RadTrike review: Testing of Rad Power Bikes slickly designed electric trike

The RadTrike is the first consumer-focused electric three-wheeler from Rad Power Bikes, the largest e-bike company in North America. It’s designed to make e-biking more accessible to a wider range of riders, especially older riders, and it sure fits that bill. After testing the trike I can tell you that there’s a lot to like here, though I’ve also got a few critiques in areas I would have liked to have seen changed.

RadTrike review – real world testing

There’s no better way to get a sense of an e-bike (or an e-trike) than by putting it through its paces of real world use. So I got my hands on a RadTrike and took it shopping, rode around my neighborhood, tried commuting on it, did some leisurely trail riding and basically used it in about as many real world cases as I could imagine.

As a three-wheeler, it’s a bit of niche product. But it’s also not as niche as you might think. There are millions of former riders out there who would love to get back on a bike despite not having the same balance or leg strength they used to have.

Enter: the RadTrike.

It’s purpose built for these types of riders. This electric three-wheeler is a comfortable, stable and modestly powerful setup that can work for a wide range of riders from young adults wanting a utility platform that can haul 50+ lbs (23 kg) of groceries to retirees that want to relive the fun of cycling down the street with the wind in their faces.

To see some of my RadTrike review testing in action, check out my video review below. Then keep reading for all of my RadTrike thoughts.

Rad Power Bikes RadTrike video review

RadTrike tech specs

  • Motor: 750W rear geared hub motor
  • Top speed: 14 mph (22.5 km/h)
  • Range: Up to 55 miles (88 km)
  • Battery: 48V 10Ah (480 Wh)
  • Weight: 82 lb (37 kg)
  • Max load: 415 lb (188 kg)
  • Rear rack max load: 60 lb (27 kg)
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brake (front), coaster brake (rear)
  • Price: $2,499
  • Extras: LED display, integrated head/tail/brake LED lighting, bell, five pedal assist settings, half-twist throttle, mounting for front and rear racks/accessories, parking brake, reverse feature, comfortable two-part saddle with adjustable back rest
rad power bikes radtrike e-trike

How it rides

The first thing I noticed about the RadTrike was just how stable it is while riding. They made the rear as wide as it could be while still fitting through most standard exterior doors, plus the 18″ wheels keep the center of gravity lower, so you get a nice and stable platform. I had to really try to get it up on two wheels, meaning I could only do it while going fast and simultaneously making sharp turns, or else throwing my weight in a corner turn to purposefully lift the outer wheel. Unlike other e-trikes I’ve tried, I never accidentally went up on two wheels.

The point is, despite many people thinking electric tricycles can be tippy (and they can), the RadTrike is well designed to feel pretty darn stable. Unless you’re actively trying to tip it, you probably won’t.

It’s also very smooth on startup. Some other electric tricycles I’ve tried do instant front wheel burnouts because the throttle gives you all that power at once. On the RadTrike, they’ve design some very slow and easy throttle ramping profile. That means that even if you go whiskey throttle and essentially “floor it,” the trike will gently accelerate over the first three to four seconds.

That’s a nicely thought out feature and one that is especially important when you have a front wheel motor like this.

The motor is quite powerful at 750W, and you really feel it pulling you along once those first few seconds of slow throttle ramping pass. I tested the RadTrike if flat Florida so there aren’t any big hills, but even climbing up loading dock ramps and other inclines shows that the motor isn’t a weak little thing.

The RadTrike only gets up to 14 mph (22 km/h), but that speed actually feels much faster on a trike than it does while doing 14 mph on any other of Rad’s electric bikes. I could even take turns at full speed as long as the turn was wide enough. I don’t recommend making a sharp 90 degree turn at max velocity, but you can actually do it if the 90 degree turn is wide enough (think street intersection, not sidewalk turn). That’s just another testament to how stable the RadTrike is, even at higher speeds.

One thing to note: You have to pay attention to where all your wheels are. That sounds a bit odd, but let me explain. This is true of all electric tricycles, not just this one. But unlike a typical two-wheeled e-bike where you have a single track of wheels to manage, an e-trike has three. So when you see a pot hole or a piece of road debris, you can’t just think “Okay, I’ll go to the side of it” like on a typical e-bike. You have to either straddle it between two of your wheels or take an even wider path around it than you would on an e-bike to make sure you don’t catch your outer wheel in it. But if you start riding an e-trike as your main bike, you’ll quickly become accustomed to knowing where all of your wheels are at all times.

