by Lars Hundley
Rad Power RadCity 5 Ebike, $1,999
- True European-style utility bike design with high handlebars for an upright ride and sturdy rear rack.
- Hydraulic brakes with huge 180mm rotors for stopping power even when loaded up.
- 28 to 50 miles range, depending on assist levels and your load.
- Well designed fenders, complete with mudflaps to keep you clean and dry.
- Optional front basket rack lets you carry up to 22 pounds in front.
- 750 watt hub motor gives you power to load up the racks to capacity and get around
- Takes a while to assemble, but there are good paper and YouTube instructions to show you how.
How obtained: Manufacturer provided the ebike at their cost for review.
When it comes to ebikes, Rad Power is probably the biggest pure ebike brand out there, with the biggest estimated number of ebikes sold per year according to Bicycle Retailer.
So I was excited when Rad Power sent me a RadCity 5 model to review. I requested the RadCity 5 in a step through frame design, because it would allow both me and my wife to easily share the bike. I am around 5′ 8″, but she is only 5′ 2″. Quite often a bicycle that fits me is far too large for her to ride. Rad Power says that the RadCity step through can accommodate riders from 4′ 8″ up to 6′ and indeed we are easily both able to ride it comfortably.
My first impression was of the box itself when it was dropped off on my porch, and it was a really good one! I dragged the cool looking box inside and went to work putting the bike together. With the RadCity, the back half of the bike is already assembled, and it’s really a matter of attaching the handlebars, putting on the pedals, and attaching the front fender and front wheel.
The bicycle was well packaged within the box to keep it safe during transit. So it took a while to cut the zip ties holding the parts in place, and holding the padded materials against the bike itself.
Assembling the ebike is straightforward. If you can turn an allen wrench and you have a little patience, it’s just a matter of attaching parts. The written instructions are good, and there’s an even better YouTube video you can watch if you’re more of a visual learner and want to watch someone else complete each step as you do it. You do not need to be a bike mechanic, because you aren’t doing anything like adjusting a derailleur or shifter or the brakes. All that is already correctly set up.
If you’re completely intimidated by putting it together, Rad City even offers a service that you can have someone assemble it at your home in many areas, which you can check for on their site.
Lots of Utility, An Impressive Range of Accessories
The RadCity 5 comes with a built-in rear rack as a standard option, but there are three different front basket options. There’s a large front basket that is all metal, a smaller, flat-surface metal platform rack, and there’s the regular sized basket that I received, which also has the benefit of a nice looking wooden platform. My basket has a capacity of up to 22 pounds, which adds to the rear rack’s capacity of around 59 pounds.
Rad Power has completely figured out every possible accessory you might need to make full use of your ebike for whatever purpose. There are panniers that fit the rear rack. There is a basket you can attach to the top of the rear rack. There are cargo straps, cargo nets, bags that fit perfectly into the various baskets, and even a Thule child seat that straddles the rear rack and a pet carrier that fits one of the front baskets.
There are phone mounts, mirrors, and multiple Abus lock options, including one of those European style wheel locks secured to the frame that allows a very quick and simple form of security to keep someone from riding off on it when you just want the most basic production for low risk scenarios. They even sent me a little bag that attaches to the handlebars that holds a water bottle.
Riding the RadCity 5
Since the RadCity uses a rear hub motor, there is a throttle option for the ebike. That means that you can propel it forward without pedaling by using the throttle only. The throttle will propel you to up to 20 mph as a maximum speed, which is also your maximum assist speed when pedaling. The throttle comes in handy in situations like getting moving quickly at a red light, or trying to get started from a stop up a steep hill, or when fully loaded.
You also have the option of five different levels of pedaling assistance, as well as no assistance at all if you want to ride it as a regular bicycle. I found that for riding around your neighborhood for fun, the level one or two assist was perfect to make the bike easy to pedal around but still at a speed that won’t freak out any neighbors.
If you’re on a street that’s safe to go faster and you’re comfortable with it, give it more assist with the level three through five. The assist levels and the full throttle option are all well tuned so that the acceleration speed is smooth, making it easy to stay in control of the bike.
Rad Power went with a powerful 750 watt motor, but it is so well-tuned that it does not feel overpowered when the bike is unloaded and it’s just the rider. You do have plenty of power for when you load up all your racks of your ebike with groceries or your laptop bag that you carry to work, or maybe a kid sitting on the optional Thule child seat, etc.
The bike itself weighs 64 pounds for the step through model, which is still reasonable to carry up and down the stairs if you need to. The saddle has a built in handle for when you want to lift the bike.
