Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru Review 2023
With a host of upgraded parts and a shiny new look, Rad Power Bikes’ flagship commuter bike looks all grown up.
In this Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru review, we take a look at how this freshly redesigned Dutch-inspired electric commuter performs in the real world. As the name suggests, this is the fifth iteration of the RadCity and this version got a serious facelift, a redesigned motor and battery and (finally) hydraulic disk brakes.
Rad is fast becoming one of the biggest and best funded e-bike companies around. Rad’s earned more than $300 million in investment in recent months — and they seem to be putting their money where their mouth is. This is one of two new models from Rad Power Bikes we’re reviewing since they got that funding (the other being the RadRover 6 Plus), and we’re expecting to see plenty more new ones on the horizon soon.
With a distinctly European styling and a 750W motor burly enough to appease power-hungry Americans, the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru is designed to work well in really any paved environment. It’s not the fastest e-bike we’ve reviewed (it wasn’t designed to be) but this new version has been specifically tuned for hill climbing, comfort and urban functionality.
Let’s see how it handles our tests.
- The 672Wh battery performed really well in our testing and we love its new semi-integrated look.
- Speaking of looks, the entire bike looks incredible. Rad did a great job updating the style for a nice, very mature-looking finish.
- Like any good Dutch commuter bike, the handling is very stable and predictable.
- The new display interface is very user friendly and executed well. We liked the dual-display design, though we had one small gripe with the left-hand display.
- The retooled 750W motor performed nicely, even in situations I was concerned it may be outgunned (like on our test hill).
- The Nutt hydraulic disk brakes are a new and long-awaited addition to the RadCity 5 Plus. They outperform the old mechanical brakes and stopped extremely quick in our test.
- The Rad Power Bikes branded tires also performed well.
- We’d really like to see better battery cable management from Rad. The wiring coming from the cockpit is managed via zip-tied clumps versus being shortened or hidden in the frame.
- The LEDs on the left-hand display are a bit tough to read in direct sunlight. I found myself shading the screen with my hand to read my battery level and PAS setting.
- Battery: 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) semi-integrated battery
- Display: Two LED displays
- Motor: 750W geared rear hub motor
- Headlight: Integrated
- Taillights: Integrated
- Peal Assist: 5 PAS levels, cadence sensor
- Range: 50-plus miles
- Throttle: Twist throttle, right side
- Claimed weight: 64 lbs
- Maximum rider weight: 275 lb (total payload capacity)
- Maximum load on rear rack: 59.5 lbs
- Brakes: Nutt hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors, or similar “Rad Power Bikes approved”
- Fenders: Front and rear
- Fork: Suspension fork with 50mm of travel
- Frame: Aluminum step-thru
- Drivetrain: MicroSHIFT Mezzu 7-speed, though the Rad website says the bike comes with Shimano Altus 7-speed
- Grips: Faux leather with stitching
- Saddle: Rad Power Bikes saddle
- Handlebar: Aluminum, slightly swept-back riser bar
- Kickstand: Included
- Pedals: Alloy
- Tires: Rad Power Bike branded semi-slick
Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru Performance Review
The most striking thing about the new RadCity, at least at first glance, is its new looks. This new design first debuted on the RadRover 6 Plus released back in September and Rad was quick to update this one, too.
The frame shape is much more authoritative and angular now and the battery is semi-integrated into the frame. It just looks more grown up. It’s a step-thru frame design with a respectably low stepover height, making it more accessible for those concerned with ease of access.
Bolted to the frame is a redesigned integrated rear rack that’s capable of carrying 59.5 lbs and, like any good commuter, there’s integrated front and rear lights and full coverage fenders.
It’s a Class 2 e-bike with a throttle and pedal assistance that cuts off at 20 mph. Powering the bike is a 750W rear hub motor that Rad says has been retooled to climb hills 40 percent quicker and tucked into the frame is a 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) battery claimed to be more efficient than its predecessor.
There are also now two displays mounted to the handlebars — a main one that handles your typical ride metrics and a second one dedicated to assist level and battery life. Finally, transferring any pedal power from the rider to the rear wheel is a 7-speed drivetrain. Though Rad says this bike comes with Shimano Altus, our bike arrived with a MicroSHIFT setup, which we’ll take a closer look at later in the review.
RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru Range Test and Battery Performance
In our two real-world range tests, the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru put up some solid results.
