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*Stay tuned to Electric Bike Report as we’ll soon have our full in-depth review of the Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus.
Rad Power Bikes has introduced a new version of one of their more popular models, the RadRunner. This is a more upscale version of the RadRunner. They currently sell the RadRunner 2 and the RadRunner Plus. Why offer three different versions of the same e-bike? Easy. Think of them as the different trim levels we see with cars. As we move from the RadRunner 2 to the RadRunner Plus to the RadRunner 3 Plus, the parts improve in quality. Accordingly, they each sit at different price points. As of this writing, the RadRunner Plus is priced at $1999 and the RadRunner 2 is priced at $1499. The new RadRunner 3 Plus goes for $2499.
We’re going to take a look at the new RadRunner 3 Plus and look at what has been upgraded over the RadRunner Plus, and evaluate if the more expensive version is worth the extra greenbacks. Plot spoiler: The value on Rad Power Bikes tends to be high enough that their more upscale models are very good values indeed.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3: Comes in Three Flavors
So for anyone who hasn’t been on the Rad Power Bikes website recently, let’s go over just what the RadRunner model is, in broad strokes. All three version of the RadRunner share these features.
First, the RadRunner is a step-thru utility e-bike. They all feature a 750W brushless, geared hub motor and roll on 20-in. wheels, shod with 3.3-in.-wide tires. All include both front and rear lights. That’s about it for commonality. The RadRunner Plus and RadRunner two share some features—like the same frame and brakes, while the RadRunner Plus and RadRunner 3 Plus share some features—like the 7-speed drivetrain, suspension fork and fenders.
Okay, let’s get into the nitty and the gritty of those upgrades.
RadRunner 3 vs. RadRunner Plus: Spec Review
Motor and Battery
As we mentioned, Rad Power specs a 750W brushless, geared hub motor in all three models, but the RadRunner 3 Plus features a motor that received some tweaks; the new motor is reported to climb 10% faster than the previous motors; that should also translate to more spirited acceleration. The RadRunner 3 Plus now features a semi-integrated 672Wh battery; the other versions also feature a battery with a 672Wh capacity, though not integrated.
The RadRunner 3 Plus is built with a different frame than its predecessors. The big change are two tubes that run the length of the aluminum frame from the down tube to the rear of the rack, reinforcing the frame, both making it stronger and stiffer. Also, it is reported to fit the same height range of riders, from 4 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 2. Standover height increased by a half inch, from 16.5 inches to 17.
Rider benefit: Making the frame stronger and stiffer improves the handling for heavier riders, as well as increasing the ability of the RadRunner 3 to carry bigger riders. The RadRunner 3 Plus has a maximum payload capacity of 350 lbs., compared to the 300 lbs. of the RadRunner 2 and RadRunner Plus.
The RadRunner 3 Plus is spec’d with a 60mm-travel RST coil-spring fork. This is a 20mm decrease from the 80mm-travel on the RadRunner Plus.
Rider benefit: Why decrease travel? Suspension is hard to get right on an e-bike where the weight is changing constantly. A shorter travel fork is good because it takes the sting out of bumps but doesn’t bounce around like a longer-travel fork.
Both the RadRunner 2 and RadRunner Plus were built with mechanical disc brakes. The RadRunner 3 Plus received an upgrade to hydraulic disc brakes.
Rider benefit: The RadRunner 3 Plus is a more upscale version of the RadRunner. Giving it hydraulic disc brakes fits with that, but it is also the appropriate response to building an e-bike with a 350-lb. weight capacity. The brakes give more power in braking, but also offer better modulation when scrubbing speed for a turn.
Both the RadRunner 3 Plus and the RadRunner Plus are spec’d with a 7-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain. The RadRunner 2 is a single-speed e-bike. The 7-speed freewheel features an 11-34 gear range, which is wider than we see with most 7-speed drivetrains, a good thing for climbing hills.
Rider Benefit: Pedaling is easier when a rider can select gears that allow them to pedal at a comfortable cadence. Climbing hills is difficult in a big gear.
The RadRunner 3 Plus features a slightly different handlebar than the one included on the RadRunner Plus. It is 710mm wide, with an 8.7-in. rise, as opposed to the 680mm wide bar with 10-in. rise on the RadRunner Plus. The wider bar will give riders a bit more leverage, calming the handling at speed.
The saddles on each of the RadRunner versions have all been unusual. They have a shape that is meant to mesh well with the bench seat for passengers. None of our staff have liked the feel of the saddles included. The RadRunner 3 Plus includes a slightly different saddle, but it still isn’t a hit; our testers say the nose is too wide. Fortunately, riders can order a different saddle if they choose.
Also New: Rad Trailer
Not all loads can be carried in baskets, even large rear ones as can be fitted to the RadRunner models. Whether someone is bringing along Fido or picked up a bag of mulch for the garden, some loads are big enough that they need to stay close to the ground in order to make riding easy.
Rad Power Bikes has introduced a new trailer, the Rad Trailer. It is made from steel and includes a polymer deck to make it largely impervious to elements. The deck measures 32 in. long by 22 in. wide. It weighs 25 lbs. and can carry up to 100 lbs. Rolling in relatively small 16-in. wheels makes the trailer easy to handle by keeping the load close to the ground.
The Rad Trailer can be fitted to nearly any Rad Power e-bike; the only exceptions are the RadCity 5 Plus and the RadWagon 3 (but only if running boards are installed). As for what’s allowed in there, cinder blocks, old car tires and stubborn dogs are fine, but no humans.
Rad Power Bikes RadRunner 3 Plus Spec Review: Bottom Line
This new version of the RadRunner represents a real step up in quality and performance from the previous versions. We love that there are now three versions of the RadRunner spaced over a $1000 range to accommodate different budgets. That’s a real win.
There’s no question that the RadRunner 3 Plus is a good value for its price. We think it’s a well-designed e-bike with fantastic versatility. There is very little we can criticize about the RadRunner 3 Plus, though a second frame size and some color choice would be welcome.
The question for most consumers will be: Does the RadRunner 3 Plus represent enough of an improvement to make stretching a budget to afford it worthwhile? The answer may depend on how much weight the rider intends to carry. Anyone carrying more than 250 lbs. combined between rider and payload will definitely benefit from the new frame on the RadRunner 3 Plus as well as the hydraulic disc brakes. Riders don’t need to be north of 300 lbs. in rider and payload to benefit from the new frame. And hydraulic disc brakes make for a better riding experience, increasing rider confidence.
Our one criticism of the RadRunner 3 Plus is that we would like to have seen an upgrade in the drivetrain to include an eighth cog in order to offer a wider gear range and smaller steps between gears; we don’t see many e-bikes at the $2500 price tier with 7-speed drivetrains.
On the whole, the RadRunner 3 Plus is well-designed and offers riders more versatility in accessory choice than most other Rad Power Bikes models. Anyone who needs to carry a load and shuttle a child will find this to be an e-bike to add to their list of considerations.