Announced in May 2020 but only delivered as of September 2020, RadWagon 4 brings a series of improvements and upgrades directly influenced by customer feedback. Rad Power is the biggest e-bike retailer in the U.S. right now, with a strong following in Europe and Canada, and, obviously, it did not get here by not paying attention.
So how do you make an already-competent cargo bike even more impressive? You turn it into the RadWagon 4, apparently.
This is an e-bike that is so discouragingly massive at first sight that it will make you second-guess your initial decision. In the end, though, it doubles as a very suitable substitute for the car, whether you’re using it for the kids’ daily drop-off or shopping and errands. This electric workhouse is coming for your car. In the box
These days, buying an e-bike from Rad Power Bikes means bracing yourself for a very long wait. Most other e-bike retailers are facing the same issue, either because they’re using parts out of China or because orders are overwhelming and the production capacity has remained the same. What has not changed in the buyer experience with Rad Power is the feeling that you’re welcomed into the family, something I highlighted in my RadRhino and RadMini 4 reviews as well. You have to wait for what feels like an eternity, but at least you’ll be having some fun while doing it.
Rad Power Bikes ships its bikes and accessories separately, and, most likely, you’ll be getting the accessories first. My RadWagon 4 was the EU spec: a 250W hub motor with 80 Nm (59 lb-ft) of maximum torque and the 48V, 14 Ah (672 Wh) battery, good for an electrically-assisted top speed of 25 kph (15.5 mph) and a range of 55 to 88+ km (34 to 54.6+ miles), depending on the total payload, riding conditions, weather, and terrain. For a U.S. reader accustomed to road-legal bikes with a 750W motor, this might not seem like much, but it’s more than enough to do all those chores you used to do with your car before.
RadWagon 4 comes in three different colors: there’s Rad orange, the special-edition black, and pearly white, which I got. Out of the box, the first thing that startles you is the size: like any respectable cargo bike, this one too is incredibly long and seemingly more massive because of the integrated rear rack. But it’s oh so pretty in its pearly white paint, with solid craftsmanship and obvious attention to all those minor but very important details, like the need to protect your rear passenger(s) or cargo from splashes, which is done through the integration of a sheer plastic skirt guard/wheel cover.
There are two ways to assemble the bike: the easy way and the easier way. Rad Power provides you with all the tools for the former, from a tiny tool kit to detailed written and video instructions carrying you through the entire assembly process. Putting the RadWagon 4 together on your own is a tad more challenging than assembling any other of their bikes, but it’s not an impossible task.
That said, should you encounter any issues that you can’t fix even after talking to customer support and for your own peace of mind, considering the kind of work you’re about to put this e-bike to, do take it to your local bike shop (LBS) for a checkup before your first ride. Some LBSs take issue working on an e-bike, so ask around first.
In my case, this was a necessity since the rear wheel was off-center and made a swooshing noise.
Electronics on the bike include the backlit LCD display with a USB charger, speedo, odometer, and other functions, integrated headlight and taillight with brake light, and water-resistant wiring. Rad Power Bikes recommends not riding in the rain, but a shower or drizzle won’t damage your bike.
For optimized handling depending on road conditions and cargo weight, you get a 7-speed Shimano shifter and 7-speed Shimano Acera derailleur, Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, and most importantly, the new 22 x 3.0 inch (56 x 7.6 cm) wheels. These are a considerable upgrade over the previous generation in that they’re lower and wider, with a custom tread pattern for smoother, faster rides. They’re developed by Rad Power and manufactured by VEE Tire Co., which is both a blessing and a curse: it’s a blessing because they’re made specifically for this bike and you can tell, but a curse because you have to take into account the inconvenience of having to replace one. So maybe buy a spare when you order the bike, just to be on the safe side.
There are five power-assist levels, and the half grip twist power assist that delivers up to 6 kph (3.7 mph) without pedaling, or will help you zoom in traffic or up a hill with some effort on your part, if you pedal. With RadWagon, you will be riding in traffic a lot, so make ample use of the throttle at dead starts. A most welcome surprise
With the risk of redundancy, I’ll say it again: the RadWagon 4 is a massive bike. With its aluminum frame and the multitude of accessories, it’s both long (though not wide) and heavy (34.8 kg/76.7 pounds in total), so you expect it to ride differently from a regular urban or hybrid bike.
