Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Riding the Rad Rover
My dad bought an electric-assist fat bike recently and last night I borrowed it to put it through its paces. I've gotta say, it's an awesome bike! The bike is a Rad Rover by Rad Power Bikes, a direct-to-consumer bike company based in Seattle. The company claims a battery range of about 20 miles, but last night I rode 35 miles of gravel roads with 2,300 feet of elevation gain and still had about 20% of battery life remaining at the end of the ride.
There are 5 levels of pedal assist and if you only use levels 1 and 2 and turn the pedal assist off on the flats and downhills, you can really get a lot of range out of the battery. If you turn it up to 4 or 5 and use it a lot, you won't get much range. I found level 2 to be an ideal combo of range and assist. Using this level the bike assists your pedaling a little, but not much. You can definitely feel it. It sort of makes you feel like a super biker. The bike has 7 speeds and I was able to stand up and pedal up most hills with relative ease in level 2 and gears 3 through 6. For steeper hills I stayed seated and shifted down to gear 1 or 2. And this bike is super comfortable to pedal while standing up! It's a very comfortable seated riding position too, although if I owned one I would definitely buy a more comfortable seat. The one that comes on it is okay for short rides, but after 3 hours in the saddle I was wishing for a more comfortable throne. I would probably buy some locking grips as well. The grips that come on the bike are pretty nice, but they slip and rotate too easily on the handlebar.
Contrary to popular belief, electric-assist bikes do not take all the work out of riding a bike. You still have to pedal, after all. Sure, there is a throttle and you can use just that if you wish and not pedal, but I found that to be very boring (not to mention you won't be able to ride very far if you only use the throttle and don't pedal). And, the bike is heavy... about 60 pounds. Which is awesome for going downhill, but uphill... not so much. Enter pedal assist, which is awesome! You turn the crank about 1/4 rotation and then you feel the assist kick in, giving you a little boost.
Would I like to own one of these someday? Absolutely. Would it replace my other bikes? No way. I could see this being a great tool for me to get out with my camera and look for photos (not to mention it's just plain FUN to ride!), but for pure riding and exercise I still prefer my other "normal" bikes. On the e-bike the riding position is much more upright and I found myself able to observe my surroundings much more easily as I rode. My other bikes have a more aggressive riding position which makes it harder to look around and notice things as you're riding. Not that I don't do that, but typically I just focus on the road ahead as I'm riding those bikes. Anyway, I had a blast on the Rad Rover and maybe someday one will be added to our bike garage :-)