Author Topic: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions  (Read 411 times)

se-riously

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New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« on: April 11, 2021, 11:47:05 AM »
Hello fellow RAD owners.  I have a brand new forest green Radrunner 1 and here are my first impressions.  To clarify, this is not first my e-bike and I've been riding for 40 years on San Francisco hills.

1.  Built like a tank.  Tough and strong all around, and the forest green color reinforces the image of a classic Jeep.  The rack can easily handle an adult in the back.  The minus is, of course, weight so it's not a sharp handler and doesn't stop on a dime.  Difficult to lift into the back of my minivan, or onto a bike rack.

2.  Plenty of power and plenty of battery.  Gears unnecessary. I weigh 178 pounds and just did a 23-mile loop around San Francisco with total 1,499 elevation gain (see photo 1).  On the flats, I was on assist 2 and on the hills I used assist 3 or 4.  I'm sure a controller/display upgrade would be a lot of fun, and I'd likely recommend it if you routinely carry an adult in the back.  On this 23-mile loop, I started on a full battery and rode the entire time with lights on, and when finished, battery voltage was 47.8 volts (still ~57% full).

3.  Upright seating position is excellent. Very comfortable for those with back problems.  Reminds me of the banana seat bikes that I had as a kid.

4.  Double leg kickstand is a must.  Terrible that it's not included in the Radrunner Plus, but if you're going to be using this bike for utility, the double leg is going to help with stability while you're loading all the stuff on the racks, etc.

5.  Seat is horrible. It's hard, poorly contoured, and impossible to replace without replacing the seat post at the same time.  It's designed to "blend in" with the passenger seat (if you get one), which is foolish because you can't get any leg extension at all when the seat is that low.  Balloon tires at lower inflation pressures only help a little, and the trade-off is increased risk of picking up debris that causes a flat.  Thankfully the seat post is a standard size, so I can just transplant my seat/post from another bike.

6.  Headlight is so-so.  Tail light is a joke.  I believe in running lights day and night.  The headlight is for you to be seen only (not illuminate the road much) and sadly there's no flash option.  The "upgraded" headlight from RAD is worse than the original, with an extremely narrow beam that provides no side visibility, and even worse for traffic from the side to see you. The tail light is awful, even with the flash option and even with the increased brightness when braking.  A cheap USB tail light is brighter.  I think the headlight circuit in the controller is a major weak spot.

7.  Foot peg location is terrible.  It's so high up on the rear rack that any adult passenger has to bend their knees A LOT and keep their legs in an uncomfortable position.  I'm looking at attaching pegs at the rear axle, where they're much lower.

8.  Battery security is non-existent.  The fact that a blank Honda X84 / HD-74 motorcycle key that you can get for $1 at the local hardware store can be used to steal any battery from any Rad Power Bike is downright criminal.  Granted it's a bad idea to leave your bike parked unattended with battery attached since the battery is, even with the lock, pretty easy to steal.  That said, the situation is analogous to old Kryptonite locks being opened with a BIC pen - and Kryptonite replaced all their U-locks if you made a warranty claim.  I personally think that Rad Power Bikes should replace all batteries still under warranty for free, and give a pro-rated discount to all batteries out of warranty based on age.  Yes, that's an expensive move but realistically the right thing to do.

Lastly, some iconic eye candy with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2021, 05:35:49 PM by se-riously »

sc00ter

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2021, 03:50:42 PM »
Nice review! I swapped my seat and post out ASAP. I got a gently used pogo post from a Pedego and a Sella Royal beach cruiser seat from Wally World. I also got the "upgraded" headlight from Rad. I did a short review of it. And it's interesting you mention the tail light.  I got stopped by a police officer one night and the lady said she could barely see the tail light. It works perfect and there is nothing blocking it, so I might try to find a upgrade soon. Lets see, what else. I got a SE Racing bmx seat clamp and use a Hex-Lox to prevent seat theft. Its a big problem in my area. Oh, and I did the upgraded display because everyone at work ask questions I couldn't answer with the nice little simple stock screen.

se-riously

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2021, 05:33:11 PM »
Comment #8 added.  Just being objective...

FortunatelyTheMilk

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2021, 05:06:36 AM »
Great post, and a fine assessment of the bike.

A rear passenger pad would lift the pillion use higher which might help with the peg location. It's also more comfortable than the stock seat.

I picked up a couple of Exposure Tracers to augment the lighting, they're a great addition, small and lightweight, and can be popped off and put your pocket. I've also had two tail lights fail on me but the Tracers keep on rocking. I also invested in a 2000 lumen front light which doubled the visibility of the front lights, but I have to be mindful of incoming traffic as it's bright enough to dazzle if I haven't lined it up properly.

I don't know how you would mount the pegs on the rear axle with the power to the motor running though there, but maybe the lower rear arm of the frame might work?

Definitely consider the controller and display upgrade, the Speedo and trip computers are useful, and the power boost is always nice!

sc00ter

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2021, 09:16:27 AM »
I was considering retro-fitting a moped seat to my 'Runner on the passenger area, mounting the seat to a SHAD motorcycle top case base for removal. But the wife has zero interest riding passenger so that idea went out the window. She also had zero interest in trying the 'Mini ST before turning it over to her sister. My wife has no idea what she's missing.

Battery security is an issue that has been discussed many times here. I think the Save Your Seat clamp will protect the battery on a 'Runner. I don't live in a area where battery theft is a problem, yet. I'm still looking for a disc lock that will fit between my battery and seat clamp. Something easy and quick to remove. I charge my battery inside at work and my house. One of us will figure something out.

