Sunday, January 10, 2021

The New RadWagon Cargo Bike Flies

I took my new RadWagon4 electric cargo bike for its first spin EVER.

I loaded it onto the NEW Hollywood Rack with my Surly Ogre and went down to the C&O Canal.

A flawless trip. Bike was perfect in every way. The carry rack was as solid as a rock. I never took the Surly Ogre off the car.

The RadWagon MOOOOVES. Obscene speeds and ridiculous ease. A bit embarrassing but *very* enjoyable.

Two terriers or one North American Pocket Lurcher will go on the back on the next ride.

For those who are e-bike curious:
  • Prices on e-bikes are all over the map and most companies don’t have a long track record. Expect to pay at least $800 for a bike. Cheaper is... cheaper.
  • Rad Power Bikes has very good reviews and sells a lot of units. This company will not disappear, even if it has growth pains (things sell out a lot).
  • All the bikes from everyone come from China or Taiwan.
  • You’re buying a bike with electronics. The bike parts (disk brakes, derailleurs, crank) can be serviced by any professional bike shop. Electronics are not serviced, but replaced.
  • Batteries come off the bike and should be stored inside, not in winter cold. The bike needs to be stored in a dry garage or shed.
  • The electronics are four parts: battery, motor, computer, dashboard. The 48 volt battery alone on my bike is $500. It will take me over 45 miles and will move me much faster than I want to go on a 750-watt motor. The battery has two replaceable fuses.
  • There are two kinds of motor — hub and center drive. I’m not too clear on the real difference in the real world, but hub appears to be cheaper and easier to replace if that’s ever needed. The RadWagon is a hub motor.
  • Electronic bikes are *heavy*. Think 70 pounds. What that means is that a regular bike rack will not work. Because my cargo bike is extra long, I only had one option: a Hollywood rack that fits into my 2” tow hitch. The rack was $500 and the tow hitch and install was $280 if I remember. The Hollywood rack is rock solid, folds up and tilts down, and has two bike clamp locks and a cable lock. Good kit.
  • I got a cargo bike. Not everyone needs one or wants one. I did.A lot of RadWagons are used to take 2-kids and an adult to school. Mine is for dogs and whatever the wife gets at the farmer’s market.
  • The Radwagon4 is $1,600, which is a great price compared to its competitor e-cargo bikes ($4,000). Radwagon can do it because it sells direct and it sells bikes only partially assembled. I was a little nervous about “partial assembly,” but the directions were very good and the only tool I needed was a pedal wrench ($14). It took about 2 hours to unpack the bike and put it together, and I apparently did a flawless job (a miracle, I assure you). If you can assemble 20-piece Ikea furniture, you can assemble this bike.
  • The RadWagon 4 has a double frame, as cargo bikes typically do.
  • The RadWagon 4 has a unique wheel size (22”x 3”) which means tires and tubes are special order. The tire size keeps the center of gravity of the bike low, and the 3” wide tires means it does well on gravel. Since this bike is mostly for my 5’ 1” 95-pound wife, a low center of gravity was important.
  • The bike has a terrific and *solid* two-legged kick stand, a front light, electronic turn signals, and a brake light. The dashboard gives speed and distance and battery use. There are disc brakes and nice bell.
  • There are four electric assist settings and 7 speeds. There is an electric “walk” mode and a throttle. Quite intuitive, and a good manual.
  • The battery locks onto the bike, and the same key turns on the bike.
  • I have ordered a front rack and bag. The back platform will have a long (perhaps collapsing ) crate installed for the dogs. Two bike bags will go on and off as needed. 

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