If you’ve been considering buying a longtail electric cargo bike, but have been hesitant due to the hefty price tag, check out the Radpower Radwagon. Significantly more affordable than the competition, the Radwagon is an excellent choice for anybody who wants to haul kids and/or cargo without breaking the bank.
We recently moved to a more bike-friendly city and wanted to significantly cut back on our car useage, so we picked up a lightly used RadPower Radwagon. It’s a slightly different model than the most recent Radwagon 4, but I’ll discuss those differences later on.
Overall, we’ve been incredibly happy with the Radwagon, even when compared to our much more expensive Bunch e-cargo bike, and other electric cargo bikes that we’ve tested.
Review In A Nutshell
- Amazing bang for your buck
- Easy to mount a rear child bike seat (or two)
- Integrated front and rear lights
- Throttle helps to get you going
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Fenders and wheel skirt
- One size fits all
- No built-in wheel lock
Differences Between Our Radwagon and The Radwagon 4 (Most Current Model)
First off, the Radwagon we have is not the most recent version. There are a few differences I’ll discuss in a moment.
I still think it’s worth sharing our experiences with you all, because the overall ethos and pricepoint of the two bikes are the same. There’s more in common between the two models than there are differences.
So what are the changes for the Radwagon 4? Here are the most important ones.
The Radwagon 4 has 22″ wheels rather than 26″ wheels. This has allowed Radwagon to create a bike with a lower standover height and lower center of gravity.
What this means in practical terms is that it’s easier to balance with a kid and groceries on the back, and it’s easier to maneuver when getting on and off the bike. It also means that it’s a more comfortable fit for smaller riders.
There is a drawback, to the smaller wheels (however). 22 inch wheels are slower rolling than larger wheels, are slightly harder to get over obstacles, AND it is a bit harder to find replacement tires for 22 inch wheels.
It is worth noting that while the wheels are smaller, the tires themselves are a little fatter. The 3 inch Vee Tire Co tires are reasonably fat which means you get a little extra cushion and better traction.
More powerful motor.
The 750w geared hub motor on the Radwagon 4 has twice the torque of our direct drive hub motor. We already thought the bike did an respectable job on hills, so this is the cherry on top.
The seatpost on the Radwagon 4 can go up and down to easily accomodate riders between 5’1″ and 6’4″. This is great if both you and your spouse plan on using the bike.
Multiple Configurations For Carrying Kids
The rear deck on the Radpower Radwagon is large enough to carry two kids in several different configurations depending on their age. For younger kiddos, it’s easy to mount a rack-mounted rear bike seat (or two). The most popular bike seat option is the Thule Yepp Maxi, although we mounted the Burely Encore RM with great success as well.
For our 8 year old, we’ve just had him on the rear deck, but you can add accessories like the Caboose ($199) for added security. This is ideal for kiddos that have outgrown their child seat, but that still need protection.
I’d also highly recommend the running boards ($99). These help make it easier for kids to climb on and off the bike, and also provide them with a place to rest their feet while riding.
Also Works Well For Cargo And Commuting
For biking with kids, I’m a big fan of bakfiets style cargo bikes like the Bunch or Madsen. In fact, I use my Bunch bike almost daily for taking my son to soccer practice and running to the ice cream shop. It’s nice in that I can carry bikes, scooters, a camp chair, etc–things that would be much harder to haul in a longtail cargo bike like the Radpower Radwagon.
That said, I am NOT a big fan of using a bakfiets for solo riding; it’s simply to big and cumbersome for me to want to use it for commuting around town by myself. That’s why I like the Radwagon.
I can drop my son off at his forest school and then run some errands on my own. It’s not my FIRST choice for child-hauling, but it is my first choice for all around riding.
We’ve installed panniers on our Radwagon to help with carrying gear. This works well for hauling library books, groceries, and other errand items. The rack is large enough that both my son and the panniers can fit at once.
Other ways to carry cargo on the Radwagon would be to add a rack to the front ($69) or a third-party basket. On the rear rack you could use any myriad of solutions to carry additional cargo including milk crates.
Heavy Yet Nimble Feeling
At 77 pounds, the Radpower Radwagon is really heavy. The Xtracycle eClassic, for comparison sake, weighs in at only 60 pounds.
The good news, however, is that the Radwagon doesn’t actually FEEL that heavy. I only weigh 125 pounds, and don’t have that much upper body strength and I feel VERY comfortable handling the Radwagon.
The biggest issue with the weight is what would happen if the battery went out. The bike would be incredibly challenging to get home, esepcially if you had to bike up any significant hills.
The other issue with the weight is transport. Most folks will be using this as an around-town commuter without much of a need to transport it anywhere.
But if you want to take it out of town with you or take it to the bike shop for maintenance, it’s too heavy for most bike racks. We did take the bike on a trip with us, but it took both my husband and I to lift it into the bed of our truck.
Throttle Helps To Get You Going
The Radpower Radwagon does have a throttle. This means you can get going without having to pedal.
The benefit to the throttle is that the Radwagon is heavy enough, especially when loaded with kids and/or gear, that it can be difficult to get re-started after stopping at an intersection. I’m a big fan of the throttle for this reason.
The throttle on the Radwagon is a twist-throttle integrated into the right grip.
Sturdy Kickstand Helps With Loading And Unloading
The biggest issue with a heavy bike and loading heavy things like children, is that it can be tippy and difficult to hold upright. Fortunately, the kickstand on the Radwagon is super sturdy and does a good job of keeping the bike stable even when my son is climbing on or off.
