RadMission: Too Good To Be True?

On paper, the RadMission 1 from Rad Power Bikes looks like a fantastic electric bike, but is it actually as good as it seems to be? I wanted to find out.

Read through the details on Rad’s website and you’ll see that the tech components look great quality and non-electronic bike components look solid. And then there’s the price – just under $1200 – a lot of bike for not a lot of price.

As a natural born skeptic though, I’m normally suspicious of anything that seems to be too good to be true. So, when Rad Power offered to let me take a RadMission for a spin, I jumped at the chance. Because, to borrow an overused phrase from the service industry – “We offer three types of service: Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick two” – I was keen to see if the RadMission could actually deliver on all three.

I’ll take you through what I’ve found in a moment but, if you’re just looking for a little extra justification to buy a RadMission, then here’s the bottom line: The RadMission is an excellent quality ebike that’s simple to operate and maintain, fun to ride, comfortable, laughs at hills and horrible weather, and is possibly the best value ebike at this price point. If you’d like a little more detail, then stick around.

“The RadMission is an excellent quality ebike that’s simple to operate and maintain, fun to ride, comfortable, laughs at hills and horrible weather, and is possibly the best value ebike at this price point”


What do Rad Power Bikes say?

“a slick, stylish single-speed electric bike for city riders”
“With a 500W high-torque motor and up to 45+ miles battery range, it’s ready to handle any mission”
“single-speed drivetrain promises easy riding and low maintenance”
“At under 50 lbs, [it’s] roughly 30% lighter than any other bike in our line-up”
“straight-forward LED control panel means one click on and one click off”


What do I like about the RadMission?

I’ve been testing out the RadMission in the gray color and high-step frame. The gray color with black detailing is subtle, understated, suave and refined. Much like myself. Ahem.

The size guide on the Rad website indicates that this high-step frame is good for riders with an inside leg length of between 29” and 35”. At 5’8” (and around 31” inseam), this has proved to be a comfortable fit for me. It’s also been tested out by the rest of my family, who range in height from 5’0” to 5’10”, and each of them was also happy with the height. The RadMission mid-step frame extends this range to accommodate riders with inside leg length of 25.5”-34”. On a push bike it’s more important to get the sizing just right because the physics of pedaling mean that you might not be able to get the same power from a bike that’s the wrong size for you. With electric pedal-assist bikes though this is less of an issue as you’re getting a dose of extra power from the motor and this helps to compensate. That said, you still need to make sure that you can safely mount and dismount from any bike that you ride.

There are a number of colorways available on the RadMission – these include White, Black or Red in the mid-step frame option and Blue, Gray and Black in the high-step. I was impressed by the quality of the paintwork on the bike that I’ve been testing – out of the box it was in perfect condition with no scratches, chips, blemishes or paint runs. Not only that, but the underlying frame welds are neat and tidy. It’s clearly a professionally built machine and I like to see that kind of attention to detail in a bike.

The RadMission is an exciting addition to the Rad Power stable. If you’ve checked out the rest of the Rad range you’ll see that the RadMission takes the company in a new direction, adding to their core products including cargo ebikes (such as the awesome RadRunner), fat electric bikes (like the RadRover) and step-thru folding electric fat bikes (with my personal fave, the RadMini). Many of these bikes are available in mid-step or step-through options only, so RadMission’s high-step gives a clear point of difference and will appeal to many riders.

There’s plenty to love about the RadMission, so let’s dive in and take a look at all the juicy details.


Assembly is straightforward and fast

Let’s start at the beginning. When the RadMission arrives on your doorstep, you’ll find that it’s packed snugly into a large and sturdy cardboard box. It includes all the components you need for your bike and most of the tools – note that there are a few additional items that you’ll also need to have handy, these being a 15mm wrench, a torque wrench, bike grease and a clean towel or rag (for applying the grease).

The bike ships with all the instructions you need to fully assemble your new RadMission. Rad also have a YouTube video showing the step-by-step assembly, which can be a useful additional resource – check out the video here.

I’m no bike mechanic but I found building the RadMission to be a simple process using the instruction booklet. In total, from opening the box to hopping on the bike for a test run, it took me a little over 60 minutes. The key things are to make sure that you have all the tools you need (the wrenches to rags mentioned above) and that you have sufficient clear floor space to lay everything out and assemble the bike.


