set of NUTT hydraulic disk brakes that clamp on 180 mm rotors front and rear. NUTT is a brand we’ve almost exclusively seen on the Rad e-bikes we’ve recently reviewed, but they’ve consistently been solid performers despite being relatively unknown.
Though Rad’s website says the RadCity 5 Plus comes with a mixed Shimano 7-speed drivetrain using a Altus derailleur and Tourney shifter, our review bike came with a microSHIFT Mezzu groupset. Rad reserves the right to substitute components as an ongoing parts shortage has made certain parts difficult to source, and that appears to be what’s happened here.
The microSHIFT groupset is an equivalent to the Shimano setup, but there are some marked differences. The first is in performance: I’ve found the Mezzu groupset to shift slightly clunkier than the Shimano components, but they get the job done. The second is in ergonomics: While the advertised Shimano Tourney shifter is an overbar design where the shift paddles are situated on top of the handlebars, the Mezzu shifter is an underbar design with the paddles below the bar. I personally prefer the Mezzu’s under bar shifter design, but I’m a stickler for shifter location.
Also a cool new feature is Rad’s redesigned dual display system, which utilized two screens to simplify the user interface and make everything easier to see. Like many of the other new Rad e-bikes we’ve reviewed over the past few months, we really dig this new setup with one small caveat: The left hand display can be a little tough to read in direct sunlight.
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Motor Performance, Speed and Acceleration
The RadCity 5 Plus’s 750W motor is typically a size we see on Class 3 e-bikes, but Rad’s billed this bike as a Class 2 model. There’s a few reasons Rad has done this, namely safety and to stay compliant with local e-bike laws that can range wildly, but I’m actually a fan that its got a lower speed than many of its competitors.
I spend a lot of time riding e-bikes on bike paths, as I’d wager many of you reading this review have too. Class 2 speeds are much more reasonable for that use. Aside from its top speed, the Rad motor is grunty, feels controlled and seems to be really reliable — an important factor considering an e-bike is an investment you’ll likely want to function for several years.
We did put the RadCity to the test around our circuit, and found that it performed almost identically to the step-through version of this bike we tested late last year. In those tests, both bikes recorded a PAS 5 hot lap of 19.6 mph. We also saw the speed pick up considerably at PAS 3 and a PAS 1 that didn’t really give much assistance at all.
Overall the 750W Rad motor is a solid performer. It’s not the fastest in its class, but Rad’s e-bikes are a reminder that raw speed is not everything. Among affordable e-bikes, few brands have invested as much as Rad has in their motors to ensure you have a safe, fun and reliable ride.
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Range Test & Battery Performance
In addition to a redesigned motor, Rad says they tinkered with the battery on the RadCity 5 Plus to squeeze more efficiency and range from the 672Wh unit.
We haven’t reviewed the previous model of the RadCity so we don’t have a great way to test that claim, but the new version of the bike did perform well in our range testing.
We did two range tests on the new RadCity 5 Plus, one in the highest pedal assist level (PAS 5) and the next in the second lowest pedal assist level (PAS2). In PAS 5, the bike lasted for 31.10 miles before running out of juice. And on PAS 2, our test rider made it 51.39 miles before dying.
Those are good results that are very comparable to the distances we’ve seen from some of the RadCity’s competitors, such as the Blix Aveny Skyline, Aventon Pace 500 and Velotric Discover 1. But one area the RadCity sets itself apart from its competitors, is in its remarkably high 14.3 mph average speed we recorded in the PAS 2 long distance range test. That’s quite a bit quicker than the other bikes I mentioned above by a margin of 2 mph to 3 mph.
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Hill Test
Uphill, Rad says the new RadCity 5 Plus’ motor has been retooled to climb 40 percent quicker than its predecessor.
Like the claim that the battery has been made more efficient, this is a tough thing for us to fact-check as we haven’t reviewed the old RadCity. But what we can do is put the bike to the test on our test hill to see how it stacks up against the competition.
On Hell Hole, our beloved test hill that’s a third of a mile long with an average grade of 12 percent, the RadCity 5 Plus climbed decently well. In PAS 5, the bike cleared the top in 1:28.00 with an average speed of 12.3 mph. Using just the throttle, it carted me to the top in 2:01 with an average speed of 9 mph.
Compared to other e-bikes we’ve reviewed, and even other e-bikes we’ve reviewed in the electric commuter category, the RadCity 5 Plus’ results are generally good in the PAS 5 category but fall a little behind in the throttle only category. This is a trend we’ve noticed in many of the Rad e-bikes we’ve reviewed, that they pedal uphill very nicely but aren’t blazing fast on motor power alone.
