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It’s not only pandemic puppies that were a trend over the past two years. Sales of electronic scooters and electric pedal-assist bikes have seen a surge as well, since many people in denser urban areas looking for new ways to commute besides public transit to avoid crowded subways and close contact with other people. Others were just looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative to a gas-guzzling car to run errands. Some cycling snobs in North America may have resisted e-bikes, despite their popularity in Europe and Asia — since they are looking for exercise and effort but let’s be real: more bikes on the road, electric or not, is better for everyone who rides.
Now it seems the American market may have reached a tipping point, with some industry experts predicting that there will be close to a million e-bikes sold in the United States in 2021 (supply-chain issues notwithstanding). But that also means there’s been a glut of new brands entering the market, so many consumers are confused by the many retailers and direct-to-consumer options available.
To help, we tried out the latest from Rad Power Bikes, a trusted, Seattle-based direct-to-consumer brand that’s known for high-quality, affordable and dependable products. The RadRover 6 Plus ($1,999), may seem intimidating at first — with its fat tires and robust frame — but it actually means it’s more stable and makes it easier to go anywhere. Curbs and gravel? No problem.
With built-in fenders and lights, there are plenty of safety and comfort features that come standard. But at 72.4 pounds (the easily detachable battery pack is nearly 8 pounds), the bike may prove to be a bit difficult for some racks and it’s definitely heavy and cumbersome to maneuver up stairs or into elevators.
The assist level and speed are really easy to read and use. Typically the 2- to 3-level of assist feels more casual on city streets. But feel free to juice it to get up those steep hills. The bike has a top speed of 20 MPH but that may be a bit too thrilling for the average rider. Plus, those stabilizing fat tires can reportedly handle slush and other difficult terrain (although we’ve only ridden it in good city conditions so far). The price point may feel steep at $2,000, but it remains much more affordable than other e-bikes available at retailers, plus it has a lot more additional features that make it stand out — such as the all-new hydraulic brakes.
Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus E-Bike: Specs, Battery Life, Accessories
Options and accessories: It comes in a black color scheme and white (which may be preferred if you are often riding at night). They also offer a lot of cool accessories. We opted for the rear rack — which can handle up to 60 pounds — so it had more utility and could handle cargo. The bell (which is required by law in some areas) has a friendly chime. Make sure to also pick up a sturdy lock, such as the ABUS Folding Lock Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 ($123.99+ on Amazon) and helmet, like the BERN Macon 2.0 Multisport Helmet ($59.99+ on Amazon).
Other stats: The battery has a 672 watt-hour capacity, and it takes about six hours for a full battery charge (ideally you don’t want to let it get below a 20 percent charge so it doesn’t stress the battery and you get more full cycles).
Other Perks: They’ve Integrated the light into the rear fender and — an interesting perk — an optional 5V USB dongle so you can charge your smartphone, speaker or tablet or other electronics.
Insider Tip: Although it’s a consumer-direct brand, we had Rad Mobile Service build our bike and deliver it to our front door. There are also showrooms in the United States to visit or you can request a test ride before purchasing.