Tom's Guide Verdict
Powerful, versatile, and compact, the RadExpand 5 makes a case as one of the best folding ebikes. It could use a better heads-up display, and a slightly larger stature to accommodate more riders.
Powerful and quick-engaging motor
Easy to fold
More compact than most of its competitors, especially when folded
Expensive compared to its folding ebike peers
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Weight: 62.5 pounds
Motor: 750W geared hub motor
Battery: 672W removable, externally mounted
Max advertised range: 45 miles
Drivetrain: 7-speed MicroShift
Max carrying capacity: 275 pounds
Folded dimensions: 29” x 25” x 41”
RadPower claimed the top spot in my ranking of best ebikes with its RadRunner 3 Plus cargo bike, so I was excited to get the RadExpand 5 folding ebike in for testing with the expectation that RadPower had created a powerful and versatile folding bike, too.
I wasn’t disappointed. The RadExpand 5 lives up to expectations, though you’ll pay for the privilege. It costs more than much of its folding ebike competition, and because it’s quite small in stature, it’s more limiting as to what riders will feel comfortable on it.
That said, RadPower wisely cuts out unnecessary features (like a suspension fork) and ensures the bike folds up as compact as possible. That’s a big part of the appeal of a folding bike, after all.
While it could use a few upgrades for the price — most notably, a better heads-up display on the handlebars — it’s small and powerful, and it’s perfect for vanlifers or office workers looking for an efficient city commuter.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Price and availability
The RadExpand 5 is available for purchase now on the RadPower website. It costs $1,649 for the base model. From there, you can customize your bike during the checkout process with any accessories you like.
You can also use RadPower’s Dealer Locator to find a dealer near you so you can test ride before you buy.
The bike ships partially assembled, which means you’ll have to do the rest once it arrives. Or, you can schedule an expert assembly during the checkout process for an added cost (starting at $165).
Shipping is free and the RadExpand 5 comes with a 1-year warranty.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Design
The RadExpand 5 is built around a stout aluminum frame and the rear rack is included in the standard build. It rolls on 20-inch wheels shod with wide 4-inch tires, which provide lots of cushion and traction.
Notably, the RadExpand 5 comes with a rigid fork rather than a suspension fork. This may seem like a detraction at first glance, since almost all of its competitors have a suspension fork. But I’ve found that suspension forks on bikes with fat tires ends up being superfluous. The rigid fork on the RadExpand 5 saves weight and complexity, and you still get plenty of bump absorption from the big tires.
The frame itself is quite small, and RadPower says it fits riders between 4’10” and 5’10”. I am 5’11” and found myself right at the upper range of the seatpost adjustment, and the bike does feel quite compact for a rider my height. Anyone taller than me will find this ride to be too small and cramped.
A rear hub motor gives you the boost you need, and it mates with an externally-mounted, removable battery.
In order to power up the bike, you first need to insert the key into the battery and turn it on, much like you would with a car ignition. Then you can hit the power button on the handlebar control to turn on completely. Notably, there is no screen with odometer or speed data, just a simple LED panel that indicates battery life and assist level.
There are five total assist modes to choose from. And if you want to avoid pedaling altogether, RadPower includes a throttle.
The RadExpand 5 includes a 7-speed MicroShift drivetrain, which helps you tailor your pedaling cadence and get the bike in motion on steeper hills.
To fold the bike, simply release the lever at the stem, and the lever at the bottom of the main tube junction. The bike folds in on itself and is secured in place with an included hook and loop strap.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Performance
The RadExpand 5 offers a very fun and zippy ride, with handling that threads the needle between responsiveness and stability. In other words, it’s an easy bike to ride, but it has some pep to it, too.
Unfortunately, it won’t be much fun for anyone over my height. Taller riders will likely find the RadExpand 5 to be too compact for comfort.
The motor is really powerful, and consistent. It gets up to speed quickly, with almost no lag between pedaling input and assist engagement. There’s no lag when you stop pedaling, either. The power cuts out predictably every time.
The RadExpand 5 also gets going from a dead stop on hills easily, even in the low and mid-level assist modes. You’ll have to get going using the throttle instead of the pedal-assist if you’re shifted into one of the harder gears, but in the easier gears, the assist kicks in quickly enough to get you going. Of all the folding ebikes I’ve tested, the RadExpand 5 handled starts on a hill with the most ease.
