After reading/riding and researching for a year, I bought a Rad Power Bike because of the quality, the ride and the price which was affordable.
Mike Radenbaugh dreamed up Rad Power Bikes over a decade ago in his family’s garage and now sets the pace for affordable battery-propelled bicycles.
By Bradley Berman
The residents of Garberville, Calif., didn’t know what to make of 15-year-old Mike Radenbaugh and the odd motorized bikes he was concocting in his family’s garage.
It was 2005, the home-brew era for electric vehicles, and there he was, a high school freshman zooming by at up to 35 miles an hour, not even pedaling. He seemed to defy gravity as he ascended the region’s steep winding roads lined with 300-foot redwoods.
As the captain of the school’s mountain-bike racing team, he had collected a heap of spare frames and parts. Mr. Radenbaugh started tricking them out with old motorcycle-starter batteries, moped motors mail-ordered from Japan and crude powertrains held together with bungee cords, pipe clamps and thick layers of electrical tape. “I needed to find a solution where I had freedom as a young person without a lot of dollars,” he said.
Before long, he was making his 16-mile school commute on his electric Frankenbike.
Wires fried and batteries died. But after six months of experimentation, Mr. Radenbaugh had a semi-reliable electric bike. “It got better and better. And it got faster,” he said. “All of a sudden, I’d be riding into town passing slow cars. I quickly became known as the kooky e-bike guy in my little hometown.”
By his junior year, he’d founded Rad Power Bikes. Now based in Seattle, his company approached $100 million in sales in 2019. It has sold over 100,000 electric bikes. Numbers aren’t well reported for this young industry, but Rad Power Bikes is widely considered the largest e-bike seller in the United States.
When he was starting out in Humboldt County — home to back-to-the-landers and backwoods pot farmers — Mr. Radenbaugh fielded requests. “They wanted high handlebars, comfortable seats, powerful motors and long range,” he said. In other words, a blend of a bicycle, moped, scooter and motorcycle. This was in contrast to the few light and low-powered European and Japanese e-bikes available a decade and a half ago.
Sixteen years later, Rad Power Bikes is sticking to its formula: comfort, power and simplicity.
And that was before a pandemic sent the whole country searching for a socially distanced way to get around. Throughout spring 2020, Rad’s sales tripled compared with the year before. Many models now have a three-month wait for delivery. What had been a niche product for Humboldt’s aging hippies heading to Burning Man has become a mainstream option for Everyman.
Guidehouse Insights, a market research firm, conservatively forecasts that electric bike sales in the United States will grow to nearly a million by 2023, up from 650,000 this year. “For years we’ve been saying that the market needs a decent, good-quality, relatively high-performing e-bike for $1,000 to $1,500. That’s the sweet spot,” said Ryan Citron, a senior research analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “Rad Power Bikes hit that mark.”
Mr. Citron cautions that Rad, which sells direct to consumers, might lose customers who want to take a test ride before buying. Brick-and-mortar stores also offer e-bikes from the likes of Specialized, Trek and Giant — although commonly selling for $2,500 to $5,000. Deluxe models climb to $15,000 and higher.
Regardless, an accessible joy ride is a welcome pandemic diversion. For the past couple of months, I ditched my car and used a Rad Power Bike as my primary mode of transportation.
The company sells 11 models: city, cargo, folding and all-terrain options. I went with the $1,199 RadRunner, one of the company’s top sellers. Like most Rad Power Bikes, it’s equipped with a 750-watt motor; that’s the legal limit for a Class 2 bicycle and provides electric assist up to 20 miles an hour. No permit required.
Its battery pack, about the size of a loaf of bread, is 48 volts and 672 watt-hours. It takes about six hours to fully charge from a household outlet. On a mostly flat surface, and with light pedaling, the pack provides 30 to 40 miles of range.
On my first few trips, I wasn’t so much as riding as zooming. The road manners and the ability to cut through back alleyways are like any other bicycle — except my legs had reserves of backup power. Rad equips all its e-bikes with a half-twist hand throttle. It’s irresistible to launch with the flick of the wrist. There’s always a chance to pedal, but it’s not obligatory. It took some pedaling to propel the 65-pound bike up the steepest Berkeley hills. But it’s not onerous.