I liked the simplicity of the single chainring in front, with a 7 speed Shimano Altus derailleur in the back and an 11-34 tooth freewheel in the back. It gives you plenty of gear range to pedal at whatever cadence is most comfortable for you at any of the speeds you might choose to ride it.
Rad Power has their own branded tires RadCity 5 ebike, and they went with a smooth tread that optimizes for efficiency, in order to maximize ease of pedaling and battery range, and puncture resistance so don’t have to worry about flats.
The tires are 27.5″ tires with a sturdy 2.0 width. That gives you enough air volume in the tires to make the bike much more comfortable riding over the bumps, and gives you plenty of rubber on the road when you are leaning through a turn or you want to stop in a hurry. Wide tires inspire confidence on the bike. I really liked the reflective strips on the tires, which really light up when a car headlight shines on them.
Another great feature as far as visibility goes is the front headlight and rear taillight that are both included. If you install a basket, it comes with additional wiring that allows you to extend the headlight to the front of the basket, which was a great detail. The rear taillight is built into the rack so that it’s out of the way and you can see it even when you load up the bike.
The tall handlebars in front put you in a very “European city rider” type of position — picture bicycle riders pedaling around Amsterdam. This helps you see and be seen, which is important for a practical utility style of city bike that you are going to ride on the street with other traffic.
The RadCity 5 also includes a shock fork in the front, which is a nice option when you’re riding on rougher pavement.
If carrying as much stuff as possible is your thing, Rad Power also makes a cargo ebike called the Rad Wagon 4. But the tradeoff with a cargo ebike is that they start to get quite heavy if you ever want to pick one up and carry it, or you want to load it in your car to take it somewhere.
So for me, I think the rack setup on the RadCity 5 gives me all the real carrying capacity that I’ll realistically use, with a smaller and lighter bike design that is very maneuverable when you ride it and easier to pick up if you need to. This combined with the step-through frame, which makes it easy to get on and off of the bike even when loaded, makes it a supremely usable, practical ebike.
The RadCity 5 has a 1x (single ring) drivetrain in front so that you don’t have to mess with shifting a front derailleur, and a 7 speed 11-34 freewheel in the back with a good range of gears for steep hills and the flats. Note the subtle chain protector that will keep you from getting chain grime from your pants leg. The flat aluminum pedals have a large platform that makes it comfortable to ride the ebike in your regular shoes, and a surface designed to keep them from slipping off.
My camera had a hard time capturing the screens, which are very clear and easy to read in real life. Rad Power uses two different screens instead of just one, which is helpful. The screen where you see things like how much assist you have and how much battery power is left is right next to all the control buttons.
The other screen shows things related to your speed and distance, so you can glance down while riding and easily see it as a large, easy to read number.
You’ll also notice a nice bell, right next to the power control panel so that you can alert pedestrians or other cyclists as you come up upon them on the street or bike path. I have always preferred a bell to a horn or to yelling out, as you are far less likely to startle pedestrians or other cyclists when you come up from behind.
Rad Power uses their own battery, which locks to the bike and is easy to remove and take inside to charge, or just for security reasons. Rad Power batteries operate between many of bike models, so if someone else in the family has a different model, the same battery is likely to fit both bikes. (A few bikes like the cargo ebike use a bigger battery.)
There’s a button you can press on the battery itself to see how much charge you have left. When the bike is powered on, the control panel will also show you your battery level so that you can easily see how much you have left while you’re riding.
The RadCity 5 has an estimated range of 28 to 50 miles. If you’re using all throttle and you have the bike fully loaded, then you’re going to get the lowest end of the range. If it’s just you on the bike and you’re pedaling it and using one of the lower levels of assist, your range will be higher. It’s a lot like gas mileage in a car, where different scenarios affect your mileage.
One terrific detail on the RadCity 5 is the mudflaps included both on the front and rear fender. This is an extremely practical solution that makes a difference in the rain. Details like these show that Rad Power really studied the European style utility bikes and designed one that doesn’t just “sort of look like” one, but actually has the important functioning aspects on the bike.
The RadCity 5 comes with gigantic 180 mm rotors and hydraulic brakes for strong stopping power in any weather. The front wheel features a quick release, in case you want to remove it to more easily carry the bike in your car.
A Few More RadCity 5 Ebike Details
After finally getting a chance to try out a Rad Power ebike for myself, I can see why they have become such a big brand and name in the pure ebike space. It is clear to me that Rad Power has really figured out the details of what makes an ebike useful and fun to ride.