Rad Power Bikes want to get the world out of their cars and they just may have figured out how to do it

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/28/rad-power-bikes-want-to-get-th.html

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These aren’t terrible BUT, like most e-bikes, are pretty damn heavy and hard to deal with, when pedaling w/o assist (dead battery) or lifting into a bus bike rack.


In all seriousness, what do e-bike riders do in SF (or any city)? Bring the bike inside wherever you go? I’ve considered buying one but it scares me to think of leaving my >$1300 bike outside for even a minute.


What ever happened to the electric unicycle?


I already have a trailer for my mountain bike, will probably be using that once the weather is favorable. It’s about 3-4 miles to the nearest actual grocery store.

An e-bike would be nice, but not for that much. There are usually some cheaper ones for sale at Walmart, I don’t need that much range…

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Bike share! I’ve been loving those, and very glad Lyft for the moment has spread them around the city (SF) again, although I’m super pissed at them for pressuring our govt to get rid of their competition and promptly raising their rates and restrictions ($2 penalty for not docking). Agreed about owning them, although I see more locked outside overnight, without batteries.

OneWheel! If only I had $1800 for something so frivolous.

On the subject of Rad bikes, a friend bought their Rad Rover and the brain promptly died, throwing the dreaded “error 30” on the screen. Apparently it’s very common. To their credit they immediately sent them a new brain with instructions to install it or, interestingly, an offer to bring it to any bike shop and be reimbursed.


That’s yesterday’s thinking! Now it’s autonomous bicycles!


These look suspiciously like a moped, except license plate, insurance, and requirement to wear an helmet.


Autonomous you say? Can I send it out to pick up my order at the liquor store?


I have a Radwagon and it certainly is heavy to lift, but it isn’t so bad peddling without assist. OTOH, I’m a big guy, so most of the weight isn’t in the bike anyway.

I’m not in SF, and in Seattle I am lucky enough to have space to park at my work. Rad specifically offers a folding option that may still not be super fun to haul up stairs but at least will fit in an elevator and next to a desk or in a designated corner pretty well.

a fleet of people who haven’t cycled in decades given the ability to instantly go 20mph without the bike-handling skills learned from gradually getting in the shape needed to pull 20+mph, suddenly allowed access to the multi-use paths en-masse.
what could possibly go wrong?
eternal September is generally thought of as a bad thing…


So, some of the ebike crowd are people with families who have figured out that 75 extra lbs of kids up a steep slope is not realistic even for someone in pretty good shape and plenty used to riding. Some of us are people who have biked for years and… well, the years are starting to catch up. And yeah, some people are going to be out of practice, but if you drop more than a grand on a bike, it isn’t just to be a casual thing ultimately.

Most of the people I see on ebikes in Seattle (and that’s easily a third of the bikes I see here) are serious commuters who don’t want to give up the lost time on steep inclines or have several miles of commuting and don’t want to have to switch to a car after a long day at an active job, or have cargo to haul or a kid to pick up or drop off during their commute. These are serious commuters, not “Sunday drivers” who have invested in an option that works for their life. On the other hand, I see plenty of people on “normal” bikes (often of dubious provanance) who clearly could use some guided practice. Whatever, I would still rather see them riding than driving.

Also, save your bike elitism for the velodrome, brah. If cyclists want safe places to ride in urban areas, that means having an inclusive community actively advocating that our interests are important. If that community excludes people who want to stay on bikes but need an assist, then it’s easy to see how we will continue to loose to people who would rather have parking than bike lanes, as those parking advocates take a swing that connects solidly with abliesm like yours. If we expand bike use lanes to be open to all mobility devices, though, we include a politically active community and make a good case for safe spaces for those that need something besides a cluttered sidewalk but less than a road.


This. 1000x this.

Why don’t I ride anymore? Because the last time I really rode long-distance on a road, some jerk face behind me rear-ended the car in front of me and missed me by less than a foot. And then the idiot tried to blame me for the accident… somehow. In the year before that I was ran off the road, had trash thrown at me, was screamed at and threatened, and insulted for my bike choice.

And then there were the fellow cyclists who started making fun of me and stuff after I started trying to ride on more protected areas only… this was 15 years ago, and I still don’t really ride.

Just done with the whole scene. Which is a sad, because I actually enjoy biking.

(Funniest insult ever hurled at me by someone while I was on my bike: Some dude was ridding scrub in a ratted out, on it’s last legs fox body mustang with at least three cylinders actually working, a massive plume of smoke out the rear from a head gasket which was probably along the road somewhere, a rattle-can paint job interrupted by half-assed hillbilly newspaper bodywork repairs; he shouted out at me that only poor people rode bikes. I was on my bike, a Bianchi steely hard-tail; while it certainly isn’t that expensive of a bike… it was worth more than the car his friend was driving…)


If you do plan to buy a Rad bike be sure that you have the skills to work on it or that you have lined up ahead of time a bike shop that will. Not surprisingly for less than half the price of a similar bike from your local bike shop the Rad bikes use pretty cheap parts and need a lot of adjustment right out of the box. Rads’ capacity for supporting these is limited to small parts as well. The frame on my 18 month old Rad City broke and Rad had no replacement frames to send, their only offer was small discount on a new bike.