“Ninety-nine percent of your riding is blissfully electric. It’s an exciting amount of power,” Mr. Radenbaugh said. For the other 1 percent, he says, “you can overcome it with pedaling or by planning your approach to a hill.”
What’s most impressive about the RadRunner is its use of smart design, wringing value from clever choices. The RadRunner has extra-fat tires to absorb bumps rather than an expensive front suspension. The rear hub motor is simpler and more cost-effective than what is known as a pedal-assist mid-drive. The LED controller mounted on the handlebars is basic, but it’s user-friendly and gets the job done. The detachable battery can be brought inside to charge.
Squeeze the hand brakes to engage the 180-millimeter Tektro disc brakes, cutting off the motor and illuminating a rear red brake light. The chunky aluminum frame comes in two colors, black or forest green, and precisely one size, with an adjustable seat post making it adaptable to riders of nearly all heights.
“It’s the Volkswagen Beetle of e-bikes,” Mr. Radenbaugh said. “When we thought up the RadRunner, it was with that sense in mind. What’s the best-selling car in history? What’s the e-bike to do it all?”
I’ve also been test-riding the RadWagon 4, the company’s latest release. The Runner’s 67-inch length is stretched nearly a foot to 78.7 inches on the RadWagon. This is an e-bike for grown-ups with family responsibilities.
It extends the cargo-style frame to accommodate a long list of accessories: running boards, sturdy metal baskets of various sizes, sizable insulated delivery bags and a Thule child seat. Adding cushions and handgrips for passengers now allows my wife to hop on back for trips to visit friends. I also added a large basket so we can load up on produce at the farmers’ market. The company’s easy universal accessory and mounting system would make Ikea jealous.
The RadWagon has seven gears. The low gears, when combined with a high level of electric power, allow the relatively heavy cargo bike to climb harsh inclines with little effort. But the real fun comes when setting the electric motor to 5, its highest setting, thumbing the shifter to the top gear and pedaling hard. Thankfully, the RadWagon’s speedometer shows when I need to brake to conform with legal limits.
Jeff Loucks, executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications, believes there will be 130 million e-bikes sold globally between 2020 and 2023. “They make so much sense, especially in a Covid world,” he said. However, he added that the United States still needs to catch up to cities in Europe and Asia with a biking culture and proper lanes to make cyclists feel safe. Cities have accelerated that process because of the pandemic. “People are turning to cycling for transportation, exercise and just to keep sane during this time,” Mr. Loucks said.
Mr. Radenbaugh, now 30, manages a staff of 200 people. He described the current pace of change — and the myriad business challenges it poses — as “hyper-growth.” It’s not easy steering a transportation revolution. He said, “Every night, I feel like my brain was beat to pieces.”
Fortunately, Mr. Radenbaugh has a way to clear his head. Every day, rain or shine, he rides his e-bikes to commute, shop or haul things around. He often uses prototype models to dream up new features and uses. “One of my favorite things to do is e-bike camping,” he said. He has a favorite campground about 30 miles east of Seattle, within reach of the RadWagon’s battery range. That’s where he can forget about the worries of the world, glide through country roads and relive the thrill of riding an e-bike for the first time.
Fallon wonders just how far back he wants to push the election: “Months, like your response to Covid? Years, like your response to Putin? Or decades, like a hug for Don Jr.?”
By Trish Bendix
Like ‘a Group Text to Bail on Happy Hour’
Trailing badly in the polls, President Trump on Thursday floated the idea of postponing the election (which he can’t do), claiming on Twitter that voting by mail would cause major problems (for which there’s no evidence).
“It’s the presidential election. It’s not the release date for ‘Bill & Ted 3,’” Jimmy Fallon said on “The Tonight Show.” He compared Trump to “that friend who’s been crashing at your house for a while but keeps dropping hints he might need some more time.”
