Rad Power Bikes’ RadRunner is an e-bike designed to appeal to the broadest number of people. A utility bike with fat, comfy tires, a beguiling design, a simplified but not underpowered drivetrain, and an affordable price tag, the RadRunner is one of the company’s consistently most popular models. And now, it’s getting a major facelift.
The RadRunner 3 Plus, announced today, has a radical new look that borrows heavily from the sharply angled frame designs of the latest versions of the RadCity commuter and RadRover models. That means it comes with a bevy of new parts, including integrated battery, hydraulic disc brakes, a custom geared hub motor, a new ergonomic frame, and an improved LED display that’s easier to use.
But the accessories are what really seal the deal. Rad Power Bikes is really doubling down on a variety of add-ons designed to improve the cargo-carry capabilities of its bikes. If e-bikes are to stand any chance of making a dent in our increasingly calcified car culture, they will need an elegant and accessible way to haul a bunch of stuff — or even a good boy or two.
But before we get to the delightful doggies, let’s review the RadRunner 3 Plus’ specs. The bike’s payload capacity has been bumped up to an eye-popping 350 pounds, which is pretty impressive for a short-tail cargo bike. The RadRunner has always been one of the coolest ways for two adults to get around together, and this latest version’s passenger-carrying capabilities have now been enhanced.
Hill climbing in the RadRunner 3 Plus is getting a boost as well — about 10 percent when compared to the previous versions, to be specific. That’s thanks to the custom 750W motor that’s been optimized for steep hills and heavy loads. The bike’s 48V 14Ah (672Wh) battery gives the bike a solid range, but there’s more than meets the eye. (More on that in a bit.)
All of these upgrades won’t come cheap. The RadRunner 3 Plus will retail for $2,499 (CA $2,999, EU €2,499, and UK £$2,199). That makes it Rad Power Bikes’ most expensive model, but it’s still more affordable than a lot of e-bikes on the market today.
It’s the accessories that really seal the deal
What do you get for that extra money? A seven-gear shifter, front suspension fork, LCD display, front and rear fender, and a front LED rock-resistant halo light. For an extra $139, you can also get all the accessories for a rear passenger seat, including a padded seat, rear pegs, and skirt guard. (Those accessories came standard with the RadRunner Plus.)
But Rad Power Bikes didn’t want to charge its customers more for nothing. Several cool new features are making their debut on the RadRunner 3 Plus, including an integrated wheel lock designed specifically for fat tires, and a still-under-development range-extending battery inserted under the rear rack. In the dual-battery configuration, the RadRunner 3 Plus can travel an impressive 100 miles of range — making it one of the farthest roving models in Rad Power Bikes’ lineup.
What struck me the most about the RadRunner 3 Plus is how it now resembles a totally decked-out motorcycle. That was partly by design, with Rad Power Bikes’ founder and chair Mike Radenbaugh describing it as the company’s most motorbike-like model. A hard-shell lockable center console ($149), along with hard-shell lockable panniers ($199), lend the RadRunner 3 Plus a solid, rugged, not-to-be-messed-with appearance that’s more common among two-wheelers with internal combustion engines rather than brushless electric hub motors.
Car owners get to leave their belongings and valuables in their vehicles with peace of mind — why shouldn’t e-bike riders have this same privilege?
“The RadRunner 3 Plus is a culmination of 16 years now of e-bike pedigree and being at the forefront,” Radenbaugh told me. “So this is just leveling up this utility e-bike category for Rad.”
Okay, now let’s talk pet trailer. The Rad Trailer, which is available at Rad Power Bikes retail locations and online for $299, is compatible with all of the company’s current models, including the recently released RadTrike. But it really excels when attached to the RadRunner 3 Plus, which has cargo-hauling built into its DNA. Toss in a cargo box or the detachable pet carrier ($229), and you and your furry friends are ready for a picnic or even just a leisurely ride. The trailer is rated for 100 pounds of payload — so even the fattest kitty should have no problem tagging along.
I own the original RadRunner — and use it as my daily driver — and while I still love the swooping frame and simplified powertrain, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was missing after trying out the RadRunner 3 Plus. Radenbaugh assured me that the RadRunner 2 and RadRunner Plus weren’t going away but that this latest version represents the future of the company.
“Think of the new Ford Bronco,” he said. “I hate talking about it now, but I will say there’s a really modern looking one. And then there’s the Florida Bayou edition. It’s got like classic paint striping. And so we think this [original RadRunner] communicates accessibility. And this [new version] communicates slightly more high tech, high end.”
Update March 2nd 10:08AM ET: Rad Power Bikes’ integrated wheel lock is its own product. A previous version of this story incorrectly described it as an Abus wheel lock. We regret the error.
Rad Power Bikes originally mislabeled the price of its hard-shell pannier and center console. Those prices are $199 and $149, respectively.