What I liked about it

Right from the start, the RadTrike is well thought out. It comes in packaging that makes it quite easy to assemble. The two halves of the bike need to be bolted together, but that’s the bulk of the assembly.

I originally thought the bike would be foldable in the middle when I first saw the design as it was unveiled online, but I soon realized that the middle joint is a solid bolted connection. You could take it apart in a minute or two with a 6mm allen wrench, but it’s not a quick fold connection. There IS a quick fold connection at the handlebars though, which is perfect for when you want to load the bike into the back of an SUV or van, since it essentially chops off the extra height of the handlebars.

The saddle is nice and comfortable, even coming with an adjustable back rest. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t feel great when pedaling since there’s much more saddle there under you (more like a tractor seat than a bike saddle), but it actually felt just fine while pedaling.

The saddle also drops surprisingly low. If you don’t pedal much and want to just throttle around, you can drop it lower than you might otherwise and benefit from even further lowered center of gravity. Plus the ability for the seat to drop so low means it can fit riders as low as 4’10” (I can almost hear my mom rejoicing).

When I took the bike off-road on gravel trails and grassy fields, I was glad to have a comfortable seat under me. There’s no suspension and the 18″ tires aren’t particularly big, so I definitely bounced around a good bit, but a wide saddle under me meant I wasn’t bouncing on a banana, I was bouncing on an office chair. That makes a big difference.

rad power bikes radtrike e-trike

I also found it neat that there’s an easy to use reverse feature (just hold the “down” button on the display for a couple seconds to enter reverse mode).

To be honest, I never once used the reverse feature out of necessity, it was more just playing around with it since it was there. But I can see how it would be useful if you pulled headfirst into a garage spot and needed to back out, or wound up in another tight situation like that.

Though another thing to note is that the turning radius is so tight that you can basically turn in the trike’s own length. I could do full 360-degree turns in the width of a sidewalk.

Next, let’s talk about braking.

There’s a disc brake up front and a coaster brake in the rear. The front brake is really all you need, but if you’re the kind of person that has weaker hands or just doesn’t want to let go of the bars to reach for the brake lever, having the option to stop with your feet is kind of nice. Both brakes are strong and sufficiently powerful to stop the RadTrike by themselves. If you really want to stop on a dime, slam the two simultaneously. It will feel like you dropped an anchor.

I also really like the built-in parking brake. Since there’s no kickstand, the trike could theoretically roll backwards on a hill, but the parking brake keeps it in place. I’ve tested other electric tricycles without parking brakes, and it’s 100% true that even a slight hill will see that thing rolling away.

Finally, let’s talk battery. I thought that I would have to worry about range due to the rather small 48V 10Ah battery with its lower than average 480Wh capacity. But since the RadTrike isn’t very fast, it sips slowly at that battery. I’m not sure I’d ever see the 55 mile (88 km) maximum range that Rad touts, but it seems that 35-40 miles is easily achievable in higher power modes. If you use lower power mode, I think you might even exceed that advertised range. The trike just doesn’t use as much battery as I had expected, and is thus surprisingly efficient.

rad power bikes radtrike e-trike

What I didn’t like about it

I really enjoy riding the RadTrike. It’s a pleasure. But like any e-bike, it’s not perfect. There are several smaller complaints I have with this electric tricycle.

Because it’s a single speed, it is difficult to start pedaling from a standstill. I always blip the throttle to get rolling and then start pedaling. It’s a bit easier to start on pedal-assist alone if you remember to come to a stop with the pedals horizontal (one forwards and one backwards) instead of vertical (one at the top and one at the bottom). That way you can really push on that front pedal with your weight. Because it’s a cadence sensor, there’s a lag between when you start pedaling and when the pedal assist kicks in to fire up the motor, so that first half a pedal turn or so is all you.

