Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus Electric Fat Bike | Best E-bikes 2022 – Bicycling
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Rad Power Bikes has updated its Radrover e-bike with better brakes, a cleaner display, and more power.
Takeaway: With the Radrover 6 Plus, Rad Power has made a fat tire e-bike that is comfortable to ride on pretty much any terrain, from urban streets riddled with potholes to off-road paths riddled with rocks or snow. The 6 Plus’ small but well-thought-out upgrades make the bike’s price increase more palatable. Though the bike’s extreme weight can make it feel sluggish at times.
Weight: 74lbs (without rack)
Style: Electric Fat Bike
Wheel Size: 26″ x 75mm wide
Frame: 6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame, standard or step-through configuration
Fork: RST spring fork, 60mm of travel with lockout
Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 7-speed with thumb shifter
Cranks: 170mm crank with dual-sided chain guard
Chainring: 42 tooth
Cassette: DNP 7-speed freewheel, 11-34
Brakes: Rad Power hydraulic brakes, 180mm rotors front and rear
Wheels: Double-wall rims built with 36 12-gauge spokes
Tires: Kenda Juggernaut 26″ x 4″
Saddle: Ergonomic saddle with lifting handle
Seatpost: Alloy 27.2mm x 390mm
Handlebar: Alloy 70mm wide, 4″ rise
Stem: 50mm extension, 30º rise
Extras: Front and rear fenders, bell, kickstand, front and rear lights
First appearing on relatively niche bikes designed to ride on snowy trails, fat-tire bikes have grown in popularity and branched into other riding segments. In addition to increased traction, the cushion from the extra-low psi tires makes for an extremely comfortable ride. Fat tire bikes also have a distinctly aggressive look that many find alluring. The main drawbacks of fat tire bikes are (significantly) increased rolling resistance as well as increased weight, which can make riding non-assist fat bikes on roads feel like a chore. Luckily, the 750W motor in the Radrover 6 makes the decreased efficiency of fat tire bikes a non-issue, giving riders the comfort and flexibility you get from a fat bike without slowing you down.
Rad Power bikes are one of the most popular e-bike brands in the US, specializing in relatively affordable e-bikes between $1000 and $2000, and sold consumer direct. Like most e-bikes in this price range, Rad’s e-bikes tend to have rear hub motors and use heavy frame materials. The brand has a diverse lineup of bikes too, from city bikes to folding bikes to cargo bikes. But the Rad Rover line is its top seller.
Getting Into the Radrover
The Radrover 6 Plus (there is no Radrover 6) is an updated and upgraded version of Radrover’s popular Radrover fat-tire e-bike line. The price is notably higher than the previous Radrover 5, but Rad upgraded a number of components on the 6 including hydraulic disc brakes, a higher-torque motor, updated user interface, and a battery that integrates into the frame. These upgrades add up to a much more refined bike, but the core design and feature set of the bike remains the same as the Radrover 5.
The standout feature of the Rover are its 26” x 4” Kenda Juggernaut tires. The recommended psi range of 10-20 psi allows you to choose between ride comfort or increased range. I mostly rode with the tires set at 10 psi for the extra grip and comfort, but you extend the battery range a bit and still get a very cush riding experience at the higher tire pressure. The Rover also features an RST spring front suspension fork with 60mm of travel, which was more than enough for anything I encountered on my test ride. The fork has a suspension lock-out if you wish to increase pedaling efficiency.
As a Class 2 eBike, the Rover 6 has a top assisted speed of 20 mph. With the updated 750W motor it has no trouble quickly getting the bike up to speed. Rad claims the motor was updated to have more torque than the previous version; a welcome change as torque can be a limitation with rear hub motors in some applications or terrain. Rad paired the motor with a 672 Wh battery to give the bike a 45-mile range when using pedal assist.
There are five levels of pedal assist available, which you can tune to match your desired level of effort. I found myself using 3 and 2 most often for my rides. The assist is cadence-based, meaning it follows your pedaling speed, not the effort. I found it best to make sure you are always in a relatively low gear. Thankfully there is a throttle for the times you find yourself in too high a gear. The Radrover also has a Shimano Altus rear derailleur and 7-speed, 11-34 tooth freewheel to provide wide gear range for getting up hills or keeping the bike moving at speed.
At at over 74.1 pounds, not including the optional rear rack, there is no getting around the Radrover’s weight. But braking performance was still decent thanks to the upgraded hydraulic disc brakes. Rad has also chosen to include two displays for the 6 Plus. The center-mounted one has your speed, odometer, and remaining battery while the left side unit displays your pedal assist level.
