If ever there was a way of moving people that deserved the addition of an electric motor, surely the adult tricycle must be it. They can be heavy, inefficient mechanically and are as aerodynamically sound as a fence. But there are dozens of reasons why they are awesome and Rad Power Bikes has joined the growing list of manufacturers making an e-trike. In our review of the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike, we will look at who the target market is for this e-trike, what advantages it has over the competition as well as why it can be an important mobility solution for some people.
We were intrigued by a number of features of the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike. It is spec’d with a powerful 750W hub motor mounted in the front wheel—more on why they positioned it there in a bit—a disc brake as well as a coaster brake, one of which can be used as a parking brake. It partially folds so that it can be easily transported in an SUV, truck or van, and has an unusually low standover height as well as a high-rise bar to accommodate a wide range of reach needs.
As we begin to rethink mobility at a societal level, e-bikes have provided an incredible solution to many issues we face, from congested cities to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention our own health. But e-bikes aren’t an option for everyone. People who are elderly, or have balance issues, challenges with their range of motion, and even those who are recovering from injuries or surgery need a different option and that’s where e-trikes enter the picture. They simplify the riding experience, providing a safety net of sorts for riders who are more vulnerable.
E-trikes face a few challenges due to their design. They tend to be fairly wide and need a bit more room to move around. And due to their three-wheel design, riders need to be careful when turning. Rad Power Bikes addressed these and other concerns in the RadTrike, coming up with a design we think will appeal to many potential buyers. Let’s take a look at what makes this such an exciting new e-trike.
E-Bike Category: Trike
Who the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Electric Bike Is for:
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike is ideal for people who want to ride but are limited by balance, strength or range of motion issues.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review Ratings:
***All ratings are relative to e-bikes of a similar style and price point***
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike E-Bike Specs
- Battery: 480Wh
- Expected Range:
- Charger: 48V, 2A
- Motor: 750W brushless, geared hub motor
- Pedal Assist: 5 PAS levels
- Throttle: Half-twist grip
- Display: LCD
- Headlight: Included
- Taillight: Included
- Frame: Chromoly steel
- Fork: Chromoly steel
- Fenders: Included
- Kickstand: N/A
- Handlebars: Alloy, high-rise
- Grips: Ergonomic, rubber
- Drivetrain: Single speed
- Brakes: Mechanical disc brake in front, coaster brake in rear
- Pedals: Composite with reflectors
- Saddle: Cushioned saddle with adjustable height backrest
- Tires: Kenda Kontact 18 x 2.25 inches
In-Depth Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Comfort, Handling, and Ride Qualities
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike considers the question of comfort differently than most other e-bikes. While comfort and ease of use aren’t the same thing, this e-bike blends those two dimensions rather nicely. Aside from the obvious fact that it is easier to ride a trike than it is to ride a bike due to the lack of needing to balance, the RadTrike is comfortable in another notable way.
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike allows the rider to sit very upright, so much so that it’s even possible to lean back some thanks to a backrest behind the saddle. The saddle sits just far enough behind the pedals that this is a comfortable position from which to pedal.
One detail to keep in mind about e-trikes that differs from e-bikes is how they corner. On an e-bike, the rider leans into the turn. Motorcycle riders do this as well; it’s called countersteering. With an e-trike, because it has three wheels, it can’t lean, so riders steer, rather than countersteer. It sounds obvious enough on screen, but the first time someone rides a trike, it can be a bit of a surprise.
Careful readers of Rad Power Bikes’ website will have noticed that they list a top speed of 14 mph. That can be a bit misleading. That doesn’t mean that the RadTrike won’t go faster than 14 mph; it can go faster than that when rolling downhill. What it can’t do is assist riders to go faster than 14 mph. How come? Three-wheeled vehicles (like trikes) aren’t as stable as four-wheeled vehicles. In a hard turn, it’s possible to get a trike up on two wheels, or in extreme cases, to cause one to roll onto its side. With its assist speed limited to 14 mph, this possibility is reduced, though maybe not eliminated.
One of the great aspects of riding an e-trike is that they don’t require quite as much attention as an e-bike to ride. The upshot is that an e-trike rider gets to look around more, taking in their surroundings and views.
