A Different Kind of Mission Statement
Rad Power Bikes unveiled a different kind of electric bike today: a single-speed marvel that's just $999 -- the ebike heavyweight's most affordable price point to date.
It’s called the RadMission, and for the past three months, Rad Power Bikes Founder and CEO, Mike Radenbaugh, has been joyriding the electric metro bike all over Seattle.
“I’m never going to stop commuting on this,” Mike announced as soon as he rolled the bike into Shasta, a coyly nondescript warehouse originally designed for maritime rope and net manufacturing. These days, it's where the company's mad scientist engineers piece together bike prototypes and try out potential new models.
He was here to give a small crew a sneak peek of the RadMission before jumping on a Zoom call with hundreds of Rad employees across three countries to unveil the bike.
We were excited to be among the first to give the bike a spin, but his after hours test rides raised a few questions, namely, how he was able to keep a secret bike under wraps for so long?
“Well, I put a whole lot of tape over the logos,” he explained.
“This also helped,” he added, pointing to the powder blue mask he’s been wearing since Seattle went into lockdown in March.
But Mike was clearly more excited about the bike than the details of his covert commutes. He opened up a can of Yerba Mate and dove into the details.
For starters, it looks more like a real-deal, traditional, human-powered, "acoustic" bike than anything else in the company's line-up. It has a high-torque 500W motor that makes short work of long stretches of bike lane and daunting hills. It has an innovative ~7 pound battery that's compact, but engineered to still achieve 45-plus miles of range on a single charge.
It also weighs roughly 15 pounds less than Rad Power Bikes’ other models, which finally makes ebikes a possibility for those living in walk-up apartments.
But perhaps more importantly -- and this is something that anyone who's ever stepped foot on a Rad ebike can relate to -- riding it around just makes you feel free.
“It handles just like the bikes I used to ride as a kid," Mike said. "The narrower wheels help with that feeling, sure, but there’s something else to it. It just shreds."
That’s high praise coming from someone whose background crafting awesome new bikes stretches all the way back to when he was a 15-year-old cobbling together DIY electric bikes in his parents' garage.
That scrappy ethos is still evident in all aspects of Rad's culture. Shasta, along with neighboring buildings Humboldt and Mendo, was named as an homage to the Northern California counties that surrounded Mike and Co-Founder Ty Collins where they grew up.
The story behind the RadMission's name, Ty explained, paid similar tribute.
'Interestingly enough, when we used to ride bikes around as kids, we called it 'missioning,'" Ty said. "That was really the inspiration for this bike. That, and the no-frills bike culture I saw while living in San Francisco’s Mission District in my early 20s.”
While it’s a bike that has eyes on the past, it’s also one that makes a bold statement about the future.
“I’m really hoping that this is the first ebike for people who are just waking up to the fact that they don’t need a car to survive anymore," Mike said. "Bikes like these can get you from Point A to Point B, cut down on emissions, save money on gas, and ultimately change the entire transportation game.”
It's a gateway, he contends. “If that rider ends up eventually moving beyond it, great. If they have kids and suddenly realize they need child seats, we have bikes for that. If they end up moving out of the city and spending more time outdoors or off-road, we have bikes for that. This is an entry point, but one that’s simple, affordable, and, frankly, really exciting.”
The future Rad Power Bikes is envisioning doesn’t seem too far off. With COVID-19 leaving people second-guessing public transportation and spending more time outside, electric bike sales worldwide have been booming.
It’s a change that’s temporarily cleared out Rad’s inventory, but one that holds a lot of promise.
After all, Mike pointed out, once you discover the total freewheeling joy of an ebike, does it really make sense to switch back to sitting in traffic?
Converting car-folk into life-long Radvocates is the longterm goal that Mike says Rad Power Bikes has been preparing for from the start. With the RadMission, it’s a possibility that's one step closer to coming to fruition.
“This entire time we’ve been trying to make ebikes that are built for anything and priced for everyone,” he said. “We finally got there.”
We guess you could say it's a bike on a mission.
The RadMisson is available at an introductory price of $999 ($1,399 CAD/€1.099 EUR). Preorder today for shipping in October.