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Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 E-Bike Review – 2023
Jan 02, 2023
It’s the second edition of the original jack-of-all-trades electric bike; the e-bike Electric Bike Report recommends for anyone who knows they want an e-bike, but don’t quite know what they’re going to do with it yet.
In this Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 review, we spend some time on the newest iteration of Rad Power Bikes’ über popular electric utility bike to see how it stacks up in the real world.
Whether you’re here for its funky looks, its 330 different accessory combinations or because you like the fact that this relatively small bike can carry a lot of people and things, there’s usually something about the RadRunner that draws people in..
Compared to the original RadRunner, this second version sports some very small tweaks designed to improve comfort and handling. But for the die-hard fans of the original e-bike (trust us, there’s lots of them), fear not: Those small changes simply improve on the RadRunner’s already very good ride quality.
Our testing has shown the RadRunner 2 is just as good, just as fun and just as capable as its predecessor.
Bike Category: Utility
Bike Class: Class 2: PAS/Throttle assist, up to 20 mph
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Video Review
There are lots of e-bikes that claim they can do it all, but this is, in my opinion, the closest to a true jack-of-all-trades.
The Tektro Aries mechanical disk brakes on our review model worked superbly well.
Simple, cheap and functional: Rad Power Bikes seem to have hit the mark in each of those categories.
We love the RadRunner 2’s funky looks. It’s got moped styling with a seat that can be adjusted, making it more pedal friendly.
Some may disagree, but I like the RadRunner 2’s single speed drivetrain. Not only does this keep costs down, single speed drivetrains tend to be less hassle in the long run than a geared setup. There is less to break and maintain.
You can customize the RadRunner 2 with 330 different accessory pairings. Need we say more?
The single-speed drivetrain may prove limiting to some riders, depending on how hilly their home roads are.
Though we like the simplicity, the RadRunner 2 does not have an actual LCD display. Tracking speed, mileage and other metrics would have to be done on a phone or other device.
ELECTRICAL SPECS & FEATURES
Battery: 48V, 14Ah (672Wh)
Display: LED Display
Motor: 750W geared rear hub motor
Headlight: LED, integrated
Peal Assist: Four pedal assist levels, cadence sensor
Range: 25 – 45 miles, claimed
Throttle: Twist throttle
Weight & Dimensions
Claimed weight: 65 lbs
Maximum rider weight: 300 lbs payload capacity
Maximum load on rear rack: 120 lb
Components & Accessories
Brakes: Tektro Aries mechanical disk brakes, 180 mm rotors front and rear
Fork: Rigid steel
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Drivetrain: Single speed — 52t front sprocket, 16t rear cog
Grips: Ergonomic rubber grips
Saddle: Custom Rad Power Bikes saddle
Handlebar: Aluminum high-rise bar
Kickstand: Moped style kickstand
Tires: Kenda K-Rad 20” x 3.3”
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Bike Overview
The RadRunner is a cross between a moped-style e-bike, a short-tail electric cargo bike and an electric commuter bike. To some degree, it can serve any one of those functions and it can do it well.
This is the e-bike that, since we first reviewed the more premium RadRunner Plus version of it last year, we’ve pointed at most often for people who don’t really know what they want but know they want an e-bike. Its small tires, nimble handling and comfortable body position make it fun to ride; its stout rear rack — which boasts a 120 lb payload capacity and is actually an extension of the frame — makes it functional; and it’s just got this funky look that draws people in. It doesn’t really look like any other bicycle on the market, and it seems people are really drawn to that.
As the name suggests, this is the second iteration of the Runner. This version, according to Rad, sports an updated seat and tweaked handling. Those are relatively small adjustments that appear to be more refinement than change, which is a good thing considering the original Runner was a great bike.
The Runner 2 is built around Rad’s reliable Class 2 750W rear hub motor that’s powered by a 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) battery mounted behind the seat tube. There’s a throttle and four levels of pedal assist.
Like the old Runner, this version is refreshingly simple. It’s a single speed with 52t/16t gear ratio, a nice middle ground gearing that’s comfy on hills but can still comfortably spin at higher speeds.
The brakes are Tektro Aries mechanical brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear, and finally we’re seeing one of Rad’s OG displays on the handlebars. This is different from the dual displays we’ve seen on many of Rad Power Bikes’ new e-bikes we’ve reviewed, but frankly I like this one. It’s a little less cluttered and feels very utilitarian. It’s the type of display you don’t need a manual to figure out.