It doesn’t, not at all.
Due to a very smart design, which lowers the center of gravity and the use of those in-house wheels, RadWagon 4 offers a smooth and easy riding experience regardless of whether it’s loaded up or not. My accessories included two deckpads with deckhand and passenger pegs (for carrying passengers in the back), and front rack with a small basket and a large basket in the back (for hauling cargo). Regardless of whether I was riding alone or with extra weight in the back, the bike handled the same.
It is surprisingly nimble and very comfortable, able to ride at traffic speeds even without motor assistance. As long as you mind the extra length, riding the RadWagon 4 feels no different than riding any other bike from the company. If anything, because of those custom wheels, this one could actually offer a more effortless riding experience.
The seatpost and handlebar stem are both easily adjustable, so you can choose your optimal riding position with no stress on the hands or back. The brakes are reliable and, while many will scoff at disc brakes, they’re a good choice to start with. If you plan on using your bike for heavy hauling (as part of a delivery fleet, for example), you could consider upgrading to hydraulic.
RadWagon 4 comes with a rigid steel fork and no suspension in the seatpost. This shouldn’t pose a problem if you ride mostly on smooth streets and over the occasional bump, but take the bike to a rougher neighborhood, and you will regret it. A suspension seatpost would be a most lovely addition. The ever-capable and adjustable workhorse
Just as impressive as the upgraded design is the multi-functionality of the RadWagon 4. By definition, cargo bikes should be versatile, but it looks like Rad Power Bikes spared no effort in making a little something for everyone. Depending on what you need it for, you can outfit your bike for every type of daily activity, from the daily commute to the kids’ drop-off (sadly, the European store doesn’t offer the Yepp Maxi child seat), grocery shopping, heavier cargo hauling or pet carrying.
You get baskets and pannier or cargo bags, basket bags of various sizes and running boards, and a variety of pet accessories, all of which can be combined in a variety of ways. As of the time of press, most of these are only available on backorder, but the point is that, whatever your needs, Rad Power Bikes has them covered.
As noted above, RadWagon 4 is dubbed the electric workhorse. This sounds like marketing cliché, but it’s the truth: this is a very competent, reliable and highly customizable e-bike that wants to – and can – efficiently substitute your personal car in all aspects that matter. Things to consider
RadWagon 4 is both long and heavy, and it will be even more so once you start adding accessories to it. This means that storing it someplace in your apartment is far from the ideal solution both on considerations of space and because you’d probably have to carry it up the stairs.
If you live in the city in an apartment building and are set on getting it, you shouldn’t let this deter you, as long as you have where to put it and are willing to break a sweat every time you have to get it down and up the stairs. Ideally, though, this e-bike needs a garage.
The RadWagon 4 comes with a price tag of €1,599 in Europe (US$1,599 in the U.S. and CA$2,099 in Canada). It’s not an expensive cargo bike by any means, but once you start adding accessories to the cart, it will become a bigger investment. This means you have to be a responsible adult before purchase and consider exactly what you want and need it for, and spend according to your budget.
Since it’s a cargo bike, you will be doing most riding of the RadWagon 4 in traffic, which means gearing up for the job. Invest in safety gear and make sure you’re visible in traffic at all times. Ride defensively, follow all traffic rules, and #stayRad. Final word
A family car is a necessity in today’s world, so skepticism is a natural reaction to hearing an e-bike maker claiming they’ve developed a cargo bike that can replace it. RadWagon 4 won’t protect you from the elements, and it won’t take you and your family on vacation, but for everything else, it’s a very solid choice at an affordable price.
With a total payload of 158 kg (348.3 pounds), including rider weight, it’s suitable for an array of daily chores, from your work commute to the kids’ drop-off and grocery shopping, but it’s also good for private delivery fleets. Thanks to a refreshed design with a more accessible frame and a lowered center of gravity, and in-house designed wheels, it delivers a surprisingly smooth ride even when loaded up.
Easily customizable and multi-functional, RadWagon 4 is nimble and highly efficient, easy to handle, comfortable, reliable, and with outstanding quality-price-ratio. Here is one car alternative that is definitely worth considering.