America, in case you haven’t heard, is in the midst of an e-bike boom.
The Light Electric Vehicle Association reports in a recent study that the US imported about 790,000 electric bicycles in 2021, a 70% increase from the previous year. By comparison, the US imported 652,000 electric cars in 2021, marking the second consecutive year that e-bike imports surpassed electric vehicle imports. And the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon: Deloitte projects that 130 million e-bikes will be sold worldwide between 2020 and 2023.
There are a number of reasons behind the e-bike’s popularity, including the rise in fuel costs and car pricesboth of which are the relatively inexpensive (and readily available) two-wheeler a more and more attractive proposal. The fact that the battery performance of e-bikes remains steadily improving certainly helps too.
Whatever people’s reasons are, the net effect of that consumer choice is a good one. Research of the California Bicycle Coalition found that e-bikes emit 40 to 140 times less greenhouse gases than a 30-mile-per-gallon gas car, and are also more efficient than electric cars (which have much larger batteries and thus require more electricity to run on). load). The environmental benefits are striking, especially considering that transportation is approximately 27% of total emissions in the US No wonder President Biden has a $4.1 billion tax break for e-bike purchases in its seemingly doomed Build Back Better Act.
Despite all this fanfare, I had never set foot on an e-bike myself. Want to see if e-bikes met the growing fanfareI decided to give it a chance by the RadRover 6the flagship model from the Seattle-based e-bike manufacturer Rad Power Bikes†
After driving on the RadRover 6– which starts at $1,999 – for a few days I can say that, yes, these things fully deserve all the hype† This bike is well worth the price, and depending on your home life (and the local weather), it can even replace your car for shorter-mile rides.
Now, a word of caution: The RadRover is billed as Rad Power Bikes’ all-purpose vehicle, with an aluminum alloy frame and 26-inch by 4-inch Kenda Juggernaut tires. This thing is kind of a tank, running at just over 72 pounds (the detachable battery alone is about 8 pounds). While that can make for some awkward moments, such as carrying the bike down a flight of stairs, it also means the bike can handle just about anything. I cycled on pavement, gravel, even grass; in all cases it felt completely safe and capable.
The bike’s “e” component was equally smooth. The RadRover has 5 levels of pedal assist and has a top speed of 20 miles per hour. (It also has a 7-speed thumb shifter for anyone looking for an analog experience.) The pedal assist was incredibly intuitive, and I found myself switching between assist levels in minutes. If there’s one criticism – and it’s a minor one – it’s that the LCD display that displays the speed and support level was a little hard to read on a sunny day.
The 672-watt-hour battery, which takes about six hours to charge, offers a range of 25 to 45 miles. While I didn’t quite make those miles (get some slack: I had other stories to work on!), I never experienced any issues or insecurity with the bike at any point.
So the million dollar question – well, two thousand dollars -: should I buy a RadRover or an e-bike? Indeed, I would. The RadRover’s price tag is more than palatable when you consider that this bike could replace a car for many of your daily rides. Plus, it’s a lot better for the planet – and you can’t put a price on that.