This spec sheet is like a master class in the fundamentals of making a utilitarian and affordable e-bike: Don’t make it complicated, don’t try to make it fancy and pick parts that are reliable, functional and will stand up to abuse.
A good e-bike made better: Though this is the second version of the Runner, any changes appear to be small refinements rather than full-on redesigns.
The RadRunner 2 is a simple e-bike designed for utility. It’s got a single speed drivetrain, which is more reliable and durable than gears.
The RadRunner 2’s mashup of cargo bike, commuter and moped make for a polarizing look. For those that love it (us included), they really love it.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Motor Performance, Speed and Acceleration
Powering the RadRunner 2 is Rad’s 750W rear hub motor controlled by four levels of pedal assist or a twist throttle, all of which is limited to 20 mph.
For a bike that sells an image more geared towards cargo carrying and utility than speed, the RadRunner 2 is a surprisingly spry e-bike. Its small 20-inch wheels help it accelerate quickly from a stop and the motor has little issue clipping along near 20 mph.
I typically prefer to pedal my e-bikes instead of throttling them, but the RadRunner 2’s moped-like build and slightly funky pedaling position had me relying more on the half-twist throttle than I normally would. It’s not that it’s particularly bad or uncomfortable to pedal, but the bike’s styling and scooter-esque handling makes you want to reach for the throttle instead of spinning the cranks — which I found myself really liking.
Rad also picked a good gear ratio for the Runner’s single speed drivetrain. The 52t/16t setup was a little spinny at high speeds but was comfortable when cruising and manageable when pedaling uphill.
We tested the bike’s power in all four PAS levels plus with the motor turned entirely off and found it has a good speed distribution. Those who follow affordable e-bikes will likely note the Runner 2 has one less PAS level than the current industry standard of five, which I’d actually chalk up to a positive thing. In our experience, five PAS levels is just too much.
The RadRunner 2 pedals well enough, but its moped-like styling had me more often reaching for the throttle instead of spinning the cranks.
Rad’s 750W rear hub motor has proven incredibly reliable.
Unlike the semi-integrated batteries we’re seeing on Rad’s other revamped e-bikes, the Runner’s 672Wh unit is still bolted behind the seat tube.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Range Test & Battery Performance
The RadRunner 2’s 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) battery gives the bike a solid range that, at least in our testing, out-performed Rad’s claimed range envelope of 25 mi to 40 mi.
We did two range tests with the RadRunner 2, the first on PAS 2 and the next on PAS 4, to give us an idea of how the battery would perform in low power and high power scenarios.
In the low power scenario (PAS 2), the RadRunner 2 lasted 46.65 miles at an average speed of 14.7 mph. And in the high power scenario (PAS 4), the bike lasted 31.06 miles at an average speed of 16.7 mph. Both of these are great results that are fairly comparable to Rad’s other e-bikes we’ve reviewed.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Hill Test
Uphill, the RadRunner 2 again performed nicely, logging times up our test hill that are remarkably similar to the times we saw on many of the other Rad e-bikes we’ve tested.
But most notably, the RadRunner 2’s times were almost perfectly mirrored the times of its slightly upgraded sibling, the RadRunner Plus.
Using just the throttle, the RadRunner 2 cleared our test hill Hell Hole in 1:46.00 with an average speed of 10.2 mph, which is just two seconds slower than the Runner Plus’ time. With the help of my legs in PAS 4, the Runner 2 logged a 1:27.00 with an average speed of 12.5 mph, which is exactly identical to the time and speed of the Runner Plus.
The times themselves are good, but what really strikes me about these results is that they demonstrate the uncanny consistency of Rad’s 750W motors. There are innumerable variables that can affect an e-bike’s time up our test hill, but somehow, despite those variables, our two RadRunners have managed to mimic each other even though they were tested half a year apart.
This is a trend we see across Rad’s entire lineup; that their e-bike drive systems perform almost identically. We’ve also noticed how little Rad’s motors seem to stress on Hell Hole, a third-of-a-mile hill with a 12 percent gradient on average, which is usually plenty to push motors to their max. The Rad’s, however, seem to manage Hell Hole fine, with nary a whine or rattle no matter how many times we run them up the hill.
For a utility-style e-bike, The RadRunner 2 handles very, very well.
The Tektro Aries mechanical disk brakes do a bang up job slowing the RadRunner 2 safely.