We did two range tests on this bike — one in PAS 5 and another in PAS 2 — to get an idea of how far you can expect to get from the bike in a high and low pedal assist setting. In PAS 5, the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru lasted 31.10 miles before the battery died. On the other end of the spectrum in PAS 2, the bike lasted an impressive 51.39 miles on a single charge.
Rad claims the RadCity 5 Plus should last more than 50 miles on a single charge, which this test confirmed and then some. We chose to do the low assist test in PAS 2 because it’s the lowest assist level we could feel a reasonable amount of assist from the motor, but had we done it in PAS 1 it’s likely the bike would have traveled even further. The high assist test (PAS 5) was also an impressive result — anything more than 30 miles in maximum assist is usually indicative of an efficient e-bike with a battery large enough to handle the motor.
We’d say these results support Rad’s claim that the new 672Wh battery is more efficient than the previous model, though we don’t have range test data from the old bike to compare against.
The RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru’s semi-slick tires and efficient pedaling position likely also help its range. These things combined mean the RadCity is likely an efficient e-bike that doesn’t need much energy to propel itself.
RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru Circuit Test and Motor Performance
A test designed to describe how the bike performs in each of its five pedal assist levels, the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru performed well in our circuit test.
We did a total of six laps around the Electric Bike Report circuit on the RadCity 5 Plus; one for each assistance level plus one more with the motor turned off entirely. We saw a 1 mph to 2 mph change between each of the RadCity 5’s assist levels, meaning riders can use the PAS settings to have close control over just how much help they’re getting from the motor.
This test also gives us a sampling of the bike’s average top speed which, at 19.6 mph, was remarkably close to its maximum motor assisted speed of 20 mph. That’s a really great testament to the strength of its 750W motor. Bear in mind that our test loop has four corners and a small hill, so for the motor to maintain that high of an average speed means it accelerated out of corners quickly and likely wasn’t phased much by the hill.
Motors this large are typically associated with Class 3 e-bikes, but instead of focusing on top speed Rad has leveraged the motor’s wattage into low-end grunt and really great feeling pedal assistance. It accelerates quickly, but when you step on the throttle (or pedals) the initial boost of energy is very soft to let you get the bike underneath you. Then, the power rolls on and you gain speed quickly.
Hill Test and Drivetrain Performance
On hills, Rad boasts the retooled motor on the new RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru climbs 40 percent quicker than the previous version.
That’s a claim that is difficult to fact check, but what we can test is how well the new version of the RadCity climbs our test hill. We did two laps up the Electric Bike Report test hill on the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru, the first using just the throttle and the second on PAS 5.
Bear in mind that our test hill, which southwest Utah locals lovingly call Hell Hole, is a third of a mile long with an average grade of 12 percent. That’s significantly longer and steeper than most any hill this bike would typically encounter in its natural commuting environment.
But nevertheless, the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru held its own.
In the throttle only test, the RadCity 5 Plus crested the hill in 2:01.00 with an average speed of 9 mph. On PAS 5, the bike got to the top in 1:28.00 with an average speed of 12.3 mph. On paper, those results are pretty average, if not slightly slower than many of the e-bikes we’ve tested up Hell Hole, but numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Though it’s no speed demon, the RadCity 5 Plus was impressively unphased by Hell Hole’s relentless steepness or length. This was particularly evident in the throttle-only test, when we typically see some vibration or even audible whirring from hub motors as they’re pushed to their limit — but not the RadCity 5 Plus. The bike stayed almost entirely silent and, while there were some moments that the bike slowed, it never gave me reason to think it wasn’t going to make it to the top. It just chugged its way up at a consistent pace.
I shaved over 30 seconds off the time on PAS 5 using very little effort from my legs, so the RadCity’s 750W motor seems to really benefit from just a little additional pedal power. It really didn’t take much, and the 7-speed MicroSHIFT Mezzu drivetrain helped keep me in the appropriate gear.
Though Rad’s website says the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru ships with a Shimano Altus 7-speed drivetrain, ours came with the MicroSHIFT. This is likely due to the ongoing shortage of drivetrain components (Rad is far from the only company having to substitute parts right now), but it is something worth bearing in mind. The MicroSHIFT Mezzu drivetrain is comparable to the Shimano setup with a similar shifting action and price point, but the shifter in particular does feel slightly different. All in all, however, we have been pleased with the MicroSHIFT drivetrain’s performance.