I spent a few weeks with the Radrover 6 Plus as my main driver. I rode it to work, on errands, as well as recreationally. I live in a very hilly part of new York City and was excited to see if the new higher-torque hub motor could handle the hills of the Northwest Bronx (spoiler alert, it’s complicated).
The first thing I noticed when riding the bike was the comfort. The included stock seat is a bit stiff for my taste, but it didn’t matter, as the plush tires and suspension fork helps soak up pretty much any bumps, grates, or potholes you will find on the street. The geometry puts you in a relatively upright riding position, though still more aggressive than something like a Citibike or a Dutch-style bike. The wide 700mm handlebars make it easy to balance and, in theory, make handling easier.
Thanks to the 12 cadence sensors, the electric assist of the bike kicks in and out quickly when pedaling, minimizing the jerkiness that can accompany some cadence sensor e-bikes. I was worried about the cadence assist causing the bike to accelerate when downshifting at red lights, but the motor cut-off on the brakes makes it a non-issue. Plus there’s a throttle if you forget to downshift.
I found the 20 mph top speed more than enough for riding in NYC traffic, though I could see it feeling a bit slow on suburban streets. I didn’t dare drain the battery to 0%, but from my rides, it was on track to meet or exceed the stated 45 mile range. The bike did struggle a bit on hills though, despite the new motor. It could make it up slowly if I pedaled, but the throttle alone wasn’t powerful enough, and that’s without a rack. It was still much easier pedaling up hills than on a normal bike though, but it’s an issue worth considering if you’re routinely tackling hills with grades above 8%.
I appreciated the built-in lights on the bike. The headlight does a good job of lighting up dark paths, even at the bike’s top speed. I was worried at first that the front light would blind oncoming cyclists on two-way paths, a pet peeve of mine on the crowded Hudson River Greenway in New York. While the front light is not StVZO certified it does have a significant downward cut to it. The rear-facing light is not overly bright, so you don’t have to worry about blinding any cyclists riding behind you either. However, if you don’t live in an area with many other cyclists and you’re more concerned about cars, I would recommend getting an additional light.
The bike also handles quite well in snow. We had a few large snowfalls this past winter in NYC and the 32mm winter tires I usually use don’t cut it. Gliding over packed snow several inches deep on the four-inch-wide tires was no issue at all for the Radrover, as long as I kept the speed around 10 mph.
Most of the drawbacks of this bike come down to the weight. At 74 pounds without a rack, the weight is a big issue for anyone who needs to bring their bike up or down any kind of staircase. If you live in a walk-up apartment, I suggest you look elsewhere, but even if you have ground level bike storage there are times you still might need to lift a bike. Such as putting it on a bike repair stand, a car bike rack, or the occasional stairs you run into on some bike paths. All of these can be a real struggle with a 74lbs bike.
The Rover also had a few other issues, for example, simply adjusting the derailleur can be quite a chore as the Altus trigger shifter lacks handlebar adjustment. The 750W motor is more than powerful enough to get the bike up to its 20 mph top speed, it’s hard to get the pedal assist dialed in so that it feels like you are helping it much, especially during acceleration. The only time it felt like I was putting meaningful power into the bike was when cruising at 20 mph (where the assist often cuts out) and when going up steep hills, otherwise, it often felt like I was either spinning out while the motor did all the work, or that I had no assist at all. Part of this was due to the cadence sensor, when hitting a hill my drop in cadence would cause a reduction in assist right when I wanted it most.
The bike also handles a bit sluggishly. Whether weaving through obstructions on NYC’s crowded bike lanes, or trying to follow a line when riding offroad, the bike often felt one step behind where I wanted it to be. The wide 700mm handlebars seem overly wide for the kind of maneuvering you can do on the bike and can make it a bit hard to squeeze in tight spaces. That said, the bike excels on simply rolling straight over the kind of small obstacles I typically find myself maneuvering around on bikes with skinnier tires.
The Radrover 6 Plus is Rad’s flagship do-it-all bike. It is versatile, comfortable, has a decent range, a lot of well-thought-out details, and it looks cool too. It would be a great bike for a casual cyclist that wants a comfortable and reliable e-bike. It will get you from point A to point B safely on pretty much any type of terrain for a reasonable price (as long as you don’t need to regularly carry it up or down any steps). More experienced riders might find the handling and weight a bit limiting, but those are par for the course when it comes to fat bikes in this price range.