Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review, 2023
A stable, affordable e-trike for those who are in need of three wheels instead of two
So the question has to be asked, why make the RadTrike? Sure, electric bikes and trikes share handlebars, pedals, tires, motors, batteries, and more, but they have as many differences as they do similarities. There is a pretty large contrast in the way you ride and operate either one which requires experienced e-bike engineers to start from square one when going to develop a trike. So again, why did Rad Power Bikes do it?
“[The RadTrike] is something that the world hasn’t had but really needs. A low, stable, comfortable, and accessibly-priced micromobility product that can be pedaled,” chairman and founder Mike Radenbaugh told us during a review Q&A phone call.
If done right, an e-trike such as the RadTrike has the potential to make e-micromobility more available to all – especially those who aren’t comfortable on two wheels by providing the stability of three.
The RadTrike was built with people who have mobility or balance limitations in mind. Trikes have long been a favorite of seniors thanks to the platform being simpler to mount, and by their nature, they favor slower speeds that are easier to manage.
E-trikes are also highly useful as an alternative means of getting around thanks to higher payload capacities, basket attachments for storing all sorts of gear, and the stability three wheels provide to load and haul it all. E-trikes can be small but mighty, sort of like a “small pickup truck” as Radenbaugh went on to say.
In the world of e-bikes consumers have no shortage of options, but it’s fair to say that the models offered in e-trikes are fewer and further between, and oftentimes finding a quality one means higher prices. The RadTrike is aiming to be one of a small number of affordable options that could truly be relied upon in a daily capacity.
Clearly, the RadTrike is a worthwhile endeavor on many levels, but was the brand able to deliver a quality trike that would feel safe, useful, fun, and perform well? We spent the last three weeks riding and reviewing the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike to find out.
- Stable, affordable e-trike for those who can’t ride on two wheels. At just around $2,500 this is one of the most affordable, quality electric trikes one the market.
- Clear commitments were made to safety with the capped 14 mph speed, low center of gravity, and more.
- The comfort of the trike exceeded our expectations from the adjustable height of the backrest, the front & back adjusting seat, and the BMX-style highrise handlebars with soft grips.
- You can summit even steeper grades thanks to the powerful 750W front hub motor.
- We saw distances between 25-59 miles on a single charge meaning the 480Wh battery operates efficiently with the 750W motor.
- The RadTrike feels very stable when traveling at speed thanks to the low center of gravity in the design. If you keep your MPH low on corners (which you should on any trike) it takes turns well too.
- The RadTrike fits through a normal door! And with a folding down handlebar and removable seat post, the trike is much more portable and stashable than most trike designs since it can fit in most SUVs or vans (and possibly sedans since the RadTrike can be split into two pieces).
- Maneuvering trikes around narrower enclosures can be difficult. The RadTrike’s reverse throttle feature helps immensely in this regard.
- With racks, baskets, bags and more the RadTrike can be outfitted to accommodate a variety of uses and needs.
- Clear instructions make for easy assembly of the RadTrike, though there are avenues to explore if you’d rather have somebody put it together for you.
- The RadTrike’s display clearly show your PAS level and the 10-bar battery indicator, but we wish there was something on the trike for a MPH readout (a phone mount and an app solve the problem in the meantime though).
- We like the modular twist grip throttle to dictate how much speed you want, but an option for it to match the max PAS speeds at different levels would be a welcome feature in the future.
- Battery: 48V, 10Ah (480Wh)
- Display: Battery charge, pedal assist level, and headlight
- Motor: 750W brushless Rad Power Bikes geared hub motor, 5:1 planetary gear reduction.
- Headlight: LED headlight
- Taillights: Integrated taillight with brake light
- Pedal Assist: 5 level pedal assist
- Range: 25-59 miles; EBR read-world range test
- Throttle: Half twist throttle with reverse backup assist
- Claimed weight: 82lb, 73.6 w/battery removed
- Ideal Rider Heights: 4’10” – 6’4″ (Bike inseam between 25″ and 35″)
- Maximum rider weight: 325 lbs.
- Maximum load on rear rack: 60 lbs on rear rack, 30 lbs on optional front rack
- Total payload capacity: 415 lbs.