How you interpret this data is going to vary depending on your pedaling versus throttle preference, but I’m generally impressed with the Rad City’s performance uphill. Not only does it clear our test hill, which was deliberately chosen to stress even the most powerful e-bike motors, but it does so with an air of ease. Never once have I heard a concerning rattle or groan from this new generation of Rad motors, which is something I can’t say about all the bikes we’ve tested on Hell Hole. That gives me confidence that, while you may not set any uphill speed records on this bike, you’re going to be able to rely on its 750W rear hub motor to power up and over the steep stuff again and again.
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Brakes and the Brake Test
It’s been a long time since we saw a record broken on one of our Electric Bike Report leaderboards, but finally that day has come: With an average stopping distance of 10-feet-11-inches, the RadCity 5 Plus has set a new best braking distance of all the bikes we’ve reviewed so far.
The RadCity 5 Plus and its set of NUTT hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear unseated the Aventon Aventure for the top spot, which was equipped with Bengal Ares 3 hydraulic disk brakes. To be honest this usurping is something we should have seen coming, as several of the new NUTT-equipped Rads we’ve reviewed in recent months have all performed well in our brake test. The RadRover 6 Plus, for example, previously claimed the fourth-place spot on our brake test leaderboard and the step-through version of the RadCity 5 Plus claimed sixth overall in its test.
The RadCity 5 Plus earned its spot on the top of the braking leaderboard by recording the shortest average braking distance of five full-power stops from 20 mph. And though those NUTT brakes played a huge factor in the result, the Rad-branded tires (likely made by VEE Tire Co.) and the bike’s geometry also had a large impact on the performance.
RadCity 5 Plus Review: Ride Comfort, Handling and Cockpit
There’s lots to love about the RadCity 5 Plus’ handling and ride experience.
For starters, it’s a very comfortable e-bike. Rad gave it gently sweeping handlebars, a relatively upright riding position and an adjustable stem that allows you to easily customize the distance between the seat and grips.
Unlike the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Through we reviewed at the end of last year, which has the exact same componentry but with a frame design that’s more easy to get on and off of. The standard frame RadCity 5 Plus fits taller people just fine.
Handling wise, Rad made the RadCity 5 Plus very balanced and forgiving. Even with a fully loaded rear rack, the RadCity steers and balances very easily. I wouldn’t describe it as a bike that’s inviting to aggressive and fast riding, but for getting around town, riding to work or running errands, it handles wonderfully.
On the handlebars is Rad’s new dual display system, which splits some of the riding metrics into two different screens. On the center screen, you get information like speed, distance and time, and on the left-hand display you get battery life and pedal assist level. I really like this setup — it made everything very easy to read. We do have one complaint with the display system, however, and it’s that the left display can be tough to read in direct sunlight.
Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Review: Summary / Where to Buy
Rad seems to have spent a lot of time thinking about how the RadCity 5 Plus could be used.
What sort of rack needs to be included to make it a functional commuter e-bike out of the box? What if the rider is a parent and needs to drop their kid off on the way to work? What if they need more rack space to pick up groceries on the way home? What should the bike ride like to make it safe and functional in a bustling city environment?
The RadCity 5 Plus has thoughtful solutions to all those questions and more. What’s also impressive is how well the bike performs, particularly how well its motor performs. We’ve talked at length about how the RadCity’s 750W motor isn’t a speed demon, but what it’s lacking in speed it has replaced with function and utility. It’s got ample power to climb hills and carry heavy loads, and, maybe most importantly, it’s become very clear in our testing that Rad has paid very close attention to making sure its motor would last. We do our best to push bikes to their limit in our tests, and sometimes we see components — particularly motors — begin to show wear or even fail. We never saw those signs from the RadCity, and in fact it seemed like the motor could handle much, much more than what we threw at it.
Overall, we’ve been thoroughly impressed with the RadCity 5 Plus.
Rad sells the RadCity 5 Plus on its website and will ship the bike directly to your door. Or, if you’d prefer the bike be professionally assembled upon delivery, you can have the bike shipped to a shop in your area for assembly.
‘Happy Riding, make sure to let us know if you have any questions down in our comments section or if you think we left anything out in this review of the Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus.
charles Mugler says
on the radpower bikes of past you could increase the top speed by entering a smaller diameter wheel in the controller, can this still be done with this model?
I am a retired motorcycle enthusiast and I love an e bike that has a throttle that can be used without being in pedal assist. Does the Rad 5 plus have that feature? My IZip Zuma is 6 years old and showing signs of retiring…
The parts are hard to find and it’s time for an upgrade!