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike comes in one size and is said to fit riders from 4 feet 10 inches up to 6 feet 4 inches. Thanks to a very short seat tube and a high-rise handlebar which can be rotated toward or away from the rider depending on their fit needs, we believe it will fit people over a broader range of height than with many e-bikes we see. It also has a very low-standover height, just 13.4 in. That’s lower than we usually see and terrific for anyone who might have range of motion issues in their hips or knees.
Rad Power Bikes knows that their target market may well have mobility issues. How do we know they are thinking about that? Well, there are three features they include that wouldn’t be there otherwise. First is the fact that the RadTrike includes the ability to back up. Yes, it has reverse. The second is a parking brake; more on that in a minute. The third is this e-trike’s 33-in. width; it is narrow enough to fit through a standard width commercial door, which is 36 in., meaning someone could ride to the grocery store, ride through the front door, drop things in the basket and then cruise to the checkout.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Motor, Battery, and Drivetrain Performance
With a maximum assist speed of 14 mph, the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike may not seem like it needs an especially powerful motor, but due to the e-trike’s weight, it is equipped with a 750W brushless, geared hub motor, which gives it zippy acceleration and consistent speed. The hub motor is placed in the front wheel, which is unusual, but there’s a good reason.
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike doesn’t include a differential, which would allow the rider to drive both rear wheels when pedaling. In order to prevent the e-trike from pulling left or right under acceleration, the motor is put in the front wheel and when the rider pedals, that drives the right rear wheel. Because of how powerful the hub motor is, riders are unlikely to notice any steering imbalance.
There’s another reason why restricting the RadTrike’s speed to 14 mph isn’t a bad idea. This is a single-speed trike and due to the size of the gear it has, trying to pedal fast enough to reach 20 mph would not be easy, that is, unless the rider was a Tasmanian Devil.
The lower maximum speed also asks less of the battery. Going 20 mph requires substantially more energy than going 14 mph, and accelerating a rider and trike to 14 mph requires much less energy as well. For that reason, the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike can be spec’d with a 480Wh battery and still offer riders up to an estimated 55 mi. per charge.
Riders who would like as much help as possible reaching cruising speed will be pleased with the half-twist throttle common to Rad Power Bikes. Riders need not pedal unless they choose to. As we mentioned previously, the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike has but one gear to take it from a dead stop up to its maximum assist speed of 14 mph. Fortunately, that’s a reasonable range of pace for one gear to cover, especially with assistance.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Braking, Safety & Warranty
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike is equipped with two different brakes. In the front they’ve spec’d a mechanical disc brake with a 180mm rotor. Considering the speeds that riders are likely to go on the RadTrike, this is an excellent brake. Also, this e-trike is equipped with a traditional coaster brake, that is, a brake that is operated by backpedaling.
The mechanical disc brake was a terrific idea for a reason that may surprise potential buyers who would prefer to see a hydraulic disc brake, given how often we sing their praises. The brake lever can be locked closed, turning it into a parking brake. For the rider who may need some help staying steady when they get off the RadTrike, locking the front brake means they can lean on the e-trike without it rolling away from them, giving them time to grab a cane or walker.
Anyone who recalls leaving behind long, black skid marks on the sidewalk as a kid may think that a coaster brake won’t do much for an adult on a trike, but that’s not the case. The coaster brake stops two wheels, not one, and that doubling of traction while braking will make this coaster brake quite effective.
When we ask questions about safety regarding the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike, our considerations are different than they would be if we were reviewing, say, an all-terrain e-bike. It is our belief that the primary market for this e-trike will be older adults for whom riding a regular e-bike might be difficult or even hazardous.
There are some features about the RadTrike that are especially helpful for a potential buyer to keep in mind. First among these is that this e-trike has a lower center of gravity than we usually see with e-trikes, thanks to the 18-in. wheels. E-trikes with 20-in. wheels (or even 24 in.) are more common. An 18-in. wheel lowers the e-trike’s center of gravity by a full inch compared to one with 20-in. wheels. The lower center of gravity also means the saddle is closer to the ground, making it easier to mount and dismount.
The low standover is also significant because as people age, range of motion can decrease for reasons as diverse as arthritis, injury or simple lack of activity. Strength also declines with age and the backrest behind the saddle is terrific because it will help stabilize the rider and make it easier to pedal.
Rad Power Bikes’ warranty is one year, which is in keeping with a great many direct-to-consumer brands, but less than what we see with the big legacy brands like Trek and Specialized.
Rad Power Bikes RadTrike Review: Recommendation/Final Verdict
We are excited to see e-trikes emerging as a category unto themselves, as opposed to one or two oddities offered by smaller manufacturers. The reason why is simple: The more e-trikes that enter the market, the more that category will become competitive. The more competitive a market is, the more market forces drive down price or drive up quality or some combination of the two.
Like other offerings from Rad Power Bikes, the RadTrike can be purchased with a variety of different accessories, like racks and bags, that will allow the rider to do more than ride for exercise or transportation, like run errands.
An e-trike is both large and heavy. Trikes are fairly heavy even before anyone adds a motor or battery; this one weighs in at 82 lbs., making it lighter than some e-bikes we’ve tested, though not by much. Transporting one to a bike shop for maintenance is, therefore, not the easiest thing. This could be complicated by the RadTrike’s 10-in.-high riser bar, but Rad Power Bikes took on this issue by giving the RadTrike a folding steering mast, like their other folding e-bikes. Fold down the handlebar mast and lower the saddle and the RadTrike can fit in the back of many SUVs or a minivan. People who own a sedan needn’t worry; the frame ships in two pieces that are connected via four bolts and locknuts.
One word of caution regarding Rad Power Bikes’ RadTrike. We mentioned how the 18-in. wheels improve the e-trike’s handling by lowering the center of gravity. That’s terrific. Less terrific? Finding 18-in. tires. This is an exceedingly uncommon size. Normally, this isn’t an issue with models from Rad Power Bikes because they do a great job of keeping needed replacement parts in stock. However, their site does not show this tire in stock. We would recommend to anyone who buys the RadTrike to immediately order a tire or two as well as a few innertubes from an online retailer; such a project may require visiting a number of websites before placing a successful order. We do expect that at some point Rad Power Bikes would begin stocking this tire, as they do with the tires for their other e-bikes.
Were we to look at the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike through the lens we use to consider, say, an all-terrain e-bike, we’d be pretty dissatisfied. We’d also be pretty unreasonable. It’s like criticizing a cat for not being a dog. When we look at who this e-trike can best serve, it’s a new model worth getting excited about. This e-trike will allow, and even encourage, people to ride, people who may not have ridden any sort of bike since, well, since before there were e-bikes.
Further confirming our belief that this e-trike is great for people who may not have ridden for a long while is its substantial payload capacity. The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike can carry up to 415 lbs. and it can carry a rider as heavy as 325 lbs., ideal for people easing their way back into activity after what may have been years of not moving more than necessary.
The Rad Power Bikes RadTrike is a bit more expensive than most of the offerings we see from direct-to-consumer companies. There are good reasons for this; steel is more expensive than aluminum, a third wheel is more expensive and even though Rad Power Bikes did what they could to keep the drivetrain simple, it’s still a bit more complicated than we see with an e-bike.
One other little note about the drivetrain. By positioning the hub motor in the front wheel, Rad Power Bikes improved the handling of the trike, much the way front wheel drive improves the handling of most cars. The trike is driven in the direction of the turn, not the direction the rear wheels are pointed. It’s a small point, but it makes a real difference in the way the RadTrike handles.
E-trikes are a growing segment of the e-bike market for a good reason; they allow people who might not otherwise ride any sort of e-bike to hit the road. Not only do they have the ability to keep people out of cars, but they can increase a rider’s ability to get out in the world. Anything that keeps us out in the world is a net good. For anyone who has harbored doubts about their ability to ride an e-bike, an e-trike like the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike is a terrific alternative.
Thank you for reading through our review of the Rad Power Bikes RadTrike. Still have further questions? Wondering how it compares to a similar e-bike we’ve reviewed? Let us know in the comments below!