The pedaling gear ratio seems to be optimized more for around 10-ish mph (16-ish km/h). Pedal assist level 4 feels perfect to me. That’s my comfort sweet spot. The highest level (PAS 5) has my feet spinning a bit faster than comfortable when I’m zipping along at full speed. And getting started, well, that’s a doozy as I described above. Though another little cool note is that PAS 1 is walking speed, so you could roll along with a partner at about 2-3 mph. It’s a bit harder to pedal at that speed with the higher gear ratio, though.

Next, the bike is quite heavy at 82 lb (37 kg). You can lose nine pounds or so by taking the battery out when you lift it, but it still ain’t light. Rad used a steel frame, which isn’t doing weight any favors, but the extra weight also adds up from the wider rear end, extra wheel, coaster brake hub, tractor seat, etc. I could lift the RadTrike out of a vehicle just fine, but I’m also a healthy 33 year old with my masculinity on the line and something to prove. If you’re up there in years or have a back injury in your past, lifting a heavy steel electric tricycle might not be part of the doctor’s orders.

rad power bikes radtrike e-trike

I also wish Rad Power Bikes had included baskets as standard equipment. At the minimum, I believe the trike should come with a rear basket. The rear of the RadTrike looks a bit naked and it’s just begging you to use that flatbed area for storage. Plus with the ultra-low center of gravity that’s Rad’s rear end design creates (combined with those low 18″ wheels), it would be an awesome cargo platform.

I get that it likely comes down to money. It would cost more to ship the trike in a larger box due to the rack, and it would probably cut into the accessory business model as well. So I get it, they have an awesome line of accessories with many cargo options in that list, but I still think a rear basket would have been awesome as standard equipment.

I also would have loved to see Rad include their secondary display that shows speed, odometer, etc. I’ll admit that it’s unnecessary (you don’t have to worry about speeding tickets on the RadTrike), but it’d still be fun to see your speed and also keep track of your odometer reading. The mileage is useful for both the maintenance cycle and as a personal motivator of hitting big milestones (“Congrats on your first 500 miles!”).

rad power bikes radtrike e-trike

Is the RadTrike a good deal?

The last issue here is the price. At $2,499, this is the most expensive bike in the Rad Power Bikes lineup.

I keep going back and forth regarding how I feel about the price. It’s not that it isn’t a good bike. It’s a great bike. It is intelligently designed, rides well, feels well constructed, and is surely to get thousands of riders back in the saddle after thinking their biking days were over. But if you look at the components themselves, I’m not sure where all of that $2,499 is going.

The battery is smaller than Rad’s other batteries, the brakes are basic (but certainly quite good), there’s no complicated aluminum forming needed for the frame. Even the packaging is cleverly designed to be both effective and economical without requiring a freight delivery – it can show up on a normal FedEx truck. It’s all quite cost effective.

If you compare it to a bike like the RadMission that Rad used to sell for under $1,000 (and then bumped to $1,199), the RadTrike basically gets a similar loadout of parts, with the exception of an extra wheel, a parking brake, coaster brake, comfort saddle, and a more powerful motor. So I get that there’s more here, but is there twice as much?

But then again, there just aren’t very many good, cost effective e-trikes on the market yet. The few that exist in a cheaper price range are basically from boutique builders and simply aren’t that great. The few e-trikes I’ve seen and tested over the last few years are either budget priced and junky (to the point of feeling dangerous) or they are $3,000 to $5,000 and thus feel out of reach for average riders. So now here comes the RadTrike as a moderately priced, nicely made and well thought-out electric tricycle. And it even comes from a large US-based company with great product support and a vast ecosystem of compatible accessories. So I guess I can justify why you have to pay for that convenience.

Is it worth this much of a premium? I think so, yes. At least it is if you’re absolutely in the market for an e-trike. You can of course get better bang for your buck with e-bikes, but e-bikes aren’t for everyone. Adding that extra wheel seems to add a lot to the cost due to the design that goes into developing a purpose-built electric trike, but that may be worth it for thousands of riders who want and need that extra wheel to open up a whole new world of e-biking to them. And trust me, once you roll into that new world, you’re never going to look back!

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Author

Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.

The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0, the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2, the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission, and the $3,299 Priority Current. But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.

You can send Micah tips at Micah@electrek.co, or find him on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.