Roll over everything and get on and off easily on this powerful fatbike.
After writing Why I think buying an e-bike online is a really bad idea, I got a lot of pushback from readers and had to follow up with Why buying an e-bike online is not as bad as I thought. One thing that kept coming up in the comments and tweets was how happy people were with their online purchases from Rad Power Bikes.
TreeHugger Derek covered the RadRover electric fat bike a few years ago, describing the benefits of a fat e-bike:
Fat bikes are now finding wider acceptance among casual cyclists and urban riders, perhaps in part because with tires that large, the ride can be much smoother and more comfortable. However, using pedal power alone to propel a fat bike isn't nearly as easy as it is with a skinny-tired road bike, or even a standard mountain bike, so matching up a fat bike with an electric motor can let riders have the best of both worlds by taking some of the effort out of pedaling a heavy bike with huge tires.
With a lower standover height and less distance between you and the handlebars, the RadRover Step-Thru makes it easier than ever to get on and get going -- all without sacrificing the power, strength, and durability that made the RadRover, its inspiration, North America’s best-selling electric fat bike.
I have been riding a Gazelle step-thru e-bike and have found that they are indeed much easier to get on and off, and a great boon at red lights. (Hey, cyclists do stop at red lights!) If you have an aging baby boomer market, perhaps new to cycling, a bike like the RadRover Step-Thru that can handle streetcar tracks, potholes and sewer grates, as well as recreational dirt trails, is an attractive proposition. But most people are put off by fancy new bikes that cost as much as used cars.
That's what I find really remarkable about the RadRover Step-Thru – that price of US$1,499. The direct-to-consumer model reduces the cost of the bikes significantly, as does manufacturing in China. It's got beefy specifications, too:
"Like its predecessor, the RadRover Step-Thru can conquer all types of terrain thanks to its puncture-resistant 26” x 4” fat tires, powerful geared hub motor (750W in U.S. and 500W in Canada), and long-range 48V 14 Ah Lithium-Ion battery."
Rad Power Bikes have been around for a while and have figured this out; from the Seattle Times:
“We’re bringing in a low-cost affordable form of transportation, approachable to the vast majority of people,” says Radenbaugh. “We’ve cracked the code with manufacturing overseas where there’s an efficient supply chain, and 100 percent localized customer service and technical support.”
They have also designed the bike for easy service. Kyle Field of Cleantechnica talked to Radenbaugh and Ty Collins of Rad Power Bikes. Like me, Field had concerns, but they were allayed.
I dug right into the heart of the matter and to my surprise, Ty was excited to talk about the service model. It turns out, they had been thinking about and planning for a remote service model from the start. Because it was a foundational belief, “the bikes were designed to make [remote service] very, very conducive,” Ty said. All of the unique components on the bike, like the electrical system, were designed to be modular. Each have a single unique connector that makes it easier for an owner to simply unbolt the part, unplug it and replace it with a new one if something goes wrong.
As I previously noted, I personally believe in supporting my local bike shops and helping keep our main streets vibrant, and seriously worry about impact of the online shopping revolution. I am willing and able to put my money where my mouth is.
But I also want to see a lot more people on bikes, and I have already had an earful about how good Rad Power Bikes are, and this looks like it would be a great bike for a lot of people at a really good price.
Note: This is not a review. I have not test-driven this bike, which I like to do before discussing. But I have tried fat e-bikes and ride a step-through e-bike, and hope that gives me some credibility here in discussing the concept.