Rad Power Bikes, maker of some of the toughest and best e-bikes around, has released a new folding e-bike that’s built like a tank, packs down small enough to toss in the trunk of your car, and costs far less than you might expect.
Good quality e-bikes under $ 1,500 / £ 1,000 are hard to find, let alone folding models, due to the extra engineering involved in building a frame that can be packed down neatly but is still strong enough to handle the weight of a rider and the force of a powerful engine.
The new RadExpand 5 (opens in new tab) is the exception, costing just $ 1,299 (about £ 900 / AU $ 1,600), folding down in seconds, and boasting a 48V, 750W motor to make light work of hills and tough terrain.
Unlike most folding e-bikes we’ve tested, the RadExpand 5 isn’t built for commuters (although you could certainly use it to cruise to work in style if you like). Instead, it’s built for tackling mud and rutted trails on weekend adventures, with 4-inch-wide tires, full-coverage front and fenders, water-resistant wiring and connectors, and a range of up to 45 miles on a single charge.
Tough as nails
The RadExpand 5 is surprisingly practical too, with built-in lights, an included rear rack (ideal for bikepacking), and a 275lb / 125kg maximum payload. The adjustable high-rise handlebar should make for a comfortable ride for a wide range of rider heights, and a custom LED display shows current charge level, power mode, and light settings.
It’s worth checking the laws surrounding e-bikes before placing your order, though. The RadExpand 5 will be legally classified as a bicycle in the US, but vehicles with a motor rated above 250W are only legal to ride on private land in many other territories, including the EU and UK.
Analysis: weighty matters
The RadExpand 5 is one of the most exciting e-bikes of 2022 thanks to its combination of power, convenience, and value. Its only real downside seems to be weight. The RadExpand 5 is lighter than the previous RadMini, but is still a seriously hefty machine at 62.5lb (about 28kg).
For comparison, our current top-rated folding e-bike, the GoCycle G4, is a comparatively featherweight 39lb / 17.6kg, and even the heaviest model in our listing, the E-Trends Fly, is only 52lb / 23.5kg.
However, it’s worth remembering that the RadExpand 5 isn’t intended for lifting onto buses or taking to the office. A fairer comparison would be the Mate X (opens in new tab) from MATE.bike, another powerful folding machine made for all-terrain riding, which tips the scales at 63lb / 28.5kg.
Like the RadExpand 5, the Mate X is available with a 750W motor, and has a similar range of 50 miles. The biggest difference is the price, which is more than double that of the RadExpand. We’re seriously excited to take it out ourselves and see if it lives up to expectations.