One of my wifes other sisters lives in Oakland. I've been thru there when I drove 18 wheelers but never had a chance to visit on my own time. I love LA and still have a bunch of connections thru the lowrider culture and mopeds/motor scooters.

se-riously

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 11:54:31 AM »
I'm considering using this foot peg, which includes a slot for the motor wire to come out.  Seems a little pricey for something so simple, but looks like it will do the job well and place the passenger's feet in a far more comfortable position.

https://amzn.to/3gp3X08
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 07:16:25 PM by Ryan »

handlebar

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2021, 06:47:58 PM »

3.  Upright seating position is excellent. Very comfortable for those with back problems.  Reminds me of the banana seat bikes that I had as a kid.



I hated the seating position. The post was only 20" from the steering head. Until I was 18, I rode thousands of miles a year on Raleigh Roadster style bicycles, where that distance was about 26". That's long enough for the arms and torso to form a stable tripod. Better support for the upper body means comfort and allows better steering control.

handlebar

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2021, 10:54:37 PM »
I bought a suspension post and a comfortable-looking seat. It still rode rough, even when I reduced pressure to 15 psi. There were worse problems. My seating was so unstable that it was hard to make a u-turn on a street 18 feet wide. Taking a hand off the bar to signal a turn was hazardous; I developed tennis elbow trying to steer with one hand. I rode every day, but even after two months, my pedaling was unpleasant and puny.

Why would I have more trouble with stability than some? According to a survey of male bicyclists, my legs are of average length. However, I set my seat high enough that I can touch the ground only with my toes. Above the legs, I'm 2" taller than average. Pavement around here is pretty bumpy.

When I discovered layback seats, I bought one. It extended the distance from steering head to seat clamp to 28", so that my arms and torso can form a more stable tripod. Now I can easily make a u-turn on a driveway 10 feet wide.

I hadn't foreseen another advantage: putting the seat farther behind the bottom bracket. One-handed, you need feet on pedals for stability. Moving the seat farther aft of the bottom bracket improved the stability I could get from my legs.

The ride is much smoother. I normally ride with my center of gravity above the bottom bracket. That means I can take my weight off the seat and handlebars by pressing the pedals. On a bump, the bottom bracket rises only about half as far as either axle, and legs make good springs. On a 3" speed bump, I'll bring the pedals level so both knees can absorb the jolt. For ordinary bumpy conditions, I'll glide as if standing on the pedal at 6 o'clock, knee straight and sole parallel to the ground. It's a relaxed way to ride, and by using my calf muscles to press the ball of my foot harder against the pedal, I can transfer nearly all my weight to that foot, allowing me to float over bumps.

Before I moved the seat back, a 1% grade was about all I could manage without motor assistance, and I didn't want to keep it up long. Now I may be at level 0 half the time, and I don't normally go above level 1. The last 200 yards coming home is a 2.5% grade. I prefer to peddle it without assistance. 10 mph is typical, but I can do 15 if I feel peppy.

The original seat position meant that at the start of the power stroke (top dead center), the rider's ankle was below his hip joint. That explains why pedaling felt like doing deep knee bends. With the seat moved  back, I don't have to bend my knees nearly so sharply. That means less strain and more power.

The seat tube of the Radrunner is only 16 degrees from vertical. The seat tube of a Raleigh Roadster was much more laid back, approximately 25 degrees from vertical. My layback takes it farther, as if the seat tube were 31 degrees from vertical. I got the same effect in 1961 when I flipped the seat clamp to move the seat back a couple of inches. It was an improvement. Fifty-nine years later, the seating position still felt familiar, except that the handlebars on the Radrunner aren't as high, and of course there's no Sturmey Archer gearshift.

handlebar

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Re: New Radrunner Owner - First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2021, 06:37:09 AM »
6.  Headlight is so-so.  Tail light is a joke.  I believe in running lights day and night.  The headlight is for you to be seen only (not illuminate the road much) and sadly there's no flash option. 

When I was a kid, a bicycle light had an incandescent bulb and one or two D cells. There were no alkaline batteries, so it was like a birthday candle in brightness and running time. A 6-volt dynamo cost more, and mounting it was a bit tricky, and there was more to go wrong, and it would dim if you slowed down, and you could blow the bulb out going downhill, and it was a drag on the tire.

Still, in my city, riding was pretty safe. Car ownership was half what it is now, so people didn't drive like the privileged majority. Cars were designed for drivers to see before backing up. A driver's only distraction was an AM radio. Almost all bicyclists rode upright, where they could see and be seen.

Not long before I bought my Radrunner, I saw a man walking a dog. The man wore a conspicuous golf shirt. As a motorist, I wished bicyclists dressed like that. When my bike arrived, I had a fluorescent yellow safety vest ready. Drivers I don't know wave. I guess they're glad to see a conspicuous bicyclist.

By day, I'm sure the vest is more effective than lights. At night, it makes a good adjunct to lights. If there's any light coming from the driver's direction, reflective stripes will mark me as a person in the road. Visual obstructions and close quarters can make a parking lot hazardous. A driver may not see bicycle lights a couple of feet off the pavement, but a parking lot should have enough light to see my vest, almost 6 feet off the pavement. (My Radrunner seems a bit like a horse in that I sit taller than I stand. Actually, to pedal with maximum force, I'll lean low ahead of the bars, like a racer, to bring my center of mass ahead of the bottom bracket.)