Brakes and Handling
Stopping the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru is a set of NUTT hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear.
Nutt is a company we’ve grown increasingly familiar with during the pandemic since so many brands have been subbing them for more well known brake brands. So far they’ve performed well, with an identical set on the RadRover 6 coming to a stop in a respectable 15 feet.
On the lighter and more nimble RadCity 5 Plus, the NUTT brakes outperformed their previous result with an average stopping distance of 12-feet 7-inches. We get this brake result by taking the average of five full-power stops from 20 mph. That places the RadCity 5 Plus in the upper echelon on the quickest braking e-bikes we’ve ever reviewed at Electric Bike Report, a really impressive feat considering NUTT is outperforming many e-bikes fitted with better known braking systems.
But good braking can’t be entirely credited to the brakes themselves; it’s really an ensemble of the brakes, tires and geometry conducive to good stopping technique — three things the RadCity 5 Plus both has in spades. The bike’s overall handling feels very balanced and nimble.
Ride Comfort, Geometry and Extras
An adjustable stem, gently sweeping bars and a step-thru frame — what’s not to love?
The RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru’s handling is very predictable and stable, as a good Dutch-inspired commuter should be. The 50 mm suspension fork is rightfully short — keeping the front end stiff while having enough travel to take the edge off pavement bumps. There’s an adjustable stem so the front end can be adjusted for your liking, and the handlebars have a gentle back sweep the helps keep the rider in a more upright position.
It’s a tech-heavy e-bike cockpit with two displays, but I think the execution is well done. The center-mounted display is buttonless and gives you data ranging from speed, to trip time to distance traveled, while the left-most display has battery life and PAS level. My one complaint is that the left-hand display is tough to read in direct sunlight, leaving you guessing which PAS setting you’re in and your battery life.
The RadCity 5 Plus also comes with a stout rear rack rated for 59.5 lbs, integrated front and rear lights and full-coverage fenders.
While I’m impressed with the RadCity’s overall fit and finish, I do have one complaint about the frame specific to taller people like myself: It’s only built to accommodate people up to 6-feet tall, according to Rad. In reality, I’d wager people taller than 5-foot 10-inches would have a tough time fitting on the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru.
This isn’t terribly surprising considering step-thru bicycles are often built specifically with shorter riders in mind, I’d bet there are plenty of people my height (Im 6-foot 1-inch tall) and taller who could benefit from a step-thru e-bike. But Rad has become something of an industry leader, so we’d love to see their e-bikes accessible to the broadest range of ability level and body shapes imaginable.
The high-step version of the bike is rated for people up to 6-foot 5-inches, but it is going to be tougher to get on and off of. Rad also suggests measuring your inseam to determine if you’d fit the bike, which I’d highly recommend.
Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru Review: Summary / Where to Buy
The Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru is a beautifully redesigned bike with a look and feel that’s much more grown up than its predecessor.
The motor feels nice, and aside from a few minor gripes about frame sizing and display readability, we think this is a stellar option for anyone looking for a dependable daily commuter e-bike. It put up solid numbers in our hill test, proving the bike can go up just about anything, and had a good showing in our range test. We’re also incredibly impressed with how well it did in the brake test, putting up a result that rivals some of the quickest braking e-bikes we’ve tested.
You can buy the Rad Power Bikes RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru online by clicking the link below, and Rad will ship the bike directly to you. The bikes come mostly assembled, but for a small fee you can also have the bike shipped to a Rad Power Bikes partner bike shop to be professionally assembled — a service I’d highly suggest.
‘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 RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru E-Bike
I just replaced my RadCity with the RadCity 5 Plus Step-Thru. I unboxed it and took it for a spin yesterday. At my age I really appreciate the added safety that the step-tru provides me. In my opinion, the improvements noted in the article are well worth the cost increase. My wife has the earlier version of the step-thu and both of us really like the extra space available with the new battery placement on the 5 plus. Sadly, my suspension fork needs warranty work. Even with max pre-load, my 190 pound weight made the fork bottom out when going over any surmountable curbs. With no forks in stock at RadPower I estimate that I will be riding with the suspension locked for 3 to 6 months before I can get a new fork.
John Snyder says
I purchased a Rad City S/T in 2019. It is a great bike, but does lack enough torque to do any serious hills. The specs for torque on my bike is 40NM. What is torque rating on City 5? Thanks
Griffin Hales says
58Nm on this one.