“If he can’t deny it, pretty soon he’ll be like, [as Trump] ‘Republicans should all vote on Nov. 3, but we’ll have Democrats vote at a later date T.B.D.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“Americans were like, ‘How long a delay are we talking about here? Months, like your response to Covid? Years, like your response to Putin? Or decades, like a hug for Don Jr.? Just give us a hint.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“I’m not even sure that Trump understands what an alarming proposal this is. Because this is basically the move of a dictator. Trump is just casually throwing it out there with a tweet with a bunch of question marks, like he’s in a group text to bail on happy hour. [as Trump] ‘Hey, y’all, Nov. 3rd’s not great for me — maybe we reschedule to 2021?” — TREVOR NOAH
“And by the way, media, yes, there are some Republicans saying the election will happen on time. Stop giving them credit for that. That’s not a courageous stand. It’s just the bare minimum. Just because the bar is all the way on the floor doesn’t mean we have to give them credit for stepping over it. It’s like if your burnout son gets an ‘F’ on a history final and you say, ‘Look who showed up and took the test. I’m so proud of you, Scooch!’” — SETH MEYERS
The Punchiest Punchlines (JetBlue Edition)
“So with the economy in crisis mode and deaths continuing to soar, obviously this is all bad for President Trump’s re-election hopes. And today, Trump came up with a brilliant new strategy for the election: Just don’t have one.” — TREVOR NOAH
“President Trump on Twitter this morning suggested postponing November’s presidential election, but just until the Republican Party can find a viable candidate.” — SETH MEYERS
“That’s right, Trump isn’t actually allowed to delay the election. Although not being allowed to do something has never stopped him before.” — TREVOR NOAH
“No, he can’t reschedule the election. For starters, both candidates are like 200 years old — I mean, we gotta keep things moving.” — TREVOR NOAH
“When they saw Trump’s tweet, JetBlue was like, ‘Trust us — when he says delayed, he means canceled.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“We’ll still have the election on Nov. 3, but he’ll probably just add a hundred days to August. And sure, maybe the court overturns it, but that might not happen until August 73rd.” — TREVOR NOAH
Wearing matching shades of white or yellow, the women of the “Wall of Moms” in Portland, Ore., have become instant icons of the city’s protests, though the mothers nightly gatherings only began last Saturday and the city’s protests have been going on for more than a month.
They join a long line of mothers’ protests against state violence and what they view as authoritarianism around the world, including in South Africa, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Armenia, which have shown that mothers can be particularly effective advocates for a cause — but also that there is a catch.
History suggests that mothers’ power is most potent when they are able to wield their own respectability, and the protections it brings, as a political cudgel. But that is easiest for women who are already privileged: married, affluent, and members of the dominant racial or ethnic group.
Mothers who are less privileged often struggle to claim that power, even though they are often the ones who most urgently need it.
“I wanted us to look like moms,” Ms. Barnum said in an interview. “Because who wants to shoot a mom? No one.”
Ms. Barnum said she identified as Mexican-American, not white, but other members say the group is mostly white.
Mothers’ protests are often powerful precisely because the gender roles that ordinarily silence and sideline women, allowing them to be seen as nonthreatening, turn into armor for political activism, experts say.
During Armenia’s 2018 “velvet revolution,” a largely nonviolent uprising that eventually toppled the country’s leader, Serzh Sargsyan, mothers took to the streets pushing their children in strollers, indelibly tying their maternal identities to their political demands.
A demonstration in Yerevan, Armenia, in 2018. Credit…Vano Shlamov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
In Armenia, “mothers are symbolic to the nation and, to some extent, have immunity in protests,” Ulrike Ziemer, a sociologist at the University of Winchester in Britain, wrote in a 2019 book chapter about the uprising. “If police would have touched mothers with their children in prams during the protests, that would have brought shame on them individually, but also on the state apparatus they represent.”
In the Armenian protests, mothers from all walks of life were able to claim those protections, Dr. Ziemer said in an interview. But in societies that are divided along racial or ethnic lines, mothers from marginalized groups cannot access that full political power so easily
In South Africa, the Black Sash, a group of white women who opposed the apartheid regime, were able to use their gender and race as a shield for their political activity that others could not.