Simple to operate

Once you’ve got the RadMission built you’ll find that it’s incredibly simple to operate. First, you need to turn the ‘ignition’ on by inserting the key into the keyport on the side of the battery, and turning it fully clockwise. This is position “On, locked to frame” and I find that I swap between this and position “Off, unlocked from frame”. Next, remove the key and move your attention up to the handlebars where you’ll find the LED display. Locate the Power button at the bottom right and press this. The bike is now on and ready to ride!

The controls are so easy to use (you operate all of the electronics with a left thumb push) and because it’s single-speed there’s no gear changing and derailleurs to maintain and worry about. This is the aspect that I’m most in love with about the RadMission – it’s easy and there’s less to go wrong. Turn the key, set the power level, then just hop on and go.

One feature which isn’t mentioned much in the literature, but that I find incredibly useful, is the Walk mode. Normally, the bike motor only operates when you turn the pedals (hence the name ‘pedal assist’). That’s great, but sometimes you need to push the bike along (up a steep walking-only ramp, for example). This can be challenging with a standard bike (or an ebike without this feature). With the RadMission however you can turn the throttle as you push and the motor will engage, allowing you to easily wheel the bike along at walking pace.


Ride position is upright and comfortable

When you’re on the RadMission and cycling along, you’ll find that it’s an upright and very comfortable riding position for the majority of people. The stock saddle is supportive enough so you won’t be rolling around like a small boat in a rough sea but, at the same time, padded enough that it soaks up the bumps in the pavement before they hit your rear end like a beluga coming up for air.

Adding to the feeling of comfort are the high-volume 27.5” x 1.95” tires that you’re rolling along on. A Pro tip here is that when you’re cycling along on slightly rougher terrain (a gravel track, for example) you can let a little air out of those tires to make them slightly softer and able to absorb the unevenness in the road surface.

All these elements come together in the bike frame, which has an upright riding position with handlebars slightly higher than the saddle. This is great for folks with weaker wrists as it can alleviate pressure on sore joints by transferring body weight back onto the saddle where it should be. The upright riding position is perfect for the mean city streets where this bike is most at home as it keeps your head high and able to scan around for urban hazards.

On many bikes I’ve felt the need to swap out various components pretty quickly (often before I get to the first street corner). With the RadMission I’ve been happily (and comfortably) riding along for hundreds of miles to-date.


Battery delivers on both range and power

And those hundreds of miles have been pretty easy too. Thanks to the combo of battery and motor.

Take a look at the bike and you’ll see that the battery is attached to the downtube. That keeps the weight of the bike down low (the battery weighs 6 lbs 4 oz / 2.9 kg) and helps with balance on tricky paths. Compare this to some ebikes which have the battery fixed above the rear wheel and the difference is clear – if you’ve ever given someone a lift on a bike pillion style (they sit on the saddle and you stand on the pedals) you’ll know how difficult it is to keep your balance.

I’ve been impressed by the range of the battery. Most of my commutes have been in the region of around 10 miles each way (depending on how ‘scenic’ a route I take). Even with a laden backpack, I’ve been able to do the return trip without having to recharge through the day. Not that that’s an issue at my workplace – you can easily dismount the battery and take it up to the office to plug in and top it up – but it’s handy when I’m going to a client’s office and can’t recharge it.

I’ve also done longer routes to test out the claim of “45+ miles”. One notable ride involved picking the wettest day in living memory to cycle into the city on a round trip of 45 miles. This involved full waterproofs, plenty of steep uphills, the highest pedal-assist level, and, if I’m being completely honest, a heck of a lot of cuss words. At the end of the trip I was pleased to see that the battery level indicator (an easy visual guide on the LED panel of the amount of ‘juice’ you’ve got left) still had 2 out of 5 lights lit. By that measure I figured I could have carried on for at least another 10 miles. Though the weather wasn’t improving and neither was my mood, so I decided to park the bike and head for a hot shower and a change of clothes instead.

Charging the battery is easy and you can do this on or off the bike. Simply plug the Rad charger into a standard wall socket and the battery. Initial charges of the battery take longer in order to ‘balance the battery’ but after you’ve completed these you just need to recharge the battery when the LED indicator drops too low. Whenever I’m doing a longer route I make sure that the battery is fully charged up too. A full charge takes around 5 hours.