- Brakes: Mechanical disk brake, 180mm rotor; foot-operated rear coaster brake; orange parking brake on the brake lever
- Fenders: Included, full coverage front and rear
- Fork: Rigid steel fork
- Frame: Chromoly steel
- Drivetrain: Single speed chain; PYC 120 links, PYC 35 links
- Grips: Ergonomic rubber grips
- Saddle: Cushioned saddle with adjustable height backrest
- Handlebar: Aluminum alloy high rise, 680 mm wide, 10.3″ rise, 20 degree handlebar sweep
- Kickstand: N/A, orange parking brake on the brake lever
- Pedals: Wellgo composite platform with reflectors
- Tires: Kenda Kontact 18″ x 2.25″, K-Shield puncture-resistant liner
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: E- Trike Overview
All the way back in 2007 before Rad Power Bikes had gotten its official start, Mike Radenbaugh helped convert a traditional trike into an electric one for a person who had Lyme disease. The condition caused some mobility restraints, and it took around five tries to outfit him with a product that met his needs, but it left a lasting impression on Radenbaugh and his understanding of a need for an electric offering with three wheels and not just two.
Fast forward to now with the creation of the RadTrike: a purpose-built e-trike that features an approachable and comfortable design that rides around with the help of a powerful, yet easy-to-manage, 750-watt motor.
There’s a lot to unpack with our RadTrike review here, so let’s start with a few of the highlights: the trike is built low to the ground with a 13.4” standover height, and it’s meant to accommodate riders 4’10” – 6’4”. It also has a total payload capacity of 415 lbs (325 lbs to the rider, 60 lbs in the optional rear rack, 30 lbs on the optional front rack).
The frame is made of chromoly steel instead of the aluminum frames we’re accustomed to seeing from Rad. This allows for a higher weight capacity with more flex. The frame has a rock-solid feel, and the overall ride is quite stable.
The RadTrike lends itself equally well to PAS or throttle use and Rad has wisely made the decision to keep the max speed to 14 mph. You don’t want to travel too fast on a delta trike (one wheel in the front, two in the back) because taking a corner at speed can cause the trike to raise up onto just two wheels. The choice to keep the trike at manageable speeds is a smart one.
The 750 watt front-hub motor is as powerful as what comes spec’d on the Rad’s fat tire e-bike the RadRover. It has the ‘oomph’ to get to the top of even steep hills, but it has been dialed in well to not overwhelm the rider and works in tandem with the drive system you pedal.
Speaking of the drive system – it is unique as it only provides power to the right wheel where the left wheel is designed to spin freely. It’s a nifty bit of engineering by Rad. If the rear axle spun both wheels at the same rate of speed it could make the trike more tippy: it’s what is known as the single axle problem. But by allowing for a freewheel, the outside turning wheel is able to travel at a correct rate of speed in relation to the inside one which allows the rider to manage the turn – mind you that you need to be turning slowly anyway. It’s a neat design that keeps costs lower than other e-trikes with mid-drives and differentials.
The RadTrike isn’t limited to seniors per se, but Rad did mention that they wanted to allow for familiarity to people who hadn’t been cycling in many years. One of the ways that is reflected is in the use of a back-pedal coaster brake. It doesn’t provide the same stopping power as the front 180mm disk brake, but it can help in the process by locking up that rear right wheel, and it might prove useful for people needing a little help from their legs to stop if grip strength is an issue pulling the front lever – again we see a trike built with a goal of accommodating certain riders in mind.
Rad offers a variety of baskets and bags you can add on to your RadTrike purchase and they add to the utility. While the baskets we tested certainly looked large, they seem to hold more than expected too. I actually enjoyed loading up the rear basket as the extra weight helped me take corners with a bit more confidence and I highly recommend getting the basket at checkout for sheer usefulness.
One quick PSA about riding e-trikes in general: they aren’t bikes, so don’t try to ride them like bikes. There is a fundamentally different way in which you operate any e-trike that you need to know before riding one which is why you always want to start out riding an e-trike slowly until you’ve gotten the hang of it.
E-trikes are highly stable at lower speeds, but the dynamics of a three-wheel design where a wheel in the front steers two offset wheels in the back is a different ballgame from a bike that positions two wheels to be lined up with each other on the frame. More specifically, you’ll notice a different feel the most when turning.
Take corners slowly (around 4-6 mph proved the sweet spot for us) and lean into turns more with your shoulders and chest rather than engaging your hips too much (hips are more for bikes where you can ‘lay the bike down’ a bit).
Overall the RadTrike has clear evidence of safety, utility and fun all factored in to the design. As Radenbaugh told us, the Rad team focused on making a trike that the market needed as opposed to a version that would have satisfied their own wants.
