Behind the Bike: The RadWagon 4
If you're looking for proof that Rad Power Bikes has an amazing product design team, look no further than the RadWagon 4.
This flagship electric cargo bike has been optimized from the ground up to provide more functionality and customization for more riders than ever before -- whether they're families on-the-go, commuters, or delivery drivers.
It boasts smaller, innovative new tires developed by our in-house team of expert engineers to achieve a lower center of gravity. Its patented new frame design features multiple points of adjustability, including a telescoping seat post and maneuverable handlebars that require no tools.
It's equipped with a geared hub motor for the first time (750W US, 500W Canada, 250W EU), enhancing your ability to haul precious cargo across uneven terrain or up steep hills -- even when you're pushing the electric bike's 350 pound payload capacity or loading it up with our new lineup of family-friendly accessories.
The resulting ride feel is unparalleled in its stability and maneuverability, and it made us wonder how our product team pulled it off.
So we asked them! Project Manager Doyle Savola and Industrial Designer Joe Gray obliged and gave us a peek under the hood.
"It all seems really simple when you look at the bike," Savola told us. "But it took a lot of work to make it look simple."
For five years, the RadWagon had set the standard for what can be expected in an electric cargo bike. When the new project began, the team was tasked with taking everything that riders loved but making the overall package more utilitarian.
"We were shooting for a bike that wasn't just for someone who needed a super functional workhorse," he explained. "It ultimately had to be for somebody that needed a bike that they could just feel comfortable and confident on."
A Lower Center of Gravity
To that end, the crew sought to give the bike a lower center of gravity.
"A lot of cargo bikes have a bit of wobbliness to them. We wanted to avoid that so kids and parents could both feel more stable. Pushing down the standover height to make it as low as possible was the key," Gray said.
Getting there was easier said than done. Generally, if you're looking to make a sturdier frame, you'll be required to bring up the bike's top tube, which in turn leads to a higher standover height.
After a lengthy round of revisions, the team eventually discovered they could get around this by designing custom tires that are completely unique to Rad Power Bikes. They'd be smaller than those on previous models, but also wider to help the bike move smoothly across uneven terrain, and with treading that could help riders brave tough weather while on off-road adventures.
"That was a big, mind-blowing moment for us," Joe added. "That move all at once made the bike accessible to a lot more people."
The Right Fit
Achieving a lower center of gravity was one box to check in making the RadWagon 4 a go-to bike for more riders, but the team recognized there was still more to be done to make sure the bike could be quickly and easily adjusted to match any rider.
They got there by adding a telescoping seat post and an adjustable stem. "The great thing is, you can move both without having to break out any tools," Doyle said. "It makes it feel like a cockpit that can be adjusted a million different ways."
Joe, a RadWagon rider himself, added that this is a feature he's particularly excited about.
"My wife and I both ride it, but I'm a lot taller than she is. I hate busting out the Allen wrench to change the handlebars, so I usually just keep everything set to where she has it, even if that means I get sore knees," he teased.
"Being able to really quickly bump that saddle up, shift those handlebars, and get yourself upright and happy makes the whole experience something that people are going to enjoy more. I know I'm going to."
Even with all of these adjustments, the designers still wanted to give the bike a little more oomph to increase agility under full load.
That meant taking out the direct drive motor found in previous models and swapping it with a geared hub motor, giving it twice as much torque.
"It also takes some weight off the bike, so the riders won't ever feel like they're bogging the bike down, even when they load it up," Doyle noted.
"Whether they’re commuting or shuttling a kid in a child seat and they reach a hill, they know they'll be able to bump up the pedal assist up to 3 and get a lot more satisfaction than they did on the RadWagon 3."
The Whole Package
The team was aiming for a bike that made riders feel good, whether they were on- or off-road, on sand, or gravel.
When they finally started testing it, they realized they had achieved that goal, but they had also gone further than expected.
"Honestly, it’s more fun to ride than any previous model," Joe conceded. "When you’re lower to the ground it just has a neat feel. We were going for stronger and more confident, but that was a nice bonus."
The rest of the crew seemed to agree.
"You always have that critical moment where everyone is like 'Oh man, did we make the right tire? Did we do the right thing?' But then when we got people on it, everyone kept saying it's quiet, it's soft, and it feels safe."
As the ultimate gut-check, they invited a member of Rad Power Bikes' staff that has a well-earned reputation as being a perfectionist, and one that isn't shy about sharing his opinions, to be among the first to test it out in the workshop.
"If you know him, if he doesn’t say something's wrong with it, you've probably done a pretty good job," Doyle quipped. "He has yet to complain about it, so we'll take that as a win."
Approval from the crew's resident stickler aside, Doyle feels pride in what everyone was able to accomplish.
"Beyond the big-ticket items, we wanted to make the little things right -- accessories mounted the right distance from rider and passenger; accessories easier to swap out without tools ..."
"We spent a lot of time thinking about the kickstand. It’s one of those unsung heroes that you never really think about, but it's doing all this work when you're loading your kids or groceries or just getting on and off. It had to be stout, strong, and wide enough without being so wide that it'd hit things or interfere with the overall function of the bike."
Starting in September, you'll have a chance to jump on, ride Rad, and see exactly what he means for yourself. Preorder yours today.