The RadRunner 2’s half-twist throttle and ergonomic rubber grips.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Brakes and the Brake Test
The Tektro Aries mechanical disk brakes on our RadRunner 2 review bike performed incredibly well, coming to a stop at an average of 10-feet-6-inches. That’s good for second best on our overall leaderboard of the best stopping e-bikes we’ve reviewed.
Aside from their fantastic stopping performance, one of my favorite things about the Aries brakes is how tunable they are — an incredibly important feature for mechanical disk brakes. While widely regarded as poorer performing than their hydraulic counterparts, a properly set up set of mechanicals will do just as good or better than hydraulic brakes — a statement that I think is backed up by the Runner 2’s second place result on our all-time leaderboard.
Though they’re easily adjustable, mechanical disk brakes can be tricky to set up. I’d highly suggest having them looked at by a professional bike mechanic.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Ride Comfort, Handling and Cockpit
The most notable updates to this new version of the RadRunner are to the bike’s handling, changes Rad accomplished by making some very small tweaks to the RadRunner 2’s geometry.
Among a handful of geo changes, Rad gave the Runner 2 a one-inch longer wheelbase and shortened the chainstays by an eighth of an inch. That longer wheelbase helps with overall stability, while the shorter stays tuck the rear wheel tighter underneath the rider to help keep the bike nimble.
These are subtle changes that, instead of totally changing the personality of the bike, refine it instead. I’ve logged lots of miles on this new version of the RadRunner and the tweaks aren’t something I detected until I dove into the geometry charts. What I can say is this bike handles superbly well, even with a considerable amount of weight added to the back.
It’s tough to pin down a good definition for how the RadRunner 2 feels while riding simply because there are so many different ways to ride it. That’s part of the beauty of this e-bike; it’s just so versatile.
In general terms, the RadRunner 2 is a very comfortable e-bike. And though it has an adjustable seat that can be raised for better leg extension, I think most Runner 2 riders are going to find themselves reaching for the half-twist throttle instead of pedaling. That’s OK in my book; I’m usually an e-biker who prefers pedaling over throttling, but even I found myself scooting along on motor power alone. I think throttling is just part of the RadRunner 2’s overall vibe and styling. Plus, the 750W motor doesn’t really need help from your legs, so why not just let it do the work?
At the handlebars, Rad gave the Runner 2 a very simplistic LED-based display (not to be confused with an LCD display) that lacks a screen but uses bright LED lights to communicate battery life and which PAS level you’re in. There are also large buttons to turn on the lights, turn the bike on and cycle through the PAS levels. It’s not terribly common to see an e-bike lacking a screen nowadays, but I actually kind of liked this. It helped declutter the handlebars and the display is so simple it’s hard to get lost in the functions. Obviously without a screen you’re going to have to use a phone or another device to track ride metrics, but with the proliferation of smartphones I hardly think that’s a dealbreaker.
The RadRunner 2’s ultra-simple LED-based display. There’s no screen, but this might be the most straightforward display/touchpad interface I’ve used in a while/
Our review model of the RadRunner 2 was fitted with a buddy seat and passenger safety package, which equipped the bike’s large rear rack as a people carrier instead of cargo carrier.
It’s a utility/commuter bike, so naturally it’s fitted stock with a set of LED lights.
The moped-style kickstand is a small touch we love. It makes the Runner 2 ultra stable when loading cargo.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 2 Review: Summary / Where to Buy
Simple, cheap and functional; Rad Power Bikes seem to have nailed the e-bike trifecta in their RadRunner 2.
Every time I spend time on any variation of the RadRunner, be it the first generation, this second generation or the upgraded Plus model, I’m always reminded as to why so many people gravitate towards this e-bike: It’s honestly just fun.
Its looks are fun; its ride quality is fun; and the fact you can easily tote another person along for the ride is also just fun (not to mention you can easily tote some cargo, too). I think a lot of e-bike buyers, especially those new to the space, really are attracted to the idea of one bike that can do lots of different things, and the RadRunner 2 seems to be directly catering to that crowd.
As we’ve mentioned several times, Rad offers a mess of accessories and add-ons for the bike that amount to 330 different configurations. That’s 330 different ways this bike can be used, ridden and played with. For most cases, I really do think most people would find a good use for the RadRunner 2.
Like all e-bikes from Rad Power Bikes, the RadRunner 2 is sold online and can be shipped directly to your door. It’s fairly easy to assemble yourself, though Rad does offer the option to have the bike shipped to a local bike shop for professional assembly — a service I’d highly suggest you consider.
‘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 RadRunner 2.