The development is overall impressive, but how well does the trike ride? Dive on in to the testing portions of the RadTrike review below.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Circuit Speed Test
The objective of the EBR circuit test it to gain a better understanding of the type of speed you can expect when riding on an e-bike (or trike).
My yellow-lined circuit results don’t seem too spread out from the graphic above, but don’t get the wrong impression that the motor wasn’t helping. That’s due in part to the standardized way I perform this test.
Whenever I’m on the circuit I’m trying to stick to a 70% effort – a good traveling speed without working up a sweat. In the case of the RadTrike the speed that I could produce off that effort level exceeded the limit of the lower PAS levels. It’s a testament to how well it rolls on its 18” wheels, and the fact that there is any difference at all is evidence of the motor’s ability to kick on during the 30-foot elevation gain on our test course where things got slower.
Levels four and five were the big difference makers for me, but there are plenty of people who will appreciate what PAS one through three can deliver.
To quote again from something Radenbaugh told us, “the RadTrike was built for what was needed” first, and what trikes need is stability and control, not so much speed.
Specific choices were made for what speeds should be achievable across the PAS levels on the RadTrikePAS one was made to mimic a walking pace of about three miles per hour. Great for say a grandparent getting outside and accompanying a family member or a friend for a walk. PAS two and three offer similar, gentler speed increases from five to seven miles per hour.
Rad’s decision to cap the motor’s speed at 14 mph is something we actually greatly appreciate. Trikes are fun and useful, but they can get up on two wheels if turns are taken too fast. A commitment to keeping the trike in it’s wheelhouse was a good call.
The motor’s cadence sensor functions well too. It is quite responsive, always kicking on within a pedal stroke or less. The only occasional struggle was that the coaster brake means you can’t backpedal to your preferred pedal position leading to some throttle dependence to get things started.
The bottom line here though is that the motor sets you up for success in getting around with the RadTrike where every rider should be able to find their preferred, safe speed.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Range Test & Battery Performance
The EBR range test is one of the more revealing tests we put e-bikes through. Sourcing and equipping large batteries doesn’t mean a thing if they aren’t programmed well with the motor, or if it’s simply having to help compensate for a design that isn’t particularly efficient at moving (I love you, but I’m talking to you, fat bikes!).
We’ve seen massive 960 Wh batteries come up shorter than expected, and we’ve seen smaller capacity batteries go for more than a dozen miles over our initial estimates. It’s why we take the time to run the test twice, once at maximum and once at minimum PAS, you never know what you’ll get until you try.
Rad has definitely put in some programming efforts here when creating the RadTrike that make for a highly efficient motor and battery pairing. One might have lower range expectations for a 750W motor paired with a 480Wh battery; a motor’s nominal wattage and battery’s watt-hour capacity not being a 1:1 ratio can sometimes be problematic. But our range test results of 25 and 59 miles speak for themselves.
The 59 mile effort in particular was really something. The RadTrike now has the proud distinction of being our longest ever range test here at EBR. We spent over 10 ½ hours in the saddle for the minimum PAS test alone!
We’ve already applauded the commitment to safety by maxing out the RadTrike at 14 mph, but it also means the motor doesn’t have to push as hard (or draw as much power) as it would if it were attempting to get the rider going faster. Riders can enjoy a pleasant cruising speed that’s easy to navigate, and the motor can provide plenty of assistance while operating at a hum instead of having to rev.
Besides providing great range, the smaller battery has other advantages such as adding less weight to the trike and shaving off some cost to the consumer (more WH = more $$$). Overall Rad did well here with the battery usage.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Hill Test
I’ve been at EBR a long time and I’ve seen enough hill test results that I should no longer be surprised with how something performs on Hell Hole. Yet here I am, once again, surprised at how something performed on Hell Hole.
The smaller wheels and low-to-the-ground profile make this trike feel smaller, but small can be mighty, especially with a 750W motor. The front-hub motor does a great job of helping you power your way to the top of even steeper climbs.
The RadTrike’s throttle test narrowly edged out some other Rad Power Bike models we’ve reviewed, and the pedal test results are respectable too. Like most Rad models we’ve tested, the hill times aren’t blazing fast, but the performance from the motor is as smooth and reliable as they come.
There aren’t any gearing options to choose from with the RadTrike which gave me some questions as to how well you could navigate hills, but the motor’s different assist levels almost function like a sort of faux-gearing since you can click a button when hills are feeling too tough to make it an easier journey.
