Rad Power Bikes RadMini review: Fat bike

Rad Power Bikes' RadMini fat tire folding e-bike makes any journey fun

Rad Power Bikes RadMini review: Fat bike

“Rad Power Bikes' RadMini sets the standard for on and off-road fun.”
  • Great value all-purpose e-bike
  • Smooth gear shifts and pedal assist
  • Fat tires laugh at surface changes
  • Folds for storage and transport
  • Heavy, awkward to carry
  • Conforms to Class 2 20-mph limit

If you’re itching to buy your first electric bicycle bike but you’re overwhelmed by the many types, brands, and price ranges, we have an easy solution: Buy the 2019 Rad Power Bike RadMini fat tire folding e-bike. The RadMini is a Class 2 e-bike with electric pedal assist and throttle operation. The RadMini powers along up to 20 mph and with a 25 to 45-mile range per charge. This e-bike is an incredible value at $1,499

In the fast-growing world of special-purpose models, no other e-bike performs as many roles as well as the RadMini with its Kendra on/off-road fat tires. This versatile ride also folds so you won’t need a rack for the back of your vehicle or much floor space in your garage or home.

Since we reviewed the 2017 RadMini, the e-bike market has exploded. The RadMini has become a benchmark for other e-bikes. The RadMini’s sturdy construction, high-torque battery power, and well-chosen components add up to a great value at an affordable price. Rad Power Bike’s online sales and support also keep the prices low — if sold through retailer supply chains, the cost would probably be twice as much.

Rad Power Bikes RadMini
Rad Power Bikes RadMini fat tire folding e-bike at Wilmington Marina Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

The RadMini is an amazing all-purpose e-bike, but it’s not the best e-bike for every purpose. If you’re looking for a high-powered trail e-bike, a competitive performance e-bike, or a cargo bike to transport children and groceries, the RadMini isn’t a great choice. E-bike early adopters often have specific needs, but most prospective riders today want an e-bike they can ride around the neighborhood, cruise beaches, ride in parks, and maybe get some exercise along the way. Unless you’re single-use focused, an all-purpose e-bike is the best bet, and that’s where the RadMini shines.

The RadMini is also available with a lower top tube. The RadMini Step-Thru has fat street tires, but all other components are identical.

750 watts on tap

The RadMini gets its power from a 48-volt 14 Ah Lithium-ion battery. The battery powers a 750-watt, Bafang geared-hub motor with 59 foot-pounds of torque. The RadMini won’t do burnouts and drag you down the street, but the motor adds ample power assistance when you’re pedaling. You can also use the twist-grip throttle on the right handgrip without pedaling. In either operation mode, the electric power cuts out at 20 mph, which adheres to U.S. Class 2 e-bike regulations.

Several people thought the RadMini was an electric motorcycle and not an e-bike

I used the RadMini’s throttle-only mode much more than pedal assistance. For those who want more exercise, and longer travel range per battery charge, the RadMini has a 7-speed Shimano gearset with a Shimano thumb-operated shifter. You can select from five pedaling power assistance levels via a handlebar-mounted LCD control panel. The RadMini uses a cadence sensor base on pedaling speed to supply extra power, based on the assist level you select from Level 1 (the least assistance) and Level 5 (the most assistance).

Whether you use the pedal-assist mode or throttle only, the power cuts out at 20 mph. Once you get up to speed you can theoretically pedal faster than 20 mph, but no power assistance is available until your speed dips below 20 mph.

Mini? Not so much

The RadMini has a sturdy 6061 aluminum alloy frame. There are two folding locks mid-frame and at the base of the telescoping low-bar aluminum handlebar stem. However, the e-bike weighs 67 pounds including the 7.7-pound removable battery.

E-bikes are almost always heavier than conventional bicycle so regular bicycle racks don’t suffice. You can spend $250 to $600 or more on hitch-mounted e-bike racks, but it’s much more convenient to be able to fold the bike and put it in your car trunk or back seat or in the back of an SUV.

Rad Power Bikes RadMini
Rad Power Bikes RadMini fat tire folding e-bike folded Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

Folding the RadMini is quick and easy. You first unlock a clamp and fold the middle of the frame so the tires are next to each other. Next, fold down the handlebar stem. An included Velcro strap keeps the pieces together so they won’t unfold while moving or carrying. You can also fold the Wellgo aluminum alloy pedals. With a bit of practice, you can fold the RadMini in about a minute.

Once the bike is folded, you can lift it to place it in your car or SUV. Bear in mind that the RadMini weighs 67 pounds, has knobby tires, and an exposed chain. I wouldn’t want to move it more than a few feet. Other folding e-bikes are lighter and easier to carry, such as the urban-focused Gocycle GX.

The RadMini is recommended for riders 5-foot-2-inches to 6-foot-2-inches. Total payload capacity, including people and whatever they wear or carry, is 275 pounds. I’m 5-foot-8-inches and could stand over the frame easily with my feet flat on the ground, although I adjusted the saddle above the minimum height so my legs would straighten fully on the rare occasions when I pedaled.

Fat tires steal the spotlight

To operate the RadMini you insert and turn a key on the battery and then hold a power button on the backlit LCD control panel. The display shows the battery charge level, speed, miles traveled, and pedal assist level.

I appreciated the RadMini’s front and rear lights, which both run from the main battery. The front light has an ambient light sensor to increase the brightness at night. The rear light brightens when you apply the brakes.

Rad Power Bikes RadMini
Rad Power Bikes RadMini fat tire folding e-bike Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

The RadMini rides 20-inch by 4-inch Kendra Krusade fat tires.  These tires have a knobby tread but never felt rough riding on pavement. I rode 70% of the time on pavement and 30% on grass or sand, and the Kendras laughed at the surface changes, adding to my confidence in the e-bike’s handling.

There’s also a front suspension fork with rebound adjustment and 60 millimeters of travel. The Kendras have reflective sidewall striping that helps visibility (and looks cool, too).

The RadMini is truly an all-purpose electric bike. When I rode down a cobblestone street in our city I didn’t think much of it, but when I rode the same street on a Gocycle GX, a much lighter urban-focused folding bike with smooth street tires, the cobblestones played havoc. Other e-bikes with slim tires, like the Swagtron EB12, have that same problem.

The Kendra fat tires laughed at surface changes, adding to my confidence in the e-bike’s handling

You’ll find the mechanical disc brakes pull the bike to a stop quickly with a confident feel.  These brakes are a good example of Rad’s choice of sturdy components that are totally adequate for their tasks and also keep the bike’s cost down.

Battery range is a concern with electric vehicles, though pedaling is an option here. To test the RadMini’s range, I rode as close to 20 mph using the throttle only on flat pavement over the course of three days. The battery finally quit supplying power at just over 28 miles. You’ll see better mileage if you do some pedaling yourself. Recharging takes 4 to 5 hours with the included 2 amp charger.

Our Take

The RadMini is easy to ride with robust construction and suspension, brakes, and tires that give you the confidence to ride almost anywhere. It’s not the fastest e-bike, nor the lightest, and can’t carry the most cargo, but the RadMini can do everything well enough for most people. At $1,499 with free shipping to the lower 48 states, this bike is a bargain.

Is there a better alternative?

If you explore folding e-bikes, you’ll see many that are tiny, and sold for as little as a few hundred dollars. You can also find lighter, more stylish folding e-bikes for urban use, such as the excellent 2019 Gocycle GX ($3,299), that are light and easy to roll when folded and under your desk at work. Be prepared to shell out $2,800 to $4,500 for stylish urban folding e-bikes — and don’t think about taking them off-road.

The $1,699 2019 Blix Vika+ and $2,198 Electric Bike Technologies’s Electric Folding Bike are well-built folding e-bikes that weigh 10-to-12 pounds less than the RadMini which makes them somewhat easier to carry around. However, the Vika+ and the Electric Folding Bike cost more than the RadMini and ride on relatively narrow tires, 2-inches and 1.35-inches wide, respectively. If you want the smooth stability and the reassurance of the RadMini’s rugged construction, there is no better choice.

You may see folding e-bikes that appear to have similar features to the RadMini at lower prices, but when you read the specifications, they don’t measure up. Rad Power Bikes has an established enviable reputation so beware of knock-offs of questionable quality.

Our guide to the best electric bikes has recommendations for different e-bike styles.

How long will it last?

The RadMini’s structural strength and brand name components should stand the test of time, rewarding riders for years. In addition to a comprehensive 1-year warranty, RadMini owners have access to live customer support in person, on the phone, and on-line at the company headquarters in Seattle seven days a week, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Pacific Time.

Should you get one?

Yes. If you are looking for an all-purpose e-bike for fun pretty much anywhere you want to take it, the RadMini is a smart buy.

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