Tricycles are generally thought of as a bike for kids who can't yet balance on two wheels, but Rad Power Bike thinks the time has come for a three-wheeler for adults.
I had a chance to take a brief test ride of the Rad Power Bike's electric RadTrike last week; here's what I thought about their new bike, how much it costs, and when you'll be able to buy it.
Rad Power Bike RadTrike: Price and availability
The Rad Power RadTrike goes on sale today (December 6) for $2,499, and will start shipping to customers in January.
The price is steep, but seems reasonable. You can find a number of the best electric bikes for less than $2,000, and there are plenty of cheap electric bikes for around $1,000. (And, if you search around online, you'll see there are plenty of electric trikes for about the same price).
Rad Power RadTrike: Design
The RadTrike has a classic tricycle design, with a lengthy adjustable seatpost rising up out of the middle of the bike. Behind the seat is a cargo area, but the RadTrike also has a mounting point in front of the handlebars; the company sells a huge range of accessories, from storage racks to panniers to storage bags, so you can outfit the bike as you see fit.
Rad Power is even planning to release a canopy for the RadTrike, so you can keep the sun from beating down on your head. (It's pretty open otherwise, so I don't know how effective it would be in the rain.)
There are no accessories to add a second rider or a child's seat. It's something I hope the company addresses, though that may be tricky, as adding too much weight to the rear might cause the bike to tip backwards.
On the left handlebar, there's a small but bright display that lets you adjust the level of pedal assistance, as well as a button to turn on the trike's lights. The left handlebar also has a handbrake, with an extra little lever for a parking brake. The right handlebar has a grip-throttle, in case you want the bike to do all the work for you.
Like Rad Power's other bikes — such as the RadCity 5 Plus — there are a mess of wires trailing down from the handlebars to the rest of the bike; it's a bit messier look than with other electric bikes which run their wires through the frame, but RadPower does run the wires through a little sleeve.
In terms of carrying capacity, the RadTrike can tote up to 415 pounds, which is on the low side when compared to some of the best electric cargo bikes — the Yuba Supercargo CL, for instance, can haul up to 500 pounds — but you'll still be able to take plenty with you.
While not light, the RadTrike isn't overly heavy, and the bike's handlebars fold down to make it (slightly) easier to store.
Rad Power RadTrike: Test ride
To coin a phrase, riding a tricycle ain't like riding a bike. You have to be much more deliberate with your turns, and resist the urge to lean into the curves, as you would on a bicycle. In fact, you sort of have to lean to the outside of the curve, so as to counterbalance the weight of the trike.
The RadTrike has a top pedal-assist speed of 14 miles per hour — anything over that, and you'd risk tipping over when you tried to turn.
In the enclosed parking garage where I test-rode the RadTrike, 14 MPH felt plenty fast to me. It was also a lot of fun to ride, too. In no time, I was zipping around the parking garage, as carefree as when I was a tot.
I couldn't speak to the smoothness of the ride, as there weren't any cracks or bumps in the garage, but the RadTrike does ride on three 20-inch tires, which should help to keep things comfortable.
The RadTrike has a 750W front-hub motor, the same as in its RadRunner 2 electric utility bike. Because of the high torque of the motor, it gets you going quickly from a stop — helpful if you're lugging a lot of stuff. Cleverly, it even has a reverse gear, so you can back the bike up to fit it into a tight space.
Aside from the front disc brake, the RadTrike also has a rear coaster brake — slam the pedals backward, and the bike skids to a stop — just like when you were a kid.
Rad Power says the trike's battery should be good for 20-35 miles before it needs to be recharged; we'll have to see how well this hold up in practice.
Rad Power RadTrike: Outlook
Rad Power isn't reinventing the electric bike with the RadTrike, but it's an interesting new option for those who want an e-bike, but aren't as steady as they used to be on two wheels.
At the same time, the RadTrike also looks like a fun ride for those who want a relatively affordable cargo bike for going to the grocery story or running errands around town. It looks like it would be a great bike to have at the beach, too.
However, the RadTrike is much larger than your typical bike — electric or otherwise — so you'll need plenty of space to store it. We'll wait until we can give it a full test before we decide whether or not it belongs on our list of the best electric bikes.