This makes the RadTrike appealing for taking hills without worrying about having to hop off and push the trike to the top, but it also inspires confidence for those looking to load up and test the trike’s payload capacity a bit too.
One final note on the hill test section of this RadTrike review: I gotta admit I was really happy this one made it to the top and performed as well as it did on hills in general. One of the number one factors that keep people away from cycling is hill intimidation: not wanting to feel outmatched by a hill and/or not wanting to worry about getting where you’re going in a sweat. It’s among the best things e-bikes have solved by encouraging folks to ride more by removing that intimidation.
So for those folks who don’t feel a two-wheeled e-bike offers the stability, they require to give e-bikes a try it’s good to see affordable options with three wheels exist like the RadTrike that should help out on those hills.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Safety and Brake Test
The RadTrike comes with a mechanical disc brake on the front wheel with a 180mm rotor. It has a cutoff switch that will stop the motor when the brake lever is pulled. Given that the trike maxes out at 14 mph and the brake is being tasked with stopping a smaller 18” wheel, this is actually a pretty strong setup.
Along with the front brake is a blast-from-the-past in the form of a back-pedal coaster brake. Remember slamming the pedals on your childhood bike to brake? Well, that’s something you can do on the RadTrike too, though the effect isn’t quite up to par with the front mechanical brake. I felt this worked as a fine supplement to the main brake but didn’t rely on it much for stopping the trike.
It’s worth noting that the back-pedal brake doesn’t cut the motor off as the front brake does. The cadence sensor quickly detects that you’ve stopped pedaling so you won’t have to fight the motor, however, if you’re riding the throttle and you try to engage the coaster brake then you will be braking and accelerating at the same time.
For the purposes of our testing, we can’t compare our review of the RadTrike fairly to other brake tests we’ve performed. Typically we bring e-bikes up to 20 mph and then stop and measure the stopping difference over a three-run average. Since the RadTrike tops out at 14 mph that wouldn’t be a fair fight.
But test it we did and we saw a pleasantly short 10’5” average stopping distance using both the main brake and coaster brake.
The RadTrike stays under control when coming to a stop even from its top speed. It performs well, is cost-effective with only having one rotor and brake line to service, and you can get a little childhood nostalgia going with that coaster brake.
Outside of good braking which is paramount to safety, there are nice little safety additions throughout the RadTrike. A bright LED headlight and taillight keep you visible, the fenders have reflectors as well, and the single brake lever includes a parking brake for ensuring the RadTrike stays put when needed.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Ride Comfort & Handling, Cockpit, and More
If you didn’t see the PSA I included about handling in the overview I recommend you read it. The short version is this: riding a bike and riding a trike aren’t the same thing. Start slow when getting to know your trike – especially on turns.
Okay PSA over, so how does the RadTrike handle comparatively to other e-trikes?
The RadTrike is built to keep the rider’s center of gravity as low as possible to help make turning easier and mitigate the chance of raising up one side of the axle and riding on two wheels.
The trike rides upon three 18” x 2.25” wide Kenda Kontact tires that help keep it low to the ground making the standover height a mere 13.4” high. That’s just a few inches taller than the average height of a staircase step and far better than what you find even on most step-thru e-bikes.
The RadTrike positions you comfortably with a slackened (angled back) seat tube that brings the pedals a bit more in front of you. The angle puts your weight further back over the rear axle which is where you want it. The more weight there the more the wheels stay put on turns.
There is plenty going on with the RadTrike on the comfort front. You can tell from the amount of time Rad had in developing the RadTrike that a lot of thought went into how to set people up for comfort and ease of use.
The saddle is generously padded and includes a backrest – both of those can adjust along their rails to better fit your buns and back respectively.
The high-rise handlebar with a generous 20-degree sweep gives the trike an easy-feeling reach allowing you to sit upright at all times. Paired with soft rubber grips, the handlebar touchpoint is overall pretty nice.
The cockpit area has a good feel as the single brake lever and small display make the whole cockpit feel less cluttered than you typically find. While the display with touch buttons for increasing your PAS matches what’s found on the RadRover 6 Plus and RadCity 5 Plus, it lacks the second display unit that the other models include that informs you of your current mph and your odometer. If you use a phone mount somewhere along the ample available real estate on the handlebar you can easily get a phone app that will show you your mph, but it was a little disappointing that there wasn’t an onboard option.
One final note before wrapping this section of the RadTrike review is how it was designed to move around with ease. That goes for when the RadTrike’s power is on or off.