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The main reason I don’t ride my bike as much as I used to, is because of lack of road access.

Meaning it’s in the garage with a load of my wife’s “stuff” piled all around it.

On a more lighter note, in the middle of the 1990s, I used to have this informal race with this e-biker, during my commute back from Seattle’s Capital Hill to the Fremont neighborhood, where I lived. Me on my MTB would always find and pass him on the flats. Going up Dexter Ave. hill, is where I would feel my angry bile rise at the sight of him and his fat ass faux-pedaling past me. The downhill side was my bleeding mission to overtake him. To pass him was to feel seeth turn to release.

Being a student at Seattle Central Community College and the attending backpack load of books didn’t help things.


While I thoroughly agree with you in theory, in practice I haven’t seen the expected doom. With the electric bikes at least. I ride the lanes daily here in SF both on electric and non electric bikes and, while I definitely see a few obvious newbies absolutely flying by me while looking at their phones or smoking a cigarette, helmetless of course, I haven’t seen an obvious increase in accidents yet, or even particularly stupid behavior. (That’s not to say I don’t see stupid behavior, just not an increase of it). But I wonder if I’m just not aware of the stats?

Those electric scooters on the other hand sure look to me like death on wheels, and I’ve seen some of the stats. Scary stuff.

I went on one of those long group bike rides (the AIDS Ride from SF to LA), and super super super loved it, but one thing that really bothered me was that they weren’t drawing enough attention to the accidents. There were some horrific accidents on that trip largely for the reasons you mentioned (people who don’t ride bikes often suddenly going down a 3 mile hill in a tight group for example), and unless you saw it or randomly heard the gossip you’d have no idea.

So I hope some disinterested organization posts data about the accidents. By “disinterested” I mean obviously not the companies who are renting the bikes, but also not traditionalists who have a thing against electric bikes, etc. That way people can make more informed decisions about how to ride the things.


Heh, been there. I was a courier in DC for years and rode bicycles almost exclusively for transportation til I was 36; I saw it all. My fave was the fat, greasy idiots who thought that their king-cab pickup somehow meant they were in better shape than me, and they were therefore going to kick my ass… If they could somehow just catch me xD.

Nothing funnier than some lardass yelling, “Get back here!” and literally stomping his feet, as I merrily lead him on a wild goose chase. Never fails to brighten my day. No, asshole, I’m not scared of your…“manliness”, let’s say.


I think it’s reasonable to think that people who spent over a grand on a bike might need to get back into it, but aren’t going to be the sort of perennial dirtheads who ride like they still get to lock that thing up in the pile at school. Bike share is another thing of course, though I have mostly seen people who were probably more frustrated at the bikes than their own lack of skill (and justifiably so) but with the exception of a few simply rude people, it seems like everyone in the commuter time slot does pretty okay.

I went from almost exclusively riding a bike in college (and I was no slouch) to driving bus for a city transit agency, so I got to see idiots from both sides. There are certainly plenty to go around, but I was always happy to have them riding my bus because at least they were probably not as likely to hurt someone else through brute stupid (mind you, 99% of riders were fine, good people just going about their day). I figure even most of the rude ones at least gave me a story. Just please never be the guy riding your BMX downhill toward a bus in the dark in the oncoming lane with no lights. One of the few times someone did something so stupid I had to pull my bus over. I don’t figure anyone, even brand new to riding, is going to hit that low without kind of trying, so I can’t see much chance of apocalyptic stupidity arising from ebike use any more than it has from normal bikes. And from my own experience, you should expect to pedal at least half the time for most rides, and I’ve had rides of several miles with no e-assist at all, even with the bulky wagon. That assist really helps when I have a time I’m trying to hit or when I’m carrying kids or heavy bags, but I’m still riding a bike, just also doing things I absolutely couldn’t do on a bike otherwise. And sure, I might pass some people on the uphill that I wouldn’t otherwise, but also I calculated that into my commute time, so it really isn’t about them.

I’m not trying to shill for Rad here - there are lots of good options and if you get any kind of bike, e-assist or not, you should try a few. And if you think ebikes are just for the weak, go take one for a spin sometime, and you might be surprised.

Thoroughly agreed. EBikes are an awesome revolution. And for me at least they’ve been the gateway drug to EV cars, at least semi coveting one. Exciting times.

My drive to work takes me about 18-20 minutes averaging ~45 mph, and there are three hills with about a 1:15 grade on the way (two up and one back)

So assuming I can make a steady 15 mph on one of these, that’s an extra 60-80 minutes our of every work day. I might be willing to suck that up if it would mean I could sell my car. But that’s not feasible.