The handlebar controls are intuitive and easy to use. The bright LEDs clearly indicate what assist mode you’re in and how much battery life you’ve got left. At this price, however, it seems odd that RadPower does not include a fancier display with more information. I found myself wanting to know my current speed and total trip distance, but that information is not available in real time.
It folds up quite compact as compared to its fat-tired peers, though a skinny-tire folding ebike will certainly save you even more space. And at 62.5 pounds, the RadExpand 5 is still quite heavy, so if you’ll be toting it upstairs, beware.
That said, it’s quite easy to fold and unfold, and it comes with a hook-and-loop strap to connect the two ends together in the folding position. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually quite rare among folding ebikes.
Unlike most of its folding ebike peers, the RadExpand 5’s pedals do not fold. I find this much easier to contend with; folding pedals don’t offer much more compactness than standard, non-folding pedals, and it’s one less thing to mess with during the folding process.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Battery life and performance
Since the RadExpand 5 does not have an odometer, I can’t tell you exactly how long my rides were. But I can estimate my first ride around 8 miles, and my second ride around 6 miles. Those numbers are based on other test rides I’ve done with bikes that do have odometers.
I was heavy on the throttle on the first ride, and when I wasn’t pinning the throttle, I was pedaling in the highest assist mode. The battery indicator dipped one out of five bars, but then went back up to full power by the end of the ride.
By the end of the second ride, I had lost two bars of battery life. Based on these numbers, the advertised maximum range per charge of 45 miles seems not only possible, but entirely likely, even at the mid-level assist settings.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Accessories
Radpower offers accessory packages to tailor your bike before checkout. They are the Going on an Adventure Kit, Essentials Kit, and the Daily Commuter Kit. The most expensive kit pushes the total price of the bike to $1,970, which is a fair bit higher than most of the RadExpand 5’s competition.
If you opt for the base model only, you can still choose from tons of individual accessories to add onto your purchase, including a Rad Fat Tire Wheel Lock ($89), Rad Mirror ($39), Large Front Mounted Basket ($119), Rad Trailer ($299), and much more.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: The competition
The RadExpand’s closest competitors in the folding ebike category all feature fat tires. The Ride1Up Portola, Lectric XP 3.0, Heybike Mars 2, and Aventon Sinch.2 all feature similar form factors and functions.
The RadExpand 5 is among the most expensive of all of them, and it’s also the most limiting when it comes to rider size. But it also folds up easier than the competition, and its motor is perhaps the most consistent and powerful.
The Ride1Up Portola still remains my choice for best in class, however. It’s sleeker-looking than the RadExpand 5, features a better handlebar-mounted computer, and it accommodates a wider rider size range.
That said, the RadExpand 5 comes in a close second, largely due to its no-nonsense build, ease of use, and powerful motor.
Radpower RadExpand 5 review: Verdict
It’s clear RadPower has put a lot of thought into what makes a good folding ebike. The RadExpand 5 dispenses with unnecessary flourishes like a suspension fork, which only adds weight and complexity to a simple bike like this.
More importantly, the RadExpand 5 comes with tons of power despite its diminutive stature. If it was slightly larger to accommodate riders approaching six feet tall, and with the addition of a good handlebar-mounted computer unit that shows current speed and an odometer, it would be a powerhouse. That should come standard with a bike that costs this much.
It’s versatile, compact, powerful, and fun to ride. If you don’t mind the higher price tag, the RadExpand 5 is clearly a strong investment.
Dan Cavallari is the former technical editor for VeloNews Magazine, who currently reviews electric bikes, bike lights, and other bike accessories for Tom's Guide. In addition to VeloNews, his work has appeared in Triathlete Magazine, Rouleur Magazine, CyclingTips.com, Road Bike Action, Mountain Bike Action, CycleVolta.com, Tomsguide.com, and much more. Dan also hosts two podcasts on his site, Slow Guy on the Fast Ride: One is about cycling and other outdoor activities, while the other looks at mental health issues. Most recently, Dan also covered the 2022 Tour de France. Dan lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his family.