When you see the bike you’ll likely be surprised by how small the rear hub motor is. You’ll be even more surprised the first time you feel the motor kick in and ‘whoosh’ you up a hill. If you’ve never ridden an ebike before then you might be a little wary of how this will feel (I know my dad was before he got his first ebike). If you’re imagining something like being in the cockpit of a space shuttle launching from the pad at Cape Canaveral…don’t worry. It’s actually nothing like that at all and is much more like the gentle breeze you’d feel on your back as you stand on a Florida beach watching the shuttle launch. Lots of power, gently applied to push you and your bike along.


Rugged

Yes, the RadMission is billed as a city bike, and it’s great for that, but I think that’s doing it a disservice as this bike is rugged and will happily take you off the pavement and onto the trails. True it has no suspension on either the front or rear (which helps reduce weight and eliminate a big chunk of maintenance!) but the build is tough and the tires are gnarly. Lift up out the saddle a little and you can let your knees (and elbows) soak up the lumps and bumps in the trail. You can also consider swapping out the seat post and/or handlebar stem for a suspension model (I’ve reviewed a great suspension seat post here).

That makes it a very versatile ebike – ideal for weekday commutes to the office and then double duty at the weekend for family park rides or easy singletrack.


Easy troubleshooting

It can be worrying buying an expensive piece of technical kit (such as an ebike) because it can be hard to know what to do in the event that something stops working. Rad have recognized this and gone to great lengths to create downloadable trouble shooting guides on their website. These are easy to follow and are the definition of the word “comprehensive”. I know this because I had an initial teething problem with the electrics. So I hopped online to the Rad site, downloaded the 23 page pdf guide and started working through it. Instead of the usual three days of poking at various random components, before giving up and taking it along to the local bike shop, I had it sorted and on the road within ten minutes. Oh and P.S. I’m going to note this down as a “user error” (I’d failed to plug one of the wires in correctly) and not a manufacturing fault.


Full suite of optional accessories (and you don’t NEED any of them)

Take a look at the RadMission page on Rad’s website and partway down you’ll see a “Works great with” section. This lists all the accessories that Rad sells which can be fitted to the bike.

It’s a great feature, but here’s a little secret (don’t tell Rad I told you this): you don’t need any of them.

It’s true, the RadMission has everything you need to get going: a great bike, the battery, the charger and more besides. You can just buy your bike, assemble it and get riding. But, that said, there’s a few items on the list that it’s worth highlighting as they may add a feature that makes a big difference to your rides. For me, the two that I’d most recommend are the fenders and front basket. Fenders can make a big difference on a rainy day or a muddy route, stopping your rear end from getting soaked. Particularly useful when you’re cruising through to the office. And the front-mount basket is great for stowing plenty of things that you don’t want to carry in a backpack – groceries are the things that I most often pop in.


What don’t I like about the bike?

Having ridden the RadMission over the last few months, I’ve found that the list of ‘things I like about the bike’ is long and the list of ‘things that I don’t like’ is vanishingly small. That said, there are a few aspects that may not be to everyone’s taste and it’s worth highlighting them.

No ride data

If you’re craving Strava-esque ride data then you might find the controls a little too simple for your liking – you get a battery indicator level, power level indicator and lights illumination indicator. For many people this will be all they need, however if you do need more data, like speed and distance travelled, then Rad have you covered – you can swap out the basic controller for the upgraded and easy-to-fit LCD display.

No fenders

It doesn’t come with integrated fenders – but as I’ve already mentioned they’re available separately from Rad. I’ve been trying a full set of the fenders with the RadMission and they work great. Attaching firmly front and rear and deflecting all the puddles and muck that are trying to leap up and splatter my clothes.

Battery removal can be fiddly

The battery slots onto a holder on the downtube and it’s a snug and secure fit. This ensures that water and gunk stay out of the delicate electronic – which is essential – but it does mean that the battery can be a little fiddly to remove until you get the hang of it. I found that the best way of removing the battery is to: unlock the battery with the key, hold the battery with both hands and press my chest against the saddle to hold the bike in place, then slide the battery up the downtube towards the handlebars. It only needs to slide up an inch and it will be released from the holder and you can lift it away from the bike.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t actually have to remove the battery from the bike at all as it can be charged up in position.


Conclusion

So, is the RadMission too good to be true? Not in my view. This bike rocks. It delivers on build quality (of both the electrical components and non-electrical components). It’s easy to use, comfortable to ride for long journeys, and has ample battery power and range for all the journeys I use it for. And, it does all that for a fantastic price. In a word, “Wow!”

If you’re looking for a bike for city commuting, with a side helping of weekend family park rides and gravel trails, then the RadMission 1 could well be the bike for you. Have fun!

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