The streets are abuzz. Literally.
As the warmer weather starts to kick in and more people are feeling comfortable getting outside to be with their neighbors, a new transportation trend is emerging across the nation. If you listen closely, you can probably hear it: the soft hum, a slight whirring, almost like a flock of hummingbirds is flying by. But it's not a bird (no, it's not a plane, either) — it's an electric bicycle.
And I tried the trend myself, thanks to Rad Power Bikes.
"Interest and adoption have exploded as more and more people look for alternative transportation solutions," Mike Radenbaugh, CEO and founder of the Seattle-based e-bike company, told Travel + Leisure. "We've proven that e-bikes can be a reliable, sustainable, and fun form of daily transportation."
Over the last year, as people have sought out new ways to entertain themselves without going far from home, the e-bike market has not just blossomed but, rather, has exploded. According to NPD Group, an American-based market research company, in March 2020, electric bike sales went up 84% year-over-year, 92% in April, and 137% in May. Rad Power Bikes saw its demand increase by 300% in mid-May alone.
"Rad Power Bikes is first in the position to make e-bikes a true mobility option/mainstream form of transportation. We are a direct-to-consumer company, and all we do is e-bikes," Radenbaugh said. "This is powerful, as we are obsessively focused on building the greatest electric bikes and services for our customers. We use our consumer-direct model to drive faster innovation at affordable prices which provide exciting mobility solutions for a wide variety of applications."
But are these bikes really as cool as they seem? Spoiler alert: Yes.
To buy: radpowerbikes.com, from $1,299
Rad Power Bikes sent over the RadRunner 1 Electric Utility Bike for me to try out. While I won't go as far as to say I was a skeptic, I was a bit of a cynic. After all, I'm actually a hardened New Englander who's been playing endless summer pretend in Los Angeles for nearly a decade. This means I grew up pedaling my bike to school in the snow, up hill both ways, without any assistance from a motor.
But from the moment the bike arrived at my doorstep, I knew it was love.
First, its rich forest green color entranced me. Looking down I saw its thick, knobby, puncture-resistant tires, and knew it would cleanly make it over the sand-covered streets near the beach, meaning I could make it to an early morning surf session with ease (and thanks to its 300-pound capacity, I can carry my board, cooler, and other beach goodies all at once too). Its lithium battery also meant I could make it up to 45 miles down the coast on a single charge, going up to 20 miles per hour. Upon sitting on the bike and revving its engine just once I was totally and completely enamored, feeling what so many before me have felt, including people like Prince Harry, who was spotted on his own Rad bike in his Southern California home in Santa Barbara.
"Rad Power Bikes are built for everyone: the commuter, parents, mobility-focused, adventurers and yes, even celebrities and royalty," Radenbaugh says. "While it is certainly exciting to see A-listers ride our bikes, we get just as excited for all of the more than 250,000 riders around the world enjoying their Rad Power Bikes."
To buy: radpowerbikes.com, from $1,299
Interested in getting your own? Radenbaugh says would-be e-bikers should first consider what their goal is with the bike.
"We hear from customers who use our bikes for everything from commuting, taking kids (up to two) on rides, hauling outdoor equipment, using on camping trips, or simply as a way to get outside," he said. "Deciding on the primary use for your bike may help you narrow in on the best option for you."
It's also important to consider where and how you'll store your bike.
"E-bikes are heavier than the traditional bike, and you'll want to think about where you will store the bike," Radenbaugh said. "Live in an apartment? You'll want to be able to carry your bike to your unit. Short on space? You might consider a bike like the RadMini that can be folded and stored in more compact spaces."
And, if possible, it could be a good idea to try before you buy.
"There really is no better way to discover the e-bike for you than getting on one yourself. Each week there are hundreds of test rides at our Seattle showroom," Radenbaugh said. "Test riders, particularly those trying out an e-bike for the first time, often return to our showroom with a huge grin — what we refer to as the e-bike grin. There's a joy that returns when getting on an e-bike. You feel that joy and freedom so many haven't felt since they were young riding a bike around the neighborhood."
Grab your own RadRunner 1, and customize it to your heart's content, starting at $1,299, at radpowerbikes.com.
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