The RadTrike is 82 lbs of mostly steel, which along with its wider-by-nature design means it could be difficult to move around tighter enclosed spaces. Fortunately, with a reverse option on the throttle you can back out of any space you were able to ride into – a more useful feature than I had anticipated that I used quite a few times.
Rad made the wheels as wide as possible while still being able to fit through the average door frame so it could feasibly be brought in a building (not just in the garage) while in one piece. That wasn’t by accident as Rad went to the effort of recessing the lugnuts to maximize frame width even.
Not only is the RadTrike able to go in buildings, but if you’re looking to bring it along on a road trip the removable seatpost and folding handlebars mean it’ll fit into the back of most SUVs, vans, and trucks just fine too. You can even unbolt the frame into two pieces if you need to move it about in a sedan – talk about portable design.
Overall, the design is the sweet spot between being compact enough to get it in and out of most places, but large and wide enough to offer the coveted trike stability.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Summary / Where to Buy
The RadTrike isn’t a novelty addition to Rad’s lineup but rather a needed and useful one. It’s built to accommodate a wide variety of riders -particularly those in need of three wheels when two wheels won’t do for feeling stable. E-trikes have long been a favorite of seniors, and I foresee the value and easy-to-ingrain-into-your-life features of the RadTrike being a highly popular option for anybody seeking a sturdier ride.
After a few weeks of riding around on the RadTrike I found myself really appreciating what e-trikes have to offer. It is nice to come to a stop and remain seated without having to put a foot down. It’s all kinds of handy to load up cargo without having to balance on a wobbly kickstand. It’s a lot of fun to pedal around something that feels smooth at low PAS and zippy in higher levels – all without huffing and puffing in the process.
With over half a million Rad riders on the roads already, the RadTrike holds the potential to bring even more people into the world of e-micromobility. Rad said that a trike was their number one requested model and they were finally ready with years of experience to create one that would deliver to riders’ needs.
The RadTrike is comfortable and will fit tall or small, thin or large riders alike. It’s designed in a way that almost anybody should be able to get in the saddle and operate it, The ride quality from the powerful motor and stable feel means those who do hop on will want to do so again and again.
With a plethora of ways to accessorize it and the type of battery life that will take you all around town, it’s an extremely useful product that could indeed find owners getting out more and riding longer.
The e-trike market has had far fewer options than e-bikes and quality models at affordable prices have been even rarer to come by, but Rad has definitely added one that holds appeal for three-wheel-seeking masses by checking all the important boxes like safety, useful design, and thoughtful functionality
‘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 RadTrike.
Lin B says
Meh. I much prefer my recumbent e-trike. It’s not a low slung recumbent, it sits nicely for seeing in traffic and is easy to get in and out. But it’s much lighter (38lbs+12lbs for assist), much faster if I want, and more fun for exercise and recreational riding. It works great for cargo too with my Burley travoy attached on the back when needed. This Rad version is just a bigger version of the old people e-trikes you can buy. And 18″ wheels – good luck finding tubes and tires if you are out and about and need one. Better stock up plenty before you ride. Not impressed.
Dirt McGirt says
Thank you for the bit about the 18″ wheels. Sadpower has a known history of saddling their customers (I call them unwitting victims) with non-standard wheel and tire sizes and letting them flap in the breeze when things go awry.
Look at what’s happening with the new wagons and the stupid 22X3 tires being unsafe and the replacements won’t show up for another few months!
Terrible way to run a bike company. Just ask the 1980’s Schwinn design team!
Dirt McGirt says
Here ya go:
Save some money! Same trike from the source for almost half the price.
Rad is a marketing company that sells alibaba bikes. I don’t care what their PR team says. I’m an industry veteran and I know crapola when I see it.
That machine has fat tyres, an aluminium frame, bigger wheels, hub gears and a lower weight capacity. I get the impression the Rad machine is aimed at people with mobility problems or health problems. I’m not sure why it has a coaster rear brake.
Dirt McGirt says
To be fair, the Sadpower is aimed at prying money away from people that don’t realize that when something goes wrong with that trike they just bought for a 300% markup, no one will fix it for them so they’ll buy another one.
Rad has one aim and that’s an international pump and dump.
Perhaps it’s just my cautiousness, but the angle of that seat tube looks too extreme. Bear in mind this machine is not aimed at wiry little people, I feel the angle could be reduced quite a bit. I realise it’s made of steel, but even that is not infallible.