It’s also nice for parking in your garage or at the grocery store, so you can keep the bike upright rather than having to lean it up against anything or lay in down.
Integrated Lights Let You Make It Home At Dusk
The Radwagon has integreated front and rear lights. This is awesome because there are plenty of times I’ve been out and about and caught closer to dark than I expected.
That said, they aren’t THE brightest lights. When doing true night riding, I add a Niterider to my handlebars and some extra blinky’s for maximum visibility.
One Size Fits All
Like many cargo bikes, the Radpower Radwagon is designed to be one-size fits all. As I already mentioned, the Radwagon 4 has also been designed to have a lower standover height so it can fit riders as small as 5’1″.
Both my husband and I use our Radwagon and swap it back and forth easily. I’m 5’5″ and he’s 5’11”.
This makes the Radwagon ideal if you want to use the bike amongst mulitple family members. Just be aware that it’s going to be everybody’s favorite bike, and you’ll probably have to buy another-ha!
Battery Is Sufficient For Most Daily Commuting
Radwagon estimates that you can get 25 to 45 miles per charge, and we’ve found that to be pretty accurate. My husband, who weighs more and tends to cruise in a higher power setting than me, gets about 25 miles. I’m a bit lighter and tend to use a lower power setting, and I generally get our 35 miles to a charge.
This means that the battery on the Radwagon is sufficient for the vast majority of us. If you’re doing a long work commute each day, however, you’ll want to either charge the bike while at work or opt for a bike with a longer range.
Five Power Settings Allow You To Conquer Just About Anything
There are five power settings on the Radwagon. Level 1 requires the most effort to pedal, level 5 requires the least. I tend to leave it on level one or two for most of my riding so that I still get a workout, but I’ll bump it up to 4 or 5 to make it up the very steep hill that we live atop.
Even with a heavy load, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t make it up, and the more powerful motor on the Radwagon 4 should do an even better job of this.
Maximum Speed Is 20mph
One thing worth noting is that the Radwagon is set to max out at 20mph. This is kind of a bummer for commuting purposes as I can often get going over 20mph downhill on a regular non e-bike. The bike will literally slow you down if you are coasting downhill and exceed the limit.
A google search will show you ways to override this setting, though be aware that it will void your warranty and potentially damage your bike. Also be aware that a 20mph is nearly universal amongst e-bikes and is not unique to the Radwagon.
The monitor dispay will show you which power level setting you are on, how much battery you have left, and how many miles you’ve ridden, your speed, and your watts. It’s easy to read, and makes your ride a little bit more entertaining. It can also charge your phone or other devices (like a Niterider light).
7-Speed Drivetrain Is Simple And Sufficient
The Shimano 7-speed drivetrain is simple yet sufficient. I’ve never felt spun out or over geared. The front chaingring is 46T.
Powerful Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes Make Stopping Easy
The Tektro mechanical disc brakes do a good job of providing plenty of stopping power, even on a 77 pound bike. I’ve had no issues stopping even when going down the steep hill we live on.
Would hydraulic disc brakes be even better? Probably. But the mechanical disc brakes help keep the price down and make maintenance easy as well.
Plastic Wheel Skirt Keeps Things Safe
The rear wheel comes with a plastic wheel “skirt” that helps keep little feet from getting caught in the rear wheel as well as panniers or other cargo. It does seem a little flimsy and we’ve had some issues with the panniers flexing the skirt, but so far it has stayed in tract.
Fenders Keep You (And Your Passengers) Dry And Clean
I appreciate that the Radwagon comes with fenders already installed. We try to bike regardless of whether and there have been several days this winter where the fenders have saved us from dirty, slushly spray on the road.
No Built-In Wheel Lock Or Theft Protection
Really the only “con” I could come up with for the Radwagon is it’s lack of a wheel lock or other theft-protection which most cargo bikes come with. Personally, I love an integrated wheel lock for a quick run into the ice cream store or pharmacy without having to break out the U-lock.
Because the Radwagon is so long it is a little awkward to position into place against a bike rack. (You end up taking up the whole thing or blocking access from one end).
Rear Wheel Is Difficult To Remove For Flats
Like many cargo bikes, getting a flat tire on the Radwagon is going to be a massive pain in your butt. Well, at least if it happens on the rear wheel.
Because the motor is in the rear wheel, and there is wiring running to it, it’s not easy to remove for a quick tire change. We haven’t had to do it yet (thank goodness), but according to a local bike shop owner, the Radwagon is especially challenging and requires a special tool.
For this reason, we’ll probably convert our Radwagon at some point to tubeless tires so that we don’t have to worry about getting caught somewhere with a flat.
Bottom-Line: A Legitimate Electric Cargo Bike That’s Far More Affordable Than The Competition
Let’s be honest, the real draw to the Radpower Radwagon is the price. It is just way easier to stomache than any of it’s competitors.
Compared to an Xtracycle or a Yuba, the Radwagon does come with lower-end components but they are still brand-name. If you know you are buying a bike that you want to last for next 20 years, or if budget is no object, then go with one of the others.
If you want a good-quality bike, and don’t care about some of the extras (like theft protection and smart app compatability), then you really can’t beat this bike. It offers a ton of bang for your buck.
- Family Bikes: The 9 Best Cargo Bikes for Hauling Kids
- 7 Best Child Carriers for Bikes
- Thule Yepp Maxi Bike Seat Review