With its retail price of less than €2,000, the RadWagon 4 cargo bike lives up to the reputation of the Rad Power Bikes brand – a leading US e-bike manufacturer. Rad Power strives to offer value for money electric bikes, while not also neglecting the essentials.
RadWagon cargo e-bike – the looks
When many electrically assisted cargo bikes are priced at more than 3000 €, or even 4000 €, the RadWagon is positioned at an aggressive price of below 2000 € comparable to that of a classic electric bike.
For this price, the RadWagon comes with a rear hub motor, a battery, and electronics clearly visible on the e-bike’s frame. The essentials are also in place for a longtail cargo bike, namely a long rack that can accommodate cargo or children (and optional accessories), with the possibility of adding a basket at the front to carry up to 10 kg of luggage.
Available in the brand’s signature orange color, the RadWagon is also available in black or white. It is delivered pre-assembled, leaving it to the buyer or a partner dealer to attach handlebars, front wheel, and mudguard as well as a headlight. Very simple to assemble, required tools are provided as part of the package.
RadWagon cargo e-bike – comfort and ergonomics
A longtail cargo electric bike means an e-bike with a rather long rear end, its luggage rack being lengthened and reinforced to accommodate goods or passengers. The RadWagon is designed exactly like this. Its frame directly integrates the luggage rack, which has multiple welded connections between aluminum tubes to maximize its rigidity.
This gives the e-bike a rather bulky look, but also reassures its robustness. On the other hand, the large diameter of the tubes of the rack does not really help to easily attach certain accessories such as baskets, for example. Their fasteners may not fit with such a setup. You’ll have to check the compatibility of the mounting systems of the different accessories you want to use or buy the official accessories offered by Rad Power Bikes. There are plenty of those, btw.
Rad Power accessories for RadWagon provide great modularity and flexibility to the cargo e-bike. From simple cushions associated with handles and footrests to a complete roll bar with baby seats and protective hood, including inevitable front and rear baskets, etc. You will find everything you need to equip your e-bike to transport both goods and children.
Your kids will surely feel comfortable on RadWagon thanks to the long luggage rack. The only missing element is a backrest, which would make long journeys more pleasant.
Unfortunately, the maximum load indicated for the luggage rack should not exceed 54 kg (120 pounds). This is sufficient for two small children, but quickly becomes too little. It would have been great to be able to go up to 80 kg, for example. This would help accommodate most adults. RadWagon seems to be able to handle more weight.
With its wheelbase of 1.37 m, RadWagon takes quite a bit of space. Its small 22-inch wheels, however, limit its overall length to 2 m, which helps avoid a large turning radius that would be detrimental to its maneuverability.
Smaller wheels also allow the e-bike to be quite low, as the seat can be lowered to a height of 69 cm from the ground. E-bike’s seat is mounted on a two-part telescopic rod that allows it to be raised to a height of 94 cm, which is also very helpful.
To better adapt to different sizes, RadWagon also benefits from an inclinable stem, to quickly change the riding position (no tools required to make adjustments).
The rider benefits from a comfortable upright position. Rider height ranges from 1,55 m to 1,95 m (sizes recommended by the manufacturer). For an e-bike, available in a single size, this range seems appropriate and wide enough, although riders may lose a bit of comfort when we approach the extremes.
In order to keep things simple, and above all to keep the price down, RadWagon has no suspension. Its rigid fork is made of steel and its seatpost is not suspended either. You can easily replace the latter to gain more comfort and compensate for the lack of softness of the seat. The seat itself is quite comfortable though.
This lack of front and rear suspension is especially noticeable on very rough roads and during big shocks. Thanks to its very wide 3″ tires, RadWagon is still quite comfortable to ride! Those tires are enough to absorb the irregularities of the road surface if you are careful not to inflate them too much. Such wide tires also offer certain stability to the e-bike, but a bit at the expense of its liveliness.
When it comes to protection, you can count on wide mudguards that are mounted on the RadWagon’s wheels. The one on the front wheel could have been lowered a bit and ended with a mud flap to better protect the tips of your shoes.
As for the transmission, only the chainring is protected. Riders will have to, for example, use a clip to take care of the bottom of their pants to avoid any risk of rubbing against the chain, especially since the latter has a tendency to wobble due to the lack of guidance and tensioning system other than the basic derailleur.
The legs of the passengers sitting on the rear rack are protected by plexiglass panels.
As far as integration of various e-bike elements is concerned, RadWagon does not particularly shine. Its large battery is mounted on the bottom tube of the frame, which gives it a good balance, but the mounting is not very discreet.
The control block, containing the electronics, is simply fixed on the frame, behind the seat tube. At least, this makes it easily accessible in case of a failure.
Some of the numerous cables coming from the handlebars are routed through the frame to keep the looks uncluttered, but we can’t say that the electrification is very discreet either.
For lighting, RadWagon comes with a 250 lumens headlight, which ensures good visibility during dark times of the day.
