Depending on what part of the country you live in, you might not associate the cold weather months with jumping on your bike for a ride around the neighborhood. But in places like Phoenix where it still hovers around 80 degrees, it’s the most wonderful time of year.
This brings me to the growing popularity of e-bikes, which are not that different from a regular old bike, but come with motors and batteries. And according to a recent Deloitte report, more than 130 million e-bikes are expected to be sold from 2020 to 2023.
I recently had the opportunity to review an e-bike from Rad Power Bikes, a Seattle-based company founded in 2015. Make no mistake, its flagship fat tire model, the RadRover 6 Plus, is a beast of electric bike – but is it worth the price?
RadRover 6 Plus electric fat bike
As you can see from the image above, this e-bike might look like that trusty old bike in your garage, pedals and all. But that’s where a lot of the similarities end once you turn it on.
A general rule of thumb for e-bike operation is that the motor turns on when you start pedaling – the harder you pedal, the more power is delivered depending on the setting you are using. Or you can twist the throttle on the handlebars for more power without pedaling.
Here’s what you need to know about the RadRover 6 Plus electric fat bike:
- Real-time stats from the backlit Rad Display LCD include charge indicator, speedometer, pedal assist level, mileage, power output and more.
- Removable 48V, 14Ah lithium-ion battery
- Up to 45 miles per charge with a top speed of 20 mph
- 5-level pedal assist with half-turn throttle
- 750W custom geared hub motor for more climbing capabilities
- High performance hydraulic disc brakes
- Thick 26″ x 4″ puncture resistant tires with reflective sidewalls
- Includes headlight, taillight and brake light that activate automatically
- Relatively easy to assemble, compared to other models
- Weighs approximately 75 pounds with a capacity of 275 pounds
- Retailing for $1,999
Without a doubt, $2,000 is a lot of money, but it’s on par with similar e-bikes. Just be aware that other makes and models can go much, much higher.
Unboxing the RadRover
When Rad Power Bikes shipped this electric bike out for review, I had some reservations. I haven’t built too many bikes in the past few years, let alone one with high-tech upgrades, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the box.
It didn’t look too bad on initial inspection, so I carefully started unboxing it. Some pieces were loose, while others were tied together and there was plenty of padding with a mix of cardboard and polystyrene.
It was nice to see that the bike was mostly built, but still took some time to put the rest together. I fully suggest reading the assembly instructions first and also watching the accompanying video.
Something to keep in mind – Rad Power Bikes suggests that you get a certified bike mechanic to assemble and tune the bike. If you plan to do DIY, the company recommends having your work verified.
I decided to do it myself, especially after seeing that the difficulty level on Rad’s site was closer to the “Anyone can do it” side. A nice touch was the included tool kit. I won’t go into every part of the process, but the key components that need to be added to the bike include the handlebars, front wheel, pedals and headlight.
Took a few hours and it certainly helped to have a second person to help you a few steps along the way. Rad Power Bikes also provided a few optional accessories to install, such as a rear rack, straps and a mirror.
Take the road
Before my first ride, I fully charged the battery (using the included wall mount), then double-checked my work to make sure all parts were tight, properly aligned, and the massive tires were aired out. . Since this was my first experience with an e-bike, there was a bit of a learning curve.
First, I familiarized myself with the two LCD screens. The front and center one displays speed, charge level, and other stats. The display on the left side of the handlebar has controls for increasing and decreasing pedal assist levels. Let me just say that having two separate screens is a very convenient way to get the information you need without trying to navigate everything on one small screen.
On the right side of the handlebars is the Shimano 7-speed thumb shifter, and the grip on the right side is the throttle. Turn on the bike through the main screen and it also turns on the headlight and taillight.
I started with the pedal assist set to 0 and took off like I would on any regular bike. Once in the neighborhood right away, I crank it up to one, then two and noticed how little effort I had to put in to really pedal. Twist the throttle and there’s another boost.
The RadRover 6 Plus is a Class II bike, which means it has a top speed of 20 mph. It doesn’t feel very fast until you try to associate the feeling of being on a bike. It takes a bit of getting used to, but luckily the braking system is extremely responsive. Engaging the brakes also deactivates the pedal assist.
Take the bike off-road, and that’s where you’ll appreciate the big, 4-inch-thick tires, especially their ability to handle gravel and dirt. I was a little more careful using the pedal assist system at first until I knew I wasn’t going to spin. It’s a relatively heavy bike, after all. By the way, the climb was an absolute breeze.
Pulling it out multiple times never even came close to draining the battery. You’ll cover approximately 45 miles on flat terrain with minimal pedal assist and throttle use. Even in hilly terrain with heavy engine use, you’re supposed to go 25 miles.
The good and the bad
Here’s what I really liked about the RadRover 6 Plus:
- Comfortable to drive
- Smooth acceleration and braking
- Versatile for urban commuters and off-road adventurers
- Two separate LCD screens
- A variety of accessories available for multiple scenarios
- Lockable battery compartment (comes with two keys)
Here’s what could be better:
- Screens are a bit hard to read in direct sunlight
- Expensive compared to other e-bikes
Verdict: Is the RadRover 6 Plus worth it?
It might seem like a lot to manage, but each of my family members, ranging in height from just under 5 feet to just under 6 feet, was able to ride the RadRover Plus 6 with ease. And that’s just amusing.
Yes, you have to consider the price and whether you want the “Plus” features that come with this bike – like ceramic brakes and other more premium options. Rad’s entry-level e-bike, the $999 RadMission 1 is a single-speed bike aimed at urban riders, so it lacks a lot of heavy-duty hardware.
But if you’re looking for a more versatile bike, one for city streets and trails, the $1,999 RadRover 6 Plus ticks the boxes from features to durability. For the same price, there is also the RadRover 6 Plus Step-Thru which does not have a top tube running from the handlebar stem to the seat tube. This makes getting on and off the bike easier.
Whichever you choose, my first experience with an e-bike was very positive across the board and I highly recommend this latest entry from Rad Power Bikes.