“The Government has let Black Sash survive while closing down other anti-apartheid groups in part because white South African society has perched its women on pedestals,” The Times reportedin 1988. “The police find it awkward to pack the paddy wagons with well-bred troublemakers who look like their mothers or sisters.”
The government had no such compunction about locking up Black women. Albertina Sisulu, a pioneering Black anti-apartheid activist who was also a married mother of five, was arrested and held in solitary confinement multiple times. Countless other Black women suffered even worse fates.
In Sri Lanka, women from the Tamil minority group have been protesting for years to demand information about sons and daughters who were kidnapped by state forces during the country’s civil war and never heard from again. Their activism has drawn international attention and some limited engagement from the country’s government.
But when the women’s demands went beyond their own individual grief and engaged with politics more broadly, national politicians and civil society groups dismissed them as pawns of male activists, said Dharsha Jegatheeswaran, co-director of the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, a Sri Lanka-based think tank. As members of a marginalized minority group, she said, motherhood could take them only so far.
In the United States, there is a long tradition of Black women claiming their identities as mothers when protesting against police shootings, lynchings, and mass incarceration. But, like the Tamil activists in Sri Lanka, they have tended to be viewed through the narrow lens of their own grief and fear for their children. White women have typically been taken far more seriously by white audiences as representing mothers generally — another case of bias on display.
Ann Gregory, a lawyer and mother of two who joined the wall of moms in Portland on Sunday, said they had hoped to serve as a buffer between other demonstrators and law enforcement.
“We realize that we’re a bunch of white women, and we do have privilege,” she said. “We were hoping to use that to protect the protesters.”
“We don’t need silent victims, we need loud witnesses.”
Instead, the women got a crash course in the grievances that had set off the protests in the first place.
Ms. Barnum, new to such activism, said she was surprised when other demonstrators warned her group that they could be in danger.
“The news said that if you give the police officer a reason to fear for their life, a reasonable fear, they could hurt you,” she said. “But if you didn’t give them a reason then they wouldn’t hurt you.”
The moms, she reasoned, would be peaceful and give the officers no cause for alarm, so had no reason to worry.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. Democrat said on Monday that Donald Trump might not like the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election but reminded the Republican president that he will have to vacate the White House if he loses.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about legislation for additional coronavirus aid in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis
“There is a process. It has nothing to do with if the certain occupant of the White House doesn’t feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there because the presidency is the presidency,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC.
Trump equivocated when asked in a “Fox News Sunday” interview, “Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?”
“No. I have to see,” Trump said. “Look you – I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no.’ And I didn’t last time, either.”
Despite lack of evidence, Trump frequently complains that mail-in balloting, which promises to be more widely used in this coronavirus-plagued election year, could lead to voter fraud.
He did not elaborate on what he believed his options are.
“Whether he knows it yet or not, he will be leaving,” Pelosi said. “Just because he might not want to move out of the White House doesn’t mean we won’t have an inauguration ceremony to inaugurate a duly elected president of the United States.”
Trump, who is seeking re-election in November against Democrat Joe Biden, faces plunging approval ratings amid a widespread resurgence of the coronavirus that has crippled the U.S. economy and altered everyday life for Americans.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said Monday: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Pelosi hinted that the subject of Trump refusing to go came up at a regular “continuation of government” briefing last week.
“This might interest you because I say to them, ‘This is never going to happen. God willing, it never will.’”
While Ryōkan (1758-1831) a notorious haiku poet, calligrapher and Buddhist monk, spent his hermitage deep in the mountains, he often visited the neighboring villages to play with the children, drink sakè with the farmers, or visit his friends. He slept when he wanted and frequently joined the dancing parties held in the summer. He had simple needs and if he had anything extra he gave it away. He never preached or exhorted, but his life radiated purity and joy.He respected everyone and bowed whenever he met those who labored or walked the paths. His love for children and flowers is proverbial among the Japanese. Often he spent the entire day playing with the children or picking flowers, completely forgetting his begging for that day. He was continually smiling and everyone he visited felt as if “spring had come on a dark winter’s day.”
Jorge shared these traits. We think of you often and when questioning ourselves, ask, “What would Jorge do?”