Its power is still adequate for driving outside well-lit areas, it would be a good choice to opt for the optional “Premium” headlight, which is twice as powerful and simply replaces the original headlight (uses the same connector).
The rear light is located under the luggage rack. It also serves as a stop light (a nice feature!), as its lighting intensifies when the brakes are applied, just like on a motorcycle or a scooter. One wonders why this function is not more widespread on e-bikes.
RadWagon cargo e-bike – on the road
Designed to carry heavy loads, an electric cargo bike needs a powerful engine. RadWagon benefits from a large motor in the hub of its rear wheel, which provides efficient propulsion.
Although the European version of RadWagon’s motor is limited to 250 W (750 W in the United States), it still offers enough power to push the e-bike up to the regulated 25 km/h (and even up to 28 km/h) and climb steep hills, as long as you use the highest assist modes and above all, don’t forget to change gears to better help the motor with your muscle power.
On flat ground, on the other hand, you can be satisfied with the first 2 or even 3 assistance modes, limiting the power of the motor to 50 W, 100 W, or 150 W respectively.
It must be said that the absence of a torque sensor is immediately felt, since the motor delivers its power as soon as a pedal turn is detected, regardless of how the pedals are pressed. Thus, pedaling does not feel very natural and you can quickly fall into the trap of electric bikes of this kind, by simply pretending to pedal and letting the motor do all the work.
However, this behavior has its followers, as RadWagon allows you to “chill” while giving the impression of pedaling. At the same time, we must note that RadWagon is not really meant to be a fun ride, but rather a utility e-bike.
The throttle located on the righthand side of the handlebar is not there to provide amazing riding sensations, but to help launch a heavily loaded e-bike at up to 6 km/h. This is a very good idea and a very practical one in everyday life, especially when you didn’t have time to change gears before stopping on a climb, for example.
Fortunately for those who like the feeling of pedaling, the 7-speed transmission works well with the assistance modes, so you can still choose to push the pedals a bit if you really want to feel like you’re riding an e-bike and want to preserve your range at the same time.
In spite of a rather wide speed range, allowing you to ride up to 40 km/h downhill without overdoing it, RadWagon will not break any speed records. Its wide tires and especially its 35 kg / 77 pounds weight (40 kg / 88 pounds in the fully equipped version) make it a rather clumsy e-bike and make the use of the electric assistance almost compulsory. Fortunately, the electric assistance quickly makes you forget about RadWagon’s weight and bulkiness.
With such a heavy e-bike designed to be ridden loaded, a good braking system is essential. You can certainly count on Tektro mechanical brakes with 180 mm discs. These disk brakes allow stopping the e-bike quite efficiently – braking takes about 4 m when unloaded (40 kg of the e-bike plus 80 kg of the rider) in emergency braking.
Of course, braking distances increase with the load and the humidity of the road. Still, mechanical disk brakes are far from the bite and efficiency of hydraulic systems that are more often found on cargo vehicles. Braking anticipation remains the key when riding a cargo e-bike, which does not stop as easily as a conventional e-bike.
RadWagon cargo e-bike – autonomy
Thanks to its 672 Wh battery, RadWagon’s riding range is 55 to 88 km / 35 to 55 miles (manufacturer declared), depending on the mode of electric assistance used. These distances are measures for an unloaded e-bike, on a relatively flat surface, in optimal conditions. Expect less distance for a loaded e-bike and for a route that includes climbs.
Using the most powerful assistance mode that uses the entire 250 W of the motor (mode 5) that propels the RadWagon quickly and effortlessly to up to 28 km/h, you should still expect to ride close to 50 km (35 miles). The riding distance can be increased if you use a lower assistance mode and if you accept to reduce your speed during the climbs.
On the other hand, once the e-bike is loaded and if you start up again and again in typical urban traffic conditions that encourage you to use the throttle (to start after a stop sign or a red light, for example), you can expect the riding range to reduce to around 40 km (25 miles).
As usual with an electric bike, it is the use and the habits that will determine the range. Power usage by RadWagon is not ridiculous, but it is still quite greedy due to its size and its big hub motor.
To recharge RadWago, patience will be required. The e-bike comes with only a 2A charger. Count around 6.5 hours to fully recharge an empty battery. Rad Power recommends charging the battery for about 12 hours during the first 3 cycles, in order to ensure the balance of its battery cells.
Rad Power RadWagon pros
- Comfortable driving position
- Powerful motor
- Accelerator handle to help take off with a heavy load
- Long luggage rack
Rad Power RadWagon cons
- No front or rear suspension
- All or nothing assistance, no torque sensor
- 54 kg maximum on the luggage rack
- Partial integration of electronic components
- Heavy and bulky
Final verdict for Rad Power RadWagon
RadWagon is well thought through and pleasant to ride. The e-bike offers good overall performance, despite a lack of a torque sensor that does not help with road dynamics. Quite practical for everyday use, this cargo e-bike proves to be a good utility vehicle. Would be helpful if it could support heavier loads.
Take a look at this quick video introduction of the RadWagon longtail cargo e-bike: