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Slow and steady wins the race for Rad Power’s do-it-all RadRunner 3 Plus

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus parked in front of an animal barn in a park.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus
MSRP $2,300.00
“No other utility e-bike boasts the same comfort, versatility and safety of the RadRunner 3 Plus.”
Pros
  • Unsurpassed versatility
  • Comfortable by design
  • Excellent safety features
  • Optional accessory packages
  • Comprehensive user documentation
Cons
  • 20 mph max speed
  • Weak pedestrian warning bell

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus is a rugged, versatile utility e-bike suitable for many chores.
Everyone wins when e-bike manufacturers improve popular models with features riders actually use and appreciate. Rad Power Bikes proves the point with the latest version of its highly customizable, RadRunner utility e-bike. The Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus balances comfort, safety, and versatility as well or better than any other utility e-bike, with no pretenses of passing for a regular street bicycle or motorcycle.

This latest iteration continues to build the original RadRunner’s reputation for wide-ranging utility.

The still-widening e-bike field already includes bikes for commuting, cruisers for casual trips around town, all-terrain models, electric mountain bikes, cargo e-bikes designed to carry extra-large loads, and folding e-bikes to stow under office desks or in the trunk of your car or SUV. There are e-bikes that appear to be conventional road bicycles and downplay their electrification, as well as models with styling and performance that tease the midline between e-bikes and motorcycles.

The RadRunner 3 Plus is an adaptable electric ride that can be great in town and could serve as a short-distance commuting e-bike. If you want an e-bike that excels on tight mountain trails or for high-speed performance on or off-road, this is not your e-bike.

So, what’s so appealing about the RadRunner 3 Plus? Three things: utility, rider comfort, and safety. Rad Power Bikes’ build quality is top shelf and the RadRunner 3 Plus user documentation is unparalleled, but this latest iteration continues to build the original RadRunner’s reputation for wide-ranging utility.

Versatility for town and country

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus ready to work on a farm.
The RadRunner 3 Plus wasn’t designed specifically as a work bike on farms, but that idea isn’t farfetched. The e-bike’s 350-pound cargo capacity, including the rider, and multiple attachment points and surfaces will let you haul tools, garden supplies, and animal feed including, with appropriate strapping, bales of hay.

With the moderate all-terrain tread on its 4-inch diameter fat tires, you should be able to travel most farm surfaces except deep snow, mud, or freshly turned soil. You could even transport a helper as a passenger on the standard RadRunner 3 Plus rear rack, although without the optional passenger seat and footpegs, it better be a short ride.

If you don’t live on a farm, Rad Power Bikes makes it easy to customize your RadRunner 3 Plus for your needs. Since the original RadRunner launch in 2019, the manufacturer has offered accessories such as racks, baskets, lights, mirrors, panniers, and even a center console with a cup holder.

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus with a case of water bottles strapped to the rear rack.
Bruce Brown/Digital Trends

You can also buy pre-assembled accessory kits for specific uses. For example, a Passenger Package includes a rear passenger seat, folding footpegs, and a clear protective wheel skirt. Another useful accessory package is The Haul It All Kit, which includes a front rack, large front basket, large rear basket, and a center storage module.

In my testing, I used packing straps with Velcro strips to carry a case of bottled water. The rear rack and other structural pieces are nicely finished and especially rugged, which enhanced my confidence to attach various objects to the frame.

Later I used plastic zip ties to attach three plastic milk crates to the RadRunner’s rear rack. My jury-rigged crate storage setup significantly widened the e-bike’s rear geometry, but even when packed with groceries, the load was no challenge for the RadRunner 3 Plus.

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus loaded from shopping with three baskets on the rear rack.
Bruce Brown/Digital Trends

Getting to the bottom of rider comfort

The e-bike’s step-thru frame makes it easy for anyone to mount the RadRunner 3 Plus without needing to swing a leg over the seat. This frame design is especially helpful when you have cargo or a passenger on the back of the e-bike. Note that adding the optional center console negates the advantage of the step-thru design.

The latest RadRunner model’s standard plush seat is reasonably comfortable, and an adjustable front fork suspension system further smoothes out the ride. The original model with no front suspension and a thinner seat required extra vigilance to avoid pavement irregularities while riding. There is no rear suspension — which would be a nice upgrade for next year.

If you keep the e-bike’s fat tires fully inflated, a must when carrying cargo, the tires’ high sidewalls will also soften the ride compared to conventional tires. If you drop the air pressure a pound or two, the ride will be even softer, but you’ll be compromising safety a bit.

Standard front and rear Tektro hydraulic disc brakes also contribute to rider comfort. Hydraulic brakes require lower lever pull effort for arguably smoother stops than mechanical brakes, which the original RadRunner had. They do require a bit more maintenance, but rider control is important when it comes to safety — which is another strong differentiator for this bike.

Safety matters

The RadRunner 3 Plus has a built-in LED headlight and taillight, which come on automatically, and the taillight gets brighter when you brake, just like a car. Reflective stripes on the bike’s custom Kenda tires increase visibility day and night, and K-Shield puncture protection minimizes your chance of having a flat tire. The only safety-related item I’d like to see improved is the relatively weak-sounding bell to alert pedestrians who don’t hear the e-bike approaching.

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus with rear view of two egg grate storage baskets attached to the rear rack.
Bruce Brown/Digital Trends

Speed control as a safety feature

You may have noticed that so far I’ve avoided addressing two of the most common questions people have about e-bikes: How fast does it go? How far will it go without recharging the battery?

The battery range question is always impossible to answer because it depends on too many factors including rider and cargo weight, speed, road surface, incline, wind, and even air temperature. Rad Power Bikes estimates the RadRunner 3 Plus range is 25 to 45 miles per charge, depending on all of the above.

Speed, however, is another matter, and Rad is for sure in charge. As a Class 2 e-bike, the RadRunner 3 Plus is capped at 20 mph. And you can’t defeat it without rebuilding the bike, which would void the warranty and also, in most if not all states, make the bike illegal.

Many other e-bike manufacturers support the Class 3 e-bike mode, which allows a 28 mph top speed with pedal assist only, not with throttle control. Some manufacturers also have an off-road or unlimited setting, which they explain with warnings that riders should use that mode only when they are not on public roadways. Wink, wink.

I quickly reached the level of confidence in the e-bike that I didn’t hesitate to leave the pavement for grassy hills, dirt roads, and moderately rough off-road riding.

Rad Power Bikes has consistently held the line on the 20 mph maximum speed for its e-bikes. While owners and enthusiasts have discovered cheat codes or secret settings to defeat speed limits on older Rad e-bikes, I was not able to find any such workarounds for the RadRunner 3 Plus.

So, is the 20 mph limit a buzz-kill? Sure, for some it could be, but those people aren’t likely shopping for a compact utility e-bike such as the RadRunner 3 Plus. If you want to buy an e-bike that goes faster than 20 mph, there are plenty of good choices, such as the recently-reviewed Engwe EP-2 Pro folding fat tire e-bike and the Super73-S Adventure Series. If you like the idea of an e-bike that can get you around town and country while carrying anything from a bale of hay to a week’s worth of groceries, you probably don’t care that much about higher speeds. If you’ve ever accidentally broken open a hay bale, you know how much of a mess that can make.

But is it fun to ride?

Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus parked in front of an animal barn in a park.
Bruce Brown/Digital Trends

With all that said, it’s fair to wonder if riding the RadRunner 3 Plus is fun. The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The RadRunner’s rugged, stable frame, smooth power delivery, and controlled braking to more than support rider comfort and safety. As I was noodling around the streets and paths in our town I quickly reached the level of confidence in the e-bike that I didn’t hesitate to leave the pavement for grassy hills, dirt roads, and moderately rough off-road riding.

I didn’t keep the RadRunner’s speedometer figuratively pegged at 20 mph all the time I rode it, especially when I was toting various items on the rear rack. Whenever I had a chance, however, I found the e-bike had no difficulty maintaining the maximum speed. We have a steep driveway and I’m happy to report that even though the Rad’s 750-watt peak power motor is speed-limited, there was plenty of low-end torque to pull the bike up to our garage with barely any effect from the driveway grade. Rad Power Bikes claims the current motor is updated for 10% more torque than earlier versions.

Part of the enjoyment factor with the RadRunner 3 Plus is discovering all the things you can do with it. I had never before zip-tied dairy crates to an e-bike to carry groceries, but when I thought about it, I didn’t hesitate with the RadRunner 3 Plus. This is the kind of bike that embraces a little creativity.

Maximum versatility

The Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus is a highly evolved, wonderfully flexible utility e-bike. The RadRunner 3 Plus’s $2,300 starting price is a bit north of what you might expect, but the raft of accessory options and packages are extremely reasonably priced so you can build on the solid, highly capable base without destroying your budget.

The Juiced Bikes Scorpion e-bikes are another moped-style platform with several versions since the original 2020 launch edition. The Scorpions aren’t constrained by a 20-mph speed limit if that matters to you, but they also lack the RadRunner 3 Plus’s overall utility, and the current version, the $2,500 Juiced Bikes HyperScorpion, has a maximum cargo capacity of 275 pounds, 75 pounds less than the RadRunner 3 Plus.

If you want a rugged, highly versatile utility e-bike designed for rider comfort and safety, you should absolutely buy the Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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